Search This Blog

Loading...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Here is a great resource. Don't miss is. Courtesy of Corbett Harrison.


This lesson link is worth your time.  When you have a moment, check out this diverse collection of student samples from 1st-8th grade students, all inspired bu the exact same lesson at WritingFix: http://writingfix.com/Picture_Book_Prompts/Cloudy4.htm
You know, I meet teachers who have looked over the lessons I have personally posted online over the years, most of which I admittedly designed for my own 6th-8th graders, and the teachers say, "But that's not the grade I teach. Do you have a lesson I can use with my third graders?" 
Fact #1--Adaptation is useful for writing teachers:  Good writing teachers know that a thoughtful writing lesson is adaptable!  The link shared above demonstrates this, and WritingFix is proud to feature many lessons that share many samples from many different grade levels.  Adapting a lesson's big idea to meet the needs of your own students?  I am confident you'll become an even better writing teacher if you go through that process on a regular basis. You learn by adapting.  You just do.  I did.  And I continue to.  I posted this "Goofus & Gallant Parody" lesson, which I assigned my 8th graders, and I had first grade teachers tell me how much they loved the idea and would adapt and use it.
The "Three Meal Weather" lesson at WritingFix (which, by the way,  remains one of the most visited and used lessons at the site since we first posted it ten years ago!) was written by a wonderful 3rd grade teacher (Kaycee Goman) from Northern Nevada.  Is it intended just for third graders then?  Nope!  It--like most of WritingFix's lessons--was posted because it can be easily adapted, and that diverse set of student samples at the link above is a great tribute to teachers who don't mind adapting an idea they like even if it's not designed by a teacher who teaches the same grade as them.
Fact #2--Polished student samples shared (and discussed) before, during, and after a writing assignment ups the level of quality writing you'll receive from your own students:  My kids love reading (and, to be honest, critiquing too) the samples of other students at all steps of our writing process when we're working on lessons.  They compliment the published student writers.  They discuss small things they might do to make the writing better.  They then go back to their own piece of writing, and they find other ways to improve it beyond checking their spelling and writing it neater.  Student exemplars improve other writers' drafts!
Fact #3--With your support, we plan to start publishing student samples at WritingFix again! If we save WritingFix (https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/save-writingfix-until-2020) by having it earn funding from its users, which we are trying to do right now, I will devote personal time so that new student samples start getting posted at WritingFix again.  I receive a lot of emails from teachers asking if this is still possible, and I have had to tell them no in the past; however, if we make our fund-raising goal (and perhaps even go beyond it!), I will start accepting high-quality student samples from teachers users of WritingFix, and we will begin posting them (with the kids' pictures) at WritingFix again.  I kind of had to stop doing this when the NNWP stopped funding the WritingFix website in 2011, but in exchange for your generous donations, I will make time to bring that practice back to teachers from all over the globe.  
Thanks in advance for considering helping the website become a community-funded website.  Thanks especially to those of you who already donated!  
--Corbett Harrison
Visit Writing Lesson of the Month Network at: http://writinglesson.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Writing has been changed by the digital age. Here are some great ideas for classroom teachers for twitter. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief

Tips to help teachers master Twitter
Social media can be a powerful learning tool for educators, asserts Steven Anderson, a former teacher and technology director. He spoke recently at the TCEA 2015 conference, where he offered seven tips to help teachers use Twitter more effectively. EdTech magazine online (2/5)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A great article onn content vocabulary. Enjoy!!! Courtesy of Big Fresh.



The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
January 31, 2015 - Issue #418


Portmanteaus and Eggcorns
  
A new word is like a fresh seed sewn on the ground of the discussion.
                                                 Ludwig Wittgenstein 
 
I've always loved Ralph Fletcher's advice that vocabulary instruction is all about helping students fall in love with words. But what does that look like, and how do we help students feel the love? Teaching students to look for portmanteaus and eggcorns is a fun way to build word awareness.
My favorite new word is a portmanteau. The Choice Literacy website server briefly crashed and restarted a few weeks ago. A message was sent by email to alert me to the problem, noting the site was up and running after "a restart was attempted automagically." I chuckled at that word "automagically." From now on anything wonderful that happens in my life with no effort on my part will be something that happened "automagically."
A portmanteau combines two words and their meanings into one new word (in this case, automatic and magical). Discovering a new portmanteau is like finding a buried treasure in a text. Portmanteau has both French and English roots, derived from a term for a suitcase with two compartments.  Smog and frenemy are also examples of portmanteaus.
More recently I've had fun with eggcorns, which are sort of practical-joke kissing cousins of portmanteaus. An eggcorn is a substitution for a word or phrase that may shift its meaning, but still makes sense in the context. Eggcorns are usually accidental on the part of the speaker -- cold slaw for cole slaw, old timer's disease for Alzheimer's disease. When I was a snarky teen, my best friend and I enjoyed how her grandma would exclaim over the nice "sediment" in Hallmark greeting cards. We found the corny words a little sludgy too.
 
Lists of portmanteaus and eggcorns abound on the web, and once you've introduced them to students, they will no doubt find many examples to share on a class graffiti board or online log. Exploring the origins of these creative words and phrases, both accidental and purposeful, is a great way into conversations about how language evolves and meanings vary in different contexts. 
 
This week we look at word learning in content areas. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
 
Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy

 

 
Free for All

 
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
 

Andrea Smith uses photographs to build content vocabulary in her fourth-grade classroom. She explains how in Word Storms: Integrating Nonfiction, Word Study, and Technology:
 
 
 
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris are Breathing Life into Content Area Word Walls:
 
 
 
Pat Johnson explains how Signal Words are a terrific tool for teaching content vocabulary:
 
  
 
If the concept of eggcorns is new to you, hundreds are available in the eggcorn database:
 
 
 
Last chance to register for Jennifer Allen's Literacy Coach Jumpstart online course that runs February 5-16 and includes three on-demand webinars, the Layered Coaching DVD, Jen's book Becoming a Literacy Leader, and personal response from Jen tailored to your needs on the class discussion board. The class won't be offered again before the summer. Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy members receive a $50 discount off the course fee. Click on the link below for more details:
 
 
 
Lead Literacy is our subscription site designed especially for literacy coaches and school leaders. You can sample content at this link:
 
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 29, 2015

This is a good article for anyone who intends to use digital texts...very practical. Enjoy! Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief

Lessons learned from early adopters of digital textbooks

Modern education and online learning

Digital textbooks offer opportunities for schools to teach the most up-to-date content and give students access to quizzes, videos and comments within the text. Still, the digital transition can come with some challenges, say three early users who share their digital-textbook adoption stories. eSchool News (free registration) (1/28)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, January 25, 2015

To group, not to group, how to group - These are questions many of us struggle with...Here are some articles that help you reflect on this issue. Coutres of Choice Literacy. Enjoy!!


The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
January 24, 2015 - Issue #417


DEARO
  
Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.
                                                 Steve Maraboli
On a cold winter day last month I stood at the front door of a local school, fumbling to open it with my arms full of video equipment. It was a quiet morning, with regular classes canceled for parent/teacher conferences. I looked through the glass and saw Alan, the school principal, moving toward me. He gave me a hearty greeting, even though we'd met only once years before. He then grabbed a couple of tripods and ushered me to the classroom where I'd be helping with setup.
Hours later I was walking down the hallway chatting with Jen, the literacy coach. She spied an older man who was stopped in the middle of the hallway, looking confused. Jen immediately excused herself from our conversation and walked over to help the man, who was trying to find his grandson's classroom.
I realized in that moment that the school has a DEARO policy, whether it's official or not. (It's probably not an official policy since I just created that acronym this morning.)  Drop Everything And Reach Out is the attitude of every staff member when they see a visitor who needs help or looks confused.
I thought about another school I visited months before, where most of the students were walked to the school by their immigrant parents from the public housing nearby. I observed dozens of parents outside the school joyfully and tenderly kissing their children goodbye that morning, but none of them stepped over the threshold into the school. The principal explained to me later that day how hard it is to get parents to come into the building. He even makes a point of being at the school door before a parent conference to usher them in, because he knows how difficult it is for many of them to enter.
Most readers of this newsletter are comfortable in schools. We've spent most of our waking and working hours in classrooms since we were five years old. We know the lingo and rituals, and where the staff bathroom is hidden. It's easy to forget how uncomfortable, even threatened, many adults feel by schools. New security measures put in place in the past decade have only increased the anxiety for visitors.  In our rush to get to the next thing, it's tempting to ignore that stranger who looks perplexed in the hallway. The Germans have a phrase for it -- "wie Luft behandeln," which means "to be looked at as though air."
When the whole community is trained to look for that discomfort and alleviate it as quickly as possible, it sends an important message: "We are here for you and your children. This is your place too."  What's your policy for reaching out to unexpected visitors to your school?
This week we look at grouping. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
 
Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy

 

 
Free for All

 
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
 
 
 
Heather Rader asks, How Do We Know Small-Group Instruction Is Effective?:
 
 
 
From the A Year of Reading blog, Franki Sibberson is Planning for Small Group Instruction with a focus on teaching problem and solution:
 
 
 
Mary Ann Reilly gives advice for guided reading with intermediate students:
 
 
 
"Hello Stranger" from the New York Times includes research on the mental health benefits of conversing with new people in everyday situations:
 
 

Jennifer Allen's Literacy Coach Jumpstart online course runs February 5-16 and includes three on-demand webinars, the Layered Coaching DVD, Jen's book Becoming a Literacy Leader, and personal response from Jen tailored to your needs on the class discussion board. Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy members receive a $50 discount off the course fee. Click on the link below for more details:
 
 
 
Lead Literacy is our subscription site designed especially for literacy coaches and school leaders. You can sample content at this link:
 
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Great Article! Great Ideas --- As Always!! Courtesy of Choice Literacy

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
January 17, 2015 - Issue #416


The Power of Nonfiction Picture Books
  
People respect nonfiction but they read novels.
                                                 E.O. Wilson
Student choice is a key component of my fourth-grade reading workshop. I believe that if students have more control over what they read, more reading will happen. However, more reading doesn't always mean wider reading across many genres. One of the genres I still see students struggling to read is nonfiction. Over the past few years I have increased the amount of nonfiction that is available in my room. At one time my classroom library had about 20 nonfiction titles. Fiction books still dominate, but now there are over 200 nonfiction titles.
Yet I discovered having more nonfiction available didn't translate to more nonfiction reading. If the students are not choosing these books, why have them in the room? I needed to find ways to get nonfiction texts into my students' hands without just passing out a random article to support content studies.
One of the routines in my room is to pick up a picture book as a break from a longer novel. I encourage my students to not juggle too many novels at one time. So if a child forgets her book at home, she will usually choose a picture book during independent reading time. For many fourth- and fifth-grade readers, having a picture book in their hands is like having the Scarlet Letter embroidered on their hoodie. Showing students that a well-crafted picture book is a wonderful break from a longer book is a good gift to give. And since most of the picture books that are displayed in my classroom are now nonfiction, there is a much better chance that high-quality nonfiction will get in readers' hands during these little breaks from novels.
I also often choose fabulously written nonfiction books to serve as mentor texts for writing workshop craft minilessons. Even if kids are working on fictional stories, a well-written narrative nonfiction piece can be a great model for writing techniques. The books I choose for minilessons get read and reread many times by students during independent workshop times.
Book talks are a valuable part of my reading workshop as well. The past few years I have been much more intentional about sharing nonfiction titles during the daily book talk that launches our reading workshop. My excitement about a book will sometimes spark student interest. This past year I shared over 50 nonfiction titles for book talks.  Some made it into the hands of just one or two readers, and some were read by more than half of my class.
If you are thinking about trying to layer more nonfiction into your reading workshop, try using nonfiction as "break books" and mentor texts in writing workshop, as well as featuring nonfiction in book talks. These are all authentic ways to encourage students to choose nonfiction more often on their own. 
 
This week we look at nonfiction in classrooms. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
 
Tony Keefer
Contributor, Choice Literacy

 

 
Free for All

 
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
 
 
 
Franki Sibberson is Rethinking Nonfiction Author Baskets:
 
 
 
Kylene Beers has advice for students and teachers on noticing and noting nonfiction:
 
 
 
School Library Journal offers suggestions of great new picture book biographies featuring a range of diverse figures from Johnny Cash to Peter Mark Roget (of thesaurus fame) in The Stuff of Stars:
 
 
 
The Library of Congress has a search feature that allows teachers to find primary sources for historical events from local communities. Michael Apfeldorf explains how it works in Close to Home:
 
 

Jennifer Allen's Literacy Coach Jumpstart online course runs February 5-16 and includes three on-demand webinars, the Layered Coaching DVD, Jen's book Becoming a Literacy Leader, and personal response from Jen tailored to your needs on the class discussion board. Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy members receive a $50 discount off the course fee. Click on the link below for more details:
 

 
Lead Literacy is our subscription site designed especially for literacy coaches and school leaders. You can sample content at this link:
 

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Here is some great research to help schools back up some scheduling decisions. Take a look. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief


Study reveals reading patterns among students


Reading aloud to children and restricting online screen time may boost the number of young children who read on their own, according to a recent study. Research shows older students are more likely to read on their own when they have free time during the school day. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (1/8)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Here's a great article on young readers. I suggest many of these descriptors apply to older readers as well. Enjoy. Courtesy of Choice Literacy.



The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
January 3, 2015 - Issue #414


Cookies and Coaching
  

Cookies are made of butter and love.
 
                                  Norwegian Proverb
 
 
I always knew that the way to a person's heart was through their stomach, so when I moved to a new district as a reading specialist for one elementary building eight years ago, I enjoyed bringing cookies to data meetings or other professional development workshops. Teachers seemed to appreciate the midday treat and didn't seem to mind being pulled from their rooms as much because they could count on a home-baked goody.  The expectations grew, and soon there wasn't a meeting in that one building without a cookie or brownie.  When I became the literacy coach for four buildings, word spread.  "You can expect a treat at a meeting that Kathy runs," was heard across the district.  
 
I love living up to those expectations of baking, as the experience is quite therapeutic for me.  Some days are easy drop-cookie days, but some can be "needing to knead bread dough" days!  I always use fresh ingredients, provide a variety of choices, consider the dietary needs of the recipients, and try to make the treats easy to eat on the run. Now and then, an extra-special treat like cinnamon rolls are given to those who really need an extra pick-me-up.  As I mix, knead, bake, and decorate, I always think about the people I am baking for.  I think of recent times we have spent together in their rooms planning, teaching, and debriefing.  I think of the struggles some have with challenging students.  I think of how I can help them grow as learners. 
 
What are they expecting from me as a coach? The expectations that I will be a caring, supportive, confidential coach have also taken some time to cultivate, but they are in place now.  Here are some things I know they have grown to expect from me:

They expect confidentiality. Nothing leaves their room -- nothing we discuss together, not even notes I may take. 
 
They expect consistency. We have established long-term goals for our coaching cycles together, and short-term objectives for each session that we both agreed on.
 
They expect to grow as a learner. Our time together is nonevaluative, so risk taking is done without worry.  They expect me to anticipate what they will need next and plan for that.  
 
They expect honesty and humility. None of my lessons are perfect, and theirs aren't expected to be, either.  The best data comes from struggling and watching how students acquire what we hope we are teaching them.
 
They expect me to be there on time. There is nothing worse than trying to hold the attention of a large group of kindergartners when you expected to start a lesson on time and the coach is late.  
 
They expect me to be a listener. They need someone to confide in when teaching is hard, an extra set of eyes for a puzzling student,  and a resource provider who can get them that just-right book when there is no time to get it themselves.
 
They expect to be able to get what they need. Needs vary, from a demo lesson, a co-teacher, or an observer, to a pusher who helps them see when they are working harder than their students. 
 
They don't expect me to know everything. I will never know it all, but love learning and growing with them.  
 
Just as they've come to expect cookies, everyone expects me to live up to the consistent role I have grown into over the years.  Without those expectations, our coaching time together wouldn't be effective.  It would be like me bringing cheese and crackers to a meeting!
This week we consider strategies for working with young readers. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
 
Kathleen Provost
Contributor, Choice Literacy

 

 
Free for All

 
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
 
 
 
Shari Frost provides a booklist of Multicultural Books for Beginning Readers:
 
   
 
Kyla Ryman explains the difference between picture books and beginning readers for use in instruction, and why understanding these differences is crucial for teachers:
 

 
The Chicken Spaghetti blog has published their annual "list of lists" of award-winning children's books from 2014:
 
 

Jennifer Allen's Literacy Coach Jumpstart online course runs February 5-16 and includes three on-demand webinars, the Layered Coaching DVD, Jen's book Becoming a Literacy Leader, and personal response from Jen tailored to your needs on the class discussion board. Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy members receive a $50 discount off the course fee. Click on the link below for more details:
 
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Here is some interesting information that my help inform instruction. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Bookmark and ShareReport: Students read mostly fiction, below their grade level
Students are reading fewer nonfiction books than fiction and often reading below their ability levels, according to a recent report from Renaissance Learning, the company behind the Accelerated Reader program. The report was compiled from anonymized and aggregated data on nearly 10 million U.S. students in first through 12th grades. T.H.E. Journal (12/9)