Question from a client: I was recently facilitating a training and we were discussing the research that supports the use of realia with ELL students.  The staff involved in the training brought up a comment they said that you had made during your previous training concerning the use of realia and that it should not be used?  I wasn’t at your training, so I was wondering if you could clarify your message since I think there may be some misunderstanding.

My response: Thanks for asking for clarification!  Yes, things DO get blurred and I appreciate when folks go to the source!

My comment was that, because the Common Core is built entirely around text dependent questions and responses, the kids should be going back to the text for information and the teacher should be giving kids just enough information/background that they need to jump-start the kids in the text.

I made a joke about spending hours on realia and “touching the rock” when we’re reading a selection about rocks, but my point was that too often teachers give away all of the content in the text by teaching it all up front.  When teachers over-teach the building background parts of the lesson, it takes kids away from the opportunity to be taught how the text teaches them the content AND also sets them up for a lack of independence because they always need the teacher to give them background in order to understand the text.

I think the big idea that the CCSS really helps highlight for teachers is this: we need to give kids enough information to get into the text…and let the text (and the teaching of the text) take it from there.