Category Archives: Instruction

Common Core, Daily Five, and FL Next Generation Standards – Oh My!

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This summer I have tasked myself with developing plans for English Language Arts.  Traditionally, this area has been distinctly taught as Reading and Writing, at different times of the day, and our current Next Generation Florida Sunshine State Standards (say that five times fast!) are set up that way.  I am very excited to see that Common Core State Standards put the two subject areas together into ELA.  This works beautifully, I think, with my plan to incorporate The Daily Five into my day.  If you’re not familiar with the Daily Five, it is really a structure of mini-lessons in reading, writing, and word work, alternated with choice times for students, allowing them time in the day to choose to read alone, with someone, listen to reading, work on writing, and doing word work.  This structure may be a life saver for me as I will most likely have 4 – 5 fourth graders and around 15 fifth graders in my class.  Yikes!

To add to the complexity that will be my classroom, our school district recently decided to abandon early out Wednesdays, which gave us two hours a week for uninterrupted planning or staff development each week.  That means that while our Wednesdays will again be full days, the other four days will shorten by about fifteen minutes each.  Even with the previous longer days, it was a struggle to fit in our 90 minute reading block along with 45 minutes for writing.

In theory, The Daily Five takes a chunk of the day.  In fact, in a perfect world, it would take approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to work through the literacy block.  As it is, I will have somewhere around an hour and 50 minutes.

So, I’m throwing a couple of questions out to the cosmos (that’s you!).

  • Those of you in Florida teaching intermediate grades… Are you using the CCSS this fall, or are you still utilizing the Next Gen Standards?  If you’re using Common Core, has your district given you any kind of road maps to follow?
  • And to those of you using The Daily Five, if you have a more limited time each day to teach Reading and Writing, how to you adapt Daily Five to make it all fit in the time you have?

I’d appreciate any insight any of you could share with me.  Right now I feel like I’m trying to plan for The Daily Common Next Generation Core Sunshine State Five.  Holy cow.

Classroom Book Clubs – Yes!

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My students have not been exposed to much reading for pleasure in their lives.  They tend not to own books of their own, and haven’t been to our local library.  Aside from the school library, the majority of my kiddos have not been given many opportunities to choose books for themselves.

But they are jazzed this week!  We are starting book clubs, and we worked together to determine the structure and guidelines for their clubs.  It was quickly determined that they wanted to read humorous books and fantasy, they did NOT want to write summaries – I learned that is what they did last year when they were assigned chapters to read so they were not crazy about summarizing, and they also were adamant that  slackers be kicked out of the clubs instead of being dead weight.

Together we made some decisions about how the clubs would run.  Groups will meet two to three days a week and all reading will be done outside of class.  In lieu of writing summaries, students will be writing a variety of reading responses, which may include timelines of events, character webs, and the like.  The blog “Teaching in Room 6” has a great post about reading responses  – check it out!  Stephanie Moorman is the author of the blog and she provides a link from the her post to her TPT store and the downloads for the reading response sheets.  I plan to use some of them with my students.

Those who repeatedly come unprepared or who don’t participate will form their own book club with yours truly. I am hoping I don’t have to lead a book club, since I won’t be able to move from group to group observing and asking questions if I’m riding herd on a group of reluctant readers.  I don’t think it’ll happen, but I need a backup just in case.

 

Friday I’ll pull out the rather large selection of books and give each group time to decide which book they’d like to read.  They were pretty excited to learn that I wouldn’t choose the book for them, and that the entire class didn’t have to read the same book.  I spent a fair amount of time raiding our reading coach’s shelves to provide appropriate levels of books and a variety at each level.  I’m anxious to see if my students remain enthusiastic once they realize how much fun it is to share discussions about good books with others!

Text Complexity: A Complex Issue

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Our school district has adopted the Common Core Standards and plans implementation of CCS for kindergarten and first grades in the 2012 – 2013 school year. Unfortunately, we have received no information from our school district on what the common core standards are, how they effect teaching and what is expected of our teachers. I just stumbled upon this website and wanted to share it with anyone who might need some information.

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The March 2012 Educational Leadershippublication popped through my mail chute and I was thrilled to read its title:  READING ~The Core Skill~.  As an English teacher and reading specialist, I have always believed that reading is the essence, the core, of all learning, in all grades, in all disciplines.   This issue of Educational Leadership features numerous articles discussing aspects of reading research and practice for 21st Century teachers and learners.  As I pondered the ideas presented by literacy experts such as Tim Shanahan, Nancy Fry, and Richard Allington, one major question came to mind:

How can Professional Learning Teams, busy with the day-to-day schedule of planning, teaching, grading, and team meetings, effectively merge the Common Core’s emphasis on text complexity with skill instruction that equips students to comprehend and analyze these complex texts?

Let’s examine what the Common Core writes about text complexity.  According to…

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