A few ideas struck us from our first day of conversations:
- As we get further into implementation of the Common Core, we need to remember the challenge the standards pose to busy teachers. Not everyone has mastered the new standards. And, in particular, we need to help our content area colleagues understand and implement the new Language Arts standards in math/science and social studies.
- Along the lines of #1, if we, as language arts teachers, take on the entire burden of teaching a science-based informational text unit, we aren’t helping our science colleagues adapt and adjust. Ask your science colleague (start with a teacher you like!) about a unit that the students struggle with (or about one that they find really exciting) and suggest a few informational text connections that you can work on together to meet the History/Social Studies and Science Literacy standards and build (or build on) student motivation and engagement in the content area.
- Today, we all need to be readers and broad intellectuals. None of us can afford to teach the same old essays and literary texts. And none of us can afford to read narrowly and only in our disciplines. If we are going to teach students to make connections across the disciplines and to be strong readers of a wide variety of complex texts, we need to get out of our silos and be doing the same work ourselves!
- Along the lines of #3, especially on the secondary level, text-to-text connections are so crucial to education today. Students learning about a concept in physics need to be able to apply that knowledge to a news story about safety issues with roller coasters. Students studying thinking about food safety and the sustainability of our food practices can benefit from thinking about how thinkers have explored these issues in a variety of texts, historical contexts, and genres (such as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle).
The biggest takeaway, as is so often the case at these gatherings, is how devoted educators are to their craft and their calling. We have many balls in the air and many demands on our time, but we are in good company as we do this important work!