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THE COMMON CORE: Addressing Concerns about the “Text Exemplar” List and “Measuring Text Complexity” Adapted from

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1 THE COMMON CORE: Addressing Concerns about the “Text Exemplar” List and “Measuring Text Complexity” Adapted from and-measuring-text-complexity

2 CONCERNS regarding the “Text Exemplar” Lists: Our school doesn’t have all those novels on that list! Is someone giving us money to buy new novels? The novel I’ve always taught to my 6th graders is now on the 5 th grade list! Do we have to teach EVERYTHING on that list? The story I’m supposed to be teaching my 4 th graders is in the 3 th grade anthology! Are we getting new anthologies/ textbooks?

3 Everybody breathe …

4 We are in the early stages of implementing the Common Core. Writing and aligning school and district “text- lists” to match the new core will be a later discussion. For now, use what you have, and as you add to it, make choices from the new suggestions! The samples in Appendix B (Text Exemplars) primarily serve to exemplify the level of text complexity and quality that the standards require. You are not required to teach all of, or only, those titles from the lists.

5 What big ideas are important, from the “Text Exemplar” List and the new Common Core?  Begin NOW to bring more informational text into your curriculum.  Make an effort to “bridge the gap” for your students by making 20% of your classroom reading challenging text or “stretch-text.”  Be sure to offer an appropriate amount of “scaffolding” in order for students to be able to access this challenging text!

6 How can teachers assess a text for appropriate grade-level complexity?

7 Measuring Text Complexity includes: 1.Quantitative Measures: Lexile levels, Fry readability levels 2. Qualitative Measures: A. Structure B. Levels of Meaning or Purpose C. Language Conventionality and Clarity D. Knowledge Demands 3. Reader and Task Assessment: Interest, motivation, the product to be completed all impact ability to read a text

8 Traditional Quantitative Measures for Assessing Readability Counting the number of syllables in each word. Counting the number of words in each sentence. Determining a readability level based on those two variables.

9 Understanding Qualitative Measures: Understanding Qualitative Measures:

10 Structure: Complicated text-structures (chronological, problem-solution, cause-effect, etc.) will add to a text’s complexity level. Holes, by Louis Sachar Quantitative Measurement: 4.9 (Fry Readability value). Qualitative Measurement: Structure: Story continuously jumps back and forth between three different time periods/settings, and character groups. Adjusted text-complexity value: 5.9 – 7.5 for independent reading. Possible “Stretch-Text” : In order to challenge students’ reading capacity—stretching them to grow to a higher reading level--teachers might have students read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, (7.9) describing the effects of racism during the slavery period. Scaffolding needed: Teacher should provide critical backgound knowledge, along with teacher-directed reading of the text.

11 * Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt Quantitative Measurement: 6.2 (Fry Readability value). Qualitative Measurement: Structure: The 1 st person narrator ages as the story progresses, so his understanding of the events in the early part of his life lacks maturity. In addition, the author makes certain stylistic writing choices, such as a very spare use of punctuation, which adds to the text’s complexity. Adjusted text-complexity value (plus mature content): 9.5+ Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Quantitative Measurement: 5.9 (Fry Readability value). Qualitative Measurement: Structure: Narrated as a series of memories through the point of view of an “unreliable narrator” with many emotional insecurities, who provides continual commentary and judgments about the events he describes. Adjusted text-complexity value (plus mature content): 9.0 – 10.5.

12 Animal Farm by George Orwell Quantitative Measurement (Fry): 7.3 Qualitative Measurement: Orwell uses political satire -- the explicit purpose is different from the implicit purpose. Adjusted text-complexity value: 11 Similar “stretch-texts”: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (12+), “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift (11+), The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (12+). The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Quantitative Measurement (Fry): 4.9 Qualitative Measurement: The heavy use of symbolism and allusion result in multiple inferences and author commentaries. Adjusted text-complexity value: 9-10 Similar “stretch-texts”: “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (10), “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway (11), The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (10-11). Levels of Meaning or Purpose:

13 Language Conventionality & Clarity: Texts that rely on literal, clear, contemporary, and conversational language tend to be easier to read than texts that rely on figurative, ironic, ambiguous, purposefully misleading, archaic or otherwise unfamiliar language or on general academic and domain-specific vocabulary. Examples: – Shakespeare – Arcane classics – Medieval, Puritan, or other dialects/ language patterns The actual reading level is not difficult, but due to unfamiliar language patterns and old-fashioned language, the reading becomes more difficult.

14 Complex Language/Text adds to the Reading Level of a Text Quantitative Measurement: 4.9 (Fry) Qualitative Measurement: Language Conventionality: Language patterns of the Puritan societies in the 1600s, along with mature content. Adjusted text-complexity value: Quantitative Measurement: 5.0 (Fry) Qualitative Measurement: Language Conventionality: Language patterns and dialects from Medieval England. Adjusted text-complexity value: 7.0

15 Knowledge Demands: “ Texts that make that make few assumptions about the extent of readers’ life experiences and the depths of their cultural/literary and content/discipline knowledge are generally less complex than are texts that make many assumptions in one or more of those areas.” A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry Quantitative Measurement: 6.8 (Fry Readability value). Qualitative Measurement: Knowledge Demands: To fully understand and appreciate the play, students require a knowledge of the following: assimilationist debate Pan-African Movement the Great Migration racial tension of the time period race/real estate issues Adjusted text-complexity value: 9-11

16 Knowledge Demands Specific examples: Life Experiences/Cultural/Literary/Content & Discipline Knowledge – Simple theme vs. complex or sophisticated theme – Single theme vs. multiple themes – Single perspective vs. multiple perspectives – Perspective(s) like one’s own vs. perspective(s) unlike or in opposition to one’s own – Everyday knowledge vs. cultural and literary knowledge – Few allusions to other texts vs. many allusions to other texts – Low intertextuality (few or no references to other texts)vs. high intertextuality (many references or citations to other texts)

17 When determining whether a text is suitable for use in your class: “Such assessments are best made by the teachers employing their professional judgment, experience, and knowledge of their students and the subject.” Common Core State Standards for English, Appendix A, p. 4

18 Thanks for all you do!


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