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Planning Tip: Texts with similar details that are superficial connec- tions don’t invite students to have deeper encounters with the texts. Choose texts which have a substan- tial connection in theme, character traits, main idea, etc. that will allow students to construct meaningful responses about important deeper connections between texts.


#2 ELA Shift: Students will be required to cite evidence from one or more texts to support their con- structed responses.


A major focus of the Common Core is requiring students to give evidence directly from the text to support their responses. An opin- ion given in a response is valid only if the argument can be supported with details from the text.


Here is an example of a Smarter Balanced Assessment item which requires text evidence: “What does Naomi learn about Grandma Ruth? Use details from the text to support your answer.”


As we prepare our students not only for the Common Core, but for life beyond school,


it is important


that any answer a student gives, we require them to justify that an- swer with evidence. If a student is describing the traits of a character, have them support their answer with evidence from the story where a character is demonstrating those traits. If a student is stating an opinion that recycling should be mandatory, have them justify that opinion with facts from the text.


If you make citing text evidence a daily follow up question, the stu- dents will come to understand that it is a requirement and will eventu- ally offer text evidence before they are even asked.


#3 ELA Shift: Students will be required to answer questions of varying com- plexity about a variety of texts.


Students will be presented with a sequence of questions in which a question is related to and its answer may be dependent on the answer to a previously asked question. A sequence of questions may also ask students to cite evidence from the story like in this Part B ques- tion from a fourth grade PARCC Assessment item example, “Which detail from the story best supports the answer to Part A?”


Tis shiſt is related to the previous one in that students be will re- quired not only to use evidence in their constructed responses but to choose the best supporting evi- dence from a given set to answer a direct question.


Embedded with these shiſts is the Common Core expectation that in grades K-5 50% of a student’s read- ing will be non-fiction texts. Tat is why as teachers make this shiſt, it is important for them to have access to an abundance of high quality fiction and non-fiction texts.


Planning Tip: A science and social studies curriculum packed with high-interest non-fic- tion texts provides authentic oppor- tunities to work on these shiſts in other content areas.


StarrMatica Tip: In StarrMati- ca’s library, teachers have access to Common Core lesson plans for 150 fiction and non-fiction texts. Tese plans focus on constructed response questions to help students learn to create thoughtful responses that include evidence from the text.


#4 Math Shift: Students will be required to demon- strate an understanding of mathematical concepts.


Perhaps the most obvious exam- ple of being able to “do the math” without understanding the under- lying concept is a student’s ability to correctly add two numbers in a multi-digit addition problem with re-grouping and arrive at the cor- rect answer without being able to explain why they are regrouping.


Here is an example of a former standardized test question paired with a Smarter Balanced Assess- ment question.


Previous Standardized Test Ques- tion: What is 23.46 rounded to the nearest tenth?


Smarter Balanced Assessment Question: Five swimmers compete in the 50-meter race. Te finish time for each swimmer is shown: 23.42 23.18 23.21 23.35 23.24


Explain how the results of the race would change if the race used a clock that rounded to the nearest tenth.


Both questions are ultimately ask- ing students to round decimals; yet they are distinctly different. In the first question, if the student knows a rounding procedure, they can find the answer. Te second question requires students to think about the implications of rounding decimals and to explain how this concept is applicable in a real life situation.


Te first step for many teachers in the concept building process is leading students to develop their own number sense and mathe- matical reasoning. (See page 17 for a short article with examples on leading students to draw their own conclusions.)


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