Common Core and Shifting the Cognitive Load

Since, coming back from Thanksgiving Break, I have worked to shift the cognitive load in my small groups. This has not been as easy as you may think. Why?? Well, mostly because of the rubric I'm evaluated and I do most of the work. My students will never be able to tackle more complex text, if I can't find ways for them to take that load on.

The Common Core State Standards have changed the way I look at teaching reading. I have had to shift my focus to increase the rigor and cognitive load on my students to gathering evidence, knowledge, and insights from what they read. In fact, 80-90% of the reading standards in every grade require text-dependent analysis — being able to answer questions only by referring back to the assigned text, not by drawing upon and referencing prior knowledge and experiences. This is the first year where 90% of everything my students has read has been informational text.

The hard part getting students to talk more about the text without my direct support--ie; me needing to talk way, way less. But this means that they have to take it having the conversation about the book at a depth that is meaningful and with a high level of rigor.

Gretchen Owocki's book has some many strategies to support reader and show the progression of rigor from kindergarten to fifth grade for the Common Core Standards. My students have been working on Reading Anchor 1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite textural evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. (Key ideas and Details)

Students have to read closely, to determine what the text says to find the evidence to support their thinking. Easier said than done. This can be seen in what students need to be able to do on their own at the end of each reading level. One way that I have been able to build my student's ability to talk about books has been to use Accountability stems. These sentence frames have scaffolded my student's as they move towards these benchmarks.

I have many factors to keep in mind how I introduce students to the advanced language of informational text analysis because they don't have the skill set necessary to access more complex text or the relevant terminology to be successful without direct support.. Informational and narrative text features, organization, genres, comprehension questions, and constructed response tasks differ strikingly.

Accountability talk is one way that I'm able to increase the cognitive load on my students because they get to do all the talking. I have included a sample of the sentence frames I use with my students.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that students are more familiar with the text structure and content. This also gives all students daily opportunities to communicate using more sophisticated social and academic English. The more they talk the better. Have a great week.


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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