Content Card – Details, Details, Details

Details and examples are one of those areas that students have struggled with when writing.  Being able to cite details and examples is a skill that is valuable in reading, writing, thinking, and speaking.  What are some of the things we might want to make sure students learn when we ask them to think about details and examples?  We might want them to know what kinds of things are details: facts, quotes, statistics, firgurative language, the information in a visual, sensory details, and more.  We also want students to know some of the things they can do with details:  compare and contrast ideas, support a point of view, oppose a point of view, make a decision, describe a character, make inferences, make prediections, and more.  As always, I’ve got a pdf copy for you – just print it out and share it with your students (and fellow educators).

Content Card, Details

Rapid Response Cards – Checking for Understanding

This is a response technique to give students practice in answering recall and some critical thinking types of questions.  Rapid Response Cards are any type of response cards you use with your students.  They are called Rapid Response Cards because they are a quick way to obtain responses from all of the students in your class at one time. You can ask a question and have everyone hold up an answer. This is a terrific way to assess students on the questions you ask.  This is a quick and effective technique to use when you want to check for understanding.  Prepare a master set of response cards – use black ink on bright yellow cardstock for cards that are easy to see.  (You may even want to laminate the response cards so that they will “wear” well.)

 Download theses pdfs:  Overview sheet, black and white template, yellow template.

 

 

Unpack the Content

Here is an example of a standard that needs to be unpacked. 

W.PS.01.01 Michigan

Develop personal style in oral, written, and visual messages in both narrative (e.g., natural language, specific action, emotion) and informational writing (e.g., sequence, specific vocabulary, visual representations).

Remember that part of unpacking a standard is determining what it is you want students to learn.  The standard provides insight as to what to include in the unpacking.  For the narrative writing, the standard states to develop personal style using natural language, specific action, and emotion.  For informational writing, the student is expected to develop personal style in sequencing, specific vocabulary, and visual representations.

 Here’s how I unpacked this piece after brainstorming with a wonderful group of first-grade teachers.  If you’re like me, it helps to see the big picture of the standard – which includes the content.

Once you’ve unpacked the standard, you have a content tool to use throughout the school year.  The list of actions gives you words at your fingertips you can use when talking with your first-grade students.  The list of emotions does the same.  In the sequence list, you’ll see starter ideas for the good things you’re already doing with your students; intentionally use sequencing words with students.  As for the column that lists visual representations, remember to pull out those sequence words and use them again and again and again.

Words Matter

A part of developing curriculum is that of determining core vocabulary a student needs in order to learn the concepts we want them to learn.  How important are words?

Take a look at this list of words I once shared with a group of Earth Science teachers.  I asked teachers to take the list and circle the words they had confidence their students would know at the moment in timeI asked them to do the task.  The time of the year was late spring – and just weeks away from a state test that students would be taking.

I also asked teachers to count the number of words they circled and figure out the percent of words they thought their students knew.  (This is an easy one since I put one hundred words on the list.)  We then looked at the data.

In a room of forty three teachers, not one indicated that their own students would know over fifty percent (50%) of the words on the list.  Now why is this important?  Because these words came from a state test;  from the released test items for Earth Science for the prior year’s end-of-course test.  Now why is that important?  If students do not know the words, they will not perform well on the test – whether it’s a state test or one of your own.   And guess whose job it is to make sure students learn the words?  That’s right – the classroom teacher, who hopefully teachers the words and related concepts in a direct and explicit way.

So here’s what I like to do.  Whenever I develop vocabulary lists, I like to look at the content words from released test items.  This is not the only place to go, but it is one source of developing solid lists.  If you haven’t done this yet for the tests for which you are accountable, give it a try.  Just go through each test item and circle all of the content words that students need to know in order to answer the questions.  Then use those words to refine your own vocabulary lists.  You’ll end up with lists that you really like to use.

Eleanor Roosevelt

In Virginia, first graders have the opportunity to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt – along with a number of other historical figures.  This is a small set of posters that I put together as a quick tool to help students learn a bit about Mrs. Roosevelt.  The set has ten posters and a few ideas about how to use them.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Click here to download the mini-posters about Eleanor Roosevelt.

I Hope You Dance

 If you’re like me, you think that a big part of school world is helping students see inside themselves – all they are and all they can become.  When my stepdaughter graduated from high school many years ago, I shared the song and the lyrics to I Hope You Dance with her.  I wish I would have had this picture then!

DanceWithaStatue

Lyrics to I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack 

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)