EAGLE MOUNTAIN NEWS & NOTES #29
MARCH 30, 2015
Today marks the beginning of the fourth nine weeks! We want to wish our 4th & 5th graders the very best this week as they ACE the STAAR test. We KNOW how hard you have worked to prepare students, and we are confident that your hard work will pay off in a big way.
Kelli has sent out a revised Block schedule as well as put them in your boxes. We sure do appreciate everyone keeping the halls especially quiet today, so we can maintain an ideal testing environment.
IMPORTANT INFO FOR THIS WEEK!
· We’ve had several Teacher of the Year nominations turned in. I will give those nominees the Teacher Self-Reflection page to complete. Those are due back to me by April 7th.
· Last call for April calendar items!
· This Friday is our last day for Clubs for a few weeks. We may only do them four more weeks after this round – more info on that soon.
· Please turn in two names for your Eagles of Character for the third nine weeks to Sandra ASAP – we’re still missing several names. Our Eagles of Character celebration will be next Friday, April 10th.
· If you have items that need to be added to our team leader agenda for Wednesday, please have those to me by tomorrow afternoon.
· This reminder that your TSR Sections II & III are due April 15th – Please remember to click “Submit!”
· Our next bad weather make-up day is April 17th – we WILL have school on April 17th.
- Please keep Tammy Ledbetter in your prayers as she has surgery on Thursday.
- Here is a short article about improving students’ vocabularies:
Three Ways Young Adolescents Can Build Strong Vocabularies
In this Review of Educational Research article, Evelyn Ford-Connors and Jeanne Paratore (Boston University) say it’s critically important to expand students’ vocabularies between grade 5 and 12. Why the focus on this age-range? Because so many adolescents are struggling with literacy, because the texts they’re asked to read are increasingly demanding, and because researchers have found that a wide vocabulary is an integral component of proficient reading. “Word knowledge exists as a rich network of information in which words are connected to mental schema, prior experience, and associations with other words, concepts, and ideas,” say Ford-Connors and Paratore. “Knowledge of a word thus extends well beyond its definition to include not only the ability to recognize a word but also to instantly access information about it and to create meaning from spoken or written texts.”
How are students going to learn the tens of thousands of words they need to be prepared for college and career success? Being exposed to a word once or twice is clearly insufficient. To add a word to their vocabulary, students need to move along this continuum:
- No idea what the word means;
- Have heard it but don’t know its meaning;
- Recognize it in context as related to a particular category or idea;
- Understand its meaning in a variety of contexts;
- Can use the word accurately in speaking and writing.
It takes numerous exposures to words and related ideas in a variety of contexts to reach the last stage – and that has to happen thousands of times during middle and high-school years.
Why do so many students lack appropriately sophisticated vocabularies? Ford-Connors and Paratore believe a major reason is the word-learning strategies being used in many U.S. classrooms. The most common approach is teachers introducing lists of words, providing synonyms, and having students look them up in the dictionary and use them in sentences. This strategy is “largely ineffective for increasing students’ understanding of words,” they say, because it provides neither the repeated exposure nor the rich network of semantic and associative connections necessary to embed new words in students’ vocabularies – especially students who enter knowing relatively few words.
What is to be done? Ford-Connors and Paratore point to three research-based components of effective vocabulary development that teachers need to use on a regular basis if they’re not already doing so:
• Wide reading of complex texts – This is the only way students will be exposed to enough words enough times and in enough contexts to master them. For students to do lots of reading, they need to be motivated by their teachers, by intrinsic and developed interests and passions, and have access to the right kinds of reading materials.
• Instruction in word learning strategies – As students read complex texts, they will encounter numerous words they don’t know. Students must be able to figure them out or find their meanings, and this is where teachers’ explicit instruction is vital – about context clues, morphology, multiple meanings, and “word consciousness” (words’ role in sentences and how they can be used differently when spoken or written). And of course certain target words must be taught directly – perhaps 10-12 a week with many exposures and angles of approach, combined with strategy instruction on their use.
• Teachers orchestrating rich discussions – High-quality classroom exchanges are a surprisingly important factor in developing vocabulary, say Ford-Connors and Paratore. Such discussions expose students to hundreds of words in meaningful contexts and enrich the breadth and depth of word knowledge. The key is teachers’ skill in facilitating the conversation: “Variety in teachers’ questioning techniques extends and challenges students’ thinking while encouraging the exploratory talk that supports critical analysis of content,” say the authors. “A broad repertoire of teacher talk moves, including, for example, questioning, elaborating, or speculating, scaffolds students’ participation and offers students models for engaging in academic inquiry.”
“Vocabulary Instruction in Fifth Grade and Beyond: Sources of Word Learning and Productive Contexts for Development” by Evelyn Ford-Connors and Jeanne Paratore in Review of Educational Research, March 2015 (Vol. 85, #1, p. 50-9)
THERE ARE NO NEW TECH DO'S THIS NINE WEEKS
THESE ARE THE TECH DO'S WE HAD THIS YEAR.
1st WEEK – Try ClassDojo.com
2nd WEEK – Decide what you would like to do. (twitter or blog)
3rd WEEK – Twitter or blog should be ready to go
4th WEEK - Post at least one time to twitter or blog
5th WEEK – Set up a You Tube Channel
6th WEEK – Should be posting regularly to twitter or blog
7th WEEK – Post a video to You Tube
8th WEEK – Try to Flip one lesson9th WEEK – What’s Your Plan for the Next nine weeks?
1st WEEK – KEEP TWEETING AND BLOGGING
2nd WEEK – RESEARCH APPS AND SUBMIT APPS FOR APPROVAL
3rd WEEK – USE QR CODES IN A LESSON
4th WEEK - FLIP ONE LESSON THIS WEEK
5th WEEK – REPORT ON HOW iPADS ARE BEING USED IN YOUR CLASS
6th WEEK – TWEET AN AUTHOR ABOUT A BOOK THE CLASS HAS READ
7th WEEK – VIDEO A STUDENT LED LESSON AND POST TO YOUTUBE
8th WEEK – POST A STUDENT LED TWEET
9th WEEK – MAKE-UP ONE WEEK YOU MISSED
THIS WEEK AT A GLANCE:
Monday – 4th grade STAAR Writing Day 1
Tuesday – 4th grade STAAR Writing, Day 2, 5th grade STAAR Reading
Wednesday – STAAR Make up, We’re back on regular schedule, Team Leader Meeting - 3PM
Thursday – STAAR Make up, Back on regular schedule, Happy Birthday Karyn Cooper!
Friday –STAAR Make up, Last day for Eagle Mountain University Clubs 1:45 – 2:30
“All we can ask in our lives is that perhaps we can make a little difference in someone else’s.” -Lillian Davis
· A special thanks to Beth Welch & Pam English for the PERFECT way they coordinated Science Night which was very well attended last week. It does not go unnoticed that something that massive requires a great deal of planning & preparation, so KUDOS to you both for the exceptional job that you did!
· KUDOS to Regina for helping Kelli yesterday make final STAAR preparations. Your gracious help means a lot…to all of us!
· CONGRATULATIONS TO Kim Meadows whose Donor.org project was fully funded! As a result her Kindergarten class will be getting 3 more I-Pads, 5 cases, & 6 headphones. Kim & her students are very excited about this, & Kudos to Kim for taking the initiative to see this through! Way to do it!!!