Aug ’17 – Elementary Literacy Show: Structures & Routines

Mentioned Resources

Panelist Questions

  • How do you give students ownership in your classroom?
  • How do you help students think about the culture of the space?
  • How do you structure working with the needs of multiple learners in the space?
  • What role does language play in how you think about structures and routines?
  • How can we better facilitate conversation and collaboration about these concepts in our school communities?

Reflection Questions

  • What did you learn? – What routines and procedures have you found most useful for literacy learning?
  • What curricular resources do you want to investigate further to help your instructional practice?

Additional Videos

ANNOUNCEMENT: Secondary ELA Online Office Hours

With almost 450 sq. miles of district, it can be difficult to get to everyone and answer everyone’s questions. In an attempt to provide greater access and increase communication, the ELA office will be starting online office hours. Any SVVSD teacher with questions or ideas about English Language Arts in the district can jump in and get assistance or share an insight during office hours.

Details are below, followed by screen shots for those new to Hangouts.


When: First and Third Thursdays August – October, 2:30 – 4 PM

Where: gChat in your email page or, search for Zachary Chase

What: Any question, idea, or collaborative need you might have about helping our students improve as readers, writers, and communicators.


  1. Head to
  2. Click “Sign In” in the upper-right corner of the page.
  3. Log in with your SVVSD credentials.
  4. Click on “New Conversation.”
  5. Type chase_zachary and select my email address when it pops up.
  6. A chat window will open. Start typing, hit enter, and the conversation will start.

While I’m setting up these office hours to have dedicated time to respond to teachers across the district, Hangouts are always operational and a speedy avenue for reaching out an getting answers as questions come up in your classroom.

Let’s Get Together – Elementary End-of-Year Check-In

Last Saturday, Ruth Hanna and I facilitated the last of our Saturday Mid-Year Check-In courses. Over the course of 4 Saturdays, around 50 elementary school teachers gave their time to sit down and reflect on their practice and plan together for the second half of the school year. Across each course, we had rich conversations about what it means to help support a culture of reading and writing at the elementary level and how to better help all students chart pathways to reading and creating complex texts.

While we were pleased with the turnout each Saturday, we also appreciate the sacrifice of giving a Saturday to plan for our classrooms.

If I’ve been to your classroom or school over the last few months, you may recall me saying this is the “what” year of implementing our new elementary literacy resources and next year is the “how” year. Well, we wanted to make sure there’s space for thinking about the “how”.

We invite you to join us Tuesday, May 30 from 8 – 4 at Timberline pK-8 for and end-of-year check-in. Folks from across the district will be sitting down together to reflect on the close of our year and plan for how to improve our practice and learning next year.

If you can manage it, I encourage grade-level teams to come together and take a day to say, “What do we want to remember for next year?”

The course is open for registration right now through OPD –

See you there!

Conference Opportunity: Colorado Language Arts Society Regional Conference

The following is a guest post from Mead High School Teacher and Colorado Language Arts Society President Jamie Hedlun.

Poster for Registration for conference featuring quotes from key speakers.

October 15, veteran, mid-career, and novice teachers alike will be attending the Colorado Language Arts Society’s Regional Conference. This is a conference known to have a tradition of excellence with a focus on teacher engagement. Our theme is “For the Love of Teaching: Reclaiming the Classroom”.

Past speakers have included as Penny Kittle, Carol Jago, and even Patricia McCormick. Presenters have included teachers, professors, cherished authors, representatives from NCTE as well. Session topics include technology integration, how to teach fiction, how to teach informational texts, implementing the Common Core and more.

We are excited to announce that we have Taylor Mali, a poet and teacher, Jimmy Santiago Baca, a popular poet and speaker, as well as Sarah Brown Wessling, the 2010 Teacher of the Year.

Teachers who attend will have a variety of professional development options with titles including “Mixing Pop Culture and the Classics –  The Sweet and Bitter using Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’”, “Stop Grading: Alternatives to Traditional Grading to Reclaim Your Classroom as Space for Your Students as Learners Instead of Point Collectors”, and “What’s New in YA?” Teachers from all levels will be sharing their expertise with attendees.

As SVVSD teachers, we value standards based teaching. We also understand, in order to reach our students, we must use new strategies and evidence-based research to improve our teaching practices. The 2016 CLAS conference is for us to accomplish this, while providing choice and differentiation for the teacher.

Every professional has differing needs; one of the neat features about our conference is that your needs will be met whether you need rejuvenation, new ideas, or time to share and learn with teachers outside of your department, school, and even district.

Registration is open and includes membership of the Colorado Language Arts Society for one year. Lunch will be included and there will be book giveaways, time to mingle with our keynote speakers, as well as an ice cream social at the end giving participants time to debrief and discuss the day’s events. I am eager to attend this year’s conference and spend time with other dedicated professionals who want to improve their teaching as well.

Know of a similar professional learning opportunity for English Language Arts teachers? Send and email to to share.

Looking to Improve Your Instructional Practice in Reading?


Space is limited in this professional learning course taught by Sherri Platt and Michelle Pulley, so sign up now. An especially good fit for secondary teachers of all subjects, this course provides participants time to look at reading monitoring tools, reading strategies and the district’s digital library. Read the description below, and sign up here.

Savvy Tools for Savvy Readers Fall 2016
Target Group: Licensed teachers, grades 5-12. iPads recommended but not necessary. This class is designed for all content areas at the upper elementary through high school level. Participants will gain knowledge of book level, content level, and text complexity through an exploration of novels and/or non-fiction text. The class is a 8-week online class. There will not be any face-to-face meetings. Participants will be required to check in weekly for discussions and assignment submissions. Using the District Digital Library will be part of the class. iPad access is not required but is highly recommended. Requirements for the course:

  • Read 3 novels or 9 non-fiction quick reads or combination (3 non-fiction = 1 novel) that are content and age appropriate for your class
  • Complete text complexity rubric for each
  • Create a tool to monitor student independent reading
  • Develop a “Recommended Reading List” for your class from books that are in the District Digital Library or that can be found in your school’s library
  • Engage in the weekly discussion questions with a minimum of an initial response and at least one reply to another participant
  • Final course assignment