S. T. Fleming

Language. Education. Literacy. Creation.

Archive for the tag “Education”

Listen, Watch then Teach

When working with my students in language and literacy I am always looking for data.  I don’t, however, rely much on standardized scores and summative assessments.  While helpful in a very small way, those types of assessments give me information more about me, the teacher, than about the student.  I look for data that I can use.

Every time I have a conversation with students I make notes about their learning, sometimes mental notes and sometimes written notes.  I try to keep track of their use of language and their thinking.  Every time I read student writing I make notes about their use of language, their ability to express themselves and their accuracy.  This is the data that I use.

This is the real-time data that shows me what students know and can do right now.  That data is then turned into large group, small group and individual instruction as needed to move all students forward.  I encourage students to make mistakes, use big words, enter into debates and not be afraid.  It is through making mistakes, I tell them, that I can know what the next steps are in their learning.  All done in a supportive environment.

Give it a try; it’s not rocket science.  When we pay attention to the students they will show us what they need.  When we listen and watch, we will know what to teach.

Literacy in Minnesota

Literacy @ RiverviewIf you are interested in how Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop works in one school in Minnesota, check out the site Literacy @ Riverview.  The site gives an outline of expectations for reading and writing education.  It is a great site for new teachers who want a window into elementary literacy or experienced teachers who want a refresher.  There is also a section of resources in Spanish.

Check it out and see what you think:
https://sites.google.com/a/stpaul.k12.mn.us/riverview-literacy/ 

Strategies for Learning and Engagement

Here is a list of the strategies we are learning with the NUA cohort this year.  The work has been wonderful and I always love learning!  I am pretty sure that any one of them can be “googled” if you are looking for more information.

  • Bubble Map- Describing
  • Circle Map- Defining in Context
  • Double Bubble Map- Compare
  • Flow Map- Sequence  
  • Tree Map
  • Vocabulary Development- Pronoun Boxes Comprehension
  • Vocabulary Development- Synonym Triplets
  • Vocabulary Development- Taxonomy
  • Vocabulary Development- Vocabulary Tri-Fold
  • Vocabulary Development – Dancing Definitions
  • Community Builders- I Am, I Love, I Always
  • Equity Sticks/Voice Avatar
  • NUA Notebook
  • NUA Explicit Strategy Instruction Protocol
  • Touching the Spirit
  • Punctuate Your Thoughts
  • Speech Bubbles with Imaginary Teachers’ Comments on Race/Ethnicity Related Issues
  • Comprehension – Key Word Notes
  • Composing with Keywords- Writing
  • Good and Better- Vocabulary
  • Decoding–Phonic Pattern Word Lists
  • Comprehension – Essential Summaries
  • Choral Reading Repetition (The girl on the train)
  • Panel Books

Just to name a few! :)

Sites for Spanish Literacy Games

I have been gathering websites for early literacy learning in Spanish; here they are… so far.  clearly I need to annotate the list and add more.

If you have any other suggestions please let me know; I am sure there are many, many more.

Writer’s Workshop Ideas- Fun, Engaging

A colleague in my K- 5 school asked for a few ideas about making writer’s workshop fun and engaging.  I love those questions because it allows me to be creative and gather ideas.  Here are a few ideas to get started… (If you have more please add them!)

  • Be passionate- write in front of the students and let them see you write and talk out loud about your process, about spelling, …
  • Draw pictures to go with the writing
  • Write stories to go with the pictures
  • Make comic books
  • Re-write comic books (the one you just made or one that was professionally made) into story format with dialogue and description
  • Let students write what they want- lists, stories, opinions, how-to, all I know about…, non-fiction or fiction, poems, … play with words
  • Find a real audience- another classroom, the hallway, a classroom in another school or another city, country, a blog, …
  • Design/ diagram something invented and explain how it works
  • Read/ tell the beginning of a story and have the students continue/ finish it
  • Act out a story and then have the students write the script
  • Write a script and then have the students act it out, or with puppets, or as a podcast or …
  • Writing prompts
  • Connect writing closely with reading or science or social studies
  • Shared writing
  • Do you have a class mascot (stuffed animal, live animal, …)?  Write the stories of the mascot- where from, past adventures, include pictures,
  • Class blog on kidblog.org
  • Add podcasts of students reading their writing on your page of the school’s website
  • Check out blog posts such as: http://tunstalltimes.blogspot.com/2014/08/engaging-writing-activities.html
  • Stick with the standards but let your mind wander and your creativity soar

The Tooth Fairy: A True Story

Last Friday I read a story with a first grade student during his independent reading time. Actually, he read to me a story of the Tooth Fairy.  His ancestors of a few generations back came from Mexico (that will matter towards the end of this commentary).

Here is our conversation after he finished reading the story:

Student: I know that the Tooth Fairy is not real.
Me: No?  (I know that this student has older siblings and I wondered what they had told him.)
Student: No.  It’s not real.
Me:  What more can you tell me?
Student: No, it’s not a fairy.  It’s a ratoncito. This is true!  In parts of Latin America it is not a fairy that leaves coins for a tooth it is a Ratoncito Pérez.

Writing Poem for Year’s End

Writing for year’s end
On paper thinking, today reflecting
Aimless thoughts a wander.
Judging not the honesty of this day,
The moment,
Tomorrow’s truth might morph.

But today I write
and today I know
I know
today.

Differentiated Instruction

Yes!  Differentiated instruction is important.  Students need the opportunity to learn and show their learning in ways that are appropriate and motivating for them.

For a humorous take on differentiated instruction, watch this video:

Welcome MTSS!

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.

Thumb Challenge!

At La Cosecha I learned a new vocabulary-practice strategy: Thumb Challenge!

pic03925

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

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