ELA Virtual Learning Network: Complex Text and Academic Vocabulary


ELA VLN with Andrew MillerIt’s been quite an exciting experience collaborating with my ASCD colleagues Nanci Smith, Jason Flom, and Mark Barnes. We’ve been communicating frequently to check in and align our webinar topics while still being specific to the needs of our content area communities and Common Core implementation. We are a very reflective group and actively seek to improve the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) to keep it focused on deep thinking, but also practice solutions. We’ve convened in person (recordings are at the bottom of this page), and our first webinar to explore a problem of practice. As the English language arts facilitator, I focused on complex text; we looked exactly what complex texts are, where we might find them, and how teachers can better identify them. We also examined a sample rubric to evaluate a selection of text to discuss whether or not it is complex based on quality indicators. Although we only touched on academic vocabulary, it is a shift we hope to explore more.

So how are these webinars planned, and what are our next steps? We started by asking questions at the convening about problems of practice teachers are having with the standards. We shared our results, looked for trends and common themes, and aligned them to the major Common Core instructional shifts. From there we developed interactive polls, discussion activities, and more to include our webinar. We’ve posted resources and will continue to the ASCD EDge social media network, including resources from EduCore™! We plan on having future webinars to focus on the major shifts and practical strategies for implementation, all from participants.

We need your help! We want to make sure we are providing the best webinars and resources to support your Common Core implementation. What can you do? Join our ASCD EDge groups (found the right side of the page) and respond to our inquiries, ask questions, and share resources. One educator has already shared the need to explore text dependent questions. Do you agree? What else do you need? We are here to help and look forward to our virtual collaboration!

Editor’s Note: Below, you’ll find the full schedule for the second round of Virtual Learning Network sessions. Visit www.ascd.org/vln to register for each of these free professional development webinars:


Led by: Jason Flom

Date: February 18, 3:00 p.m. eastern time

Social Studies

Led by: Mark Barnes

Date: February 19, 3:00 p.m. eastern time

English Language Arts

Led by: Andrew Miller

Date: February 20, 3:00 p.m. eastern time


Led by: Nanci Smith

Date: February 21, 3:00 p.m. eastern time

Andrew Miller


Andrew K. Miller (@betamiller on Twitter) is on the National Faculty for the Buck Institute for Education, an organization specializing in 21st century project-based learning, and faculty for ASCD, providing expertise in a variety of professional development needs. He is also a regular blogger for Edutopia.