Friday, March 14, 2014

Stacy's Five for Friday and FREEBIE Fun!

I don't know about you, but I am OVER the polar vortex!  It has been such a crazy winter in the Northeast!  The poor kids are crawling out of their skin because they haven't been outside for recess in weeks due to subzero temperatures.  If I run 2 minutes late in the morning, I can't park in the lot because of the gigantic snow/ice mounds that block all of the parking spaces.  It's crazy!  I am in desperate need of a little sunshine and Vitamin D.  It's pretty sad that we were super excited at lunch today because it's going to reach 40 degrees this weekend.  It's been a LOOONNNGGGG winter!
BUT, I knew I could cheer myself up a little bit by linking up with Doodlebug's weekly linky party!  It's always nice to quickly capture and reflect on what I was up to during the week.  
Right now, the teachers in my building are in the midst of report card season which means assessment, assessment, ASSESSMENT!  Last year we moved to a standards-based report card which was a huge improvement from our outdated report card from 1982.  The positive of this reporting form is that it completely aligns to the CCSS however we struggle as a school to complete the needed assessments without taking away from instruction.  We are very fortunate at the primary level that the district provides one-day substitutes every quarter to help teachers administer these tests however, it is a struggle to complete every child in a day.  I would love to hear how other districts and schools tackle the assessment dilemma when using standards-based report cards.  Have you found a system that works?
Colleen and I have been incredibly fortunate to be part of the fabulous collaborative blog Adventures in Literacy Land.  If you haven't stumbled across this blog or facebook page, we encourage you to stop by!  We have teamed-up with some dynamic teacher-authors who are sharing best practices in the field of literacy every week.  In January, Colleen and I were able to share one of our favorite strategies to use with informational text called "Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction Text" or RAN for short.  RAN has proven to be an effective strategy to use with informational text as it encompasses both before, during, and after reading activities.  In addition, it requires students to use a variety of comprehension strategies including activating schema, confirming thinking, and asking questions.  This strategy can be done as a whole-class lesson, small group intervention, or independently using a graphic organizer.  To learn more about the RAN strategy, check out our blog post in Adventures in Literacy Land!  Grab a little freebie too!
If you are looking for additional ways to support informational text comprehension, you may also want to check out our post on the 3-2-1 strategy.  This "after reading" strategy can be used in both primary and intermediate grades in whole-class, small group, or one-on-one settings.  This strategy can be especially successful with struggling readers as it helps them comprehend, summarize, and retain information they've read.  To learn more about the 3-2-1 strategy and grab the supporting FREEBIE, check out last month's blog post!
This month Colleen and I had a chance to describe why answering and generating improves memory, integration and identification of main ideas, and overall comprehension.  Generating questions, however, does not always come naturally to students.  Some students can generate simple who, what, where, when types of questions, but have difficulty generating the more complex "how and why" questions that require more critical thinking.  A Question Creation Chart or Q-chart is a perfect tool to help students recognize and self-generate a continuum of questions ranging from simple "remember" questions through "understanding" and "evaluative" questions.  This chart is especially useful as it can be used with both literature and informational text.  To read more about how to use a Question Creation chart with your students and to download our FREEBIE, take a look at our blog post on Adventures in Literacy Land

I started back at my coursework this month in pursuit of my CAGS in Literacy degree.  TWO MORE CLASSES TO GO!!! I will be so excited at the end of June when I am finally done!  Although the courses have been great and I feel like my knowledge has grown, juggling work, home, and my coursework has been a balancing act!  This course will focus on new assessment research, the impact of the Common Core Standards on assessment, and how RTI instruction and assessment should work together.  I am looking forward to sharing new ideas and best practices based on what I've learned.
Have a wonderful weekend, friends! 


  1. I found your blog through Five on Friday and love all the useful information! I am your newest follower :)

  2. Thank you! We are excited that you found us!