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Alaska English/Language Arts Standards Understanding the Shifts

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1 Alaska English/Language Arts Standards Understanding the Shifts
Welcome to an Overview of Alaska’s Alaska Standards for English/Language Art. Thank you for taking the time to join me today. Karen Melin Literacy Content Specialist Alaska Department of Education & Early Development

2 Goals For This Session Navigate Structure of Alaska English/Language Arts Standards Identify shifts in the Alaska ELA Standards Peek at the future Review Goals Let’s begin.

3 Intentional Design Limitations
What the Alaska Standards do not define: How teachers should teach All that can or should be taught The nature of advanced work beyond the core The interventions needed for students well below grade level The full range of support for English language learners and students with special needs Everything needed to be college and career ready Facilitator Talking Points: Review information presented on the slide to inform participants of some of the limitations of the standards.

4 College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
The concept of anchor standards: Created before the K–12 standards Present a big picture or overarching idea Represent overall outcomes Reflect research about postsecondary education programs and what employers identified as critical skills Facilitator Talking Points [xx min] Begin with an understanding of what the anchor standards are – purpose The Alaska’s English Language Arts Standards were modeled in part after the CCSS. The creators of the CCS began their process by identifying Standards for College and Career Readiness (CCR) which became the Anchor Standards. The Anchor Standards are the expectations for students exciting high school, based on the goal of ensuring students are well prepared for a career or post-secondary pursuits. The grade-level standards were then backwards mapped from these exit standards.

5 The Alaska ELA Standards are organized in four content areas
The Alaska ELA Standards are organized in four content areas. Reading, Writing speaking and Listening and Language.

6 Each content area has a set of Anchor Standards
Each content area has a set of Anchor Standards. These are those standards that were identified as what students should be able to do by the end High School to be ready for college or a chosen career. The standards are the organized into clusters called strands.

7 The content area of Reading is divided into focus areas
The content area of Reading is divided into focus areas. Reading literature (10 standard), reading informational texts (10 standards) and at grades k-5 reading foundational skills. The speaking and listening Content area contains 6 standards and the language content area which also contains 6 standards includes vocabulary and conventions. Vocabulary and conventions are treated in their own strand not because these areas should be handled in isolation, but because their use extends across reading, writing, speaking and listening.

8 The anchor standards are then backward mapped to the grade specific standard. Those are the expectation of a particular Anchor Standard in a particular grade level. The grade specific standards are organized by individual grades in kindergarten through grade 8. In high school the standards are organized in grade bands of 9-10 and The standards for these skills are targeted in grades K-5. The expectation is that these skills should be mastered by 5th grade so they can be utilized throughout the rest of a student's academic career. Also as a part of the Alaska Standards for ELA are the Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects in grades 6-12

9 10 Anchor Standards Arranged in 4 strands
READING WRITING 10 Anchor Standards Arranged in 4 strands Key Ideas and Details Craft and Structure Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity 10 Anchor Standards Arranged in 4 Strands Text Types and Purpose Production and Distribution of Writing Research to Build and Present Knowledge Range of Writing 6-8 9-10 11-12 Grade Specific Standard Grade Specific Standards Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12 Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects grades 6-12 These standards do not address the content a student will be required to know about the subjects of History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects in grades What these standards address is LITERACY within those content areas, or, how to read and write within these disciplines. There are only standards for reading and writing, have the same anchor standards as reading and writing and are grouped into 3 grade groups, 6-8, 9-10,

10 Content Area Here is an example of how the anchor standard correspond by number across the grade, with the grade level standards. The Top portion of this slide is a portion of the Anchor Standard page. The bottom portion of the page is a portion of the Reading Standard for the Focus Area of Literature grades K, 1, 2. Remember these grade specific standards were backward mapped to get to what students need to know to ready for college or a career upon graduation.

11 Content Area Here is the same Anchor Standards with the grade specific standards in grades 3,4,5.

12 To access the standards document you can go to the Department webpage,

13 That link will lead to: First of all there is a link to the Standards themselves including word, PDF, Excel and text delimited versions. .

14 Turn and Talk Tell a partner one thing you can add to your knowledge or understanding of the Alaska English/Language Arts Standards.

15 What Has Not Shifted in English Language Arts
Foundational Skills in the early Grades The instruction of the basic reading components is still an expectation The standards for these skill are mastered by grade 5. There are some aspects of the new ELA Standards that have not changed. The primary part that has remained the same is the expectation that students meet standards in the area of the five components of reading. That being Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Comprehension.

16 General Shifts in Instruction
Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction and information texts in addition to literature 2. Reading and writing grounded in evidence from the text The new standards represent a shift in the way we approach instruction. The three major shifts in the ELA standards are: Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction and information texts in addition to literature Reading and writing grounded in evidence from the text Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary Now we will take a look and some of the more specific details within each content area. 3. Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary

17 Shift #1: Building Knowledge Through Content-Rich Nonfiction
Facilitator Talking Points: The first of the three shifts in ELA/Literacy is building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction. The standards have followed the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) guidelines in establishing how much informational text students should read in school.

18 The Why: Shift One Much of our knowledge base comes from informational text Informational text makes up the vast majority (80 percent) of the required reading in college and the workplace Informational text is harder for students to comprehend than narrative text Yet, students are asked to read very little informational text (7 to 15 percent) in the elementary grades and in middle school Facilitator Talking Points: Review information on the slide. Literacy plays a role in science and technology, history and social studies and in classes focused on the Arts – and in English Language Arts. Background knowledge has long been connected to comprehension. Reading informational text is essential in building background knowledge. The standards demand that students work on literacy in all the content areas, not as a distraction or as an addition to their study of content, but to build their understanding of the content being studied. This is displayed most prominently in two ways. 1) At every grade level, there are a set of standards for informational text and a set for literary standards. 2) Reading Standard 10 calls for students to read a wide range of informational text. It is actually a standard to read informational text.

19 What is Informational Text in ELA?
Literary nonfiction. For purposes of Alaska ELA Standards, Biographies, memoirs, speeches, opinion pieces Essays about art, literature, journalism, etc. Historical , scientific, technical, or economic accounts written for a broad audience Emphasis is on text structure other than narrative Historical text (Gettysburg Address, Letters from the Birmingham Jail, or The Preamble and First Amendment of the United States Constitution) Facilitator Talking Points: The informational text are literary nonfiction, as well as, historical, scientific, and technical texts. While the latter group is addressed in the content areas, in ELA, the focus is literary nonfiction. The emphasis is on a text structure other than narrative. This brings us to the problem of defining literary nonfiction within the context of the Alaska ELA Standards. While we find many views of what constitutes literary nonfiction, we need to keep in mind the purpose behind its emphasis in the Alaska ELA STandards: To help ensure that all students are college and career ready in literacy by the time they graduate; they are capable of reading high quality, complex text independently. Typically students are more familiar with the narrative structure found in stories and have difficulty with the text structures found in most informational text. So, it is important that the literary nonfiction selections chosen for students include structures other than the more familiar narrative. Argument, for instance, is especially emphasized throughout, not only in the Reading Informational Text standards, but also in the Writing and Speaking/Listening strands. Equally important is that the literary nonfiction selections represent high quality texts worthy of close reads.

20 Balance of Information and Literary Texts in K-5
Alaska doesn’t specifically state. 7% of instructional time is spent in informational text.

21 Shift #2: Reading and Writing grounded in Evidence From Text
Facilitator Talking Points: The second of the three shifts in ELA/Literacy concerns evidence - the obligation of students to pay close attention to what they read and to support what they say or write about it by providing evidence. Grounding reading and writing in evidence from the text is not only applicable to informational text, but to stories as well. The demand for evidence can be thought of as “reading like a detective and writing like a reporter”. Too many teachers shift students ’attention away from the text too quickly by asking them what they think of what they’re reading, or how it makes them feel. Or by asking them to make personal connections to the story. The Alaska standards asks that teachers develop questions—and demand answers—that use evidence from the text to support responses, to defend opinions, etc. Of course, by engaging in the text in this way, students will inevitably develop opinions and have reactions to the text. They should. But those feelings and reactions should not be the primary focus of instruction. In fact, it doesn’t need to be. A student who deeply understands King’s words in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, for instance, will not be able to help having an emotional response to it. We don’t need to focus instruction on spoon feeding those feelings to them.

22 The Why: Shift Two Most college and workplace writing requires evidence The ability to cite evidence differentiates strong from weak student performance on NAEP Evidence is a major emphasis of the ELA standards: Reading standard 1, writing standard 9, and speaking and listening standards 2, 3, and 4, all focus on gathering, evaluating, and presenting evidence from text. Approximately 80 percent of Reading Standard in each grade expect text dependent analysis Facilitator Talking Points: Most college and career writing requires students to take a position or inform others citing evidence from the text, not provide a personal opinion. Across the grades, and even across the content areas, students need to develop the skill of grounding their responses in evidence from the text. Requiring students to use evidence can and should occur during oral discussions with read aloud in the youngest grades and continue across all grades and content areas. This is a sharp departure from much current practice where the focus is commonly to relate the text to yourself in narrative expressive pieces where students share their views on various topics. Even when students are reading grade-level texts, they have too often been encouraged to write or discuss without having to use evidence from the text. Research conducted in Texas and Vermont found that 80% of questions students were asked to answer, K-12, did not require them to go into the text. It is easier to talk about personal responses than to analyze what the text has to say, hence students - and teachers - are likely to engage in this type of dialogue before a text is fully analyzed. The unintended consequence of all of this is less time in the text more outside the text; problematic in any case but far more so with complex text. This is does not mean banishing personal response to a text. Though not called for in the standards, there are times these responses and discussion are essential. They are best done however AFTER the text is fully analyzed. At this point students' personal responses will be enhanced by what the text has to offer.

23 What makes Casey’s experiences at bat humorous?
Not Text Dependent Text Dependent In “Casey at the Bat,” Casey strikes out. Describe a time when you failed at something. In “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King discusses nonviolent protest. Discuss, in writing, a time when you wanted to fight against something that you felt was unfair. In “The Gettysburg Address” Abraham Lincoln says the nation is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Why is equality an important value to promote? What makes Casey’s experiences at bat humorous? What can you infer from King’s letter about the letter that he received? “The Gettysburg Address” mentions the year According to Lincoln’s speech, why is this year significant to the events described in the speech? Facilitator Talking Points: Examples of questions that take students outside and inside the text. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was a response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen called “A call for Unity” Text-dependent questions require students to pay attention to the text at hand and to draw evidence from that text. What does this look like in the classroom? Teachers insist that classroom experiences stay deeply connected to the text on the page and that students develop habits for making evidentiary argument both in conversation, as well as in writing to assess comprehension of a text. Students have rich and rigorous conversations and develop writing that are dependent on a common text.

24 Good Text-Dependent Questions
Linger over specific phrases and sentences to ensure careful comprehension of the text Help students see something worthwhile that they would not have seen on a more cursory reading Is a question that can only be answered by referring explicitly back to the text being read. Culturally we have lost the permission to read a text once through and not understand it.

25 Reading Strategies and Text-Dependent Questions
Text-dependent questions generally call on students to employ reading strategies. Strategies are no longer taught in isolation. The text itself—and a reader’s need to comprehend it—should determine what strategies are activated, not the other way around. Facilitator Talking Points : The text itself is the driver for what strategies would logically be employed to comprehend it fully. Text dependent questions and tasks need to be created in such a way that they activate the reading strategies that would be useful and appropriate to solve some comprehension challenge the text presents. Reading strategies are taught in service to the reader's comprehension of the text. In fact, the major reading strategies are contained in the Reading Standards 2 -9 for both literature and informational text. Other high value strategies such as comprehension monitoring and rereading for understanding are activated throughout the process of answering the questions because the demand for text evidence pushed the reader back to the text and constantly asks for a check on understanding. If participants are getting stuck on this point - since it represents such a shift from current practice, it may be useful to take the anchor standards for reading and either name each one for the group or ask people to work in small groups to do it for themselves. This should help reassure teachers that by creating questions that are aligned with the standards they will get frequent opportunities to have students practice using reading strategies and can build in their customary teaching and modeling of strategies into those same organic opportunities.

26 Reading Strategies and Text-Dependent Questions
Reading strategies should support the comprehension of texts and focus on building knowledge and insight. Close reading and the gathering of knowledge from specific texts should be at the heart of classroom activities and not be consigned to the margins of instructional materials. Facilitator Talking Points : Students need to build an infrastructure of skills, habits, knowledge, dispositions, and experience that enables them to approach new challenging texts with confidence and stamina. Provide information about Dr. Timothy Shanahan’s blog at . Prep/Materials If there is time, have participants read Handout 6, Timothy Shanahan’s blog “We Zigged When We Should Have Zagged”. Discuss with a partner. If there is not time, let participants know it is in the binder as a handout. Activity materials: Handout 6

27 Reading Strategies and Text-Dependent Questions
Reading strategies should work in the service of reading comprehension (rather than being an end unto themselves) and should assist students in building knowledge and insight from specific texts. To be effective, instruction on specific reading techniques should occur when those techniques will illuminate specific aspects of a text.

28 Video https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/analyzing-text-lesson

29 Turn and Talk Identify any Alaska English/Language Arts Standards that were present in this lesson. How did Mr. Brewer accomplish the lesson objective of getting the students to discuss and analyze difficult informational text? Could the approaches that Ms. Brewer uses be used in other content areas? If so, what adjustments might need to be made?

30 Shift #3: Regular Practice With Complex Text and Its Academic Vocabulary
Facilitator Talking Points : The third shift requires that ALL students have regular practice with grade level appropriate complex text and its academic language (vocabulary and syntax) Just as evidence appears all over the ELA standards, so does complex text. It is the first half of Standard Ten, the same standard that calls for a range of text types. It is a standard for students to read grade appropriate complex text at every point in school. Vocabulary is central to the standards as well. It is what Reading Standard 4 is about, and is also the focus of Language Standards 4,5, and 6.

31 The Why: Shift Three The gap between the complexity of college and high school text is huge. What students can read, in terms of complexity, is the greatest predictor of success in college (ACT study). Too many students are reading at a low level. (Less than 50 percent of graduates can read sufficiently complex text to succeed at the college level.) The Alaska ELA Standards focus on building the general academic vocabulary so critical to comprehension. Facilitator Talking Points : Research that informed the development of the Standards revealed that there is a significant gap in the complexity of what students read by the end of high school and what they are required to read in both college and careers – 4 years! In a study done by ACT in 2006, it was found that the complexity level of what students read at each grade level has dropped 4 years in the last half of the 20th century (and has remained the same in the last decade.) The academic language of informational text is different than narrative literature. Exposing students to this enhances the breadth of their academic language, lack of this exposure narrows it. For too long, proficiency in reading has been defined as skill in using reading strategies, even to the point of separating those strategies from the context or challenge that might call for a given strategy. The Alaska ELA Standards puts the text in the center of the equation and demands that students activate strategies in service of understanding the text. Mastering the strategies in isolation only take students so far. A successful reader possesses the ability to activate strategies skillfully in response to challenges most frequently encountered in complex text. Like every other complex set of skills, this takes lots of practice. Increasing complexity of text is the path to CCR, not increasing complicated reading strategies.

32 Text complexity is defined by
w of Text Complexity In the past, when we looked at a text for complexity we primarily just looked at the quantitative measure, which deals exclusively with length and number of words. The more rigorous standard considers a qualitative measure which address the levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity. Reader and task considerations is another area that is considered in the more rigorous standards. This looks at the background knowledge of reader, motivation and interest. For instance, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath may be considered at the second grade level when only looking at the quantitative measure but when the language conventions and needed for background knowledge of the reader are considered, it is a ninth grade level.

33 Text complexity is defined by
w of Text Complexity Quantitative Quantitative measures – readability and other scores of text complexity often best measured by computer software. In the past, when we looked at a text for complexity we primarily just looked at the quantitative measure, which deals exclusively with length and number of words. The more rigorous standard considers a qualitative measure which address the levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity. Reader and task considerations is another area that is considered in the more rigorous standards. This looks at the background knowledge of reader, motivation and interest. For instance, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath may be considered at the second grade level when only looking at the quantitative measure but when the language conventions and needed for background knowledge of the reader are considered, it is a ninth grade level.

34 Text complexity is defined by
w of Text Complexity Quantitative Quantitative measures – readability and other scores of text complexity often best measured by computer software. Qualitative Qualitative measures – levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands often best measured by an attentive human reader. In the past, when we looked at a text for complexity we primarily just looked at the quantitative measure, which deals exclusively with length and number of words. The more rigorous standard considers a qualitative measure which address the levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity. Reader and task considerations is another area that is considered in the more rigorous standards. This looks at the background knowledge of reader, motivation and interest. For instance, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath may be considered at the second grade level when only looking at the quantitative measure but when the language conventions and needed for background knowledge of the reader are considered, it is a ninth grade level.

35 Text complexity is defined by
w of Text Complexity Quantitative Quantitative measures – readability and other scores of text complexity often best measured by computer software. Qualitative Qualitative measures – levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands often best measured by an attentive human reader. Reader and Task Reader and Task considerations – background knowledge of reader, motivation, interests, and complexity generated by tasks assigned often best made by educators employing their professional judgment. In the past, when we looked at a text for complexity we primarily just looked at the quantitative measure, which deals exclusively with length and number of words. The more rigorous standard considers a qualitative measure which address the levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity. Reader and task considerations is another area that is measured in the more rigorous standards. This looks at the background knowledge of reader, motivation and interest. For instance, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath may be considered at the second grade level when only looking at the quantitative measure but when the language conventions and needed for background knowledge of the reader are considered, it is a ninth grade level.

36 Emphasis on Complex Text
Facilitator Talking Points: Click on the link to watch a short video of Timothy Shanahan discuss the emphasis on complex text in classrooms.

37 Features of Complex Text
Subtle and/or frequent transitions Multiple and/or subtle themes and purposes Density of information Unfamiliar settings, topics, or events Lack of repetition, overlap, or similarity in words and sentences Complex sentences Uncommon vocabulary Lack of words, sentences, or paragraphs that review or pull things together for the student Longer paragraphs Any text structure that is less narrative and/or mixes structures Facilitator Talking Points: Complex text contains any and all combinations of these features in many combinations. The complexity level is determined by both quantitative and qualitative measures. The details of text complexity are well described in Appendix A of the Standards, one of the supplemental readings offered with this module. New tools have been developed since the Standards were developed to help determine qualitative text complexity. Those materials are available on Students who struggle with reading almost always have gaps in their vocabulary and their ability to deal with more complex sentence structures. This too is well documented in research. Too often, less proficient students are given texts at their level where they do not see these features, where the demands of vocabulary and sentence structure are lowered. Though this is done for the kindest of reasons, it has disastrous consequences. Day by day, differentiating by level of text during instructional time increases the achievement gap between high performers and those who struggle. Students cannot address gaps in their vocabulary and develop skill with unpacking complex syntax text when they are not given the opportunity to work with material that provides these opportunities. With that said, there is a place for providing students with text more appropriately matched to their individual reading abilities to build fluency and provide opportunity for increasing the volume of reading. But those texts cannot be the primary texts for instruction.

38 Vocabulary Vocabulary is one of two features that is most predictive of student future difficulty in reading. (Chall 1996, Stanovich 1986, Nelson et al 2012) Academic vocabulary is the vocabulary critical to understanding the concepts of the content taught in schools. Vocabulary is difficult to catch up

39 Alaska Standards Timeline
SY All grades and content taught to new standards Spring ‘15 new assessment in place SY Awareness Campaign Transition Tools Field test item types June 2012 Adoption by State board SY Alignment of curriculum to new standards Implementation of new standards

40 Spring 2015 New Alaska Assessments
Alaska has been accepted as a member of Smarter Balanced (SBAC).

41 Goals Check Navigate Structure of Alaska English/Language Arts Standards Identify shifts in the Alaska ELA Standards Review Goals Let’s begin.

42 Contact Us! Karen Melin, Language Arts Content Specialist Deborah Riddle, Mathematics Content Specialist Bjorn Wolter, Science Content Specialist Elizabeth Davis, Assessment Administrator Here are key contacts for the new Alaska Standards.


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