What will students be learning in the S.T.A.R.S. program?
"To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts. Through extensive reading of stories, dramas, poems, and myths from diverse cultures and different time periods, students gain literary and cultural knowledge as well as familiarity with various text structures and elements. By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades. Students also acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential to their future success." (Engage NY Common Core Standards)
Key Ideas and Details 1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. 2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas. 3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. Craft and Structure 4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. 5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole. 6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.* 8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence. 9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity 10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently. Responding to Literature 11. Respond to literature by employing knowledge of literary language, textual features, and forms to read and comprehend, reflect upon, and interpret literary texts from a variety of genres and a wide spectrum of American and world cultures.
At the risk of sounding simplistic, let's not complicate the obvious. There are only four academic skills that students really need to succeed. Students need to be skillful readers. They need to be skillful mathematicians. They need to be skillful writers. And they need to be skillful test takers. In other words they need to be fluent in reading, writing, and math, and they need to demonstrate excellence in these three areas on a variety of standardized tests.
That's it. Now we need to ask what are the components of these four critical areas? What does it take to be a skillful reader? What does it take to be a skillful mathematician? What does it take to be a skillful writer? And finally what does it take to be a skillful test taker?
What does it take to be a skillful reader? To answer this question, we must first describe what it means to be a skillful reader. A skillful reader is able to read any text and interact with the text intelligently by comprehending, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing the writer's thoughts. Put simply, skillful readers are able to have intelligent conversations with a variety of complex texts. They read thoughtfully and analytically. Skillful readers read between the lines, "hear" the writer's voice, and discern meanings and implications within the text. But to become skillful readers, students must first understand the words and the way writers organize words to create meaning. So they have to understand the meanings of words and the way words are arranged to create meaning.
Skillful reading is, therefore, impossible without strong vocabulary and grammar skills.
Vocabulary A rich and growing vocabulary is one of the keys to effective reading. If students can't understand the words in a text, then they can't understand the meanings that the writer is trying to convey.
How can students acquire a rich and ever increasing vocabulary? From birth through the early grades, students acquire vocabulary by listening to what is read and what is said to them. After they've learned to read, reading becomes a main source of acquiring new words. But reading must be supplemented with systematic vocabulary instruction. There are simply too many new words to learn. And after they begin to engage complex texts, lack of word knowledge becomes a serious impediment to understanding.
Generative vocabulary instruction is one of the most effective ways to teach vocabulary. Generative vocabulary simply means a way of teaching students to decode words by analyzing their parts. Students are taught how to analyze words based on their roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Students learn words by learning the parts of words. This is often referred to as etymological study or morphological study. In any case, it simply means that students learn words by analyzing them and using their parts to decode the meanings of other connected but unfamiliar words. They learn word parts to become word smart. As they read more complex texts, students increase their ability to read with fluency because they are able to decode difficult words by analyzing their parts.
Grammar If students can understand most of the words but can't understand the grammatical structures of the text (or the way those words are organized to create complex meanings), then they still cannot be effective readers.
We normally think of grammar as a boring subject where the teacher forced us to learn how to punctuate sentences. But grammar is much more than that. Punctuation and the rules of capitalization are only a part of grammar. Grammar also deals with the way words, groups of words, and entire sentences are organized and arrayed to convey meaningful thoughts with force, beauty, and clarity. Grammar is really the study of how writers create and convey meaning. As such, it is an essential component of skillful reading, because skillful readers know how to understand challenging texts by analyzing the connections within and between sentences. They know how sentences are connected and interconnected. Skillful readers can see the continuity of meaning. The key to learning grammar sentence in the houses. Just like the key to learning words is word analysis, the key to learning grammar is sentence analysis. We need to teach students how to analyze the parts of sentences. We need to show them how the parts of sentences work together to create meaning. When students can analyze a sentence, when they can understand how each part plays an important role in the creation of meaning, then they can understand how writers organize these various parts to convey their thoughts.
What is the most effective way to teach grammar and vocabulary?
Learning should be engaging and exciting. That's why we recommend that instruction be presented through visual, interactive, thought provoking, associative, learning ( or VITAL) strategies which stimulate students both cognitively and emotionally.
When word analysis and sentence analysis are taught through the VITAL strategy, teaching becomes easier and learning becomes unforgettable. This VITAL strategy incorporates multi sensory tangible tools that students can manipulate. Students should be able to take words and sentences apart and physically put them together again. They should be able to see how word parts create words and word families, and how words and groups of words each play important parts in creating sentences. Students should be able to "do" word and sentence analysis by physically rearranging the parts of words and the parts of sentences to discover how each creates meaning.
Writing Students who are able to analyze words and sentences, are then able to discover and imitate the rich nuances and varieties of structures that writers deploy to communicate their thoughts. A rich knowledge of word and sentence structure empowers students to write with complexity and clarity as they learn style and substance from the writings they have been equipped to understand. Students are also enabled to analyze, edit, and improve their own work. In effect, a clear understanding of word and sentence structure sets them on the road to becoming effective writers. And what is an effective writer? An effective writer is one who can convey complexity with clarity, simplicity with style, and persuasiveness with power.
Skillful readers can make skillful writers. And effective readers and writers rely on their analytical sense of words and sentences to understand and to create meaning.
Fluency in math Think of math as a language. Those most skilled in teaching languages tell us that the best way to learn a language is to think in that language. Math is no different. Skilled math students think in the language of math. They can add without calculators, and they can reason analytically according to abstractly mathematical principles. How students become fluent in math? Fluency is built step-by-step through systematic mastery of each stage in mathematical development and thinking. Students must begin, for example, with an understanding of place value. They must learn to master the grammar of math which is their multiplication, addition, subtraction, and division tables. Students who do not master these early stages will struggle with math throughout their careers in school. Each stage builds on the other. Parents must make sure that their children are learning math developmentally according to mash three principles. Put simply, students should never be allowed to move on from one topic until they master the preceding and foundational topic.
Test taking skills Students skilled in test-taking are skilled in focusing for long periods of time with intensity. They also know how to circumvent or how to strategize throughout the exam. They know what questions to answer and how to answer them. They work within time constraints. The clock is always ticking in their subconscious. They are disciplined and systematic in their approach to solving problems. They know how to move on from missed problems to work a new one with fresh mental energy. They know how to pace themselves. They know what the finish line is and how to get there successfully. But most importantly they know how to prepare for exams by using long term strategies.
Here are the types of questions that students face on the most important standardized tests. Here's a list below of these tests and what each test requires students to know. Click on each test to be taken to that site.
“Nicholas and family would like to thank Mr. Vieira and faculty on the tutoring of prepping Nick for the Sat exam. He was so well prepared that he increased his score by 260. Again we want to Thank You for the success.” The Arcabascio Family