Showing posts from December, 2012


Along with formative assessment, Essential Learning Statements or Essential Learning Standards seems to be the newest buzzword for administrators and educators. But just because it is current or trendy does not necessarily mean that it is a negative aspect. One positive result of all of the newest focus on assessment-based practices is that I've become a better teacher because I've had to step back and really look at my curriculum. I'm not talking about the one that my school system has handed down. No, I'm talking about the one published by my state department of education that clearly states what will be tested this year. I've become something of a State Performance Indicator guru.
Essential Learning Statements are just what they sound like: simple sentences in kid-friendly terms that state clearly what the student is learning that day. Tennessee State Performance Indicator 0701.1.1 states "identify the correct use of nouns (i.e. proper/common, singular/plu…


When we return from the holidays, I'll be teaching "A Day's Wait"--a short story by Ernest Hemingway. The story is not particularly one of my favorites, and I'm skipping one of my favorites, "Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed" by Ray Bradbury. Unfortunately, the story by Bradbury doesn't focus on the tested skills that the story by Hemingway   does. I know I could make it work with the Bradbury story, but I'd have to create my own resources, and I'm busy enough like it is. So, like many things in education, I'm going to settle. I'm going to skip the story that would be more interesting and go on to the one that I can justify on my lesson plan.
This is not going to be a post about lamenting the fact that our education system has become all about the test scores and less about good teaching. If you're reading this post, then you know the predicament that education is in~I don't need to beat that horse.
This post is about making l…


I am not usually snarky or pessimistic in my Literacy Speaks posts, but after spending the holidays reading several educational books and guides, I just have to ask....where exactly do some of these teachers teach? Their classrooms seem to be some sort of alternate reality that in no way resembles the public school system that I teach in on a daily basis and have for 22 years.
And in some ways, I'm glad that I don't have the classrooms that some of these teachers have. Really? Who has time alphabetize their nonfiction books after organizing them by topic? I'm just satisfied to get them off of the floor at the end of the day.
Postal supplies? Individual mail boxes? Where does the money come from? Besides the money factor, I'm not sure that many of these types of activities would fly in face of the new evaluation system. Also, what about accountability? The idea of assessment seems to be absent unless the book is specifically dealing with assessement issues. At my schoo…


I've recently read Read and Write It Out Loud by Keith Polette. As Polette says in the introduction of his book, it is "designed to help both adults and children rediscover the power, potency, and pleasure of oral reading."

I've been reading aloud to my students for years; however I'd gotten out of the habit as the reality of high-stakes testing sent me whirling off into that void know as the "Plan of Assistance". I knew I needed to pick up the habit again, but needed some solid reasons as to why this is beneficial to my students.

In today's blog, I will be summarizing chapter one "Reading Aloud to Children: Reasons and Resources." Storytelling is the basis of our literature tradition~before there were books, there were stories told around the camp fires. Stories were used to warn children away from dangers or pass down family traditions and beliefs. Oral storytelling was a "lively drama, a dynamic and immediate experience that commu…


This week's learning is identifying infinitive and gerund phrases and identifying mood, imagery, and style in a piece of literature. Lovely lessons that will herald in the holiday with festive language.
I absolutely love, love, love practicing writing sentences that begin with phrases. A sentence that begins with a phrase is just so much more interesting than other sentence structures.
Keith Polette does an amazing job with his "Ten Different Ways to Begin a Sentence." Here is my adaptation of his strategy using participles, infinitives, and gerunds (and their respective phrases).
Hanging on small pegs, the stockings lent an air of festivity to the otherwise drab fireplace. 
Melissa wanted to hang the stockings in order to create a sense of anticipation.
Hanging the stockings is my favorite part of decorating for the holidays.Have your students create their own holiday sentences using phrases and clauses. 

Another Polette strategy is having your students write a "gerund p…