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Looking for examples of common core curriculum: lessons, units, etcetera

Looking for examples of common core curriculum: lessons, units, etcetera

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I'm looking for examples of common core lesson plans, units, curriculum or syllabi in an attempt to understand what it looks like or could look like. Anyone have anything? Thanks!

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Pam McNees's picture
Pam McNees
world languages, California

Does common core and do the world language standards equate "equity" with sameness. In other words in order to provide equity do we all have to give the same quizzes and unit tests?

Pam McNees's picture
Pam McNees
world languages, California

Do textbook tests or quizzes have to be used for common assessment in world languages and are they recommended or are there better options?

Pam McNees's picture
Pam McNees
world languages, California

How many common assessments (with other classrooms) are normally expected of a language teacher? At the moment our dept. wants every teacher to do 24 quizzes, 6 unit tests and 2 finals exactly the same and around the same time regardless of student readiness

Pam McNees's picture
Pam McNees
world languages, California

If your principal talks about creating units that are common core might she be inferring the text not dictate the curriculum but perhaps provide some grammar and thematic guides?

Pam McNees's picture
Pam McNees
world languages, California

If a text book has "authentic" bits and pieces in it - such as a picture or a story (literature) is the textbook considered to be an authentic source?

Pam McNees's picture
Pam McNees
world languages, California

As professionals in the world language field would you accept 2 semester common assessments (form of semester finals) and some essays written by all classes with the same prompt as a sufficient way to show "equity" - to demonstrate that all students have had an education that provides them with the opportunity to develop the skills associated with their level?

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi Pam!

Here's an example with a bunch of links from NY's common core website:

I think the heart of the matter is when they say :

"Guidance for selection: Complexity

When choosing texts for instruction and assessment at any grade level, educators should consider three dimensions of text complexity:

Use of quantitative measures to assign a text to a grade band.
Use of qualitative measures to locate a text within a specific grade band.
Use of professional judgment to decide how suited a text is for a specific instructional purpose with a particular set of students.
In regards to selecting K-12 passages that are appropriately complex according to these multiple measures and can support CCSS-level questioning and assessment, there are several resources available that help with the process. "

for forign languages- this is probably the best general resource:

and the Santilla group has materials:

and here's an example of State standards from Louisiana for french:

I couldn't find a lot of existing texts to show you, so I think at the moment it's a bit "roll your own" best I can tell, adding the complexity using traditional texts and supplementing.

Let me know if you find anything else.

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

Hello Pam,

Thanks for your follow up questions!

You raise a great number of issues for WL teachers dealing with common core, standards vs. textbooks, authentic materials,PLCs, and more - I love that you are thinking deeply about these things, and that you are not merely settling for the commonly held positions of the traditionalists in the WL teaching circles where we reside. Keep asking those great questions!

As a WL teacher myself, I think I have some inside ideas about the issues you call into question, having done so myself for many years. So, let me try to give some specific input, in addition to what my colleague Whitney has already shared above.

1) Whitney is right to point you to the ACTFL publication as the most pertinent document available right now. I would encourage you to download it, read it several times, and to share it with your department, your PLC group, and your administration. In referring to an outside reference, such as this document, we can more readily ensure that the conversation is less personal, less territorial, and more professional. Always try to appeal to third party references, such as what the research shows us, to defuse the kind of tension I sense you feel in your conversations with other WL teachers. Been there myself, many times!

2) In WL, when we refer to authentic text, it is not precisely the same thing as what is referenced in the CCSS documents, though there is some overlap. You are correct to point out the deficiencies and short comings of WL textbooks - most, ie, virtually ALL, WL textbooks are organized around a set of linguistic structures and thematically categorized vocabulary lists, which are then supported with contrived model dialogues and readings. These do NOT qualify as authentic texts. They are documents 'dressed up for the ball' with pretty pictures of monuments and cultural festivals, but they are definitely NOT real world! As I wrote, they are contrived!

3) In addition, as I just mentioned, a typical chapter in a WL textbook is organized around the perception that we teach languages by giving instruction about the language, as opposed to in the language. I realize that there is plenty of 'target language' in every chapter, but no one ever really learns a language by studying structures and vocabulary lists. This approach leaves most people to say things like this: "I studied French for 3 years in High School and I don't remember a thing!" If pressed a bit, I bet they could recite a verb conjugation or a list of foods, but is that real world use of language? No! No one conjugates verbs in a conversation with someone else except in a language class, but even then, that is NOT a real conversation, it is simply reciting the WL equivalent of multiplication tables - useful for accuracy, but not much more.

4) So, what constitutes an 'authentic text' for us in WL? Here is the definition we use at the BLC at UC Berkeley:

"Texts written by the Target Culture for the Target Culture."

Examples: supermarket ads, menus, labels, flyers, classifieds, recipes, signs, CD inserts, newspaper or magazine articles, online blogs, movie reviews, videos, photographs, paintings, etc. ...

Certainly there is some overlap between the nature of authentic text as defined in CCSS, and this definition, however, please note that the big idea is this: authentic text is taken from a real world cultural context of the target language, ie, something created by a native speaker, for native speakers, whether the sample is written, spoken, visual (like videos, photographs, paintings, etc.), or a combination of these. Again, our WL textbooks more often than not have 'texts' written by textbook authors for students of the language, and do not represent real world documents.

5) As for your PLC work on common assessments and units, here is how we are approaching this issue in our work with WL teachers through the BLC and in my own high school.
a) Our PLC's are not organized by languages, but by levels - ie, all WL Level 1 teachers are working together. Based on our CA WL Standards, this is very logical. By the way, here is the link to get the CA WL Standards, in case you don't have them yet:

b) We are developing thematic units together, accepting that there are obvious cultural differences between our languages, but that we all teach common themes, all of which are in our standards. For example, we have a common unit on Family and Traditions, another on Food and Restaurants, and yet another on Sports for all Seasons. Whether a student is learning Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese or ASL, he/she needs to learn how to communicate about these topics in a level 1 class.

c) we then set our learning targets based on the functions of language, not structures! We prefer to posit our learning targets in "I Can" statements. Here is an example for family:

"I can describe my family members and my relationship to them."

Of course, students will need to learn family vocabulary, description words, the verbs to be and to have, how to discuss ages and personalities, as well as some words for possession (ie, my, his, her, their, our, your...). We then set up "I Know" statements for daily learning targets in support of the communicative target ("I Can..."). For example, "I know the forms of the verb to have, and that I use it to talk about age, and possession."

d) Next, we decide on our final common assessment, which MUST be linked to the communicative learning target. We call these assessments 'Standards-based Performance Assessments.' ACTFL has coined the phrase, 'Integrated Performance Assessments.' Here is a link with more information about IPA:

e) Our common assessments, since they are intended to determine to what degree the students 'can do' what the learning target states, are NOT therefore the tests which come from the textbook series adopted by our district. Nor are they test which look like them! Rather, we bear in mid that our CA WL Standards are summed up this way: "presentational, interpersonal, and interpretive communication, in both oral and written modes." Our SBPA therefore must be created to give students the opportunity to demonstrate communicative competency in these three modes, and in oral/written forms. We need not necessarily assess 6 different ways for each unit, but we do need to give students opportunities for multiple measurements. For example, I might select an authentic reading (as defined about) and develop several questions in the target language to assess students' written interpretive skills for the unit. In addition, I conduct an oral interview with my students, one on one while the class is working on a project, for example, to assess oral interpersonal communication. Finally, I will develop a prompt to elicit a written presentational communication sample from my students. We develop these types of assessments for our common thematic units in our PLC groups. We aim to have 2 common assessments per semester, but we often have time for 3-4 per semester now.

A final word about the textbook, given the above information... We can use the texts, and we sometime do use them when students need some extra practice in developing confidence that the can give a thumbs up in response to the 'I know...' statements. That being said, we don't need to use the textbooks very often if ever anymore, when we have some much available on the internet which qualifies as authentic documents - videos on YouTube and Vimeo, target language games and puzzles, readings about cultural matters that interest the students... We use some of our PLC time to look for these types of resources as well. We bookmark them on Diigo as a place to share them one with another. We annotate the texts with highlights and sticky note prompts (also in Diigo) then post the link generated in Diigo to our annotated document, post the link in our daily agendas on Edmodo, and have the students work in pairs or small groups to closely read the documents, and record responses to the prompts on a graphic organizer, which then serves as a tool for class discussion, interpersonal guided and independent practice activities, and so on. Every student is engaged and acquiring the language, allowing me to circulate around the room to check for understanding, to coach, guide, prompt, and redirect... And the textbook sits on the table, available as a refernce for those who may want to consult it.

I can hear your colleagues, and mine too, saying, "but they won't get the _____!" Fill in the blank with words like preterite, subjunctive or irregular verbs. Honestly, has an incorrect verb form ever really impedededededing (sic) comprehension? So why should we give summative assessments which are based only on accuracy of expression?

When a child is born, no one ever hand the kid a grammar book and then says to him/her, "read this, and when you can communicate accurately, then we will deem you worthy of joining our conversations." How ridiculous! So why do we do it in WL courses? Because traditionally, textbook companies have done what is expedient to sell textbooks, and we have bought them, used them, and believed the right way to teach a language is to do so the way they are laid out in the books.

I hope these many words have helped! By now you may be exhausted in just trying to read it all. This has to be the longest article ever on Edutopia! Even so, I hope I have given you some food for thought.

If you would like to contact us at UC Berkeley, here are our direct links:

If you have more questions, please feel free to comment here on Edutopia, of course! In addition, though, we would be delighted to be in touch with you directly at the EBWLP at UC Berkeley's Language Center.

Best wishes,

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
Co-Director, East Bay World Language Project
UC Berkeley Language Center
B-40 Dwinelle Hall, # 2640
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-2640

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

I completely agree with Toni on this. Thanks for sharing more, Toni!


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