Acceptable Plagiarism: Stalkable Sites

In need of some teaching inspiration, I’ve been doing some targeted searching and have landed on two sites that I find to be packed with knowledge, application, and straight up quality.  The first of the sites – Middle School Teacher to Literacy Coach – is chock-full of practical strategies for reading workshop.  Some of my favorite posts include:

Middle School Teacher to Literacy CoachUsing mentor sentences to improve grammar:  This post outlines the perfect model for using mentor sentences as a means of grammar instruction.  A nice alternative to students CORRECTING erroneous sentences.

Great Anchor Charts:  Here (finding theme) and here (geared toward guided reading) and here (miscellaneous selection).

Making Guided Reading Groups Work in Middle Schools:  Though Kasey teaches at a school with a double period of language arts, this is still worth a read to gain better insight into materializing a guided reading group approach in your own classroom.  This is a great model for homogenous reading groups.

Fluency Strategies:  A basic, but decent list of five quick strategies to improve reader fluency.

Literature Study:  A very practical schedule for literature study – students organized in heterogeneous groups to build age-appropriate discussion about books.

Spelling:  A weeklong plan for individualized spelling assessment.

Writing Conferences:  A great video and post detailing a well-run writing conference

Classroom Library Activity:  A post outlining how Kasey organizes and introduces students to her classroom library.

B10Next up, B10 Loves Books.  Erica advocates for the They Say, I Say model.  She has great posts on both reading and writing.  Some of favorites include:

Academic Vocabulary – Using Marzano’s Approach:  I love this post because I use this approach in the classroom and it has proven incredibly helpful, especially with English Language Learners.

Word Chunking – Teaching Vocabulary: Teaching Latin word chunks as outlined by Kelly Gallagher.  Worth the read.

Holding Kids Accountable through Reading Ladders:  A great way for students to reflect on their reading progress. Erica includes a very detailed approach to this strategy.

Classroom Library Organization:  Erica relies on Classroom Booksource a computer-based check-in, check-out system and she provides a very thorough description of her collection and organization system.  She also has a book room organization post if you are looking to clean house.

Writing Workshop:  Erica has several posts to help you plan writing workshop in your classroom.  She has fairly extensive information on the “They Say, I Say” model.

Book Club: Notice and Note {Kylene Beers & Robert E. Probst}

If you teach English/Language Arts, BUY THIS BOOK.  A self-identified instructional fiend, I have found my latest and greatest.  Only this time it’s not about a pedagogical quick fix to keep your students engaged.  It’s about real instructional moments that help build stronger readers through close reading.  The authors have identified six signposts that when found in text, readers should pause and ask a question of themselves.  The questions lead students to COMPREHEND the read.  If students find a character acting in a way that contradicts their previous behavior or expected behavior, students should ask themselves, why might the character be doing this. I would put this book into my “top five favorites” box.
Notice and Notes
Reasons I love this book:

1.  The practices have been tried and tested in a diverse range of classrooms across the country.  From there, the authors revised their approach based on student and teacher feedback.

2.  The mentor text selections are engaging, accessible, and relevant.  The signposts  revolve around the most common features found in the TOP BOOKS read by middle school and high school students. Meaning, if you read common titles, you’ll come across the sign posts identified by Beers and Probst.

4.  The model lessons are teacher-ready.  You can teach directly from the script and use the mentor text included.  The lesson includes a gradual release model allowing the teacher to model good reading skills and the students to practice independently.  A graphic organizer is included for students to find their own examples in a class novel or their independent reading book.

5.  The anchor charts, matrices, bookmarks, and other teaching materials are easy to duplicate.

Other Resources:

Notice and Note Anchor Chart with Questions:
Notice and Note anchor chart

Sample anchor chart for individual signpost:
Tough Questions

Savvy Strategy: Character Tissue Box

Acquiring tissue boxes is just as difficult as avoiding the cold that the tissues will be needed for.  After several years of purchasing boxes and boxes of tissues, I gave in by selecting a project that could be categorized as “arts and crafts”.  After reading a class novel, students were asked to design and create a character (tissue) box.  Here are the directions:

Side 1 – make a character claim: _____________________ [insert name of character] is ___________________ [insert adjective].

Side 2 – provide evidence:  list three quotes from the text that support claim sentence.

Side 2 – symbol:  create or print a symbol representing your character

Side 4 – literary terms:

_________________ [insert name of character] is a protagonist/antagonist because…

_________________ [insert name of character] is a major/minor character because…

_________________ [insert name of character] is a likable/unlikeable character because…

Students should cover, decorate, accentuate their boxes.  Remind students that tissue box should be FULL and the opening should be left uncovered.  I learned this the hard way.  No matter how many times I explain the purpose and draw attention to the need for tissues, I still find myself +2 boxes filled with air.

Acceptable Plagiarism: Week of March 4th

In the edu•sphere, NYC’s value-added model for evaluation is under the microscope. Find out how value-added models, which use complex mathematics to predict how well a student can be expected to perform on an end-of-the-year test based on several characteristics, such as the student’s attendance and past performance on tests, are being implemented in teacher evaluations across the nation.

In the finance•sphere, check out Savy Sugar’s article on ways to discuss with your significant other/spouse the forsaken topic: money. I love this and think people need to have these conversations in their head and with their partner.

In the teach-me•sphere, check out an easy way to store your week’s worth of oatmeal. I’m not sure why there is an article because the picture is what I would call, self-explanatory. And, learn how to read faster, better, and more frequently in lifehacker’s article titled, “Reading for the Rushed”

Savvy Strategy: Reflection Ideas for Independent Reading Time

Thirty minutes of Drop Everything And Read (DEAR), three times per week grows quite stale come September 30th. Here are some ideas to keep kids reading and hold them accountable for for what they read:

1. Reflection Sheet: Our Language Arts team created a weekly sheet that students fill out the last five minutes of the reading period. The sheet has ten questions for them to select on Mondays and ten questions for them to select on Wednesdays. It keeps things fresh and allows for student choice. Suggested prompts include: “My character has changed by…”; “If I were in the same situation as the book’s character I would act the same or different because…”; “One time I felt similar to my character when…”; “I felt angry when…”; “What I just read reminded me of…”.

2. Whip Around: I keep a list of prompts on a powerpoint and pull up the slide on days that call for some class involvement. I pose the prompt, give students think time, all students rise, and we “whip around” the room until everyone has completed a response. Prompts include: “One word to describe the main character in my book is _________________.”; “I predict the next thing that will happen in my book is __________________________.”; “If I could ask any character in my book one question, it would be ___________________________.”

3. “Stand up if…”: This is another slide in my “Silent Reading” PowerPoint. Teacher calls out prompts, students rise if the statement applies to their book/reading experience. Stand up if your book is a mystery; Stand up if the main character in your book is your age.

4. Make a Case: This is a bit more in depth, but allows students to practice their speaking skills. Select a prompt…”my character is the funniest because…”. Students must decide at their table who has the funniest character (using examples to back it up), then each table representative makes a case to the class. Students can vote by show of hands who makes the best case, and which character/plot/book/setting best fits the criteria of the prompt.

5. Human Barometer: This activity allows students to get up out of their seat; assess their book; and rate their book based on a prompt. I usually do this activity to gauge how well students have selected their books and if they are making appropriate selections. Prompts may include: I’m enjoying my book; I would recommend my book to a friend. One side of the room is “YES!”; one side of the room is “NO!”. Students must place their body somewhere along the invisible line between yes and no to represent how much they agree/disagree with the statement.