Category Archives: Educator Resources

Lesson plans, activity guides, and helpful tips from our literacy specialist and guest educators.

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The Common Core and Teaching Tolerance

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

I live in Astoria, Queens, one of the most racially, culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York, and my apartment building absolutely reflects that diversity.  My neighbors are from Egypt, Bangladesh, and the Dominican Republic and the building is warm and lively, full of immigrant families with young children.

Last week, New York City public schools were closed for Rosh Hashanah, and on Monday, my neighbors’ children played in our building’s courtyard late into the night.  My windows were open, and as I sat reading I caught snippets of their conversations as they laughed and ran and screamed and played. But when I stopped and I listened closely, it occurred to me that I kept hearing the same word over and over: the “n-word.”

It was just falling out of their mouths, every other word, as if it were just a synonym for “friend” or “dude.” This saddened me for a couple reasons:from Amazing Faces

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Fabulous Follow-Up Questions

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

Whether doing a Read Aloud, facilitating a Guided Reading group, or asking students to respond to their Independent Reading, the follow-up questions you ask AFTER students respond are just as important as the initial question you pose.

The most highly effective teachers I’ve ever worked with always ask some variation of the following questions after each answer:

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Diverse Dystopias: A Book List

In honor of the upcoming release of our new YA anthology, Diverse Energies, we thought we’d put together a list of dystopias with diversity. For the purposes of this list, our definition of diversity is: 1.) A book with a main character of color (not just secondary characters), or 2.) A book written by an author of color. Of course, all types of diversity are worth celebrating, so if you know of other diverse dystopias (with, for example, LGBT diversity) please share them in the comments as well.

Note: I have not personally read all of these books, but have tried to confirm the inclusion of diverse main characters whenever possible. However, mistakes are bound to be made, so if you’ve read something and don’t think it belongs on this list, please let us know. Likewise if we’ve missed something that should be here.

If you’re a visual learner, the whole thing is on Pinterest:

Diverse Dystopias book list

And now, onward:

Above World, by Jenn Reese: (middle grade) In this dystopia, overcrowding has led humans to adapt so that they can live under the ocean or on mountains.

The Boy at the End of the World, by Greg van Eekhout: (middle grade) In this dystopia, the last boy on earth teams up with an overprotective broken robot to survive.

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Three Books for the First Weeks of School

Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

Ready or not, the 2012-2013 school year is upon us!

And while parents are stocking up on pencils and notebooks (and, if the Target Music Teacher is to be trusted, potentially an inordinate amount of denim), teachers are busy planning for the first weeks of school.

Educators, for your planning pleasure, here are three titles to get students back in the right mindset for those first days back in the classroom:

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Goal Setting for Reading Success Part 4:

DETERMINING AND DELIVERING STRONG “MAGIC THREE” QUESTIONS

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In this series for teachers, educators, and literacy coaches, Jaclyn discusses different strategies for ensuring students hit end-of-year benchmarks in reading.

I’ve talked about how to set individual reading goals for students, the importance of student motivation and regular assessment and, most recently, about turning the running record assessment time into a meaningful conference by sending students back to their seats with their own personal “Magic Three,” a set of three questions to focus on while they read.  So where do “Magic Three” questions come from?

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Goal Setting for Reading Success: Empowerment Post-Assessment

Empowerment Post-Assessment

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In this series for teachers, educators, and literacy coaches, Jaclyn discusses different strategies for ensuring students hit end-of-year benchmarks in reading.

Two weeks ago, I shared with you some resources to use when determining a reading goal for each student, and last week I talked about how to motivate students about their reading goal and about how to Girl Reading, from Destiny's Giftschedule out regular assessment.  Today, I want to get into the nuts and bolts of the running record assessment time, and how to create a post-assessment conference that really empowers students.

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Goal Setting for Reading Success Part 2: Regular Assessment & Student Motivational Strategies

Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In this series for teachers, educators, and literacy coaches, Jaclyn discusses different strategies for ensuring students hit end-of-year benchmarks in reading.

Last week, I talked a bit about the importance of setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific goals for your students in reading, and provided some resources to help you determine where to set them.  Today, I want to talk a bit about two  things that are imperative to student success in reaching their reading goals: 1) student motivation and 2) regular assessment.

1)    Using Goal Charts to build student motivation:  Students are super motivated when they can clearly visualize their goal, mark their progress and celebrate each milestone, so creating a goal chart can be a great tool!  Depending on your classroom culture and range of student reading levels, you may choose either to display this information as a large chart on a bulletin board and celebrate individual and class-wide achievements, or to keep separate charts in each student’s reading folder and celebrate progress individually.

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Goal Setting for Reading Success Part 1: Setting a reachable, standards aligned reading goal

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In this series for teachers, educators, and literacy coaches, Jaclyn discusses different strategies for ensuring students hit end-of-year benchmarks in reading.

These days, the words testing or assessment tend to bring up many conflicting emotions among educators, but determining where your students need to be at the end of the year and how you (the teacher)are going to keep track of individual progress toward each standard is a key part of proactive planning.

With my students, it was really important to me that they feel ownership of their success by being able to clearly see how their actions affected their achievement, so we did a lot of individualized goal setting and consistently measured our progress toward said goals.  The result was a classroom full of empowered children who were aware of where they were strong and what they needed to work on, and confident in the knowledge that there was a plan as to how we were going to get there.  This transparency in teaching can absolutely yield huge rewards, but it does take some proactive planning.

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One More Sensational Summer Read Aloud!

For the last installment in our series on Sensational Summer Read Alouds, literacy expert Jaclyn DeForge shares one final title that has a high student-interest level, can be used to hit multiple Common Core learning standards, and is super rich in terms of content, just like A Full Moon is Rising and Silent Star.

Balarama: A Royal ElephantToday’s Pick: Balarama: A Royal Elephant

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