Looking for Essential Literacy Work PD? SIGN UP NOW!

If you are looking for professional development support on Essential Literacy Work, I encourage you to attend my full-day training session at NJPSA/FEA on Oct. 2 from 9am-3pm!

Here’s the link for more information: http://njpsa.org/documents/pdf/PDCalFall2017-web.pdf

Here’s the blurb:

PARCC ELA Prep: Essential Literacy Work (PSEL Standard 4)
Oct. 2, 2017; 9 am – 3 pm at FEA

Presenter: Sarah Tantillo, Ed.D., Author of The Literacy Cookbook and Literacy and the Common Core

Fee: $149

This session will lay out fundamental literacy work your students need to engage in — addressing the comprehension process; how to teach paraphrasing; how to teach close reading; etc. Participants will also identify and practice six specific argument and evidence steps that effective writers use ending with how to write an effective question-driven research paper from scratch. Instead of cramming for PARCC, you can prepare your students throughout the year with methods that do not feel like test prep. Participants will also use a comprehensive set of tools and field-tested lesson cycles to design a PARCC ELA preparation plan that sets students up for success. Participants will also view resources to support literacy instruction, curriculum development, and PARCC preparation.

(PS–Here’s the address: Foundation for Educational Administration (FEA) 12 Centre Drive, Monroe Township, NJ 08831)

I also, of course, deliver training and provide coaching at schools. For more information, please contact me at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

Hope to see you soon!

Cheers,

ST

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Posted in Argument, Close Reading, Evidence, Paraphrasing, PARCC, Professional Development, Test Prep, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aligning Lessons with the Common Core Standards: NEW TLC RESOURCE!!!

As we design lessons to meet and exceed the ELA Common Core State Standards, it would be great to have a tool that matches resources up with those standards, right?

That’s what Anibal Garcia (of Queen City Academy CS) said to me a few weeks ago, and I wholeheartedly agreed. So we sat down and put this together. For grades 2-12. Yes.

You’re welcome.

Here’s a very brief snippet of what this looks like:

GRADE 8 ELA COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

CPI code RESOURCES
Reading Standards for Literature
Key Idea and Details
1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly
supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly
as well as inferences drawn from the text.

 

RL.8.1 –Argument vs. Evidence: TLC Blog (“argument”)
–How to Find the Topic Sentence: TLC “Effective Topic Sentences”
–Evaluating Topic Sentences: TLC “Effective Topic Sentences”
–Selecting and Explaining Evidence: TLC Blog (“argument”)
–Paragraph Responses: TLC “Analyzing Literature”
–PARAGRAPH RESPONSE Scoring Checklist: TLC “Analyzing Literature”
–Chapter Notes organizer: TLC “Analyzing Literature” (Works best when scholars create and reference a reader’s notebook consisting of literary techniques, poetic techniques, and figurative language.)
–QIEE organizer: TLC “Analyzing Literature”
–DDAT organizer: TLC “Analyzing Literature”
–Story Detectives organizer: TLC “Analyzing Literature” (This organizer, at this grade level, can be used for scholars below grade level who are still developing reading skills. They should eventually transition into the QIEE Organizer.)

Want to see the whole thing (in a much more readable format)? Here’s a FREE DOWNLOAD of the Gr 8 ELA CCSS with RESOURCES – 8-9-17 file.

For Grades 2-12, go to the TLC “Standards” page to download the rest. I will update them periodically. If you have suggestions for revision or useful links to add, please Email me directly at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

*As a reminder, followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

 

Posted in Analyzing the Common Core Standards, ELA Common Core Standards, Evidence, Lesson-planning, Reading Literature, Resources, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Vocabulary Resource: ACHIEVE THE CORE’s ACADEMIC WORD FINDER

In the realm of vocabulary instruction, we are always on the hunt for helpful tools. As I’ve previously noted, Verbal Workout is a great resource for selecting and teaching vocabulary words in commonly used texts.

Now we also have Achieve the Core’s Academic Word Finder, which enables users to paste in up to 20,000 words (about 5 pages) of ANY text to find vocabulary words within that text that are on a certain grade level. It’s free and super-easy to use. Just paste in the text, select a grade, and see the results. In addition to identifying the grade levels of various words, it gives you multiple definitions and sample sentences for those words.

And here’s another benefit: If you’re trying to determine if a text is “on grade-level,” this tool will give you some indication of that.

Very cool. Check it out!

http://achievethecore.org/academic-word-finder/

 

PS: Many thanks to Meghan Lowney at Great Oaks Legacy Charter School for bringing this resource to my attention!

Posted in ELA Common Core Standards, Resources, Vocabulary, Vocabulary in Context | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Curriculum Resource: SUCCESS ACADEMY ED INSTITUTE

As we enter summer—or as I like to call it, Curriculum Development Season—teachers will want to check out these two great resources:

First, Match Fishtank, which I previously blogged about here.

Second, hot off the presses:

Success Academy Ed Institute, which features detailed information on this high-performing charter network’s K-4 Literacy Instruction, plus videos of virtual tours which reveal other important aspects of their work. Success Academy won the 2017 Broad Prize, which is awarded annually to a charter school operator who demonstrates “outstanding academic outcomes among low-income students and students of color.” PS–Previous winners include YES Prep, Uncommon Schools, KIPP Schools, Noble Network, and IDEA Public Schools.

Here’s what Success Academy’s Website says about this new set of resources:

Over the past decade, Success Academy has reimagined public education, building a bold new approach to K–12 schooling. Our teaching and learning model, now tested and scaled across nearly 50 campuses, has proved extraordinarily effective. With scholars admitted by random lottery from many of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods, our schools have achieved the highest standing in our state.

Now, through our Education Institute, we are providing open access to the broad architecture and singular components of the Success Academy model. We are sharing best practices, resources, and training with educators across the nation to help many more children gain access to great schools.

The K-4 teachers I worked with on curriculum this past week gave it numerous thumbs up. Check it out!

PS–As a reminder, if you’re looking for guidance on curriculum development, check out my book Literacy and the Common Core: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass, 2014), which will make your life easier!

Posted in Curriculum, ELA Common Core Standards, Lesson-planning, Literacy and the Common Core BOOK, Professional Development, Resources, Text Selection, Unit-planning | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Curriculum Resource: MATCH FISHTANK

If you’re writing curriculum plans, here’s a tremendous new FREE resource: Match Fishtank.

Here’s the blurb that explains what this is:

Welcome to Match Fishtank, where you can view, share, and download the curriculum we use every day at Match Charter School, the PreK-12 public school that we opened 15 years ago in Boston.

These materials have been developed and curated by our teachers and curriculum experts over many years.

At Match, we think teachers should spend more time planning how to teach — with the unique learning needs of their students in mind—and less time worrying about the basics of what to teach. Good baseline curriculum and assessments free teachers to do just that.

Match Fishtank is our effort to share our curriculum with teachers everywhere to lessen their load and help them on the road to amazing classroom learning.

Match is determined to share great materials widely. If you haven’t already seen them, check out MATCH MINIS, “our effort to share what we’ve learned—about classroom teaching, teacher training, and more—in bite-sized, entertaining 3-to-5-minute videos.” These videos are super-practical!

Posted in Curriculum, ELA Common Core Standards, Essential Questions, Instruction, Lesson-planning, Professional Development, Resources, Unit-planning | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Independent Reading and Summer Reading RESOURCES

As summer draws near, you might be thinking about assigning summer reading or planning for a more rigorous independent reading program at your school next year, or you might be looking forward to YOUR OWN summer reading. Here are some resources to explore:

On the TLC Website’s “Independent Reading” page, you can find lots of suggestions about how to run both independent and summer reading programs in your school. For example, if you want to design a more robust independent reading program for your students next year, consider the SRT (Strategic Reading Time) approach, which is described in detail in my book Literacy and the Common Core. You can find a complete SRT User’s Manual, which explains how to implement a school-wide program (or a more tailored pilot, if you prefer), on that TLC Website page.*

Regarding summer reading assignments, you might want to revisit this TLC Blog post, which offers free materials and advice. As it notes, “Whether assigning particular books or giving students a range of choices (or some combination of the two), you will undoubtedly want students to demonstrate that they have completed the reading in a way that doesn’t torture them or you.” This post advocates the Character Analysis approach, which is useful for follow-up work in the fall.

What about books for YOU?

  • I know I’m biased, but I hope my other blog, Only Good Books (which is hopefully self-explanatory), will be of use to you.
  • Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, the New York Times recently launched a new column called “Match Book” featuring book recommendations. The latest post, on sports-related books, has a gigantic list of great stuff. The comments section is super-helpful, too.

*As a reminder, followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

Posted in Character Analysis, Independent Reading, Literacy and the Common Core BOOK, Reading, Recommended Reading, Resources, Summer Reading, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Students How to Set a Purpose for Reading

[This post originally appeared in slightly different form on MiddleWeb on April 23, 2017.]

I think we can all agree that annotating texts helps students comprehend them more deeply. But not all forms of annotating are helpful. How you annotate matters. I’ve seen this problem quite often: students cover their texts with so many notes that it seems to have taken them an hour to read one page. While it’s great that students can annotate with generic strategies such as underlining topic sentences and starring supporting details, the truth is that they need to learn how to analyze texts more effectively and efficiently. It’s not efficient to notice everything. If you notice everything, that might be a sign that you can’t figure out what is most important.

How can we teach students to determine what is most important?

Students must learn to set a purpose for reading. Too often, teachers set the purpose (with assignments such as “Read Chapter 7 and answer these three questions” or “Read this article and write a summary”) and students do not actually learn how to set a purpose on their own. Some might not even realize that they can.

A helpful first step is to identify the GENRE of the text. If you’re reading a book review, the most obvious guiding question is “Why should we read this book?” Students would then take notes on that, not on every single thing that might be interesting about the text. After discussing the notion of genre, I would invite students to infer how they would approach different genres. For example: “Here’s an editorial from the New York Times. What should our purpose be?” And here’s an important follow-up question: “How could you tell?” Once students recognize the clues and characteristics of different genres, they can not only identify the genre but also explain its purpose (in this case, to persuade) and our purpose for reading it (to recognize the writer’s arguments and evaluate his/her support for those arguments).

When I was in high school, our chemistry teacher gave us an amazing assignment at the end of the year; he called it “Unknowns.” We received samples of different-colored chemicals/compounds and had to run experiments to figure out what each “unknown” consisted of. This assessment required us to demonstrate lab skills and content knowledge of the properties of elements we’d studied all year. English teachers could take a similar approach with random texts: students would need to use clues to identify the genre and decide what purpose(s) they would set for reading.

Beyond using genre to set purpose, students can use other clues, as well. When it comes to nonfiction/informational texts, it helps to look at the title of the text (no matter what size that text is—book, chapter, article, sub-section) and ask questions about that title. These questions—preferably “How” and “Why” questions—should guide our reading. For example, an article titled “Lifting School Cell Phone Bans” would suggest questions such as, “Why should schools lift their cell phone bans?” and “Why do schools ban cell phones in the first place?” Presumably these questions would be answered in the text.

When it comes to fiction/narratives, we can of course analyze text for a variety of purposes. For instance, we might ask students to focus on character development or the use of symbolism to convey meaning. But often when reading novels, we want students to read a chapter and figure out what’s important on their own.

I’ve actually designed an organizer for this called—wait for it—the “What’s Important Organizer.”[1] [Here’s a FREE download of What Is Important ORGANIZER. For a completed model, check out the TLC “Analyzing Literature” page.***]

NAME__________________________________________DATE___

What’s Important ORGANIZER

DIRECTIONS: Use COMPLETE SENTENCES to answer all five questions. You may either PARAPHRASE or PROVIDE QUOTES to support your assertions, but either way, you MUST GIVE PAGE NUMBERS to indicate where the evidence can be found. Refer to the model to ensure that you are doing this properly. Give AT LEAST TWO PIECES OF EVIDENCE PER QUESTION.

1. DECISIONS WITH PURPOSE: What major decisions do the characters make, and why?

 

2. CONFLICTS/OBSTACLES/CHALLENGES: What conflicts, obstacles, or challenges do the characters face, and how do they deal with them?

 

3. LESSONS/INSIGHTS/MESSAGES: What lessons do any of the characters learn? What do WE learn?

 

4. CAUSES AND EFFECTS: What events/actions have major effects on characters? How do the characters react?

 

5. PATTERNS: What patterns from either this passage or the rest of the book do you notice in this passage?

 

 

In addition to training students in what to look for when reading any narrative, this organizer supports them in the practice of summarizing. Perhaps more importantly, it reminds them that there are specific things you should look for when reading a narrative in order to grasp its most fundamental ideas.

You don’t have to underline everything.

***PS: Followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

[1] I’ve previously blogged about it HERE, and that original blog was adapted from The Literacy Cookbook.

Posted in Annotation, Close Reading, Comprehension, ELA Common Core Standards, Genre, MiddleWeb, Questioning, Reading, Reading Informational Text, Reading Literature, The Literacy Cookbook BOOK, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PARCC Prep: Literary Analysis Writing DEMO LESSON

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREAs I’ve noted in posts about the PARCC Narrative Writing Task Lesson Cycle, the PARCC Literary Analysis Lesson Task Cycle, and Research Simulation Task Lesson Cycle, it’s really important to provide and explain models of the work we expect. That includes steps such as turning the prompt into a question, taking effective notes, and writing from those notes.

Below is a quick example of what I mean, a handout from a demo lesson I conducted the other day for 7th-graders (Note: The original task with passages can be found HERE). This handout can be downloaded for free HERE: 7th-grade-lit-analysis-parcc-2015-modeling

PARCC 7th Grade Literary Analysis Task (2015 RELEASED ITEM)– MODELED

PROMPT: You have read passages from the novels The Georges and the Jewels and Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse. Both were written in the first person point of view. Write an essay in which you compare the way the authors use first person point of view to develop the characters. Be sure to cite specific from BOTH passages.

QUESTION: How do the authors in the two texts use first person point of view to develop the characters?

The Georges… Black Beauty
P1: “Sometimes when YOU fall off…”– ***challenges

 

P2 intro “I” to show how narrator handles the situation: GIRL who rides for her dad who sells horses

 

P8: how “I” slid off when a horse was spooked

 

P9: Some are nice

 

P10: horse was “curled up next to me like a dog”

 

“I wish I knew where she was”—sad, missing the nice one (***Changed from beginning)

 

 

How to break in a horse

 

P2: “I”=horse

 

***Challenges, too!

 

Bit and bridle=unpleasant: “a great piece of cold hard steel as thick as a man’s finger… pushed into one’s mouth”

 

Begins to consider “my mother always wore one when she went out”—growing up

 

P3: Saddle not bad; “felt proud to carry my master… soon became accustomed to it.”

(***Changed from beginning)

The excerpts from The Georges and the Jewels and Black Beauty both use first person point of view to develop the characters, but they do so in different ways.

In The Georges and the Jewels, the narrator is Abby, a young girl who rides horses for her father who sells them. She reflects on the challenges of riding a horse, noting, “Sometimes when you fall off your horse, you just don’t want to get right back on” (Paragraph 1).   She considers how difficult it can be sometimes to ride a horse. We see her lying on the ground (P 2), then she gets up. She continues to reflect on what it’s like to deal with horses that “spook you off” (P 8), another challenge. But then she recalls nice “sweet bay mare” (P 9) who eventually “curled up next to me like a dog” (P 10), and we see her perspective start to change as she reminisces. By the end, she thinks, “I wish I knew where she was.” She misses the nice one.

In Black Beauty, by contrast, we see the point of view of the horse. “I” in this story is actually the horse…

Here’s an overview of the lesson, which took about two hours:

  • Explain what we’re doing today and why (1 min).
  • Review how to turn the prompt into a question (2 mins).
  • Remind students that we only take notes that answer the question (They had already done this).
  • Remind students that they can use the “thesis formula” (“Both [Text 1] and [Text 2] deal with ____________ [TOPIC/THEME], but they do so in different ways”) or combine it with a restatement of the question. PS: As you will see, we opted for a restatement (2 mins).
  • Explain how to go from taking the notes to writing the model paragraph. Pay attention to how the sentences WORK.  Students should notice that the evidence is EXPLAINED and transitions guide the reader (10 mins).
  • Give students time to write their own second body paragraph (using my notes or their own, which they had taken the day before with their teacher). They did this using Google Docs on their Chromebooks (10 mins).
  • Ask for volunteers to share their second body paragraphs (projected on the SmartBoard) to get feedback, then point out strengths and things to work on (5-10 mins).
  • Give students time to revise based on tips they picked up from the feedback their peers received (5 mins).
  • Discuss the purpose of the third body paragraph: to identify and explain similarities between the two texts. Note: These similarities must pertain to THE QUESTION (5 mins).
  • Give students time to write their third body paragraph (10 mins).
  • Ask for volunteers to share their third body paragraphs to get feedback, then point out strengths and things to work on (5-10 mins).
  • Give students time to revise based on tips they picked up from the feedback their peers received (5 mins).
  • Invite students to complete this “punchy conclusion” sentence starter, “Ultimately, both texts help us realize that ____.” Then randomly call on 5-6 students to share those sentences. Make a big deal about the fact that there is not one “right” conclusion; five different people will have five different plausible conclusions (5-10 mins).
  • Give students 10-15 minutes to finish revising the entire essay.

If you have any questions about this demo lesson or want to reach me about consulting needs, please Email me directly at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

You can find additional modeling handouts (for 4th-grade RST work and 8th-grade Literary Analysis work) on the TLC “PARCC Prep” page.  Followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

Posted in Assessment(s), Close Reading, Compare and Contrast, Demo Lesson, Literary Analysis Writing, PARCC, Research Writing, Resources, Test Prep, Thesis Statements, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PARCC Prep: More ELA Test Items Released

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREIn case you don’t follow the PARCC newsletter, PARCC announced on Jan. 30, 2017 that they have released more high school test items.

It appears that since their previous announcement on Dec. 2, (which I blogged about here), they also added some items for other grades, too. In any event, I have once again updated my ongoing files featuring all of the released writing prompts.

Those updated files, along with more information about PARCC preparation, can be found on the TLC “PARCC Prep” page.

Followers of this TLC Blog are eligible for a 50%-off discount subscription to the TLC Website, which provides access to more than 1,200 files supporting literacy instruction. (PS: That’s less than 2 cents per file.) Click HERE and use the secret discount code, TLCBOOK50. Please note: The code is case-sensitive. If you would like to register friends at this rate, please Email me for a group registration form at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com

Posted in Assessment(s), Literary Analysis Writing, Narrative Writing, PARCC, Research Writing, Resources, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PARCC Prep: Suggested Writing Skills Tracker

LITERACY AND THE COMMON COREIf you are working with students on any of the three writing tasks, this Writing Skills Tracker may be helpful. For an Excel spreadsheet version of the table below, here’s the free downloadable parcc-writing-skills-tracker.  For more tools like this, please check out my TLC Website “PARCC Prep” page.

OBJECTIVES Date Taught Re-taught Proficiency?
NARRATIVE TASK      
1-SWBAT explain the differences between the two different types of PARCC Narrative prompts (change POV and retell vs. extend the story).      
2-SWBAT successfully complete Narrative Pre-Writing Organizer for a “retelling from a different point of view” narrative.      
3-SWBAT successfully complete Narrative Pre-Writing Organizer for an “extending the story” narrative.      
4-SWBAT explain which elements are required for a passing score on the “retelling from a different point of view” narrative.      
5-SWBAT explain which elements are required for a passing score on the “extend the story” narrative.      
6-SWBAT write a timed “retelling from a different point of view” narrative which maintains a consistent POV, faithfully retells the original plot, and formats dialogue properly (blank paper and typed).      
7-SWBAT write a timed “extending the story” narrative which uses the original POV and logically extends the original story, with dialogue formatted properly (blank paper and typed).      
       
LITERARY ANALYSIS TASK      
1-SWBAT turn a statement into a question in order to unpack PARCC writing prompts.      
2-SWBAT close read text #1 in response to the unpacked prompt in order to take notes for an essay response.      
3-SWBAT close read text #2 in response to the unpacked prompt, in order to take notes for an essay response.      
4-SWBAT identify similarities among texts in order to address those commonalities when writing that body paragraph.      
5-SWBAT write a thesis statement in order to introduce a literary analysis essay.      
6-SWBAT use notes in order to write effective body paragraphs.      
7-SWBAT draft a punchy conclusion sentence in order to complete the essay effectively.      
8-SWBAT explain what is required to write an effective literary analysis essay on the PARCC.      
9-SWBAT analyze PARCC-released items in order to evaluate them through the lens of the PARCC writing rubric.      
10-SWBAT write a timed literary analysis response that answers the question(s) implicit in the prompt with proper evidence and explanation (blank paper and typed).      
       
RESEARCH SIMULATION TASK      
1-SWBAT turn a statement into a question in order to unpack PARCC writing prompts.      
2-SWBAT close read text #1 in response to the unpacked prompt in order to take notes for an essay response.      
3-SWBAT close read text #2 in response to the unpacked prompt, in order to take notes for an essay response.      
4-SWBAT take notes on a video* in response to the unpacked prompt in order to prepare for an essay response (*not for 3rd grade).      
5-SWBAT identify similarities among texts in order to address those commonalities when writing that body paragraph.      
6-SWBAT write a thesis statement in order to introduce a research simulation essay.      
7-SWBAT use notes in order to write effective body paragraphs.      
8-Draft a punchy conclusion sentence in order to complete the essay effectively.      
9-SWBAT explain what is required to write an effective research simulation essay on the PARCC.      
10-SWBAT analyze PARCC-released items in order to evaluate them through the lens of the PARCC writing rubric.      
11-SWBAT successfully write a timed RST response that answers the question(s) implicit in the prompt with proper evidence and explanation (blank paper and typed).      
       

(PS: Thanks to Anibal Garcia at Queen City Academy CS for his support with this list!)

Posted in Assessment(s), Literary Analysis Writing, Narrative Writing, PARCC, Research Writing, Resources, Test Prep, TLC Website Resources, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment