Monday, January 27, 2014

Click on the following link to view: Common Core Cafe Promotional Video for Workshops

Meet the Author

A few months ago, I asked a friend, author, and fellow teacher if she could come visit our school and share her fabulous books. She agreed and I was thrilled! Gladys and I actually know each other since my college days. We both followed the path into teaching. I think this is what makes her an extraordinary author. She knows how to connect to students and tap into their interests. 

On Friday, my school had the pleasure of hosting author, Gladys Barbieri. She did a 45-minute presentation to our kindergarten through third grade students. She has published two books, Rubber Shoes and Pink Fire Trucks.
January 24, 2014
The students were overjoyed to have the opportunity to meet a real author! Bringing authors to school, in-person and virtually, has many benefits to both students and teachers:
  • We are able to see that authors are real people. 
  • We become personally connected to the author and their publications.
  • We gain an appreciation for the hard work and effort required to be a writer.
  • We are inspired and motivated to be better writers. 

A few days before Ms. Barbieri came to our school, we reviewed one of her books and worked on coming up with questions for the author and about the reading. We then came up with a vocabulary list as a class. As I read the book, Pink Fire Trucks, the students wrote down “no-excuse” and “expert” words on the T-chart mats. The no-excuse words are basic tier 1 academic words, the expert words are either tier 2 or 3 academic words.
As a class, we discuss the expert words, then construct meanings of the words. They usually use the mats to work in collaborative conversation groups, following to develop their questions, complete sentence frames, or use for retelling.

My student writing down "no excuse" and "expert" words in her T-chart.

My colleague, Diana Estrada, made these mats for me. She glued a white paper on construction paper. She labeled one side "no excuse" and the other "expert." She then had them laminated. The students use dry-erase markers on them. They easily erase using a sock or a piece of fabric. 
We continued the lesson by getting into our collaborative conversation groups. The students are aware of their expectations and discussion rules. To access my steps to structuring an academic class discussion click on the following: Academic Class Discussion Rules & Guidelines

Here are some pictures of her visit!
Author, Gladys Barbieri

Ms. Barbieri & I

Ms. Perez, MGE Principal, introducing our special guest

Reading her book Rubber Shoes, A Lesson in Gratitude

When we returned to class we went over our experience and wrote in our journals. I then handed the students a blank sheet of paper. I asked them to illustrate their favorite event. This is what they came up with! The drawings were too cute!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting Ready for our First Session!

I’m getting ready tons of research, strategies, and materials for the first session of the Café!
Here’s the info:
Session 1: Get Students Talking: Habits of Discussion, Mastering the Language of the Common Core Standards

When: January 30, 2014
Location: MTA Conference Room
Time: 4:00PM – 5:00PM

Fellow MUSD Teachers, Please bring to Session 1:
  • 1 successful strategy to get students to have collaborative conversations with their peers to share from your classroom
  • A laptop or tablet
  • Flash drive
Our session’s goal is to increase teachers’ inventory of classroom activities to promote academically-engaged classroom dialogue.

Please email me if you haven’t signed up yet. This is a paid workshop, seating is limited. Please register by January 17, 2014. You may register by emailing Gabriela Orozco Gonzalez at or

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day 3 of the CTA Good Teaching Conference

It’s been quite the adventure this weekend being part of the Good Teaching Conference in San Jose. Last month, Norma Sanchez, our Region 3 mentor from the CTA Department for Instruction and Professional Development asked me to co-present with her at the conference. I was a bit nervous since it was going to be the first time presenting together and in such a large forum. I was delighted to have a fellow CTA cohort colleague, Monica Cooper, be part of our team. We presented on Friday and Saturday. 
In the sessions we presented, participants engaged with colleagues as they examined the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts for grades K-5 and explored how the new standards will impact instruction. Session topics included:
  • Literacy Instructional Strategies
  • Text Complexity and Informational texts
  • Lesson and Unit Design
We were ecstatic to receive positive comments from the teachers that attended.
Here is a link to our Prezi and the resources we provided:

The closing comments on my last day at the conference were by CTA Secretary-Treasurer Mikki Cichocki-Semo. I immediately connected with her, since we share a love for sports and she quoted one of my favorite baseball catchers, Yogi Berra. The overall message was that as teachers we are constantly being pulled in so many directions and rarely given the time to collectively reflect on our craft and tailor our classroom curriculum for our diverse students. It’s about collaboration, teamwork, and taking the initiative.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Common Core Café's Project Summary

The Common Core Café’s purpose is to guarantee that all students receive a content-rich education in the full range of the liberal arts and sciences, including English, mathematics, history, the arts, science, and foreign languages. The Common Core Café’s team members will work with teachers to create instructional materials, conduct research, and promote policies that support a comprehensive and high-quality education in Montebello Unified School District. We will accomplish this by using cutting-edge, research-based and technological practices in a strong, proactive partnership with MUSD administrators, MTA, and CTA ensuring a continuum of best practices to enhance the classroom instruction.
The Café’s foundation will also build on the MUSD’s recently adopted Comprehensive Learning Framework whose purpose is also to “…better anchor, monitor, and to celebrate the work of every individual, division and organization throughout the MUSD.” There are two key strategies aligned to both initiatives that will assist in having successful outcomes: 1) effective implementation and utilization of data to drive student and teacher success, and 2) MUSD key stakeholder and teacher involvement through project engagement will increase the parameters of success.
•TheThThe project’s plan includes integrating technology across the curriculum that will help us meet the requirements of the Montebello Unified School District 2010-2015 District Technology Plan and the U.S. Department of Education Goals 2013- 2014 Plan.