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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Discussion Extenders - Hurray:)

Danielle London is a special education teacher at Mt. Abram's and has posted some discussion extenders and guidelines for classroom conversations. These are adapted from C. Tovani. Hurray and thank you. Many of the teachers have been asking for them:)

Rules for Saying Something

1. With your partner decide who will say something first.

2. When you say something to one or more of the following:
a. make a prediction
b. ask a question
c. clarify something you had misunderstood
d. make a comment
e. make a connection

3. If you can’t do one of those five things, then you need to re-read.

Make a Prediction:
I predict that …
I bet that ….
Since this happened … then I bet the new thing that’s going to happen is…
Reading this part … moves me to think that this … is about to happen…
I wonder if …

Clarify Something:
Oh I get it…
Now I understand …
This makes sense now…
No, I think it means…
I agree with you. This means …
A first I thought… now I think..
This part is really saying…

Ask a Question:
Why do…
What is this part about?
How is this … like this…
What would happen if…?
Who is…?
What does this section mean…?
Do you think that…?
I don’t get this part here…

Make a Comment:
This is good because …
This part is like…
This is confusing because…
I like the part where …
I don’t like this part because…
My favorite part so far is…
I think that…

Make a Connection:
This reminds me of….
This part is like…
This character…is like…because …
This is similar to…
The differences are…
I also (name something in text that has happened to you)
This character makes me think of …
The setting reminds me of …
I never (name something in text that has never happened to you)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bill Biliouris, in Science, Engages Students in Interactive Word Wall Work

Bill Biliouris, science teacher at Jay High School, works with students on a word wall based on a geology unit in science. Bill givens clues, while students identify the key concepts posted on the word wall. Bill divides students into teams and they compete for points based on the fasted word identifications. Students are allowed to use books and notes. This type of interactive word wall activities embeds key concepts in students schema and develops understanding. Bill follows this activity with a writing assignment.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Science Geology Unit

Imagine you have built a machine capable of drilling through the layers of the Earth. Write an adventure story about your trip to the center of the Earth. Describe the conditions of temperature, composition, and pressure of each of the layers that you travel through. How thick is each layer? Are some layers more difficult to dig through? What does it look like? Is it hot in your machine? Do you have special equipment to survive the pressure? What are some of the design features of your digging machine that help you survive the extreme conditions inside the Earth? Do you survide the trip? Use information in the textbook as well as internet resources to assist with the factual information of the story.

Peer Edit
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Author's Name ______________
Editor's Name_______________

The purpose of this peer edit is to provide feedback to the author regarding their story about their journey into the center of the Earth.

The editor will give constructive criticism and consier the following:
  • Does the story describe the temperature?
  • Does the story describe the pressure?
  • Does the story describe the composition of layers?
  • Does the story describe how the vehicle penetrates the layers of the Earth?
  • Does the story include design features of the vehicle that help you survive the journey to the center of the Eath?
  • Does the story "hold" my interest?
  • How could the story be better?

Bob Fitzgerald Scaffolds Small Groups in Math During a Concept Sort

Bob Fitzgerald, math teacher at Jay High School, scaffolds small groups as they work through a concept sort. The closed sort was used to clarify understandings of: One/Two Step Equations, Multi-Step Equations, and Simplify.

For further information you can contact Bob at:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Guiding Student Discussions - Ideas from Janet Benedetto

Adapted from: Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days by Frank Serafini

  • looking at each other when speaking
  • asking each other questions
  • listening and caring about what each other thinks and says
  • talking so everyone can hear
  • learning to politely disagree
  • playing around in groups
  • being rude
  • constantly interrupting others
  • allowing one person to do all the talking
  • not coming to the group with your own ideas
  • not talking
  • saying you are done when there may be more to say
We might use this as a framework and begin to add discussion extenders:)

Thanks, Janet

For more information Janet can be contacted at:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jay High School Uses Marazano's Academic Vocab

Common Terms for Math Students selected from Robert Marazno's Academic Vocabulary by Robert Fitzgerald
 After reviewing the academic vocabulary word list, the Mathematics'
Department at Jay High School decided to select specific common
vocabulary to be used with their students. The first list is
comprised oftwenty-five common words which will be relevant to most
freshmen. This will provide students with a concrete base of common
terminology for their high school years. The Mathematic’s Department
hopes to add five new words to the terminology list in each of the
next three years, establishing a common list of fifty words. The
five words added next year will be targeted for the sophomores. The
Department is confident this will allow for easier transition and
fluency for our students. Later this year, the word list will be
added to the Jay High School Web site allowing for easy access for
students and parents.

List of Terms can be found at:

Science and Literacy at Livermore Falls HS

Alisa Lee, Science Teacher at Livermore Falls High School uses a word sort on her smart board to help students comprehend science concepts. Alisa's reflections on the application of Thinking Strategies to science content follows.

It is my intention to help students learn how to understand the text they don’t understand by using different strategies. Reread think-a-louds are a big part of this process as well as having students listen to how other students came up with a gist, for example. Why were these words chosen as the key concept words? How could we break down some of these complex sentences into phrases or smaller pieces of information for better understanding? (cognitive dimension)
I try to make sure I activate their prior knowledge and also preview the text with students before they read it so that they comprehend more of it when they do read it. The strategies I have used and continue to use are the following:
-Textquest (how to understand the science textbook structure and features)
-Think-alouds (how to approach previewing a section of the textbook)
-Previewing the vocabulary
-Brainstorming as a class
-Trying to make personal connections between the students and the material about to be read (knowledge-building dimension)

Graphic Organizers to Hold Thinking

Graphic Organizers to Hold Thinking
submitted by Michael Simoneau

Old Learning - Review information and put it in context

i.e. Constitution

New Concept -

i.e. Proposal and Ratification

New Learning - Combining the two and integrating it into students'

i.e. Concrete examples of proposals and ratification -
drawing generalizations from these examples

For Further information contact Mike at: