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Curriculum & instruction

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.

Learning outcomes versus teaching tools

Over at Shanahan on Literacy, Dr. Shanahan wrote an interesting post We Zigged When We Should Have Zagged about the lack of comprehension strategies in the Common Core State Standards.

What does good homework look like?

Teachers give homework just about every night of the week. A good homework assignment can provide students with practice with a skill already taught, can prepare students for an upcoming test, and can extend a project or topic under study. A poorly designed homework assignment can bring tears and frustration and a lost opportunity to build a bridge between what's being taught in school and talked about at home. Homework struggles are particularly real for struggling readers and for students with LD.

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"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson