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It Seemed Like A Useless Little Closet. Then This Creative Guy Took Over And Now I Want It.

It Seemed Like A Useless Little Closet. Then This Creative Guy Took Over And Now I Want It. | AdLit |
You don't need much space to make big things happen.

Via GoogleLitTrips Reading List
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's curator insight, December 4, 2013 1:06 PM

4 Dec 2013

Saw this on my Facebook page posted by two Apple Distinguished friends of mine, Sharon Eilts and Helen Mowers, two always inspiring educators.


It's a story in images of the evolution of a plain closet into an extremely cool space where author Noah JD Chinn wrote several of his published novels.


Don't quit at the second picture. Anybody could turn an empty closet into a cramped writing space. But as you scroll through the images of the transition from closet to plain old dinky space with a desk to a super incredible place to do some serious writing, you'll be amazed.


And just wait until you see what he actually uses as a keyboard! (check out the links for pics of what that process looked like.)


Now, what does that have to do with Reading About Reading besides the fact that it's about an author's very creative space where he does his "authoring"?


How many of those of us who love literary reading so much that we  teach it have an idea floating around our brains for the great novel we might write some day? And, how many of us have resigned ourselves to, " Yeah, but maybe some day because right now I just don't have __________"?


Don't know about you, but I'm guilty of "giving up on dreams because right now I just don't have ________ or _________." And as soon as I identify why I don't do something, I fall prey to accepting that as the WHY and sadly go off to do what I usually do with my time.


But, maybe the truth is I haven't wanted some of those dreams quite as passionately as I might have.


Last night, I saw Steve Wozniack speak at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA. At the core of his hour and a half on stage was his repeated theme that it was the depth of his passion to figure things out for himself and the motivation that provided him to just start finding ways to learn more about what he really found interesting AND FUN (the middle "F" in his three "Fs of happiness).The other two Fs in case you're wondering? 


Friends and Family.


It really gave me pause for thought. What if we truly undervalue the engaging potential of fun to motivate curiosity  and exploration into areas beyond our existing interests and understandings? 


I can't help but wonder whether it is the "fun" in storytelling and story listening and story reading that engages us in the more scholarly depths of the themes and wisdom of literary reading.


And, yet at the same time it is the "fun" of literary reading that is often at the source of dismissing literature as having little more than "recreational" value doing little other than allowing us to "escape" momentarily the more important things in life that we really ought to be doing like shopping or mowing the lawn or ......... 




If we know we would really enjoy spending time doing  ________,  but we just "don't have _______" maybe we just don't quite care enough yet to make it happen..


Our "Yes, buts..." can add up to a whole bunch of "Yes, and  I made it happens." if we don't allow all those "buts" to pre-emptively slam doors on our dreams. 


You wanna write? Do it. 

(It's the advise we've given our students repeatedly isn't it?)


 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 educational nonprofit

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National Humanities Alliance

National Humanities Alliance | AdLit |

The National Humanities Alliance is a coalition of organizations dedicated to advancing humanities education, research, preservation, and public programs. We are the only organization that brings together the US humanities community as a whole.Sign up to become part of our nation-wide group of advocates for the humanities.

Lynnette Van Dyke's insight:

"Learn how your organization can become a member of NHA. We work with our members to advocate for the humanities on the national, state, and local levels. Member organizations receive timely legislative updates, advocacy training, and key information on the impact of humanities funding. These resources allow them to mobilize their constituencies to become effective advocates"

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NCTE Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners (ELLs)

NCTE Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners (ELLs)


Approved by the NCTE Executive Committee, April 2006

This position paper is designed to address the knowledge and skills mainstream teachers need to have in order to develop effective curricula that engage English language learners, develop their academic skills, and help them negotiate their identities as bilingual learners. More specifically, this paper addresses the language and literacy needs of these learners as they participate and learn in English-medium classes. NCTE has made clear bilingual students’ right to maintain their native languages (see “On Affirming the CCCC ‘Students' Right to Their Own Language'" 2003). Thus, this paper addresses ways teachers can help these students develop English as well as ways they can support their students’ bilingualism. In the United States bilingual learners, more commonly referred to as English language learners, are defined as students who know a language other than English and are learning English. Students’ abilities range from being non-English speakers to being fully proficient. The recommendations in this paper apply to all of them. 

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Learning Local and Global Literacies from Students and Families

Learning Local and Global Literacies from Students and Families | AdLit |
Access to this resource has been provided by the National Council of Teachers of English, an NCLE Stakeholder Organization.
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English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions | AdLit |
The standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states, mandated many changes to traditional teaching, but one of the most basic was a call for students to read more nonfiction.
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Annotation of Fiction

Annotation of Fiction | AdLit |
Fiction Annotation Rubric Theme Development (Author’s Message- examples should build on one another throughout the piece) 10 Advanced 9 Proficient 8 Developing 7 Beginning 0 No evidence I can analyze how a theme emerges and is shaped by specific details which build on one another
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Fun activities for the 2nd conditional

Fun activities for the 2nd conditional | AdLit |

“Let me begin this blog post by saying that conditionals are not the easiest phenomenon to teach, especially since there are lots of combinations which are used in natural speech, but are not really...”

Via Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat, Inna Piankovska, Juergen Wagner, Ana Lara
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Seeds of Science/Roots of ReadingIntegrated Science and Literacy Curriculum | Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading

Seeds of Science/Roots of ReadingIntegrated Science and Literacy Curriculum | Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading | AdLit |

A better way to teach science, a better way to teach literacy--Duke and Pearson

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An Introduction to Dystopia: Four Common Core Aligned Lessons

An Introduction to Dystopia: Four Common Core Aligned Lessons | AdLit |
Dystopia is the hottest genre on the market right now - especially for teens. If you're teaching high school English, you should probably be teaching dystopia!
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Classroom Tested Resources: 10 Literacy Websites that You'll Be Glad to Know *Before* School Starts

Classroom Tested Resources: 10 Literacy Websites that You'll Be Glad to Know *Before* School Starts | AdLit |

Via Cindy Riley Klages
Cindy Riley Klages's curator insight, July 6, 7:45 AM
Some of my favorites, too!
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Virtual Debate: 7 Advantages of Online Discussions

Virtual Debate: 7 Advantages of Online Discussions | AdLit |

How to facilitate such discussions is confusing to many teachers, and online discussion threads and chatrooms may be seen as a poor substitute for the “real” thing, an evil necessity of the online class. However, although there are some barriers such as its more decontextualized nature, in comparison to face-to-face discussion, there are advantages that are unique to the online discussion that can be built on by the instructor while the drawbacks are minimized.


Via Nik Peachey, Elizabeth E Charles, Lynnette Van Dyke
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добавить ваше понимание ...

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Its grand
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2015 Call for Program Proposals

2015 Call for Program Proposals | AdLit |
Call for Program Proposals for the 2015 NCTE Annual Convention in Minneapolis, MN


Responsibility, Creativity, and the Arts of Language

November 19-22, 2015
Minneapolis, Minnesota

It seems quaint to invoke “the language arts.” After all, science, not art, is ascendant these days, and the educational world spins around STEM. As graduates vie for jobs, people want “practical” skills. Clearly, we must respond responsibly to our students’ and society’s needs.

But we should promote school and career skills as but one aspect of literacy. We should value not only workers but also citizens, not only students passing tests but also social beings making connections, not only information processors but also idea creators. We read to extract—but also to evaluate and imagine. We compose to report—but also to remember and reflect, to influence and entertain, to console and inspire. Fully literate lives need creativity as well as competency.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein contended, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” At a cultural moment when it’s tempting to make the world defensively smaller, we should yet advocate the ample arts of language. As professional makers of readers and writers, NCTE members advance literate life at its richest.

Related Information

Program proposals are no longer being accepted. The deadline to submit your proposal was 11:59 p.m. PST, on Wednesday, January 14, 2015.View the the entire Call for Program Proposals (PDF).What arts of language?

Reading and writing are not only obliged activities (things we must do) but also self-sponsored ones (things we might choose). Consider reading textbooks for information versus novels for ideas; manuals versus social media; reports versus editorials versus photo essays. Writing is similarly dappled. Consider differences between writing applications and tweets; between creating a family history and drafting a set of instructions; between literary analyses, petitions, PowerPoints, and infographics.

How might we best teach and promote the many language arts? What are our best goals, practices, and research?

How can we advance our expertise?

There’s no shortage of critiques of teaching. Unfortunately, many of them lack teacher research and wisdom. “Common sense” is sometimes grounded in assumptions that diminish complex students and situations, sometimes motivated more by political interest than by educational expertise.

We are the professionals in the arts of language. NCTE members know literacy development, from acquisition to lifelong enhancement. We sponsor curricular and pedagogical knowledge. We should be the first and best source for professional development and assessment. Expertise unacknowledged is expertise squandered.

What ideas—in departments, schools, systems, or states—might our best advocates share? How can we teach policymakers and pundits what we know and why it matters?

How might we teach beyond classrooms?

Obviously, classrooms remain our most vital teaching sites. Too, there’s the co-curriculum: student publications, theatre programs, writing centers, maker spaces, events, and celebrations.

But when people learn throughout life, we neglect other opportunities at our peril. Think of community centers, galleries, and libraries, sites digital as well as physical. Teaching beyond classrooms serves not only publics but also us. After all, stakeholders who know us—who learn from and with us—better trust our expertise.

How can we make our knowledge visible and valued in places beyond schools and colleges? What can we learn from those already doing this?

What makes healthy teachers?

The threat of teacher burnout has never been higher. We’re pressured by budget constraints and accountability measures. Students from complex family, economic, language, and cultural backgrounds complicate tidy generalizations. College instructors are increasingly part-time and contingent, piecing together minimal livelihoods at multiple campuses.

How, then, do we sustain ourselves—and one another? What practices renew and give us energy?

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2015 National Teacher of the Year Addresses Colleagues at NEA Convention

2015 National Teacher of the Year Addresses Colleagues at NEA Convention | AdLit |
2015 National Teacher of the Year Addresses Colleagues at NEA ConventionPeeples encourages fellow educators to do ‘battle with stories,’ calls for more teacher leaders

2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples speaks to fellow educators at NEA's 94th Representative Assembly in Orlando, Florida, on July 6, 2015.

Every day, millions of teachers like Shanna are preparing this nation’s next generation of critical thinkers, artists and leaders. --NEA President Lily Eskelsen García

ORLANDO, Florida (PRWEB) July 07, 2015

Shanna Peeples, a high school English teacher from Amarillo, Texas, and the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, today delivered a rousing reminder of why millions of educators answer the call and enter the teaching profession: to make a difference in the lives of their students. Peeples addressed nearly 7,000 fellow educators attending the National Education Association’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. She encouraged her fellow colleagues to do “battle with stories” by being the “voice” and “champions” of their students.

“Our critics love clichés, simplistic slogans and manipulated data,” said Peeples. “This is how they attack, and the good news is the utter banality of those attacks. Stories are different...There is no defense against a good story. I contend that we advocate best for our students and our profession when we are brave enough to tell our stories.”

A 12-year classroom veteran, Peeples is a member of NEA’s affiliates, the Amarillo Education Association and the Texas State Teachers Association. Peeples’ students come from diverse backgrounds, as Amarillo is one of several U.S. cities where refugees find new paths in life and gain access to critical resources. As a result, she works with many students who speak English as a second language or have recently entered the country.

“A standardized test won’t reveal these skills and experiences,” Peeples added, saying that telling the personal stories of students “gives you more insight into them than reams of scores that label them as ‘below proficient.’”

Peeples earned a bachelor’s degree in English from West Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in curriculum from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a literacy trainer for her school district, and she gives presentations across the state as part of the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts.

“Shanna Peeples was among not just friends—but family—when she spoke today at NEA’s Representative Assembly,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who also served as the 1989 Utah Teacher of the Year. “Every day, millions of teachers like Shanna are preparing this nation’s next generation of critical thinkers, artists and leaders. We were reminded by Shanna’s powerful words that if we really want to nurture our students’ potentials and help them realize their dreams, we must instill and foster a love of learning.”

Earlier this year, Peeples was honored by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony where he praised her innovative teaching style and dedication to mentoring others new to the profession. Continuing a long tradition of excellence in the classroom, Peeples is the 10th NEA member in the past decade to be named the nation’s top teacher. As the 2015 National Teacher of the Year, Peeples will spend a year traveling the country to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers. She also hopes to use the opportunity to shape the conversation about reaching students in poverty, as well as those who have already faced extreme challenges, through a variety of teaching methods.

TSTA President Noel Candelaria has said Peeples’ “ability to motivate and instill a love of learning among her students—regardless of her students’ backgrounds or the languages they speak—is the reason Shanna and thousands of other teachers like her have earned the respect of Americans who appreciate the great work teachers do every day in every community in our great nation.”

Peeples also encouraged fellow NEA members to answer the call to teacher leadership, emphasizing her point with a football analogy since the sport is “sacred” in her home state of Texas.

“‘Teacher leadership is a lot like football. There are 22,000 people in the stands who desperately need exercise watching 22 people on the field who desperately need rest,’” Peeples quoted. “It’s why we need to recruit more teacher leaders—so we can catch our breath. Real teacher leadership puts more players on the field and is a force-multiplier of needs-based training delivered in authentic settings.”

Educators from across the country are in Orlando through today for NEA’s 153rd Annual Meeting and 94th Representative Assembly, which is the top decision-making body for the 3 million-member NEA. Delegates set Association policy and address issues facing public schools, students and the teaching profession.

For more information on NEA’s Representative Assembly, go to

Hi-resolution photos are available for download at

To view video of the award presentation, go to

Follow us on Twitter at @NEAMedia and keep up with the conversation at #neara15

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NCTE Position Statement on Teacher Evaluation

Approved by the NCTE Executive Committee April 21, 2012


“For more than two decades, policymakers have undertaken many and varied reforms to improve schools, ranging from new standards and tests to redesigned schools, new curricula and new governance models. One important lesson from these efforts is the repeated finding that teachers are the fulcrum determining whether any school initiative tips toward success or failure. Every aspect of school reform depends on highly skilled teachers for its success.”   --  Linda Darling-Hammond, 2010


Teachers matter. Families, teachers in early childhood through secondary classrooms, school administrators, professors of teacher education, and other supporters of our nation’s schools understand the importance of excellent teachers. Between 2004 and 2011 NCTE published a series of documents identifying the literacy knowledge and pedagogical skills that contribute to teaching excellence in the English language arts, and affirming the right of every child to a highly skilled teacher. We assert that teaching is a complex process requiring tremendous knowledge and significant ongoing learning, and as a professional organization, we dedicate our efforts to ensuring the quality of teachers as they engage in the important work of educating our children. We also fully realize that such work must be evaluated in ways that reflect the complexities of teaching and learning across many contexts (rural, urban, and suburban schools, linguistically, culturally, and intellectually diverse classrooms). We are committed to processes of teacher evaluation that simultaneously lead to increased teacher effectiveness and improved student learning.


Proponents of teacher evaluation come at the process with two different purposes in mind:

Test-Based Accountability: On the one hand are those reformers who emphasize teacher accountability as measured by students’ performance on tests. They seek to reform teaching by expelling ineffective teachers from the profession based solely on student test scores. They demand that school leaders rely on test results as the sole or most influential method of teacher evaluation. NCTE recognizes the urgency that these critics feel to evaluate, compare, and respond to seemingly low-performing schools when tests are used to measure performance.

Professional-Development-Based Accountability: In contrast are those who advocate teacher evaluation as a means to support teachers as they develop their skills and learn more about students in order to meet their needs and the broader goals of education (McGreal, 1983 and 2000; Danielson, 1996 and 2000; Darling-Hammond, 1990; Stiggens, 1988). Only through understanding the learners in their classrooms and the continual study of their subject matter as well as instructional strategies do teachers achieve excellence. In this point of view, teacher evaluation systems have the potential to assist all teachers in their professional growth, helping them to match their efforts to high standards of practice that have been established by the teaching profession. This assistance includes helping teachers exit the profession if it is concluded that they are insufficiently prepared for or not interested in the deeply demanding responsibility of teaching. In this view, teacher evaluation plays an important role in the overall professional development of teachers at all stages of their careers. In effect, people who emphasize professional growth seek to reform teaching by building the expertise of all teachers through improved communication with master teachers, sustained professional development, and individual study specific to their students. 

NCTE believes that multifaceted teacher evaluation is a significant component for student, teacher, and school improvement and advocates strongly for a system that emphasizes professional growth. English teachers must continually study their subject along with the craft of teaching in their efforts to make learning happen.


NCTE recognizes that quality assurance is an important responsibility of school leaders and accepts that a successful evaluation system must assist school leaders in making major personnel decisions such as retention, tenure, and dismissal. Still, it firmly believes that an overemphasis on accountability rooted in testing sets the bar much too low for school improvement and leads to a curriculum too heavily devoted to test preparation. This misplaced emphasis puts an increasing number of already vulnerable students at risk of dropping out and results in alienating and losing many good teachers. Student test scores are unreliable indicators of teacher performance and should play a very small role in evaluation. School districts that use test scores to evaluate teachers must acknowledge their potential unreliability and guard against unfortunate consequences on curriculum, students, and teachers. While value-added models (VAM) of teacher assessment may offer some useful information, researchers consistently identify flaws in the methodology and discourage its use in making high-stakes personnel decisions (Baker et al, 2010; Newton et al, 2010; Schochet and Chang, 2010).


Acknowledging the dual purposes of evaluation of teachers—professional development and accountability—NCTE here outlines the characteristics of a fair and effective teacher evaluation system. In order for teacher evaluation efforts to be fair and effective, they must be practical, useful, meaningful, and ethical. Adhering to the belief statements below will ensure that these traits are an integral part of such efforts.  


Characteristics of Fair and Effective English/Language Arts
Teacher Evaluation Systems

A successful system of teacher evaluation is based on a comprehensive review of effective teaching behaviors. Such a review identifies the knowledge, dispositions, pedagogical skills, and other commitments to learning characteristic of highly skilled teachers.A successful system relies on a wide range of evidence, including classroom observations, teacher-developed materials, student products and performances, student feedback, and quantitative measures of student achievement.A successful system aligns quality assurance purposes with professional growth. It is useful and practical for teachers and evaluators. It promotes professional learning, encourages teacher agency and is differentiated for teachers based on their professional needs. A successful system is fair and nonthreatening. It is based on clearly defined standards of teacher performance and is implemented by well-trained and ethical evaluators who follow common procedures. Evaluators consider the context of evaluation and promote a culture of inquiry.



Baker, Eva L.; Barton, Paul E.; Darling-Hammond, Linda; Haertel, Edward; Ladd, Hellen F.; Linn, Robert L.; Ravitch, Diane; Rothstein, Richard; Shavelson, Richard J.; and Shepard, Lorrie A. "Problems with the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers."  Economic Policy Institute Briefing #278, August 29, 2010.


Danielson, Charlotte.  (1996) Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. ASCD.


Darling-Hammond, Linda, and Millman, Jason (ED). (1990). The new handbook of teacher evaluation: Assessing elementary and secondary teachers. Sage Publications, Inc.


Darling-Hammond, Linda. “Evaluating teacher effectiveness: How teacher performance assessments can measure and improve teaching.” Center for American Progress, 2010. 


McGreal, Tom. (1983). Successful teacher evaluation. ASCD, Alexandria, VA.


McGreal, Thomas, and Danielson, Charlotte. (2001) Teacher evaluation to enhance professional practice. ASCD.


Newton, Xiaoxia A.;Darling-Hammond, Linda; Hartel, Edward; and Thomas, Ewart. (2010). "Value-added modeling of teacher effectiveness: Exploration of stability across models and contexts." Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 18 (23).


Schochet, Peter, and Chang, Hanley S. “Error rates in measuring teacher and school performance based on student test score gains” (NCEE 2010-4004).


Stiggens, Richard. (1988) The case for commitment to teacher growth: Research on teacher evaluation. SUNY.

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The Wise Words of Maya Angelou. Or Someone, Anyway.

The Wise Words of Maya Angelou. Or Someone, Anyway. | AdLit |
The celebrated poet wrote many quotable lines, but not the one featured on a newly issued stamp in her honor.

Via Pedro de Alcantara
Pedro de Alcantara's curator insight, April 10, 4:45 AM

It's very useful to learn about "Churchillian Drift," or the psychology of attribution & appropriation. What's more important, the thing being said or the person saying it?

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Interdisciplinary Assessment: Combining Literacy, Science, and Mathematics

Interdisciplinary Assessment: Combining Literacy, Science, and Mathematics | AdLit |
Interdisciplinary Assessment: Combining Literacy, Science, and Mathematics by Michaela Duggan Every class at BCCS ends the year with a final. This year, I decided to try something different—instead...
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On Annotations and Assessment in Readers Workshop

On Annotations and Assessment in Readers Workshop | AdLit |

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I advocate for self-selected reading in all English classes. My students read stacks of books each year that they choose for themselves, and they read four titles for in-class book clubs that they select from my short stack of complex (mostly) contemporary titles.

 The question I get the most from teachers who do not practice this choice pedagogy is “How do you know your students are reading?” My initial response is usually: “I ask them.” But if you practice readers and writers workshop in your classroom, you know that it takes a bit more than that to know that students are developing as critical readers. We do still have to teach. Shana wrote a post recently about the value of talk in her workshop classroom, and I was intrigued by one of the comments: “I think we should consider what would be the best balance between between teacher and student talk. As the literacy expert in the classroom, I think the reading/language arts teacher’s voice needs to be heard often. While we all can be our own teachers, we will probably learn more with the wise guidance of a teacher.”  But, of course.Balance is key. So is authenticity.These two ideals drive the choices I make in my workshop classroom. My new friend, Lisa, sent me a question that got me thinking about both as I composed a response. I share her question here and how I replied to this dedicated teacher who is moving herself as she moves her readers. Question: Do you assess any annotations the students do with their reading? I’ve included a rubric we have been using to give students some feedback on their annotation of fiction. Their annotations in the text, and thereby their discussions about the texts, has greatly improved!! However, providing feedback on their annotations takes FOREVER. Just curious how you handle any sort of assessment related to students reading their chosen texts.”  Response: Initially, when I read your question about annotations, I thought of these two questions: 1) Why do you need to leave feedback on the annotations in their books? 2) You said your discussions on the texts have improved. Are those discussions not enough of an assessment on their annotations? Then I read your rubric, and it got me thinking. I love the simplicity of the rubric, and I can see how students would notice more and be able to contribute to discussions more thoroughly and completely if they mark their books accordingly; however, I always use caution when it comes to interrupting a student’s reading flow — you know, reading for the sake of enjoyment. In my own reading life, I rarely mark up a piece of fiction, unless it is for my own book club and I want to remember a significant passage that I loved, or didn’t understand, or a moment in the text that shocked or saddened me so much that I want to bring up in the discussion. When I have my students engage in book clubs or self-selected reading, I want them to have authentic experiences and discussions about their books. (I quote Louise Rosenblatt on experiential reading at the end of this post.) That hope for authenticity is what drives what I have students do while they read. And it is hard, and I have to trust that students notice the nuances and the complexities in the language and all the important literary aspects of their books. Sometimes they just don’t. Sometimes they need to focus just on comprehension. I have to be okay with that. Here’s how I try to facilitate learning: 1. Model my reading. I show students the books I’ve read for my book clubs and the kinds of passages I’ve marked so I can remember them for discussion. I encourage my students to mark their books in similar ways. Some will, and others never will. Some show me that they can think about their books without ever marking them. I have to let them learn the habits of readers that work for each of them individually, and I have to trust that they will. This goes for writing, too. Every major writing task I ask my students to do, I do it first. I show them my process and later my product. For my ESL students, this is the single most effective strategy I do. I’ve asked them, and they’ve told me. I know that if this modeling helps my students who struggle with language, I know it helps all of my students. 2. Teach mini-lessons. Say I want students to focus on literary devices. I show them a variety of “beautiful sentences” from various texts; 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature was a perfect resource for this. I pulled several of these pretty slides and put them on a presentation in Drive. I projected them in the front of the room, and students and I talked through what we noticed in these sentences. We discussed the craft in the sentence and why the author might have made the moves he or she did. This focus on the writing in a text often leads to greater critical reading of a text just as critical reading should lead to better writing. Next, I asked students to go into their books and look for beautiful sentences. I gave them each a note card, and they had to find two sentences — one for each side of the card — where they could tell where the author did something interesting with language. I instructed them to write the sentence and the page number at the top, and then they were to identify the device/s, interpret the meaning of the sentence, and analyze the meaning, based on what they’d read in the book and what they believed the author was doing there as it related to the meaning as a whole. What does this assess? A lot.I know immediately if students know how to identify literary and rhetorical devices.I know if students understand what they are reading, especially if the activity is during book clubs, and I’ve read all the titles in which students choose.I know if students can analyze the author’s use of the device versus just summarizing the meaning of the sentence.I know if students are reading their books. They are not going to choose a sentence on page 195, if they haven not read that far. They will not know how to tie their analysis into overall meaning.(The sentences I used for this mini-lesson lead to book talks, too, and I had one girl come in the next day with a copy of Anna Karenina that she’d bought for herself. Hooyah!) Mini-lessons like this can be done over and over again — perhaps with a different skills focus each time, and the more students see that we are going to ask them to go into their books to focus on a skills, the more likely they are to start marking significant sentences and passages as they read. It becomes a natural move on the reader’s part instead of a mandate by the teacher. 3. Teach Notice & Note signposts. If you are not familiar with Notice & Note, Kyleen Beers and Bob Probst researched the patterns in story arcs and crafted six signposts around the moments in the text that appear the most often in a vast number of fictional pieces — short stories and novels. Students at all levels can apply the signposts as they learn to ask themselves questions as they read. In my experience, their understanding of theme improves dramatically.  If you Google Notice & Note signposts, or join the Facebook group, you’ll find many teachers who share their resources. My students and I learn the signposts with short stories, and then throughout the year, we practice applying them to our full-length novels. Best thing I’ve done to help students analyze theme, which is SO HARD for some of them. I don’t quite understand why, but it is singularly the thing my students year after year struggle with the most. For assessment, again, I do a lot with note cards. Quick, short writing snapshots where students can talk to me about what they know. I can grade these easily and leave feedback in the form of questions to direct students to look deeper, or closer, or whatever. I usually score these with check plus, check, or check minus and leave feedback in the form of one thing the student did well and one thing that might need improvement. 4. Write reader’s response. I have 35 composition notebooks that I labeled with thematic topics. I learned this strategy from Penny Kittle (Here’s a handout from 2013 that has a list of topics for notebooks in it.) I morphed her idea with Notice & Note, and it works well for reader’s response, another piece in holding students accountable for their reading and assessing their acquisition of skills. At the beginning of the year, when composition notebooks are .50, I buy 35, and I label them with a variety of topics like Penny has on her list, plus some. I glue a handout of the signposts inside each one. Then, every once in a while, I’ll pull the notebooks out and set a handful on each table. Students know to find a notebook that they can tie the thematic elements of their independent reading book to. We write for about 10- 20 minutes, depending on how in-depth I want students to go with their thinking, and then they share out what they wrote with their table mates. (This works as book talks, too, because students hear about what their friends are reading.) I wander the room and listen in. This is formative assessment. If a student has written about theme, shown that he is reading and understands how the book relates to that thematic topic, I know he is learning. Of course, the reverse is also true. I use check marks for grades of this kind of assessment, too. Now, having told you all of this, I am not saying to ditch your rubric. I am just always trying to figure out how to put more of the responsibly for the learning (and the work) on the students, and probably most important to my sanity — the need to cut my grading time. Regarding your rubric, I wonder: A. How can you ask students to practice annotations with short stories? Then when you go to leave feedback on what they have marked, zero in on one or two slices of the rubric — never the whole thing. And be sure your feedback is something that will resonate. All too often students do not care about what we write, they only want to see their grade. I saw this great reminder in a tweet today:  “Put comments on my paper that begin conversations, not end them.” B. Instead of trying to leave feedback on every students’ annotations for their whole books, how can you ask students to apply what they have learned from annotating? For example, choose a slice of the rubric. Give students a half sheet of paper (or a notecard) and have them synthesize their annotations into a paragraph or two that answers a question. Something like:  Think about the things you’ve annotated about the characters in your book, how have the behaviors of the protagonist advanced the plot in the story?  Explain how any single or series of choices by the protagonist has surprised, unsettled, or shocked you. C. How can you use the rubric to guide your conferences? Instead of checking their annotations, ask students to use their annotations as they talk with you about their books. For example, choose a slice of the rubric. In a one-on-one conference, or in a small group conference if students are reading the same book, ask: In regard to your annotations about literary elements, what have you noticed about how the author uses them? How do these elements help the author craft the story? Talk to me about some passages or sentences in the book that you’ve been particularly moved by. 
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What's Inside: "A Close Look at Close Reading" Books

What's Inside: "A Close Look at Close Reading" Books | AdLit |
ASCD authors Diane Lapp & Maria Grant say that their two new books about close reading for grades K–5 & 6–12 each provide the tools and tips necessary to teach students close reading, from its introduction and support through assessment.
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New Literacies and 21st-Century Technologies position statement (full-text PDF)Summary

To become fully literate in today's world, students must become proficient in the new literacies of 21st-century technologies. IRA believes that literacy educators have a responsibility to integrate information and communication technologies (ICTs) into the curriculum, to prepare students for the futures they deserve. We believe further that students have the right to

Teachers who use ICTs skillfully for teaching and learningPeers who use ICTs responsibly and who share their knowledgeA literacy curriculum that offers opportunities for collaboration with peers around the worldInstruction that embeds critical and culturally sensitive thinking into practiceStandards and assessments that include new literaciesLeaders and policymakers who are committed advocates of ICTs for teaching and learningEqual access to ICTs

PS 1067
(This position statement was adopted by the IRA Board of Directors in May 2009. It replaces the 2001 position statement on "Integrating Literacy and Technology in the Curriculum.")

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Summer reading countdown: The 5 most entertaining literary classics - Los Angeles Times

Summer reading countdown: The 5 most entertaining literary classics - Los Angeles Times | AdLit |
The Fourth of July kicks off the summer vacation season, providing some readers with their only opportunity all year to curl up with a good book for an extended period.


This list is necessarily personal and is offered in the spirit of urging these books upon friends. My rules were: 1. Novels. 2. Nothing more recent than the 19th century. 3. Extra points for longer books, because they get dissed and unfairly shunned. 4. No purely "genre" books; this is to rule out such crowd-pleasers as "Sherlock Holmes," which don't need help attracting new readers.


What these books have in common, near as I can tell, is that they feel contemporary, a sign that their authors were on to something that would continue to speak to future generations.

Via Mary Daniels Brown, Lynnette Van Dyke
Mary Daniels Brown's curator insight, July 5, 7:03 PM

Do you agree with this list, which is only five books long? What others would you add?

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9 Steps to Becoming a Better Public Speaker

9 Steps to Becoming a Better Public Speaker | AdLit |
Public speaking is terrifying. You have to get up in front of a crowd of people and make a point. You don't want to be boring, but you also want to be informative. You need to walk a delicate line to make sure your speech keeps your audience engaged. Thinking about speaking in public can end…

Via Tom D'Amico (@TDOttawa) , Aki Puustinen
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Make Dyslexia About Strengths, Not Shame

Make Dyslexia About Strengths, Not Shame | AdLit |

Ben Foss is a successful adult with dyslexia. Read Ben's experiences and his suggestions to help your own child with dyslexia thrive rather than feel ashamed.

Via Cindy Riley Klages
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