6 Steps for Teaching the Reading Standards in Middle School ELA

Increase your middle school students' learning gains using this highly researched pattern of teaching!

In the past, I have talked about how I "teach" this short story or that short story.  But what I have come to realize is that while utilizing these amazing short stories is part of the process, it is not what I really should be "teaching".  What I need to teach are the standards.  So first, I needed to deconstruct the standards.  Then I can use the short stories as examples for my lessons to analyze the text.

Here's how I teach the standards using texts:

1.  Vocabulary

After I have deconstructed that standard, I know some critical vocabulary that has to be taught.  I make sure to do this very intentionally by including words that are used in the test item specifications for the standards too.

Not only do we go over the definitions, we practice with them.  Then we are ready to discuss them in terms of how to use them.

2. Notes

Before we begin this phase, we read a text.  Then as we go through the steps that we will use to analyze the text for whatever standard we are studying, I will use the text we read for the examplesWe have great discussions of the text at this point and I always use a Cornell style of notes so that students write a summary when we complete them.

3.  Practice

After we have completed the notes, it's time for students to process the information.  I like to give my students a menu with just 2 choices to practice with what they have learned in the notes. They use a new text and complete an activity in one class period.  I sometimes also give students the option to work with a partner. 

4.  Assess

The day after we have time to practice, we go over the products and then we have a short quiz.  Now I can see who "gets it" and who needs "extra help".

5.  Remediate/Enrich

On the day after the quiz, students who score 80% or better are given an enrichment menu of just 2 choices where the students make something new related to the standard.

Students who score less than 80%, are given an "Enhancement" menu for remediation.  These students will review the standard with 2 new choices that are focused on reviewing and applying the steps.

6.  Final Common Assessment

Finally, we have our grade level common assessment for the standard.  At my school, all students in the same grade and same subject take the same final assessment.  In this way, we can compare data more deliberately.

So why this process?  Three reasons:

1.  It's a  well-researched pattern of teaching.  Everything you know about the fundamentals of teaching pedagogy is incorporated into this structure.

2. It helps to reach all learners as differentiation is built-in with the menus and in using remediation and enrichment to develop students' skills.

3. The menus give the teacher more opportunity to facilitate learning (by being the guide on the side instead of the sage on the stage) in the classroom by walking around and discussing concepts with students as they work.  Plus, it is a great pattern that is easy to follow and easy to use.  

What makes this even easier is that I have made all of these components (vocabulary, notes, practice, quiz, reteach/enrich - excluding the common final assessment for obvious reasons) for each of the first 8 Reading Anchor Standards in a printable version.  You can get them all in one money-saving bundle or you can buy each standard separately.

There is also a digital version of these lessons but without the menus.  The menus are absent because project-based learning via distance learning was so much more difficult to do. So instead, I made a digital game for processing the information, there are videos for remediation and NEW escape room games for extra practice.  For enrichment, I suggest having those students make their own digital game or video about the standard.

I hope that this helps you teach the reading standards in your own middle school ELA classroom.  If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email!  :)

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Find out how this Middle School ELA teacher implements these steps in her own classroom!

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