CONSULTING UPDATE from ST

Just wanted to share a quick update: After three years as Managing Director of Humanities at Great Oaks Legacy Charter Schools, I have pivoted back into consulting.  I am now fully available for consulting on literacy instruction and leadership, and I have also developed new programming to support mental wellness.  In the past two years, I’ve become a certified energy healer and intuitive coach.  For an updated description of my workshops and services, click here and see below:

My consulting services include:

  • Literacy Coaching (observations and feedback, demo lessons, workshops)
  • Leadership Coaching
  • Designing Effective Systems for School Success
  • Instructional Needs Analysis Reports
  • Curriculum Development Training and Support
  • Data Analysis and Re-teach Planning
  • Strategic Planning Facilitation
  • NEW! Mental Wellness Support (Educating from Our Best Selves)


With training on the following topics:

LITERACY INSTRUCTION:CURRICULUM PLANNING:
-The Comprehension Process and 4 Key Critical Reading Skills
-From Argument vs. Evidence to Effective Writing Instruction
-Building Robust Vocabulary
-Close Reading, Parts I and II
-Using Grammar to Improve Writing
-PARCC/NJSLA Writing Task Prep -Teaching with Novels/ Narratives
-Effective Habits of Discourse
-Understanding by Design: Developing Effective Unit Plans
-Designing RPM (Rigorous, Purposeful, Measurable) Objectives
-Designing Effective Lesson Plans
-Analyzing the ELA Common Core Standards
-Scripting the Pitch  
SCHOOL CULTURE:MENTAL WELLNESS:
-Building School Culture: How to Get the School You WANT to See
-Mission, Vision, and School Culture
-Strategic Planning for School Turnarounds
-Educating from Our Best Selves
-Approaches to Goal-setting

Many of these workshops are based on ideas discussed in my books:

And of course, if you haven’t already seen it, please check out The Literacy Cookbook Website, which offers 2,000-plus teacher-friendly tools.  As a bonus for TLC Blog followers, here is the 50%-off discount code for yearlong access to The Literacy Cookbook Website: TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS). 

If you are interested (or know any colleagues who might be interested) in my work, please don’t hesitate to contact me at literacycookbook@gmail.com

Warmly,

Sarah Tantillo, Ed.D.

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PARCC Prep Checklist: A Friendly Reminder

As a former high school English teacher who loves literature and loves to write, I do not believe in doing test prep 24/7. I believe tests are a genre, the same way that drama is a genre and poetry is a genre, etc.—and we should prepare students for them in the same way that we prepare them to analyze a play or write a poem: figure out the key features of the genre, teach students what is required to do well in working with that genre, then give them sufficient practice so that they can confidently tackle that genre in the future.

In the home stretch of PARCC test preparation, here’s a quick diagnostic tool you can use to determine if your students have a clear grasp of some essential strategies that will help them succeed with this genre.

Below is the “student” version. This PARCC ELA PREP CHECKLIST (a free download) includes both the student copy and a suggested answer key.

NAME_______________________________________DATE______

PARCC ELA PREP CHECKLIST—STUDENT COPY

Directions: For each question, on a scale of 1-10 (1=not confident, 10=very confident), FIRST rate how confident you feel about how to respond. THEN, jot some notes in response. We will discuss each item. AFTER our discussion, rate how confident you feel. See the model.

QUESTIONNOTESHow confident you feel   BEFORE: 1-10How confident you feel   AFTER: 1-10
What should you do FIRST when you start a PARCC ELA test?Click forward to the writing prompt, turn the prompt into a question, and write that question on your blank sheet of paper so that you can take notes with that question in mind.110
How do you unpack a Literary Analysis or Research Simulation Task writing prompt and turn it into a question?   
How much time should you spend on 1) reading and taking notes, 2) answering multiple-choice questions, and 3) writing your narrative or essay?   
How/Why can taking notes actually SAVE you time?   
What are some useful test-taking strategies for answering multiple-choice questions?   
What kind of organizer should you create for taking notes on the Literary Analysis Writing Task? What should the notes focus on?   
Why should you put checkmarks next to items in your organizer for the Literary Analysis/Research Simulation Writing Task?   
What is the basic outline structure for a Literary Analysis compare and contrast essay? (2 options)   
What kind of organizer should you create for taking notes on the Research Simulation Writing Task? What should the notes focus on?   
What is the basic outline structure for a Research Simulation compare and contrast essay? (2 options)   
What two things might the Narrative Writing Task ask you to do (after you read the passage)?   
Why is important to pay attention to “DDAT” and “Somebody Wanted But So” when pre-writing for the Narrative Writing Task?       
On the Narrative Writing Task, what kinds of compositional risks should you use?   
The box you’re supposed to type in looks really small. Does that mean you should only write two sentences?   
What should you be sure to do before time expires, and why?   

For more information on PARCC, see the TLC “PARCC Prep” page.

PS: Please feel free to comment (or Email me at literacycookbook@gmail.com) if you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions!

PPS: This Blog post originally ran in 2016; I’m reposting it as a reminder.

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SUMMER READING RECOMMENDATIONS: For Educators

Here’s my short list of recommended reading for educators this summer….

CULTIVATING GENIUS: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy by Gholdy Muhammad (Scholastic, 2020).

  • This book is a game-changer.  My colleagues and I are revising our ELA and social studies units to incorporate Gholdy Muhammad’s HRL (Historically Responsive Literacy) Pursuits—Identity, Skills, Intellect, Criticality, and Joy—because we found in several pilot units when we did that, students became significantly more engaged in the texts, performed better on assessments, and reported in follow-up surveys that they “loved” the books.

CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING & THE BRAIN: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond (Corwin Press, 2015).

  • Though not new, this book continues to make its presence felt as we all continue to deepen our understanding of brain research and how to teach in culturally responsive ways.  Here’s one quote that jumps out at me: “Dr. Victor Carrion and his colleagues (2007) of Stanford’s Early Life Stress Research Program point out that as many as one-third of children living in our country’s urban neighborhoods have PTSD—nearly twice the rate reported for troops returning from war zones in Iraq” (33).  We clearly have much more work to do, and this book is an invaluable guide for how to do it.

THE LITERACY COOKBOOK: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction by Sarah Tantillo (Jossey-Bass, 2012).

  • I know this is a shameless plug, but I still wish someone had handed me this book at any point in my 14-year teaching career.  It continues to help me support teachers with the fundamentals of effective literacy instruction across the curriculum.

USING GRAMMAR TO IMPROVE WRITING: Recipes for Action by Sarah Tantillo (BookBaby, 2018).

  • Another shameless plug, but in this case I can save you some time: Just read the first 80 pages, where I explain how to teach writing and grammar effectively (and, as a bonus, how to combat learned helplessness).  You can buy it on Kindle for just $3.99.  But if you teach ELA, you will probably want the paperback version, which explains (after page 80) how to teach every single Common Core grammar and writing standard, K-12.  You’re welcome!

LOVE & LITERACY: A Practical Guide for Grades 5-12 to Finding the Magic in Literature by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo and Stephen Chiger (Jossey-Bass, 2021).

  • If I had to sum up this new book in one word, it would be “systematic.”  It is chock-full of tools and clear explanations of how to roll out effective literacy instructional practices used in the high-performing Uncommon Schools network (and in many other high-performing networks and schools, as well).  Rich with examples, it provides both access to video clips of effective teaching and excerpts of the transcripts so you don’t have to stop reading in order to watch the videos (and some of the transcripts make you WANT to watch the videos).  It also includes clear, detailed directions for how to guide students in annotation, writing, and discourse; and it provides readers opportunities to pause, reflect, and self-assess.  In sum: a helpful guide that lives up to its title! (Full disclosure: Stephen Chiger is a dear friend.)
Posted in Gholdy Muhammad, Love & Literacy, Summer Reading, The Literacy Cookbook BOOK, Uncategorized, Using Grammar to Improve Writing BOOK, Zaretta Hammond | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ONLINE LEARNING: Building Community in Your Online Classroom

(Note: This post was previously published in PBC’s Compass Points blog.)

Among the many challenges of teaching online is the need to build community in our virtual classrooms.  In the spring when we went remote, we already knew our students and had built strong relationships with them in person.  This fall, we didn’t have that advantage.

The teachers I work with at Great Oaks Legacy Charter Schools Network have spent the past month trying out various ways to build community in their middle school Zoom classrooms, and in a recent meeting, they shared what has worked.

Before class starts and in the first few minutes of class:

  • Greet students warmly by name.
  • Engage in mini chit-chat.
  • Invite students to type in the Chat responses to personal questions such as “What are you doing this weekend? What did you like about ___?  What’s something positive happening in your life?” or other “getting-to-know-you” questions.
  • Run a quick Show and Tell.
  • Do a daily “temperature check” via a Zoom or Nearpod poll (e.g., “How are you feeling? A) Excited, B) Sleepy, C) OK, D) Ehhh, E) Don’t ask.”) and use that data immediately. For example, if students mostly respond “Sleepy,” get them up to do an energizer—maybe a Dance Minute or a quick “Shake It Out” activity.

During class:

  • Show students’ faces as much as possible. When you share your screen, students can only see 4-5 faces at a time.
  • Encourage supportive hand signals like “brain-matching.”
  • Give students voice in the classroom through Chat or by unmuting themselves. Remind students that this is “our” classroom, not a podcast.
  • Put students in breakout rooms for discussions; make sure your directions are clear so that students can jump right in.
  • Make learning “a collaborative thing” as much as possible.
  • Constantly praise students by name for positive behaviors/academic success and encourage them to do the same with one another. Model praise in the Chat.
  • Encourage students to “@Chat”: to respond to one another’s academic remarks (“@Javon, I agree with you!” or “@Amaya, nice explanation!”)
  • Invite students to co-host and share their screens.
  • Establish various roles for students. Here’s what one teacher introduced in the first week:
·      Time Keeper – Give me a 10-minute warning when class is going to end. I want to respect your time and your breaks!

·      Class DJ – You have to be able to get to class early and play the pump-up tunes before class begins.

·      Mini Me– You will be in charge of leading the class discussion from whatever the topic of the Do Now is; you get to be the teacher.

·      I Got This – During class discussions if we reach a point where the conversation gets stale, you will keep the conversation going.

·      Joy Factor – You will encourage us in the chat and motivate your classmates to speak up and shout them out.

  • Be transparent and show respect for their feelings and ideas that they share.
  • Be honest and straightforward: We are human and we aren’t perfect.
  • Telling a random joke or making a connection to real life can break the monotony of a lesson and also help students to engage.
  • Play games that tie into the lesson.

At the end of class, stay on for students who have questions or just want to be social for a few minutes.

FOR ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Since the quarantine began, Princeton-Blairstown Center has been offering resources for educators and families to help them build community and develop students’ social-emotional learning skills. Archives of the resources are hosted on PBC’s COVID-19 and SEL Resources page.

I hope these ideas will help others.  We are all in this together!

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NEW VIDEO TRAINING MODULE: Unpacking the ELA Common Core Standards!

I am pleased to share another video training module!

Unpacking the ELA Common Core Standards MODULE

This SELF-PACED 17-min video (ideal for viewing with a colleague so you can discuss questions that arise) addresses the following four questions:

  1. What should we do with Common Core Standards (CCS) proficiency data?
  2. How and why should we unpack the CCS?
  3. Once we’ve unpacked the CCS, what should we do?
  4. What will this process probably cause us to do?

For more information (including the accompanying handouts), check out the following links: TLC “Video Training” page and the TLC “Standards” page.

Please subscribe to TheLiteracyCookbook YouTube Channel to receive updates when I add more modules.  PS–I have more modules in the works!

PPS, along with these free video modules, you may become inspired to use The Literacy Cookbook Website, which offers 2,000-plus teacher-friendly tools.  As a bonus for TLC Blog followers, here is the 50%-off discount code for yearlong access to The Literacy Cookbook Website: TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS). 

Posted in Analyzing the Common Core Standards, ELA Common Core Standards, Literacy and the Common Core BOOK, Professional Development, Questioning, Reading Informational Text, Resources, RPM Objectives, Summarizing, TLC Website Resources, Trajectory Analysis, Unpacking the ELA Common Core Standards, Video Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW VIDEO TRAINING MODULE: Argument vs. Evidence!

I am pleased to share another video training module!

Argument vs. Evidence MODULE

This 33-min SELF-PACED video explains the six key steps regarding argument vs. evidence (from “What’s the difference between argument and evidence?” to “How can I write a research paper from scratch?”).For more information to support your work around argument and evidence, please check out the following:

Please subscribe to TheLiteracyCookbook YouTube Channel to receive updates when I add more modules.  PS–I have more modules in the works!

PPS, along with these free video modules, you may become inspired to use The Literacy Cookbook Website, which offers 2,000-plus teacher-friendly tools.  As a bonus for TLC Blog followers, here is the 50%-off discount code for yearlong access to The Literacy Cookbook Website: TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS).

Posted in Argument, Evidence, Persuasion, Professional Development, Resources, TLC Website Resources, Video Training, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW VIDEO TRAINING MODULE: Using Grammar to Improve Writing!

I am pleased to share another FREE video training module!

This SELF-PACED 32-minute video training module addresses the following topics:

  1. How we teach writing at Great Oaks Legacy Charter Schools
  2. What to STOP doing
  3. Seven principles for effective grammar/writing instruction
  4. How to help students who are not on grade level
  5. Other factors that affect how well we write
  6. How to meet the Common Core Standards for Language and Writing SYSTEMATICALLY.

For more information, check out the following links:

Last but not least, my book USING GRAMMAR TO IMPROVE WRITING: RECIPES FOR ACTION, is available online wherever books are sold.

Please subscribe to TheLiteracyCookbook YouTube Channel to receive updates when I add more modules.  I have more modules in the works!

PS, along with these free video modules, you may become inspired to use The Literacy Cookbook Website, which offers 2,000-plus teacher-friendly tools.  As a bonus for TLC Blog followers, here is the 50%-off discount code for yearlong access to The Literacy Cookbook Website: TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS). 

Posted in Grammar, Language Standards, Professional Development, RPM Objectives, TLC Website Resources, Using Grammar to Improve Writing BOOK, Video Training, Writing, Writing Feedback | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW RESOURCES: Video Training Modules!!!

I am super-excited to report that I’ve been designing video training modules to support literacy instruction!!!  These brief but informative modules cover key topics that I’ve been presenting on and writing about for the past decade, and they are now available for FREE via TheLiteracyCookbook YouTube Channel and on the TLC “VIDEO TRAINING” page.  If you are a teacher or an administrator, I hope you will quickly see how these modules can help strengthen literacy instruction in your school, district, or network.

The first three modules address reading topics:

  1. The Comprehension Process MODULE: This 23-min SELF-PACED video explains The Comprehension Process Staircase and how to use the Quadrant Analysis Approach to images (reinforcing the comprehension process with visual analysis).
  2. 4 Key Critical Reading Skills MODULE: This 20-min SELF-PACED video explains the four key critical reading skills (paraphrasing, inference, vocabulary in context, and summarizing/inferring main idea) and how to teach them. NOTE: Watch The Comprehension Process MODULE before this one.
  3. How We Teach Vocabulary MODULE: This 12-min SELF-PACED video explains how we teach vocabulary at the MS level and demonstrates the tools we use. NOTE: Watch The Comprehension Process MODULE before this one.

Please check out the TLC “VIDEO TRAINING” page and subscribe to TheLiteracyCookbook YouTube Channel to receive updates when I add more modules.  PS–I have several writing-related modules in the works!

PPS, along with these free video modules, you may become inspired to use The Literacy Cookbook Website, which offers 2,000-plus teacher-friendly tools.  As a bonus for TLC Blog followers, here is the 50%-off discount code for yearlong access to The Literacy Cookbook Website: TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS).

Posted in Comprehension, Inference, Main Idea, Paraphrasing, Presentations, Professional Development, Quadrant Analysis, Reading, Resources, Summarizing, The Literacy Cookbook BOOK, TLC Website Resources, Video Training, Vocabulary, Vocabulary in Context | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ONLINE LEARNING: FREE Independent Reading Access for ALL!

Although most schools are now closed for the summer, it is not too late to reach out to your students and tell them about Libby.  If you’ve never heard of it, Libby is a FREE app that enables people to access FREE public library resources with a library card.  Once students have a library card and the Libby app, they can check out e-books and audiobooks ANY TIME.  The world opens up!

At Great Oaks Legacy Charter Schools, the network where I work, we pushed the Libby app out to students’ Chromebooks and taught them how to secure a Newark Public Library card and how to use Libby before the school year ended.  PS–The Libby app can also be downloaded on ANY device (phone, tablet, etc.).  Just to be sure everyone—including parents/guardians—was fully aware of these resources, we sent a follow-up Email, which I am sharing here in hopes that it will be useful to you.

***

Greetings, students and parents!

GOLCS is excited to share with you a whole new world: FREE ONLINE independent reading!

Here are the steps:

  1. Get a library card (if you don’t already have one).  Click HERE to get/renew a FREE Newark Public Library card online (PS, Students should use their school Email address).  NOTE: It might take some time before you receive an Email with your card number and PIN because the librarians enter your information manually.  Make sure you save this information!
  2. On your Chromebook, click on the Libby app, which will enable you to check out FREE e-books and audio books. Note: We have added the Libby app to all Chromebooks.  You can also download the Libby app on any other digital devices you may have (cell phone, tablet, laptop).
  3. On the Libby app, sign up by adding your library card number and selecting the correct library (Newark Public Library). Here’s a video that explains how to use the Libby app to check out e-books and audiobooks from any library.
  4. Check out your first book, and start reading!

The Libby app includes reading recommendations.  Here are a few other resources to help you find good books:

***

***PS: As a bonus for TLC Blog followers, here is the 50%-off discount code for yearlong access to the 2,000-plus teacher-friendly tools found on The Literacy Cookbook Website: TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS).  Check out the TLC “Online Learning” page for more tips!

***PPS: If you’re looking for a book recommendations, please check out my other blog, Only Good Books!

Posted in Audio Books, Independent Reading, Libby app, ONLINE LEARNING, Reading, Recommended Reading, Resources, Summer Reading, TLC Website Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ONLINE LEARNING: Open-source Resources

As we near the finish line of this unusual school year, we are already looking ahead to the next one.

For anyone trying to figure out how to run a hybrid instructional model—partly in person, partly online—here are just a few key FREE resources that may help:

Achievement First/Ednovate:

Doug Lemov’s Field Notes, in which the author of Teach Like a Champion (among many other books) describes his latest learnings in the field.

Match Fishtank  This Website provides the standards-based K-12 Curriculum used at Match Charter Public School in Boston, MA.

Success Academy Ed Institute  This Website provides information about the literacy and history curriculum used by the high-performing Success Academy Charter Schools network.

Uncommon Schools  This link takes you to Uncommon’s remote curriculum.

***PS: As a bonus for TLC Blog followers, here is the 50%-off discount code for yearlong access to the 2,000-plus teacher-friendly tools found on The Literacy Cookbook Website: TLCBOOK50 (Note: ALL CAPS).  Check out the TLC “Online Learning” page for more tips!

***PPS: If you’re looking for a good book, please check out my other blog, Only Good Books!

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