Join Deb at ASCD in April 2016!

2015-10-03_20-10-59I’ve got some great news; I’ll be presenting again at ASCD’s Annual Conference! If you’re coming to the ASCD Conference in April 2016, I hope you’ll consider attending my session: Protocols for Using Data in Instructional Learning Cycles.  Built around ASCD’s theme, “Learn, Teach, Lead“, this session will provide friendly tools and protocols for working with instructional learning cycles.  If you’re a teacher, you’ll find some great ideas here – ideas that come your way in a teacher-friendly way.  If you’re a principal, you’ll also find some terrific ideas, as I’ll have tools that will help you when working with your teachers.  If you’re in the central office, this is a strong session for getting additional ideas for working with your staff, too.

ASCD Annual Conference 2016

Shift Happens! A shift in vocabulary, that is.

Image, Shift Happens

As you know, when the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts were released, we all learned about the Instructional Shifts.  As you read about the Common Core and the changes it brings, you’ll see two basic lists of the shifts – one with three items and one with six.  The list with 3 shifts simply combines some of the shifts.  I prefer to keep the shifts separated, as shown below.

Image, Slide 1

In case you’re wondering whether or not the shifts matter, I want to let you know they do.  All six of them.  But as with anything, you’ll have to figure out how to use them and make them work for you in your school or district.  When thinking about the shifts, there are at least a few times and ways you can use them: (1) Develop curriculum, (2) Design high-impact lessons for students, (3), Design aligned assessments to the college and career readiness standards, and (4) Design professional development experiences for teachers and administrators.

Now, I want to share each of the shifts with you – one at a time – in hopes there’s a thing or two you can use. Today’s shift is Vocabulary.

In using my shift pages, you’ll want to know how I’ve set them up. I’ve designed a format for beginning to think about each of the shifts.  The following visual, How the Shifts Are Set Up, shows my logic in thinking about the shifts. Take a quick look.

Image, Slide 2

After a quick description of the shift, you’ll see two areas: one that provides hints for curriculum and another that provides hints for instruction and the possible professional needs of staff.

By way of example, there’s a shift that speaks to text-based answers.  It’s a standard in the curriculum – and teachers need to understand what it means. We all need to understand what it means; it’s even being tested as part of the redesigned SAT. Remember, evidence is king in the CCSS – so I chose it for the example.

Now, take a look at Shift 6, Vocabulary. I chose to present this one to you first as so many schools and districts are focusing on vocabulary development.

Image, Slide 3

For the Common Core ELA standards (including the literacy standards), Academic Vocabulary is a big shift.  As you can see from the visual, the focus should be on pivotal and commonly found words.  (The redesigned SAT will focus on Tier II words in context, but that’s not why we need to focus on vocabulary. We need to focus on vocabulary because it will help our students learn.)

If you’re working on curriculum at the district, school, or classroom levels, there are a number of ways you can provide support for academic vocabulary.

Integrate shift in curriculum units:

  • Place vocabulary throughout lessons, where appropriate, rather than at end of units.
  • Provide activities for students to work with words
  • Identify core vocabulary . Use sources such as SBAC, PAARC, Tier II, and Tier III words.
  • Provide descriptions of core vocabulary
  • Provide content cards where needed.
  • Provide a list of core vocabulary words and corresponding descriptions for units.

Additionally, as you are thinking about professional development, consider some of the examples:

  • Direct Explicit Instruction for Vocabulary
  • How to Develop School-wide Vocabulary Supports for Students
  • How to Determine Core Vocabulary for a Course, Department, and/or School
  • High-Impact Vocabulary Strategies
  • How to Help Students Track Their Own Learning of Vocabulary Words
  • Tier II Words
  • Tier III Words (for social studies, science, and technical subjects)
  • Helping Students With Their Own Word-Learning Activities
  • Effective Strategies for Teaching New Words

I so hope some of these ideas will be helpful to you as you support schools in improving achievement.


Common Core State Standards

Common Core Shifts for ELA and Literacy

Examples of Lessons for Teaching Vocabulary

Content Cards – Details, Details, Details

Common Core Standards for Literacy in Science (Includes ideas for vocabulary.)

Motor Mouth Review

Content Cards – Line Graphs

Content Card – Parallel

Content Card – Bar Graphs

Content Card – Measuring Length

Content Cards: Text Structures, Grades 9-12

Today’s post is Text Structures for Different Types of Writing.  I designed this tool for teachers, but there are many pages that will also be good resource materials for students.   In this handy guide, you’ll find a quick overview of the text types (i.e., Argumentative, Informational, Narrative) in the Common Core State Standards.  AFter that, I’ve included my content cards for the following five text structures: compare/contrast, cause/effect, problem/solution, sequence, and description.

Check these out to see if they are something you can use!  Here’s the link:

Examples of Lessons for Teaching Vocabulary: ELA K-12

You already know how important it is to teach vocabulary.  You likely also know that we need to be directly teaching important vocabulary words.  I’ve provided these examples to give you an idea of ways you might structure lessons to teach vocabulary.  The examples are in a pdf format and ready for you to download and use.

Kindergarten Example:  Introducing Words in a Scene

Grades 01-02:  Words from The Little Fly and the Great Mouse

Grades 03-05:  Multiple Meaning Words

Grades 06-08:  Multiple Strategies for Recognizing Words

Grades 09-12:  Root Words

New Cut Scores for Michigan’s MEAP and MME

It’s official.  You have likely heard that the new cut scores were coming.  Well they’re here.

When the MDE sent a memo out this week reminding everyone that historical data with the new cut scores attached would be released on Novemember 3, 2011 – I jumped into action.

I’ve put together a few materials that should be useful to you as you get to know your new cut scores.

DOWNLOAD THE 14 PAGE PDF HERE.  And do let me know if there’s anything else you need.

Organizing Materials

You’ve likely seen this product on television.  It’s a Wonderfile!  I tested it out recently and liked it very much.  My test run was with an assortment of materials I put together for a Reading Playbook that I designed for students.  I wanted to have my most recent copy of the playbook, examples of the student pages, and background research – all  in one place.   I’m ordering more since I always have several ongoing projects in the works.

Write to the Text

 I am a fan of Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week.  His website is loaded with weekly articles you can use to give students interesting topics to which they can write.

I recently read an article in Education Week and asked the author, Anothy Cody, for permission to turn his article, Color Coded High School ID Cards Sort Students by Test Performance, into an assignment for students.

I set up the assignment in a modified version of Article of the Week.  I modified the directions and numbered each of the lines in the text.   The numbered lines support students in citing the text during classroom discussions.

Download the assignment:  Assignment:  Argumentative Paper

The assignment includes a Writing Checklist, which you can download separately.