Sunday, January 27, 2013

NCDPI Rocks!

Oh the places you'll go if you run and do not walk to the collaborative workspace for the North Carolina Department of Instruction
The NC Department of Public Instruction is developing a wide array of instructional resources to support educators in the implementation of not only the Common Core State Standards but also the North Carolina Essential Standards.    As I have researched for CCSS resources on various state department of education sites, I have noticed that the NCDPI resources are referenced and for good reason. 
Under English Language Arts Resources you will find various documents:
1. ELA Instructional Shifts
2. Learning Progression for each strand that begin with the CCR anchor standards
3. ELA Text Exemplars
4. Webinars and Handouts
5. Posters on Text Complexity, How to Do a Close Reading and Scaffolding
6. A great presentation - From Snorkelying to Deep Sea Diving: Breaking Beyond Surface Reading 
Under Mathematics, Elementary Resources you will find various documents:
1. Standards Word document
2. Major Work of Grade Level
3. Unpacking Document
4. Lessons for Learning (Tasks)
5. Unit of Instruction
6. NCTM Navigation Alignment Document
7. Math Stars (Newsletter)
8. Problem Solving Decks

For many years, school districts across the country have utilized the math curriculum materials from North Carolina. When I was still in the classroom, I aligned my curriculum with these materials. I love to find materials that are off the shelf ready-to-use. These pre-common core materials can still be accessed and can be easily aligned with the CCSS.   Just click on instructional resources:
I have been referencing the Common Core Instructional Support Tools from North Carolina ever since I started researching and facilitating workshops on the CCSS.  The NCDPI has done an amazing job of unpacking both the CCSS for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Daily Dose of CCSS!

The CCSS for ELA have brought fundamental shifts in our instruction.  I have just created and posted a bulletin board on TPT to highlight those fundamental shifts.  I debated between two different titles for the bulletin board:
DAILY DOSE of CCSS  (or)  CCSS Give Me Five!
I started with CCSS Give me Five! but I thought of Daily Dose of CCSS when I was taking some medication for a recent bout with the flu!  If displayed prominently in your classroom, this bulletin board is a great reference for you and your students to the critical elements of the CCSS for English Language Arts.  Those elements include: analyze content, cite evidence, report findings, participate in discussions and study and apply academic vocabulary.  Our goal should be to include these critical elements of the CCSS in every lesson that we teach.   Hopefully it will empower you as a teacher and your students to work on more rigorous tasks through the infusion of these critical elements of the CCSS.    The best part of this bulletin board is that you can configure the hexagons many different ways.  The photo below just illustrates one of those configurations.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Problem Solving Made Easy

There's a famous Gary Larson cartoon called Math Phobic's Nightmare where you arrive at the pearly gates and you can't get in without answering a math word problem.  Talk about pressure!  Students struggle with problem solving and teachers struggle teaching problem solving.  The challenge is to read a problem and identify statements that express relationships between quantities and to choose an operation.  There are many problem solving strategies including: the Key Word Strategy, the UPScheck (Understand, Plan, Solve, Check) strategy and the Bar Model Strategy.  I'd like to share some resources for the Bar Model Strategy. 
Before the holidays, I had the opportunity to attend a trainer-of-trainers workshop for Singapore Math.  For over 15 years, I facilitated hands-on math and science workshops as a national consultant with AIMS Education Foundation so I was very comfortable with the delivery of the math concepts. But what intrigued me the most was Singapore Math's take on the Bar Model Strategy.  It motivated me to do more research on the Bar Model Strategy.   If you want a fun introduction to using unit bars to solve problems, go to...
Scroll down to student projects and click on How to Use Unit Bars and you will see Mrs. Aker's and Mrs. Wojenski's second grade Bearkat Brainiacs explain how to solve problems with unit bars.  This is a delightful prodigy produced podcast.   I should know because I have watched it at least 10 times!  I have been using the bar model/unit bar strategy with the second grade that I work with and they love it.  It seems to come very naturally to them.  We have just started to work on constructing a response to a problem.  As we continue our journey with problem solving and other Singapore math strategies, I will share with you. 
Let's get to the resources.  This weekend I was preparing to facilitate a session on problem solving for a SIP day this week.  I decided to create a bulletin board on the four-step problem solving process that utilizes unit bars.  I also created a graphic organizer for the students to complete during whole-class instruction or to use independently as scaffolding when writing a constructed response in math. 

Click on the photo below to download a copy of the large four-step process for problem solving.  The graphic organizer can be downloaded here. The clipart is available from and you can view it on  Pinterest.  Finally, the Common Situations for Addition and Subtraction posters can be found at my TPT store.  I would use this portable science board at a math center or station.  It can also serve as a portable bulletin board.  The clipart made it fun to design. 
Click here to download a copy of the large four-step process for problem solving.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

CCSS Layered Flipbooks K-8

* * * SPECIAL SALE * * * 
Take a look at my TPT for my Common Core layered flipbooks for both ELA and Mathematics for all grades K-8.  See the preview of the CCSS flipbooks below. For grades K-6, CCSS for ELA are on the front and CCSS for Math are on the back for easy reference. I have packaged grades 6-8 together for each of the content areas. I have priced the CCSS flipbooks economically at $5.  All you need is access to a printer, colored cardstock, and a binder. I made over 200 copies of these flipbooks for the teachers that I work with in grades K-8!   Feel free to contact me if you want me to customize a CCSS flipbook for you. I have customized versions for both special education and speech resource teachers. This is a great tool for writing lesson plans, unit plans and curriculum guides because it's all at your fingertips in one tool. 

QAR Strategy and CCSS Literacy

As I became familiar with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, I immediately saw the correlation with the QAR (Question Answer Relationship) Strategy.  The versatility of the QAR strategy is that it can be incorporated with any type of textual passage and it works across all content areas.  QAR identifies categories of details from the text which are "right there on the page", inferred from passages in different locations within the text, and inferred from the text as a whole.  The best part is it requires students to examine the text as a whole, determining what types of information are explicitly found in the text, what information is learned from multiple locations within a text, versus that information is dependent on their own knowledge base and skills of making inferences.
I have been working with some junior high teachers in Social Studies and I have created edited versions of some of the exemplar texts (Common Core Text Exemplars can be found in Appendix B) to teach students the types of information used in the QAR strategy by requiring groups of students to develop questions from each type.  Hit my TPT button on the right and download my free QAR Lesson Plan and Anchor Chart packet which includes a 5E lesson plan and the patterns for a QAR anchor chart.  When asking groups of students to create questions from each QAR category, you can use index cards or the easy QAR Sticky Note page that you can download here . 

  1. Print 2 copies of the QAR Sticky Note page to start.
  2. Copy 1 - Place a sticky note within the outline of each of the four boxes on the page. Place the page in the printer.  Make sure the page is oriented in the printer so the sticky part goes in first.
  3. Copy 2 - Place this copy of the QAR Sticky Note on the glass of the printer.
  4. If you like how it prints, repeat steps 1-3.  Make as many copies of the QAR Sticky Note page as you have students or make one sheet of sticky notes for each group
As an assessment piece, I created a 4-door foldable for QAR with the question stems.  You can download it here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting Started

Welcome to my first attempt at blogging, social networking and posting my work on TPT.  Talk about a learning curve!  I have to admit that I've stayed away from this venue because it made me nervous.  But I've decided to jump into the deep end of the pool.  Please be patient as I learn on the job as I have always done.  I promise to share what I have learned along the way as a teacher, an AIMS National Consultant, an educational consultant with HMH and now as a teacher coach.  I have the best of all worlds right now.  I work side-by-side with teachers but I still get to model best practice lessons with the kids.  The best thing is I'm very good at finding things that are helpful to teachers.  The difference is now when I find a gold mine on the internet at about 5:30 am on a Sunday morning, I won't have to think, "Who can I call at this hour and share this?"  Now I can share with all of you. 

On December 15th, I posted my first item on Teachers Pay Teachers.  It is a layered book for DOK (Depth of Knowledge) in the Content Areas.  It's a handy tool for referencing when creating lesson plans, units and curriculum.  Of course we want students completing more complex tasks in our classrooms.  You can download your free copy here or visit my TPT Store.