On May 22nd, 2012, the ASCD Smartbrief led with a story about changes to Californian classrooms as a result of the Common Core State Standards. Included in these changes is the “development of students' critical-thinking and problem-solving skills”.
The authors of CSI Literacy, the cutting-edge reading comprehension resource developed over the past five years, foresaw this trend. CSI Literacy supports students and their teachers to be explicit in teaching and learning critical thinking and problem solving using texts from the content areas of science, mathematics, social studies and English fiction and nonfiction.
Half of the CSI Literacy texts are presented on interactive whiteboards, an innovation designed to take explicit literacy teaching digital, for the benefit of the students. Digital texts that are well-written (quirky, funny, topical and meaningful) engage the students and provide a ready-made platform for teachers’ explicit instruction. Engagement, explicit instruction and content literacy are high on educational evidence syntheses, and feature in the Common Core State Standards, as effective approaches.
Enter the hyperlink! By forming hyperlinks from the texts to glossaries, photographs, and even videos, the text ‘comes alive’ for the reader and essential background knowledge can be provided.
Now let’s turn to the learners themselves. It’s one thing for students to know, through the process of explicit teaching, quite another for them to be able to do. To make sure that students can do today what they ‘learned’ yesterday, CSI Literacy has developed a ‘rich, inclusive learning model’. Students work in pairs using texts and uniquely designed graphic organizers, to demonstrate, under the formative eye of the teacher, that they can use the skills and strategies they have recently learned. This convergence between the Common Core State Standards and the CSI Literacy resource will be good for teachers and students in the ‘Common Core’ states.