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My Mistake

The Core 4 All team has written insightful and powerful ideas over the last year.  If you are a regular Core 4 All reader, you may recall I had set a goal for myself (January 29th 2011 post) to restructure my own lesson plans in order to specifically focus on skill development within the reading of literature in order that I might better equip my students for junior year English.  Yes, I did complete SACI templates for our next two novels.  Yes, the templates looked GOOD.  YES, my students did know exactly what skills they were expected to learn.  However, I completely fell down on the job of rigorously and systematically using a 4-point rubric in order to compile and share data with my students in order that they could – in the words of my colleague’s post of April 2, 2011 – “take ownership of the problem and become accountable for changing.”  I did not succeed in revisiting the skill with students who did not meet proficiency.

My New Plan

I wrote a new SACI template for my summer school, credit recovery class of nineteen students who failed a semester or two of either English III or English IV this past school year.  I chose 4 Common Core Standards.   Click here to see the complete SACI template with the entire Common Core Standard delineated.  In brief they include:

Two Writing Standards:

#10 – Research to Build and Present Knowledge (grades 11-12)
#1 & b – Text Types and Purposes (grades 11-12)

One Language Standard:

#6 Vocabulary Acquisition and Use (grades 11-12)

One Reading Standard:

#2 Key Ideas and Details (grades 11-12)

My Pre-Assessments

Here are two examples of my approach to ensuring students possess the above mentioned skills.  The data I collected through assessments to share with my students, focus on Writing Standard #1 & b and Language Standard #6.

The first pre-assessment to measure CCS #1 & b was to write a letter to the editor of a magazine commenting on their recently published article.  Students were instructed to quote two pieces of evidence to support their stated opinion (claim) about the article’s subject.  The piece was read during class.  Locating and utilizing quotes within the letter would prove they could supply relevant evidence with proper citation.

Students were given a rubric as well as 45 minutes of computer lab typing time.

Here is the breakdown of how the students scored based on the 4-point rubric:

2 students scored in challenge category.
5 students scored in proficient category.
7 students scored in developing category.
5 students scored in beginning category.

The second pre-assessment was a multiple-choice quiz utilizing words made up of 72 Latin roots.   We would focus on learning morphology in order to increase their vocabulary knowledge.  Our school instituted a “Freshmen Vocabulary Project” over the last year, studying 4 Latin or Greek roots per week given in four content classes (English, Social Science, Math and Science).  I am utilizing this same program delivered through power point slides and practice activities.  We learn seven roots per day, take notes, reinforce learning through a variety of activities, and complete  comprehension-checks every morning.  Our class goal was 90% mastery by the end of the semester – which is 12 days in summer school time.  The rubric contained the following measures:

Challenge: Correctly identify all 72 roots.
Proficient: Correctly identify 62-71 roots.
Developing: Correctly identify 58-61 roots.
Beginning: Correctly identify 43-57 roots.
Not meeting: Correctly identify less than 43 roots.

The pre-assessment results?

Challenge level: 0 students
Proficient level: 0 students
Developing level: 4 students
Beginning level:  2 students
Not meeting: 13 students

Student Shock

Low scores!  I shared the data above with my students.  They looked at their individual scores, then compared them to the whole class.  I believe they were shocked to see their scores cast in the light of “Challenge” “Proficient” “Developing” and “Beginning”.   They know I expect them to all be “Proficient” by the end of the semester.  And, they know there will be a post-test on both these measures as part of the final exam.  I can see them working diligently on lessons which focus on finding and gathering support, as well as our root study.  Students have received a clear picture and therefore know exactly what is expected of them.

Teacher Shock

Time!  It takes time to plan, outline and set up the assessment with a rubric for each standard.  It takes time to collect and chart the data. It takes time to show and explain it students.  But, most importantly, it takes time to ensure the same skill is revisited in a similar fashion within the next unit in order to ensure all students achieve the skill.  My students will be writing letters to the editor as we finish Fahrenheit 451 and yet again when we finish Bartleby the Scrivener.   Most important will be the final data to see if all students succeed in reaching “Proficiency.”


The data will reveal all when it comes in at the end of the semester.  These two skills-based lessons have worked so well that I can envision a binder full of Core 4 All SACI templates, perhaps placed in order by CCSS number and standard type, through which I can be assured students are meeting the skills my content area course is required to teach.