ACE Literacy Newsletter

Elementary Literacy | FEB 2018 YEAR 3: VOL. 3

Big picture

In this Edition:

Balanced Literacy Focus: Writing

STAAR Prep: Differentiating instruction

Instructional Resources: 5th Six Weeks Instructional Calendars

Engaging Review Strategies: Escape the room example

Big picture

Countdown to Writing STAAR

This month’s instructional focus in balanced literacy is Writing. Even if you are not a 4th grade teacher, many of these tools can help to inform your instruction.

Daily Writing Routines

Mentor Sentences

One of the most frequently assessed writing skills is the ability to correctly compose and combine sentences. A mentor sentence routine at the start of the day provides students with opportunities to learn from great writing and emulate that themselves. More on Mentor Sentences in this previous newsletter.

Grammar Review Routine

Take a look at this frequently assessed SE document for guidance on where to focus your writing lessons. As you highlight the writing skill, students take notes on the left side of their journal. On the right side, students authentically use the skill in practice sentences. This provides teachers a great opportunity to aggressively monitor and see the grammar skill used in practice. Follow it all up with a multiple choice DOL to see if they have mastered the skill in test format.


Use a document camera to model the skill you would like for students to emulate. Before students begin each paragraph, model your own drafting process on the document camera. Point out to students the skills you've used and the way you have organized your thinking. As students begin their paragraph, you can aggressively monitor the room and provide instant feedback. Use the Show/Call technique to highlight student work from around the room and provide specific feedback as to why it's great.

Use these resources to help guide your writing instruction:

4th Grade Composition BIG TEN

Feedback Prompts

Be sure to include your feedback on their drafts so that students can see their growth through the writing process.

Rubric Work

Incorporate a weekly routine for students to read great work. Ask students to notice tools and techniques that they might borrow in their own writing. The more great writing students read, the more ideas they have for their own craft. Take a look at these writing exemplars. Be sure to have a rubric handy at all times for students to refer back to!

Spelling Routines

Spelling rules can feel overwhelming. Target your instruction by focusing in on one spelling pattern at a time. This can be included in your daily routine as a quick 5-8 minute review:

Monday- Introduce the spelling rule and have students take notes

Tuesday- Share examples of the word and ask students to practice using the words

Wednesday- Give a quick 2 minute spelling quiz and check

Thursday- Give students an aligned multiple choice question with the spelling pattern

Big picture

Differentiating Instruction

Using Exemplars

Remember to utilize your exemplar throughout the lesson. Targeted and specific feedback is the best way to move students forward. Think about your groups moving from meets into masters- how will targeted feedback impact their growth?
Big picture

Planning groups

As you plan your groups, take note of how you will use leveled texts in guided reading to continue to close the gaps for your lowest groups. Carefully plan out the ways you will reteach and reinforce high leverage SE's with your groups pushing into 'meets' and 'masters'.
Big picture
Big picture

Resource Spotlight

Hot off the press: 5th 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. Also- use the STAAR aligned question stems in the document to write your DOLs and plan your questions during your lesson!

Big picture

Engaging Review Strategies

Looking for an exciting way to engage kids in SE review? Try an interactive activity to motivate students while practice aligned skills.

  • Insert STAAR stems into a Jeopardy template. Have students work with a partner to show evidence of their thinking.
  • Set up an escape room experience. As students complete the questions correctly, new clues are unlocked. Check out this blog for an example or review this folder to see sample writing escape clues.

Big picture

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".
Big picture