“At each ‘C’ you must check in with me before you move on to the next.”
To help kids move away from simple summary and step deeper into analysis, I use a Claim-Cite-Clarify approach. Additionally, it helps them learn to integrate text evidence into their thinking, rather than just including text evidence. Our work with theme thus far has required kids to present and defend their themes with our “Life is Lit” selections, our weekly literary passages or selections. Life is Lit, or Life is Literature, is my attempt to sell the notion that literature is a rehearsal for the human experience, and that is why we read literature in my class, to learn from and live in the human experience, even if only vicariously, though many of the themes we discover and explore are more real than vicarious to my young humans. What’s more with this approach, in an age where it is ever more difficult to get kids to read–actually read–I have found that shorter passages/selections better ensure that all have read the material, and, too, we can get to more and varied texts with shorter chunks. In short, I have had better success with this approach to literature than I have had with novel units.
To this point, we have practiced identifying, presenting, and defending theme with six selections, and we have had one performance opportunity, where the kids have had a chance to formally demonstrate proficiency with our first two Focus Standards.
- *I can integrate cited text evidence into my writing to support my thinking.
- *I can determine and analyze the theme of a text.
From the first performance I learned that we still had much to do, that we weren’t quite there…yet. The kids needed more practice, and they needed more feedback. So, I designed an activity where the kids would work in teams to not only complete a CCC for each of the two selections but also hold each other accountable by sticking to the learning-target criteria, and then as an added checkpoint, they would have to check in with me before moving on the next “C.”
I wish I would have videoed or at least recorded their conversations. Waiting my turn, I was scoring other work, listening in on their conversations, and I was rather pleased with their genuine dialogue and authentic collaborative efforts where they found not only agreement but also–more importantly–disagreement, working through the latter until they reached consensus. And once they reached consensus, they would call me over, and I would give them feedback on their attempt, which would sometimes be a hit, and other times a miss. In truth, I found greater value in their misses for they presented better learning opportunities. Many had to go back to the drawing board after their initial attempts, but each time I believe they dug deeper and understood better. For most of them, there were a lot of aha moments. Many exclaiming, “Oh that’s what you want.”
Learning takes time. And it registers, it “clicks” at different moments and from various means for each. Some kids “got it” right away from the first CCC. Others have picked it up gradually from the practice and performance feedback. But most needed this activity to find their clicks. And that is what matters to me: the click. Of course not all are there, and some will require even more time and yet other means, but I am committed to their learning. I can’t teach them everything, but I can focus on a few things (Focus Standards) and help them turn their cogs until they find their clicks.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…finalize activity mentioned above.
…reflect in Journey Journals.
…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.
Happy Monday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.