ACE Literacy Newsletter

Middle School Literacy | FEB 2018 YEAR 3: VOL. 3

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In this Edition:

Balanced Literacy Focus: Student Work VS Exemplar

Instructional Resources: 5th Six Weeks Instructional Calendars

Writing: Staying Laser-Focused -High impact lessons

Small Groups: Keys to a Great Small Group Lesson

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The Matchup: Student Work VS The Exemplar

How are you analyzing student work with your exemplar as you aggressively monitor? How do you support students that are performing at the Meets/Masters level?

Here are a few tips to help you differentiate as you aggressively monitor ALL levels of students:

  • Label the parts of your exemplar that are aimed at different performance levels prior to instruction (tier your exemplar).
  • Mark the performance levels of students on your clipboard so that you can differentiate how you prompt and ask questions as you round.
  • Have pre-planned extensions ready to go for students that master the content.
  • Be ready to break your instruction down into smaller steps for students that struggle.

After instruction, use the guiding questions below to help you analyze gaps in student learning and plan reteach lessons for ALL levels of students!

  • In general, at what stage are students in their understanding and competency with the knowledge, skills, and understandings?
  • For students at a beginning level of under standing, what re-teaching needs to occur? In what ways can the skill be broken down into smaller parts?
  • For students at a high level of understanding, what extensions need to be provided for them? How can they be challenged to deepen their thinking and understanding of the knowledge, skills, and understandings?
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Hot off the press: 5th Six Weeks curriculum calendars (click title above)

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. Also- use the STAAR aligned question stems in the document to write your DOLs and plan your questions during your lesson!

Also posted are model exemplars to use when aggressively monitoring or analyzing student work for gaps.

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Writing: Stay Laser-Focused!

We only have 32 days of instruction left before STAAR testing. Can you believe it?

You have laid the foundation with quality lessons all year. Now, it's time to tighten up understandings and make those last perfections to students' writing.


During Writing Academy III, we decided upon the 10 most high leverage composition lessons to take students writing to the next level. These lessons are planned out in our instructional calendar. Take the next 32 days to be sure all students have mastered these skills.

Linked below is a data tracking page and a conference cheat sheet to help you push students to Score point 4 papers between now and STAAR.

Revising and Editing

We have also analyzed each STAAR stem from the last 5 years of testing and compiled a quicklist of the skills assessed under each SE, attached below. Be sure to use your data to review these concepts and push students to mastery of these skills.

Remember, Grammar skills are best internalized with daily authentic application in their own writing in addition to the multiple choice questions used for assessment.

Compositions are Moving Along in ACE!

ACE 7th grade students are coming along in their writing as evident in their composition logs. Students are tracking their progress and using their feedback in the writing as they move on to new essays.

Students use the writing process to create structured pieces using mentor texts and resources to continue to improve themselves as writers.

Check out the samples from Dade middle school as students move from planning, drafting, revising, and publishing their wonderful essays based on their rubric, mentor text and teacher feedback!

Grammar Lessons with Application in ACE!

ACE Writing teachers have made a huge focus this year on providing clear grammar lessons with immediate application in authentic writing.

Check out 7th grade Edison students combining several grammar skills in their daily journal quick write!

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Small Groups: Differentiation at the highest level!

Teaching in the ELA classroom needs to address the explicit teaching and monitoring of comprehension strategies. While there is no one approach that surpasses all others, any approach used should include:

  • Explicit modeling of how the strategies work
  • Guided or scaffolded practice with increasingly complex texts
  • Developing students’ metacognition of their use of strategies
  • Opportunities to practice independently

Students need to know why particular strategies are important and have opportunities to use them in multiple contexts with a diverse range of texts.

*Click the link above for more from this article and the research on middle school struggling readers.

Small Groups in Action at ACE!

ACE Middle School teachers are busy differentiating everyday in small groups based on students' lexiles and skill deficits as other students independently read during this time.

Check out 8th grade Rusk teachers leading engaging small group lessons during their literacy block!

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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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