Today the vertical team, the multi-tiered system of support, is visiting our school. This is a great opportunity to get feedback on what we are doing well and where we need to improve. Specialists in areas of literacy, math, behavior, special ed., ESL, pre-K and kindergarten, … come to spend the day to see what/ how we are doing.
Some of the teachers and staff may get nervous when there are visitors. Me? I like feedback… especially when it is professional and leads toward growth.
At La Cosecha I learned a new vocabulary-practice strategy: Thumb Challenge!
Create a game board for each pair of students. The example in the picture used two crowns from Burger King (sorry about the glare). Along each side have the same set of vocabulary words and the word start. You could attach the words with tape, velcro, sticky notes. Then:
- Have each pair of students sit knee-to-knee;
- Place their thumbs at the starting line;
- Partner A moves his/ her thumb to the first word and challenges partner B to define the word and use it in a sentence;
- If partner B is correct, partner A asks about the next word; if not partner B asks partner A about the first word;
- If neither partner can define/ use the word they need to get assistance.
Options: Use a third person to serve as the judge, deciding if the definition and usage are correct. Let students use notebooks and environmental print to aid them
Here is a fun, new graphic organizer: The Consequence Wheel/ Ripple Effect.
- Put the topic in the middle;
- Add the consequences in the first ring;
- Add the details, both positive and negative in the next ring.
Use this to help students see consequences of events, understand cause and effect, … Try it and see if it works for you
When teaching writing in elementary and middle school, one of the challenges is how to keep moving forward with the different genre studies (narrative, expository and opinion … and don’t forget poetry!) while giving students the differentiated instruction that they need. At La Cosecha I learned of a way to do just that.
Using the units proposed by Lucy Calkins or the units created by your district (or by you) the first step is to begin each unit using a simple prompt that will let you complete a pre-assessment to find out what the students already know. You can assess their writing using the rubric to guide your instruction during the unit. My experience has been, though, that those first drafts show too many holes to be of much use; the students need instruction in many areas.
Then, after teaching the unit while referring often to the rubric and publishing a final draft, use the same prompt you used at the beginning of the unit. This time, it is important to use the rubric to deeply analyze the writing. The first thing you will most likely notice is a vast improvement over the initial use of the prompt. However, if you use the rubric and turn the information into numbers (see image to the right) you will see trends including areas that need specific attention.
This is where the differentiation can happen. Based on the needs you notice, you can form groups of students for differentiated instruction just as you would do during reader’s workshop. This small group work could happen during the first week of the next unit or you could schedule a week in between each unit for the differentiated instruction. Use the CCSS to decide which areas are of greatest need. You might also decide that a change in tier 1 instruction would be most appropriate (e.g. focus on punctuation during morning meeting). You can let this assessment guide you during the next unit of study.
One more idea that I loved: sketch the story then touch and tell. Oral rehearsal!
I learned of two texts at La Cosecha 2014 that can help us teach for biliteracy. Biliteracy is one of the three goals of dual language education: students who are bilingual, biliterate and bicultural. I will add them to my wish list! Click on the image for more information.
I heard of a new (for me) resource while at La Cosecha 2104: Words in Motion.
“Words in Motion is a cognate-based curriculum that introduces academic vocabulary in meaningful contexts and promotes strategies for academic vocabulary acquisition.
“The full curriculum consists of seven units that include lesson plans, teacher materials, and student worksheets for each day. The materials are organized first by unit; within each unit they are organized by day; and within each day they are organized into lesson plans, student materials, and teacher materials. In many cases, there are separate materials for the monolingual and crosslinguistic versions of the curriculum, as well as Spanish translations of the crosslinguistic versions to support the delivery of the bilingual version. The VIAS team is pleased to provide these files for use by educators.” (from the CAL website: http://www.cal.org/vias/subproject4/wmc/index.html )
This could be used by classroom teachers and/ or ESL teachers to help students acquire academic vocabulary. Check it out!