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Curriculum & instruction

Grounded in evidence. Part 3: Constructed responses based on evidence

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes construction as: "The art of construing, interpreting, or explaining." I believe the key word is interpreting. Before students delve into text, we first must teach them how to break it apart and look for evidence. It's just as critical to teach our students what to do once they have collected the evidence. The art of interpretation is hard to teach, but if we begin with the basics, and model, model, model — then students can begin to understand the thinking process behind the interpretation they are expected to achieve.

Flipping the elementary classroom

Flipped classrooms are a hot topic right now. In case it's a new term for you, here's a brief description. A flipped classroom flips, or reverses, traditional teaching methods. Traditionally, the teacher talks about a topic at school and assigns homework that reinforces that day's material. In a flipped classroom, the instruction is delivered online, outside of class. Video lectures may be online or may be provided on a DVD or a thumb drive. Some flipped models include communicating with classmates and the teacher via online discussions.

Grounded in evidence. Part 2: Informational text

Thoughtful. Careful. Precise. These are the words that should define our students as they provide evidence that supports text-dependent questions. Part 2 of our focus on evidence-based questions takes us into the world of informational text. It tends to be easier for students to find evidence to support their answers within informational text. However, where we sometimes fall short, is in the level of difficulty of the questions we are asking our kiddos.

Matching media to the curriculum

I came across a great website, Mapping Media to the Curriculum, that could help teachers and students demonstrate what they have learned using digital media. By asking the simple question, "What do you want to CREATE today?" teachers can choose from a graphic menu of options, including Interactive Writing, Puppet Video, Simulation, Geo-Map, and others.

Vocabulary: explicit vs. implicit

Vocab! Vocab! Vocab! The new Common Core Standards have incorporated a new component labeled, "Vocabulary Acquisition and Use." Although many of us have been diligent in the past to teach vocabulary, we now have specific standards that we are being held accountable for. The writers of the Common Core wanted vocabulary expansion to become second nature to teachers and students through grasping and retaining words and comprehending text.

Text complexity: create connections

Some of my teacher friends are nervous about the call within the Common Core State Standards for more informational texts in the classroom. Couple informational texts with recommendations to have students read widely and deeply from increasingly challenging texts, and I've got a couple of worried friends!

Rethinking Literacy, a Common Core resource

For a limited time, Education Week is offering a free digital edition of Rethinking Literacy: Reading in the Common-Core Era. There are several articles within the edition worth reading, each taking its own look at how the Common Core State Standards are changing the way we think about reading and writing, with a keen eye on informational texts.

Welcome to the Common Core Classroom!

Hello from the speedway of the Common Core!

I am pleased to have the opportunity to explore the Common Core National Standards with you this year! After teaching for almost 10 years, I have experienced many struggles and celebrations with state standards from California, to Arizona, to Washington DC, and now OUR national Common Core Standards. Growing up the daughter of two educators, I was constantly immersed in learning. It was incredibly clear that education shaped who we would be, and gave us opportunities to explore the world around us.

Assessing and learning the letters of the alphabet

Teachers, parents, and researchers often wonder similar things about the alphabet. Specifically, what's the right order to teach letters? How can I best assess what a very young child knows about the alphabet? Should I start by teaching my preschool-aged child the first letter of her name, and then go from there?

Full STEAM ahead

Have you ever blown off steam? Or maybe you've run out of steam.

I got a new appreciation for the power of STEAM at a recent panel discussion convened by Reading Is Fundamental (aka RIF).

Their newest effort combines quality children's books with art and literacy activities to help adults (educators, families, and the community) to enhance STEM education — science, technology, engineering, math — for young children. The activities are presented in a brief, accessible way for both busy teachers and parents who may not read comfortably.

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"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan