ELA Common Core Standards pose many challenges for students and teachers, including quantity, rigor, and a lack of precise resources. In terms of quantity, teachers are asked to teach and students to learn over 60 standards in 180 school days. In terms of rigor, many standards are cognitively-demanding and require higher-level thinking skills, such as multi-variable analysis and evaluation. Finally, there aren’t many comprehensive resources available for the middle and high school standards. Even the most skillful teacher would be challenged. The Visual Edge: Graphic Organizers for Standards Based Learning is designed based on the principle that visual learning is an effective, efficient way to tackle these challenges. It is a book and e-book of visual instructional tools carefully crafted for each English, History, and Science-grades 6-12 standard.
The Visual Edge is organized into five sections according to grade level:
- 6th grade
- 7th grade
- 8th grade
- 9th-10th grade
- 11th-12th grade
Grade level sections have a chapter on Common Core’s language modalities and disciplines:
- Reading Informational Text
- Reading Literature Text
- History/Social Studies
Each chapter contains a visual instructional tool for each of the modalities’ and disciplines’ standards.
Every page has three sections. At the top is the standard(s) in full text. Next is an explanation section that clarifies the standard and details how to use the visual instructional tool at the bottom of the page to teach and demonstrate the standard. The majority of each page features a corresponding carefully crafted visual instructional tool (e.g., a graphic organizer or example guide) that captures the intricacies of each standard and helps make lessons more effective.
Engagement Clarity A learning standard becomes more academically comprehensible when students can see what it entails. The Visual Edge takes the guesswork out of instruction and put both students and teachers on the same page, creating a more powerful connection between lessons and outcomes.
Student Centered Students can choose a developmentally appropriate topic of interest to read, write about, speak to, or listen to and use The Visual Edge as the vehicle to show their skill based learning that has taken place.
Lesson Precision Because many of the standards involve accounting for multiple variables in one exercise, it becomes difficult to keep track of all of the moving parts. The Visual Edge organizes all of the variables in a logical sequence to ensure that all components are accounted for in a single, pointed lesson.
Efficiency As the instructional pace has picked up with so many standards to teach and learn, maximization of time has become of the essence. The Visual Edge maintains classroom attention on the standard(s) and ensures lessons are productive for students in an environment where every minute counts.
Whole Class Instruction Modeling being a primary first step in skill learning, The Visual Edge’s tools can be projected onto a screen/whiteboard and a teacher can use it to explicitly show students how to complete the standard.
Cooperative/Independent Learning Both group and individual based lessons being a secondary process for building deeper understanding and independence, The Visual Edge’s tools can be distributed to students so they can engage in further precise learning of the standard(s).
Assessment Formal and summative assessment being critical pieces in measuring what students know and are able to do, The Visual Edge’s tools can be a part of an assessment, making sure that the intended standard is measured accurately and the data is valid/reliable.
Projects/Portfolios Projects/portfolios being great opportunities for individualizing instruction and building in student interest, The Visual Edge’s tools can ensure that students’ takeaways are consistent to the standard(s).
Examples and Explanations of Use
We’ve all heard the saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ The same idea applies when students are able to see the standard visually depicted. Simply designing a task verbally for students brings with it a level of vagueness with respect to what it means and what it would look like to complete it. It leaves too much to the student’s imagination. However, when a visual instructional tool is provided/used, students can get it and go straight to the task at hand. This section features examples of standards based visual instructional tools, one of which is filled out, and explanations of how they can be used.
This writing standard below asks students to utilize the elements of introduction, organization/broader categories, formatting, and graphics/multi-media for informative/explanatory writing. With this graphic organizer, students are able to write the topic at the top and brainstorm an introduction in the first table, an organization strategy/categorization in the second table, formatting in the third table, and graphics/multi-media in the fourth table.
Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
This reading standard below asks students to outline and assess an informational author’s argument or claim in terms of reasons and evidence and recognize what is untrue and illogical. With this graphic organizer, students are able to write the author’s argument or claim in the top box, delineate reasons and evidence in the first column, evaluate validity of reasons and relevancy/sufficiency of evidence in the second column, and identify fallacious reasons and false statements in the third column.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
This writing standard below asks students to find pertinent information, evaluate the value of the information, quote/paraphrase the information without plagiarism, and cite sources. With this graphic organizer, students are able to write the research question at the top, quote and/or paraphrase findings in the second column, cite sources in the third column, and assess the credibility of those sources in the fourth column.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.
This graphic organizer is filled out to serve as an example of the type of content that may go inside.
The Visual Edge enables visual learning, and provides the ready-made instructional clarity, precision, flexibility, and efficiency needed to master the quantity and rigor of Common Core. The book is now available in paperback on Amazon and Barnes N Noble, or by contacting the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or via LinkedIn.
About the Author:
Sargy Letuchy is a Bilingual ESL Teacher at Bolingbrook High School in Illinois. You can also find his Visual Instructional Resources at Getting Smart.