Sign up now for the CLAS conference! (Oct. 7)

The Colorado Language Arts Society, a professional association of educators in English studies, Literacy, and Language Arts, is holding their Regional Fall Conference on October 7, 2017 at the Tivoli Student Union in Denver. This year’s featured keynote speakers are Newbery Award-winning author Matt de la Peña, education author and teacher Dave Stuart, Jr., and poet Toluwanimi Obiwole.

In addition to the keynote sessions, attendees have several choices during each of two seventy-five-minute conference sessions on a variety of subjects related to teaching, reading, writing, and critical literacy that will excite your imagination and inspire your life as a reader and educator. At the end of the day, attendees will receive a certificate of completion for eight hours of professional development activities applicable toward Colorado license renewal.

Registration is $65 for pre-service and first-year teachers, and $98 for all other attendees. The cost includes a catered brown-bag lunch and one year’s membership in Colorado Language Arts Society. Registration is open at clas2017.eventbrite.com.

Episode 002 – Kim Wiggins & Planning Student Reflection

In this episode, I talk with District Assessment Coordinator Kim Wiggins about how to help students reflect on independent work, think about their learning, and plan for what they want to know.

Episode 001 – Oakley Schilling & Scaffolding for Student Inquiry

In this episode, I sat down with District ELL Coordinator Oakley Schilling to answer the question, “How do we better open the doors to student inquiry?” with a specific eye on supporting students who are English language learners.

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

Guest Post: What we learned prepping for the Literacy Show

The following is a guest post from August ’17 Elementary Literacy Show panelists Sherie Dike-Wilhelm, Tanisha Lucero, and Jessica Schrader from Columbine Elementary.

When Zac invited us to be part of the Lit Show for routines and procedures, we weren’t sure where to start. Of course, we teach students daily routines – how to manage bathroom needs and such.

But so much of what we do is on “auto-pilot.”

We had to reflect on how we teach students to manage space, materials, devices, and time. Transitions from one activity, place, or content area are important, too. But the real “meat and potatoes” is how we teach students to work together and cultivate ownership of the work that they need to do.

Kids don’t automatically sit down to discuss how they solved a problem or how they know a character changed in a story. Sometimes, even partner flashcards are hard! As teachers, we model expected behavior, practice, practice, practice, and then fine-tune our practice as we ratchet up our expectations. Thinking purposefully about teaching students systems and procedures helps us get to the good stuff–the learning and the creating that makes learning real.

As you think about this episode, consider your routines and systems. Think about the ones that work for you, and which ones you might want to adjust, either to increase efficacy,  independence, or learning goals. It has been engaging to think about some of our practices that have become commonplace and to intentionally seek ways to change and improve.  Come on in and join us!!

Here are links to a few of the resources we talked about today:

 

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.

THE DETAILS

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

Where: gChat in your email page or hangouts.google.com, search for Zachary Chase

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

STEPS

  1. Head to hangouts.google.com
  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.

5 Suggested Steps for Elementary Teachers Moving Grade Levels

What to how with arrow pointing from what to how.

As I said many times last year, this second year of implementation of our new elementary literacy resources will have the benefit of being the “How?” year, after the ups and downs of last year’s “What?” year (as in, “What are all these things and what do I do with them?”)

For some teachers, though, this year might feel as though it is starting out as a smaller version of a “What?” year. I’m talking about teachers teaching a new grade level of students this year. The good news is the overall structure of the ReadyGen resources and sequence is largely the same from one year to the next. This provides students with common experiences and expectations and does a bit of the same for teachers as well. Still, the content of each year is certainly a shift.

This post is meant to highlight a suggested path and resources to consider in preparing to help a new grade level of students improve their reading and writing this year.

Getting to Know Your New Grade

  1. Talk to others. This might seem obvious, but it can be easy to forget when we’re starting to fill overwhelmed with content. Seek out your new grade-level team members and ask if they will share their planning documents from the beginning of the previous year. Yes, you’ll make them your own, and they’ll also give you a firm place to start understanding the sequence of learning for this new grade.
  2. Understand the scope and sequence. Taking a look at this document will help you understand not only the scope and sequence of content and big ideas within your new grade level, but put it into the context of all elementary grades as well. The outline will also familiarize you with the flow of your year and give you an at-a-glance look at what kinds of writing your students will focusing on throughout the year and when.
  3. Consider unit plans and standards. With a general overview of your year of learning and teaching you’re ready to take a look at your new grade’s unit plans and standards. The unit plans can be accessed via the Curriculum Resources page. For an understanding of the where and when of standards, take a look at the resources starting on page 62 of your grade’s ReadyGen Implementation Guide. These resources include a Scope and Sequence, Unit Overviews, and Common Core Standards Correlations.
  4. Investigate your modules. Now that you’ve got a broad understanding of the unit plans, take a look at the module planners in your ReadyGen Teacher’s Guide. These can be found on pgs 6 (Module A) and 156 (Module B) in the K-2 manuals and pgs 6 (Module A) and 206 (Module B) in the 3-5 manuals. They will provide an overview of where your students’ learning will be headed regarding each module’s performance-based assessment and a suggested, editable path of focus for each module’s lessons.
  5. Plan your performance-based assessments. Within each grade level’s Scaffolded Strategies Handbook in “Part 2: Unlocking the Writing” is a wealth of resources for planning your students performance-based assessments. You’ll find help there from everything from understanding the prompt, to checklists for self-assessment. Remember, these resources are suggestions for those looking for a place to start. Only you know the choices and resources your specific classroom of students need to be successful.

Other Resources

  • The What’s in ReadyGen? document includes a listing of the materials received by each classroom and a brief overview of the basic use of each.
  • The Expectations of Practice document is meant to help teachers consider how they might structure individual, small, and whole group time to meet students’ needs.
  • This collection of templates is meant to help interested teachers plan their performance-based assessment and lessons to make sure students are prepared for success.
  • This document includes links to presentations with images of the covers of each title across all grade levels and suggested prompts for getting students talking about what they’re about to read.
  • This document lists all titles included as anchor texts and within Text Collections across all k-5 classrooms.
  • Here, you can find the levels of all titles included in the ReadyGen Leveled Text Library across all k-5 grade levels.
  • Following the Fall assessment, this i-Ready Instructional Grouping Template can serve as a tool to organize and shift students across small group instruction based on diagnosed areas of need.

Elementary Literacy Rubrics – FEEDBACK REQUESTED

One of the most consistent questions regarding the shift in our elementary literacy practices this year has been around rubrics and assessing student writing. Given the number of resources at teachers’ disposal, it is understandable to have questions. This post is designed to help delineate the materials available as well as seek your input on how we fill the gaps.

Rubrics in Grades 3-5

Task-Specific:

  • Performance-based assessment rubrics. The can be found within each unit’s Teacher’s Guide.
  • End-of-Unit Assessments. For the short- and constructed-response items, you can find task-specific rubrics in your Assessment Book Teacher’s Manual.
  • Reader Response Questions. The rubrics for the Reader Response tasks can be found here and listed in the “Rubrics” section of the unit plans.

Non-Task-Specific:

  • PARCC ELA/Literacy Scoring Rubrics are recommended as baseline templates for teacher-created tasks. A teacher can then take that basic rubric and add details and areas of focus specific to the writing task students are completing.

Rubrics in K-2

Task-Specific:

  • Performance-based assessment rubrics. The can be found within each unit’s Teacher’s Guide.
  • End-of-Unit Assessments. For the short- and constructed-response items, you can find task-specific rubrics in your Assessment Book Teacher’s Manual.
  • Reader Response Questions. The rubrics for the Reader Response tasks can be found here and listed in the “Rubrics” section of the unit plans.

Non-Task-Specific:

Finally, all of this work will be added to a new “Rubrics” section within the grade-level unit plans for easy access.