ACE Literacy Newsletter

Elementary Literacy | April 2018 YEAR 3: VOL. 4

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In this Edition:

Balanced Literacy Focus: Whole group reading

STAAR Prep: Differentiating instruction

Instructional Resources: 6th Six Weeks Instructional Calendars

Building readers: Independent reading stamina

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Preparing great readers

This month’s instructional focus in balanced literacy is Whole group reading. With testing season upon us, let's keep our focus on developing great readers and critical thinkers.

Teach a SKILL not a passage

Data and Curriculum maps

Many classrooms are using small group instruction to accelerate student achievement. In whole group and in small groups, students still greatly benefit from a clear and concise teacher model of the skill being practiced.


I study the SE's from my curriculum model and plan my model for all students. Additionally, I study my data and determine SE's of need for my various skill groups in class (Masters, Meets, and Approaches).

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Model the skill

Whether you are re teaching with a passage or a read aloud from the library, be sure to clearly state exactly the learning objective for the day.


  • Ensure the learning objective is clear and aligned
  • Hook the readers to the text and introduce or define the reading strategy
  • If continuing a book or story from a previous day- summarize the reading



Model the skill for students exactly as you would want them to practice it.


  • Think aloud using precise language
  • Use an anchor chart to show thinking
  • Break down each step



Check out the video below of a mini lesson related to making an inference.


Notice these things:


  • economy of language- Is the teacher clear and direct with her learning objective? How long does this entire mini lesson take?
  • model- Does the teacher model her thinking aloud just as she would want the students to do?
  • model- Does the teacher utilize an anchor chart to provide further clarity?
  • release- Is the teacher clear with her instructions so that students will be successful when they begin to practice?

Guide them through practice

As students begin to practice the skill as you just modeled, use this time to check for understanding. This is an excellent time to monitor for any misconceptions and address them directly with the student or with the whole group.

  • Utilize turn and talk
  • Continue to think aloud

Continue to practice

Give students time to practice this skill just as you have modeled for them.


  • Aggressively monitor the classroom to identify misconceptions and re teach in the moment
  • Have your exemplar prepared to provide feedback that will support students to rise to your level of exemplar expectation
  • Use show call technique to model exemplar student work that the entire class can emulate
  • Students may practice the skill in the same text or a different short text
  • Practice could be open ended- For example- If students are working on comparing across texts (fig 19F), students could be completing a T chart with details from passage 1 and passage 2 which will be a strategy they can directly apply when answering future multiple choice questions.

Check for understanding

End your lesson with a demonstration of learning (DOL). This important final check for understanding will help to guide your instruction the next day. Use the language of testing in your DOL to further align learning for the students. As students complete multiple choice questions aligned to the learning objective, hold them accountable to use the strategy they just observed and practiced.


See below: multiple choice question with strategy from direct model applied.

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Differentiating Instruction

Differentiation Charts

Heard your campus leadership asking you to push those "meets" and "masters" scholars? Feeling stuck on how? Take a look at these differentiation charts to help guide your planning.


As you study your data and consider your groups, use this differentiation tool to plan high leverage re-teach instruction.


For some students it may be higher leverage to drill down and work toward success on particular skills before moving on to others.


For example, in third, fourth, and fifth grades, we can be certain that there will be a high frequency of questions assessing the understanding of main idea in non fiction literature. In contrast, we know that summary (fig 19E) would not be asked more than one time for that genre. For students struggling to achieve "approaches" it would be of greater benefit to master the skill of main idea, before reteaching the skill of summarizing.

Planning groups

How can I use this tool?

  • Identify the more complex questions in a passage in order to give instruction and feedback to 'masters' and 'meets' level students.
  • Help narrow your focus for 'approaches' level students so that they can master high leverage skills.
  • Ensure that your instruction includes a range of question complexity and is representative of the complexity at which students will be assessed.

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Resource Spotlight

Hot off the press: 6th Six Weeks curriculum calendars

When reviewing these calendars, pay close attention to the genre for the week. Select a great mentor text in line with the genre for the week and practice the SE’s listed for each day with that model text. Also- use the STAAR aligned question stems in the document to write your DOLs and plan your questions during your lesson!

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Reading stamina

Worried about your students' reading stamina as we approach STAAR testing? The next weeks are a great time to reset expectations for reading stamina in your classroom as students build that stamina during their daily independent reading time.


Check out the Reading Strategies Book from Jennifer Serravallo from your campus instructional coach and consider these fresh ideas:


  • Lesson 2.8 Set a timed goal
  • Lesson 2.10 "Party Ladder"
  • Lesson 2.14 Track Progress on a Stamina Chart
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ACE Website: www.acedallasisd.com

Click the link below to browse the site....don't forget to access our ACE resources in the Learning Lounge-use the password "ACE".
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