BY G. FAITH LITTLE
Time moves forward, as it always does. We can take this time to reflect on lessons learned when we unexpectedly and quickly shifted from teaching in the classroom, to teaching remotely, and then into a next normal of blended in-person and virtual learning spaces. One big takeaway from this time of critical reflection is that we aren’t starting with a blank page. Whatever the season, we can adapt tools we already have to meet the challenges we’re facing.
Breathing new life into book clubs
New tools can breathe new life into our planning and our teaching, and creating a new tool doesn’t need to be done from scratch. By connecting Ten Tips for Successful Book Clubs with our Global Mindset Framework, we can quickly create a new resource that integrates teaching 21st century skills into each reading opportunity we plan for our students.
Book clubs offer many benefits to student readers, including:
A successful book club for your students will:
Understanding the Global Mindset Framework
Now that we’ve framed some of the characteristics of book clubs, we can connect each facet to our Global Mindset Framework. This will help us streamline our work when planning for our next book club iteration, or beginning a book club community with our students.
The Global Mindset Framework is the articulation of 21st century skills students need to navigate their present and their future, sorted into five categories of capacities: caring, collaborative, creative, critical, and global. The framework addresses key questions that teachers and school leaders struggle with as they attempt to make key concepts relevant to children in a changing world.
To understand the Global Mindset Framework, we can look to the Global Learning Alliance (GLA). The GLA is the outgrowth of our groundbreaking research on the features and practices surrounding 21st century teaching and learning. It has evolved from the seeds of a research project and is now a consortium of schools and universities around the world dedicated to understanding, defining, applying, and sharing the principles and practices of a world-class education within a wide range of educational contexts.
21st century capacities
Global capacity: The capacity for students to step outside the confines of their own familiar social world to understand distant realities in order to engage productively with the world.
Critical capacity: The capacity for students to develop their full critical cognitive capacities in order to be discerning and informed citizens of the world.
Collaborative capacity: The capacity for students to develop habits of observation, reflection, and collaboration, and to be able to communicate in multiple modalities such as through images, words, sounds, gestures, or an integration of these modes in order to actively contribute to various discourses in the world.
Creative capacity: The capacity for students to follow their curiosity by questioning or imagining in order to contribute positive improvements or inventions to their world.
Caring capacity: The capacity for students to explore compassion, empathy, and self-awareness in order to develop caring partnerships with themselves, their communities, countries, and world.
Activating 21st century skills
Using the template below, we can imagine how we might combine various capacities from the Global Mindset Framework with our tips for success to generate a profile of a book club that integrates 21st century skills into student learning. We want to keep moving our teaching forward to meet the needs of today’s students, but we don’t often feel we have the time we need to recreate our plans. By layering the Global Mindset Framework over our book club planning, we can revise what we’ve already got going for us instead of starting from a blank page.
Connecting skills to next steps
Using the template above, we can customize our profile to fit a specific book — in this case, we'll use Malala Yousafzai's I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World. In this model, we start with our to-do list; we imagine some of our options, and what we need to collect to complete our plan.
The task before us all is to educate students today for the world they’re poised to lead tomorrow, and as we recognize that we can no longer sustain a 20th century in a 21st century world, we must remain flexible in order to meet the dynamic needs of our students. As we look for ways to build upon the expertise and techniques already alive in our classrooms, we can easily create opportunities for students to build 21st century skills, shifting from teacher-centered instruction to an environment that puts students at the center of their reading and writing experiences.
FROM SEAN HUGHES
This is a difficult time for many of us, and students, undoubtedly, have been intensely impacted by shifts in education over the past year. Our ability to support and differentiate instruction for English language learners has shifted as well. As they've migrated to online classes and navigated new ways of learning, they are likely looking for additional guidance on their language learning journey.
This resource is designed to help students who are still acquiring English language skills and need extra supports for self-study. Language learning requires extra attention and focus, and this can be exceptionally hard when learning independently or at home. In this collection, we have compiled some of our favorite and most useful resources for guiding and supporting learning both within and outside of the classroom. Links, descriptions, and advice for using each resource are included.
We hope this collection can help to guide those who may be struggling with language learning, especially in the ELA setting. We know how difficult it can be to learn a new language, and hope that these resources can help facilitate an elevated learning environment and a comprehensive approach to leveling the learning environment for all of our amazing learners.
Uncovering the meaning of unfamiliar words while reading independently is a keystone skill for students from the time they start to read, all the way through college and beyond.
Monitoring for Meaning is an adaptable tool that guides students of all ages through this process, supporting them as they move through the cognitive steps of identifying and unpacking new words. As students work to decipher the meaning of difficult or unfamiliar words, they are empowered to access their prior knowledge and use available context clues to form their definitions, before turning to additional resources.
About the text
Set in the rural South in the 1970s, Alice Walker's short story gives readers a window into the world of an African-American family when a daughter who left for school in the city returns to visit her mother and sister who remained behind. Walker uses quilting and other rural craft work as a metaphor for exploring the historical legacy of the enslavement of Africans in the United States.
Invitations to Create
Finding ways to engage students in the reading of classic texts can be difficult, particularly when so much teaching and learning is happening remotely. Invitations to Create — a method from our Literacy Unbound initiative, which reinvigorates students and teachers through project-based, collaborative curricula developed around challenging texts, ultimately increasing student engagement and building classroom community in the process — offer engaging multimedia prompts that are designed to support students in their reading and understanding of a shared piece of literature. Each invitation offers an opportunity to reflect, analyze, and synthesize the text at hand.
Invitations to Create provide key opportunities to move students from talking about the text to experiencing the text. Through each invitation, students can feel the story in ways that might not otherwise be possible — they can talk from within a text, and speak directly from the perspective of the characters. This process allows rich meaning-making to happen, and will allow you and your students to find ways to experience literature together, even while apart.
Each invitation in this set is focused on a meaningful quote that our team identified as a hotspot for further thinking, discussion, and creation. The hotspots are accompanied by multimedia connections such as historical photographs, audio clips of the quotes, and connections to current events or related media. These connections are meant to inspire further thinking, engagement, and curiosity for students while they're reading.
Differentiated instruction aims to meet the diverse needs of students, but it can be difficult to design lessons that support those who are struggling without restricting learners who are ready for more advanced study.
The Rigormeter’s spectrum approach, which re-envisions Bloom's Taxonomy, offers a straightforward outline of six learning stages, along with suggested actions for student engagement in each phase of the learning process.
Like an odometer, the Rigormeter measures progress that builds from one stage to another. By de-linearizing Bloom's levels of knowledge, the Rigormeter highlights that learning can occur along a continuum, which can be traveled in more than one direction, with stops along the way. This approach implies that once we’ve reached the end, we might easily begin again.
The Rigormeter is not just a method of measuring understanding — it can also be a map for planning instruction. If we conscientiously design our instruction to support students at each stage of the spectrum, we have the opportunity to see students thoughtfully engaging in the learning process, finding success at each stage along the way because they were properly prepared. Teachers who aim to challenge their students beyond their initial understandings can utilize the stages within the Rigormeter to design activities and lessons for further depth of study.
As you continue to adapt your instruction, challenges and pain points are inevitable — but with change comes opportunity.
Before deciding how to tackle a professional challenge before you, you'll first want to determine the root cause of your problem, and your ultimate leverage area. Using our 5 Whys protocol, we can tap into critical reflection and dig below the surface to identify factors within your sphere of influence that are contributing to the challenge you're facing, and bring pathways for change into focus.
Let's see what happens if we use the 5 Whys to unpack the challenge of students struggling on state tests:
Students are struggling on state tests. Why?
Because the tests are long and students get tired. Why?
Because students struggle with test-taking stamina. Why?
Because they get tired and bored, and it's difficult for them to retain focus. Why?
Because the texts or tasks are complex and they struggle to comprehend them. Why?
Because they struggle with assessment literacy and text types, or question styles become difficult for them to read.
Notice how, when forced to keep our responses within the realm of our influence, we can drill down to some concrete areas of focus. Although we may not be able to solve all struggles related to state tests, we can identify leverage areas that will help us to reframe our challenge and feel empowered to take action.
To access additional free K-12 resources from our team, please visit our Resources page.
TAGS: CRITICAL REFLECTION, RESOURCES