Text to Text: A Strategy for Common Core Close Reading

» 26 September 2013 » In How To, Literacy, Strategies » 5 Comments

The-Scarlet-Letter-1917The NY Times Learning Network has just launched a new series of lesson plans called "Text to Text." It's a simple approach that pairs two written texts that "speak to each other." I think it's a Common Core close reading strategy that could be easily replicated by teachers across the curriculum - great way to blend nonfiction with fiction and incorporate a variety of media with written text.

Each lesson includes a key question, extension activities and additional resources to expand the basic lesson. Here's two graphic organizers to help student organize their "Text to Text" thinking. (free PFD downloads)
Comparing Two or More Texts
Double-Entry Chart for Close Reading

The NY TImes plans to continue the series at the Learning Network - tagged Text to Text
To date they have created three sample lessons:

"The Scarlet Letter" and "Sexism and the Single Murderess"
Key Question: To what extent is there still a sexual double standard, and how does that double standard play out in contemporary culture?
It pairs a passage from "The Scarlet Letter" with a recent Op-Ed article that, together, invite discussion on societal attitudes toward female sexuality.

"Where Do Your Genes Come From?" and "DNA Double Take"
Key Question: How are recent advances in science changing our understanding of the genome, and how might this affect fields like forensic science or genetic counseling?
It matches a Times article with often-taught scientific, historic, cultural or literary material. This edition is about new findings in genetics.

"Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg"
Key Question | Is Snowden a Hero, a Traitor or Something Else?
It pairs two Times articles that capture parallel moments in history: Daniel Ellsberg’s surrender to the police in 1971 after leaking the Pentagon Papers, and Edward Snowden’s public admission in June that he leaked classified documents about United States surveillance programs.

Image credit: 1917 Film version of "The Scarlet Letter" - publicity still (cropped)
L. to R Stuart Holmes, Kittens Reichert & Mary Martin Date

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Romney vs. Obama Wordle Smackdown

» 06 September 2012 » In Commentary, Leadership, Visualizations » No Comments

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Here’s text visualizations of the Romney and Obama speeches to their conventions. Interesting comparison of the top twenty words in each speech as represented in a word cloud.

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What is Writing For?

» 15 August 2012 » In Commentary, Literacy » No Comments

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What is writing for? The answers seem obvious — communication, persuasion, expression. But the real answer in most classrooms is this: writing is for making assigned writing. Throughout their education, students everywhere are asked repeatedly to write papers that are inherently insincere exercises in rearranging things they’ve read or been told — papers in which their only stake is a grade.

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Texting While Walking: Video Guide for Safety and Etiquette

» 09 January 2012 » In Commentary » 2 Comments

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Let’s stop acting like hollowed-out zombies, with BlackBerrys and iPhones replacing eye contact, handshakes and face-to-face conversations. It’s time to live once again in the present and simply be where we are.

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Abraham “Abe” Rothberg: Author, Professor, Friend

» 13 April 2011 » In Commentary » 4 Comments

Two weeks ago, I lost a very important person in my life. For more than 25 years Abe Rothberg served as friend, mentor, surrogate father and personal curmudgeon. Over long lunches in diners or late afternoons in his study we’d discuss politics, history, literature, journalism and gossip about everyone we knew.

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Forget the Graphic Organizers, Does Taking Tests Help You Learn?

» 20 January 2011 » In Strategies » 6 Comments

Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.

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Education for Innovation or More Test Prep?

» 06 December 2010 » In Ed Policy, Strategies » No Comments

pisa sample featured

Let’s see how the Duncan sidesteps the issue of testing and innovation – while US students spend endless hours honing their test taking skills, the demand for routine skills has disappeared from the workplace. Anyone know of a meaningful and rewarding career that looks like filling out a worksheet? Maybe Friedman will be willing to tackle the stifling impact of testing on creativity thinking among our students.

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Filtering – The New Literacy of Maintaining Focus

» 22 November 2010 » In Commentary, Ed Tech, Literacy » No Comments

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The cost of information is rapidly approaching zero. Normally as price of a commodity drops, we consume more of it. But unlike all the other cheap stuff we buy, and then later discard, cheap information demands our attention. Despite all the claims of multi-tasking, we are stuck with a finite attention span. Thus the ability to selectively filter out unwanted information and stay focussed on a task is emerging as a new literacy.

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Test Prep – The Steroids of Student Achievement

» 17 October 2010 » In Commentary, Ed Policy » 6 Comments

Unless we institute more genuine assessments, our measures of student achievement will be as inspiring as a steroid-tarnished home run record.

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Public School Teachers – Problem Or Solution?

» 28 September 2010 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Leadership, Teachers » 7 Comments

Susan-Szachowicz2

A decade ago, Brockton High School was a case study in failure. Teachers and administrators often voiced the unofficial school motto in hallway chitchat: students have a right to fail if they want. And many of them did — only a quarter of the students passed statewide exams. One in three dropped out. Then Susan Szachowicz and a handful of fellow teachers decided to take action.

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