Can You Imagine?

Imagine a world where you couldn’t read the signs as you drove passed them on the street. A world where you couldn’t read the menu at your favorite restaurant. A world where you couldn’t read or send a simple text message to your friends and family. This is the type of world that we, as educators, are responsible for ensuring doesn’t happen for our students. We are the main resource for our students to be able to successfully decode and comprehend the material that we put in front of them. The statistics in this video are semi mind blowing to me. In a low-income area, there is 1 book for every 300 kiddos vs. 13 books (or more) PER CHILD in a high-income household. This reminded me of a project that some of the extension teachers put on at our school this past spring. All children that were in the intervention program were able to go “book shopping” before summer and take about 10 books home with them. There were everything from used books, donated books to brand new books bought for the kiddos. The smiles on their faces when they came back into my classroom with their bag full of books was incredible. It is our job as teachers to ensure that ALL students have books in their hands as often as possible. I was in another elementary school recently as well and I saw a “Take a Book, Leave a Book” book shelf! I am going to bring this idea to my school librarian and see if we can get something like this started in the library or in our school’s welcome center! What an awesome way to spread the love of literacy!

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Professional Development Video Options

Here are a few videos to use during a literacy PD presentation! I am a huge TED Talk fan! The video below can be used before presenting a PD on Interactive Read Alouds or just simply the importance of reading to kids. It might also be used when talking to parents about the importance of reading to children.

 

The video below would be great to show staff before teaching the I DO, WE DO , YOU DO model. This lesson is a great lay out for modeling a productive and successful comprehension mini lesson. She uses an engaging hook and the students are interactively involved in the lesson throughout. I always find it helpful to observe and watch other teachers and this would be a great way to share an engaging lesson with other teachers.

Enjoy! 🙂

Top 10 Best Websites for Literacy Leaders

Below are a few resources that are useful and essential in any literacy classroom! Some of these I use daily during the school year and others I recently found when I began this post!

Florida Center for Reading Research– http://www.fcrr.org/index.shtml

I have been using this website for a few years now! It has easy “grab and go” activities and resources that I include in my guided reading binder. I use things such as fluency enhancing activities, sight word games, etc.

EPIC! https://www.getepic.com

There is not a day in my classroom where I do not use Epic with my students! They have everything from fiction to non-fiction and educational videos and games to use with my mini lessons. Whether it is a planned lesson or an “on the fly” read aloud, EPIC is just the place to find the perfect interactive read aloud for the SMARTboard!

Read Works– www.readworks.org

Read works is created to meet the needs of a wide range of reading skill levels. You can chose the topic, genre and skill level of the text you are searching for.

University of Oregon Center on Teaching and Learning – http://reading.uoregon.edu/

EduHound – http://www.eduhound.com/

The Reading Corner – http://www.carr.org/read/

RAZ Kids https://www.raz-kids.com/ 

RAZ kids is a hit in my classroom! We use it daily during our Daily 5 rounds and the students are able to read, listen and answer questions at their own pace. It automatically moves them to the next level once they passed all of the books at their given level.

Reading A- Z https://www.readinga-z.com/

This website is where RAZ originates from. There are a variety of resources that are ready to go and use for teachers with students of all skill levels. You can print out mini books or project a story on the board to use with a specific phonics pattern.

Scholastic Scholastic.com

Scholastic is the KING of all educational and literacy websites. This website houses a wide variety of resources for teachers, students and families to use to get kids engaged in reading!

Tween Tribune https://www.tweentribune.com/

News ELA https://newsela.com/

Tween Tribune and NEWSLEA are both great websites to use in the classroom to get students engaged in reading about the most current events. It can can be utilized for things such as close reading and also used as an option for independent choice time for the upper grade levels.

Top 10 Books Every Literacy Leader MUST Have!

In this post, I will be providing a list of 10 literacy resources and books that I have either used, read about or been suggested to read as I pursue my graduate literacy licensure!

Some of these resources I have used myself while others I have just recently stumbled upon while researching for more resources. Some of these texts are hands on for teachers working with students in reading and others are more directed for HOW to be a successful and productive leader in any given school. I used a combination of both because you cannot be a coach without having both the content AND the interpersonal relationship skills along with it in being a leader.

1. Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction by Jim Knight 

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This book is written by Jim Knight and involves professional development strategies that “facilitates change, improves instruction, and transforms school culture”. This book provides assistance and encouragement for coaches to implement school improvement programs. Jim Knight is an experienced trainer and researcher and gives us the “nuts and bolts” of instructional coaching. He also and gives us the essential skills that instructional coaches need (ex: getting teachers on board, model lessons, and engaging in reflective conversations, etc.)

2. Fountas and Pinnell BAS Kits

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This assessment is a HUGE new hit at my current building. We are required to assess our students before we send them to the next grade level. This keeps a cohesive and consistent track of student’s reading growth and success. The BAS kit is used “to determine student’s independent and instructional reading levels, teachers are able to observe student reading behaviors one-on-one, engage in comprehension conversations that go beyond retelling, and make informed decisions that connect assessment to instruction”. This assessment allows the teacher to not only find the level that a student is reading at, but also diagnose the deeper meaning of why they are at their level and what strategies they need individualized instruction on.

3.The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

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This book is a great for any classroom teacher that pairs with a variety of curriculums and assessments.  This book focuses on a variety of reading strategies that can used in any grade level along with teaching strategies for whole group and small groups.

4. The Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

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Similar to the book listed above, this book is also great for any classroom teacher that pairs with a wide variety of curriculums and assessments.  This book focuses on multiple writing strategies from mini lessons and workshop style to independent practice.

5. Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction by Jim Knight

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This book, written by Jim Knight, is an addition to his first book to improve instruction in a school setting. He expands on the process for becoming an impact school through targeted, consistent professional learning that is done with teachers, not to teachers.

6. Differentiated Coaching: A Framework for Helping Teachers Change by Jane A. G. Kise

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This book is basically a coaching model based on teachers’ learning styles and learning how how those teaching styles can impact, positively or negatively, student success. This book was written in order to help teachers understand how their strengths and beliefs may “lock them into practices that can limit student success”.

7. Student-Centered Coaching: A Guide for Principals and Coaches by Diane Sweeney

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This text is all about school-based coaching that can be designed to directly impact student learning. This main focus of this book is shifting the focus from “fixing” teachers to collaborating with them. The text also explains how to design instruction that targets achievement and provides specific practices for leading a student-centered coaching effort.

8 The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson

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This book helps teachers meet the diverse reading needs of students and also gives some structure and a variety of tools for a successful guided reading group. Richardson has identified the essential components of an effective guided reading lesson: targeted assessments, data analysis that pinpoints specific strategies students need, and the use of guided writing to support the reading process.

9. The Guided Reading Teacher’s Companion by Jan Richardson

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This flip-chart guide allows teachers to find prompts, discussion starters, and teaching points to use with students to process more effectively, think more deeply, and express their ideas more thoughtfully. It is a user friendly book to use conveniently while working with small groups. Teachers can use these tools as starting points for in-depth inquiry based on specific reading behaviors you’re noticing.

10. Never Underestimate Your Teachers: Instructional Leadership for Excellence in Every Classroom by Robyn R. Jackson

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In this book Jackson presents a new model for understanding teaching as a combination of skill and will and explains the best ways to support individual teachers’ ongoing professional development. The book teachers coaches and leaders how to learn how to meet teachers where they are and help every one of them develop the mind-set and habits of master teachers. The book provides real-life examples, practical tools, and strategies for managing time and energy demands.

Hey, Little Ant!

As I was up north at my cabin this week for the 4th of July, I saw some ants crawling across the bricks near the campfire. These little creatures made me think of a story that I read to my first graders in order to teach the essential language arts comprehension standard of learning the point of view of characters. I started telling my family about this story and how I use authentic children’s literature to engage students in active reading strategies and comprehension skills. Reading aloud to my students is honestly my favorite part of teaching primary aged students. It is what my first and second grade teacher did so well that captivated and inspired me to want a classroom of my own someday. These types of children’s stories and pieces of authentic literature are specific ways that educators can get students excited about reading. The smile and spark that I get when I tell people about specific books I get to read to my students (even around a campfire in Northern Wisconsin… ) to teach literacy is exactly what will keep the fire alive to instill a love of life long literacy within my students! 🙂

Effective Educator PD- What does it look like?

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Professional development is the groundwork for keeping teachers informed of the most current and effective best teaching practices which allows all students in that building an equitable education. Lyons & Pinnell (2001), explain some of the characteristics of adults educators as learners in a professional setting. As a potential future literacy coach or guide, it will be important to engage my staff in the given topic. There are many things to consider and take account when presenting content to the staff. The listed questions below are direct criteria to use when considering the staff: What do they already know? What are their past experiences? Do you have a group of newer or veteran teachers? Will the things you are teaching them be helpful in their classrooms now? Are you meeting the expectations of the group? Is what you are doing worth their time?These are essential questions to present to staff, similar to questions we ask when we teach our students in the classroom setting. Lyons & Pinnell (2001) also discuss the Constructivist Principles of Teaching.

  • Encourage active participation.
  • Organize small-group discussions around common concerns.
  • Introduce new concepts in context.
  • Create a safe environment.
  • Develop teachers’ conceptual knowledge through conversation around shared experiences.
  • Provide opportunities for teachers to use what they know to construct new knowledge.
  • Look for shifts in teachers’ understanding over time.
  • Provide additional experiences for teachers who have not yet developed needed conceptual understanding.

Just like we provide successful and engaging mini lessons for our students, a meaningful and successful PD must be effectively planned and prepared for in order to engage and provide purposeful and essential information to all staff.

References:

Lyons, C. A., & Pinnell, G. S. (2001). Systems for change in literacy education: a guide to professional development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.