In Touch, In Tune

ELA/Reading Reminders, Opportunities, and Inspiration

Thanks for Tuning In!

September 2015

International Literacy Day is September 8, 2015.

In September 1972, Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. Under martial law, Marcos curtailed civil liberties, abolished Congress, and limited access to education. As a result, the literacy rate in the Philippines plummeted to 75.4%. In 1986, millions of Filipinos surprised the world by nonviolently overthrowing President Marcos and re-instituting a democracy. They called this movement "People Power." The peaceful revolution led to significant changes for the country. A nationwide K-12 program was implemented. Today, 97.5% of the Filipino population holds a basic literacy level - an increase of 22.1% in 43 years. On International Literacy Day, we celebrate their inspirational story.

What can you do to start a literacy movement in your school or community? Join the movement! Download your free kit at

(from the International Literacy Association)

In the Spotlight

Featured Instructional Strategy

Tracking Thinking Over Time

Sometimes we focus so intently on getting students to demonstrate that they can read a passage closely that we forget the bigger picture of teaching students how to track their thinking over the course of time. To help students monitor their thinking while they read, have students follow a news story over time - or a book from beginning to end. What students think at the beginning may be different from what they think at the middle or the end. Provide some sentence stems to prompt students to track their thinking as they read across time or chapters.

  • I started by thinking __________, and as I read I added/learned __________.
  • I used to think __________, but now I think __________.
  • Some people think __________, but I think __________.

But don't stop there! Ask students to track their thinking with the intention of discovering a "big idea." When students annotate with the purpose of discovering a big idea, it drives a richer reading of the text. It encourages them to consider how they came to their big idea, and it prompts them to pay attention to what the author did to convey his or her message.

Need An Idea?

Why not have your students track their thinking about the next weather phenomenon or Olympic games? Sixth grade teachers, more artifacts from the Titanic are going up for auction. Why not have your students track their thinking about it between now and Unit 4, when they will explore it in more detail? Here is a recent article that can get you started.

(from Kelly Gallagher's In the Best Interest of Students, pages 147-149)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (But Mostly Good!)

Updated Databases

Do you know that FCPS pays for you and your students to have dozens of online databases at your fingertips? Access them all via your school's Media Center webpage. Many of these online databases were updated this summer. See this document for an overview of the enhancements to the following databases:

  • Axis 360
  • Britannica
  • Gale Cengage
  • Explora
  • EasyBib
  • SIRS Discoverer
  • ScienceFlix

Your Media Specialist is familiar with these databases and is happy to work with you to select just the right resources for you and your students.

Testing Windows

Middle School ELA CRES
  • Narrative Writing Task: 10/12/15-10/23/15
  • Literary Analysis Task: 1/4/16-1/15/16
  • Research Simulation Task: 4/3/16-4/15/16

High School Fall Semester ELA CRES

  • Narrative Writing Task: 9/28/15-10/2/15
  • Literary Analysis Task: 11/2/15-11/6/15
  • Research Simulation Task: 11/16/15-12/4/15

Scantron Performance Series (*optional)

  • Fall Norming Administration: 8/24/15-11/20/15
  • Winter Norming Administration: 1/4/16-2/22/16
  • Spring Norming Administration: 4/5/16-6/15/16

*Scantron PS Winter Administration is required for 8th grade articulation; other administrations may be given as determined by school and/or central office staff for identified populations.

**Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) & Scholastic Phonics Inventory (SPI)

  • Window 1: 8/24/15-9/9/15 (SRI & SPI) - EXTENDED
  • Window 2: 11/4/15-11/18/15 (SRI only)
  • Window 3: 1/25/16-2/5/16 (SRI & SPI)
  • Window 4: 5/2/16-5/13/16 (SRI & SPI)

**All students enrolled in Read 180 and System 44 Next Generation should take the SRI. All students enrolled in System 44 Next Generation should also take the SPI.

CRES Pilot & Anchor Paper Plan

The Secondary ELA CRES has been revised this year to include a Narrative Writing Task, a Literary Analysis Task, and a Research Simulation Task. In addition to the essay prompt, each task includes 4-12 EBSR questions that we are piloting this year. Twentyfour ELA teachers from across the county have been selected to share students’ EBSR and essay responses so we can analyze the quality of the questions and identify anchor papers. We appreciate your cooperation and support as we evaluate the effectiveness and quality of our CRES assessments!

2015-2016 ELA/Reading Leadership Meetings

Middle School Department Chairs & Literacy Specialists

High School Department Chairs & Literacy Specialists

  • September 15, 2015 from 8:15-3:00 @ SDC
  • November 10, 2015 from 8:15-3:00 @ SDC
  • January 19, 2016 from 8:15-3:00 @ SDC
  • March 8, 2016 from 8:15-3:00 @ SDC

Middle School Reading Intervention Representatives

  • October 5, 2015 from 12:15-3:15 @SDC
  • December 8, 2015 from 12:15-3:15 @SDC
  • February 18, 2016 from 4:00-7:00 @ SDC
  • April 4, 2016 from 12:15-3:15 @ SDC
  • May 18, 2016 from 4:00-7:00 @ SDC

High School Reading Intervention Representatives

  • October 5, 2015 from 7:15-10:15 @ SDC
  • December 8, 2015 from 7:15-10:15 @ SDC
  • February 16, 2016 from 3:30-6:30 @ SDC
  • April 4, 2016 from 7:15-10:15 @ SDC
  • May 17, 2016 from 3:30-6:30 @ SDC

News from Intervention

Reading Intervention Updates

Middle School Literacy Specialists met on September 2 to discuss how they are supporting new and veteran intervention teachers in their schools. In addition, they analyzed placement data and considered next steps for instructional response. High School Literacy Specialists will meet later in the month to do the same.

See the Read 180 Training Plan and the 2015-16 Professional Learning Schedule for more information about how intervention teachers are supported throughout the year.

The Curriculum NOW Read 180 Site has been updated and houses the following:

  • Recommended Model for Middle Schools
  • Recommended Model for High Schools
  • Planning Guides for Stage B Read 180
  • Planning Guide for English 9 with Read 180
  • Training Modules
  • SRI/ SPI Progress Monitoring Schedule
  • Entry and Exit Criteria
  • Research Validated Implementation Check
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Tech Updates for Read 180 and System 44

The SRI/SPI Window has been extended to September 9.

This is an ideal time to analyze the information that you have about each student, confer with him/her, and set goals for the year. The following quick-guides are provided to assist you with this process.

Instructional Technology Tips

Leadership and Professional Learning Opportunities

#EdCampMaryland 2016: Save the Date!

On February 15, 2016, the second ever #EdCampMaryland will be held in four regional locations across the state - one of which is Frederick! Every educator in Maryland is invited to attend for free.

Please check the website for more information.

Help Us Help You!

Complete this form to let us know your immediate and long-term ELA and Reading Intervention needs. (The link to this form is also located on the ELA website.)

Don't Be Shy!

Is there something you'd like to share in next month's In Touch, In Tune publication? Email (English/Language Arts) or (Reading Intervention) with the details!