25 Mar

Reading Time and Common Core in Connecticut

When a student is reading a passage in a classroom in Connecticut, they are expected to read it for understanding. Often they will have to answer questions about the text that they read. This doesn’t just happen in Reading classes, it happens in Science, Social Studies and other subjects. Sometimes there are things imbedded in the text that the student will be questioned about. Sometimes the answers to questions can be pulled directly from the text.

Whether they can point to the text and say that’s my answer or whether they have to dig deeper and use inferencing skills (referred to by one common core commenter in the state as “thinking beyond the words on the page”); students have to aim for accuracy and select the best answer.

In Math, comprehension skills are likewise needed. For example, with the advent of common core a student may get a word problem or other math problem to solve. They may see the answer choices in the form of graphs, tables or charts; and they have to decide which one best answers or represents the answer to the particular question.

In Connecticut, common core represents deeper levels of teaching and learning. Every child that has to get to this level needs every possible tool to help them get there. This includes a teacher who teaches in such a way that a student can explain the way they are thinking. Referred to as meta-cognition, or thinking about what they are thinking about, this concept is nothing new. Since it is receiving greater emphasis with common core, students are expected to articulate what their mind frame is, and almost know their content so well as to be able to teach another student the content in question.

Another tool that proves useful, and is in fact required, is headphones. Headphones can both enable a student to block outside noises so they can hear better; they also can be used with other technology (such as a tablet), to help the student maintain more control over their learning practices. For instance, they can rewind an audio or video if they are exposed to something they don’t understand.

Speaking and listening standards have also changed with common core. A student will have to develop these important skills on a higher level. Headphones can be used to aid in this goal. A student can record themselves speaking, doing a speech, reciting a poem, reading a story, etc. From that experience they can gain skills on how to put sentences and paragraphs together, how to edit their words, choose synonyms, add analogies, include similes and metaphors and more. This tool, in other words, helps students with self-improvement.

When it comes to listening, headphones will help students to fine tune details of the human voice and use of language. No child need listen just for listening sake, it’s all about listening with a goal in mind. For example, a student may need to listen to a passage and be prepared to answer questions that are related to that passage. As with reading a passage, when they listen to one they may have to think past the words for some answers and listen for the obvious ones that don’t require that depth of skill. Some questions will be open-ended, requiring essay or other responses besides choosing from multiple answers. Essay answers require students to demonstrate deeper levels of understanding than does multiple choice.

It is suggested that some of the elements discussed in this article are all about getting students to learn how to access and share their thoughts about a subject, distinctly know how they arrived at a particular conclusion or answer, learn content deeper and incorporate it into their personal body of knowledge.