Thursday, May 29, 2014

Common Core Resources for the Classroom & Learn About Starting a Lesson Study - Session 5

Today we are having a big Common Core Resources Party! I am posting the top 20 links to some of the best CCSS resources I have researched and used in my classroom lesson planning. In addition, I have included a presentation that guides teachers through the process of learning what a Lesson Study is and how to begin one at their school site. 

The NEA Great Public Schools Network is a place where people come together to share ideas and resources to improve student success. It is free and open to all!

2. Get to the Core Webinar Series
ASCD’s Get to the Core features insightful, engaging webinars on all things Common Core. They’re all archived and free, and they’re hosted by education thought-leaders. Although they broadly cover Common Core, a few are aligned specifically to English-language arts.

Created with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they have a plethora of resources to help you get aligned with Common Core Standards.

ReadWorks provides over 1,000 non-fiction reading passages with question sets to support reading activities. ReadWorks enables teachers to solve the reading comprehension crisis and eliminate the achievement gap in the U.S. by improving teacher effectiveness through research-based and classroom-proven instructional practices, curriculum, and open-access online technology.

Engage your students in online literacy learning with these interactive tools that help them accomplish a variety of goals—from organizing their thoughts to learning about language—all while having fun.

Use Better Lesson to browse thousands of rich Math and ELA lessons from high-performing Master Teachers.
We Give Books is a new digital initiative that enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don't have them, simply by reading online. We Give Books combines the joy of reading with the power of helping others, providing a platform for caregivers and educators to inspire children to become lifelong readers and lifelong givers. 

The site is created to provide organized access to high quality resources and tools that support teaching and learning of elementary mathematics. 

Get the Math is about algebra in the real world. See how professionals use math in music, fashion, videogames, restaurants, basketball, and special effects. Then take on interactive challenges related to those careers.

11. Math – Tennessee Early Grades Math Toolkit
Successful comprehension of algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability is dependent on students’ fundamental understanding of important mathematic concepts in Pre-K through 3rd grade. This math portal was designed in collaboration with agencies, institutions and mathematicians to broaden access to quality, evidence-based practices.

This site is meant to be a resource for K-12 teachers who are or will be implementing the National Common Core State Standards.

Over 250 free printable math charts or math posters suitable for interactive whiteboards, classroom displays, math walls, display boards, student handouts, homework help, and concept introduction.

This site is meant to be a resource for K-12 teachers who are or will be implementing the National Common Core State Standards.

This educational, curriculum-support teaching/learning tool is also designed to support state and national standards. Each story on the site links to online primary-source materials, which are positioned in context to enhance reading comprehension, understanding and enjoyment.

The CTA provides an abundance of professional learning opportunities for teachers. All the presentation materials and upcoming workshops are listed here. I continuously refer to it when I am planning a presentation.

Barbara Ransom’s website, a Math, English, AVID and Spark teacher in Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District. She ran two Lesson Studies with the English Language Arts department at her school.

 Strategies, classroom examples, insights into learning. 

Curriculum and Assessments

K-12: REAL Common Core Professional Development: Teachers Teaching Teachers Through a Math Lesson Study (Prepared by Barbara Ransom) see link #18

K-12: Technology, Tools and Apps for the Common Core Classroom
The Adventures of Room D4 Blog 
Danesa Menge's blog is also a great resource. She writes about her experience as a CTA Leadership participant and she is also a CTA trainer. She prepared the following list:
List of websites, apps and tools for CCSS
Academic language in the content areas resources.
Word Generation is a research-based vocabulary program for middle school students designed to teach words through language arts, math, science, and social studies classes. The program employs several strategies to ensure that students learn words in a variety of contexts.
This educational, curriculum-support teaching/learning tool is also designed to support state and national standards. Each story on the site links to online primary-source materials which are positioned in context to enhance reading comprehension,
- See more at:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Read Aloud: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

A hardback edition of one of my all-time favorite books: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

This week the discussion thread in my Common Core online group (on the NEA GPS Network) is Read Alouds. A colleague and member of the group, Martha Cervantes, mentioned that her favorite read aloud is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It inspired me to write this post since Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite children’s authors. Join our conversation and let us know your thoughts on the book or tell us about your favorite read aloud. Click HERE


Have you ever cried in front of your students? I have, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I can guarantee that you will during a read aloud of the last paragraph of Kate DiCamillo’s beautiful book The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This elegant and charming book is a good read for upper-elementary students, grade 3 and up, due to the sophisticated vocabulary and mature issues (such as death and child abuse).

Here are some ways you can use this book in your classroom:

Author’s Voice: Edward Tulane, a rabbit made of china, doesn’t talk. But he THINKS, and the people around him don’t know that he thinks. Only the passive narrator knows what’s going on in Edward’s head. This in and of itself is an interesting teachable moment about 1st versus 3rd person. As an author, DiCamillo has a sly ability to craft the mood and imagery of a time and place like no other. We don’t know exactly where and when it takes place, but you can imagine a time when steam liners crossed oceans, hobos jumped trains, and child welfare agencies didn’t exist. Compare this book to the southern twang and charm of her other best seller, Because of Winn Dixie, and you’re halfway to a fascinating author study.

Vocabulary: Get out your sticky-note flags: Within the first two pages, you will encounter words like jaunty, ennui, exceptional, unsavory, and commissioned. What exquisite words to play with! In order for students to  fully enjoy this book as a read aloud, I suggest previewing the vocabulary on a chart beforehand, then simply referencing the chart while you read. You can certainly do more with the vocabulary words, but this is a good starting point. Be sure to put students’ favorite words on your vocabulary lists or incorporate them into your literacy centers.

Inferring: As mentioned above, the author doesn’t mention a specific time or place to the book, and the settings change several times throughout. There are many opportunities for students to read between the lines, and to figure out what Edward, the title character is going through. Which leads me to…

Character Study: The title alludes to a journey, and Edward not only goes on a physical journey, but an emotional and spiritual one as well. As a character, we see his faults, and how they evolve as he survives mishap after mishap. He has to learn to love and deal with loss of love, and at one point becomes so despondent that he wants to give up. In the satisfying ending, he comes full-circle with his emotions.
I have listed below some additional resources for this book. Thank you Martha for mentioning it! It genuinely is a brilliant book. 

Here are some additional resources for the book: 

Book Trailer: 

Common Core Connections: 

Read Chapter 12-78 (pages 87-129) of Edward Tulane and discuss traits that describe Edward and other characters in this section of the text.  The class might discuss how Edward’s character has changed and discuss students’ reactions to his newly acquired traits. 

Some possible text-dependent questions for discussion include: 
  1. How is Edward changing?  How does the author show us his character development?
  2. How does the author want us to feel about Edward at different points in the book?   
  3. How does she elicit these feelings from us?
  4.  In your opinion, has Edward’s journey been a positive or negative experience for him?  What in the text makes you think that?
CCSS Third Grade Unit: Dissecting Text: Literature and Information
In February, I had a session for the café on Using Read Alouds to Maximize Learning of CCSS Standards.  Visit this previous post for more ideas and suggestions on read alouds.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Inquiry-based Learning In Your Classroom

There are many wonderful sites available to help you understand and start using inquiry-based learning in your classroom. Teachers are always looking for ways to engage and enthuse students in the classroom. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage Inquiry Based Learning. Through Inquiry Based Learning we encourage students to to pose deep questions and research, solve and share our hypothesis with peers.

1. Inquiry

(Give learners choice.)

2. Voice

(Give learners a voice.)
Neon Mic' by fensterbme on flickr

3. Audience

(Give learners an audience.)

4. Community

(Give learners a community to collaborate with.)

5. Leadership

(Give learners opportunities to lead.)

6. Play

(Give learners opportunities to play.)

7. Networks

(Give learners digitally connected spaces to learn.)

An Introduction to Project-Based Learning
In this hands-on approach to teaching, students create schoolwork that demonstrates core subject knowledge. Read a short introductory article or watch an in-depth video

The term "project learning" derives from the work of John Dewey and dates back to William Kilpatrick, who first used the term in 1918.  Project-based learning can be seen as a broad category which, as long as there is an extended "project" at the heart of it, could take several forms or be a combination of:
  • Designing and/or creating a tangible product, performance or event
  • Solving a real-world problem (may be simulated or fully authentic)
  • Investigating a topic or issue to develop an answer to an open-ended question
Video: Watch Laufenberg’s fascinating TED Talk “How to Learn? From Mistakes.”
Diana Laufenberg shares 3 surprising things she has learned about teaching — including a key insight about learning from mistakes.

Click HERE for a resource with Websites of Interest: Inquiry