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Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

Instructional Consultant sharing my learning with others. Please scroll way down to follow me!!

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What I’ve Been Reading

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain


culturally

I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about this book this fall. I am impressed by how doable Hammond makes it. From being reflective and aware of ourselves and how our cultures influence us, to using that learning to help us teach. The ten key moves are really geared to building independent learners.

A must read!

Read more by  Zaretta Hammond

publisher-Corwin

Be Careful What You Say


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Peter Johnston has written an amazing book which Debbie Miller shared with our team. In Choice Words he talks about how easy it is to make or break a child with our words.

In Debbie Miller’s Book Teaching With Intention 

download (1)

I compiled some of the ideas Debbie mentioned in her book.

Debbie Miller Teacher Talk

Capture

A Fish In Foreign Waters


by Laura Caputo-Wickham

I love this book.

Having grown up bilingually in another country and raised my children to be bilingual, I really could relate to it.

Now however,  I think about all the children in our classrooms who come to us speaking multiple languages and I think they too could relate to this book.

As the author states: “You cannot waste precious time looking for the right words, so you pick the first words that come to your head regardless of language.Or the “secret language” that you share with your parent, often used to gossip about people standing next to you assuming they don’t understand (and sometimes your assumption is wrong!).Other common aspects are less amusing, though – like the feeling of awkwardness for being different, especially as a child.”

 

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Descriptive Writing


Brian Wildsmith has a wonderfully descriptive passage about squirrels in his book Squirrels. I used to love using it as a mentor text springboard with children. Unfortunately the book is out of print. Link to a video reading of Squirrels which you can use if you cannot find the book. If you have suggestions for newer books with excellent descriptive passages please share them with me!

I like the passage because the author starts with “It is easy to recognize a squirrel…” which students can use to start their own paragraph about an animal of their choice.

I usually read the story and we discuss it and I list what the author did that we liked.

I then share my own descriptive writing starting with the same introduction about an animal they might not be aware of.

After I have read my model,we look at the list of attributes to see if I followed the structure of this experienced author. Next we  write a group piece but at this point some children are ready to write on their own. Once all students have written their paragraph we create a class book entitled-It Is Easy to Recognize a...

Teach Kids not Levels


I was so happy when a good friend and colleague showed me what she had been working on at her school. This poster is displayed in the library and classrooms.  Teachers are trying to teach students to look for qualities in books vs choosing a book by its level. This is so important so that we can enable children to look for real books in the real world.(un-leveled) They are also better able to choose just right books they are interested in. Thank you LB for sharing your thinking!IMG_2083.JPG

Even Fountas and Pinell who created the widely used assessment state: “We did not intend for levels to become a label for children that would take us back to the days of the bluebirds and the blackbirds or the jets and the piper cubs. Our intention was to put the tool in the hands of educators who understood their characteristics and used it to select appropriate books for differentiated instruction.”  Read the article here

Interested in more about  this topic?  Read this book! Beyond Leveled Books by Karen Szymusiak, Franki Sibberson, and Lisa Koch

 

 

Teaching with Graphic Novels


Love this display in our Curriculum Materials CenterIMG_2656.JPG

Teacher Mindset


Kare O (2)I think what hit me most about this poster as I entered a classroom, was the mindset of the teacher. I have worked with her a lot because she invites me to her classroom. Her belief in, and love of children is so obvious in everything she does. Sometimes as educators we forget that! She truly is about the kids. Thank you KO for inspiring me everytime I visit you!

book This book by Mary Cay Ricci, has had me thinking a lot lately. Are we truly about the kids? Do we actually do our best to help all children learn and grow? Do we learn new things in order to achieve that success for each child? I am working very hard to ensure I have a growth mindset and not a fixed one…

AS Anne Davies asks- do you want to TEACH for 25 years, or do you want to teach the same thing 25 times??

Mindset

 

Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites by Marcia L. Tate


In this age of technology, we are seeing more worksheets in classrooms than ever before. It’s so quick and easy to run off a set for the classroom and yet ,we know that the person making the worksheet does the most thinking. Why then are children spending countless hours merely filling in the blanks? Marcia L. Tate provides the reader with many alternatives to those time filling, brain stopping work sheets. Consider some of her ideas in the Wordle below:

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If you haven’t read her book, I highly recommend reading it whether it is for your own classroom or to support teachers.

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No More Phonics and Spelling Worksheet


   no more

By Jennifer Palmer, Marcia Invernizzi, Curry School of Education, Edited by Nell K. Duke, Edited by Ellin Oliver Keene

This was one of my great finds of the summer. I read it twice. It made me reflect on my practice. I made notes as I went along….I’ve been trying to be more concise and colourful in my note-taking…

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Here are some of the thoughts I collected. The authors say plainly no more work sheets. Children need to be doing more thinking than the teacher is. (Usually with worksheets, the person who created the worksheet has done most of the thinking, but that’s another blog post!!) Children need flexible groupings for spelling, the groups need to change based on need and growth.

If you are struggling with the concept of spelling tests, read this book!!

So what can you do when you’ve thrown out the worksheets for the year? This book suggests assessing your students word knowledge regularly.  Use the Words Their Way Assessment or the Monster Test. Decide what your students need and do word sorts (open and closed), play games, have a word study notebook, have a good word wall, use lists, poetry, songs and chants. Connect the word study to what they are learning in school and to what they are reading.

I have struggled for years both as a teacher and as a parent with the concept of spelling tests…I have tried so many kinds until I gave them up for good. There are so many questions!!! What are we actually testing- spelling ability or memory recall? Do students retain the knowledge once the test is over? Should students be spending more time at home memorizing lists or should they be simply reading and writing? Is this a worthy use of my time or my students time? Am I giving weekly test because parents want them? Aren’t there better ways to assess how my students are spelling than through a weekly test?

The more I read and research, the more I say NO to worksheets NO to the weekly test.. In simple terms, in order to spell we need to understand letter sounds and words. We need to know the parts of words and how they fit together. We need to understand word meaning.

For more information on this topic read No More “Look Up The List” Vocabulary Instruction

http://theconversation.com/why-some-kids-cant-spell-and-why-spelling-tests-wont-help-20497

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