Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Peer Critique: Creating a Culture of Revision

Peer Critique: Creating a Culture of Revision, Dialogue, Critical Thinking, Understanding of High Quality Work and Craftsmanship, and What it Really Means to be Done.

When it comes to the art of giving or receiving corrective feedback

or participating in peer critiques, students' need to rehearse and practice the procedures and protocols daily. Peer critique, critical feedback, formative feedback is a topic that has been widely discussed and studied, yet is only slowly gaining importance in schools today. Schools that want to help student develop problem solving skills and critical thinking are adopting the cultures of peer critique, revision and cooperative problem solving. From the teacher’s perspective, they have to give the right constructive feedback, critique or clarification, but in a way that doesn’t sound or feel judgmental and or a personal attack, yet still helps get the main point across. When a school adopts the protocols and procedures at all grades students know that they are always go to critique all work and make it better through inquiry, problem solving and peer critique.


At Two Rivers Public Charter School, they have developed their own system of critiquing and it involves the students assessing, analyzing and looking for ways to help their peers’ improve their work at all levels. They are training their students to seek better ways to improve the inquiry process for all students, using Socratic methods, problem based learning, and peer critique that starts at kindergarten.
Before we go any further, we should point out that the school has outperformed the average score for the state on PARCC assessment for ELA and math. Furthermore, they have been rated as ‘Tier 1’ school since 2012 by the DC Public Charter School Board. During the school year of 2015/2016, they had one of the highest attendance rates in the region at 94%. Therefore, we can see that creating a culture of inquiry, peer critique and problem solving they are doing many things right and parents and teachers believe a large percentage of this is down to the culture or critical thinking, peer critique, problem solving, and revision.

Every day, the students come together to participate with peers in the Socratic inquiry process, regardless of grade, they review, analyze, and critique the work of their peers’. With three basic rules in place (Peer Critique Protocols), every question or comment they make must be kind, specific (truthful), and helpful, and this allows students to reflect on learning and advance or adjust their understanding. When a peer says ‘ I really feel you are using great details in your writing, but could you change the sentence syntax? it is not as clear as it could be, it can be improved by ‘….’’, it helps both parties discover and develop their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. Over time, students see multiple examples of what exemplary work looks like, they examine quality and standards, and internalize the values of a strong work ethic. Students grasp that low-quality work produced with little or no effort is never considered done! Students develop correct judgment; they learn to compare and contrast their own work and see how revision will improve their work. Growing a culture of peer critique and Socratic inquiry helps student develop critical thinking, this process is transformative for staff and students.

Peer Critique Protocols

Using "nonjudgmental" peer critique protocols that develops the students ability to give and receive meaningful feedback, that supports their academic growth and the growth of peers, creates students that are lifelong problem solvers. Your students will greatly improve their writing and other work by recognizing their strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of others. Giving and receiving critical feedback is the key to becoming erudite scholars. Giving critical feedback and receiving critical feedback helps students become better "Problem Solvers", critical feedback is all about finding a better, stronger, or more proficient way to solve problems! Critical feedback is about being hard on the work not the person.

Peer Critique Protocol - EngageNY (doc)
Peer Critique Protocol. Non-Negotiables. Be Kind: Always treat others with dignity and respect. This means we never use words that are hurtful, including ..
.

Peer Critique Non-Negotiables

1. Be Kind: Always treat others with dignity and respect. This means we never use words or tones that are hurtful, including sarcasm.

2. Be Specific and Truthful: Focus on particular strengths and weaknesses, rather than making general comments like “It’s good” or “I like it.” Provide insight into why it is good or what, specifically, you like about it.

“This part is very clear, yet this part is unclear….”
“I notice the details are not very clear….”
“I suggest….”
“I notice….”
“I wonder if this way….”
“If this were my work, I would….”

3. Be Helpful and Supportive: The goal is to positively contribute to the individual or the group, not to simply be heard. Echoing the thoughts of others or cleverly pointing out details that are irrelevant wastes time.

4. Participate: Peer critique is a process to support each other, and your feedback is valued!

Rather than teachers giving critical feedback and then hoping for improvement or being resented, students now have something to compare and contrast their own work against and all students lift and push each other up to highest heights. As well as reviewing the work of others, they will also look at perfect examples or examples of work that has achieved the highest grade. With anchor text, anchor charts and multiple student exemplars, they split up into cooperative pairs and examine exactly why the work has achieved a highest grade. Once they see the components that make up ‘excellent’ work, they can further explore these ideas and use them within their own work. Immediately, they will have improved and learned new skills. Revision is the process of critical thinking, problem solving and adjusting knowledge, skills and or work.

As you can see, this has some great short-term benefits because they will improve their work with each critiquing session. However, it also has some fantastic long-term benefits because it will change the culture we see within the classroom. For many years, it has been a culture of ‘teacher knows best’ and that teachers are the only ones that can give advice. Now, we have an atmosphere where every student wants to help one another and this can only grow stronger with time. As they spend many years with each other in class, they will naturally help each other, point out mistakes, and explain how improvements can be made. Even without prompting, they will point out spelling mistakes, errors in understanding or miscalculations and this is something that has been lacking in many classrooms for years.

As children, we are focused on ourselves but this opens up a whole new world where the growth of our friends is just important as our own growth. All things considered, this is a fantastic school culture to adapt and promote, one that now has proven results since its implementation. When the culture is created within the class, all students will be involved, no student will ever be left behind, and the whole class can grow as a group with kind, specific, and helpful feedback!

Creating a culture of critique and revision:

Helps build student oracy

The ability of students to express oneself articulately, fluently and grammatically in speech. Students will become confident in voicing their ideas, opinions, advice and learn to give a friendly critique.
Helps students reflect on the learning of others
Students examining their understanding and the understanding of others, this examination and questioning is an important tenet of the Socratic method. Students reflect and think critically about new knowledge, learning and background knowledge develops faster and students make adjustments to their learning and understanding as needed.
Giving and receiving critical feedback helps develops a growth mindset
Giving and receiving critical feedback helps students become better "Problem Solvers", constructive feedback is the process of finding a better solution, a more resilient or cogent way to improve skills and ability. Building knowledge and problem solving skills are the key to adapting and overcoming problems! They see multiple solutions that may not have occurred to them working individually.
Helps students to actively listens and reflect on their learning and their peers
Students retention of information is increased, their understanding is expanded, reflection, enjoyment, and engagement in all learning activities. Seeks to understand the ideas, feelings, thoughts and viewpoints of others. Listens to others with the intention of understanding.
Helps students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers
(“critical thinking: process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action")
Maybe, if we set our goals to inspire our students to become Polymaths and not College and Career Ready widgets, maybe we will see a Renascence in education.

“The 'polymath' had already died out by the close of the eighteenth century, and in the following century intensive education replaced extensive, so that by the end of it the specialist had evolved. The consequence is that today everyone is a mere technician, even the artist...” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A polymath (Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, "having learned much") is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.


[PDF]Peer Critique Protocol
Peer Critique. Fill this out prior to your Critique and have your artwork at least 60% complete. If you are not ready you will not get a critique or credit for the ...

[PDF]Appendix: Protocols and Resources - EngageNY
Peer Critique. 23. Popcorn Read. 24. Praise, Question, Suggest. 25. Quiz-‐Quiz-‐Trade. 26. Rank-‐Talk-‐Write. 27. Say Something. 28. Science Talks. 29.


[PDF]Peer Critique: Purpose, Models and Protocol - High Tech High
The purpose of peer critique is to provide the creator(s) with feedback that will help them to know what exactly is working well and specifically what to change.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Peer Critique Protocols

Peer Critique Protocols 

Using "nonjudgmental" peer critique protocols that develops the
students ability to give and receive meaningful feedback, that supports their academic growth and the growth of peers, creates students that are life long problem solvers. Your students will greatly improve their writing and other work by recognizing their strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of others. Giving and receiving critical feedback is the key to becoming erudite scholars. Giving critical feedback and receiving critical feedback helps students become better "Problem Solvers", critical feedback is all about finding a better, stringer, or more proficient way! Critical feedback is about being hard on the work not the person.

The Power of Critique and Redrafting



Non-Negotiables

1. Be Kind: Always treat others with dignity and respect. This means we never use words that are hurtful, including sarcasm.

2. Be Specific and Truthful: Focus on particular strengths and weaknesses, rather than making general comments like “It’s good” or “I like it.” Provide insight into why it is good or what, specifically, you like about it. 

  • “This part is very clear, yet this part is unclear….”
  • “I notice the details are not very clear….”
  • “I suggest….”
  • “I notice….”
  • “I wonder if this way….”
  • “If this were my work, I would….”

3. Be Helpful and Supportive: The goal is to positively contribute to the individual or the group, not to simply be heard. Echoing the thoughts of others or cleverly pointing out details that are irrelevant wastes time.
4. Participate: Peer critique is a process to support each other, and your feedback is valued!


Five Best Practices for Effective,yet Sensitive Critiques
Admit and Exit Tickets Protocol
Peer Critique Protocol - EngageNY DOC
Peer Critique Protocol
Praise



Student To Student Feedback Strategies - Teaching Channel
Strategy for student to student feedback for any grade level. Using sentence frames, students can critique other students' work with valuable feedback.

Strategies to enhance peer feedback | Assessment for Learning
Some strategies are particularly suited to younger students, where often the ... way of communicating to students that they wish them to provide peer feedback.

[PDF]Descriptive Feedback and Some Strategies - Standards Toolkit
Formative Instructional Practices- Feedback strategies. Feedback ... Feedback is the means by which teachers enable students to 'close the gap' in order to take.

5 Research-Based Tips for Providing Students with Meaningful ...
Teacher feedback must be informative and encouraging for students to ... eventually developstrategies for tackling weak points themselves.

[PDF]Actionable Feedback Strategies for the Classroom - rapps
Actionable Feedback Strategies for the Classroom. • Picture and Symbol Cues. Young students who may not be readers can benefit from visual cues that help ..

Peer Critique Guidelines
We encourage these habits and skills at PLU, and ask you to "Peer Review" (review and critique each other's work, especially in draft form) in many classes. Peer Review is taken seriously: your role is to help the author improve the piece and the quality of work it represents.

Peer Critique: Two Strategies for Getting Students to Give Feedback
One of the activities I most struggle with as an instructor of visual communications is getting students to give thoughtful and detailed critiques of ...

[DOC]Peer Critique
Peer Critique: Writing is a challenge for everyone. From academic papers to creative writing even seasoned writers experience difficulty and frustration.

[PDF]Peer Critique Assignment Description
Peer Critique Assignment Description. Objectives. By writing peer critiques, students should refine their abilities to: • Critically analyze all aspects of speech ...

What are some peer critique guidelines for commenting on another ...
Peer critiques during the draft stage of an essay are of great help to college students. The following guidelines will help students perform a thoughtful critique of ...

[DOC]English 271, Peer Critique - NDSU
Intensive Peer Critique. Essay writer's name ... Critique your classmate's draft with your Tyson text close by. And, of course, let the writer know what ...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Morning Meetings Circles Time | Math Songs

Morning Math Songs For 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade and 6th Grade | Fractions, Measurements, Multiplication, Angles and Geometry, Coordinate Planes and Ordered Pairs, Rounding,and PEMDAS 


Making Morning Circle Time and Class Meetings Meaningful for
Students at Risk. Morning meeting sets the table for the days learning objectives, front loads new academic content and spirals through key concepts to strengthen leaning usually through multi-sensory activities. Morning Circles and meaning can include songs, videos, sharing, read aloud or chants. Mornings are prime learning time to get student engaged and excited about the days learning. Circles are time for math songs, playing rhythm instruments, read a story, and participate in movement games and mindfulness and relaxation activities. Morning Circle Time and Class Meetings should include one or two songs and a educational chant. 

NUMBEROCK Math Songs

Morning Math Songs For 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 
5th Grade and 6th Grade



Morning Math Chants 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Is the Finnish Education Model Better at Building a Love of Learning?

Starting Kindergarten at age 5, 6, 7, or even 8: The evidence for and against starting academics too early. Why Starting Kindergarten "Formal Academics" Later May Give Students The Best Chance at Success? What is the best school starting age? 

Is the Finnish Education Model Better at Building a Love of Learning? Focusing on Relationships, Language Development, Play, Socialization, Imagination and a Love Nature!

Between four and six, children may be intellectually interested and developmentally ready for reading,
“Play is the work of the child.” – Maria Montessori
writing letters, words, numbers and symbols, and traditional school activities, yet they aren't required to attend “formal kindergarten” at this age in Finland. WHY? At this early developmental stage, Finnish 
children enjoy Friluftsliv, literally means "free air life", their job is to play, and develop into happy well adjusted kids. Despite decades of research and data on early childhood education and the benefits of delaying formal learning, we choose to push even harder and faster today! The social emotional benefits of starting academics later has shown greatly reduced occurrences of ADD/ADHA, less stress, more intrinsically motivated learners, and very happy students that thrive academically. Today, our students are pushed into the rigorous Common Core system and expected to thrive and survive academically in usually a packed all-day kindergarten. What really changed at the age of 4, 5 or 6? How or why is a 5 year old suddenly ready to sit through a full day of Core Curriculum, learning that now includes a push for more rigorous academic subject matter? What is the benefit if any? 
Lucy Ward | The Guardian  "Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego
"According to Rasmussen, the evidence for play-based learning has built enormously over the last decade, but parents don’t know about it. “Both in the formal education system and in the homes of children, the focus on the value of play is rather limited. That’s really something we want to work on – to improve the understanding of the value of play and what play really can do, where more and more it is squeezed by a desire both from the formal system and from parents that children should learn specific literacy and numeracy quite early.” 

What students may miss out on in a Common "Hard" Core Kindergarten!!
  1. Building Strong Relationships with Students and Teachers
  2. Learning to Make Friends and Develop Empathy
  3. Learning to Get Along with Others and Taking Turns 
  4. Learning to Work with Others as a Team Member
  5. Learning to Get Organized and Keep Things Organized 
  6. Learning to Take Care of Themselves and their Belongings


From the very first week, the new Common Core kindergartners have to spend three and a half hours on literacy instruction every single day. After this, they spend an hour and a half on math and just twenty minutes on what is now called ‘physical activity time’ (recess). Shockingly, just four weeks into their school career many will have two standards based tests- one in literacy and one in math. Each test has 56 questions - on the FOURTH week of school! This is more about profit and less about catching struggling or at risk students. 

“curriculum and standards must first connect with the lives and spirits of our children if we’re to have any lasting success. Unless we reach into our students’ hearts, we have no entry into their minds. We can get students to pass tests and complete assignments. But there is a price to pay. We will never inspire our students to learn for their own sake and to love coming to school.” Regie Routman 

As we move through time, kindergarten is changing and becoming more rigorous, some are saying that kindergarten is the new 1st grade. We see more and more stories of Kinder teachers that are fighting back, trying to keep toys, imaginative play, recess and fun child centered activities alive and at the forefront. A child centered kindergarten that develops happy well adjusted children should be the goal. A recent article about the push back by Kinder teachers was in a district that wanted to remove dolls, toy food, and even developmental stations like my favorite the play kitchen. Essentially, we are saying that there is no more time for playing in kindergarten which means that our children are being introduced to the academic world earlier and earlier. NO TIME FOR PLAY IN KINDERGARTEN? 


One secret to Finland's and Scandinavia's huge academic success is parents talk, read, sing, play and engage with children. All parents have a minimum of two years of parental leave. Early play and Imaginative engagement with children helps develop advanced language skills and language helps children build strong imaginations and I.Q. Imagination is fundamental to becoming someone who love reading and school   Scandinavian parents use rich complex languages, communicating in two or three languages even with their babies.  The Danish phrase "leg godt", which means "play well", the Norwegian phrase "Friluftsliv", literally means "free air life", or outdoor play, the Finnish phrase "käsityön ystävät" which means, friends crafts, or handicraft! Wow, we don't really give "play" much value in today's test, punish, and blame culture. We need to develop a play mindset and educate parents and teachers on the importance and value of engaging with their children using imaginative play. We all need to start limiting TV time and or using Smart Phones around children and go outside and play!
Looking deeper into this change, there was even a study not so long ago from the University of Virginia. Ultimately, the study was put in place to assess the views of kindergarten teachers between 1998 and 2010. Over this 12-year period, the shift towards a more academic level of teaching was clear to see. Within this, there was a particular shift towards literacy at a more advanced level than had ever been seen. In 1998, just 30% of the teachers in kindergarten agreed that children should learn to read at this age. By 2010, this had completely changed and it is now thought to sit at around 80%.

Asking questions is what brains were born to do, at least when we were young children. For young children, quite literally, seeking explanations is as deeply rooted a drive as seeking food or water. Alison Gopnik

What effect has this had? As you would expect, increased academic studies means that the amount of time spent on arts, play kitchen time, and music has decreased. Instead, children at this age are now used to dealing with worksheets, textbooks, and even many assessments. Before we judge whether this is right or wrong, we need something with which we can compare. Luckily, the education system in Finland is vastly different.

I was never a good student. I had to be dragged into kindergarten. It was hard to sit and listen to somebody talk. I wanted to be out, educated by experience and adventure, and I didn't know how to express that. Robert Redford

Finnish Education - Compared to the US, Finland is very different in their education system and it is highlighted at the very beginning of a student’s learning career. In Finland, the compulsory kindergarten (called ‘preschool’) starts at the age of 6. Even at this age, they still aren't introduced to worksheets and textbooks but instead play with tools, paints, musical instruments, and spend most of the day outdoors. Of course, this isn't the first time the Finnish education system has reached the news because they were recently praised for the fantastic performance of 15-year olds. As well as achieving strong grades, these grades were consistent each year.

"The connection between child development and the outdoors can be seen clearly in Scandinavian educational systems. The cultural heritage of Scandinavia venerates nature experience. There’s even a word in Norwegian for it – friluftsliv (frí-loofts-live). The literal translation is “free air life.”'
 "Friluftsliv promotes direct experience in the natural world — picture a three year old gamboling about in the woods, picking up leaves and peering into hollow logs: that’s friluftsliv." by Erik Shonstrom | May 19, 2014   
 http://www.childrenandnature.org 

Inside Kindergarten - Recently, a US teacher went to see the Finnish public preschool and initially found that the school day was just four hours long and they focused outdoor discovery and free play. After an hour on outside with the boys scooping shovels of mud and playing in the snow, the morning started at 9.30 am with ‘Morning Circle', "a communal time of songs, sharing, dancing and chants" for the boys whilst the girls were playing board games inside. At this point, they had already enjoyed an hour outside with their friends. According to one of the teachers, they were still learning through play. In fact, she was sure that the learning was more effective because the children are having fun and they don’t even realize that they are learning. 

"We cannot choose fidelity to a program, curriculum or test over fidelity to a child.” Debbie Miller, author of Reading with Meaning

In support of the teachers, a recent study actually proves her point. When children play, they develop important social, physical, cognitive, and emotional skills. Assuming that the fun has been designed for children, the study suggests that the children develop a thirst for learning and their motivation for learning increases at the same time. As you talk to more and more teachers across Finland, the passion for this type of learning remains the same. Let’s face it, these same children were running around with freedom just a few weeks ago. Finland has decided that it isn't a normal way to learn with textbooks, worksheets, and having to sit still for prolonged periods of time.


Before we continue, we should say that it isn't all fun and games because the children still take part in handwriting lessons. However, they are far less strict and they will only occur around once a week. With less of a curriculum in place, there isn't necessarily a ‘typical’ preschool day that the whole city or country follows. For example, one school has field trips on a Monday, ballgames and exercises during the middle of the week, and then musical days on Friday. Despite this general layout, it could change from one week to the next and between schools.



As we said earlier, Morning Circle is a particularly popular session in Finnish schools and it sees the students spend time together sharing, singing, dancing and chanting. At the end, they are allowed to choose a learning station of their choice whether it is arts and handicrafts, pretending to run a bakery, or building forts from sheets. Regardless of what option the child chooses, there is still learning but in a more natural holistic way. For example, the ‘pretend to run a bakery’ game has them dealing with pretend money, organizing, backing,  taking orders, asking questions, and counting. If the teacher needs to step in and help with calculating change, they can do so. Suddenly, they have worked out how to give change from a particular bull which improves their math skills. In their minds, they have just sold one of their classmates a bunch of cupcakes. 


Two Variants of Learning - In Finland, all kindergarten teachers are expected to offer two different types of learning - free form and guided. In examples we have given, you have seen them both because the children playing in the mud was more free whilst the running of the shop was guided and directly contributed to learning. Immediately, it is clear to see that the teachers want their students to have fun while learning and there is actually an old saying in Finland that suggests learning without fun is knowledge forgotten down the line.



Moving Forward - By no means is the Finnish curriculum a finished article, each year they are making changes and finding what works best for their students. For example, teachers weren't allowed to teach reading in years gone by but this has now changed. If a child shows an interest in reading, they will sit down with students and help them to learn. However, the child remains in control and they are more likely to retain the knowledge because they aren't being forced to focus when they aren't ready. Sadly, many children are being left behind in the US and many other countries with a strict curriculum because children aren't ready at a young age. Then, the curriculum moves on without them and they struggle from that moment forward for over a decade.



Just like in the US, parents meet with teachers every so often but this is to discuss the child’s interests and whether they are ready to learn reading and other key skills. In the US, children of the same age are forced to learn complex rules of the written language just because the curriculum says so. Whether these 5/6 year olds are ready or not, they have to adapt at such a young age and get on with it. Currently, over 40 states are obliged to follow the Common Core State Standards or the  College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards. Within these Standards, there are numerous expectations for children of this age. 

Despite the strict regulations and expectations we have for the nation’s five year olds, there is no evidence whatsoever that they benefit in the long-term from this type of rigorous system. In New Zealand, we recently saw a study that compared 11 year olds in their ability to read. In one group, the children started to learn at the age of five whereas the other started at seven. By the time each group had reached the age of 11, they were at the same level and the later starters had caught up.



Although we can’t see the advantages to starting at such a young age, could there be disadvantages that exist? Above all else, the late starters are certainly getting to enjoy their childhood for a longer period of time and there are a few key developments occurring when this is allowed to happen;



Relationships - Rather than being thrown into the classroom and starting formal education, starting later enables relationships to develop between students and teachers as well as the students themselves. As they play together, they appreciate how the group atmosphere operates and this is important considering they would have been the center of attention for such a long time. Suddenly, the friendships become stronger, they learn how to appreciate the opinions of others, and they still build skills from the foundation level.



Thirst for Knowledge - For many years, there has been a overwhelming feeling towards education that it isn't enjoyable. If you ask a group of teenagers whether or not they enjoy their school experience, the majority will say that they don’t because they feel as though it is forced upon them - who can blame them when they have been adhering to a curriculum and completing tests since the age of five?


However, starting later allows the children to develop the thirst for knowledge and then they crave learning and develop their skill set. Considering everyone catches up by the age of eleven, should the two years between five and seven be spent in a different way (just as we have seen in Finland)? Rather than pushing them into a classroom and hoping that they excel, we can set them up for learning in a better way so that they become more efficient as they grow older.





Summary - Ultimately, this is an extremely interesting topic and one that could spark debates all around the world. Do we start children off with worksheets too early? We have certainly seen the emotional and various other skills that can be learned through play, arts, music, etc. According to many studies and the research we have seen, we might just see greater results by starting formal academics later and Finland continues to be the cornerstone of this change!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

PARCC Reading Test Passages 2017

PARCC ELA Reading Test Passages Printable (PDF) pdf

PARCC Reading ELA Released Reading Test Passages 

Grade 3 English-language Arts (PDF)
PARCC Online Practice Test Answer and Alignment DocumentELA/Literacy: Grade 11

Grade Level Fiction Passages 
2nd-3rd Grade Reading Level
Little Pink Riding Hood English / Spanish 
Little Pink Riding Hood English / Spanish 

Grade Level Nonfiction Passages 
2nd-3rd Grade Reading Level
 After the Chicago Fire sequence and summarize 
American Explorers evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Animal Studies infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Block Clubs infer and support the main idea of a passage 
The Captain's Job infer and support the main idea of a passage
Chicago Changes identify and support the main idea in nonfiction texts
Chicago Fire sequence events, infer  motive, and write about nonfiction 
Chicago Legacy: Burnham's Plan locate and use information to analyze a situation, write about a topic English / Spanish 
Chicago Legacy, DuSable's Choices and Changes locate and use information to analyze a situation, then write about it English / Spanish
Chicago's First Leader infer and support the main idea of a passage 
The First Flyers infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Grant Park write an extended response about a nonfiction reading 
Learn about Ghana infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Letter to the Mayor evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea
Natural Gas: An Energy Resource infer and support the main idea of a passage 
A New Park evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Pigeon Creek infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Pioneer Families infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Prairie Ecology analyze information in a nonfiction text 
Read to Learn about Symbols, Maps, and Art evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Saving Your Family's Energy Dollar infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Settlement infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Staying in Phoenix summarize a passage 
Transportation Changes infer and support the main idea of a passage 


4th Grade Reading Level
A New Day  Realistic Fiction about the Election of Barack Obama and Civil Rights
A Proud Flight   The story of Icarus

Grade Level Nonfiction Passages 
4th Grade Reading Level
 Traveling West evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
What is a Fable? evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea
Working at the Hospital evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
 Breaking the Food Chain infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Chicago Changer, Jane Addams infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Chicago High Schools evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Chicago Legacy: Burnham's Plan locate and use information to analyze a situation, write about a topic English / Spanish 
Chicago Legacy, DuSable's Choices and Changes locate and use information to analyze a situation, then write about it English / Spanish 
City Government infer and support the main idea of a passage 
The Early Chicago Environment and People classify information and summarize a nonfiction topic 
Learn about Egypt infer and support the main idea of a passage 
The Football Team identify the main idea 
A Garden in Lawndale evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea (4th grade reading level)
Illinois Pioneers and Prairies infer while reading a history 
Learning about the Solar System identify the main idea of a passage, write an extended response about a nonfiction passage 
Natural Gas: An Energy Resource infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Pilsen, A Community Changes identify causes and effects 
Plants and Places infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Prairie Changes identify an author's purpose, write an extended response 
Prairie Changing the Ecosystem with Multiple Choice Questions analyze information in a nonfiction text 
Seasons on the Prairie infer and support the main idea of a passage
Settlement infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Space Food infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Staying in Phoenix infer and support the main idea of a passage
Today's Telephone infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Transportation Workers evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea
What is a Fable? evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Working at the Television Station evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea
Working at the Hospital evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
The Working Tools of Insects infer and support the main idea of a passage 

5th Grade Reading Level
Columbus and the Egg  historical fiction

Grade Level Nonfiction Passages 
5th Grade Reading Level
 American Explorers infer and support the main idea of a passage
Animal Studies infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Better Living in Chicago: Jane Addams restate a situation presented in text; write to communicate about a situation (5th grade reading level)
Chicago Changes infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Chicago Fire infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Chicago Legacy: Burnham's Plan locate and use information to analyze a situation, write about a topic English / Spanish 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I can infer the author's purpose 
Election Choices infer and support the main idea of a passage 
From Many Places evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Learn about Ethiopia  infer and support the main idea of a passage )
How Have Students Made Community Progress? analyze a problem and solution in a text, identify and support the main idea 
Prairie Keepers analyze information in a nonfiction text
Public Transportation evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Read to Learn about City Systems evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Read to Learn about Elections evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
The Recycle Center evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Reversing the Chicago River identify cause-effect relations and infer predictions 
Seasons on the Prairie analyze information in a nonfiction text 
Settlement infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Valley Forge infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Who Am I sequence events, infer  motive, and write about nonfiction 

6th Grade Reading Level
Community Progress    realistic fiction about a mural
A Good Student realistic fiction about starting high school
His First Dollar historical fiction about Abraham Lincoln

Grade Level Nonfiction Passages 
6th Grade Reading Level
Before Chicago infer and support the main idea of a passage
Chicago's First Leader infer and support the main idea of a passage 
The Early Chicago Environment and People classify information and summarize a nonfiction topic 
Election Choices infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Labor Day Address--Barack Obama Speech infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Learn about Zambia infer and support the main idea of a passage
Nutrition Lesson evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Plants and Food infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Prairie Ecology evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Settlement analyze information in a nonfiction text 
Seasons on the Prairie infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Traveling West infer and support the main idea of a passage 

7th Grade Reading Level
Columbus and the Egg historical fiction about an event showing Columbus as a smart person
A Good Student  realistic fiction about starting high school

Grade Level Nonfiction Passages 
7th Grade Reading Level
Honest Abe infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Inaugural Address by John F. Kennedy evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Labor Day Address--Barack Obama Speech infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Learn about Kenya infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Learning about the Solar System infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Pilsen--A Community Changes identify causes and effects
Prairie Keepers infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Settlement infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Today's Telephone infer and support the main idea of a passage 

8th-10th Grade Reading Level


Grade Level Nonfiction Passages 
8th-10th Grade Reading Level
 An African Heritage in Chicago identify and support the main idea in a nonfiction passage 
Bold Plans, Big Dreams, City Progress identify and support the theme of a text  
Changing the Ecosystem infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Chicago is a City of Possibilities: Deval Patrick, Leader for Chicago analyze a text and write an extended response based on it 
Deval Patrick's Acceptance Speech infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Honest Abe infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Inaugural Address by John F. Kennedy evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea
Labor Day Address--Barack Obama Speech infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Learn about Physical Therapists evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Learn about South Africa evaluate information, summarize, and identify and support a main idea 
Maintaining Cultural Continuity infer and support the main idea of a passage 
New Leadership analyze a speech 
Settlement infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Transportation Changes infer and support the main idea of a passage 
What is Your Own Big Plan? (Barack Obama speech) analyze a text and respond to the issues it presents, write an extended response to a persuasive text 
What Values Have Shaped Chicago? identify the main idea of a passage  
Why is Community Service Important? identify the main idea and supporting information 
Chicago High Schools infer predictions 
Chicago Legacy: DuSable's Choices and Changes  infer and support the main idea of a passage 
Deval Patrick's Acceptance Speech infer and support the main idea of a passage 

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler Co-Founder and Chairman Center For the Study of the Great Ideas
The 103 Great Ideas Alphabetically
The 103 Great Ideas by Category

The list of 103 ideas is broken between the two volumes, as follows:
Volume I: AngelAnimalAristocracyArtAstronomyBeautyBeingCauseChanceChangeCitizenConstitutionCourageCustom and ConventionDefinitionDemocracyDesireDialecticDutyEducationElementEmotionEternityEvolutionExperienceFamilyFateFormGodGood and EvilGovernmentHabitHappinessHistoryHonorHypothesisIdeaImmortalityInductionInfinityJudgmentJusticeKnowledgeLaborLanguageLawLibertyLife and DeathLogic, and Love.
Volume II: ManMathematicsMatterMechanicsMedicineMemory and ImaginationMetaphysicsMindMonarchyNatureNecessity and ContingencyOligarchyOne and ManyOpinionOpposition,[13] PhilosophyPhysicsPleasure and PainPoetryPrincipleProgressProphecyPrudencePunishmentQualityQuantityReasoningRelation,[14] ReligionRevolutionRhetoricSame and OtherScienceSenseSign and SymbolSinSlaverySoulSpaceStateTemperanceTheologyTimeTruthTyranny and DespotismUniversal and ParticularVirtue and ViceWar and PeaceWealthWillWisdom, and World.

How can a Dyslexic Reading Teacher HELP 95% of all at-risk students pass the EOG Reading Test? 10 Consecutive Years!

"Mr Taylor who annually starts with a class of fourth graders, 2/3 of whom are below grade level, and ends the year with most of the class at and above grade level. He gets results by emphasizing reading and writing, and holds students responsible for the work assigned. All the students read the same challenging books, stories and poems; they spend a lot of time on vocabulary, take notes, identify the main chapter idea and write a chapter summary every day. They read about six challenging books a year...Fortunately for his students, he puts them first and is determined that every student will make at least one year of progress in his class. Some students make spectacular gains in reading, writing or math. The average student this past year made about three years academic progress....His Title I students perform as well as students in the nearby "rich" area with all top-rated schools."  Robert Cherba 

Socratic Seminar Questions?

How do laws serve or harm justice?
Why is the concept of blind justice important?

The Logicians Refuted

Logicians have but ill defined
As rational, the human kind;
Reason, they say, belongs to man,
But let them prove it if they can.
Wise Aristotle and Smiglesius,
By ratiocinations specious,
Have strove to prove, with great precision,
With definition and division,
Homo est ratione praeditum;
But for my soul I cannot credit 'em,
And must, in spite of them, maintain,
That man and all his ways are vain;
And that this boasted lord of nature
Is both a weak and erring creature;
That instinct is a surer guide
Than reason, boasting mortals' pride;
And that brute beasts are far before 'em.


Deus est anima brutorum.
Whoever knew an honest brute
At law his neighbour prosecute,
Bring action for assault or battery,
Or friend beguile with lies and flattery?
O'er plains they ramble unconfined,
No politics disturb their mind;
They eat their meals, and take their sport
Nor know who's in or out at court.
They never to the levee go
To treat, as dearest friend, a foe:
They never importune his grace,
Nor ever cringe to men in place:
Nor undertake a dirty job,
Nor draw the quill to write for Bob.


Fraught with invective, they ne'er go
To folks at Paternoster Row.
No judges, fiddlers, dancing-masters,
No pickpockets, or poetasters,
Are known to honest quadrupeds;
No single brute his fellow leads.
Brutes never meet in bloody fray,
Nor cut each other's throats for pay.
Of beasts, it is confess'd, the ape
Comes nearest us in human shape;
Like man, he imitates each fashion,
And malice is his lurking passion:
But, both in malice and grimaces,
A courtier any ape surpasses.
Behold him, humbly cringing, wait
Upon the minister of state;
View him soon after to inferiors
Aping the conduct of superiors;
He promises with equal air,
And to perform takes equal care.
He in his turn finds imitators,
At court, the porters, lacqueys, waiters,
Their masters' manner still contract,
And footmen, lords and dukes can act.
Thus, at the court, both great and small
Behave alike, for all ape all.

Draft Non-Fiction Close Reading Test Passage:
  1. 13-year-old Dutch girl, Laura Dekker sails Around the World
  2. Are Dogs Really Man’s Best Friend?
  3. Can you Win Arguments with Your Parents with Facts?
  4. Captain James Cook Mini Biography
  5. Claude Monet French Impressionist Painter
  6. College Knowledge: What do you need to know to succeed in college?
  7. Deforestation: Facts, Causes & Effects
  8. Eating Insects Is Common Around the World
  9. Extraordinary Astronomical Observatories of the World
  10. Getting Organized with Checklist
  11. How can we save the Honey Bee?
  12. How do Vaccines work?
  13. How to Start Your Own Business
  14. Is Clutter and Mess Really Best for Creativity?
  15. Living on the International Space Station
  16. Man’s Future Missions to Mars
  17. Mary Shelley an English novelist: Frankenstein
  18. Mary Stevenson Cassatt an American Painter
  19. Mini Benjamin Franklin Biography
  20. Mini Biography Astronaut Sally Ride
  21. Motivation Using Fear or Reason
  22. Norse explorer Leif Erikson Explores America 500 years before Columbus
  23. Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
  24. RECYCLING FACTS & STATISTICS
  25. Renewable Resources, Wind Solar and Hydroelectric: FACTS & STATISTICS
  26. Sherlock Holmes: Man or mystery?
  27. The Baja 500 off-road race
  28. The Future of High Speed Trains
  29. The history of ice cream
  30. The History of the Taj Mahal
  31. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
  32. The Story of the Titans
  33. The Truth about Pirates
  34. What is your carbon footprint?
  35. The History of the Taj Mahal
  36. What will happen if a giant comet hits the Earth?
  37. Who was Socrates?
  38. Why aren’t there more female engineers?
  39. Why We Crave Junk Food: Sugar and Fat?
  40. Will California Survive the Great Drought?
  41. A History of the Hanseatic League
  42. A Short History of the Battle Axe
  43. A Short History of the Cross Bow
  44. A Short History of the Dagger
  45. Child Labour and your Electronics
  46. Child Slavery and your Chocolate Bar
  47. Crocodile & Alligator Differences
  48. Top 10-15 scientists who changed the world: Marie Curie
  49. Myth vs. Fact Ancient Aliens Created the Nazca Lines
  50. Myth vs. Fact the Abominable Snowman
  51. Myth vs. Fact the Roswell Aliens
  52. Myth vs. Fact the Voodoo Zombies
  53. Neil Alden Armstrong the first person to walk on the Moon
  54. The Sonoran Desert Flora and Fauna
  55. Timeline of female labor and education in the early history of the US
  56. What is Project Based Learning?