Week Two: Standards shift and Research question

How does the shift in the Alaska Language Arts standards impact teaching and learning in my classroom? What is the question I would like to research over the next eight weeks?

According to Dr. Jones very nice, summative Power Point, the three biggest concerns with the shift in standards are: building knowledge through content rich non-fiction and informational text; reading and writing grounded in evidence; and regular practice with complex text and academic vocabulary. 

In my own classroom, especially when I taught jr. high, I always taught with the idea that these kids would one day be in college or the workplace, and I needed to equip them as best I could.  Whenever I asked them a question that analyzed the text, I would tell them to be “detectives” and point out specific evidence that backed up their explanation.  That in and of itself won’t be too much of a change for me.  However, the concept of utilizing more non-fiction and informational text is going to force a change in mindset for me. 

Fictional texts are generally more entertaining, and don’t usually contain such complexity.  However, I am now better equipped in my own tools as a teacher.  Playing to the students’ strengths and interests open an immense doorway for motivation.  By taking student reading interest inventories, and assessing students and their appropriate reading levels, I now know how to better equip my classroom library.  Providing content rich, non-fiction materials is much easier when you know what you’re looking for.  Nadine Bryce (2012) reminds us that students do have active imaginations, if allowed to use them.  Their own interest and curiosities can project them into areas of learning we never planned on ourselves.

When the students are curious and motivated in their literacy, it invites the opportunity to practice reading and comprehending complex text and acquiring new vocabulary.  Even complex text is taking on a new look as technology continues to rapidly evolve.  William Kist’s (2013) advice in his article, “New Literacies and the Common Core” really hit home for me.  His advice was to give students practice reading digital texts and doing digital writing.  I identify myself with the “Net gen,” but I find that I still have difficulty reading text from a digital device.  Hard copies are more comfortable for me, as that’s what I was trained to use.  It’s a discipline as a teacher to remember that just because I was trained that way it doesn’t make it better or correct.  Most students already have diligent practice with digital writing through texting or social networking.  Now it’s time to re-direct those strengths into something that will be a useful tool for future events. 

And I never considered literacy in music, but Weidner’s (2013) writing brought to mind that, yes, literacy is applicable to the arts.  There’s a need for interpreting meaning and significance.  Even macro/microstructure apply as the musician needs to understand the order of the music and understand the “gist” of what is being played.  I’ve covered how literacy plays into content areas such as science and math, but music and physical education are areas that I’ve neglected. 

Research Question:  What are the best methods to monitor and promote student learning in a distance learning environment?

I am hoping that this question will apply, as I am interested in learning how to connect with students and ensure their learning at a distance.  Teleporters haven’t yet been invented (or perfected anyway); gas is expensive; and I live on an island.  I love to teach, but I have a number of obstacles that get in my way.  I’m also looking to develop with the home school community, and I believe that understanding virtual classrooms and new technology will help me in that pursuit.



Bryce, N. (2012). “Mano a mano”: arts-based nonfiction literacy and content area learning. Language Arts, Jan 2012. Accessed at ProQuest.

Kist, W. (2013). New literacies and the common core. Educational Leadership, March 2013. Accessed at www.ASCD.org.

Weidner, B. (2013). Supporting common core reading literacy in the music performance classroom. Accessed at http://www.ilmea.org.



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4 responses to “Week Two: Standards shift and Research question

  1. Thank you for your great write up! I’m interested in how you take the student interest inventories. I teach little ones, first grade, but I can see that this would help even on our level. Did you have an assessment tool that you used? I am just using my observation and would love to learn about a more specific tool.
    Your research topic sounds very interesting. Do you have specific websites in mind to research? I’m excited to hear what you find out. I have many home school friends who come to me for ideas. I also think it would be nice to have some carry over learning for my school students. I’ll be interested in following your research.

    • Interest inventories are amazing, Lisa! There’s an assortment, but probably the fastest way of knowing what your students are into is asking them. Guiding them through book discussions near the beginning of the school year will at least get you started. And if you have a friendly librarian (they’re usually around), I’m sure she would be more than happy to point you towards high quality books to share with your students. Also, using interest inventories that incorporate pictures can help get past the initial reading aspect.

  2. ” Providing content rich, non-fiction materials is much easier when you know what you’re looking for.” I think this is where professional learning networks are going to be really helpful. Teachers pooling ideas of resources, in this case non-fiction materials, in order to help each other compile interesting reading for our students is going to be key in making the job of finding materials easier.

    I also think the results of your research question will be very important. As we move toward more and more distance education, we do need to determine how to engage and prepare our students for independent distance learning.

  3. #SEACCR Tiffany, I am hoping my students will be getting creative when they read the expository text I am providing in my classroom like welding, fixing up old cars, and maybe one will even become a leader in his home country where he is frustrated at their actions by reading their local news.

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