Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Common Core- Digging Deeper into each Standard

The BIG talk in the world of education is the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  It is such a big thing that 48 out of 50 states have adopted these standards at some level.  At least that what was said at the last training I attended.

Why have we moved to CCSS?  What do these standards really mean?
Upon reading some information from the CCSS website I found some lines that I felt really spell out why we are moving in this direction.  Here they are:

"As a natural outgrowth of meeting the charge to define college and career readiness, the Standards also lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the twenty-first century."
"As specified by CCSSO and NGA, the Standards are (1) research and evidence based, (2) aligned with college and work expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked."

The rigorous piece is what I'd like to really speak about today.  How do we take these standards and teach them to the higher level in which they were created to be taught?  That's what I am hoping to find out through this journey that I would like to take with all of you.

So how to do this??  Fabulous question... My thought is to dive deeper and really look at what each standard is truly intended to teach.  I thought about starting with the first standard, but then right now I am working with a group of teachers on RL.6 so as crazy as it might seem, I'm starting there.

Hello RL.6!!!
The best way, I think, to begin tackling this standard is to understand where it starts and where it is going.  So Let's look at it vertically.

K-  With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.
1-  Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text.
2-  Acknowledge difference in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.
3-  Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
4-  Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narratives.
5-  Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described.
6-  Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
7-  Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.
8-  Analyze how difference in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

This website gives a nice snapshot of the vertical alignment of the standards as well as a nifty (who uses that word... really? lol) highlighting feature for the difference amongst grade levels. http://rt3nc.org/objects/standards/cclitmap/ela.html

Here's a good video from YouTube which gives basic information about Perspective and Point of View:

I really liked this comment, but somehow lost the site I found it on.  Sorry site!!!  "In other words, how does where a writer or narrator is coming from (point of view) and going towards (purpose) affect what he/she writes (content and style)?"

So to me,
POV at K-2 is simply...
*  identifying that an author and/or illustrator tells a story
*  sometimes the person telling the story changes.
*  Dialogue also comes into play at this age level because that is   how we identify who is speaking.

POV at 3-5 goes into...
*  how POV of characters differ from each other as well as from the reader.
*  1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person are introduced identified and elaborated on as to what role this plays in how the story unfolds.

Some thoughts I have been putting out there for teachers are...
*  How would the story have unfolded if told by another character's POV?
*  How would the story have been different if told in 1st person as opposed to 3rd?
*  Based on your POV, how would you have told the story differently?
*How did understanding the past experiences of the character help you understand his/her point of view in the story?

ABSOLUTELY LOVE this quote from ReadWriteThink.
"One of life's biggest challenges is accepting that there are numerous interpretations and that there is rarely oneright way to view the world. Literature can introduce characters who have learned to accept that different viewpoints exist, demonstrating how they persevere when faced with difficulties. Books can also change readers' perspectives about what they already know and extend their knowledge through new ways of seeing familiar things."
Doesn't that wrap RL.6 up in a nutshell??

Common Core website shout out time...  These sites have been VERY helpful to me with each standard.

What are your thoughts on Point of View and RL.6?  What are some things you are doing in your classrooms to teach this standard?  I would really appreciate hearing all of your teaching ideas as well as knowledge of this standard.  I really want these posts to be educational for everyone, including myself.

Although this journey has been stressful and time-consuming thus far, I REALLY feel like we, as a nation, are moving in the right direction. 
Antoinette :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reading and Writing Workshop- 3 Teacher Resources

Balanced Literacy is new to my district and we are learning so many wonderful things to use in our schools.  The first step in implementation was getting the structure going in our day-to-day schedules.  Teachers from the district wrote units of study based on the Common Core State Standards which are being used throughout the elementary schools.  This step, I feel, has been achieved for the most part.

Now that the structure is in place, it is time to deepen our understanding of reading and writing workshop.  So 3 teacher resources have been recommended to me and I would love to here all of your thoughts on them.

First...  Engaging Young Writers by Matt Glover.  I was lucky enough to be able to sit through a half day session with Matt Glover and it was so inspirational.  This book would be for K-1.

Have any of you read this book?  If so, what are your thoughts on it?

Second... Wondrous Words by Katy Wood Ray.  I owned this books YEARS ago and am pretty sure I read it.  Unfortunately, I don't remember it.  This would be for upper elementary teachers.

Any thoughts on this book?

Third... Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller.  Once again, I have been lucky enough to sit through several sessions with Debbie Miller.  She is an amazing person.
How about this one?

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these books.  My principal is interested in purchasing some for the teachers in my building and has asked my thoughts.  Of course she knows I haven't read them (or can't remember the one I have lol) but I would love to have some insight before giving my opinion.

Thanks so much!  Look forward to hearing you all's thoughts. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

SchoolTube- Polygon Rap

With how CRAZY busy my year has been with my new Teaching and Learning Coach position, I have neglect the blog world.  I haven't posted as often and definitely haven't checked others' blogs.  Sorry friends!!!  So I had an hour of down time earlier (I know... what is that?? lol) and decided I was going to have a look around and see all the amazing ideas you all have came up with.

That's when I found this SUPER cute idea!  Cheryl's Classroom Tips is a blog Emily and I follow and I noticed a video of a Polygon Rap on her blog.  It is sooo cool!  The kids will love it!! :)
Check it out...

Hope you loved this video.  You can enjoy it and many others at SchoolTube.

Antoinette :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mentor Texts

I love learning about new books to use as mentor texts!!  I am taking a class where the majority of the time is spent looking through books and discussing them with fellow educators.  Each teacher is required to share one book with the class and prepare three lessons that include which Common Core standards could be used with each.  So 25 people in the class times 3 mentor texts equals 75 book ideas to share with our students. YEAH!!! :)

So I decided that throughout the time I'm taking this class, I am going to share some of my favorite ones with all of you.

The first one I was actually reminded of during a demonstration visit this morning in a kindergarten room.

OMG this book is absolutely adorable.  Can't you tell by the cover?  I wish I could show you the precious picture at the end with the dog smiling.  So cute.  The theme of the book is about friendship and how it sometimes comes and goes.  City Dog meets country frog and they become great friends.  They play together throughout the seasons but in the winter City Dog cannot find Country Frog.  It is quite sad at this time, but has a happy ending.  Don't want to ruin it for you.

The Royal Bee is based on a true story and has an amazing theme of the importance of education and how it shouldn't be take for granted.  Song-Ho is a poor boy who is not allowed to go to school because it is only for the privileged.  That doesn't stop him though because he listens outside the door of the school and learns a great deal.  The teacher knew all along that he was out there but never said anything until it was winter.  Freezing outside, Song-ho was invited in to learn with the other students.  The Royal Bee is a competition for the smartest of the smart.  Does Song-ho get the opportunity to go to it?  Could he actually win?  You will have to read and find out.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

This book is most famous as a writing mentor text because Eva has an assignment in which the teacher told her to write about what she knows.  She sits on the stairs on 90th street and has no clue what to write about because "Nothing ever happens on 90th Street."  Throughout the book, characters come up to Eva and give her advice about writing.  For instance, one character tells her that the world is a stage and to not forget to add details while another character tells her to stretch the truth and ask what if.  Eva decides to take her neighbors' advice and suddenly 90th street is quite an interesting place.  Check this book out to see the interesting turn it takes.  Now I said it's most famous for writing, but I have actually also used it for setting.  Some would say, "Duh it takes place on 90th street."  Yes, the author explicitly tells us that, but we do not know where 90th street is.  So we have to infer using the characters' words and illustration to find out, or at least try.  It would also be great for character traits and story elements.

How did I ever forget about this book?  Wilma Unlimited is an amazing book and a tear-jerker as well.  Wilma Rudolph is famous for winning gold medals in the Olympics but what some might not know is that life was extremely difficult for her from day 1.  She not only survived scarlet fever but overcame a paralyzed leg from polio.  Talk about determination...  If you want to teach your children that absolutely nothing should hold them back, this book is perfect for you.

Hope you enjoyed this weeks mentor texts.  I would love to hear about more from all of you.  What are some of your favorite mentor texts?

Antoinette :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guided Reading

Guided Reading... the current step our district is climbing in this journey with Balanced Literacy.  As a former intermediate teacher, guided reading was not something I was an expert in.  To be honest with you, it completely confused me.  Seems silly, I know, but we never had a clear vision of the districts expectations for this time.  I did my own version of Guided Reading and will be honest with you, probably wasn't doing it well.  That being said... in my new position, it is my responsibility to train my schools.  Talk about some anxiety.  Needless to say, I have been a BUSY girl!  I cannot present something unless I feel confident in the topic.  So research has been my best friend lately.

There is an amazing resource called Fountas and Pinnell Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency.  There is so much information in this book, but chapters 24-26 are full of information on Guided Reading.

The district thankfully provided the structure based on Fountas and Pinnell.  There are many different structures, but I am just happy my district chose one to do in all schools.  Below is an image of one of the slides which contain the components.  
The warm up with a familiar read and the NOT Round Robin brought about some great discussion.  Do you guys have any thoughts on this?

Guided Reading for intermediate is a HOT topic right now.  My district says that it is for those students below grade level.  This brought about many questions such as what guided reading looks like in the upper grades and what do you do with the higher students?  The concept of invitational groups was mentioned, but we have not been given any additional information yet.  So what do you do with reading groups in upper elementary?  Any advice for our intermediate teachers?

 Now I am about to date myself (that line always confused my students lol)... Fourteen years ago, when I was teaching in KCMO, my career began with Balanced Literacy.  Trust me when I say it was a whole different world back then.  We had tons of training, but we had to come up with everything on our own.  We spent many, many hours planning lessons and units and many more reading professional texts for information on Balanced Literacy.  Today... HELLO GOOGLE!!!  Type in a couple words and BAM... you have everything you need.  And we can't forget PINTEREST!!!  How did we ever survive without it? lol

BUT... my favorite resource which I didn't have even three years ago is ALL OF YOU!!!  So I want to hear what you do for guided reading.  What is your structure?  Do you use Fountas and Pinnell?  If so, any helpful advice for me as I continue to guide the teachers at my schools?  Finally- to help out with the HOT topic, what does guided reading and/or reading groups look like in your upper elementary classrooms?

I am excited to hear suggestions and advice from all my friends in the blogging world.
Antoinette :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013


This post should probably start with a confession.

I admit it, I have clutter... again.

I have made great strides in getting organized, but it's still there.  And its multiplying...

Well, thanks to Jodi at Clutter-Free Classroom, I have a chance to change! (Again.)

This post is the before pics.

Here are my top 3 areas that need attention, sooner rather than later:

Code red: Teacher area.
This is my desk.  It's really a table. 
Here's another angle:
This is the view that my students see. (Yikes!)
Then there is what's behind the desk.
That is the place where my chair should be.
I know what you're thinking, How does she sit back there? 
The answer, I don't.

The way our technology is set up, I actually have a second table, because my laptop and scanner have to be here:
I know, right.
Ok, that was brutal!  It was hard to look at!  

Except it gets worse...
And then there is behind the desk:

Key problem, stuff stacked with the purpose of doing something with it later, and not getting to it.  
Going to be working on that!

Code orange: My counter
I have a counter that runs the length of my classroom!  The challenge becomes that it is a breeding ground for stuff not to get put away.  
Luckily part of this was winter party supplies, so there is an empty square foot now.
The cereal was for a party day craft.  Sadly, the Unifix cubes were last used two months ago.  
This is a book display I made this summer, during a 4th Grade Frolics Linky party.
Now it is filled with mentor texts.
Listening center. Look open space!

Code Green: Open shelving storage areas & Kleenex.
My current classroom has open shelving areas.  
I DESPISE them!  So... I covered them with curtains.
Unfortunately, the fire marshall for my school has not created some STRICT guidelines for next year, and my curtains MAY have to go.
I need to be proactive with making these shelves look visually appealing.
My other nemesis, KLEENEX!
I have 28 students.  At the beginning of the year they each are supposed to bring 2 boxes of Kleenex.  
What classroom has space to store 50+ boxes of Kleenex??
Currently, not mine.
They are shoved in every available space.  
I would like to clean out one complete cabinet to be able to have them all in one location.
Too many Kleenex are making this cloth not hang correctly.
This is one of my favorite curtains. This pic also allowed me to show off another one of my plants.
Funny moment, my principal was coming around for his weekly walk through while I was taking pics. He has many stacks on his desk, so I knew he was not going to tell me to change, but he seemed pleased I was making a change.  
Now I really do need to make some changes!

Thanks for looking at my chaos.  I can't wait to get started.
Have you been thinking that your classroom needs some new energy for the new year?
Consider linking up!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year and Mentor Texts

Happy New Year Everyone! :)

Hope everyone's is off to a great start and you continue to persevere with your resolutions.  So often in life we start something with great intentions... we get busy and it slips our minds for awhile.  I've decided that it doesn't matter if I forget for a bit or mess up a time or two, I'm going to have the COURAGE (my OLW) to persevere and keep up with mine.  Hope you all do the same. 2013 is going to be an amazing year!

So I have spent a huge chuck of my 2013, since I've been back to work, looking at picture books for mentor texts.  My district is in the process of ordering quality mentor texts for the teachers to use during reading and writing workshop.  That being said, I felt that there was no better place to research quality than to request recommendations for all of you.  So PLEASE make a comment with recommendations.  I want to compile both a list for this year and a wish list for next year.  Here's to hoping they give us money then as well. lol

When you get a chance, check out some of these books.  They are new finds and have great potential.  I am one of those people who REALLY don't like recommending something unless I have actually tried it, but seeing I no longer have a classroom (wipe a tear because I do miss having kiddos) I don't have as many opportunities to do so.  I'd love it if you all tried them out and let me know. :)

Such an inspiring story and she was from Missouri.  A great theme that will teach children that nothing should stand in the way of their dreams.
Synopsis taken from Amazon
"Ella Kate Ewing was born in 1872. She started out small, but she just kept on growing. Soon she was too tall for her desk at school, too tall for her bed at home, too tall to fit anywhere. Ella Kate was a real-life giant, but she refused to hide herself away. Instead, she used her unusual height to achieve her equally large dreams.
The masterful Klise sisters deliver a touching and inspiring true story about a strong-minded girl who finally embraced her differences. It?s the perfect book for every child who has ever felt like an outsider."

LOVE this book!  Such a sweet story with a wonderful theme.
Synopsis taken from Amazon
"Children are eager to grow bigger, and JoJo is no exception. He always asks his mother the same question: “How much did I grow today?” No matter how often his mother assures him that good things come in small packages, he is desperate to be bigger. After all, he wants to run in a race to win a pair of red Rocket Racer shoes. But how can he compete against bullies who are much bigger than he is? A delightful surprise ending illustrates how true growth is not always measured in inches.

Jane Barclay’s heartwarming story explores a theme that speaks to every child. Esperança Melo’s wonderful art complements the text to create a charming book that’s bound to become a favorite."

Isn't he just ADORABLE!  This is a series and is great for teaching younger grades informational text.

From School Library Journal (taken from Amazon)

K-Gr 2-The primary-grade crowd will love this early fluent reader series that discusses the infancy and development from birth to adulthood of various water animals. Physicality at each stage, diet, and social structure are addressed; predators are not mentioned in all of the volumes. Clearly labeled photographs complement the texts; words that are defined in the glossaries appear in bold in the narratives; and the glossaries include both definitions and photographs. The vocabulary is more complex than that found in many beginning-reader series, but each volume is chock full of fascinating facts. A map highlights where each animal lives. This series is a standout.α(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Myths are huge with Common Core and this series provides easier reads for elementary.  Now I questioned the jealous wife part but it wasn't too obvious.  Definitely read it first and see what you think.
Synopsis take from Amazon
"Callisto, a beautiful young huntress, is not looking for love. But Jupiter has been watching her, and he has a plan to make her fall in love with him. When Callisto has Jupiter's son, his wife is angry. Will Callisto and her son survive the wrath of Jupiter's jealous wife?"
Hope you all enjoy my book pics!  They are all new finds (for me) in 2013.  If you have read them or check them out after reading this post, please let me know what you think.  Like I said, I prefer to know as a fact they are good mentor texts and would love to hear your input.

Also, PLEASE share some great books you have used in your classrooms!

Thanks so much!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Currently January

We LOVE Farley's Currently!  What a great way to start our blogging for the year.

Emily's answers will be in turquoise.  Antoinette's will be in blue.

My hubby finished Grad school in December. (Yeah!) His gift to himself for Graduation, Christmas, and whatever holidays come in the near future is his new guitar.  I won't bore you with the details, but it is his final dream guitar, so I am happy for that!  It also sounds pretty!

Winter Break seemed super short this year.  Good thing our first day back is a teacher work day without students.  Bless those that have to "hit the ground running."

I have set a few goals for myself this year.  I don't think I am going to call them resolutions, since I don't have success with those. I just hope that I can change some of my current habits to meet my goals.  The challenge is Old Habits Die Hard.

Everyone of us knows we need more time.  This year I would like to focus on making systems to work smarter not harder and hopefully get some free time back into my life. 

My One Little Word is Believe. 
I believe I can change.
I believe that the life changes I want to make will happen.
I believe that God will bless me with lessons that I need to learn.
Lastly, I believe that I will have a right ankle that works better.  (I broke it 5 years ago, and recently had my 4th follow up surgery on it, to  hopefully get better range of motion.)

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope you all had a restful break and enjoyed many holiday festivities.  I know I did.  I am ready for a new year and look forward to what the future has in store for me.

My listening and loving are quite similar; they both have to do with Chris O'Donnell.  Mmm Mmm Mmm He is such a hottie.  I love watching his bad boy character in NCIS Los Angeles.  Earlier in the year, we had training over iMovie and were asked to find pictures of a famous person.  I of course Googled my hottie. lol  Here is one of the pics I keep on my desktop to peek at every now and then.  I love his eyes. 

Thinking, wanting, and needing are quite similar as well because they all have to do with not wanting to return to work tomorrow.  My break was WAY TOO SHORT!!!  I have thoroughly enjoyed it and was able to hang out with many friends and of course my family.  Now that it is time to go back, I cannot sleep.  I got new pillows for Christmas and they are super soft and puffy.  You would think once my head hit them, I would be fast asleep but not so much.

I spent a good amount of time thinking of my OLW and wanted it to have something to do with a new year and accomplishing my goals.  So I chose courage.  Courage plays a HUGE role in change.  It's easy to keep doing what you've always been doing, so I choose to have COURAGE to embrace the changes necessary to accomplish my 2013 resolutions.  Every year, I have the same resolutions.  That's easy.  So this year I decided to not only continue with same ole resolutions, but take on another.  This year, I want to help other people by donating to two charities.  You might be wondering why this takes courage.  We all know teacher's don't make the best money and signing up to have money taken out of my account each month requires financial courage.  So many people have helped me throughout my life and now I want to pay it forward.

I hope you all have a fabulous 2013.  Every day is what we make it and I plan to have the courage to make this year one of my VERY best.

EmilyK & Antoinette