In Touch, In Tune

ELA/Reading Reminders, Opportunities, and Inspiration

Thanks for Tuning In!

January 2016

Happy New Year! It’s a great time to look back on what has worked, what you would like to do differently, and what plans you can commit to in 2016. In addition to your personal resolutions, why not make a reading resolution? Over 5,000 books for children are published each year. Will you resolve to read the Newbery Award medalists, the Printz Award medalists, or the Black-Eyed Susan nominees? Or perhaps you’d like to take the 2016 Reading Challenge by reading 12 books in 12 different categories in 12 months (pictured)? So what are your reading resolutions? What would you like to accomplish both as a reader and a reading teacher this year?

For more reading suggestions, consider browsing the resources below:

In the Spotlight

Secondary ELA on Twitter #FCPSELA

Featured Instructional Activity

Window Quotes

Often in longer magazine articles the editor will choose a key line or quotation and feature it in a window quote, a box placed in the article so that the text of the article wraps around it. The purpose of the window quote is to lure the reader into the piece by highlighting something interesting from the article; in doing so, the window quote often captures a big idea of the piece as well. Consider having students practice writing window quotes for texts they read to identify and highlight a big idea from the text.

From In the Best Interest of Students: Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom by Kelly Gallagher, 2015 (pages 22-23)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (But Mostly Good!)

Baltimore Science Fiction Society Young Writers' Contest


  • Contestants shall be no younger than 14 and no older than 18 years of age as of May 29 in the contest year and shall reside in, or attend school in Maryland.
  • Winners will be required to provide their proof of age.


  • Submissions must be in the field of science fiction or fantasy.
  • Submissions shall be no more than 2,500 words in length.
  • All submissions should include a title page with the title of the story, the entrant's name, home address, evening phone number, e-mail address if possible, and entrant's English teacher's name.
  • Paper submissions must have numbered pages. All submissions must have a footer with the title and page number. They should not have the entrants name or other identifying information on the individual pages. Paper submissions should be typed or printed, double-spaced, on 8.5 x 11" paper.
  • Electronic submissions must be sent as an attachment to email in either Microsoft Word or Wordperfect format. Otherwise they must be printed out and submitted on paper.
  • One contestant may submit multiple entries, but only one prize may be won by any one entrant.


  • Judges shall be drawn from the membership of BSFS, Inc.
  • The winners will be contacted before the convention and their names will be announced to the public at the next Balticon on Memorial Day Weekend just before the Masquerade at 8:30 PM. Winners need not be present to receive their prizes.
  • The submissions ranked first, second and third shall receive cash prizes of $150, $100 and $75, respectively. The three winners shall also receive complimentary registrations for Balticon for themselves and their parents or one guest each. They will also receive a free Balticon T-Shirt.
  • The deadline for all submissions is March 31, in any given contest year.
  • Paper submissions should be addressed to:

Jack L. Chalker Young Writers' Contest
BSFS, Inc.
PO Box 686
Baltimore, MD 21203-0686

  • Electronic submissions should be addressed to:
  • All submissions become the property of Baltimore Science Fiction Society Inc. (BSFS, Inc.), and may be published in Society publications.

For additional information, visit


FCPS invites students at all levels to enter a video contest called Classmates4Life to help curb drug abuse. The goal for students is to produce a creative video, 30-60 seconds long, that highlights drug-abuse danger and motivates their peers to choose life.

At the secondary level, videos should answer the question “How can drugs wreck your world?” Videos are due by January 31.

The public may view each video and vote on YouTube by clicking the thumbs up symbol for the one they deem best. Voting will take place from February 1-29. An expert panel of judges will also review the entries.

Winners will receive great prizes and attend a “red carpet” awards ceremony and resource fair at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Frederick on March 2. Prizes include an iPad mini, GoPro, PSA aired on Comcast Cable, screening at the Maryland International Film Festival in Hagerstown, two tickets to an Orioles game and tour of Orioles Productions, Weinberg Center for the Arts tickets and tour, a Pie Five pizza party and more.

For more information, view the kickoff event, the promotional video or the contest website.

Testing Windows

Middle School ELA CRES
  • Narrative Writing Task: 10/12/15-10/23/15
  • Literary Analysis Task: 1/4/16-1/15/16
  • Research Simulation Task: 4/3/16-4/15/16

High School Fall Semester ELA CRES

  • Narrative Writing Task: 9/28/15-10/2/15
  • Literary Analysis Task: 11/2/15-11/6/15
  • Research Simulation Task: 11/16/15-12/4/15

Scantron Performance Series (optional*)

  • Fall Norming Administration: 8/24/15-11/20/15
  • Winter Norming Administration: 1/4/16-2/22/16
  • Spring Norming Administration: 4/5/16-6/15/16

*Scantron PS Winter Administration is required for 8th grade articulation; other administrations may be given as determined by school and/or central office staff for identified populations. The PS Winter Administration is strongly recommended for students receiving support in reading.

Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) & Scholastic Phonics Inventory (SPI)**

  • Window 1: 8/24/15-9/9/15 (SRI & SPI)
  • Window 2: 11/4/15-11/18/15 (SRI only)
  • Window 3: 1/25/16-2/5/16 (SRI & SPI)
  • Window 4: 5/2/16-5/13/16 (SRI & SPI)

**Window 3: All students with the SRI assigned to them in SAM, with the exception of students in System 44, will take the SRI in Window 3. Students accessing System 44 should take the SPI in Window 3.


  • Window: 1/6/15-2/12/15

2015-2016 ELA/Reading Leadership Meetings

Middle School Department Chairs & Literacy Specialists

High School Department Chairs & Literacy Specialists

Middle School Reading Intervention Representatives

High School Reading Intervention Representatives

News from Intervention

Reading Intervention- Spotlight on Motivation

Reading ability improves with practice. However, many of our students are not engaged in reading on a regular basis, which affects ability and stamina. What can teachers do to increase the time that students spend reading?

English teacher Pernille Ripp provides guidance in her recent post "The Questions to Ask When the Kids Aren't Reading."

"I met my first book abandoner my very first year of teaching. Yet, he was not your average run of the mill book abandoner. No, he was the “look you straight in the eye and ask you what you are going to do about it” kind of abandoner. So I did what I knew best; forced him to read the book and not allow him to abandon it. And he did what he knew best; fake read for a good amount of time, skimmed a few pages, and failed the book report as well as the presentation. Repeat with every book. I don’t think he ever read anything beside Diary of A Wimpy Kid that year.

Everyone has these types of readers. The ones that abandon because they hate to read. The ones that abandon because they cannot find a great book. The ones that abandon because they get bored. Some years we have a lot, others not so many. So how can we break the abandonment cycle? How can we help these kids help themselves. Well, there are a few questions we can ask."

Click here to read on.

Instructional Technology Tips

Leadership and Professional Learning Opportunities

Help Us Help You!

Complete this form to let us know your immediate and long-term ELA and Reading Intervention needs. (The link to this form is also located on the ELA website.)

Don't Be Shy!

Is there something you'd like to share in next month's In Touch, In Tune publication? Email (English/Language Arts) or (Reading Intervention) with the details!