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									Text Complexity in Middle School
 The Changing World of Teaching and Learning
             Keene State College
                July 10, 2012

                   Patty Ewen
 Office of Early Childhood Education, NH DOE
         Patricia.Ewen @ doe.nh.gov
                 (603) 271-3841
          Goals of Presentation
• To assist your application of the common core in 
  your classroom, building and district using your 
  current curriculum. 
• To provide you with the foundations of text 
  complexity has designed in the CCSS, across the 
  curriculum, so it can be shared with colleagues in 
  the content area and non-tested subjects.
• To increase your confidence, provide you with 
  resources and examples of the Common Core 
  relative to the Changing World of Teaching and 
       Criteria for New Standards
• Fewer, clearer, and higher; consistent, rigorous, and 
  shared responsibility.  
• Aligned with college and career expectations
• Include rigorous content vocabulary and application of 
  knowledge through high-order skills – Habits of the 
• Build upon strengths and lessons of current state 
  standards (think DNA of education)
• Internationally benchmarked, so that all students are 
  prepared to succeed in our global economy and society
• Based on evidence and research
         CCSS “Habits of the Mind” 
            Literacy Capacities
The introduction of the CCSS include descriptions of 
  knowledge, skills and dispositions that operate in 
  tandem with the academic content in the standards.  
  These cognitive and psychological aptitudes are 
  described in the literacy standards as “capacities”.  
As students advance through the grades and master the 
  standards in reading, writing, listening, speaking, 
  viewing and language,  they should be able to exhibit 
  with increasing fullness and regularity the following 
  listed  capacities of the literate individual;
                                            CCSSO to Advance Student Success, 2011
            Literacy and Language
               Habits of the Mind
• They demonstrate independence- Writing Standard 7
• They build strong content knowledge.
• They respond to the varying demands of audience, 
  task, purpose, and discipline.
• They comprehend as well as critique.
• They value evidence.
• They use technology and digital media strategically and 
  capably. – Standards 1st, Objectives 2nd, Technology 
• They come to understand other perspectives and 
   English Language Arts and
• Focus and coherence – backwards design, grade 12
   – Progressions develop literacy skills across grades(pg 30,33)  
   Centuries, Ages, Decades, Years, Past/Present/Future, 
• Focus on text complexity ( pg 30, 32, 33)
   – Students required to read texts of increasing complexity
• Literacy as a shared responsibility
   – Literacy skills in reading and writing included in 
     history/social studies, science, and technical areas
• College and Career Readiness text /writing
   – Students required to write using evidence from 
     informational reading. (pg 5)
       About the CCSS vs. APPS
• Appendixes not included:
  qAppendix A = Research, Glossary & TC
  qAppendix B = Exemplars of Reading TC by 
       § Complexity, Quality, Range
       § Grade Level – K-12 multiple contents
       § Use and Application – Stories, Poetry, Read Aloud, 
  qAppendix C = Samples of Student Writing
     PK-5, Balancing
1    Informational & Literary
Students read a true balance of
informational and literary texts.
Elementary school classrooms are,
therefore, places where students access
the world – science, social studies, the
arts and literature – through text. By the
middle of 5th grade, at least 50% of what
students read is informational.
2 6-12, Knowledge in the
Content area teachers outside of the LA
classroom emphasize literacy
experiences in their planning and
instruction. Students learn through
domain specific texts in science and
social studies classrooms – rather than
referring to the text, they are expected to
learn from what they read.
 3 Staircase of Complexity
In order to prepare students for the complexity
of college and career ready texts, each grade
level requires a “step” of growth on the
“staircase”. Students read the central, grade
appropriate text around which instruction is
centered. Teachers are patient, create more
time and space in the curriculum for close and
careful reading. Systematically, they add
appropriate and necessary scaffolding
(supports) so that students reading below grade
level are progressing.
4 Text-Based Answers
Students have rich and rigorous
conversations which are dependent on
a common text. Teachers insist that
classroom experiences stay deeply
connected to the text on the page and
that students develop habits for making
evidentiary arguments both in
conversation, as well as in writing to
assess comprehension of a text.
5 Writing from Sources
Writing needs to emphasize use of
evidence to inform or make an
argument rather than the personal
narrative and other forms of de-
contextualized prompts. While
the narrative still has a role, students
develop critical thinking skills through
written arguments that respond to the
ideas, events, facts, and persuassions
presented in the texts they read.
6 Academic Vocabulary
Students constantly build the vocabulary
they need to access grade level
complex texts. By focusing strategically
on comprehension of pivotal and
commonly found words (such as
“discourse,” “generation,” “theory,” and
“principled”) and less on esoteric literary
terms (such as “onomatopoeia” or
“homonym”), teachers constantly build
students’ ability to access more complex
texts across the content areas.
College and Career Ready Model
Gary L. Williamson (2006) found a 350L
(Lexile) Gap between the difficulty of
 end-of-high school and college texts –
    a gap equivalent to 1.5 standard
  deviations or the difference between
   grade 4 and grade 8 texts on NAEP

    Source: Gary Williamon 2006)(from Appendix A of the CCSS)
Text Complexity
Text Complexity Increases
    Quantitative Measures of Text
• Readability and other scores of text complexity often 
  best measured by computer software.  
• Find a Book – www.lexile.com/findabook/   locate published 
  books in the database by title, author, keywords or ISBN
• Lexile Analyzer – www.lexile.com/analyzer/   allows to 
  receive an “estimated” measure – free registration. 1,000 
  word length
• Accelerated Reader  (AR) – www.arbookfind.com   search by 
  author, title or topic to find a ATOS book level
• ATOS Analyzer – www.renlearn.com/ar/overview/atos/  
  books leveled, no fee, can submit full text or three 150 word 
  samples with an estimated word count. 
         Qualitative Measures of Text
• Literary Text-  
              Very Complex----------------------------------------------Slightly Complex

Text Structure (Narration, Order of Events, Use of Graphics)
Language Features  (Conventionality, Vocabulary, Sentence Structure) 
Knowledge Demands  (Life experiences, Intertextuality, Cultural  
                                                        Knowledge, Subject Matter Knowledge)  
        Qualitative Measures of Text
• Informational  Text-  
              Very Complex----------------------------------------------Slightly Complex
Purpose – Intricate, theoretical, infer, implied, explicit
Text Structure – Organization of Main Ideas, Text Features, Graphics 
Language Features – Conventionality, Vocabulary, Sentence structure
Knowledge Demands – Subject Matter, Intertextuality; references to 
  outside ideas, theories or other text
Common Structures – Descriptions by fact or characteristics, sequence of 
  time, compare/contrast, cause/effect, problem and solution
Considerations for Reader and Task
•   Motivation
•   Cognitive Capabilities
•   Reading Skills
•   Engagement and Interest with task and text
•   Prior Knowledge and Experience
•   Content and/or theme concerns
•   Complexity of Associated Tasks

Grade 6
  Item Prompt:  

  Weather satellites and map-satellites are 
  different from each other.  Find two details 
  from the text to support this statement.
                   Grade 8
• Based on the text, what inference can be 
  made about how tests and testing should 
  occur to ensure an accurate measurement of 
  overall water quality?  Explain your inference 
  using details from the text.    
       SMARTER Balanced
• Computer Adaptive
  – Multiple Choice, Constructed Response, 
    Technology Enhanced
• Performance Tasks
  – Writing, listening and speaking
 Websites to Support Common Core Text
        Complexity Instruction

• Common Core – www.corestandards.org
• Unpacked Standards – NC Common Core Site - 
• Text Complexity -http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=4778
• Testing – www.smarterbalanced.org
• Steal these Tools – www.achievethecore.org 
• College and Career Ready Standards - https://www.epiconline.org/
• APPS to support Common Core Instruction
• Common Core App - look like a green atom/moving part
“I appreciate the text, Kate, but next time you can 
               just raise your hand.”
       Thank you!

         Patty Ewen

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