Academic Vocabulary

Vocab LimitsWhat resources, tips and tricks do you use to teach vocabulary to students? Did you know that in order to learn a new word, we need 15-20 authentic encounters with that word to internalize it?

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way…

  • Use a multi-sensory approach to teaching vocabulary (nonlinguistic, too!)
  • Use visual cues when presenting new words (colors, images, connections)
  • Arrange your word wall by concept instead of alphabetically

 

Building a Reading Life

Check out my “Building a Reading Life” prezi here. Feel free to use or share this with your staff!

I had the opportunity to hear Donalyn Miller speak at the Heinemann “Bringing the Standards to Life” Institute in Santa Fe this past January. There are no words for what her talk did for me personally and professionally. I know we’ve all felt a bit mired down by the overwhelming task of incorporating the new Common Core State Standards. I have been optimistic about the opportunity to revitalize our school program with an increased emphasis in rigor, relevance and readiness. Donalyn brought me back to the heart of the matter with her conversation on building lifelong readers. I cannot recommend her work in Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild more fully. Each time a sit down to read them, I spring up after a chapter or two and go off to read a book or write a lesson about book love. She has inspired me to look beyond close reading, evidence and articles and remember what I’ve known all along: books are a refuge that every child deserves a key to.

reading in the wild book whisperer

ELA Anchor Standards

This past week I have been giving a Common Core 101 tutorial to my K-8 teachers regarding the structure of the CCSS ELA standards and major instructional shifts. I had received a few questions about how to read the abbreviations in the standards ELA.3.RL.2.1a is, admittedly, a lot of numbers and letters. I decided it was best to discuss the overall organization of the standards as opposed to the typical diagram of abbreviated standards.

I termed the 4 areas of the ELA standards “branches” to fit with my tree metaphor. I hope this resource can be helpful to other instructional coaches or administrators helping to familiarize their teachers with the Common Core.

Up next: CCSS Math Domains and Standards for Mathematical Practice

CCSS Anchor Standards blank CCSS Anchor Standards

Evaluating Writing Curricula

One of the most time-consuming elements of my position is evaluating curricula to bring to our Instructional Planning Committee. Thanks to the new Common Core State Standards, there’s blood in the water – schools are rushing to snatch up Common Core-aligned curriculum.

But how do you know if a program is truly Common Core, or if those words are simply stamped on the front? How will you know whether the program has been written to support the learning required by the Common Core, or whether they’ve simply swapped out your state standards for CCSS standards in the latest edition?

We’ve recognized that asking students to perform well on CC-aligned assessments is unfair and nearly impossible with instruction based in outdated, poorly-written curriculum, so we’re in the market to replace in nearly all subjects. I have looked at 5-7 programs in each subject area and narrowed it down to three that are sufficiently Common Core aligned and suited to our learners. The summaries provided in this document are taken from my time reading samples, reading websites and research support, speaking with sales representatives, professional development coordinators and reading blogs of teachers who have used the product. The analysis represents my own synthesis of this information as applied to our teachers and learners. 

Note: I have not edited this document, so it does include purchasing quotes. Please contact your local sales representative for a more accurate number. Ours was based on 11 classrooms K-5 and 3 classrooms 6-8 with approximately 25 students in each classroom.

For permission to share or adapt this product, please contact me directly.

Stay tuned for my next post:

Curriculum that Empowers – What I’ve learned from looking at 30+ publishers.