Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Weekly Common Core Practice Prompts at The New York Times

Four days ago, The Learning Network at The New York Times announced what they are calling an experiment: "Beginning Sept. 21, each Friday you’ll find three quick, classroom-tested tasks that ask students to do Common Core-focused work with that week’s Times."

The picture below shows teachers Jonathan Olsen and Sarah Gross, with their freshman humanities classes at High Technology High School in Lincroft, N.J. According to TLN blogger Katherine Schulten, Jonathan and Sarah, who co-teach history and English, 
last year began creating "short daily reading and writing prompts for their students to use with that day’s Times." 

In June, Sarah wrote in her blog The Reading Zone about TLN's Summer Reading Contest, saying that she and Jonathan believed that using The Times in their classes had "revolutionized" the way they taught.

"By reading the newspaper daily and writing in response to the paper’s content, our students greatly improved both their critical thinking and writing ability. Using The Times to teach history and literacy this past year forever changed our approach to education. We are now able to meet all Common Core State Standards for writing and reading informational text, while preserving the literature curriculum already studied in English class. As a result of our daily inclusion of The Times, our redesigned classroom is now filled with topical writing, lively debate and students making connections between what they are learning in their classrooms (and) what is happening throughout the world around them."

Starting next week, Sarah and Jonathan will send the prompts they create, and that they and their students believe worked best, to TLN bloggers, former teachers themselves, who will "add some scaffolding or other kinds of small changes to help make the questions more accessible for a range of learners."

The plan is that each Friday, you will find at least one of the prompts aligned to the Common Core standards for reading and writing about informational text appropriate to use with YOUR students. Please try them, and let the writers at The Times (and me) know how it goes!