Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Finding THEME

Theme is something that was part of the Literacy Curriculum Guide beginning last year. Many teachers and ourselves struggled with How? How do we teach theme? How do we get our students to identify theme? Theme can be elusive and can be determined differently based on the set of eyes interpreting it.

Entering our second year of teaching theme is exciting! Many of you have shared your successes and struggles to help make this a powerful unit. Here are some great resources for teaching theme:

Finding THE MEssage: Grasping Themes in Literature

Also, add YOUR resources to the comment section!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Assessment in Reading Workshop

There are many wonderful resources available to support assessment in Reading Workshop. One such resource uncovered recently is located on the Scholastic Webpage. It has many exciting resources that can be adapted to fit your needs. Please take some time to preview.

Who else knows of some fabulous resources? Please add them to the comment section of this post.

Best of Success,
Erin Grant

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hello Literacy Teachers!

As Unit 1 winds down, we hope things are beginning to fall into place for you.  We’ve seen routines for Reading & Writing Workshops being established in many of the classrooms we’ve visited thus far.  We know this can be tiresome work, but the long term benefits will be great!  You will see engaged, independent readers and writers emerging.  And that is cause for celebration!

We are looking forward to the upcoming September Literacy Labs.  Both labs are focusing on Unit Planning.  On the 13th we’ll work collaboratively on planning Unit 2 in reading and on the 27th we’ll focus on planning the writing portion of the unit.  We have lots of seating and we’re hoping there’s not an empty chair.  Sign up at the bottom of this Literacy Curriculum Guide landing page soon!

As Literacy Coaches we’ve been pretty busy!  We are in the middle of the first rotation, so if we haven’t been to your school yet, you’ll be seeing us soon.  Please be sure to give us a call or email if you have any questions or needs.  Even if it’s not our day to visit your school, we’ll do our best to help you out!

Also, remember that the DRA2 and QRI5 scores should be entered in Mastery Manager by Friday, September 14th. If you need assistance setting up guiding reading and strategy groups based on the results, please contact your literacy coach.

Food for Thought from the Todd County School District’s Framework for Professional Practice (Section 8):

Literacy is the foundation for learning.
It is reading, writing, speaking and listening
to, with and by children.

Patty Tinant

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Welcome to the first literacy blog of the 2012-13 school year! 

What an exciting (and at times overwhelming) time of year. To assist you with getting started and resources throughout the year, all KA-12 ELA teachers are provided with a subscription to choiceliteracy.com. The site has tons of fabulous ideas, video, podcast to help incorporate balanced literacy in your classroom. Please watch your email for a username and password from the sender: webmaster@choiceliteracy.com.
Also, KA-5 ELA teachers receive a subscription to thedailycafe.com. This site provides resources for implementing the Daily 5 (and Math) as well as tons of literacy resources. Please watch your email for a username and password from the sender: webmaster@thedailycafe.com.

Login and get started exploring these AWESOME resources TODAY!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reflecting and Goal Setting

I apologize for the Lit Coach Recommends absence in the last couple weeks.  I think we've all been a little busy winding down the school year.

Preparing for Summer

Many teachers are gearing students up for summer break.  While we all know that summer is time to decompress and enjoy the time off, we don't want students to neglect the good reading behaviors you've been nurturing all year! 

Some teachers are asking students how they plan to continue their learning over the summer, while some are reflecting on all the learning they accomplished this year!  Here are some other ideas:
  • Send each student home with a summer writing journal 
  • Discuss places they can get books (Sinte Gleska Library, Valentine Public Library)
  • Have students set summer reading goals (read 5 books over the summer, read something everyday)
  • Model letter writing and write letters to each of your students over the summer and ask them to write you back!
  • Share Caine's Arcade and discuss ways your students can get creative this summer.

Personal Professional Development Plans

Your literacy coaches have asked you to begin reflecting on the school year.  Many teachers have participated in the Pinnacles and Pits exercise with their grade level teams.  By identifying these big moments of the school year, teachers are able to determine some qualities of their professional practices that they may want to keep (or discard!). 

For example, many teams shared pinnacles of units of study that were successful due to the collaborative planning and preparation that took place before the teaching.  This reveals, that when teams operate as a true professional learning community, we can see success for all students. 

After reflecting and determining highs and lows, teachers begin constructing their Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP).  This document will guide the work of literacy coaches next year.  The PPDP allows teachers to set individual goals and for coaches to support them through improving their skill sets and knowledge of the particular goal. 

If you have any questions about writing your PPDP don't hesitate to reach out to your literacy coach. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lit Coach Recommends...

Publishing with Technology

Dave Swank's 8th grade writing classes are creating online portfolios to showcase their hard work.  Each student is developing a website to publish their narrative, informational and persuasive writing pieces.  You can explore Mr. Swank's website here:  TCMS Writing

Check out the progress Nikki Kills Plenty made on her Author's Bio today. 


Catching Readers Before They Fall

 Coaches have been having meaningful conversations with teachers across the district about teaching our most struggling readers.  By assessing students read  Featured last week on the Choice Literacy newsletter, Katie Keier and Pat Johnson are interviewed in a podcast about teaching struggling readers in grades K-4. 
Listen to the podcast or visit their website,  Catching Readers Before They Fall.

DRA/QRI Window

Mark your calendars!  The spring testing window opens April 23 for DRA and QRI.  Erin has sent each teacher a tracking form.  After the assessment has been administers please email it back to Erin.


As the year is coming to a close, many teachers are able to order supplies and books for next year.  Please consider improving your classroom environment by ordering materials and resources that will support the balanced literacy and workshop model.  Check out some videos and pictures at the Daily Cafe on Classroom Environment.   If you need assistance with your orders, coaches are happy to help!  Please contact one today. 

Fountas and Pinnell Phonics instruction can quickly turn into chaos without the right organizational tool.  Try something like this: 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lit Coach Recommends...

Welcome to another Friday here on the Rosebud!  

Check out what your colleagues and coaches are talking about this week:

Assessing Behaviors and Participation

Are behaviors getting in the way of learning?  Having trouble motivated students to finish the year strong?    The 8th grade team at TCMS created a Life Skills Rubric for students to reflect on their behavior, participation and work ethic for Parent/Teacher Conferences.  Many times, having a conversation around the behaviors that are effecting learning can lead to setting positive improvement goals.  While the rubric was created with a secondary setting in mind, it can easily be adapted to an elementary classroom.
Life Skills Rubric

Focus on Vocabulary Instruction

Many conversations are taking place around word parts and vocabulary in the district.  It is important to remember that teaching vocabulary should be embedded into the reading and writing workshop and not taught as a separate entity.  Check out these articles from Choice Literacy about vocabulary and the Common Core Standards. 

Common Core Conversations:  Vocabulary

Vocabulary, Comprehension and the Common Core

Tired of Free Rice.com?  Looking for some great vocabulary prep for your intermediate or secondary students?  Vocabahead.com provides great videos and definitions for vocabulary words.  Use it as an opening for a whole group lesson or have students explore on their own.  You can even make your own word lists for classes!  Teachers with websites:  You can embed a customized word list into your homepage!  Check it out!

Vocabahead - Vocabulary Videos


Here is another great model of a reading conference.  Watch as the teacher focuses on what he notices about the student as a reader.  He draws on a previous conference and links the strategy to an up-coming mini-lesson.  Remember to log in to Choice Literacy and also check the Related Articles and Links below the video for more great information. 

Conferring About Chunking Words


Reteaching Theme?  

As Unit 4:  Reflecting on Reading and Writing approaches, many teachers are planning to reteach theme (a learning goal that students struggled with across the district).  Songs are an excellent way to connect students to the meaning or message of a story.  Check out this article about using Miley Cyrus lyrics in a 3rd grade classroom. 

Teaching Theme 


The Power of Personal Size White Boards

Already thinking of ways to reorganize for next year?  Try personalized white boards!   They're great for any subject - whole group, small group or independent work time.  Watch Joan explain the power of the personal size white board.  (I love the marker in the sock idea!) Make sure to check out the related articles and links below the video to see more great ways to organize your classroom.

Personal Size White Boards

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lit Coach Recommends...

You made it to another Friday!  
Here's your weekly dose of literacy info:

Video Collections Instructional Strategies
Here are two more resources for teachers to see balanced literacy and writing instruction in action.

Curriculum Services of Canada have created a webcast of multiple videos to support teachers in nonfiction writing.  Check out the videos on creating webpages!  What a great idea for an informational writing piece!
Curriculum Webcasts

Salem Keizer Public Schools have compiled a collection of videos that model balanced literacy strategies.  Check them out here:
Salem Keizer Videos
Check out this video from the collection on modeling a Reading Response strategy!
Lifting a Line 

Writing and Reading for Real Audiences and Purposes
Some teachers across the district are leading students to write for real purposes and real audiences in order to make the projects more authentic.  Read this edutopia blog articles about how writing for real audiences (people other than the teacher!) motivates students. 

Writing for Real Audiences


Upcoming Dates
March 22 - Literacy Learning Lab, Pit Stop:  Making the Most of the Last 6 Weeks

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lit Coach Recommends...

Happy Friday TC Teachers!
The Lit Coach Recommends has been getting consistent daily views from all over the district!  We hope that the information we're sharing is making your lives easier and most importantly helping our students see success in literacy.  Please share resources, videos, or formative assessments with your literacy coach.  We're all in this together!

More Nonfiction Articles
Teachers and coaches are on the look-out for great nonfiction articles and we've been collecting some great ones throughout this unit!  If you have collected some newspaper articles, magazines or articles from the web and would like to share with the district, please do so!  Here are some more sights for nonfiction texts:

Middle Level Texts These texts are identified as different text structure types. 
Nonfiction Texts Grade 3 - 8  These texts focus on different comprehension strategies (main idea, inferring, etc.) 

Check out the Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for Teaching Reading CD ROM for additional texts to be used for analyzing main idea and text structure.
Decoding Help
We've been having many conversations with teacher about AIMSWeb data.  We've been encouraging teachers to really dive into the analysis of the assessment and additional running records to truly find where the break down is for individual students.  Many teachers are looking for ways to assist students in decoding.  Here are a couple of resources to help:
The Resource Room  This site has multiple word lists for teaching decoding skills and also includes some great articles and lessons for small group instruction! 
The Daily CAFE's interactive menu can help you with a variety of decoding strategies under Accuracy.  I especially like Flip the Sound! Members (K-5 Teachers) can check out the video here:  Flip the Sound 
Secondary Folks - If you'd like to see this strategy please see your lit coach!  This strategy can definitely be helpful at the secondary level as well - especially with small group instruction!
Informational Writing
Classrooms across the districts have showcased many approaches to the informational writing unit.  This week we're featuring an idea from the classroom of Jenny Schmitz.  Her amazing organizational system for writing All About Books in first grade is explained below.  

Each student has a folder that consists of a book they have chosen to match their topic of choice, a table of contents page, a template page for 4 different chapters, blank pages for diagrams, illustrations, and maps.  There are also extra pages on hand to use for revison. Each student also has 4 different colored index cards to correspond to the 4 different chapters (pink:  what the animal looks like, blue: where the animal lives, green: what the animals eat, yellow:  wow facts.)   When the project is completed, the pages will be taken out of the folder and bound together to make a book.
Professional Reading
One of our supporting websites, Choice Literacy,  has a collection of a professional articles in forms of lessons, strategies and reflections.  I've chosen a couple articles this week that connect to our current unit of study.  Feel free to read and explore the sites:  

Article - Integrating Nonfiction into the Morning Meeting 
In this article by Andrea Smith she shares some ideas in how to integrate those nonfiction goals into a community-building setting like Morning Meeting.  These strategies will also work with the Share component of workshop.  She also shares some great templates for implementation.  

Article - Ready for Guided Reading? 
Shari Frost shares her thoughts on why some kindergarteners aren't ready for guided reading at the start of 2nd semester.  This article helps teachers focus on students as individuals.   Small group instruction is a key component in the workshop model and may not always involve a guided reading book.  These small groups can focus on letters and sounds as well!  
Recommended Websites 

Teachers have been out surfing the web and are using some great workshop sites to help them find resources to support their instruction.   When surfing the web for resources make sure to ask yourself:
  • Is this a credible source?  Are these strategies research-based?
  • How can I modify or adapt these resources based on the needs of my students?
  • How much time will the preparation of this resource take?  
 Here are some websites recommended by your colleagues and coaches: 

The Reading Lady
Teacher Resources
Jennifer Myers Readers and Writers Workshop
Ms. McDavid's Reader's Workshop

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lit Coach Recommends...

Looking for ways to practice fluency?  Adjusting reading rate to match text is a great strategy for students to practice.  Watch Joan as she discusses with a group of intermediate students on why fluency goes right along with comprehension.  (K-5 Teachers only) Secondary folks, please see your lit coach if you'd like to watch the video.

Adjusting Reading Rates

Reading Response
It was great to see teachers across the district using the Reading Response sheets from last week's Lit Coach.  We have a couple more from the 1st grade team at North.  The web version looks a little funny.  Go to file download within the google doc to download the word version of the document.

Reading Response Nonfiction 1

Reading Response Nonfiction 2
Nonfiction Passages
Pat Battershaw found a great resource for nonfiction passages that assess the concepts you've been teaching.  At readworks.org teacher can find nonfiction passage for grade 2 - 6.  These make great formative assessments.  Prepare students for the EOU Benchmark by having them complete a graphic organizer after reading.  Teachers must register - but its FREE!  Check out the passages here:  Grade Level Passages
CORE Phonics Survey
Erin created a great document to compile CORE Phonics survey data.  She even included page numbers for the CORE Sourcebook for particular lessons!  Find it on the Documents page on the Curriculum Guide Website OR download the file from googledocs here:  CORE Phonics Survey
Upcoming Dates
Thursday March 8 - Literacy Learning Lab:  Novice to Ninja Grades 3-5
Thursday March 22 - Literacy Learning Lab:  Pit Stop - Making the Most of the last 6 Weeks
Thursday April 12 - Literacy Learning Lab:  Novice to Ninja Grades 6-12
Thursday April 19 - End of Unit 3  
Literacy Learning Labs
Sign Up for Remaining Lit Labs Here:  Literacy Lab Sign Up

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lit Coach Recommends...

Another Workshop Video Resource
 Want to see some examples of workshop components in the primary classroom?  Check out this interactive web workshop on teaching reading in the primary classroom.  There are some great videos and teacher explain how to implement various components. 
Teaching Reading K-2

Secondary Formative Assessment
Thanks to Amy Rosenwald for sharing a formative assessment she created based on the 8th Grade EOU Benchmark for Unit 3:  Understanding Informational Text.  Amy first requires students to annotate the informational text before completing the quiz.  Feel free to input your own text!
Unit 3:  Formative Assessment (QUIZ 1)

Reading Response Resources
Teachers around the district are using Reading Response Logs to help students respond to the texts.  Check out the Reading Response resources we've collected from Cris Tovani and your colleagues:

Reading Response Log - 3 Questions 

Inner Voice Sheet
Resources for the Writing Process
Students across are district are engaging in meaningful research about self-selected topics!  Help organize this information by using a graphic organizer.  Then show students how to put the information together before the actually writing of the piece begins!  Check out the resources, feel free to adapt to fit the needs of your students. 

Opinion Piece Graphic Organizers

Informational Piece Graphic Organizers
Conferring Cheat Sheet
Use this assessment to conferring resource from the Two Sisters to help narrow your student conferences to a specific strategy. 
Assessment to Conferring

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lit Coach Recommends...

Narrative Nonfiction
Many teachers are diving into the different types of informational texts.  One in particular is Narrative Nonfiction.  In this video from Choice Literacy, Aimee Buckner models a read aloud and guided activity by having students identify facts within a narrative nonfiction read aloud. 
Part One:  The Read Aloud
Part Two:  The Activity


Teaching Channel

Thanks to Roberta Bizardie for recommending teachingchannel.org.  This web resources has a variety of a videos of expert teachers modeling Management to Common Core Standards.  It can also act has a digital PLC through the Workspace features.  Teachers can keep track of lessons they'd like to try, take notes and follow teachers.


Questions for Instructional Conferencing
Erin Grant spent the last couple weeks compiling a magnificent document for literacy teachers K-12.  Questions for Instructional Conferencing was first meant as a resource for administrators but is now shared to all instructional staff to be used as a reflective tool.  Use the questions to guide you through the curriculum and plan your instruction accordingly. 

Essay Map

Check out this Essay Map through readwritethink.org.  This tool can be used as a graphic organizer to get kids started on writing their informational and opinion pieces.  It can also be used to summarize texts based on the Summary Rubric as seen in Unit 2.  Make sure to consult your Writing Rubrics when planning your writing instruction.


Literacy Learning Lab
There is still plenty of space for the remaining Literacy Labs.  Our Novice to Ninja series will focus on sharing resources.  The March 22nd Pit Stop will focus on looking at data to inform the last 6 weeks of teaching.  We'll be looking at Mastery Manager data and also breaking down additional Common Core Standards.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Lit Coach Recommends...

This week's Lit Coach Recommends will share some videos of writing lessons from out support website, Choice Literacy, as well as a video from one of our own teachers!  We also have a great online resource for nonfiction articles as well as sharing how a teacher in our district is using blogs for informational writing!

Revising Titles
As many teachers progress through the writing process for the required informational piece, many focus on revising to make their piece more exciting.  Watch this video of a 3rd and 4th grade classroom as they revise the titles of their pieces.  

Adding details and paragraphing with Mentor Texts
Paragraphing can often be the key piece for organizing student writing.  Watch as Aimee Buckner uses a mentor text to teach paragraphing to a group of writers. 

Informational Blogging
Sarah Finely starting blogging in her 7th grade classroom.  But its not just any kind of blogging, its blogging with a purpose in mind.  Sarah's plan is to develop writers' nonfiction writing skills through informational blogging.  Here are some of the informational blogs students have created:

Nature Underwater!  by Kalion Knox

Gleek Digest by Madison Kornely

Food with Love by Nebraska Millard

PowWow Times by Chaz Blue Thunder

Check back as their writing develops over the course of the unit!  Great job kids!
Reviewing Narrative Learning Goals
Not sure how to continue to support students in their narrative learning goals?  Conferring with students on self-selected independent reading is an excellent place to return to learning goals from the narrative unit.  Check out one of our own, Patty Tinant, as she confers with a Jocelyn, a fourth grader, after finishing a self-selected book. Notice how she reviews learning goals from Unit 2 (author's purpose, theme, etc.)

Nonfiction Articles
Trouble finding nonfiction reading for your students?  Check out KidzTimez!  Student can read a variety of nonfiction articles.   Read them online or simply copy and paste the article of choice into a word document.    

Monday, January 23, 2012

Website Resources

Do you ever stay up late, endlessly searching online for resources or a video to teach that lesson on determining the main idea? 
Well, your life just got easier with these go-to websites for literacy resources!

The district has purchased subscriptions for Daily CAFE and Choice Literacy and are available for teachers of literacy to use!  If you haven't signed up for the weekly emails from Choice Literacy or Daily Cafe go to their sites and do so!

Some ways to search for information on the site instead of just mindlessly clicking (which can also be fun!) would be to search for some key terms:  Try typing in:  text features or main idea or persuasive writing. Nonfiction is too broad of a term.  So consult your learning goals before searching!  

Both sites are now "white-listed" with our server so there won't be any problems in getting information through email. 

Check out the websites now:

Choice Literacy

Daily CAFE

Can't remember your password?  Go to the site and request it by entering in your school email address.

Happy surfing! 

Heart Maps

The most effective way to let students know you care about them as writers is to allow them to write about what they know a lot about, what is important to them. Typically in grades 2-up students compile a list of what they know a lot about, what is important to them in what is referred to as "Writing Territories." For our youngest writers, "territories" may be too complex for them to wrap their brains around.
Here is a really great example of how Miss Sarah and Miss Beth honored their Kindergarten writers by assisting them in creating "Heart Maps". These maps are what the students know a lot about, what is important to them. The process entailed the teachers sitting with their individual students to discuss what they know a lot about, what is important to them and then the teachers searched on-line for the images, copied, and pasted them onto the heart.
These maps are kept in the student's writing notebooks as a point of reference when choosing writing topics.
Please contact your literacy coach to learn more about Miss Sarah and Miss Beth's process.