Sunday, March 31, 2013

17 New Hello Literacy Fonts - No Fooling!


Despite the fact that today is April 1st, these 17 new Hello Fonts are NO FOOLING!  You can grab them all, IN ADDITION to the other 81 Hello Fonts in my store....for a grand total of 98 Hello Fonts!

Also, my All Font - Font License is on sale through midnight tonight for $16.00 instead of $20.00.  The price will be back up to $20 in the morning! So grab it now...


At this point, the new ones are only available through a font license and not yet open on the right sidebar of my blog.  I will add them for you later this week if you only want to use them in your class, but not commercially or not for profit.   

#1 on TpT - Week of March 25, 2013


On another exciting note, I want to THANK EVERYONE for the amazing support of my new Common Core Reading Bundle that has skyrocketed to the #1 spot of the Top Selling Products list on Teachers Pay Teachers this week!!! Wow! I am so ecstatic, so thank you!   This is me Monday morning when I saw my name is the Top Sellers lists on the TpT homepage....

What more can I say?...#peace! 

Happy Reading! - Jen

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Hello Literacy Blog Hits Two Million Pageviews...WoWzA! More Than Just GOOD Friday Sale!


Who would have thought, two years ago when I started this blog that it would have ever reached two million hits? I am shocked! I never expected it to have the reach it does.... I never really know the impact this blog has on teachers except for the teachers that email and tell me what a difference this blog has made in their teaching and most recently, the number of teachers that came up to me after my presentations at NCRA this year. I was truly honored to be selected this year as an Institute speaker, and am truly humbled to share the conference program page with spelling guru, Richard Gentry.  Also, if you missed my Common Core presentation at NCRA this year, I will be presenting later in the year at a Saturday session of the Raleigh's local reading association chapter meeting.



 So, for all of you, I will continue blogging about best practices in 21st century literacy instruction in (hopefully almost always) teacher friendly language.   I was star-struck a couple weeks ago while at the NCRA conference getting to have dinner with the famous educator, author and TpT Best Seller, Laura Candler....just her and I, sitting and chatting over pizza at the Mellow Mushroom, here is Raleigh, three hours of uninterupted teacher talk...pure teacher bliss. She is an extremely smart and humble woman and I admire her tremendously.



 I also learned that she is the president of the North Carolina Elementary Educator's Association...who even knew there was such a group??? Anyway, the annual conference this year is in Greensboro, October 20-22, 2013.  If you have a great best practice you use in your classroom, are an instructional leader in or out of your classroom, are looking for a way to "tell your teacher story", or have always considered presenting, but don't have much experience presenting and what to try it out,  this conference would be the perfect time to start.  Here is the link to the presenter application which is due by April 7th, 2013...so it's not too late!


Now! In honor of all the GOOD today and everyday, I'm putting everything in my TpT store on Sale now until Sunday 3/31.  So, here's your chance to clean out your WishList and your Cart and fill up on all those goodies you've been wanting, including my Common Core Reading bundle, that THANKS TO YOU, went straight to #1 on TpT last week!!!  Talk about a major shocker!!! I was stunned and thrilled Monday morning when I saw that, but it's all thanks to YOU!!!  Anyway, head on over there and don't miss out!

Happy GOOD Friday and everyday that ends in Y!!! ~Jen


Thursday, March 28, 2013

I'm Tracked Out, but Hello Literacy's On the Road Again!

Look, they even made me a cute name tent!

You all may have remembered my trip to Arkansas on my January track-out (track-out is a year-round school term that means when I'm off school) to present my Common Core presentations to the staff at Sonora Elementary School...well, most recently, I had the pleasure of presenting my Hello Common Core presentations (Part 1 and Part 2) to the teachers at Hodge Road Elementary School, here in the Wake County Public School System, last Friday, and to the teachers at Barnwell Elementary School in Johns Creek, Georgia, this past Monday and Tuesday.



 What a blast I had...and from the feedback I received (Ok, Barnwell, I totally just said in my head, "i before e except after c" to spell that...) they were "invigorated and inspired" according the principal, Dr. Sauce, and teachers are still talking about.  One teacher even said, "it was the best professional development I've ever had."  You know I always enjoy presenting to other staffs when I'm not teaching and presenting at my own school.  The entire staff, including Amanda Swerdlow, the Curriculum Support Teacher, who arranged to have me, and the principal, Dr. Norman Sauce, really made me feel like a rock star!  The teachers at Barnwell really have a special place in my heart. I guess that's what happens when you spend 6 "close" hours with teachers really diving into the Common Core, taking a hard, honest look at the teachers' new (less control) role in the Common Core and all the ways the "what and how" of the Common Core is preparing kids for their future.



 I spent Monday with half the staff while they had subs in their rooms, and all day Tuesday with the other half of the staff while they had subs in their rooms.  Amanda and the school secretary, really did some creative scheduling to make it all happen on such short notice.  I think it went pretty well....they've already invited me back for another day on October 15, 2013.  Seriously, to EVERYONE that attended Monday and Tuesday's PD, THANK YOU for all your kind words, touching thank-you notes, and positive words of inspiration at the end of the day, YOU are the rockstars!  A few teachers from Barnwell, a Curriculum Support Teacher from another school and the K-12 Humanities specialist from the district got together for dinner Monday night at a nearby Mexican restaurant.


I will also be doing the same Common Core presentations at an elementary school in the Fulton County Schools district, at Medlock Bridge Elementary, thanks to Debbie Doyle, the Curriculum Support Teacher, that attended the Tuesday session at Barnwell, who emailed me and said, "we really need you at Medlock Bridge." Well Debbie, I'm happy to come back and I look forward to more invigorating Common Core conversations with the Metlock staff!


Here is my schedule for upcoming PD events:
July 1 & 2 - Sonora Elementary School, Arkansas - Vocabulary Instruction
July 23 - Twin Lakes School District (four elementary schools), Indiana - Common Core
October 10 & 11 - Medlock Bridge Elementary, Georgia - Common Core
October 15 - Barnwell Elementary, Georgia 

 If Common Core training is still something your school needs, I'm happy to assist through PD in the form of a morning presentation, an afternoon workshop and/or some literacy consulting with individual teams or grade levels, just email me.  At this point, my track-out schedule is filling up for October 2013, but I available for three weeks in January 2014, and again in March of 2014.  Let me know!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Using Poppleton to Teach RL.2 & RL.3: A Common Core Reading Lesson


Here's a lesson to teach reading literature standards, RL.1, about key details, RL.2 about the lesson of the story (and how the key details of the events help one understand the lesson), and RL.3, describing how characters respond to events.   

Use the story Neighbors, by Cynthia Rylant.  If you don't have it, no worries, show it to your students here through YouTube



In this story, Poppleton gets tired of his neighbor Cherry Sue constantly offering him food, morning, noon and night.  At first, he obliges her and accepts her offerings, but day after day, his frustration grows stronger until finally he snaps and shoots her with a garden hose.   In order to understand Poppleton's growing frustration and motivation for doing what he did, readers must "hold" and "carry" key details from each event as it unfolds to understand why Poppleton acted the way he did.  By teaching anchor standards RL.2 and 3, you help readers of text, even the simplest of text like Poppleton books to consider how events in the stories are related to one another. In addition, reading and inferring for key ideas and details will push readers into inferring character motivation and see how their actions are cause and effect relationships to the events in the story.  Obviously, Poppleton has reasons for his behavior, and even though this may not be typical behavior for him, readers will come to learn more about him and his behaviors across several Poppleton books and come to expect characters to act in a certain way. If you're readers have already had text based discussions about the central message of stories, then your readers will probably come up with the central message of this story as, Poppleton learned his lesson about not losing his temper next time and using his words, or, Don't go to the neighbors if you're not invited. Who knows? What will your students say the lesson is?

Use any of the RL.2 or RL.3 sheets in my new Reading Literature packet to have students share their thinking about how the key details of events from this story developed the message.  Like this one would be perfect!


The Poppleton Common Core RL lesson, by way of Lucy Calkins, in "Pathways to the Common Core."

Happy Reading! Jen



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Common Core Reading: Focus on Fiction - Half of the Balanced Reading Diet


If you know me, or even if you don't know me, but you follow my blog, you know a few of my favorite things...

1) Picture Books
2) Reading Workshop
3) Teaching Reading

Although I wouldn't necessarily classify it as a "favorite thing" I have come to passionately embrace the new Common Core State Standards.  I think for me, I realized last year that I was in a position of influence and assumed a lot of responsibility in learning what it is it meant to teach "the Common Core way." I realize the Common Core standards are not perfect, but I do like that every state (with the exception of Texas and Virginia) has the same set of standards, objectives and literacy expectations when it comes to ELA, I also like that the Common Core doesn't seem to be a prescribed set of lesson plans nor does there seem to be an overemphasis on assessment. I also do not believe the Common Core standards to be all-inclusive. For example, I believe the Common Core lacks some heart, the affective domain of readers.  The Common Core does not address the attitude, motivation and and passion necessary to be a lifelong reader and lover of books--that my friend, comes from YOU, their reading teacher.  And guess what, from my experience, students' passion for reading, or science or any subject or topic for that matter, is directly proportionate to YOUR passion, enthusiasm, attitude and love of it, trust me! It's so true and this is part of the "art" of teaching, and as much "latitude" and "shades of meaning" there is in the Common Core, the documents themselves and the words contained within them, are really just about the "science" of teaching...the formulas and suggested recipes for success.   The Common Core does not tell teachers how to help develop a child's "reading identity" and this is vital for your readers to become passionate and emotional readers, the ones who LOVE books and tell you all about it, exuberantly and enthusiastically! As teachers, we must share our passion for reading with students and understand that the "heart" of reading must be taught and not overlooked just because it's not in the Common Core. Creating this reading culture and classroom community of readers must not only exist in a Common Core classroom, but will ignite the fire and passion for other learning, too, and this is key!  Like I tell audiences in my presentations, the new standards do expect more of students (and teachers) than before, but the comprehension strategies that students must still do and think as a reader, are just as necessary and essential as before as well.  The Big 5 areas of reading (Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency and Comprehension) under No Child Left Behind are still there, just housed in different strands of the Common Core ELA.  Even the instructional shifts.....

1) Building knowledge through content-rich fiction and non-fiction (50/50 split)
2) Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from the text
3) Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary



....were research based best practices before the Common Core.  Didn't we always tell kids to read a "balanced reading diet"...reading a mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc?  Yes, we did.  
Didn't we always ask kids to identify where in the text they had a question, connection, inference and to jot down that part in the book that made them have that thinking? Yes, we did.   And didn't we always understand the importance of all tiers of vocabulary, not just Tier 3 academic words? Yes, we did...thanks to both Marzano and Beck and McKeown.   

With all this said, teaching the Common Core standards for reading literature, if anything, has become a bit more focused with just about as much emphasis on the essential comprehension strategies as before.  Although you will not find the terms, "predicting, background knowledge, schema, visualizing, and synthesizing" in the language of the standards, the expectation that students must predict, access background knowledge, use their schema, visualize, and synthesize are built into the framework of the anchor standards when they say...

From Anchor Standard 1 - "students must read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text...students must also acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential to their future success."  From this, we know that making "logical inferences" does not happen without making predictions and visualizations.  The main difference between predictions and inferences is that predictions can be checked and confirmed, inferences can only be determined and interpreted.  And I love what Emily Kissner says, in her blog post about Visualizing in the Common Core, "Visualizing is a kind of inferring. When readers visualize, they fill in missing details with their own background knowledge." And speaking of background knowledge, you won't find the term "schema" in the Common Core documents either.  Now the authors of the Common Core aren't saying that accessing background knowledge isn't necessary for comprehending text, what I believe they are saying is that readers will do that anyway.  According to David Pearson, faculty at UC Berkeley, he hypothesizes that reader response and a reader's background knowledge as part of the text transaction, was something reader's did anyway as part of a reader's "in the head" process of reading, and that too many classrooms spent too much time making text-to-self connections which are encounters "outside the text" where the Common Core emphasizes spending most of the time "inside the text"...in other words, readers are naturally going to do this, we are just not spending time teaching this...they're already doing it and will continue to do it.  On a side note, actually I bet too many students were making irrelevant connections, we called coincidences like "Oh, I have a cat, too" in which that doesn't really help us understand text more deeply, AND a fair amount of students making false connections just to "fit in" to the reading conversation, that is, students saying they had a pinata at their birthday party even when they didn't....instead we should have been focusing their attention to a more powerful self-monitoring of connections and that's disconnections.  When a reader can say, "I am nothing like this character" this is a more powerful contrast that is worthy of recognition and attention. 
Not only is part of the natural process of language comprehension, not just reading comprehension, when students get to standard 3, they must "explain how the character's actions contribute to the events"...in which they must relate to the character and how the character feels in order to do this.  Then in anchor standard 7 which states that students must "integrate and evaluate content presented..." that's synthesizing.  Yes, students must summarize, but when students synthesize they allow their thinking to change through the course of text based on the "content presented."   So, you see, all the great reading strategies shared with us by Keene & Zimmerman,  Debbie Miller, and Harvey and Goudvis are all there, you just have to do a little interpretation of your own...which, by the way, is liberty and prerogative the Common Core authors grant to all teachers...thank you very much, I'll take it!  

So, with all this said, you can be assured that with a few instructional shifts, you are still a great reading teacher and doing what's best for kids.  In my attempt to embrace the Common Core and hang onto all the best practices of reading comprehension of the past, I have spent a good bit of time this year focusing on fiction.  I jumped in with both feet last spring on the Informational Text standards, and wrote a very comprehensive blog post on the topic, which received attention from the North Carolina state department of education.  However, fiction is just as important as Kylene Beers says in her new book, Notice and Note, fiction is what is most like our lives, it actually helps us be better humans and relatable to others.  I love that! 

One of the things I've always tried to do as a reading teacher, through reading books by Debbie Miller and Harvey and Goudvis, and Tanny McGregor is to help my students understand the best way to show their thinking.  When I taught first grade and still uploaded documents to my www.hellofirstgrade.com website, I added this to give my students ideas and suggestions for the best way to show (read and respond in writing) their understanding of text. 


As you can see the entries are dated 2008, but the strategies are still essential.  Today, I still am trying to figure out the best to invite students to show their thinking and the Common Core places a high emphasis on writing about reading.  I always felt it best to model for them several ways to show and write their thinking so students could choose the best one for them.  As you can see from the picture above, I would show them how to create their own graphic organizer and charts...this was hard for some students, but they eventually got the hang of it.  This year I've been working on a set of reading response sheets aligned to the Common Core, for all Reading Literature standards, RL.1-10 for Kindergarten through 2nd grade, and I'm so pleased to finally share it with you.  This has been a 9 month journey of editing and refining, but it's finally done.   This is a comprehensive, all-inclusive set of reading response writing sheets for students to show their reading comprehension understanding through by writing about what they've read. 

Hello Common Core Reading by Jen Jones

This bundle has over 220 reader response pages for every comprehension skill and strategies included in all the reading literature standards....this is by far the most comprehensive reading document I have created to date.  Although fiction should technically cover half of your school year and nonfiction should take up your other half of the school year, first and second grade teachers at my school have told me that this could well cover an entire year of reading instruction. I was fortunate that I was able to "test" it out on the students at Lake Myra and the K-2 teachers are thrilled to have the resource at a "perk" for actually having used in their reading lessons.  A few students in Mrs. Chatterton's class, jumped at the opportunity to win a chance to be featured on my blog with their entries below, demonstrating some of the sheets from the product.  




And Syndey's summary of My Rotten Red Headed Stepbrother....


...inspired me to add a Summary page to the document, which I originally did not include. 


You can take a look at the some sample pages below or look at the 40-page preview file (which features full page views) of more pages from the product. 




Also included in the product are 21 pages of suggested mentor text (picture books) to use to teach each comprehension strategy, skill and standard, RL.1-10 for K-2.  No more searching around to find the best book to teach point of view, or plot...I've done all the work for you!  

Anyway, I hope you like what I've done and I hope you check it out!  As an incentive to pick it up, I'm putting everything in my TpT store on sale for one day, tomorrow, 3/17.  So, you don't want to miss out.

www.hellojenjones.com

If you have any questions, just feel free to leave a comment or email me, helloliteracy@gmail.com

Thanks! :-) Jen









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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fifty Shades: Today at NCRA


To all the NCRA participants attending my session this afternoon, I wanted to give you a link to my presentation in the event that you would like to follow along.   You can also follow directly at Slideshare, www.slideshare.net/hellojenjones....it's my most recent upload so it should pop up first, but be sure to look for the Fifty Shades: NCRA version.

This year I was asked to present a 2-hour institute...so although this is the presentation I use to facilitate one day trainings at school sites, it is the comprehensive and concise version of Fifty Shades of the Common Core: Part 1.  Unfortunately, there is not enough time today to include anything from my Fifty Shades of the Common Core: Part 2, about text complexity and close readings. But that is linked up Slideshare if you want to take a look at that.

Feel free to download my presentation or print it for your reference.

Here are the links to my hand-outs for anyone that doesn't get a set or would like to make more for members of your team that did not make it to NCRA this year.






Handout Links HERE  HERE  HERE & HERE

See you all there! This afternoon, Raleigh Convention Center, 4:00PM, Room 303!

Happy Reading! ~Jen


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Monday, March 4, 2013

Read Across America Week at the Lake!

The book fair is all set and ready for little children....it almost looks too good to touch! Reminds me of the night before Christmas...don't we have the BEST parent volunteers? Boy, they sure did a great job getting everything set up and it looks soooo pretty! 


Today was Book Character Day....I took my 3rd grade reading group downstairs to the 1st grade wing today for some reading enjoyment as the 1st grade team traded kids around to read them their books and show off their book characters...


First, we went to Ms. Staib's room and listened to...if you give a cat a cupcake....

Here's the Cat and her Cupcake...

Here's the Dog and his Donut...

The Moose and her Muffin....

And the Mouse and her Cookie....
Well done, first grade, another grand slam after being Colorful Cats last year!


Mrs. Pittman, our wonderful librarian always does an amazing job at creating something creative and competitive for the week....in the year's past, we've done Read Across America Minutes, Iditaread, and this year, Jim, our principal is Team Go, Dog, Go and Tina, our assistant principal is Team Cat in the Hat....kids pledge their minutes of reading each day to either Team Go Dog Go OR Team Cat in the Hat...mmmm, Jim and Tina aren't very competitive (wink, wink)...I wonder who's going to win....(not to mention all the heavy campaigning that's going on around here....more to come tomorrow!

Happy Reading! -Jen