Back To School

“Encourage my students- this school year I resolve to slow down and appreciate each of my student’s accomplishments…”

As the new school year approaches what do you resolve to do?

Choose the link below to read new school year resolutions made by parents and students.

Back To School!

It’s Never Too Late to Inspire the Love of Reading in Your Students

 The number of books a child finishes is the most significant statistic of all; it represents and predicts so much about their academic future.

Nancy Atwell, winner of the 2015 Global Teacher Prize,

I recently attended the 1st Annual Summer Literacy Institute. Penny Kittle presented at the conference. She teaches middle years and secondary ELA in New Hampshire, U.S.A. She said that her school had one of the highest drop out rates in the country. Since she and her colleagues have become living, breathing mentor texts for their students, their drop out rate is now 0!

Penny spoke about how brain research has shown that people are developing:

“bi-literate brains…the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing… Humans…seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online….This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millenia.”(Maryanne Wolf)

For this reason, we need to build and prepare kids with the deep, slow reading they get from reading books.

In her presentation Penny talked about taking student apathy head on. First, by recognizing why students don’t read. Second, by giving kids books that are right for them, along with time to read and time for regular response to their thinking. These simple steps can create a pathway to satisfying reading that leads to more challenging literature and ultimately, a love of reading.

Penny’s Independent reading essentials:
-Relationship with the student is positive and encouraging meeting them where they are.
-Classroom library and book talks in a wide variety of texts.
-Time to read everyday and time to confer regularly.
-Choice in what to read, when to abandon a book, and when to reread a book.
-The student sets regular goals for improvement.

This time of year is very busy, but after your summer holiday and a well deserved break consider looking at her resources. I purchased three of her books at the conference: Book Love, Write Beside Them and My Quick Writes Her books are available to sign out if you would like. I will leave a copy of her handout in your mailbox. The link to her website is below:

Penny Kittle

Book Love Foundation

ELA Resources-Sun West School Division

Sun West School Division has a Wiki page to support ELA. If you haven’t already seen this site, you may be interested in using the resources on their Wiki. The link is below:
Supporting ELA-Sunwest School Division

At the beginning of this semester, I had asked you to look over “The Formal Essay Handout”. A revised version of this handout is on the Sun West ELA Support Wiki. So I thought to myself, “why re-invent the wheel” (not like you haven’t heard that one before!). The revised essay handout looks great and if you would like to use it, you can download it from their site.

Triangulation: I Understand the “Why,” Now Please Tell Me the “When”

As teachers we know that we need to gather evidence of student learning from more than product, but when does it make sense to gather evidence from observations and conversations….

Choose the link below to read an article written by Sandra Herbst:

Collecting Evidence of Learning

Triangulation is the observation of learning, collection of products that students create and conversations that students have with their peers and their teacher about what they have learned. Teachers do not need to record evidence of Triangulation daily but from the beginning to the end of the semester, you should have collected enough evidence to show what your students have learned.

Let’s take a look at collecting evidence through conversations:

Conversations may be face-to-face or in writing.
Conversations about learning involve listening to what students have to say about their learning, or reading what they record about their learning.

Teachers might listen:

-to their students during class meetings, and/or at individual or group conferences.

-to their students when they read student self-assessments.

-to their students when they analyze samples in student portfolios or when they read student responses in their journals.

When teachers listen to students in these ways, they are inviting students to think about what they have learned. When students are given the opportunity to self-assess, they will learn more: What was difficult? Easy? What would I do differently next time?
As a result of conversations, teachers can gather evidence about what they know and understand.

(Anne Davies and Sandra Herbst, 2015)

Evidence you gather through conversations may be entered in your Assessment Folder in your Gradebook.

Next, let’s take a look at collecting evidence through collection of product:

Teachers are expanding the ways students show or represent what they know by collecting various kinds of evidence to show what students can do: projects, assignments, oral presentations, journals, web pages, posters, collages, models, making a video, podcasts, blogs, tests, etc.

When students are asked to represent what they know only in writing, some students will be unable to do so because their strengths are in speaking, listening, representing and/or viewing. Their knowledge may become more apparent when asked to demonstrate the process in action or to give an oral presentation.
(Anne Davies and Sandra Herbst, 2015)

The products that you collect from your students may be entered in your Assignment/Achievement Folders in your Gradebook.

Finally, let’s take a look at collecting evidence through observation:

Observations are essential if classroom assessment and evaluation are to be reliable and valid. Observation is essential for triangulating the evidence of learning and is as valid as the collection of product.

Teachers might observe:

presentations, reading aloud, group or partner activities, following instructions, listening to others, discussions, planning and designing a web page, answering questions, reader’s theatre, role plays, storytelling, students working through the writing process, etc.

Essentially, anything you might observe your students doing or anything you ask them to do are valid classroom observations that you may use as evidence of learning.

(Anne Davies and Sandra Herbst, 2015)

You may record your evidence using a data collection sheet or another method and enter it in your Assessment Folder in your Gradebook.
Choose the link below to see a sample collection sheet:
ELA Competency Based Collection Sheet

Choose the link below to find more examples of data collection sheets available on the Prince Albert Catholic Schools Collection Tools Wiki:
Collection Tools Wiki

Write Daily -Ideas!

Athletes Can Teach Writers!

One might say that sports and writing are like chalk and cheese — polar opposites — below are two quotes from two very different star athletes that apply directly to writing.

The first, from Michael Jordan, the “greatest basketball player of all time.”

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

–Michael Jordan

You don’t get to be a six-time NBA champion without a few mistakes, a few false starts, and a few failed attempts along the way. The same can be said for writing. Consider the drafts that sits in your trash — those few “failed attempts” that started with a spark that went dark. Consider those “false starts” at writing, those unfinished drafts that sit quietly in your dashboard, awaiting your return.

Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest hockey players of all time, offers this:

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

–Wayne Gretzky

Taken together, these two quotes can be a writer’s recipe for success: you might “fail” at times, though you will fail 100% of the time if you stop trying to achieve your dreams as a writer.

Having trouble getting started? Click on the link below for some ideas on how to start a daily writing practice.
Writing Prompt Box

Harper Lee is back in action!

Read the following by Shmoop:
By now you’ve heard that a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, called Go Set a Watchman, will be hitting shelves—and Shmoop—this summer. In honor of the news, we put together a list of little-known facts about our back-in-action author.

1. She’s still alive.

You’d be surprised how many people didn’t realize that until yesterday. Leewill be publishing her second book in July at the age of 89.

2. She’s more popular than Moses.

In 2006, members of the British Museum, Libraries and Archives Council voted To Kill A Mockingbird the number one book that every adult should read before they die. The Bible was number two (source).

3. Harper is actually her middle name.

Her first name, Nelle, is her grandmother Ellen’s name spelled backward (source). Notice how similar her signature is to Shmoop’s…just saying.

4. She rubbed elbows with the rich and famous…in kindergarten.

When Lee was in kindergarten, she befriended an eccentric young boy named Truman Streckfus Persons. You might know him as Truman Capote—or Dill.

5. Even she had writer’s block.

At one point, Lee grew so frustrated with the writing process she opened the window of her New York apartment and hurled the entire TKAM manuscript into the snow. Clearly, she got it back.

6. She studied law.

Lucky for us, she quit—but not too early to get some good deets for the courtroom scene in To Kill a Mockingbird.

7. She wrote more than one book.

The manuscript for the TKAM sequel was rediscovered last year, and after some hesitation, Lee agreed to publish it. We hear Peter Jackson is directing the movie adaptation, so get ready for Go Set a Watchman Parts 1-3.

If that’s not enough Lee for you, here’s a boatload of Shmoopy goodness on the author and her—till now—one-hit wonder.
Anxiously awaiting July,

Quote of the Week

“…when you and Jem are grown,
maybe you’ll look back on this
with some compassion
and some feeling that I didn’t let you down.”

~ To Kill a Mockingbird

We hope Atticus’s words of wisdom are still around in the sequel.

Personalize Classroom Learning

Webinar Saturday, January 31st

Are you looking to personalize learning in the classroom to address the diverse needs of all your students?

Join and learn from experienced educators the ins and outs of managing and thriving in your Personalized Classroom. Whether you are currently using techniques to personalize learning, or hope to in the future, this free event is a must-attend.

You’ll learn how to…

• design personalized learning experiences for your classroom

• use free tools to develop engaging activities and student projects

• help students read, write, and think critically and independently

• reach all learning styles via free online tools

• and much more!

Webinar Event For Educators