Coaches' Corner

Reed Elementary, May 2016

Important Dates

Teacher Appreciation Week ------------------------------------------------------------- May 2-6

DRA/EDL window opens for grades K-5 --------------------------------------------- Monday, May 2

3rd grade science assessment window opens ------------------------------------Wednesday, May 4

General faculty meeting ------------------------------------------------------------------Wednesday, May 4

Cinco de mayo potluck lunch -------------------------------------------------------------Thursday, May 5

Children's Book Week ---------------------------------------------------------------------- May 9-13

Math STAAR for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade (retesters) ----------- Monday, May 9

Reading STAAR for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade (retesters) ------- Tuesday, May 10

Science STAAR for 5th grade ------------------------------------------------------------ Wednesday, May 11

School Nurse Day --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wednesday, May 11

Leader in Me committee meetings --------------------------------------------------- Wednesday, May 11

LA and Math benchmark assessment window opens K-2 -------------------- Thursday, May 12

PTA Read-a-thon ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Friday, May 13

Educational Bosses' Week ---------------------------------------------------------------- May 16-20

4th grade science assessment window opens ------------------------------------ Monday, May 16

K & 1 math screener window opens -------------------------------------------------- Monday, May 16

Vertical team meetings ------------------------------------------------------------------- Wednesday, May 18

PTA meeting; Talent Show --------------------------------------------------------------- Thursday, May 19

EoY Staff Party ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Saturday, May 21

Bad Weather Make-up Day (again) --------------------------------------------------- Monday, May 23

Faculty meeting ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wednesday, May 25

3rd & 4th grade science assessment window closes -------------------------- Thursday, May 26

LA and Math benchmark assessment window closes K-2 ------------------- Thursday, May 26

DRA/EDL window closes for grades K-5 -------------------------------------------- Friday, May 27

SPLASH DAY ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Friday, May 27

Memorial Day holiday -------------------------------------------------------------------- Monday, May 30

Kindergarten EoY celebration --------------------------------------------------------- Thursday, May 2

5th grade walk and ceremony, 8:30 ------------------------------------------------- Friday, June 3

Early release; Report cards go home ----------------------------------------------- Friday, June 3

Teacher workday --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Monday, June 6

Got Poetry?

White Wings

Sitting against a big friendly tree

Reading a book I love,

I looked up suddenly

And saw fleeting and wheeling

Away in the blue spring sky

A flock of gray birds

Flashing white wings in the May sun.

-Carl Sandburg

Find lots more poetry at

Tech Tip: Go Formative

If you are interested in seeing your students' thinking quickly and providing immediate feedback, you might want to check out Teachers and students can use it for free (so far). Teachers can create assignments, send them out to students, students answer (does not have to be multiple choice), teacher can see results immediately. Go Formative may be used on any internet-connected device. Sounds like fun!

Recommended Reading: The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers by Jennifer Serravallo

This is a very unusual teacher resource book - it is more like a cookbook than any I have seen. The book is arranged by reading goal, such as Teaching Fluency, Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Thinking about Characters, and Improving Writing about Reading. Within each chapter based on the goal are a number of strategies you might teach to build students' capacity in that goal, such as Read Like a Storyteller, Talk and Actions as Windows, and Five-Sentence Summary (which correspond to each of the goals listed above, respectively). When you have located the strategy you want to teach, you find a one-page lesson for teaching that strategy, complete with suggested reading levels, lesson language and prompts. This is a great book for teachers who feel more secure when the lesson is written out for them! The lessons are perfectly suited for whole-group mini-lessons, but they would also be a wonderful tool to use for targeted small group or individual interventions based on assessment or observational data. It's fairly expensive, but it might be worth the money to you. Carolyn has a copy you are welcome to check out.

Children's Author Spotlight: Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne has written lots of books for children (48, to be exact). Most of his books are picture books, although some are not so easily classified. His topics range from the everyday, like moms and dads, to fantastical adventures. His best-known characters are Willy the Wimp (a chimpanzee), Little Bear (with his magical pencil), and Gorilla. You can find more information about Anthony Browne and his books at

(If you are interested in sparking your students' writing with some funky artwork, check out the "Gallery" part of the website.)

Food for Thought

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.

-Margaret Lee Runbeck

Promoting Vocabulary Development, Part 4

First a reminder:

Developing vocabulary is a continuing concern; unfortunately there is no miracle way to approach it. However, research tells us that an effective program of vocabulary instruction should provide students with opportunities for word learning by:

  • encouraging wide reading
  • exposing students to high-quality oral language
  • promoting word consciousness
  • providing explicit instruction of specific words, and
  • providing modeling and instruction in independent word learning strategies.

"Although students gain most of their word knowledge through wide reading, explicit instruction of specific words and their meanings can also contribute greatly to their vocabulary development. Explicit instruction is especially important for students whose exposure to the vocabulary of literate English is limited. To be most effective, explicit vocabulary instruction should be dynamic and involve a variety of techniques. Specifically, instruction should:

  1. Use both definitional and contextual information about word meanings,
  2. Involve students actively in word learning, and
  3. Use discussion to teach the meanings of new words and to provide meaningful information about the words."

Here are some instructional activities that provide students with definitional information:

  • teaching synonyms,
  • teaching antonyms,
  • students rewriting definitions in their own words,
  • providing example sentences,
  • providing non-examples, and
  • discussing the difference between the new words and related words.

Here are some activities that provide students with contextual information:

  • students creating sentences that contain the new word (or more than one new word),
  • discussing the meaning of the same word in different sentences,
  • students creating a scenario that features the new word, and
  • students creating silly sentences (such as "Can a philanthropist be a hermit?")

From Promoting Vocabulary Development: Components of Effective Vocabulary Instruction, published by the Texas Reading Initiative, part of the Texas Education Agency.