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Using Novels to Engage

nrm3.jpgThere are a variety of ways to teach literacy skills. You may have tried every one of them or stuck to a proven method. There is no certain way to teach literacy. Students benefit from our varied teaching styles since we are individuals just like them. For my classroom, I love using novels to teach literacy. I am a self-confessed bookworm, so being able to teach using a novel is a delightful addition to my teaching. There are so many ways that you can incorporate literacy and differentiation into teaching novels. You just have to use your imagination!

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ESSA: Chiefs For Change in School Improvement

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.51.31 PM.pngIn May 2016, Chiefs for Change addressed school improvement strategies under ESSA in a booklet titled: Implementing Change: Rethinking School Improvement Strategies and Funding Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA requires that seven (7) percent of Title I funds is set aside as a school improvement innovation fund.

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Celebrating Bill of Rights Day

We the People.pngOn December 15th, many places across the United States celebrate Bill of Rights Day. Intended to remind Americans of the rights granted to them by the Constitution—freedom of the press, religious rights, and due process to name a few, the potential for students to truly grasp the importance of these rights are virtually limitless. Incredibly, these 10 amendments were chosen and voted on from over 80 contenders proposed by states who ratified the Constitution in the early years of our nation. These rights served to protect our freedoms and deter government overreach, two concerns many of our founders had during the early days of our country. For more facts, view the Bill of Rights Chapter in The US Constitution & Bill of Rights by Charles Pederson, one of several books found in Big Universe’s digital library!

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Formative Assessments

Laptop Work-3.jpgPart of a teacher’s responsibilities are assessing student learning. This can occur before instruction, during instruction, and as the finale to instruction. Formative assessment focuses on the DURING instruction part. Formative assessment allows you to determine a student’s understanding of content and adjust as needed. If their understanding is on point, you may continue with current plans or even give higher level critical thinking activities. If some students are struggling, this is an opportunity to determine their weak areas and address it NOW rather than having to reteach. For me, formative assessments focus on choice and learning style. Summative assessments (the finale!) tend to be similar to standardized testing. Some students will always experience test anxiety and it may not always be a correct reflection of their ability or knowledge. For this reason, formative assessments should vary.  It should take into account a student’s strengths and interest. Examples of formative assessments are:

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Recognizing Rosa Parks: How One Act Transformed the Civil Rights Movement

bus-698688_1280.jpgImagine working at a laborious job all day long, often standing on your feet to cook or clean, sweating in the hot sun from outside work, bending over to wash clothes or shine shoes. Then, having to travel home on the bus if walking wasn’t the most practical option or if you were unfortunate enough not to be able to afford a car at all, you had to sit or stand in the back after you paid your fare in the main entrance. If you were fortunate enough to get a seat, if someone considered “white” wanted your seat, they’d ask you to move. That is what life was like for many Black people living in the United States during institutionalized segregation over 60 years ago., and Rosa Parks, a seamstress working in Montgomery, Alabama, was no exception. Preceded by Claudette Colvin, another woman arrested nine months before Parks for refusing to give up her seat on the bus, Parks’ action got the nation’s attention. The NAACP seized this as an opportunity to begin the end of legalized segregation in public places, and after a year-long boycott that nearly crippled the busing industry in Montgomery and a ruling by the Supreme Court declaring this practice unconstitutional. Many non-violent boycott methods were inspired by the over one year of boycotting this injustice, to their success.   

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Play-Based Kindergarten & Common Core Writing

Children-using-digital-tablet.jpgMuch has been written about the faults or potential failings of the common core writing guidelines for kindergarteners. Specifically, that students in Kindergarten are asked to do too much, too soon, and may not be ready—which is not only developmentally inappropriate, and could cause long-term trouble with motivation and self-efficacy. However, many of the concerns can be noted as implementation and interpretation problems. It certainly isn’t outlandish to expect: If Play-Based Kindergarten is the research-based and developmentally appropriate standard, then why emphasize literacy benchmarks at all? Because the didactic and rote- based, worksheet –emphasized structure of poor teaching is wrong no matter which standards you use.

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Beginning a Classroom Word Study Program

test_frustration.jpgIf you incorporate a Word Study program into your classroom, then gone are the days of the Friday spelling test! The concept of word study is that students learn strategies or patterns that will transfer to many words. Students are no longer required to memorize lists of unrelated or meaningless words. When I taught first and second grade, I utilized phonics and encouraged phonemic awareness. Little did I know I was using a new way of spelling called “word study”!   

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Differentiation: Environment

desk-912577_1920.jpgDifferentiation is a one word description for a method to reach every student and provide them with access to the curriculum that fits their learning style and their interests. There are four areas that differentiation can occur: product, process, content, and environment.To me, environment is the most important. It is an essential part of effective classroom management and provides the foundation to every other area that can be differentiated. Plus, it can easily adapted to every classroom with no need for specialized technology or huge effort on your part. I have definitely embraced a differentiated environment in my own classroom by using the following guidelines:

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