Inside the ELA Classroom

September 2019

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Charles F. Kettering, an American inventor, engineer, businessman and holder of 186 patents says, "High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." We as Coweta County School System are committed to providing "high-level, engaging work for all learners."


The district has two SMART goals for this year's academic emphasis, and one of them relates to Enligh Language Arts (ELA)!


SMART Goal: During the 2018-19 school year, increase by 5% (48% to 53%) the percentage of students scoring proficient and distinguished on the ELA Milestones EOG and EOC (grades 3 - 12) assessments.


  • Elementary - 245 (12/13 students per school)
  • Middle - 220 (37 students per school)
  • High - 175 (58 students per school)
  • Total - approx. 680 students


Within the framework of high expectations in each classroom, this SMART goal can not only be reached, it can be exceeded. Use the Achievement Level Descriptors related to the standards being taught. Have students (1) examine the differences between levels of performance, self-evaluate where they are on the continuum, (2) set goals for where they want to perform, and then (3) re-assess their level after having an opportunity to learn.


The goal has been set. Let's get on target to reach it. How will your students measure up?

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GCA now offers a Form A and Form B for each genre of Assesslets. Please peruse the following link to learn more about Form A and Form B: http://gca.coe.uga.edu/ela/ Dr. Jackson ordered Form A and Form B for each genre. Schools will choose which Form to administer or a combination of Form A and B.
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Proposed College Readiness Georgia Standards of Excellence

The Georgia Department of Education welcomes your feedback and comments regarding a survey opportunity for review and revision of the proposed Georgia Standards of Excellence for College Readiness Composition.


The survey will be posted for thirty days beginning August 26, 2019, through 5:00 p.m. EDT September 25, 2019.


Click on the following link to access the proposed ELA high school course standards: College Readiness Composition


College Readiness Composition Georgia Standards of Excellence Survey


After you have reviewed the College Readiness Composition standards, please click on the link below to access a survey to provide your feedback:


Survey for Feedback of the College Readiness Composition GSE

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The District Renaissance Place site has been upgraded to the new platform. Save the link below in order to access.


Renaissance LOGIN: https://global-zone50.renaissance-go.com/welcomeportal/51144



Don’t forget, we have the online support of Renaissance

  • Phone support: Call toll free (800) 338-4204. A representative will be available, Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. Central time.
  • Live Chat: The link for the live chat is in the upper right-hand corner of your Renaissance home page when you are logged in.
  • Email Support: Email us at answers@renaissance.com.
  • Renaissance Refresher: Subscribe to the bi-weekly E-Newsletter and stay informed about key updates. The newsletter includes tips and resources.

To sign up:

Do not change students' passwords. We will continue to use the student identification.


Directions to run a password report are available in the Student Accounts, Usernames, and Passwords video. The report can be grouped by class or grade.


All students accounts are automatically cleared (unlocked) after 5 minutes.

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Encourage Students To Read - FREE online resources

The website Bookopolis provides students a method to receive and provide recommendations from their peers. This site captures thousands of student-written book reviews.


Epic! Books allows students ages 12 and younger access to more than 10,000 digital books. The program is free to elementary teachers and librarians.



This online reading log motivates students to read more with extrinsic rewards. Students earn Wisdom Coins for logging reading, answering open-ended and reading comprehension questions. The coins are used to "buy" accessories for their Owlvatar.

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The survey will be posted for thirty days beginning August 26, 2019, through 5:00 p.m. EDT September 25, 2019.


If you have any questions regarding the survey or standards, please contact Ms. Stephanie Sanders, English Language Arts Program Manager, Georgia Department of Education, at ssanders@doe.k12.ga.us.


Click HERE to access the proposed ELA high school course standards.

After reviewing the College Readiness Composition standards, please click on the link HERE to access a survey for feedback.

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Writing Ideas for September

With a new school year beginning soon, now is the perfect time to get kids back in the habit of regular reflection and writing. These special prompts for August are the perfect way to help students think about the places they’ve been—and more importantly, the places they’re going.


1. Where would you choose to stay for a week: an underwater hotel or an igloo hotel? Why?

2. When you are in a bad mood, is it easy for you to snap out of it? Why or why not?

3. You are a kitchen appliance. Write about one of your experiences.

4. Would you rather live on space and visit earth, or live on earth and visit space?

5. Why is it important to look at issues from multiple perspectives?

6. Write about a person who is doing good things in the world

7. Do you think homework helps you learn, why or why not?

8. Think of a character from a book. How are you and the character alike or different.

9. Pretend you are a leaf. What happens to you in the fall/autumn.

10. As September comes to a close, look back on the last month. How has journaling each day helped you? Do you feel more aware of your ideas and feelings? Do you feel like you’re a better writer? Why or why not?

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Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7–12. Through the Scholastic Awards, teens in grades 7–12 (ages 13 and up) from public, private, or home schools can apply in 29 categories of art and writing for their chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited and published. Beyond the Awards, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers produces a number of programs to support creative students and their educators, including the Art.Write.Now.Tour, the National Student Poets Program, the Scholastic Awards Summer Workshops and Scholastic Awards Summer Scholarships programs, the Golden Educators Residency, and much more.


For the 2019 competition, students submitted nearly 340,000 works of visual art and writing to the Scholastic Awards; nearly 90,000 works were recognized at the regional level and celebrated in local exhibitions and ceremonies. The top art and writing at the regional level were moved onto the national stage, where more than 2,700 students earned National Medals.


Students may begin submitting work in September by uploading it to an online account.

American Foreign Service High School Essay Contest

The American Foreign Service Association’s national high school essay contest completed its twenty-first year with nearly 700 submissions from 41 states and five countries.


Age Group: 9th–12th grades


How to Enter: Each year a new prompt is published in September. Stay tuned to the contest web page so you can find it when school begins. Winners receive full tuition to the Semester at Sea program as well as a trip to Washington, DC, to meet with a leader at the Department of State.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

Description: This annual contest invites students to write about a political official’s act of political courage that occurred after Kennedy’s birth. The winner receives $10,000 as well as a trip to Boston to accept the award.


Age Group: 9th–12th grades


How to Enter: Students must submit 700–1000 word essays by January 18, 2019. The essays must feature more than five sources and a full bibliography. Read the requirements and find the link for submission here.


Requirements

  • The contest deadline is January 17, 2020 at 11:59 PM (EST).
  • Essays can be no more than 1,000 words but must be a minimum of 700 words. Citations and bibliography are not included in the word count.
  • Essays must be the original work of the student.
  • John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Edward M. Kennedy are not eligible subjects for essays.
  • Essays must describe an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1917, the year John F. Kennedy was born. The official may have addressed an issue at the local, state, or national level. See Contest Topic and Information and Helpful Tips for Writing Your Essay for more information.
  • Essays about past recipients of the Profile in Courage Award will be disqualified unless they describe an act of political courage other than the act for which the award was given.
  • Essays about the senators in Profiles in Courage will be disqualified.
  • Essays must have a minimum of five sources.

Engineer Girl Annual Essay Contest

Engineer Girl sponsors an essay contest with topics centered on the impact of engineering on the world. Students can win up to $500 in prize money. This contest is a nice bridge between ELA and STEM and allows teachers to incorporate an interdisciplinary project into the curriculum. The new contest prompt is published in October. Check out the educator’s page for more information about how to support this contest at your school.


Age Groups: 3rd–5th grades; 6th–8th grades; 9th–12th grades


How to Enter: Students submit their work electronically. Word limit varies by grade level. Check out the full list of rules and requirements here.

Bennington Young Writers Awards

Bennington College offers a competition in three categories: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), and nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). First place winners receive $500.


Age Group: 10th–12th grades


How to Enter: The contest runs from September 1 to November 1, so stay tuned to the website for information about how to submit entries.


Each year, students in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades are invited to enter in one of the following categories with the following submission:


  1. Poetry: A group of three poems

  2. Fiction: A short story or one-act play (1,500 words or fewer)

  3. Nonfiction: A personal or academic essay (1,500 words or fewer)


A first, second, and third place winner is selected in each category.


Awards & Rules

First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $500; second-place winners receive $250; third-place winners receive $125.


  • All entries must be original work and sponsored by a high school teacher.

  • Judges include Bennington College faculty and students.

The competition runs annually from September 1 to November 1. Winning entries are posted by April 19.

The Ocean Awareness Contest

This competition invites students to use their creativity to make a difference for our planet. As the creators share on their website, “Our contest is a call for young artists, thinkers, and activists who are concerned about the future of our human and natural communities to use their creative voices to explore, express, and advocate for issues related to climate change and our oceans.” Students are eligible for a wide range of monetary prizes.


Age Groups: Ages 11–14 (Jr. Division); Ages 15–18 (Sr. Division)


How to Enter: Students may submit work in the categories of art, poetry, prose, film, or music which must always be accompanied by a reflection. Check out the contest details for a set of educator resources as well as the new contest prompt coming out in September.

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ELA Professional Learning Sessions

ELEMENTARY


Wednesday, September 4th 8, 8:30 - 3:30pm, Werz PLC

Elementary Grades Scoring Institute

Participants will receive training on the scoring process using the Georgia Milestones rubric. Teachers will be given the opportunity to practice scoring with practice sets developed during range-finding. After training and practice, teachers will be given the opportunity to ‘qualify’ for scoring, following the same protocol as those who score Georgia Milestones. Qualifying involves each participant individually applying the rubric to a packet of student responses. To qualify for scoring, a participant must apply the rubric with 80% accuracy and no non-adjacent scores.


Thursday, September 12th, 2:45 - 4:00pm

Grade 3 & 4 District ELA Meeting

In this professional learning session, grade 3 & 4 teachers will participate in mini-sessions that include discussion of the revised curriculum pacing guide, reading and writing instruction and available resources.


Tuesday, September 17th, 3:00 - 4:00pm

Multi-Sensory Phonics

In this professional learning session, participants will participate in mini-sessions that review best practices for phonics instruction. Discussion will include how to differentiate activities to cover multiple grade levels.


Thursday, September 26th, 2:45 - 4:00pm

Grade K District ELA Meeting

In this professional learning session, kindergarten teachers will participate in mini-sessions that include discussion of the revised curriculum pacing guide, ESGI, and Recipe for Reading.


Please review your Professional Learning Schedule for a complete list of opportunities.


MIDDLE


Thursday, September 5th 8, 8:30 - 3:30pm, Werz PLC

Middle Grades Scoring Institute

Participants will receive training on the scoring process using the Georgia Milestones rubric. Teachers will be given the opportunity to practice scoring with practice sets developed during range-finding. After training and practice, teachers will be given the opportunity to ‘qualify’ for scoring, following the same protocol as those who score Georgia Milestones. Qualifying involves each participant individually applying the rubric to a packet of student responses. To qualify for scoring, a participant must apply the rubric with 80% accuracy and no non-adjacent scores.


Monday, September 23rd, 4:00 - 5:00pm

ELA Secondary Remediation Meeting

All middle and high school ELA teachers are invited to participate in the district department meeting. Discussion topics will include strategies to support instruction and inform pedagogy for students struggling in ELA. Participants are asked to bring a Chromebook.


Wednesday, September 25th, 4:00 - 5:00pm

Middle Grades District Department Meeting

All middle grades ELA teachers are invited to participate in the monthly middle grades department meeting. Discussion topics will include strategies to support instruction and inform pedagogy based on district trends found through the Assesslet Data Digs. Participants are asked to bring a Chromebook.


Please review your Professional Learning Schedule for a complete list.



HIGH


Friday, September 6th 8, 8:30 - 3:30pm, Werz PLC

High School Scoring Institute

Participants will receive training on the scoring process using the Georgia Milestones rubric. Teachers will be given the opportunity to practice scoring with practice sets developed during range-finding. After training and practice, teachers will be given the opportunity to ‘qualify’ for scoring, following the same protocol as those who score Georgia Milestones. Qualifying involves each participant individually applying the rubric to a packet of student responses. To qualify for scoring, a participant must apply the rubric with 80% accuracy and no non-adjacent scores.


Monday, September 23rd, 4:00 - 5:00pm

ELA Secondary Remediation Meeting

All middle and high school ELA teachers are invited to participate in the district department meeting. Discussion topics will include strategies to support instruction and inform pedagogy for students struggling in ELA. Participants are asked to bring a Chromebook.



Please review your Professional Learning Schedule. Dates are TBD based on submissions from your Department Chairs.

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Have you heard of "blank page syndrome?" This happens when students stare at a blank screen or paper. The cursor blinks, the pencil swings, or the pen twiddles without any words appearing on the page. Some research says that writing with fluency and volume is unnatural. Through the use of writing strategies, our objective will be to ease the stress of writing for our students.


Research based instructional strategies positively impact student learning. Each month check back for different writing strategies. When using any strategy, teachers should (1) ensure students understand why the strategy is useful, and (2) describe explicitly how the strategy could be used. Demonstrate, model , and follow-up with independent practice opportunities. Remember to share these writing strategies with your colleagues in other content areas. We are in this together!

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Transition Words

Teach students to use transition words in order to improve their writing. Transition words help stories flow more smoothly, by providing logical organization and connections between thoughts.


Why transition words?


  • They provide coherence to a story
  • They can help writers bridge the gap between ideas
  • They provide a signal to the reader or listener about what is coming next

How to introduce / review transition words?

  • Encourage students to review something they've written and look for evidence of transition words.
  • Ask students to find places within their own writing where transition words will clarify what they're trying to say or help the piece by moving the action along.
  • Using editing marks, have students revise their writing using just the right transition words.


Lesson ideas

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Word Mapping

Find a word related to the topic in a circle in the middle of the page. Draw lines from the word to other words (phrases) that connect to the featured word in the center circle. The words and phrases that branch out are related to the topic or provide details that support the topic. Review the map to find surprises and connections. From this activity, move to the initial draft. Include some of the words collected on the map.


PROMPT

Begin with free association. Add words that connect with the topic.

What comes to mind as you think of the topic?

What surprises you?

Think of words and phrases.

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Color Coding

Use color coding to make writing organization apparent.

  1. Assign a different color to each element of a piece. For example, in opinion writing, the opinion statement could be red, the first reason could be green, the second reason could be yellow, and the ending could be blue.
  2. Mark the graphic organizer with these colors.
  3. As students work on their drafts, they should underline the sentences for each section with the appropriate color. This makes it easy for them to recognize how it is organized.
AUGUST STRATEGIES

Making a List

Quick Writes

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Contact Dr. Paula Baker, ELA/Literacy Content Specialist with any questions, comments, or concerns.


Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

~Nelson Mandela


Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.

~Anatole France


The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.