Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Figurative Language Video

All-You-Can-Read Buffet to offer food for the mind

In a twist on the standard All-You-Eat-Buffet, the Ida Rupp Library in Port Clinton, Ohio, will host an All-You-Can-Read Buffet for teens on January 18. The library will serve great reads and food for three hours. Participants will read for 55 minutes of each hour, then get a five-minute break to stretch, use the bathroom, get something to eat or find something else to read. Anyone who reads for the entire three hours without breaking any rules will receive a prize. The event is for grades six through 12.  For more, read the brief in The Port Clinton News-Herald

How cool is that?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reading Comprehension Strategies

This is a great site to brush up on some tried and true strategies that will help all readers improve their comprehension:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Story

Recently I posted a link to Kenneth's ESL blog, which has great resources. He's posted an audio version of him reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and a comprehension quiz to go with it. To download the MP3 file simply right click on it and hit 'Save Target As'



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Five New Articles

I've uploaded five new articles. These links should make it easy to read and/or download them.

1. Digital Storytelling: Extending the Potential for Struggling Writers:

2. A Lesson on Reading Fluency Learned from The Tortoise and the Hare:

3. What Teachers Need to Know about the "New" Nonfiction:

4. Examining Multiple Perspectives with Creative Think-Alouds:

5. Floating On a Sea of Talk: Reading Comprehension Through Speaking and Listening:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Teaching a People’s History

This site has a lot of great resources and downloads that can be used in the teaching of history or English:

It is definitely worth checking out.

Literacy 2.0

IRA has posted a very informative podcast. It is well worth a listen:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Using Technology in 21st Century Classrooms

This video was made several years ago, and there are a lot of other similar videos out there that you may have already watched. Does it contain a bit of propaganda? Sure. However, it should definitely make educators stop for a minute and think about the students we serve.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Grammar Chants

Grammar chants are probably already being used, especially in the younger grades. They seem like a great, quick strategy that would benefit all students. Here is a link to a bunch of chants that could be beneficial:


Great Link

This guy (Kenneth) has a great ESL blog with a variety of resources. Check it out here:

A Tongue-Twisting Language Arts Lesson Plan

Beyond "Toy Boat" And Into Powerful Descriptive Writing

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers!

She Sells Seashells by the Seashore!

Toy Boat! Toy Boat! Toy Boat!

Try saying these words several times quickly and you'll see why tongues twisters can be a totally terrific part of your Language Arts curriculum. Not only are they silly, but these funny phrases focus on phonics, parts of speech, oral language, alliteration, reading, writing, and more.

For the full lesson plan go to:



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Teaching Strategy: Exit Slips

Exit Slips

Exit slips are written student responses to questions teachers pose at the end of a class or lesson. These quick, informal assessments enable teachers to quickly assess students' understanding of the material.

Why use exit slips?

  • They provide teachers with an informal measure of how well students have
    understood a topic or lesson.
  • They help students reflect on what they have learned.
  • They allow students to express what or how they are thinking about new information.
  • They teach students to think critically.

When to use:

Before reading

During reading

After reading

How to use:


With small groups

Whole class setting


How to use exit slips

  • At the end of your lesson ask students to respond to a question or prompt.

    Note: There are three categories of exit slips (Fisher & Frey, 2004):

    • Prompts that document learning:
      —Example: Write one thing you learned today.
      —Example: Discuss how today's lesson could be used in the real world.


    • Prompts that emphasize the process of learning:
      —Example: I didn't understand…
      —Example: Write one question you have about today's lesson.


    • Prompts to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction:
      —Example: Did you enjoy working in small groups today?


    • Other exit prompts include:
      —I would like to learn more about…
      —Please explain more about…
      —The thing that surprised me the most today was…
      —I wish…


  • You may state the prompt orally to your students or project it visually on an overhead or blackboard.
  • You may want to distribute 3 x 5 cards for students to write down their responses.
  • Review the exit slips to determine how you may need to alter your instruction to better meet the needs of all your students.
  • Collect the exit slips as a part of an assessment portfolio for each student.


Content area exit slip examples

  • Write one thing you learned today
  • Write one question you have about today's lesson
  • Write three words with the long "o" sound
  • Why are the North and South Pole so cold?
  • Explain why Canada is not considered a melting pot
  • Draw a quick diagram that shows perspective
  • Of the 3 graphs we studied today which one did you find most useful? Why?
  • Name one positive and one negative thing that happened during group work today
  • Multiply 3 by 4

Click on this link to find out more or download a blank Exit Slip form:

National Board Certification for Principals

Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Join NBPTS in Launching National Board Certification for Principals

December 2, 2009

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) will launch National Board Certification for Educational Leaders, which includes the development of National Board Certification for Principals, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., at the Ballroom of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. NBPTS will be joined by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan as well as a cross-section of funders and stakeholders to publicly announce the design and development of this initiative.

Click here to read the story in its entirety:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grammar Girl

Grammar Girl is a great resource for your classroom. Her emails and podcasts are succinct little nuggets of grammar greatness. One idea is to play one of her podcasts for your students while teaching them to take notes. This practice engages the students in the task of practicing their note-taking skills while brushing up a few grammar tidbits.

Her site ( ) has archives of podcasts, etc. and is really easy to use. You can also sign up to receive daily tips through your email.

Here is a link to a free download of the first chapter of Grammar Girl's new book, The Grammar Devotional:

A Great Article You’ve Probably Seen Before…

Written by Claude Goldenberg, the article is entitled, "Teaching English Language Learners: What the Research Does – And Does Not – Say"

Click on the link, download the pdf and then read at your own leisure:

ELL – What’s All the Hype?

Effective Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners

What's All the Hype?

By: Karen Pellino

Students with English as a second language (ESL) constitute a significant percentage of the population of our nation's schools. This population continues to increase more rapidly than that of native English speaking students (Shore, 2001). The language minority population has a high drop out rate. These students are also among the lowest ranking in academic achievement and expectations. They represent an at-risk population faced with a wide range of challenges (Thompson, 2000).

This presents a unique challenge for teachers as we strive to help these students achieve in learning the English language and the academic material specified in our content area learning standards. Every teacher who teaches subject matter in English to ESL students is not only a teacher of the content area but is a teacher of English as well. As educators, we must continually reflect on our teaching and update our practice to address the needs of this population, placing a strong emphasis on the human side of teaching. We must continually focus on these students and find effective ways to arrange their learning to help them achieve.

This tutorial is a summary and critical analysis of four recent journal articles on the above subject. The articles focus on the challenges ESL students face and how they translate into challenges for teachers. Following the summary of articles, strategies that teachers can use to help overcome these challenges will be discussed.

Learning English and Learning America:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Children Who Use Technology are Better Writers

Children who blog, text or use social networking websites are more confident about their writing skills, according to the National Literacy Trust.

Click here to read the entire story:

Thanks again to Lo!

Wiki Opens Brave New World to Young Writers

The Boston Globe recently ran a great story about how one school is using Wikis:


Thanks to Lo Lyness for this story!

Mt. Whitney Webcam

This might not be news… but is sure is a cool thing to use with your students:

There is a webcam posted on the roof of the Whitney Portal Hostel. To access its view use this link:


The owners have also posted quite a bit of information about the camera itself, how it works, etc.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Making Mathematics Accessible to English Learners – Webinar Opportunity

WestEd's SchoolsMovingUp website will feature another free webinar, "Making Mathematics Accessible to English Learners," on Wednesday, December 2, from 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time (1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time).

What can teachers do to help English language learners in math class? In this webinar, Cathy Carroll, Senior Research Associate/Project Director in WestEd's Mathematics, Science, & Technology Program, and John Carr, Senior Research Associate in WestEd's Evaluation Research Program, will present an integrated approach to teaching mathematics in a mainstream classroom with English learners at different language levels as well as other students with special learning needs. They will discuss and give examples how to combine and embed proven strategies and tools for teaching diverse learners, and a widely accepted inquiry-based approach to teaching mathematics. Many of the strategies that scaffold learning are also the accommodations for English learners to show on tests what they have learned. Our "doable" approach promotes mathematical thinking and communication, and engages and supports all diverse learners, particularly English learners, in each lesson.

The webinar is geared to upper elementary, middle, and high school mathematics teachers who have had had limited preparation for teaching mathematics to English learners, their leaders in schools and districts, and university (mathematics) teacher education faculty. The material will be based on the presenter's bestselling book, Making Mathematics Accessible to English Learners: A Guidebook for Teachers.

See the webinars page on SchoolsMovingUp for further information, including specific topics to be addressed by this webinar, at

Live Webinar
Watch the presenter show slides, websites, and resources online via our web-based software, while listening to the presentation on your telephone. You can ask questions online and interact through online polls and a chat window. [Recommended participation mode for those able to use the Internet and phone simultaneously]

Live Teleconference with Presentation PPT/PDF
Download the slideshow presentation to print from or view on your computer, while listening to the presentation on your telephone. You can ask questions via email. [Participation mode for those unable to use the Internet and phone simultaneously]

Access Past Webinars
Unable to attend? You may view the archived webinar and accompanying resource materials. You can watch and listen to the presentation, questions, and discussion as it happened in the live webinar. [Archives are available one day after the live webinar]

**Note: If you have special access needs (e.g., you have a hearing impairment and need special arrangements made to access the audio,) please let us know ASAP so we can make the appropriate arrangements.

To sign up for this event, please visit and select "Attend this Webinar." You will then be prompted to login or register for free on the site as needed. If you plan to participate via the live webinar option, you will need to "Run the Wizard" to test your computer's capacity to support the webinar. We recommend you do this at least one day before the webinar. If you would prefer to participate via the live teleconference with presentation PPT/PDF, you can instead join the conference call and download the presentation PPT/PDF, which will be available the day before the webinar. Registered participants will receive an email notification when the presentation PPT/PDF is posted. The message will also contain further instructions for participating.

We look forward to your participation. For more information, contact Julie Duffield at or 415.615.3213. For technical questions, contact Dan Wilson at or 510.302.4265.

To be notified about our new webinars each month, become a registered user of SchoolsMovingUp for free at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Thousand Words?

This picture is from a recent LA Times article regarding the protests at UCLA.

Dirt Can Be Good For Children

I think this was written about in a recent issue of the LPHS newspaper:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Responsiveness to Intervention

In their article, Responsiveness to Intervention: Multilevel Assessment and Instruction as Early Intervention and Disability Identification, Douglas Fuchs and Lynn S. Fuchs remind us that it is important to remember that the purpose of RTI is not to prevent special education. Read their article, in its entirety, here:

Teaching Vocabulary in Mathematics

Margaret E. Pierce and L. Melena Fontaine discuss robust vocabulary instruction in math classes:

Substitute Educators Day

Subs: What would teachers do without them?

Posted by:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 20 is Substitute Educators Day. The day focuses on the importance of substitute school employees who are a critical link in the education of public schoolchildren because they help provide continued quality education to children in the temporary absence of regular classroom educators.

Substitute Educators Day was established by the National Education Association (NEA) to increase appreciation of school substitute employees.

Visitors to the NEA site voted and selected a world-famous musician and activist as the person they would most like to see be a substitute tearcher. To see who won the vote, visit NEA's website

Substitute Educators Day seeks to increase respect for substitute educators; advocate for all school substitutes to receive wage and health benefits for those who work most to all of a full school year, receive genuine, continual professional development in the art of substitute teaching; provide a reminder for school staff about effective practices to prepare for, welcome, and support substitute educators.

Reposted from www.reading,org


Thursday, November 19, 2009

American Education Week

Yeah… it's almost over (November 15th – 21st) but it warrants a mention, no?

Here are a few links to what is happening in other parts of our country in celebration:,franklin-park-eduweek-111909-s1.article

South Carolina Middle School Covers Walls With Students' Written Work.

I think this is one of the coolest things I've heard about in a long time. I've emailed the teacher and am hoping to get some pictures. Click on the synopsis to read the full story:

The Anderson (SC) Independent-Mail (11/19, Carey) reports that students' written works cover the walls of Starr Iva Middle School in South Carolina. "The pieces were done as part of the National Day on Writing" in October. However, "the project will continue throughout the year as Starr Iva works to become an 'Exemplary Writing' school." The sixth through eighth graders' writings include poetry, fiction, and nonfiction works. "The writing not only allows the students to perfect their writing skills, said Principal Mike Ruthsatz, but to express themselves." And, he added, "The students love to see their work up on the walls."

Principal Fills In For Teachers Each Month To Reinforce Social Skills With Students.

Illinois' Pantagraph (11/19, Coulter) reports that Scott Myers, principal of Hudson Elementary School in Illinois wanted to "give teachers more time to plan lessons," so is taking over each teacher's class for 40 minutes each month. During that time, Myers "uses innovation to reinforce good social skills with students." Meanwhile, "teachers get time to plan specifically for individual students, gifted or struggling, and to organize events for all students. If a grade level has two teachers, they work together." This month, Myers' sessions focused on being kind and not using foul language.

To read the full story, click here:

An Oldie, but a Goodie!

Reasons Why the English Language is Hard to Learn:

1. The bandage was wound around the wound.

2. The farm was used to produce produce.

3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse refuse.

4. We must polish the Polish furniture.

5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7. Since there was no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8. A bass was painted the head of the bass drum.

9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10. I did not object to the object.

11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13. They were too close to the door to close it.

14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into the sewer line.

16. To help with the planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18. After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it, English is a crazy language! There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in a pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French Fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. If we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. Why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, two geese… So one moose, two meese?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you can comb through annals of history but not one single annal?

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Learning Nonfiction in an ESL Class

Over the past several years there has been much written and discussed about the teaching of nonfiction. According to many sources schools are simply not teaching enough nonfiction or underestimate the value of using nonfiction pieces in lessons. The debate includes all learners, but the use of nonfiction seems especially critical for English Language Learners. It would be very interesting to see how individual teachers in our district feel about this topic and where other sources could potentially be included in our curriculum.

Click on the link below to read Jason Ranker's article entitled, Learning Nonfiction in an ESL Class: The Interaction of Situated Practice and Teacher Scaffolding in a Genre Study.

Strategy: Find the Fib

Adapted from Kagan, 1994

Find the Fib

Find the Fib allows teachers to assess understanding of content, while students are supported in decision-making by their peers. Students work in pairs or small groups, and each has a set of three cards that say: "1 is the fib;" "2 is the fib;" "3 is the fib." The teacher poses three different statements, one false and two true; students may also write their own statements, one false and two true. The students then decide independently, with their partner, or in their small group which one is false (the fib). On a signal from the teacher, students show their cards at the same time. If a student has the wrong answer, the teacher asks the other students to explain which word or phrase in the fib makes it false. The teacher can also encourage the class to explain which word or phrase in the true statements makes them true.

Content Objective:

Students will be able to determine whether statements about (a topic) are true or false.

Language Objectives:

Students will be able to:

  • Listen to statements about (a topic) orally presented by the teacher.
  • Discuss with group members true and false statements about (a topic).
  • Write true and false statements about (a topic).


**From 99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with THE SIOP MODEL by MaryEllen Vogt and Jana Echevarria

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

File This One Under, “Duh!”

Stop That Video- DVD

(Adapted from Long Beach Unified School District)

English learners (and others) while watching a content-related video may talk throughout, be asked to quiet down, and have nothing to share related to the content at the close of the video. This problem may result from inadequate processing time and may be resolved by using the technique, Stop That Video – DVD.

During this activity, the teacher stops the video at key points, allowing students time to process the information individually, either in their heads or on paper. English learners particularly benefit from using a note-taking sheet that outlines key points or questions to be answered in the video. Once students process information independently, they can share and clarify with a partner.

This technique allows the teacher to check for understanding throughout the course of the video and address any misconceptions. If a student chooses to process the information with another student in their primary language, this may further enhance comprehension.

***From 99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with THE SIOP MODEL by MaryEllen Vogt and Jana Echevarria

Monday, November 16, 2009

Library Books Returned 50 Years Late

A high school librarian in Phoenix says a former student at the school returned two overdue books checked out 51 years ago along with a $1,000 money order to cover the fines.

Camelback High School librarian Georgette Bordine says the two Audubon Society books checked out in 1959 and the money order were sent by someone who wanted to remain anonymous.

Bishop Schools Hire Canine Firm to Search Campus

Written by Benett Kessler

Friday, 13 November 2009 16:46

Problems with kids. Nationwide, schools report issues with drugs, alcohol and weapons. In Inyo-Mono, issues have come up over problems with kids and the need for law enforcement on campus, and now in Bishop a new, aggressive move to crack down on drugs and alcohol at school.

Bishop School Superintendent Barry Simpson sent out letters to parents and teachers to say that the school district recently started a program with Interquest Detection Canines, Inc. to "provide detection canines to conduct random, unannounced inspections of all campus locations in the district."

The Bishop Superintendent said these dogs are trained to detect the presence of illicit drugs, alcohol, commonly abused medications and gunpowder-based items. The canines will randomly inspect campus buildings, parking lots and grounds for prohibited items. Simpson said if these things are detected and found, the district will initiate the appropriate disciplinary action.

The canines are considered non-aggressive breeds like Golden and Labrador Retrievers. The company that provides the dogs, Interquest, provides service to over 1200 public school districts across the nation.

The school district has invited parents and the public to a presentation by Interquest Detection Canines on Tuesday, November 17th, at 6pm in the Bishop High School Library.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Teachers Pay Teachers

Yesterday's New York Times contained an interesting article about the financial value of teaching content: .

The idea of intellectual ownership, especially in this context, is a fascinating one. Personally, I've used one of the sites mentioned in the article ( a few times over the past two or three years to varying degrees of success. Once in awhile the site has been a real life-saver, offering just what I was looking for at a reasonable cost. Other times, however, I've felt really ripped off by an item I've purchased. Either way, I prefer the idea of paying a teacher for something he or she has developed as opposed to lining the pockets of the select few companies/people who aren't even working with kids in classrooms.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spellbinder Books’ Writing Contest

Spellbinder Books' 

Story Writing Contest

part of

Children's Book Week 2009 

Entry Rules:

Story Theme: The Seasons 

  • Anyone age 2 – 18 can enter by simply turning in a story that illustrates in words, pictures, or both the above theme to Spellbinder books between Nov. 15th and 20th. (Stories must be turned in by 6 PM on the 20th so that we have time to read them before our Fall Party on the 22nd.) 
  • "Pre-literate" children may dictate their stories to an adult assistant. 
  • Participants can turn in up to one story a day. 
  • Stories can be written/illustrated at home, or in the store with the supplies provided. 
  • Each story MUST have the author's name and phone number on the front cover. 
  • Written stories can be no more than 3 pages in length.  
  • Illustrated stories can be no more than 10 pages in length. 
  • Prizes will be awarded in 4 age levels: preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school. 
  • Winning stories will be read or announced at our Fall Party, Sunday Nov. 22nd at 3:30 PM 

For Further Information Contact Lynne or Genevieve at Spellbinder Books (760) 873-4511

Friday, November 13, 2009

Strategy Links

This school site has a great list of teaching strategies. Most aren't all that new, but this could be a great resource:

This site has teaching tips concerning reading comprehension:

Why Should Students Blog?

Why Should Students Blog?

From Mary Kruel, a teacher widely known for her online classroom work:

I think that the biggest advantage to blogs is that they provide an authentic audience for student writing and work in general. In the past the teacher was usually the only person who read student work. With a blog, student work can be read by classmates, parents, extended family members, school community members, project partners, classroom teachers, pre-service teachers, and anyone around the world who locates the class blog. (Personal correspondence, December 2008)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is RTI?

According to the National Center on Response to Intervention can be defined as:

Response to intervention integrates assessment and intervention within a multi-level prevention system to maximize student achievement and to reduce behavior problems. With RTI, schools identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes, monitor student progress, provide evidence-based interventions and adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student's responsiveness, and identify students with learning disabilities or other disabilities.

For more information, visit the site:

The RTI Network is another good resource:

Intervention Central offers a lot of varied strategies that are probably great tools for all learners:

Local News and Information

This is a bit off topic, and probably nothing new. However, here are a few links to sites that have local information:

If you have links you'd like to add, please feel free!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners

This site, Jill Kerper Mora, Ed. D. of San Diego University, has an alphabetical listing of useful strategies. Check it out!

Strategy: Chunk and Chew

Chunk and Chew ensures that students are not inundated with input from the teacher without being given appropriate time to process information. By following the Chunk and Chew strategy, teachers deliver their lessons in small "chunks" giving students time to "chew" the information either individually, with partners, or in small groups. Follow this simple rule: For every 10 minutes of teacher input, students should be given 2 minutes to process information. (This is known 10 and 2). Time frames vary and should be adjusted according to language proficiency and grade level of the students. When students are aware of the strategy of the Chunk and Chew technique, they will anticipate the processing time and let the teacher know when they have reached their limit on input.

***From 99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with THE SIOP MODEL by MaryEllen Vogt and Jana Echevarria

The Importance of Active Participation

Did you ever see that commercial where the kids are told what to do, where to sit, what to study, and they have no choices except for what goes on their sub sandwich? Beyond just being able to improve their life by picking out pickles over tomatoes for a sandwich - I strongly believe that our children need to have some measure of control over their own learning. This can be difficult, however, when we have a set amount of content that must be given to them in a short period of time. How can we provide opportunities within our instruction to allow students to be true active participants in their learning?

***To read the rest of this blog entry, written by a Lesley University student, follow this link: