A Simple Analogy

Back in the day, in those simple days of yore, I used to teach Shakespeare. One exercise I used a few times is having students try to write a sonnet. It was really just an exercise in appreciation of how difficult a task it really is to write sonnets.

I would start the process simply. Write a love poem in four parts.Then I would add criteria one by one. So after they had a rudimentary poem established in four parts, I changed the game. Now those four parts had to be lines of four, four, four, and two. Ok, now things get tougher. Each of those four sections had to conform to a specific rhyme scheme.

And then they were told each line could only contain ten syllables.

And then they were told each line had to come darn close to the dreaded iambic pentameter (ba-bump ba-bump ba-bump ba-bump ba-bump).

You can imagine, many students ran into road blocks long before they had 14 lines of iambic pentameter with a specific rhyme scheme, that told a story in four parts, the fourth part being a clever two-line wrap up.

It's a heck of a challenge.

Shifting gears, the more I study and learn about the curriculum modules that are coming out, the more I appreciate all the layers of work that have gone into them. Now, NYSED is advising that the filed can really do one of three things: adopt them, adapt them, or ignore them (at your own peril of course).

If ignored, it's a task akin to trying to write a sonnet one criteria at a time. First, you must ensure that you choose grade appropriate texts using both qualitative and quantitative measures. Then after choosing texts, you must find the proper balance between fiction and non-fiction texts. You must also balance your reading with complimentary amounts of writing, narrative, argumentative, and informational.

Once you have your reading and writing balance, please ensure that you have also incorporated both science and social studies.

Don't forget to build in high quality formative and summative assessments.

And keep your eye on how your work will bootstrap next year's work.

And don't forget strategic vocabulary instruction.

Once again, it's a heck of a challenge. Think about the challenges of surviving in the teaching trenches. Now think about taking on any one of the above challenges. Hopefully, you can see the challenge the vendors for NYSED have taken. It looks more and more like they are truly incorporating all of it.

...maybe it's a bit more challenging than writing a sonnet.
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