ACE Elementary Literacy Newsletter

Elementary Literacy | OCT 2017 YEAR 3: VOL. 2

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In this Edition:

Balanced Literacy Focus: Guided reading

Writing: Using mentor sentences

Instructional Resources: 3rd Six Weeks Instructional Calendars

Upcoming PD: ACE Writing Academy

Announcements: K-2 Calendar updates


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Balanced Literacy Focus: Guided Reading

This month’s instructional focus in balanced literacy is guided reading.

As we accelerate student learning, we know that we must address grade level student expectations while also targeting students' individual reading needs to close gaps. Guided reading is the best practice tool in the ACE 2x4 to address specific reading needs based on data and raise reading levels at an accelerated pace.

Step 1- Management

Teachers thoughtfully consider the systems and roll out for successful transitions and independent work so that the teacher can focus on the students at the table.

K-2: The teacher has established Daily 5 routines that have been practiced and rehearsed. (Ensure that tier 3 students get a full cycle on istation Kinder (20 minutes) 1-2 (30 minutes) for a total of 90 minutes a week.)

3-5: Teacher has planned thoughtful independent practice that supports a previously taught skill and has an organized process for students to log in to istation.

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Helpful tools:

Daily 5 Overview

Step 2 - Data

Using isip data, teachers group students with other like-readers to address skills at their level. The teacher maintains an updated list of student data and may move students in and out of groups occasionally depending on their reading progress.
Helpful tools:

isip correlation chart

Step 3- Planning for success

Use the prompting guides (narrative or informational) to select a skill for students at that particular level. Select a leveled text from your campus leveled library that will allow students to practiced the identified skill at their instructional level. Plan for unfamiliar words and select the prompts you will use from the prompting guide.
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Step 4- The Lesson

Pre- Reading- provide a quick word study drill for sight words or phonics study, etc. using flash cards. Use concise language to set the reading focus and how to apply it (from the prompting guide topic you selected in your planning). Model the word solving strategies students will need the most. For first grade and beyond- allow students to generate the preview of the book themselves.

During reading- Students read the text softly or silently on their own. This does not have to be in unison. Avoid 'Round Robin' reading. The teacher listens in to individual students reading and assists with problem solving and difficult words when appropriate. Students that finish before others may reread a portion of the text. The teacher makes notes about student reading as she listens in.

After reading- Teacher facilitates a discussion with students about what they have read. The teacher asks questions to assess the student understanding of the text. Teacher may ask students to talk with a partner about what they have read or have students take the book to continue reading independently after the lesson.

Step 4- Watch your students grow

Watch those reading levels move up, up, up! Give your kids a high five and yourself a pat on the back :)
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Writing- Using Mentor Sentences

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Why use mentor sentences?

There is a lot to learn from an interesting, well-written sentence! By analyzing and thinking about great writing, our students can pick up on the crafts and skills of great writers and emulate those skills in their own practice. Rather than giving kids incorrect sentences to correct- think about how much they can learn by looking at a sentence that is already great. By using mentor sentences in your daily writing routine, students can learn multiple grammar skills as well as analyze different types of sentences that make writing engaging.

As students compile a collection of mentor sentences, they can continue to study and imitate them as they write their own compositions.

Check out this amazing display from Ms. Zeller's class at Titche elementary. After a week of quick daily analysis of the same mentor sentence, they applied that sentence format to their own writing.
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A mentor sentence routine

Monday: Introduce the mentor sentence, “What do you notice about this sentence? You might see exciting words, figurative language, the type of sentence, or even special parts of speech. In your journal, write down what you notice.”

Tuesday: Identify parts of speech, “In your journal, rewrite the mentor sentence exactly as it is written, but skip lines in between. Label all of the parts of speech that you know in this sentence!”

Wednesday: Revise the sentence, “Revise the mentor sentence by making it more descriptive or exciting. Try adding or changing adjectives, verbs, or specific nouns. Remember to keep the meaning of the sentence the same.”

Thursday: Rewrite the sentence, “Imitate the mentor sentence by keeping the style and structure the same, but making it your own. You should create a brand new sentence.”

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K-2 Schedule Update

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Thank you to those who have provided feedback on the K -2 literacy schedule. We have included an updated version of the K-2 balanced literacy schedule on the ACE website. Please note:

  • Teachers can mix in small group instruction throughout the balanced literacy block to keep high energy and attention in class
  • The updated schedule has two literacy rotations back to back in order to give more time for a group to complete an Istation lesson cycle. For Kinder students about 20 minutes is required to complete an istation lesson, for 1st-2nd about 30 minutes is necessary.
  • Remember that guided reading and isip improvement are a K-2 priority!

Resource Spotlight

Hot off the press: 3rd 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. Each week SE’s will be spiraled in and reviewed so that students have multiple opportunities to practice a comprehension skill with multiple texts. Also- use the STAAR aligned question stems in the document to write your DOLs!

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Writing Template

The writing template has been updated to reflect an adapted 3 paragraph essay as discussed at the most recent writing academy. The template also includes a possible scope and sequence.

Upcoming PD:

ACE Writing Academy #2

Saturday, Nov. 11th, 9am-12pm


Location and registration details coming soon! 4th grade teachers and instructional coaches, save the date!


ACE Website:

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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