1. Content Knowledge
1. Comprehensive Academic Knowledge
I try to make cross-content relationships between SFA and ELA as often as I can to demonstrate to students that content areas do not sit in isolation. I believe that students succeed when they are able to see and make connections from different parts of their day. I do this through the integration of SFA routines and expectations into my ELA class and vice versa as well as constant communication with other content teachers.
Examples include common language phrases ("show me active listening," "I'm looking for a 100-point response"), pocket charts, organizers, rubrics, role cards, and cooperative learning structures.
2. Content-Specific Knowledge
Throughout the year, many teachers (new and veteran alike) were brought into my classroom during SFA and ELA blocks to observe my teaching, reference my anchor charts, and note my routines and procedures for student engagement and collaboration.
Walking into many SFA reading classrooms throughout the school, you will find evidence of many variations of my own ELA/SFA structures- including pocket charts and my student graphic organizers.
Below is a link to my self-curated Pinterest board. My boards and pins were researched and set up by content within the ELA standards so I have a nice resource bank when planning lessons.
3. Knowledge of Student Standards
I spent 4 weeks over the 2013 summer as well as 50+ documented hours during the 2013-14 school year (excluding "off the record" personal research time) writing the ELA curriculum for 4th grade which is used by teachers throughout the district.
I visit many other state websites to gain knowledge on standards. The link below is one of my favorite resources. I use this site constantly and keep a hard copy of their bookmark standards in my Curriculum Binder. They are especially useful when creating text dependent questions that directly address specific objectives.
4. Student Development
Curriculum writing has given me the opportunity to recognize standards across grade-levels to note similarities and differences. Seeing where those differences are allows me to anticipate where students' growth is needed through the ELA Anchor Standards.
Because I was part of this curriculum team, I had the experience and foreknowledge to know the final performance tasks so I had a better grasp of knowing what my students needed to know to accomplish the end goal.
For example, when our 1st quarter performance task was to have students create their own diagram explaining photosynthesis, I blocked out my own scope and sequence to include an introduction into text features (how to identify and recognize them)
What skills are needed for students to achieve the end-goal? How do students and teacher know the objective has been met?
5. Real-Life Applications
Being asked to create the design for Summit View's "Love of Reading" week t-shirt, I used this as an opportunity to teach my students about the Writer's Process and its real-life applications through my nearly parallel "Artist's Process."
An example of how I have made these objectives meaningful to my students is to introduce units to them as if they were reporters or scientists. Their "jobs" were to present their findings in a format that is engaging, informative, and representative of what they have learned.
One medium that my students and I love is smore.com (this site!). The site is student-friendly, allows them to use many different text features (photos, maps, graphs, bold/italic/underlined words, captions, etc.). Because it allows students to choose format, style, and background, it also gives me insight into how students choose to present their knowledge in an appropriate way (4.RI.7).