Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Putting it in their words

Kelley Tenkely tweeted this out today, and it totally fit what I was thinking about blogging!

I also wonder why the things we expect our students to know aren't always written in words they can understand.  Students should understand what they are expected to learn, just like I am supposed to understand what I am evaluated on as a teacher. 

Yesterday, we started discussion on our first Essential Learning in reading.  This is the wording that is given on the progress report:

Use text structures to determine main idea when reading text consisting of multiple organizational patterns.
There are some big words in there that some fifth graders might struggle with, so we talked it out.  We read through it, picked out words they knew - like text and main idea - and then took words they weren't sure about - like text structure, determine, conisisting - talked about what we thought they might mean, reworded them, and rewrote the Essential Learning in our own words.

Here's what we came up with:

It's not a huge change, but it is written in words that all of my students can read and comprehend.

What are your thoughts?  Should our progress report statements and the Common Core be written in student speak?


  1. Hello Becky Goerend
    I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I agree that the wording in the Progress Report was "wordy", and should be in "student speak". If the wording is different then the children (and parents) will know what is expected and they can perform accordingly.

  2. I hope others can visit your blog and use some of the things that you and your students have simplified when it comes to the Common Core and objectives.

  3. It's definitely a thought I've had too. BUT, if they were already in student friendly language, then you couldn't have the great conversations you just had with your class.

    - @newfirewithin

  4. @Justin - SO true! Many great conversations to come this year. Thanks for the reminder! =)

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  6. Hello Becky Goerend.
    I am an Elementary Education Major at the University of South Alabama. I am in a class called EDM 310 and I have been assigned to your blog. I will also be posting a summary and my option on my EDM 310 blog.My EDM310 blog is
    I agree that the progress report used words that children may not understand. When words like that are used it can cause confusion among the students. I think that the text should be written in a way students understand clearly. I will be posting a summary of your blog post on my blog if you would like you read it.
    Thanks for sharing
    Ashley Fallo

  7. Hello Becky Goerend,
    My name is Robert Fisher. I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am currently in EDM 310. I believe that the instructions were difficult. I think that students need to have a clear understanding of an assignment in order to complete it correctly. I liked the how the class worked together to convert the instructions into “student speak”. They used critical thinking skills and team work. That translation exercise was probably beneficial to the students. I believe that anything the students are required to understand individually should be written in “student speak”.

  8. Hi Mrs. Goerend,
    My name is Diane Boudreau. I am enrolled in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I think that what you did with your class was absolutely amazing. I can remember sitting in my third grade class reading instructions, and even some books, that most of my class mates had trouble with. The only difference between my class and yours is that my teacher didn't help us. I think that the children need to understand a certain amount of the assignment in order to put pieces together and learn more. I believe putting the students work and instructions in "student speak" is a wonderful idea.