Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

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


Professional Books

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain


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



Be Careful What You Say


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


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??



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:


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


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…


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

The Reading Strategies Book


I’ve been reading the Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. This book was first recommended to me by my colleague L.H. and by  Aimee Buckner ,whom I had the great pleasure of working with , this summer at our school division’s “Back to School Ignite” session.

There are many things I like about this book. The layout is really practical. Jennifer starts with a concise introduction explaining how to use it. The introduction is followed by 13 goals influenced by the work of John Hattie, to help students improve their reading, by setting clear goals for students. Within each of the 13 goals there are answers to questions such as “how do I know this is right for my students?” accompanied by suggested strategies. There is a side bar on each page titled “who is this for?” which tells you which Fountas and Pinnell  reading level the strategy is intended for, what genre(s) it addresses ,and suggests what skills students might need.  There are also book recommendations and colourful photographs of anchor charts to co-create with students.

This book is a must for every school’s professional library, but I would highly recommend it as a support for beginning elementary school teachers as well.

I will be posting lessons I try from it!!

Top Ten Reasons to Use Poetry as Mentor Texts


Poetry Mentor Texts Making Reading and Writing Connections, k-8 untitled

By Lynne R. Dorfman and Rose Cappelli

  1. Children love the sound of language and the chance to read, recite and perform poetry.
  2. Poetry can help us see differently, understand ourselves and others, and validate our passions and human experience.
  3. Poetry easily finds a home in all areas of the curriculum and can bridge the reading/writing workshop.
  4. Poetry is the great equalizer-a genre especially suited to the struggling unmotivated reader/writer.
  5. Poetry enhances thinking skills and promotes personal connections.
  6. Reading poems aloud captures the ear, imagination and soul of the listener.
  7. The playfulness of language and the ability of words to hold us captive with their intensity, beauty and genius are particularly apparent in poetry.
  8. A poet helps us see things in new ways and help us talk and write about ordinary things in ordinary ways. That’s the essence of good writing.
  9. Poetry helps broaden the children’s experiences and what they are able to write about.
  10. Poetry can be the voice that names the event we live through by helping us make sense of them and write about them.

Dorfman and Cappelli      Stenhouse 2012

I really like the way this book is laid out. Dorfman and Capelli have made it so easy for teachers to succeed. Each chapter is laid out with examples, mini lessons. The reading writing connection is very clearly explained. Some of the lessons included are list poems, acrostic and persona. They have given great book ideas. This book would be a fabulous tool for teachers who are trying to get away from teaching poetry in isolation to teaching it all year long.


Teaching Time is Precious

Teaching time really is precious. When we look at the  hours in the school day, there is really so little time with the children we are given for the year.

I have started thinking hard about the time wasters in the classroom. I have looked carefully at the Two Sisters for   Daily 5 and Daily Café and  Fountas and Pinell for The First Twenty Days. The idea of working smarter not harder really grabs me. Years ago, Harry Wong had a lot to say about it as well in his book The First Days of School. No matter whose style you prefer the message is the same. Teach the procedures you need to teach from day one.

The basic non-instructional routines which take up so much time must be taught, reinforced and reviewed until they become habits. Make sure students know what they are supposed to be doing and why. Teach them where to go when they need help. If you start the year this way, really reinforcing the habits you want to see there will be so much more learning. The classrooms I visit where the teacher and students alike are least stressed and happily learning are the ones where these routines are firmly established from the first day and practiced over and over again. Both the Daily 5 and The First Twenty days have mapped these out in clear, easy to use formats. All the models I have looked at give the same message. To be engaged, students must feel that they have some control over their learning. They must also see themselves belonging in their classroom. The classroom belongs to everyone, not just to the teacher.

This summer I read the series not this but that. One of the books, was about time wasters.

I really like the idea of CHAMP planning for daily tasks : (A planning tool for procedural routines from No more sharpening Pencils During Work Time  by Brinkerhoff and Roehrig Page 53 )

Conversation-Can students   talk to each other? When? How loud? To whom?Help-What do students do if they need help? Who and how do they ask?Activity-Exactly what will students do? What will the end   project look like?Movement: What type of movement is permitted? What will the   movement look like?

Participation-What does the student behaviour look like while they   are all participating?

The authors give suggestions of possible procedures you might wish to clarify-care and storage of materials, morning entry, what to do when there are needs (bathroom, questions, water…) transitions, one that was always of concern to me coming back from recess.

The main idea being that the routines focus on objectives-not busy work and more wasted time. The key word being ACCESS

  • Authentic tasks relevant to the learner
  • Collaboration with other students
  • Challenging tasks
  • End product understood by students
  • Self directed
  • Sustained Learning

When you are planning your CHAMP think about the ACCESS you are giving students.(For example: silent reading at morning entry, versus colouring sheets)

If you think “I don’t have time to read about procedures” or   “I don’t have time to set up all these routines”. remember, if you don’t set the students up for success up, you won’t get the teaching done that you really wanted to.

Read More :

first day of school not this but that New Daily 5

What Really Matters in Fluency

ImageWhat Really Matters in Fluency is a powerful book which will help teachers at every grade level. He offers simple suggestions that teachers can try right away, to improve student reading fluency. Allington talks about the research behind fluency and how essential it is that students be provided with DAILY reading time.  Teachers will be inspired by this easy to read book and confident to teach fluency! I highly recommend it.

Yes- I admit it-I am a nerd. I was so very excited to read today that Richard Allington will be at the Saskatchewan Reading Conference in April. He is one of my constant “go to ” sources. Dick Allington has inspired me for the last several years. He writes in a way that makes sense to me-with ideas I can use tomorrow in a classroom. I know that his research is sound, student centered and that anything he has to say will be well-regarded by the Gurus of reading!!

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