Saturday, January 14, 2012

Unpacking the Common Core State Standards: Reading/Performing/Writing Yeats
The Golden Apple Tree by Arthur Rackham (from a book of  fairy tales, 1853)
In order to better understand the middle school ELA Common Core State Standards, deconstructing the actions taken when engaging with a literary text can helpful.  In this post,  a series of performance and analysis tasks are explored and this is followed by examining the CCSS in order to see which of the standards were attended to. One of the 'model' texts included in the Common Core is William Butler Yeat's poem, "The Song of the Wandering Aengus."

Note: This post is done in preparation for work I will be doing with literacy coaches in Manhattan.

I. Entering the Literary Text 

1. Hearing the Poem

2.  Hearing/Reading the Poem

3. Examine the image, The Golden Apple Tree, that is at the top of this post.  Tell your partner one or two ways that you can connect the image with the Yeat's poem.

Talk with a partner: How are these performances (audio/video and still image) similar? Different? 

II. Dwelling Inside the Poem

4. Visualizing the Text: Slideshare

6. Chorally Performing the Poem: Slideshare
Note: I will audio tape the performances so you have a record.

7. Annotating the Poem

Here are some examples of ways that others have annotated a poem.
Heaney's Digging.
Out of the Dusk
Annotating the short story Miss Brill

An annotation of a poem are the marginal notes you make while reading and rereading a poem (or any text). For our work, I have given you a few questions to guide this annotation.

Materials Needed:
Copy of the poem (You may want to download this to your computer.)
Internet search engine

1. Read the title: Does it offer a clue as to what the text may be about? Go ahead & note what you think.
2. Read the whole poem.
3. Reread the poem, this time with a pen at hand. As you read, talk back to the poem. Here are some questions to guide you.
  • Who is the speaker? 
  • What is the speaker's story? Go ahead a write a line or two in the margin for each stanza about what is happening literally.
  • What's the tone of the poem? Does the tone change by stanza? If so, how? Go ahead and make some marginal notes.
  • What do you notice about the images you make as you read the poem?
  • Are there any patterns you notice? Repetition of words, sounds, phrases, image, motifs? 
  • Are there lines/stanzas that confuse you?  What are you wondering?
  • What do you notice about the word choice? Are there words you wonder about and/or don't know? Highlight them and look them up in an on-line dictionary. What are you wondering?
  • Notice the structure of the poem--3 stanzas. Why do you think Yeats divided the poem into three stanzas? Look at the notes you made about each stanza.
  • What's a big idea this poem suggests? Does the structure of the poem connect with the big idea you cited? If you were going to only say two words in response to this poem, what might they be? Go ahead and place them in your marginal notes.
Discuss your annotation with a partner. Note similarities and differences between your work.
    8. Quick Writing in Response to the Poem

    Review the work you have composed:
    • visual renderings of the poem, 
    • notes you have made in preparation for the choral reading of the poem, 
    • audio file of choral reading
    • poem annotation
    Make a statement about a theme you think is operating in the poem and support your assertion
    by citing evidence from the text. Fashion this work into a paragraph.

    Part II. Connecting Our Work to Common Core Standards, Grade 8 (Unpacking the Standards)

    1. Open this Google Doc of the Common Core Standards for middle school.  Looking at the list of standards for grade 8, highlight any you noticed that we attended to during our work with the Yeats's poem. 
    2. Be ready to discuss the Standards we worked on this morning.
    With more time we might connect the poem to the following works:

    1. This retold version by Patrick McCully of Wandering Aengus Mac Og
    While lying asleep one evening Angus was visited by a fair maiden of the Faery named Caer Ibormeith. So taken with her beauty was he that when she disappeared as he woke he could think of no other, the thought of being without her caused him to fall ill, in essence... Love Sick.

    Angus enlisted the help of Bodb and together they managed to track her to a Loch where she was living with 149 other maidens each in the form of a swan. Each Swan Maiden was bound by a silver chain, which as in all good tales could only be released by true love.

    To gain her love Angus transformed himself into a Swan upon which the chain that held his love broke in two therefore freeing her. Reunited with Caer Ibormeith the lovers flew around Loch Bel Dracon three times singing a song so sweet all who heard it fell asleep for three days.

    Angus is known in Celtic Lore as a God of Love and with his Swan Maiden they are said to have returned to Bruig na Boinne, otherwise known as New Grange.
    2. This Inquiry Chart.
    3. This Grade 8 ELA Curriculum Aligned to NCTE and Common Core State Standards
    4. Grade 8 Units of Study from Common Core Mapping: Units 1 - 6


    1. Mary Ann this is excellent. We just redid the 800's section of the library this past week and reorganized everything so that all books about a particular author are together. The last author we reorganized was Yeats. This piece has inspired me to pull out some of those books and explore his works a little more.

    2. I a sure you won't be disappointed. Yeats's work is inspiring. Thanks Deb.

    3. In order to better understand the middle school ELA Common Core State Standards, deconstructing the actions taken when engaging with a literary text can helpful. In this post, a series of performance and analysis tasks are explored and this is followed by examining the CCSS in order to see which of the standards were attended to.

      This first paragraph could make a writing teacher apoplectic. She would revise it as follows:
      To achieve a better understanding of the middle school ELA/Literacy Common Core State Standards, it can help to deconstruct the actions one takes when engaging with a literary text. This post explores a series of performance and analysis tasks then examines the ELA/Literacy CCSS to see which standards the tasks addresses.

      One of the biggest challenges we face in implementing the CCSS is our own lack of skills when it comes to modeling the standards. Perhaps our biggest area of challenge is in writing. We must focus on clear, concise writing that uses active rather than passive voice, that eliminates cumbersome and unnecessary "be" verbs and gerunds (write "We will study" instead of "We will be studying" or "You can accomplish this task in five steps" instead of "There are five steps you can take to accomplish this task"), that uses precise language (no use of "things"), and uses correct grammar. Students need us to model good writing before they can achieve the standards in ELA/Literacy.

      1. Ouch! I am guessing the post angered or disappointed you. Keep in mind it is a post outlining ideas, not a writing document for final proof.

    4. Looks like you can help CCSS authors understand what close reading really is.