Humanities Highlights

Igniting the Joy of Reading

One of my favorite gifts that I received as a kid was a flashlight. This flashlight was my secret weapon that allowed me to stay up late, reading well past my bedtime. While hidden underneath my covers with a flashlight and book, I listened for my mom's footsteps up the stairs. She was way too smart and guilty of this habit as a 9 year old herself, and she knew the flashlight trick too well. As soon as I heard her steps near my door, I turned off the light and pretended to be asleep in case she checked.

I met a Rocketeer this past week out in Milwaukee that reminded me of this type joy of reading we need to instill in each student. I watched him multi-task. He shifted from one literacy station to the next, quickly getting a paper out and settling to the next. The whole time, his eyes never left the pages of his book. I watched his expression change as he turned the pages, the sign of a true reader. He had left the classroom and had traveled into the world the author created.

This is type of joy and passion for reading that I hope all Rocketeers have. It is this that drives my work each day. I hope this week you will use different strategies and resources to continue to drive towards this joy of reading for each Rocketeer.



Refining the I Do for New Lesson vs. Repeated Lessons

Last week, we reviewed the necessary planning and execution components needed for delivering a high quality "I Do" during the RA/RC block.

This week, we want to draw your attention to how planning and execution actions should differ when you are leading a lesson with a new lesson vs. a repeated lesson. A new lesson is considered one with an objective that is being introduced for the first time in the year, or the first time in a considerable amount of time. A repeated lesson is one with an objective that has already been covered with students 2-3 times that week.

When planning and executing a repeated lesson, take a look at the checklist below. Several key highlights:

  • Rather than spending the same number of minutes on the oral drill and hook as an new lesson, have your students go over your key points, oral drill style. Your students should be fluent enough in your key points from previous days' lessons!
  • Rather than going over a think aloud, spend more time on the We Do with your students. If your students have seen high-quality modeling from you in previous days, this will transfer the ownership of more time spent on student practice.

Both of these key teacher actions will ensure that your precious minutes during the I Do of a repeated lesson are used best, and that students will have more time to practice in the We Do instead!

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Guided Reading Framework for Different STEP Levels

Guided Reading is most effectively delivered when we follow frameworks for different STEP levels. Last week, we attached a one pager for each of the Guided Reading components. Though the Before, During, and After Reading sections have many similarities across STEP levels, there are distinct differences -- most notably, around the "During Reading" portion for lower vs. higher STEP levels.

  • Pre Reading - STEP 6 students should be whisper reading while the teacher prompts for word-solving errors during the "During Reading" section. In order to do this, both students and teachers should be sitting together at the kidney table.

  • STEP 7+ students should have a clear "Before Reading" section with their teacher so that they know the day's objectives and key points. Then, they should read their designated texts at their seats during literacy work stations for the "During Reading" section. When they are finished, they should reconvene with their teacher for the "After Reading" portion.

Addtionally, RSCP has been collaborating as a school to create a bank of guided reading plans for their library. Here is an example of these plans. See how these "During Reading" differences play out in their STEP 2, STEP 6 and STEP 13 lesson plan.

Finally, see this in action! Here are three videos from classrooms in Uncommon Schools. Each of these videos highlight a full STEP 2 guided reading lesson, STEP 5 guided reading lesson and STEP 7 lesson. In the STEP 2 and STEP 5 lesson, you see the students whisper reading in front of their teacher. In the STEP 7 lesson, however, the students reconvene with their teacher after they have read their texts at their seats.

If you want to watch more videos, here's the link!


Reading A-Z Open Response Questions

Check out open response questions for Reading A-Z texts for STEPs 7-9. You can use these during literacy work stations, and they are a more rigorous replacement for Reading A-Z comprehension worksheets (that are mostly multiple choice based). We'll update you when the next batch has been uploaded! Get them here!

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Supporting Families With Phonics

Lauren Berry came up with a creative solution to support her families with phonics practice at home. She recorded herself! Check out Lauren's video reviewing the letter names and sounds. Families can now listen and make sure their child hears the correct sounds and does the corresponding action.

Lauren also leverages times like lunch or transitions to play this video so that her students can practice phonics all throughout the day. Way to go, Lauren!

Read to Succeed

Read to Succeed is an exciting program that encourages students in grades K through 6 to read for fun. Students who complete six hours of recreational reading earn a free ticket to Six Flags! This program is available to all of our teachers at no cost to participate. The deadline for reading log submissions is March 1, so take advantage of this ASAP!



Requesting Pre-Printed Anchor Charts

In need of a specific anchor chart? The humanities team has created many anchor charts that you can request to be printed and delivered to your campus via your school leader. These anchor charts have been delivered to campuses based on requests since the past year. Do not forget to talk to your school leader to get ahold of these resources!

Double Plans Available on Google Docs

This is a quick reminder that some humanities plans (G1, G2 Option 2, G3) are available Google Docs. Please be sure to check out this link to view the narrative double plans created by your planning specialists at the start of each week in Google Docs form.

All other grades are available in each grade level's specific folders. Please reach out to Brooke (grades TK, K, 1st, 5th) or Sharon (grades 2nd, 3rd, 4th) if you have questions.

Reminder: STEP Intermediate Has Begun!

The STEP Intermediate testing window is well underway. Scores will need to be inputted for students into the teacher-facing online portal by Friday, February 19. We will be testing students on all burgundy assessments for this round.

All necessary supplemental materials can be found on Box. Throughout the course of testing, please reach out for any content-related questions to Sharon at and all tech-related questions to Kate at

STEP Intermediate Best Practices

The Humanities Team has been actively giving out STEP intermediate assessments to gauge how long it takes both students and teachers to administer the assessment as well as share best practices. Here is a sequence that has been incredibly helpful and has allowed us to both gather meaningful data AND knock out anywhere between 4 assessments within a 45 minute block:

  • Have students read the first page with you to track reading rate.
  • Have students go back to their desks. Tell them to read the excerpt for the text analysis section independently afterwards and let you know they are finished.
  • If you are working with another student, have them work on the silent reading and vocabulary questions independently until you call them to the table.
  • Ask students questions for the text analysis, comprehension conversation, and text features section so that you can get all of the 1:1 components finished in one sitting.
  • Tell students to finish the silent reading and vocabulary sections, and then to read the article (for STEP 13+) and answer the using section at their seats.

Opt in Humanities PD: Non Fiction Guided Reading (STEP 10-18)

Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, 5-6:30pm

950 Owsley Avenue

San Jose, CA

Now that I have my STEP intermediate data... what should non-fiction guided reading look like? Is it that different? How do I plan and an execute a lesson that is aligned to the demands of STEP Intermediate?

We will be tackling these questions and more as we present the framework and effective practices for non-fiction guided reading. This PD is highly recommended for 3rd-5th grade humanities teachers.

16-17 RA/RC Working Group

Wednesday, Feb. 10th, 5:15pm

2001 Gateway Place

San Jose, CA

Join this working group to see our curricular revisions to both the non-fiction and narrative plans for next year! For this specific meeting, we will be going over our non-fiction long term plans as well as sharing how this will fit within our science/social studies vision for next year.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Rocketship Humanities

We are a team that is dedicated to ensuring that all students receive an excellent literacy instruction. We believe that this can be achieved through high quality professional development, strategic coaching and support, dedicated school staff, and an unyielding belief that every child can succeed.