literacy

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beyond the marshmallow test

expanded learning time

Not Done Yet

Takeaways

Anatomy of a lesson

New York

Identifying a weakness, Explore Schools shifts focus to literacy

A group of Explore teachers listen to a teaching training session on cognitive engagement in literacy at Brooklyn College on Wednesday. When second-year teacher Alyssa Reyes saw her fourth-graders’ state exam scores, she was surprised. Math was a lot higher than she thought it would be and literacy was lower than she expected, she said. The Explore Excel Charter School teacher attributed the disparity to the fact that last year her school didn't have a literacy coordinator, while it had a full-time math coordinator who was "exceptional." "She really challenged me as a first-year teacher to not only get good at planning but also be much more reflective about execution and coming back to help students with different learning styles," Reyes said. Explore Schools picked up on this network-wide weakness in literacy and has responded by adding full-time literacy coordinators to join the ones in math and increasing the time that teachers have to work together. It is also strengthening its shared literacy curriculum and pushing teachers to tackle bigger-picture goals like "cognitive engagement" in their classrooms. New York schools have known about the new Common Core standards for nearly three years now and were supposed to tie their instruction to the new standards for the first time last year. But the results of the state tests released earlier this month have made the changes a reality, and educators across the city are spending the waning weeks of summer considering how to adjust their teaching in light of the scores.