Friday, December 18, 2009

Literacy Excel at Huntington Middle School

At Huntington, we are using the magnificent 7 strategies in a 20 minute period each morning (Literay Excel) in all core classes. The goal is to help stengthen students' reading, thinking, and comprehension skills. We want students to have a carry over into all of their core classes. In the first nine weeks the focus was on asking questions and making connections. During the second nine weeks we are now focusing on finding important information (summarizing) and inference skills. (Of course we are still making connections and asking questions also). When students took the quarterly tests in reading, there was an increase in the scores, and we believe that teaching the strategies had a lot to do with it. It is also important to note that when looking at the SMART data, there was a reduction in discipline referrals during the time period when we have Literacy Excel.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Different Strategies in the Classroom

In trying to develop different strategies to come up with for my lower academic achieving students to understand the content matter. The main problem was the various levels of levels and styles in the classroom. In one particular class, a mixture of different reading levels (pretty low) in addition to numerous accommodations involved with IEPs. Nevertheless, by incorporating several of the strategies learned in the SURN program. I've seen a dramatic difference with my special education students. I truly believe all kids have a base of understanding that can be reached if teachers uses different techniques in their methodology. Here are some of the strategies that have been affective for me this semester.
1) Reading with a Purpose: I used to give reading assignments with no clear-cut objectives. Now I've placed objectives ( what to find, read as a certain person, or summarizing)
2) GIST Statements - Each week, I have the students write a statement in 25 words or less explaining a certain position or job (president, chief justice, Senator). From this statement, I can evaluate mastering of the topic.
3) Picture Voc. - The students must produce voc. with their own definitions and a picture for each.
4) Read Aloud - Truthfully, I was against read alouds and now use them as an introduction to the unit to provide students with general background knowledge on the material. In addition to reading, I'll ask questions on important points I discussed during the reading.
5) Hands On Activities - The students have participated in several activities this year where they where the center of the activity. The responsibility aspect caused to deeply learn the content and not just memorize terms and concepts.

As I mentioned, there where many strategies that I picked up from the SURN conference and lecture. These were some of the many methods that I Incorporated in my lesson planning. Thanks for the opportunity to partake in this opportunity!

Take care!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Blazing the Trail

It has been exciting to see our literacy committee at work. Everyone is sharing ideas, volunteering their time and embracing change. The entire committee is committed to seeing the school culture change so that literacy strategies are used in all curriculum areas. We understand that how we go about making the change is critical. Our impact will be much greater if we can get the entire school to adopt the strategies and feel they will benefit from their implementation. It is important for us to recognize that many teachers are using literacy strategies in an informal way. Our goal is to be consistent throughout the building on how strategies are being taught and to select basic strategies to focus on across all curriculum areas.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


After the power tools conference this summer I was really excited about finding more quality literature to use in my math class. I was surprised to find so many books for math. The challenging part was finding books for advanced concepts. There are plenty of books for elementary math concepts. One book that I would recommend to any math 8 or even geometry teachers is "What's Your Angle, Pythagoras" by Julie Ellis. This book is engaging and informative. The illustrations are beautiful and the mathematics in the book is elegantly laid out. I am going to share the story with my students on Monday when we begin our lesson on the Pythagorean Theorem.
For those of us who attended the SURN mathematics workshop at KFMS, the book has a perfect tie in to a hands on activity Dr. Mason showed us using the knotted rope! The knotted rope has a role in the book. How cool is it going to be to read about using the knotted rope to make right triangles and then have the kids use the knotted rope in class to make 3, 4, 5 triangles? I am going to share the book on Monday with my class. I know they are going to love story time and the rope activity!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How do you use the childrens books?

Our literacy team shares a reading strategy with the entire staff each month. This is a great way to introduce and share the strategies taught to us through the content literacy academy. This allows for teachers to see the different ways you can use a strategy in any subject. One of the ideas that I shared with the staff was how to incorporate The Important Book (this book was given to all of us!) This idea can be used with any subject, I just so happen to teach Civics and U.S. History. This is a semester course so we are finished at the end of January. I use The Important Book at the end of each unit. The students follow the format given to us at the conference which basically follows the book. At the end of the semester we will spend time typing An Important Book about Civics!! For example, after learning about the legislative branch students will write an important poem all about the concepts they have learned regarding the legislative branch. I think this is a good way for the students to review those concepts at the end of the year as well as a good way to end a unit because the information is fresh and they know the material. This is one way I have used one of the books given to us, I would love to hear how you use any of the books in your classroom! Please feel free to share any ideas that would be helpful to all of us!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Literacy Power Tools in Action

I have used a variety of activities I learned through the SURN workshop in my 6th grade math class. We began the school year with a student interest survey, the About Me introduction, and the Scavenger Hunt textbook activity. The activities helped me learn more about my students and their abilities in a short period of time while allowing them to relax and get to know each other.

During the first month, I introduced the Making Connections Strategy as a part of reading in math and now they readily respond when I ask how the text connects to them, the world around them, or something they’ve studied before? This has helped them to access prior knowledge and connect new concepts to older concepts in a more natural way. By using picture books like Fraction Action as an introduction to our unit on fractions, my math class has taken on a less formal tone without being chaotic.

During October, we viewed three pod casts from the The Mathtrain TV Podcasts collection. My special needs students were able to see how other middle school students tackled and explained some of the concepts we were studying. They really enjoyed watching the pod casts on using LCD to add fractions, turning fractions into decimals, and multiplying mixed numbers. They offered constructive suggestions on how to make a pod cast more enjoyable and expressed the desire to “do one.” So as a part of their review process for the 2nd nine weeks midpoint test, they will have a choice of making a video, a PowerPoint presentation, or leading a peer tutoring session for selected math SOLs. All and all we had a great 9 weeks!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Math Lesson using Power Tools

I considered myself lucky when I was given an opportunity to attend a seminar/workshop on “Power Tools for Literacy” last August. I learned so many things that would be so helpful to my students. I was able to use the strategies I learned from the seminar when I introduced the topic on percent, fractions, and decimals to all my classes. We read the book “Twizzlers – A percentages book “ and used give one-get one , mind-mapping, and read-aloud as my strategies to teach the lesson . The result was really GREAT!!! Not only my students enjoyed the lesson but they were highly motivated from the beginning up to the end of our class. Math is easier to teach for teachers and easier to learn for students using these different power tools strategies.

Maria Gotencio

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How are you using your iPod?

Some of the August Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy Academy participants have mentioned in their blog posts using iPods for musical transitions between activities or as a "musical timer." A second group of Academy participants will start next week (Nov. 16-18). Share with us specific ideas for using iPods in classroom settings. Tell your content area, grade level, the application, and the students' response.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Still Going!!!!

Greetings Everyone!

I hope everybody is off to a great year with their literacy strategies in place!! I know that I have been using quite a few and they seem to be going very well. I was overwhelmed at first but once I started using them I got the hang of it and everything seems to be moving in the right direction.

The kids are really getting a kick out of MAGINALIA!!! They just love when that term is used! This strategy has helped so much in helping the students identify the important concepts in science literature. I have also used the Role Cards in a lesson to help students see different concepts from different perspectives. Marking the text is another biggie!!

All I can say is that I am very excited for my students that they have something that sparks their interest and they don't have to listen to long drawn out lectures with no differentiation!!

Thanks SURN Team for sharing these very positive strategies to help students with literacy!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One of my responsibilities as Academic Coach is to model lessons. So this year, once a month in a weekly content area meeting, I plan to model one of the literacy strategies as outlined in the book Power Tools for Adolescent Learners. Teachers will then be responsible for incorporating this strategy in their classroom and then completing a reflections sheet on what they liked/disliked about the strategy and sharing this with their colleagues at our weekly content area meeting.

I had the opportunity to observe one of these literacy strategies being used by a colleague in a world geography class. It was amazing to see how eighth graders could get so engrossed in a picture book.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Making Connections and Posing Questions in Civics

In Civics, we use a lot of primary source readings. I have found in the past that it is sometimes difficult and challenging for the students to fully comprehend what they are reading. So far this year I have focused on making connections and having students pose questions as they read the material. Initially, I incorporated the reading of a picture book and walked them through how to make connections to self, other text, and the world. Then presented the students with a more difficult reading in which they were to make connections back to the picture book. I found that it did make it easier for the students to comprehend the second reading when they could make connections back to the picture book. Initially it took some time for students to become acquainted with this new strategy. But now, students use it consistently. This strategy along with the questions that are posed by the students have been very enlightening not only for the students, but for me as well. Students are more involved with the reading and it has greatly enriched our classroom discussions.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Literacy Lesson Plan

I have really enjoyed using the literacy strategies that were taught at the conference in my Physical science class. It's amazing how 8th grade students enjoy picture books and literature being read to them.

I have implemented strategies such as: Somebody Wanted But So, graphic organizers, foldables and Marginalia. I can truly see a difference in my students interest and comprehension of the lessons being taught in class.

I plan to continue using these strategies as well as others with my students and share them with my team members during our planning time.


Monday, October 12, 2009


At Blair Middle School five power strategies are in place to ensure the success of all students. With this teachers are to provide opportunities for students to read and write in all classes, connect learning to their real lives, demonstrate higher level thinking skills when problem solving, justify their answers, and analyze and track their own data to measure learning and growth.

As I diligently work to ensure that I provide these opportunities, I've found strategies from the Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy helpful. In my efforts to provide opportunities for my students to read and write in all classes and to connect to their real lives, with the assistance of our building's gifted education specialist, Lynne Barrett, I've used the RAFT writing technique as the format for an Earth's Biome project. This is strategy 5.7 in the text.


Power Tools Workshops for Your Colleagues

The workshop that inspired this blog and led to these postings is being offered November 16-17, 2009 in Williamsburg, VA. The blog authors have already attended and gained much from their time with the Dynamic Duo of Jan Rozzelle and Carol Scearce. Consider registering for the workshop, Power Tools in Adolescent Literacy.

If you have already been to the workshop, share the "best" aspect of the workshop with others in this blog and encourage others to attend.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Literacy Lesson-Accomplished!!!

Hello All,
Just wanted to let you all know that I did implement my Literacy Lesson on Matter last Thursday and Friday. It went great!

We focused on the Mag 7 (Asking Questions). I read a poem from the picture book Science Verse entitled, What's the Matter? and the kids loved it. We went through and form questions about each one of the stanzas and then I gave them a graphic organizer called Main Idea/Detail Chart in which they took notes on about Matter and its states. Upon completion of our notetaking on Matter, we then went back to our poem and answered the questions that they formed.

The lesson ended up with the students creating a 3 flap foldable on Matter's States-Solids, Liquids, and Gases while listening to the song Shake, Rattle and Roll on an iPod download. The song Shake, Rattle, and Roll help the kids to remember what the particle movement was like within a solid, liquid, or gas.

It was definitely an experience and I know my kids got much more understanding from using the strategy of Asking Questions!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Technology Power Tools for Literacy

I was very excited about using the new strategies that I learned at the conference in my technology class. I was truly amaze by my students, the strategies we learned really work in the class room. The conference and new strategies energized me for a new school year.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Great start

Hello All,

As the new school year geared up, I used some of the get-to-know-you activities, such as People Hunt, SWBS. I also downloaded music to my Ipod and as the students are working on an assignment, I play the music (old school hits, of course). My 8th grade administrator has come in several times and she has shared with the rest of the 8th grade teachers the music I use and how focused the students are on their lesson.

When I do a lab with my students, I will let them know that they have to finish the lab in 2 -3 songs. What a great way to actually keep them focused.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Implementing The Literacy Lesson Plan

Well the 30th is approaching tomorrow and I have completed my lesson plan that I plan to do on the unit for matter...I think it's going to be great!

Eventhough, I hadn't tried an entire lesson as of yet, I have been using some of the strategies such as; Marginalia, SWBS, People Hunt for Grouping. Everything has worked marvelous thus far!

I am planning to do my entire lesson on Matter using a whole literacy lesson plan on Friday of this week!! Wish me luck!!

I am really enjoying this!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Math iTunes to Literacy

I have been teaching math for 30 years plus and sometimes I find myself in a glorious sea of numbers. Yet, I have also been guilty of thinking that my math rules the world. Silly, silly me! Now I am seeing things from a different perspective and I know that it is not about the content, but about the thinking. This became quite clear and obvious during the three days I attended the Content Literacy Academy in August. This academy had an awesome influential impact on me. I participated in many activities while there and learned new strategies that I wanted to implement into my classes. Actually, I was rather anxious to start the school year.

I walked away knowing that my thinking had been redirected and my instructional practices were definitely going to be enhanced and geared just as much toward literacy as math. This year Huntington Middle School has implemented a 20-minute school-wide literacy initiative. As a result of this initiative, there has been an enormous amount of new learning experiences in all classes.

In math we are tuning to literacy. We tune to FM MAG7 (the Magnificent Seven Comprehension Strategies) daily. This is our #1 station. As a matter of the fact, the only station we tune to in math. During week 1, we had a great time jumping to the first strategy we implemented which was Making Connections. We used the Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) Kit.

The math classes read the narrative play, Making Allowances. We had five 20 minute lessons planned and effectively used. Our students made many connections while tuning to FM MAG7. They became an active part of the narrative text as they made text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections. These three connections were all real life connections.

The text-to-self connections were easy of course. The text-to-text required some explanations and I had to make it seem real to them by asking them to think about textbooks read. Students asked if movies could be included. So we went into having students to make connections to movies seen, songs heard, and sports played or interested in playing, etc. This seemed to capture students even more and they began to tune more into making connections. They actually, “pumped up the volume.” So when we got into text-to-world, they were so involved that the connections they were making were astonishing, even thought provoking to me. But they were “tuned” into the right station.

Of course, we had to talk math, so we did. As a culminating activity, to connect with text title, every student received an allowance (play money and checks) based on participation points. We gathered the data and found the mean, median, mode of the allowances. We also discussed how other data displays can represent the allowances given.

Twenty minutes a day for math to tune in to literacy isn’t enough time. Once the students start making connections there is no switching gears. When you walk into math classes it is obvious that Math iTunes to Literacy at Huntington Middle School.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

One School's Journey

A little over a year ago, the leadership team at Blair focused on five power strategies that they envisioned would be implemented in every classroom. In fact, the mantra was – 90% of teachers implementing the strategies 90% of the time. The five power strategies mandated that students have daily opportunities to do the following:
1. Read and write in all classes
2. Connect learning to their real lives
3. Demonstrate higher level thinking skills when problem solving
4. Justify their answers
5. Analyze and track own data to measure learning and growth

Teachers were surveyed to gauge their comfort levels with each strategy. Staff development was provided to assist teachers. Rubrics were shared to show what a classroom implementing each strategy should look like.

At first, most teachers were skeptical and uncomfortable; change is difficult. They reluctantly participated in training at the school level. Slowly, they transformed themselves into a committed learning community.The implementation of the power strategies became a natural part of collegial conversations, lesson plans, and classroom observations.

Our school has come a very long way in a year! That’s why when we were selected to send a team to participate in the Adolescent Literacy for Vertical Teams Initiative Conference, it seemed a natural progression for us. The Magnificent Seven Comprehension Strategies are not new ones to reading instructors, but the focus on explicitly teaching them and making the “invisible visible” is powerful.

After the SURN conference, our leadership team was given an overview of the conference components. Our administrators used one of the synthesis strategies, Even Dozen, to engage us in thinking about what our school did well during the last year.

During pre-service week, our faculty also participated in an overview. Our principal purchased a copy of Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy for every core content teacher in the building! The original SURN participants decided collectively to focus the first month on the strategy of making inferences and predictions, which solidified the whole school’s mission.

As a resource teacher with the opportunity to plan with many different content teams, I have watched colleagues pulling ideas from the book, enlarging the Magnificent Seven posters and hanging them in their rooms. Several have already used the Even Dozen activity with their students.

I am a witness to how our school adopted five power strategies last year that have transformed our school; teaching the seven comprehension strategies in every classroom will be equally fulfilling for our faculty and ultimately rewarding for our students!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Huntington's Literacy Blog

The Huntington Viking participants at the Content Literacy Academy shared our experiences with Mrs. Holloway, our principal, and we set about incorporating the strategies from the conference into out Literacy Excel Program. Each day, beginning today, September 14, from 8:25-8:45 a.m. our school will focus on literacy instruction using the Magnificent Seven Strategies. All administrators and specialists will visit classrooms daily and provide feedback. Everyone will focus on making connections and asking questions across contents during this quarter and use Comprehension Strategies Instruction (CSI) by Pacific Learning. To prepare our teachers, we held three staff development training sessions, the first, August 27, focused on team building and the question, “Why focus on literacy?” Teachers reviewed what a nurturing literacy classroom environment should look like and every teacher’s class has the Magnificent Seven posters displayed! The second staff development, September 1, focused on the overview of the Magnificent Seven strategies and their application in the classroom with the use of the jigsaw strategy, and we modeled the use of the Bio-poem for students’ team building. On Thursday, September 3, the team facilitators planned and modeled the content literacy lesson in each subject area, and the teachers applied their experiences with the use of the literacy timeline.
All of our teachers are in professional learning communities. Marcia Little and Rosalyn Price are the facilitators for science teachers; Karen Hinton, and Sallie Herndon, are the facilitators for social studies teachers; Valerie Banks, and Vanessa Stephens are the facilitators for math teachers; and Arleatrice Winters and I, Alice M. Alexander, are the facilitators for English teachers. Our first week of Literacy Excel was a big success!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I have been using my ipod nano daily! The addition of music in the classroom is something I have always wanted but in the past had found difficult to achieve. I love my nano!! I started the year with my desk in "pods" of four. I have really enjoyed watching the students grow in their level of trust of each other. Today I used the story book "Listen to the Wind" by Greg Mortenson to teach a literacy lesson like we were taught at the conference. It was a great day!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pair & Group Work: the importance of Structure & Consistency

When I was told that I had been picked to attend this conference I was happy, and thought that it would be an opportunity to pick up some new techniques to use in the classroom. What I didn't realize was that it was going to help me implement strategies in my room that I had been struggling with since I started to teach. I knew how important it was to get children interested, and had been told what to do to get them involved. Every once and awhile I would try to use group work. I would work diligently on the lesson, and when the day would come it seemed to work okay for some classes and not at all for others. I was starting to get convinced that it could only work for some teachers and not for everyone. Although I knew it was important I wasn't sure how to get there. I had a good relationship with my students so I couldn't understand why everything seemed to go chaotic when they interacted with each other. The difference with this conference was they didn't just tell you, they showed you. I, like my students, needed to see the theory in practice, and not just once but many times. When I left after the three days I was excited, rejuvenated, and a little apprehensive. Luckily my teammates were willing to try anything which is very important as we collaborate on our lesson plans. From the very first day we have been using pair & group work. We have not just told them what we expect, but we have shown them. As they do work with each other daily it is starting to become part of their routine. Although I am still working to prefect the process I am convinced that everyone including myself can implement these strategies in their classrooms. This makes the learning environment more enjoyable for the student, and the teacher.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Teaching the Magnificent Seven One at a Time

While it may be evident to most, today's experience in the classroom re-inforced the fact that the magnificent seven must be taught, and it must be taught one at a time.

It was a normal day at its best. Each class was truly engaged in the before reading warm-up where they explained what they saw when I said the word, "treasure." I increased the questioning level little by little until we were differentiating between the literal and figurative definitions of "treasure." This being the case, I was not prepared for what I uncovered
during my students first exposure to a think aloud.

Wow! As I read and made the invisible(my thoughts) visible, my students struggled to put what I was doing into words. One child said, "comprehending," a possible regurgitation of what I had explained I would be doing. Several other students said things like "adding words." I had done this activity already with my honors bells who quickly identified that I was "connecting my experiences to the text," "inferring," "asking questions," "self-correcting when I had misunderstood something earlier in the text" (an intentional flaw so as to model for them my ability to catch my mistakes), but I was at a loss seeing my regular ed. students unable to connect to what was happening in my mind as I read. In fact, it took even my volunteers several tries before they were able to read the text aloud as I did, and somewhat share their thought processes.

I see now that truly these students are not engaging the text. They seem to have trouble even recognizing "visualizing" and " asking questions" let alone attempting it. All this to say, I am looking forward even more so now, to teaching our comprehension strategies one at a time.

(Post note: For those of you teaching highly challenging classes, you can do it. With the unique mix of autistic children, the farsighted child who is too embarrassed to where his glasses, many children who I am finally realizing are unable to afford supplies for my class, and two emotionally challenged students who have already manifested to the chagrin of the onslaught of troublemakers, yet I see children many or most of whom have missed the joy of comprehending and connecting with a text. All things are possible! (to him/her who believes.))

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's only the second week of school...

...and I have already used a few strategies I learned at the "iTune into Literacy" conference! On the second day of school (6th grade) my students wrote a Bio Poem (based on the Bio Poem Template) to introduce themselves to their classmates. This poem was especially helpful for me because not only did students reveal the types and specific books they enjoy reading, but also the learning style they in which they respond to best. Later the first week I introduced my students to "Text Connections"...and we practiced the strategy. I plan to copy the bookmark on page 185 (of Power Tools), laminate it, and let the students use dry erase markers to jot down their text connections. Finally, I am doing "Interactive Notebooks" for the first time...and loving it! I am looking forward to using some of the vocabulary strategies starting next week. Good luck to everyone...don't be afraid to try the strategies we learned. Have a fantastic year!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What's on Your Nano?

During the 2009 Summer Literacy Academy, participants received iPod Nano to encourage them to use the web to identify instructionally appropriate videos and audio/video podcasts to bring into the classroom.

Many years ago, I took an American 20th century history class (yes it was still the 20th century) in which the professor said that all too often US history classes struggle to finish in the current day. So he started with the end of World War I and went forward. The professor used a variety of video clips and laser disc clips (remember those huge disks-thank heavens for the advent of the cd-rom) throughout each class period. We'd talk history, see history, hear history, and have the opportunity to interact in ways that made our readings and discussions more meaningful. Clips were a few seconds to minutes long and helped contextualize the events.The retrospective on 20th century history that uses Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire could have been an engaging way to introduce such a history class.

The upcoming issue of Edutopia has an article on using videos in the classroom. The author observed that “teachers all across the country are finding that judiciously chosen videos help students engage more deeply with the subject matter, and recall the information they’ve learned longer.” The article highlights several websites that teachers may find helpful for getting videos. The article also includes a “primer” to YouTube.

Scholastics' 10 Podcasts for Teachers and Kids provides 10 recommended podcast sources that address core content areas, ESL, and/or are regularly produced by students.

Just yesterday, I was looking up information on Jamestown and came across the Settlement center's podcast collection. Couple with other sources from NPR to NASA to TeacherTube and YouTube there is a plethora of material available. So let's share our favorites.

If you use online videos or audio podcasts in your classroom, are sites that you recommend and share a particular video or audio podcast?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Don't Give Up! You Can Do It!

Hope everyone is off to a great start! I know that I am ready to begin tomorrow. As you reflect upon all of the strategies that you were introduced to during the conference, remember to choose one or two strategies that you want to start with and not try to conquer them all in a year! As teachers we all know that flexibility is important. We never know what kind of a day it may be. And of course, if the strategy does not work well the first time, don't give up! Stay positive and try it again and again. Best of luck for an awesome school year! Remember, we are all in this together!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Textbook Tips

Although there are many ways to teach content, from podcasts to picture books, the traditional textbook may still remain an important means for students to learn for many years. It’s important that we show students how to use them.

These strategies from Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy will help your students prepare to read their texts this year.

“Let Your Fingers Do the Walking” (pgs.18-19): introduces the text; generates some interest and excitement.
“Scavenger Hunt” (pgs. 66-67): leads students to see important features of the text including reference sections, the table of contents, and the index.
“Passage Prediction” (pg. 69): introduces new words and teaches prediction.

Bring students’ attention to text features before they begin to read. Show students how to change titles, headings and subheadings into questions. Use these questions to set a purpose for reading.

Each time that you assign reading from the text, direct students to practice using one of the “Magnificant Seven Comprehension Strategies” (pgs. 40-43) while they read.

If your students leave you having learned content and carrying a tool box full of reading strategies, you will have served them well. Have a great year!

Starting The Year Off Right!!

Wow! What an amazing workshop last week in Williamsburg! I love the fact that after being involved with this program for 4 years now I still come away with so much to take back to my classroom and school. While learning and reviewing so many strategies in 3 days can seem overwhelming, this is the absolute best time, right before the new year starts, to start planning on how to use the Power Tools strategies in your content area. One of my absolute favorites is using picture books. They are such a fun and exciting way to introduce students of all ages to a new unit or concept! Many of our students have lost the appeal of learning, and listening, to a teacher instruct on a new topic. As I always say, taking them back to a "happy place" or a time in which they eager to learn, is one of the best ways to capture their attention even in the upper grades.

The first step in the new year will be to set routines and procedures in your classroom. As Shannon reminded us, the "Getting To Know You" activities would be one of the first steps to take in implementing the use of Power Tools. My advice from there would be to take at least 1 strategy per week and incorporate it into your lessons. Starting small will help to build not only student confidence but yours as well. Good luck to everyone! I hope you are as excited about the new year and all the new ideas you are going back to school with!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting to Know You

Keri Lambert lead a discussion on the importance of getting to know your students. Although many teachers spend the first week getting to know their students' names and personalities, this tends to fall by the wayside as the year progresses. List one activity that you will employ at the beginning of the year to get to know your students' personalities and learning styles. Then share one way that you will attempt to continue this process of getting to know your students throughout the school year. Finally, since we are all still trying to get to know YOU. Please share one or two sentences about yourself so that we may get to know you better, as well.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Freedom Writers

This of for those of you who either read the book or saw the movie Freedom Writers!

There were two books read by the class in the movie: Durango Street and The Diary of Anne Frank. Choose a book that you would like to suggest strategies for...then...using your Power Tools book, complete the following:
  • Choose one of the Magnificent 7 comprehension strategies and describe what that would look like in your classroom!
  • Choose either a before, a during or after reading strategy and describe how you would use that with the book.

If you haven't read either of the books, you don't have to! Just offer a general idea of how you would use the strategies with them.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy for Vertical Teams Initiative

For three days next week in Williamsburg, VA instructional teams from nine middle schools in Virginia will participate in professional development on using literacy strategies in the core content areas. The workshop is the first activity of a yearlong sustained professional development initiative provided by the College of William and Mary's School Leadership Institute and SURN and is funded by the Virginia Department of Education. The presenters for the workshop are the award-winning authors of Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy book, Jan Rozzelle and Carol Scearce.

The workshop will lay the foundation for the work that instructional teams will do in their schools. The blog, emails, iTuneU SURN site, etc. will be used to grow the learning community that will begin to form next week. Each Monday, different instructional team members have been asked to post their experiences using literacy strategies in their content area. All are welcome and encourage to comment, query, and offer support.