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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Literacy is now a priority in all content areas. This is a great post. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief

How annotation can help students understand historical texts

06/8/2014 | MiddleWeb
Teaching students how to take notes as they read and study historical texts can encourage them to read and understand what they read, according to middle-grades teachers Aaron Brock and Jody Passanisi. In this blog post, the educators each explain their challenges and approaches, including dividing students into tiers based on skills, but the core instructions were the same. They also note how they will deal with "overzealous page painters" who highlight without explanation.
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Monday, June 16, 2014

We all struggle with finding a better way to teach vocabulary. Here is a great article from Corbett & Dena Harrison, Writing Fix authors. Enjoy!

                                                               My fellow teachers/writers,
What a nutty end of the school year here!  I learned that I will be switching school sites this upcoming Fall, and saying good-bye is always hard--both to my current students and my current team of teachers.  Physically packing up and moving is always hard too, and I realize that I am a quite behind in posting my monthly lessons here at the ning, but that will all be rectified as soon as I have safely and completely moved my materials from the old site to my new one. Over the summer, I will be posting numerous lessons that I hope will inspire you to consider trying something new during your next school year.  My best school years in the past have always been those years when I returned in the Fall determined to try new things and to do them well.  I have been collecting/developing/revising some great new lesson ideas this past spring, and I am excited to share them with you slowly throughout the summer.  Look out for my occasional e-mails that will catch me up so we can get the promised "first of the month" lessons back on track.  Thanks again for your patience during this transition for me.
THE BEST WORK I DID THIS PAST SCHOOL YEAR?  Without a doubt, without any hesitation, I will say my continued work in developing writing skills while teaching my students to simply stop and appreciate vocabulary words they don't recognize in their reading has been the new teaching skill I continue to do my best work with.  Last year, Dena and I published the first eight of ten lessons that promoted Common Core-friendly writing skills through vocabulary-based exercises.  Early this year, we finalized all ten writing lessons, and my students' Vocabulary Final Projects just proved to me how significant this work has been to developing them further as skilled writers.  I am sharing with you some images from their final exam projects which, I believe, showcase what powerful writing/thinking skills they have developed over this past year with me.  If you're interested in seeing some powerful student writing, please visit the next paragraph!
Today, I posted a pretty detailed explanation of my "Vocabulary Final Exam Project" here at the ning at this blog post:  Please note there are photos below the post that showcase some of my students' best "overall vocabulary collections."  Right in the middle of the lengthy post (sorry if it's wordy!), there is a download link to a 15-slide PowerPoint (or a PDF file, if you don't have PowerPoint) that showcases my "top writers" (as nominated by their classroom peers) who used the ten unique vocabulary-inspired writing activities I have been requiring of my students the whole year.  I am really proud of the differentiated nature these ten writing activities attempt to appeal to, and I can confidently say that I will never teach vocabulary words in the future without first integrating several (if not all) of these ten writing activities we have been designing.  
If for no other reason than to celebrate some smart kids' thinking that uses hard vocabulary words, I hope you will visit the blog post in the last paragraph and celebrate my students' writing along with me.  It's pretty impressive; it truly is.
Teachers, look forward to some fresh and interesting, Common Core-friendly ideas involving writing assignments over the summer from me through this blog to you.  If you have the summer off though, make sure you take plenty of extra time to simply be away from school and its rigid expectations.  We all need to deflate a bit over the deflate!  Deflate!
Have a great June!
--Corbett & Dena Harrison (
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