Making Strides with Mexico’s Education Professionals
Here at CommonLit, research-based best practices inform everything that we build. Our digital tools are designed to help teachers implement best practices with ease and consistency. That’s why Mexico’s General Directorate of Higher Education for Education Professionals (DGESPE) not only endorsed our resources in 2019 but also rolled out two brand-new courses on how to use CommonLit to its network of over 100,000 educators.
Last week, we had the opportunity to hear from three educators who excelled in the practicum portion of the courses that we developed with DGESPE. One common theme arose through our conversations. Each of the three educators recounted personal stories about how CommonLit transformed student behaviors during reading practice and instruction.
Jorge Ernesto Name Ríos, a teacher at the Escuela Normal Urbana Cuauhtémoc in Tamaulipas with over 10 years of experience in English instruction, observed a subtle but impactful shift in how his struggling readers approached their assignments.
“At first, some of my students were scoring below 50% on CommonLit assignments, and that was pretty alarming. But over time, I saw significant progress,” Jorge Ernesto noted. “My lowest scorers started to take more time as they realized that with Guided Reading Mode, they couldn’t simply rush through their readings. They started to take their assignments more seriously and to read more thoroughly, and I believe that’s all thanks to this tool.”
Another teacher argued that CommonLit “reinforces good reading habits by strengthening their writing ability.” María Cristina Herrara Tovar has taught at the Centro Regional de Educación Normal Profesora Amira Madera Lauterio in San Luís Potosí for the past ten years.
“A big part of comprehension is argumentative ability,” Cristina explained. “When students are asked to produce thesis statements or research reports, these are things that need to have valid supporting arguments. So then one realizes that the short answer question addresses a key element of critical comprehension.”
At first, Cristina’s students had no clue how to “answer the open response question with supporting arguments.”
“That’s the thing that was super, super hard for them,” Cristina continued. “For example, on earlier assignments some students gave me one-line responses, and I had to clarify to them, ‘Look, arguments are supposed to be like this, search for the paragraphs that validate your idea.’ And we looked at examples so that they could push themselves to respond more thoroughly and with quotes from the text itself, as the prompt requires. That’s when the student realizes they have to return to the text.”
Cristina believes CommonLit can transform students into more engaged learners. She emphasized the platform’s potential to support independent projects in which students must exercise “the ability to find information.”
“Here you have a library, a world of information, a bank of information, a repository of different topics, from which the student can pull out texts in order to meet learning goals… that’s also an important ability.”
The numerous ways in which CommonLit promotes engaged learning was what most impressed Alba Kikey Partida Sánchez. Alba Kikey has nearly two decades of teaching experience and currently works at the Instituto de Educación Normal of Nayarit.
“The ability to monitor progress is fantastic, because it gives them autonomy as agents of their own learning,” Alba Kikey told us. “I try to make them aware of that.”
The feature that Alba Kikey referenced is the Performance Dashboard, which helps both students and their teachers track progress over time.
“It was great to see how my students responded when they saw the graphs, when they saw the percentages, and when they saw their strengths and areas of improvement,” Alba Kikey explained. “It’s a tool for self-evaluation, and it makes the lessons more interactive and more motivating.”
In her eyes, CommonLit transforms the behaviors not only of students but of teachers as well — and for the better.
“The methodology is accessible and innovative. The texts are diverse and easy to access. The evaluation features make my life so much easier by giving me the feedback I need in order to develop future lessons. All of this frees up time and space for teachers to work,” Alba Kikey affirmed. “And the platform promotes equity by knocking down barriers to access. Any teacher can use these resources; any teacher can start their planning from scratch and make strides.”