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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

NAEP vocabulary report finds achievement gaps among groups - courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief

We have known this for a long time.  What can we do?  How can we help very young children acquire language - and continue on up through the grades.  CCSS suggests the power of collaborative work and debriefing as a class.  

A National Assessment of Educational Progress report reveals gaps in vocabulary achievement among students from families of different income levels and students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. While the assessment only recently began measuring vocabulary, officials say results already show connections between vocabulary skills and reading comprehension. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (12/6)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Setting the Record Straight by R. Marazano

In a recent article, Marazano clarified some misunderstandings regarding the use of the research he has done on high yield strategies.  He urges schools to consider using the appropriate strategy, not just a few considered the most effective.  Here is a summary.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How some teachers mix fiction, nonfiction in the classroom - Courtesy of ASCD Smartbrief

This is an excellent example of how to blend the two types of text.  Remember, it works in the higher grades as well.

Some teachers are blending fiction and nonfiction materials in the classroom as they shift to Common Core State Standards, which emphasize informational texts, such as essays and historical documents. Some educators and experts question whether fiction will be completely squeezed out of the classroom. An elementary-school teacher in Baltimore used a blended approach for a unit called "fall fun with friends," in which she read to students from two versions of "The Three Little Pigs," as well as books on weather, pumpkins, apples and friendship. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (11/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitter

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Project-based learning prepares students for the real world - courtesy of ASCD Smartbrief

  • The CCSS is driving changes in all of the content areas.  Here is an article on how some of those changes are being made at the high school level.
    Part of a push in Montgomery County, Md., to prepare students for life after high school includes the adoption of project-based instruction at Wheaton High School. Superintendent Joshua P. Starr says the program could expand to other high schools if it proves successful. The initiative -- which includes a redefined role for the classroom teacher as a project leader or facilitator -- is being used in math, science and engineering classes, but it will include English, reading and social studies when the school's new building opens. The Washington Post (10/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Friday, November 2, 2012

Great information on mini-lessons from Choice Literacy

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy 
Are your lessons more maxi than mini? Shari Frost has tips for  Putting the "Mini" Back in Minilessons:
October is a good time for reflecting on the quality of conversations in classrooms. In Minilessons to Start Conversations with Students About Books, Franki Sibberson shares her best advice for lifting the quality of talk:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reaching Struggling Adolescent Readers - Courtesy of ASCD Smartbrief

Reach Your Struggling Adolescent Readers with MCI
Engage your students with MCI (Making Connections Intervention), a program that blends teacher-led and online activities to provide targeted literacy intervention. Students receive direct comprehension instruction in a highly motivating format and teachers have access to online progress monitoring and reports. Try an interactive skill lesson, watch MCI videos, and get more info!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This is an interesting article. I think it represents a misconception regarding the role of literacy in the common core. My understanding is that literacy is the way students learn to comprehend content areas and all teachers will use it as an instructional tool. Take a look and see what you think. Courtesy of ASCD Smartbrief!

  • Common core emphasis on nonfiction raises concerns
    The teaching of more nonfiction will be a major issue in the transition to Common Core State Standards, writes education columnist Jay Mathews. Mathews writes that he expects educators to fall on both sides of the fiction versus nonfiction debate, with some educators saying that English teachers should not be responsible for teaching informational texts. Under the common core, 70% of reading in 12th grade should be nonfiction. The Washington Post (10/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Webinar: Project-based learning and the Common Core State Standards - courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief

Join Andrew Miller on Monday, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. EDT for a free ASCD webinar on how PBL and the new standards align. Miller will discuss essential elements of aligned project and share examples. If you've missed any webinar episodes in our Common Core Webinar Series, visit our website to access archived episodes and browse upcoming topics. Register for Miller's presentation.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another great presentation from West Ed. Remember it is archived if you can't make it!

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Meeting Common Core State Standards and College-Readiness Expectations through Academic Literacy Instruction
Tuesday, October 16
10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time (1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time)

Join our researcher-practitioner team and educators nationwide to hear about and discuss how high school English Language Arts departments have transformed instruction aligned with Common Core State Standards.

Sign up for this webinar here.

**Note: If you have special access needs (e.g., you have a hearing impairment and need special arrangements made to access the audio,) please let us know ASAP so we can make the appropriate arrangements.

Accessing the Archived Webinar
If you cannot make the live event, please know that it will be archived. Even if you cannot make the live webinar, we recommend that you register to receive notification about and instructions for the archive.

We look forward to your participation. For more information call 510.302.4248.

About Us
SchoolsMovingUp, an online WestEd initiative, provides quality resources to help educators make sound decisions and take tangible action in their school improvement efforts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How to assess individual students working on team projects - courtesy of ASCD Smartbrief

Teachers can take steps to ensure students working in teams receive fair, individualized assessments, high-school social studies teacher Katie Piper writes in this blog post. She writes that the project-based learning model sometimes makes high-performing students uneasy about how grades will be assigned. Her tips include having students create portfolios identifying their roles, grading students on their individual roles in the projects and self- and peer evaluations. Piper's blog (9/18)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How to use cellphones to teach literacy - Courtesy of ASCD

Cellphones can be used as instructional tools inside and outside of the classroom, educator Lisa Nielsen writes in this blog post. Students can use phones to write first drafts, record oral reports and take videos of learning activities. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (9/10)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Stories change you and change history - Courtesy of ASCD Smartbrief

  • Here is a great clip that should make us think!  It impacts all of us and hopefully will give us insight on selecting the best "stories" for our students.
    In a recent Inservice post you'll find a TED-Ed video that explores how fiction can shape real world events. The animated clip explains the power stories have to change points of view and shape culture. It explores the impact different novels have had on thought leaders and points to powerful stories of today, in conclusion asking viewers, "What story will you try out next?" Watch the clip. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Monday, August 27, 2012

A step-by-step guide to using Socratic seminars in the classroom - Courtesy of ASCD!

A great way to get students into the habit of listening to and presenting persuasive arguments!

Elizabeth Ely, a sixth-grade language arts and world history teacher, uses Socratic seminars in the classroom, in which discussions are led by students. Ely, a member of the Teacher Leaders Network, in this blog post offers a step-by-step guide to introducing the teaching method, starting with discussion activities and working up to offering civil responses to others' input. Then, Ely suggests teachers spend time teaching students about the seminars and explaining their role in the process. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (8/22)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Teps for National Novel Writing Month - Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief

Tips to help students meet the NaNoWriMo challenge
Middle-school English teacher Laura Bradley in this blog post offers five tips for helping students succeed in the upcoming National Novel Writing Month -- or NaNoWriMo -- Young Writers' Program. Facilitate lots of planning and brainstorming before the writing begins, Bradley writes. Learn the technology, schedule time for students to write and write along with them, she suggests, to turn the activity into a community of writers working toward a common goal, rather than just a writing assignment. Engagement blog

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Great information helpful to parents - and students. Included is information on Tim Tebow and his dyslexia. Since Dyslexia often is first discovered in reading or writing, I am posting it here. Courtesy of NCLD.

Hi Darlene –
The New York Jets’ newest star Tim Tebow is known for a few things – most notably his propensity for kneeling on the field in prayer, aka “Tebowing.” What most football fans don’t know about the quarterback is that he’s dyslexic, as disclosed in this new NY Post article. Most Americans also don’t know that 15-20% of the U.S. population share his learning disability.
Diagnosed at age 7, Tebow is an example of the importance of early detection of learning disabilities.  With back-to-school on the horizon, Tebow’s disclosure is timely -- a peg to a story busting myths about learning disabilities that can give parents critical information on early identification.  The first six weeks of the school year are critical to ensure a year of learning isn’t lost.
Asking questions when you visit your pediatrician for that back-to-school check-up is a great place to start. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, early detection makes all the difference – leading to better outcomes and school success for all children.
Below are 4 tips - a “learning check-up” checklist – addressing what parents can ask their pediatrician from Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD (aka “Dr. Jen”). Dr. Jen is a board-certified pediatrician at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a mom of two children who has practiced pediatric medicine for more than 14 years.
  1. Don’t Wait – While early warning signs of learning disabilities can be identified in children as young as 3 or 4-years of age according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (, most children with learning disabilities are recognized around third grade. Providing early help is a child’s chance for future success. NCLD’s Interactive LD Checklist is a helpful tool for parents who are unsure of the signs of a possible learning disability.
  1. Write it Down – In advance of your child’s back-to-school or annual physical appointment, keep a written record of any observations of your child struggling so that you can share specific examples with your pediatrician. As there’s no single indicator or profile to fit everyone, parents can refer to this list of signs of LD for guidance.
  1. Come Prepared – If available, bring report cards, samples of schoolwork & notes from parent-teacher meetings. It’s also helpful to know your family’s medical history & whether or not any relatives are known to have had a learning disability or other disorder that impacts learning. Knowledge is power – the more background information you can provide, the better.
  1. Be Assertive – It’s absolutely within reason to ask your child's pediatrician to write a letter or join in a phone call with teachers, the school psychologist or other personnel. Don’t be afraid to speak up & set forth clear and actionable next steps. Additionally,’s Resource Locator Tool connects parents with thousands of local, state & national resources for specialist referrals, support groups and LD-related info.

Please feel free to post these tips, or any other relevant info from the NCLD website, for your readers.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Where are those "complex texts" common core calls for? Courtesy of ASCD

Here is an article that addresses the complex tetxs cited in common core.  There has been a great deal of talk about their new leveling system, but they have not yet published it.  This is a good read that will enlighten many in this area. 

The Common Core State Standards will require teachers to locate high-quality complex texts, writes school library coordinator Christopher Harris. In this blog post, he shares three tips for finding those texts quickly, including starting with known sources, rather than with a general search, and exploring online course materials to see what resources experts are using. He encourages other librarians to enrich others by sharing their tips.

View the original article:
School Library Journal

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Learning targets: Helping students aim for understanding in today's lesson - Courtesy of ASCD

  • This is one of the best books on this subject - a crucial one often overlooked in teaching.  Every teacher should read it!!

  • What is the key to making today's lesson meaningful? Learning targets, assert education experts Connie M. Moss and Susan M. Brookhart. Drawing on their extensive research and professional learning partnerships with classrooms, schools, and districts, Moss and Brookhart have authored a practical ASCD book that situates learning targets in a theory of action that students, teachers, principals, and central-office administrators can use to unify their efforts to raise student achievement and create a culture of evidence-based, results-oriented practice.
  •   Learn   more and access free resources.
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