Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writing Update

A summary of notes from the ELA meeting:

Teachers must continue to teach writing standards at all grade levels, not those that are tested (5th and 8th)).  Multiple choice items are tied to the extended response rubric.  Teaching formulaic writing negatively affects Extended Response scores and provides limited compositional experience, which negatively affects multiple choice scores.

So what do you do? Here are some ideas/links I hope will help you!

*Teach writing through reading-examine sentence structure, explore
  author’s craft, paraphrase text
*Encourage authentic writing (some links disabled) 
*Base minilessons on student writing
*Have students do plenty of responding to texts
*Voice is a statewide weakness, so encourage sentence complexity  
*Show students how multiple choice items relate to the 4 domains
*Do a Read Aloud daily, pull passages from the text and have students determine the author based on sentence type, word choice, etc.
*Students need to work on writing conclusions 
*Sentence combining is still difficult for students
*Students are using inappropriate transitions-need to use logical transitions
Other links:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reading Strategies

Strategy, a word that is military in origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.  What is the goal for your students this year in reading?  Do you have a plan to help all of them become good readers?     

Strategies for You!
Reading Rockets has a classroom strategy section designed to share with teachers what research suggests are the most effective ways to build fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing skills. 
Each strategy in the library includes:
  • Instructions on how to use the strategy
  • Downloadable templates
  • Examples
  • Recommended children's books to use with the strategy
  • Differentiation for second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners
  • Supporting research
Strategies for Students!
We need to understand the strategies used by good readers.  Here, you will find a list of comprehension strategies to share with your students.  Mini-lessons could be built around the concepts listed, with the teacher modeling the process.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Was that a Duck....or a Rabbit?

You are going to love this book and the activties online!  I am so happy to share it with you.  Time Magazine included it in the Top Ten Children's Books of 2009.  School Library Journal stated,  "With a strong, well-executed concept, this book provides an excellent starting point for discussing how points of view can differ and still be right." 
Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have created a book for all ages.  You will find activities to use in your classroom at Chronicle Books: Duck! Rabbit!  You can find Amy's blog at and Tom's Web page at

Monday, October 18, 2010


I found out about Glogs today!  They are online posters that can be used by students to create reports or do assignments.  I found a teacher that is using them with her students in fifth grade.  Here is a link to her Glog!  I love the avatars that each student must create.  The New York Zoo and Aquarium allows you to "Build Your Wild Self".  There is no need to use actual pictures of students, when his/her identity can become animated to maintain privacy.
Managing this technology in public education via the Internet is a great challenge for districts.  I hope that we can figure out how to promote these new and exciting ideas, while protecting students.  Blogs and Glogs, etc., need to be adapted to meet the security needs of school districts.  Classrooms need to change to meet the demands of technology, and students need the opportunity to express themselves in this way.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reading Survey

Now would be a great time to give a reading survey to your students.  It will make them think about what they like to read, while giving you valuable information.  In addition to measuring students' knowledge, reasoning, and performance, you also need to gauge students' attitudes, feelings, and interests.  Here are two surveys that you can use:  Denice Hildebrandt's Reading Interest Survey and these.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Math Connections

Yes, you read that correctly!  Math!  Here are links that you will not want to do without!
Intervention Central
Here you will find a wealth of information, including the CBM Warehouse.  This page is your ‘one-stop’ destination for free Curriculum-Based Measurement resources on the Internet.
NCTM Illuminations
Provides Standards-based resources that improve the teaching and learning of mathematics for all students.
MathVIDS is an interactive website for teachers who are teaching mathematics to struggling learners made possible through funding by the Virginia Department of Education.
National Mathematics Advisory Council's final report.
The National Math Panel’s final report, issued on March 13, 2008, contains 45 findings and recommendations on curricular content, teachers and teacher education, instructional practices and materials, learning processes and assessments.

Learn and Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Improving Reading Comprehension

I am always looking for reading comprehension strategies that will help our students, especially those with autism.  Have you ever had a student that could decode beautifully, but lacked necessary comprehension skills?  Researchers, O’Conner and Klein studied 20 high-functioning students with autism and found that the effects of anaphoric cuing were statistically significant and medium in size. (O’Connor and Klein, 2004)
Anaphora is a linguistic unit, such as a pronoun, that refers back to another unit.  Students with poor reading comprehension and students with autism do not consistently relate pronouns to antecedent nouns.  Anaphoric cuing involves teaching the student to pause and refer back to the noun for understanding.  Check here for more information!
Using a graphic organizer to identify the pronoun might be helpful to the student.  A visual representation adds depth to learning.  The Frayer Model is a four-square model that prompts students to think about a word.   Examining the “he” in a story might be a worthwhile activity for students who characteristically read over the pronouns.