Teacher Led Classroom Walkthroughs

As schools seek effective avenues to build professional learning communities that lead to significant and positive student learning outcomes, there has been increasing interest in job-embedded professional learning, including the strategy of classroom walkthroughs, sometimes referred to as learning walks, instructional rounds, classroom focus walks, or professional learning visits. Engaging Teachers in Classroom Walkthroughs (2013) written by Donald Kachur, Judith Stout, and Claudia Edwards, … [Read more...]

Classroom-ready Poems

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong have delivered a stellar, anthology of classroom-ready poems that deliver science, reading and langauge arts lessons for K-5 and middle school. The books no sooner hit my library than they were out being "field tested" by teachers, and slipped into lessons great and small. Now that the school year winds down, they've come back dog eared and happy, having inspired and supported teachers and students' scientific and creative discoveries. Pomelo Books has bundled … [Read more...]

A New Way of Listening and Speaking

I was that child that HATED public speaking. In fact, I’m still that adult that hates public speaking. As a child, it was worse though. Whenever my teacher had us reading ‘round robin style,’ I was the kid counting the paragraphs. This was not because I was a poor reader, but merely because I needed to know exactly what I was going to read when it was my turn. I was that child that spoke so softly I was told to, “Speak up!” again and again. I vividly remember one elementary school teacher, after … [Read more...]

Can an Elementary Classroom be Flipped?

Can an elementary classroom be flipped? That’s the title of this post, but not having tried it myself, I’m not quite sure of the answer. What I am sure of, however, is that fact that I think I just might try it. I am hearing about flipped classrooms more and more these days. This past week I was at the College and Career- Readiness Standards Networking Conference in Nashville, TN and I attended a session called, “A Flip that Won’t Flop.” There, high school teacher Gretchen Greer spoke about how … [Read more...]

How Planning a Lesson is Like Planning a Birthday Party for a 3 Year Old

I just survived the planning and execution of a 3 year old birthday party. The process reminded me of planning a high quality lesson. Step 1: Plan ahead I began obsessing about my daughter’s about 6 weeks before her birthday. This is a great deal further ahead than you might plan a lesson. Planning a quality lesson requires about 5-7 days in advance. Both a birthday party and a good lesson require good planning. Step 2: Choose the content This is critical for a fickle … [Read more...]

Reflections from #CCRS14: Take a Step and Make a Plan for Literacy

Recently I returned from the College and Career Readiness Networking conference, the same one that Tom has been live-blogging from his sessions. One of my main focuses was on the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and mentoring two colleagues in their learning of the LDC.  In the sessions that I attended around implementation across disciplines, buildings, and districts, I kept hearing these basic ideas circulate. Have students read. Provide teachers the tools for successful. Make sure you … [Read more...]

Better Know a Standard, Part 5: RL 4.5

By Tom In my last post I discussed standard 4.4, which is about determining the meaning of words and phrases in context, especially those which come from mythology. 4.5 is all about contrasting poetry, prose and drama. Here’s the standard itself: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.5 Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage … [Read more...]

Live Blogging from Nashville, Part 19: Brain-based Strategies to Improve Engagement and Critical Thinking

By Tom I’ll admit that I didn’t come to this session with real high expectations, but that’s only because it was the only session that I could imagine getting something out of. That’s what happens when a fourth grade teachers wanders into a high school conference. Our presenter was Lucilla Esham, a history teacher from Delaware. She began the hour by complaining that when Delaware “won” the Race to the Top contest, it came with considerable strings, including something called “component 5” … [Read more...]

Live Blogging from Nashville, Part 18: Time for a Reality Check: Three Million Job Waiting to be Filled

By Tom This was a weird choice for me. I teach fourth grade, far up the pipeline from the actual transition from school to work. However, my own kids are in high school and hopefully they’ll soon enter the post-secondary world. So I was attending the session in that context. It started off well; the presenters, Lynn Anderson and Nancy Roberts, both from Baton Rouge, handed out Mardi Gras beads and sugared pecans as we came in. I didn’t wear the beads, but I ate the pecans. The first … [Read more...]

Live Blogging from Nashville, Part 17: LDC Journey: From LDC Practitioner to LDC Trainer

By Tom I have to admit, this was a selfish pick on my part. I’m currently a mere practitioner, but I’m becoming interested in becoming an LDC trainer. So this session practically jumped out at me. Our presenter was Danielle Brewer, a literacy consultant from Atlanta. She began her journey as a high school business teacher in Arkansas. In 2011, Arkansas adopted LDC and Danielle was sent to a training and came back to her classroom to implement the model. Her first attempts were apparently … [Read more...]