December 2019 Vol. 21

Happy Holidays!

Hopefully this newsletter finds you happy, content, and full from the Thanksgiving holiday. Let's start out December strong with all things literacy: reading, reading, and reading! December is the perfect time to dedicate more time to reading in and out of the classroom! Consider starting a December Reading Challenge in your classroom to encourage students to find new books, continue a series, or finish a book they started.

Want a way to improve writing instruction? Look below for details about our book study. Can't wait to collaborate and learn with you!

Last month, we introduced a FREE resource for all Indiana educators, TeachingBooks. Check out more ways to access diverse, engaging books with TeachingBooks below to meet the needs of all students.

How to sign in to Indiana's paid TeachingBooks access:

1. Go to https://teachingbooks.net/INSPIRE

2. Click 'Sign In' and enter your school email

3. Follow the prompts and if you have any issues email accounts@teachingbooks.net

4. Enjoy!

Mentor Text Lists

One way to increase student engagement through reading is by providing engaging texts. Check out International Literacy Association's (ILA) Literacy Daily post on What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading.

Help us build a database and earn Professional Growth Points (PGPs) by sharing your favorite texts and sample lesson plan ideas here using the Mentor Text Lists form. For every 10 texts you share, you will earn 1 PGP. Just email Rose Tomishima to receive your PGPs.

IDOE Literacy Book Study Coming Soon! Sign-up Now!

Join our book study where we will read The Writing Revolution (TWR) by the well-respected researchers, Judith C. Hochman and Natalie Wexler.

TWR introduces a revolutionary way of explicitly and systematically integrating evidenced-based writing strategies that apply to all K-12 subject areas. IDOE's Literacy Team will facilitate all participants through how to teach and use accessible strategies to train students to write a single sentence through the development of multiple paragraph essays.

Teachers who participate will have opportunities to read, create, and collaborate with fellow educators of all disciplines from across the state of Indiana with the common goal of improving writing instruction for all students! All participants will earn PGPs upon completion of the book study.

How to set up an account on Moodle.

Access Moodle here.

Enrollment code: TWR2020

Literacy Updates from IDOE

Literacy Framework

The Literacy Framework is a tool you can use to curriculum map and plan for this upcoming school year. Does your school utilize a curriculum map, scope and sequence, or pacing guide? Use the Literacy Framework to dive into each standard through I can statements, question stems, practical examples, and digital resources!

Over the course of the 2019-2020 school year, additional resources will be added. Stay tuned!

Have special requests for support? Feel free to reach out to us at any time. That's what we are here for!

Ideas and Insight

Five Components of Reading: Vocabulary Overview!

What is Vocabulary?

Vocabulary should be taught explicitly as words appear in text or introducing new words before reading.

Did you know? Linguistically "poor" first graders knew 5,000 words; while linguistically "rich" first graders knew 20,000 words. (Moats, 2001)

Ways to select Vocabulary into Instruction:

  • Select a limited number of words.

  • Select words that are unknown.

  • Select words critical to passage or unit understanding.

  • Select words that can be used in the future.

  • Select words that have word relatives.

  • Select words that contain “meaningful parts” (prefix, suffix, root).

  • Select difficult words that need interpretation.

Ways to incorporate Vocabulary into Instruction:

  • Teacher says the word out loud.
  • Students say the word out loud.
  • Teacher uses the word in a sentence to provide meaning.
  • Students use the word in conversation with peers.

Find it in the Literacy Framework:

Using the search tool, click on Reading Foundations to access Indiana standards that utilize Vocabulary skills. For example, fifth grade reading foundation standard 5.RV.2.4 states: Apply knowledge of word structure elements, known words, and word patterns to determine meaning (e.g., word origins, common Greek and Latin affixes and roots, parts of speech).

Practical Examples for 5.RV.2.4:

  • In large or small group, create an anchor chart of root words and add common word endings to each one in a different color.
  • Prepare a close passage with a given set of words. Words should have root words and affixes. Model how students should use contextual analysis and word analysis select the best word for each blank.
  • In the writing center, students choose a root word and add an affix. Students write a sentence for each of the words.
  • During independent reading, students make a list of words with a specified beginning or ending.
  • During independent reading students make a list of words with prefixes. Students write the root word and prefix.
  • Turn and share a new vocabulary word and discuss what they think the definition might be for this new word.

These examples and considerations come from the Indiana Literacy Framework. For additional resources, guidance, and practical examples please visit the Literacy Framework here.

What does this look like in the secondary setting?

Vocabulary development is often the largest roadblock to a student's ability to comprehend what they are reading. It is important to include explicit vocabulary instruction into any lesson. Did you know that research says that a student needs to come across a word approximately 17 times before they can fully learn it?

Here is a strategy to build vocabulary acquisition! Provide students a list of words for which they have or will recently come across in their reading. After going over the definitions of these words, put students into small groups and instruct them to have a conversation using each new word a specific amount of times. Require students to keep track of how often each word was used.

Giving students the opportunity to use new vocabulary in a structured and safe environment will build their retention of that word.

Five Components of Reading: Comprehension Overview!

What is Comprehension?

Comprehension is the act of extracting meaning from what you read.

Ways to incorporate Comprehension into Instruction:

  • Using prior knowledge
  • Making predictions
  • Identifying main ideas and summarizing
  • Asking questions before, during, and after reading
  • Making inferences

Find it in the Literacy Framework:

Using the search tool, click on Reading Literature to access Indiana standards that utilize Comprehension skills. For example, 2nd grade reading literature standard 2.RL.2.3 states: Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and how characters affect the plot.

Practical Examples for 2.RL.2.3:

  • While reading, have students identify when a major event happens and how each character responds.
  • Make predictions on how characters will react to the problem based on what is known about the character.

What does this look like in the secondary setting?

When you are reading a text that may contain lots of different characters, instruct students to create a web including each character and how they are connected to one another. Teachers can provide templates for the web or students can practice mapping out information that makes the most sense to them.

This strategy requires students to make connections in the text and refer to the text in order to figure out what the connections are. The benefit of creating a visual representation of the character connections is that it provides students a resource to refer back to as they progress through the text.

Book Suggestions

Educator Opportunities to Check Out!

Dyslexia Community of Practice Forming

IDOE is creating a community of practice for each school corporation, charter school or co-op’s authorized reading specialist trained in dyslexia. These communities of practice will be divided into nine regions across the State of Indiana. Each group will share ideas and resources with periodic facilitated discussions. Please encourage the authorized reading specialist to complete the Jotform by December 6 to be included in these groups. Please contact Joe Risch with any questions.

Indiana's Second Annual Educating the Whole Child Summit: February 19-20th

Registration for the Second Annual Indiana’s Educating the Whole Child Summit is live and can be found here with keynote speakers: Dr. Isaiah Pickens and Dr. Adam Saenz. Please note that if you are having one person register a group of people for your district, they will have to submit separate registrations by leaving and re-entering registration. Click here for the Handle with Care presentation.

Statewide Writing Contest for Grades 4-12: Letters About Literature!

Write a letter to an author, win prizes, get your students published!

Letters About Literature is a letter writing contest for students in Indiana in grades 4-12. Students are asked to read a book, poem, or speech and write to the author (living or deceased) about how the book affected how they see themselves or how they see the world. Indiana students in grades 4-12 are eligible to enter the Indiana Letters About Literature reading and writing contest.


All Indiana winners are announced in late March and receive an invitation to the Indiana Literary Day & Awards Ceremony. All students who attend the Indiana Literary Day & Awards Ceremony receive free books, attend a writing workshop, listen to authors speak and attend an exclusive author book signing.

Mock Caldecott Award Workshop

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Indiana Council of Teachers of English (ICTE)

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Literacy and Tech: Thought of the Month!


Uncover the path to success for every student using this technology-enhanced assessment tool to instantly show who’s on track and who needs help, so you can take action and see growth.

Connect on Twitter!

It's been reported that over 4 million educators use Twitter for professional conversations. As educators, there is so much we can learn from each other. We invite you to connect with us and each other!

1. Tweet about all things LITERACY using #INspirEDlit

2. Follow the hashtag and connect with other coaches and educators

3. Follow @EducateIN for the latest updates from Indiana Department of Education

4. Follow your IDOE Literacy Team: @RoseTomishima & @KellyKWaller

Literacy's Who To Follow:

Who: Timothy Shanahan

Handle: @ReadingShanahan

What: A distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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