Ironically, this school with a flexible schedule to allow for innovative learning endeavors, is reverting to a model of one-size-fits-all learning tasks demoralizing a cutting edge model of flexible scheduling to accommodate curriculum needs.
If this sounds like your scenario, please wrap your head around a few poignant truths for advocacy. These three teacher-assessment questions below are a great starting ground to discuss at faculty meetings, principal appointments or in the lunchroom. Simple truths such as these may help to open research collaboration doors. These are merely three of many possibilities, but are effective one-liners to help secure and maintain your foothold in research--in spite of new writing programs, learning modules, or other packaged products that arrive in your building!
· We are living in an Age of Misinformation – not the information age. – Students need to learn how to access information as well as synthesize it to draw conclusions. This is college and career readiness. Not, finding information on Google or mere vetted websites and jotting those notes into a pro-forma document or virtual index cards.
· We are also living in a data-driven world and so this data below should speak.
· The PARCC tests will be 30% based upon correct “research” – If your students are not learning how to research, they will NOT score well on the PARCC tests. See this link: http://www.parcconline.org/mcf/english-language-artsliteracy/structure-model-content-frameworks-elaliteracy
Or, read this language from the PARCC site. (Incidentally, the Smarter-Balance tests are also based about 25% on a research task.) I loathe the invasive testing paradigm, but if it will help you advocate for necessary instructional time, then play that card!
Research project: The Model Content Frameworks give special prominence to research tasks, reflecting the deep connection research has to building and integrating knowledge while developing expertise on various topics. When possible, research should connect to texts selected for close readings, requiring students to closely read and compare and synthesize ideas across multiple texts. One avenue within the Model Content Frameworks is to ask students to extend their analytical writing on a text or texts by gathering additional information as part of a research project. Through a progression of research tasks, students are called on to present their findings in a variety of modes in informal and formal contexts appropriate to the grade level (e.g., through oral presentations, argumentative or explanatory compositions, or multimedia products).
So, do your best to advocate for your instructional foothold. A purchased curriculum package should not displace a person who is capable, equipped, and connected!
At the New England Library Association conference where I help pre-conference PD a few weeks ago, I met many great librarians who also bemoaned this scenario. We jokingly said we'd come up with a 12-Step program for recovery. Well, we've done better than that! We've boiled it down to 5 simple steps, because we know that brain research says the brain can't remember more than 4 at a time!
- Administer the Google litmus test
- Insert Essential Question at the beginning which will foster synthesis of those facts and conclusions
- Require credible library resources to be used
- Embed technology for engagement - somewhere
- Insure that students have an opportunity to "present" their knowledge
Now we really know that there is more to it than that, but these simple 5 will not scare them away from "Repackaging Research"