Challenge thinking with the real world…


As the Common Core Standards continue to dig deeper into curriculums across the country, more and more teachers find themselves looking for ways in bridge the real world with the classroom.  While, it may not seem like a difficult task to connect content to the world around our students, finding a constant supply of material that is interesting and challenging can become as much of a struggle as breaking down the core standards themselves.

Over the last couple of weeks, as my school has moved deeper into a state test sophistication unit, we made the decision to use part of the students class time in Science and Social Studies to embed more reading strategies through the incorporation of non-fiction reading.  While the idea to do this seemed not only logical but also easy, the reality is, coming up with an endless supply of grade appropriate non-fiction reading materials for the students has been one of the most challenging experiences we have met with the Common Core.

Of course we turned to test preparation books and websites like edhelper, but after a while the selections we picked for the students seemed to discourage reading rather then engage them.  Therefore, to keep the students interested and create the opportunity to foster inquiry within the classroom, I have turned to the internet for articles that bring the real world into the classroom by creating an immediate teachable moment.

Below are just a couple of the stories that I have come across that really allow teachers to touch on some of those essential reading strategies that the Common Core demands (like inferring, comparing and contrasting, predicting, analyzing, and evaluating) while finding the teachable moment in the content area and making the real world connection (woo hoo!!!);

Japanese Scientist Develops First Violin Strings From Spider Silk – A fascinating story and one that can really push kids to compare and contrast this before the spider string violin and after

Largest Hailstone Confirmed In Hawaii – A pretty straightforward article, and a pretty cool one too – works well for talking about main idea

Texas Man Survives 30 Hours In Gulf Of Mexico  – this news write up of the story provides a lot of opportunity for inferencing

Fossil Foot Bones Hint At Mystery Walker – great story for vocabulary in context (words in the article include metatarsal, speculate, reminiscent, and elucidate)

Super-earths “In The Billions” – a news story that really lends nicely to predicting

Skittles Commercial “Liar, Liar”  Insensitive To Bullying – An interesting article that really challenges kids to think and would lead to a great discussion on author’s purpose (is it to tell or persuade?)

Texas Schools Begin Exams As Districts Call For End To High Stakes Testing – Not only is this article close to home for most students, there is a lot of opinion in it from people for and against the testing.

The more that we bring the real world in to the classroom, the greater the connections will be made, the more the students will begin to really find the intrinsic value of learning – those amazing teachable moments!!!

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