25 Days of Classrooms: Better Together in D100!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

This month I am sharing stories from
classrooms in Berwyn South District 100.

Day 25!!!!  Better Together in D100!

     #25DaysofClassrooms!  I really wanted to celebrate the wonderful things going on in our district, so I decided to write about classrooms across all of our 8 schools in the first 25 days of December.  My goal was to spread a bit of holiday cheer in the form of professional recognition and gratitude for the spirit of collaboration I see in D100.  As the month got busier, I started to fall a bit behind.  But, I did it!  #thatwasclose

     Here, on Day 25, I want to recognize everyone in Berwyn South District 100.  We are truly better together.  All 8 schools have opened their doors to me in 2017, and I look forward to 2018 to get to know you all even more.  Thanks for helping me learn and grow as an educator by being in your rooms, in your meetings, and through conversations.

25 Days of Classrooms: Essential Questions

This month I am sharing stories from
classrooms in Berwyn South District 100.

Day 24: Essential Questions to Guide the Learning with Mike Saracini (Freedom)

     Mike Saracini is a pretty innovative teacher.  I have been watching his classroom for years, in his elementary days, during his summer school days, and at Freedom.  He always teaches me something, and I usually tease him about his pop up green screen.  :)


     This year, I stopped in his class during the week of 9/11.  This time, I was just stunned into silence, as were his students.  He had them watching videos and viewing images from that day so long ago now, but yet seems just like yesterday to those of us who lived through it.  To these kids, though, it was like they were hearing about it for the first time.  They were sitting silent in the halls and at their seats, stunned.


     A former student of mine from 2nd grade, now an 8th grader, called me over to talk to me about his thoughts after viewing The Falling Man.  Instantly, I was back in my classroom in 2001, listening to my then 2nd graders describe the images they were seeing on TV.  Today, I was hearing a touching reflection from a student that I have always found to be thoughtful and wise beyond his years.  I was touched to tears.

     Mike didn't want his students just to respond to the media.  He didn't just throw some links together when he saw the date approaching on the calendar.  He was very intentional, and wanted to promote inquiry.  So, on that day when he started the lesson, he posed this essential question:

How has life changed in my community, city, or state because of 9/11?

     He didn't want facts or dates or random information.  He wanted to know the impact it had on our lives.  That essential question is so very important to all of history.  In this case, it certainly helped his students understand, and I'm sure they will never forget.

     Thanks, Mike, for letting me walk in that day.  It made a huge impact on me.

25 Days of Classrooms: Reading Intervention

This month I am sharing stories from
classrooms in Berwyn South District 100.

Day 23: Reading Intervention with Colleen Noffsinger (K-2 Literacy Coach/ Specialist at Piper)


     Watching Colleen Noffsinger teach her intervention group made me think of multiple literacy experts. I saw Jan Richardson, mixed with Burkins and Yaris, with Jennifer Serravallo sprinkled in.  I'd even throw in some Pat Cunningham.  She was using texts from the LLI, but she knew how and when to use strategies and language that would better meet the needs of her kids than the information suggested by Fountas and Pinnell for that text.  She knows her kids, and her literacy stuff.  The truth is, Colleen knows strategies of all those gurus, but her delivery is all Mrs. Noffsinger.  She has made all that knowledge her own.


     I was actually watching Colleen teach a lesson, while another literacy coach and reading specialist from our district were observing her, too.  Not only is she an expert reading interventionist, she is a really great mentor.  After the lesson, she explained her thinking, and showed us where she finds some of her favorite resources.  She truly believes that we are #bettertogether.


     Colleen has some great reading strategies and tips up her sleeve, like this sight word entry code!  If you ever have the chance to stop by her room, please do.  You are guaranteed to walk away with a reading tip, and a new book title.  It's worth a walk outside to the Little Red Schoolhouse at Piper.

25 Days of Classrooms: Stories that Come to Life!

This month I am sharing stories from
classrooms in Berwyn South District 100.

Day 22: Stories that Come to Life with Hiawatha Kindergarten


      In Mrs. Gage, Mrs. Alper, Mrs. Tameling, and Ms. Gelacios' kindergarten rooms, they start the fall off reading fairy tales. They read lots of fairy tales, and they talk about what makes it a fairy tale.  But, they don't stop there.  Let's use The Three Little Pigs, for example.

 They try some real porridge.

 They analyze and graph the stories.

They make houses out of sticks, bricks, and straw, and try to huff and puff and blow them down (with a hairdryer!).

     The kindergarten team at Hiawatha does a really nice job of bringing the stories they read to life.  Literacy is not just about reading the words on the page.  It's about making meaning and learning about the world, too.  They need to be able to read the pictures, read the words, retell the stories, and learn life lessons in the process.

     They don't stop making books come to life in the fall, though.  They continue it all year long!  Here is what they were up to last week when they read The Gingerbread Man!  Click the link in the tweet below, or take this link to watch a video of The Gingerbread Man coming to life.  :)

      Thanks, Kara, Melissa, Rita, and Lily for making literacy FUN!  A shout out goes to Jodi Meyer for being the Gingerbread Man, and to Kirstin McGinnis for supporting the fun.

25 Days of Classrooms: Dot Day!

This month I am sharing stories from
classrooms in Berwyn South District 100.

Day 21: Dot Day with Lori Horne, Kayla Kaczmarek, and Anna Waszak (5th and 1st at Hiawatha)

     This classroom visit takes us back to September to visit with some 1st graders and 5th graders who celebrated International Dot Day!  This day celebrates the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds, and his challenge for all of us to make our own mark in the world.  


    The first graders in Ms. Kaczmarek and Mrs. Waszak's room read the book, and then did a tissue paper activity where they explored with colors and creativity.  The literacy coach, Mrs. McGinnis, came to be their guest reader before they unleashed their creativity making their own dots.

     My favorite part?  They all signed my copy of The Dot!


     After that, I headed upstairs for a 5th grade celebration of Dot Day.  I read the book to Mrs. Horne's class, and then she had them do a Breakout EDU with clues all around the room!  When they got it open, it was a challenge to make their own mark, so that is exactly what they did.


     Here is a video capturing their celebrations!

     Want a few for resources?  Here is a link to a website all about International Dot Day, and a link to the video that we watched as Peter Reynolds gave us an art lesson.

     If you are looking for someone in D100 to talk about Breakout EDU lessons, talk to Lori Horne!  She has become a bit of a pro at them.  :)

      Thank you Kayla, Anna, Lori, and Kristin for taking some time to celebrate literacy with your kids!

25 Days of Classrooms: Sentence Patterning and Writing

This month I am sharing stories from
classrooms in Berwyn South District 100.

Day 20: Sentence Patterning with Parisa Asgharzadeh (1st Bilingual at Pershing)


     Writing complete sentences is so hard for students.  Teachers often make comments about how their students struggle with writing on a sentence level.  Parisa Asgharzadeh might have a lesson for you!  It's a GLAD strategy called sentence patterning.

      She gathered her students on the carpet, and they used a noun from their community helpers unit to get them started.  In this case, it was a fireman.  They then generated lists of adjectives, verbs, and prepositional phrases that would match a firefighter.  When they were done listing them, they practicing putting those pieces into complete sentences using oral language.  In this case, they put it to music.  :). Here's a link to a clip of their song.


    After they orally rehearsed multiple sentences using the anchor chart, she modeled using the words to write about a fireman.  The students watched, and then she released them to their own independent writing.

     In this chart from a previous sentence patterning lesson, you can see that you can take it to the next level by making the noun plural, and then changing the adjectives and verbs to match!  What a great language lesson for our students to see.

     Parisa did this lesson for us while Manuel Escamilla, coauthor of Biliteracy From the Start, was in her classroom on a site visit!  Thanks for welcoming us into your classroom to watch a shared writing lesson that focuses on grammar, yet directly applied their learning to independent practice.  Since this lesson occurred, Parisa has now become the Assistant Principal of Pershing, so I am glad we caught the lesson when we did!  Congrats, Ms. Asgharzadeh.

25 Days of Classrooms: Sketchnoting in 6th!

This month I am sharing stories from
classrooms in Berwyn South District 100.

Day 19: Sketchnoting with Ms. Caprorola (6th at Heritage)


   I got an invite to visit Ms. Caprarola’s class on their first day of sketchnoting!  We had just come back from the Illinois Reading Council Conference where I had presented on sketchnoting, so she knew I’d like to see it in action.  :)

     Cap was reading Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (James Patterson) which is a lovely book that incorporates a visual narrator of sorts in addition to the usual main character narrator.  Because of that, this book makes the perfect book to use to show students that pictures carry important ideas, too.


     When I came in, they were all sketchnoting from the first few chapters.  I saw some students using their iPads to teach themselves a new font (which is an idea I'll have to try in the future!).  One student hadn’t been there the day before, so Cap was conferring with him using Google slides.  I happened to catch her on my favorite one: IDEAS not art!

      This book actually helps clear up an important question that people often ask about the difference between visualizing and sketchnoting.  Is there a difference?  In my opinion, yes!  Visualizing is the act of illustrating ideas from the book, and so is sketchnoting.  However, in this book one of the characters, Leo, illustrates LOTS of events and ideas as they happen.  To me, a sketchnote does not try to capture everything in images.  It is meant to synthesize important ideas from the book, or important ideas that you have as the readers.  Visualizing can capture anything and everything that you hear/read in the book.  Sketchnoting is visual thinking about key ideas and understandings.

     Are students sketching as they read?  That might be visualizing, rather than sketchnoting.

     Are students sketching after they read, and deciding on a few key ideas to add?  That might be sketchnoting, rather than visualizing.

     Can they do a bit of both?  You bet.

     How did I come to that analysis between sketchnoting and visualizing?  I read the book, of course.  I asked Cap to borrow a copy of the novel.  It is GOOD.  Check it out!

     Thanks, Ms. Caprarola!  I did not get a picture of their final sketchnotes, so I apologize that I can't share any.  I'm sure they were great!

25 Days of Classrooms: Research!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

This month I am sharing stories from
classrooms in Berwyn South District 100.

Day 18: Independent Research with Ms. Enger and Ms. Gatto (5th at Komensky)


    I stepped into Ms. Enger and Ms. Gatto's 5th grade and caught some research in action!  The students had chosen a topic the category of "Natural Resources."  Previously in the year they had taught the class the various research skills they would need, so for this project they gave them more independence.  As they researched their natural resource, they could use the various tech and print resources that they had access to.  While I was walking around the room, I saw students using Brain Pop, search engines, PowerLearning links, and Newsela to gather information.  Most students were collecting their information in notebooks, and some were using Post-Its to collect important vocabulary.  The whole time, they were researching natural resources and how humans have utilized it!


     Ms. Enger recently became a Newsela Certified Educator, so if you would like to explore this resource some more, think about reaching out to her!  We have a district license, and it has some great potential for learning.  You might also follow @tedpalenski and @EmilyLepkowski1 on Twitter to learn more about Newsela.

     It's great to see students curious about our world! Thanks, Ms. Enger and Ms. Gatto.