Friday, October 28, 2016

October Visit - 24-26 ! Following is a photo journal of classroom visits! Serious learning is already happening in all of the classrooms.

This was my third visit to Vinalhaven this year.  The focus this time was on guided reading.  DRA testing is complete and teachers have profiles on each student.  They have matched the profile with the guided reading level and have begun teaching.  The quality of teaching I have observed was excellent.  Classroom routines have been created and students are developing longer attention spans.  Kudos to the entire staff.  A photo journal follows.

Special Recognition for Vinalhaven's Literacy Coaches

Cherie Doughty and  Megan Miller are the two literacy coaches that make classroom visits, compile data, assess students, work with students and coach classroom teachers.  They are excellent and we are lucky to have them.  

During my visit, Mrs. Doughty and Mrs. Miller teamed with me as we coached teachers - observing them with a guided reading group and then providing feedback.  They are very perceptive coaches and it is a pleasure to work with them.

Mrs. Conway's K

  Mrs. Conway has been using guided reading for several years.  The group we observed her with were Pre-Emergent Readers, working on the concepts of print.  The pace and format of the lesson were excellent.  Students both formed letters correctly and were beginning to internalize left to right directionality as well as 1 to 1.  Excellent!

                                                                Ms.  Block's First Grade

Ms. Block was working with a group of Emergent Readers.  The students had a corpus of site words and some concepts of print.  Ms. Block coached students - teaching them the reading process as well as learning individual items.  She followed their lead and supported them as they built self-extending systems - the purpose of first grade reading instruction.  Bravo!

 Mrs. Andrews' Second Grade

Mrs. Andrews' group was for Early Readers. Her students had begun to develop an automatic self extending system.  They were also showing signs of self monitoring.  Their book was longer and they had many of the concepts of print in place.  Chunking words into known parts was one of the strands of their lesson.  These are all important strategies to their development as readers.  Teaching exactly where the learner is...assures success.  Excellent!

Ms. Reidy's Third Grade
  Ms. Reidy's group consisted of Early Readers.  They had a corpus of known words, concepts of print, and self monitoring strategies.  They were able to predict using pictures and had begun to confirm their predictions based on letter and sound information found in the text.  This level of cross checking is vital for their growth.  Bravo, Ms. Reidy!       


Mr. Warren's Fourth and Fifth Grades

Mr. Warren met with Mrs. Doughty and Mrs. Miller to finalize his plan for his ELA block.  Exciting things are also happening in Mr. Warren's room.  The connections students are making between reading and writing are incredible!  Like all of the teachers, this takes a huge amount of planning and hard work.  Thank you, Mr. Warren!

Friday, October 21, 2016

October Visit - 11-13 ! Following is a photo journal of classroom visits! Serious learning is already happening in all of the classrooms.

Mrs. Dempster's Pre-K  ELA 

Language - both written and spoken - play a key role in Pre-K.

Students are introduced to book language - their introduction to academic language - during their year in Pre-K.  Mrs.  Dempster also models concepts of print for the students as she reads.   

Beginning with their name, each student learns that their words can be written down and read back!

Combinations of writing and images are  used consistently throughout the year to build on stages of literacy acquisition*, as students begin to understand that meaning is embedded in spoken and written language.  These experiences build the oral and written language pool students use to learn and think.

* See stages of writing at this link:;pageID=351254691699134733;onPublishedMenu=pages;onClosedMenu=pages;postNum=0;src=link 


Mrs. Conway's Kindergarten ELA 

Mrs. Conway's room is arranged to demonstrate the uses of written language to her students.  Real life experiences are crucial for young learners to be engaged with the writing/reading process.  

Labeling mailboxes,... 

a rich variety of real life writing utensils to choose from, ...

 a variety of opportunities to use to write, ...

directions for tasks expected of individuals belonging to the school community, ...

applying directions to their task, ...


and practicing what they learn, where they are in the stage of literacy acquisition. *

 Ms. Block's 1st Grade ELA

Language is integrated into the classroom by CCSS that are posted in student language and shared with students, providing a clear learning target... 

morning message is a daily activity, providing students with the opportunity to use their knowledge of conventions...

and examples of writing formats taught are posted around the room for students to refer to and use as a guide for their own writing.


  Mrs. Bennard's 2nd Grade ELA

Evidence of a language rich curriculum was embedded around the room.

A anchor chart on the steps for writing a story..

a science project rich in writing - labeling, sentences, etc., 

dioramas,depicting an important part of the story, and...

reminders of conventions taught posted at eye level on the shelves!


Ms. Reidy's 3rd Grade ELA

Ms. Reidy has CCSS posted throughout her room - clearly displayed - written in student friendly language.  She refers to it as she teaches, so students always have a clear goal in their mind.

Students work with Ms. Reidy as they read their Scholastic News with the help of the video provided.  Ms. Reidy chunks the text, stopping students at regular points to practice close reading.

This writing is aligned with the standards - in student language - posted around the room.  Here is a bulletin board displaying writing that meets the standards students are utilizing!



Mr. Warren's 4th Grade ELA

  • Students continue to work on a story, revising their narratives ... using the following cues:  

    1.  a schedule with a good chunk of time to spend on their revisions,

     2.  a mini-lesson with Mr. Warren, making connections, referring  students to 
          mentor  texts, ...

          the key elements of personal narrative writing...

           and providing students with Calkins' checklist regarding the key elements.
  3.   And then  - of course - coaching individuals as they experience this 
       process and move towards the CCSS posted on the wall. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Second Visit - October 24-26, 2016

Good Morning, Teachers, 
I hope you are having a great week.
I would like to start off by thanking all of you for the hard work you are doing in your classrooms.  Although it is early in the year, you have begun instruction and I observed student behavior demonstrating more time on task and independence.  Bravo! 
Our meeting for scoring  student papers was very productive.  The feedback many teachers gave regarding the impact of their teaching using the Calkins' framework was impressive.  I would like to add that without good teachers, the framework is not successful.  Thank you for doing such a good job.  Your students are lucky to have you as teachers.
During my visit, Cherie, Megan, and I are planning on making one coaching visit to each of you to observe your guided reading.  We will be doing this Monday-Wednesday.  I am assuming, most of the observations will be in the morning time slot, so we are requesting you contact Cherie this week with a day and a specific time so she can create a schedule.  Also, please have copies of your guided reading lesson plan available for us prior to our visit.
See you soon,


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Here are some grreat articles on building stamina - a topic we discussed earlier this week. Enjoy! Courtesy of Choice Literacy!

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
October 15, 2016 - Issue #523
If you are having trouble reading this newsletter, click here for a Web-based version.
Family Run
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, "I’m Possible"!

                                                                                   Audrey Hepburn
My four kids and I are preparing to run a 5K. They’re almost always grouchy when we head out the door, and it all comes down to one thing: Running is hard.
Hannah is in the best condition of all of us. She runs fall cross country, winter running club, and summer running club. She doesn’t like to push herself, though, so I made this rule: If I pass Hannah, then she is on laundry duty for the day.
Stephanie is built like a power forward for the basketball court. She is not built like a runner. Running hurts her toes, ankles, knees . . . and all the other 2,000 parts of her. She had a hard time breathing, too. I took her to the doctor, and they said she has asthma. An inhaler has made the running go better. Breathing makes a big difference in the enjoyment of a run.
Jay is a tank. He’s running to be better on the football field. He’s mentally tough and just keeps going. The problem is he doesn’t run a straight line. He weaves. When he weaves, he cuts people off, and it is likely the person behind him will trip. Usually it’s Stephanie behind him. Usually she falls flat. Then lies there for too long, yelling at Jay’s back that he should run straight.
Sam is built like a runner, but is still developing the mental toughness to be a runner. When he’s feeling strong, he flies like a bullet train. (That’s his analogy, not mine.) When the running is hard, it is likely he’ll sit down on the edge of the road and wait for the return trip.
I hope I never quit running because, man, it’s not fun becoming a runner. I keep telling myself it’s going to get easier, but I’m gasping for air and I’m wondering if maybe it's so hard because I’m not in my twenties anymore.
Meanwhile, I remember I’m a fellow runner and a mom. It wouldn’t be a very good example to collapse, so I encourage instead.
Stephanie says, “I’m going to fall over.”
I say, “I know.”
Sam says, “My legs are going to fall off.”
I say, “I know.”
Hannah says, “I have to slow down.”
I say, “I know” and, “Have fun doing the laundry.”
Jay doesn’t say anything because tanks don’t talk. They just keep going.
Sometimes the best encouragement is affirmation that this thing we’re doing is really hard. I call out the remaining time, and we keep plodding alongside the endless cornfields. At the end of the run, we are all still upright. No one has quit breathing. No legs have fallen off. The kids aren’t arguing any more. They smile and laugh. They encourage one another and say thanks for the help. They go again the next time, because the feeling of impossible becoming possible always sticks with a person.
It reminds me of facing hard tasks in the classroom. Kids face many challenges that seem impossible. There’s stress when we face tasks that we may fail at doing. It’s not fun to keep going in the midst of hard. Sometimes all that’s needed is affirmation that things feel impossible, but when we keep trying, impossible turns to possible.

This week we look at building stamina in young learners. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Ruth Ayres
Contributor, Choice Literacy

Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: or Pinterest:]    

"Why do you always say 'Happy reading!' to us?" This question from a first grader leads Katrina Edwards to develop visual support tools for building stamina during reading workshops in her first-grade classroom:

Stamina is a term we use often in literacy instruction, but it can be tricky for students and teachers to define in classroom contexts.  Heather Rader looks at the specific attributes of writing stamina, as well as how to model it for students:

Kate Umstatter has tips for helping students stay focused:

Join us in November for two online courses focused on leadership skills. Jennifer Allen leads Better Meetings (November 2 - 13) and Jennifer Schwanke is the instructor for The Principal's Role in Evaluating and Supporting Literacy Instruction (November 28 - December 2). You'll get personal responses to all your questions, view webcasts, and receive books, DVDs, and online resources to enhance the learning. Click on the link for details:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Agenda for Calkins Writing teachers, K-5 on October 13, 2016

 Agenda October 13, 2016

  • 8:00-8:10  Getting Organized.  

  • 8:10-9:10  SCORE by grade, high medium and low.  

                            Ten minutes for each grade level.

  •  9:10-9:30  Review the spread sheets.  These will be sent by e-mail.

  • 9:30-10:00  Mini-Lesson Format  


    See you soon. 


    Vinalhaven Writing Workshop
    Mini-lesson Format
    Topic : _____________________   Session:  #____           Date:_______ 
    Getting Ready:
    *Name the Teaching Point:
    Active Engagement:
    Conferring and Small Group: 
    Conferring - Students:
    Small Groups – Students:
    Mid-Workshop Teaching:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Upcoming October 11-13 Visit

Good Morning, Everyone,
I hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend. As I write, it is raining hard here on the mainland...just the kind of a day for a good read. 
I am writing to confirm my October 11-13 visit.  Following is my tentative schedule.

On Tuesday, I plan to spend the day with Cherie and Megan - continuing to work on the data and scheduling.  If we have any time, I would like to get some classroom visits in as well.*

On Wednesday, I would like to continue to make classroom visits - looking at guided reading.  This will require a schedule accompanied by lesson plans given to Cherie prior to my arrival.*

On Thursday, I will be working with the K-5 teachers during the time Bruce has given us.  It looks like we will have a few hours in the afternoon.  

We will be reviewing writing data and using it to plan mini lessons.
Please remember to bring:
  •  the high, medium, and low narrative writing papers from your class,
  • 8 copies of each paper to be distributed to the teachers, (Do not scores these copies.  We will do that when we are together.)
  • your copy of Calkins' Writing Pathways,
  • your laptop.
This is a tentative outline.   As always, I will be flexible based on teacher and student needs.
I am looking forward to visiting all of you and sharing all of the exciting teaching/learning that is happening in your classrooms.
See you soon,