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.