Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Four Ways of Saying "R.2"

Students should be able to:

  • (apply) ...different ways of analyzing texts.
  • ...identify the main and supporting ideas of texts.
    • Give an account of the gist of a text.
    • Specify appropriate details for relevant purposes.
    • Summarise the information they obtained from a text.
    • Develop an awareness of their own response to texts and analyse and justify that response.
    • Indicate aspects of the narrative which they found significant and attempt to explain fully the meaning thus generated.
    • Compare texts in different genres on the same theme.
  • Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

That's Finland, New South Wales, Ireland and Common Core. If you ask me, the Irish are the clear winner here both in terms of decomposing the issue and and just superior writing. NWS's version seems sufficient. Finland is kind of on its own planet. It is the tone of CC that is most jarring. It is the only one that says "I am a controlling, rigor-obsessed asshole."


Tom Hinkle said...

I find the last bullet point of the Irish (that's the bulleted one, right?) a little odd. Why would I compare two different texts of different genres on the same theme? I feel like I might use two texts from different genres on one theme to get a rounder view of something, or use one to inform the other, but I'd rarely find myself "comparing," say, a history or Japan with memoirs from that period in Japan, or a piece of fiction about growing up with a memoir about it. It seems to me that one of the keys to getting kids to make meaningful comparisons is to make sure they have sufficient depth of genre knowledge in the first place, so starting a comparison task with different genres seems odd.

Re: the Common Core, I think the idea of analyzing "two or more themes" is perhaps more sensible. It would make perfect sense to ask kids to analyze, say, both madness and action in Hamlet, or what have you, in much the way they say. That said, in my reading anyway, there's a kind of misplaced modifier in the CC writing: the themes don't "build on one another to provide a complex analysis" -- the student should be using two themes to make their analysis deeper.

Tom Hoffman said...

I suppose the "compare how a theme is addressed in different genres" is a little arbitrary. It actually comes closer to the CC style of zooming on on a specific type of assignment. I think you're reading "genre" a bit narrowly -- I'd think more of a poem and a story or play on the same theme. But no, I wouldn't go to the mat to defend this one.

It actually is similar to:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7 Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).

One thing is that "theme" per se isn't emphasized in most of the non-US standards. The Ireland outcome is the only place it is used on its own (not lumped in with "ideas, characters and..." for example.

My problem with the "two or more" stipulation is simply that it imposes a structure on the answer that isn't necessarily in the text itself. You really don't want to train kids to systematically look for the second theme because it is supposed to be there to answer the question. Or for that matter, to choose texts for their number of themes.

And in terms of "evidence," no high performing country finds such a restriction necessary, so why would we?