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Curriculum & instruction

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.

Teaching and managing the kindergarten classroom

Suzanne, a friend and neighbor, just started her student teaching in a kindergarten classroom. She's a career switcher, having gone back to school after 15 years as a nurse and a Mom to 4 kids, including one with special needs. Student teaching is turning out to be a ton of work to juggle on top of being a Mom and a wife. Long days of teaching and long nights of homework and planning. Remember those early days of teaching?

Hold me accountable. But let me do it my way.

Hold me accountable. But let me do it my way.

That's one powerful line from a guest post written by fifth-grade teacher Lisa Parisi of Lisa's Lingo. at The Answer Sheet from the Washington Post.

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

N is for No Letter of the Week

We can all agree that classrooms are busy places, with little time to spare. As teachers, we have to get the most we can out of every instructional minute. Doing so enables us to structure the day with time for more exploration, discovery, invention, and dare we say play?

There are few things that sap more instructional time than teaching a Letter of the Week (LOTW). I'm sorry to my preschool and kindergarten teacher friends who use these programs, but it's the truth. Teaching a letter of the week is too slow. Too isolated. Too painful to watch.

Dramatic science, and a calendar too!

There's always good stuff going on behind the scenes here at Reading Rockets. For example, right now we're working on a series of new Ed Extras.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase