I am in the beginning stages of a coaching cycle with a junior high literacy teacher. She specifically asked for help with the Common Core State Standard #9 for reading literature. For 7th grade, this standard states that students will be able to
compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.
She also wants to incorporate the work she has been doing with reader’s notebooks, encouraging kids to respond to their reading in a variety of ways.
Our first meeting was to determine what, exactly, our student goals were. So, we dove into that standard and tried to write more specific learning objectives from it. Kids will need to:
- be able to compare and contrast a fictional portrayal to a historical account. (They could probably do this with a Venn diagram or through an essay.)
- be able to identify how authors use factual information in their fictional writing. (Close reading will come in handy here.)
- be able to explain why authors of fiction use or alter history. (Possible responses to this might be to invoke empathy, to give us a new perspective, to provide more information.)
Our second step was to gather resources. So far, we know we are going to use Poetry Pairings by The New York Times. We are also building text sets. For our demo lessons, we will use Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, along with an article, some photos, and a video about the L.A. Riots. For the kids, we are building text sets around immigration (How Many Days to America by Eve Bunting, Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone) and the Japanese Internment Camps (Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki).
My role as the literacy coach differs according to teacher knowledge and skill level. This teacher is masterful; she is one of the most thoughtful and reflective teachers I’ve known. So, I will teach alongside her. I will help her look at student work so we can decide our next steps. I will help her stay focused on our learning goals and possibly refine them along the way. I will be a sounding board, a teaching partner. I will offer my knowledge about the Common Core and about reader’s response. I will help gather resources.
I see the important work we’ve already done together just by simply sitting down and talking through the standard.
Everyone should work with a coach – even the best of the best.