Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Germanna Conference: Presentation and Links

Links to individual templates can be found on our Blended Learning: Writing page. 

Welcome! Thanks to everyone who came out to the Germanna K-12 Literacy Conference in Spotsylvania, Virginia. 

Our presentation focuses on two main topics: 1) blended learning and 2) process writing (inspired by Kelly Gallagher's Write Like This and In the Best Interest of Students)We used many of Gallagher's strategies to implement writing instruction that relies on student choice, modeling/mentoring texts, and writing as a recursive process.  

Here, we present our products, processes, trials, and successes. These activities bridge reading, writing, research, and media literacy. Each lesson involves an independent activity that is followed by peer collaboration and a culminating project in which each student cooperatively completes a group product working together - yet virtually.   

We use the Google Apps for Education as the primary platform, but also implement activities that utilize GAFE as instructional tools for student learning.

Please feel free to view, copy, and adapt any materials on this page, as well as other links on the website.

Newsletter Example Template
Real-World Writing Presentation
Templates and Handouts


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Curriculet Signing Off

I got an email recently from the CEO of Curriculet with some sad news!

My new favorite online reading repository is signing off... for good. 

A little big of background on their company:

The reason they're shutting down? 

Well, guess I'll be revisiting Newsela and ActivelyLearn to see if they've updated to rival the efficiency and ease of Curriculet. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Using Practice Items to Remediate

With expedited retakes now available to students in earlier grades, many of us middle school English/Language Arts teachers are improvising remediation strategies for those students preparing to retake.

A wonderful tool offered to Virginia teachers is the Virginia Department of Education's Practice Items, available on the VDOE website.

We have created remediation activities that incorporate the guided practice items into Google Slides.

Click to view Slide. Make a Copy to Edit.
The first passage Candace used is the 7th grade Reading nonfiction passage from the VDOE practice items. The Slides focus on close reading, summarizing, analyzing the question/prompt/item, and using the text to draw conclusions and make inferences. 

To make a copy that you can edit, adapt, and implement to meet the needs of your students, open the Slide in Google, click File, then click Make a Copy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Interactive Review: IXL

We are absolutely loving the IXL 30 day free trial!
Click to sign up for your free trial!

The free trial gives teachers (or parents) and students full access to all of IXL's tools, including real-time progress and student scores by state standard or objective.

IXL is fully aligned to Virginia and other state standards.

IXL is fun and engaging. Students complete questions that reflect TEI (technology-enhanced items), such as multiple answers, open-ended questions, or manipulating answer choices; it's not the typical passage-reading and answering multiple choice questions.

IXL is more of an instructional tool than an assessment tool. It is definitely a mode of formative assessment. Students are able to track their progress, and if they get an item incorrect they get immediate feedback explaining why their answer was wrong and why another answer choice was correct.
Student view: Connotation interactive

This is great to project and do guided questions with a group of students. It also serves as a wonderful computer station for a blended classroom!

Give it a try, and let us know how you use IXL!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Online Interactive Reading: Curriculet

My new favorite instructional tool!

I've toyed with websites like Actively Learn, ReadTheory, and Newsela, but none compare to the free tools Curriculet has to offer!

Curriculet is a state and Common Core-standards-aligned interactive website that enhances learning and student engagement. It allows teachers to access e-books, many of which are FREE! The student can read the text online, read and write annotations, answer embedded questions, and learning can be assessed with embedded quizzes! 

I am all about metacognitive strategies, and if you've seen my recent post about text coding and annotations, you'll see I'm constantly encouraging students to annotate with specific purposes to monitor their comprehension. Curriculet allows teachers to upload rosters - students can login with their Google accounts, which is HUGE for me since Goolge Classroom is our current platform - and student progress is automatically documented and scored! There is an option for open-ended questions as well.

Teachers can create a new "Curriculet" (reading activity) or adapt one that another teacher has shared. Annotations can embed videos from YouTube or other public domains. 

It is extremely engaging. Students also have a tool to "define" words, which helps with understanding reading reference materials and word analysis like connotations and affixes. 

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Main Idea Cards

Have you tried our Main Idea Cards?

This strategy is a great way to improve reading comprehension with metacognition and close reading. It also helps students gain skills that align with Common Core and state standards.

Click do download PDF

Students struggle differentiating between topics, main ideas, and summaries. This strategy scaffolds understanding of components of a text and instructs students on how to differentiate between a supporting detail, "trash" (a statement that contradicts the text or is not found in the text), and the main idea. It also shows students how a topic, main idea, and supporting details compose a paragraph.
Click on the image to view the presentation in Google Slides. To access an editable copy, click File then Make a Copy, and Rename the presentation and Add it to your Drive. You will then have a copy that you can adapt for the needs of your students. Please share! We welcome your feedback :)
Click to view Slide. Make a Copy to Edit.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Text Coding: An Analytical Approach

Text coding is a great tool for metacognition. Like other forms of annotating, text coding allows readers to actively track their thinking and monitor their comprehension. Instead of open-ended annotations, text-coding allows teachers to assign symbols (or codes) to specific metacognitive meanings that engage students and prompt them to "think about their thinking."

Text-Coding Chart from our most recent Poetry Unit.
Our most recent educational endeavor has focused on strategies that encourage teachers to move poetry and verse out of April (National Poetry Month; which inconveniently coincides with standards-based test review), chop it into slivers of mini-lessons and activities, and sprinkle it throughout the curriculum map.

It is common practice that poetry is taught in isolation with a strict skill set:  poetic devices and figurative language; even though said conventions are not limited to poetry and verse. In order to link conventions, forms, and structures of poetry to prose, we have to teach students to read and analyze poetry the same way we scaffold understanding and comprehension of prose.

Text coding is a great starting point. Once students annotate the text and monitor their thinking, they then have the tools to analyze, summarize, and synthesize (as it is becoming common to see poems as parts of paired texts and passages used to assess comprehension skills on standardized tests)

The text codes we chose to use are digitally-generated symbols. This lesson (which we will publish shortly) culminates with an independent activity in which students collaboratively text code and summarize a poem (chosen from a variety of genres and accompanied by video/audio) in Google Slides, then work cooperatively to generate questions using SOL stem-starters (after modeling and practice). Students are able to manipulate the text codes in Google Slides by copying and placing their chosen symbols directly into the text and using the Comment icon to share their thinking with their partner or group members.

Click on the Text Code image to view the Slide in Google. Want to edit? To access an editable copy using Google, open the Slide or Doc, click on File, then click Make a Copy. Rename the document and enjoy full editing rights.

As always, please modify and adapt as needed for your students, and feel free to share!