Sunday, June 23, 2013

Teaching Critical Thinking and Risk Taking

Teaching Critical Thinking and Risk Taking
A 1st Century Solution?

Bring Back Analytical Play and Learning with Games!

Teaching critical thinking and risk taking through the medium of chess, go and strategy board games is a 21st century essential skill. Students need more than ever to learn critical thinking, problem solving, sequencing, abstract and concrete thinking, risk taking, strategic planning and implementation, concentration, decision-making, confidence, self-mastery, evaluation and judgment, and mental discipline -- skills that dramatically affect the learning experience and improve the outcomes in the classroom. Playing strategic board games prepares students to enter an ever changing complex world as contributing members of society.

Chess is a game that draws the curiosity out of the youngest students, and will keep them thinking and engaged for a lifetime with the proper exposure. Chess and Go are some of the oldest and most timeless board games designed to teach higher order critical thinking skills. Chess is antithesis of the modern day nepenthe (TV, Social Media, Video Games), that students have depended on to escape the complex or mundane aspects of modern life. Chess demands 100% of the student’s focus, with no guarantees of success, playing and learning chess is real life training for all aspects of modern life. Board games can teach the most important lessons in life like risk taking, loss, sacrifice, learning from failure, and Consequences. Learning and playing the game of Chess, Go and other strategy board games can prepare students to overcome the inequities of society that will defeat untrained under-prepared students. Wishing for educational equity and a level playing field for all students is pointless in today’s political climate, yet being proactive and teaching your students strategy games is the only efficacious course. Chance favors the prepared mind and modern CCSS curriculum forgot the key aspect of learning success, “Never give up, never surrender” Sean Taylor Reading Sage

“Chess brings to life a vision of what a dynamic classroom should be. Teachable moments where together we discuss, question, evaluate, investigate, synthesis, test and verify. It is the contagious noise of enthusiasm — of genuine problem solving within context. Students make conjectures and conclusions and then test the abstract with the concrete chessboard. Students are naturally driven by their own need to question: "I wonder why…" "Want to see if we can do it another way…?" "Our group has a different answer." "What would happen if…?" Mary Beth Osburn Teacher

Thursday, June 20, 2013

NC CCSS ELA Close Reading Resources

NC CCSS ELA Close Reading Resources | Grade K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ,8 and Close Reading Passages, Close Reading Lessons Plans, Close Reading Graphic Organizes, and Close Reading NC CCSS ELA Posters

North Carolina's ELA Common Core State Standards are being implemented fully this year! CCSS ELA testing starts 2014-15! Teachers, Administrators, Parents and Students need to prepare for the more rigorous CCSS ELA reading standards with careful examination and study of text demands. The Close Reading CCSS ELA resources below are great tools for teachers to use in the classroom to help students develop stronger reading comprehension strategies and skills.

NC CCSS ELA | English Language Arts Graphic Organizers

Argument Graphic Organizer

Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizer

Dialectic Response

Inquiry Chart Graphic Organizer

Synthesizing Information Graphic Organizer

Vocabulary Graphic Organizer for Tier 2 Words

CCSS ELA Close Reading Poster PDF

Reading Comprehension Strategies Posters

Standards Progression for grades K-8 and English I-IV
Created by NC DPI, these documents show the progression of Anchor Standards for Kindergarten through Grade 8 and English I-IV.

Standards Progression K-5.pdf

Standards Progression Grades 6-8.pdf

Standards Progression Eng. I-IV.pdf

Sunday, June 9, 2013

CCSS ELA Curriculum Will Fail Most At-Risk Students!‏

Why the CCSS Curricula will fail most at-risk students? 

Is the CCSS Curricula built on creating educational Equity?   

After spending a year looking at many of the NEW published CCSS Curricula or so-called CCSS programs, I have found they all have fundamental gaps is meeting the needs of at-risk students. The gaps and missing curricula will greatly impact reading and math success? After teaching at-risk students for 14 years, students that may never fully engage with school culture and community, or academic content in its many forms have three things in common. The students lack academic skills, yet more critical to academic success is underdeveloped critical thinking skills and social emotional intelligence. At-risk students come with instructional|curricula, social emotional, critical and strategic thinking deficits, not just academic deficits, and what is imperative, is to close the Socratic thinking achievement gap. At-risk students need a refresher coarse in cooperative learning, Socratic Inquiry and social emotional intelligence. As the adage states "Attitude equals Altitude"! Closing the achievement gap in our poorest schools will not be solved with the new CCSS ELA curriculum. We know that it is always the teacher and the training of the teachers that makes the biggest difference not the published curriculum. When students have real "Equity in Education” not the New and improved CCSS, they will develop critical thinking and social emotional intelligence, and they will soar and achieve any academic goal! The two critical cognitive domains for success are absent or lacking from most school curricula, including the New CCSS ELA reading materials! Sean Taylor
  1. Students need to learn critical and strategic thinking to succeed, teachers need to teach Socratic inquiry skills explicitly!  
  2. Student need to PLAY engaging strategic board games, complex simulations and higher order verbal thinking games daily to help build "Socratic Inquiry Skills"! 
  3. Students need to learn Presence of Mind and Social Emotional Intelligence!  
  4. Students that are not actively engaged with the curriculum will never find success, and developing presence of mind and Socratic Inquiry play a pivotal role in producing the best student outcomes. 
  5. Students need to solve complex problems in a creative fun way!
Areas of Continuing Education and Collaboration That is Needed in All Schools that Serve At-Risk Students!

I’ve placed them in order of importance in my opinion!

  1. Kagan Structures for Cooperative Learning and Active Engagement 
  2. Educational Sloyd or Finnish Käsityö Principles in Schools
  3. Positive Behavior Support or Restorative Practices and Principles in schools
  4. Theory of Mind and Executive Function Development
  5. Critical and Strategic Thinking Development
  6. Inquiry Based Learning Practices
  7. Project Based Learning Practices
  8. Reading and Writing Best Practices
  9. Math, Science and STEM Best Practices.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Reading Ideas for Boys 2013

Summer Reading Ideas for Boys

Boys Summer Reading Ideas | 2013 Summer Reading Activities for Boys Grade 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 

The Terra Nova Expedition: Boys Summer Reading Assignment #1

Read the short wiki articles below about The Terra Nova Expedition and then watch the UK Documentary about the race to the polls. Write a short summary of what you learned or found interesting and post it to the Reading Sage Blog. 

Extra Credit: Follow the article links and read one or more of the articles below and do an in-depth research paper or try the Bushcraft/Woodlore skills with parent supervision and share you Bushcraft/Woodlore skills with Reading Sage. More Extra Credit: Read about the The Terra Nova Expedition or other expeditions and share your findings, opinions, and skills you learned with our readers.  

Reading Assignment Extensions |  Digital Bushcraft Presentations: 
Create a Digital Bushcraft Project and share the link and project on the Reading Sage Blog. 

My Top 10 Digital Presentation Tools!
  1. Spreaker Create an online podcast or radio show and share with your friends
  2. Vocaroo Online Voice Recorder Vocaroo is a quick and easy way to record and share voice messages, podcast over the internet with no sign up
  3. Glogster Express yourself with the ultimate Glog(TM) - graphic blog. Mix Web, Images, Text, Music and Video.
  4. Little Bird Tales: Capture the Voice of Childhood. We offer a fun,unique way to create,record and share stories online.
  5. Empressor Tell your story anyway you like. Add photos, music, video, and audio, and share it publicly or privately in an instant. Empressr is the best and original browser based rich media presentation and storytelling tool.
  6. Prezi Prezi is a cloud based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. The zoomable canvas makes it fun to explore ideas
  7. Voki Voki is a FREE service that lets you: Create customized avatars. Add voice to your Voki avatars. Post your Voki to any blog, website, or profile.
  8. VUVOX VUVOX allows you to create interactive slideshows and presentations from photos, video and music from Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, and YouTube..
  9. Slideshare Offers users the ability to upload and share publicly or privately PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Adobe PDF Portfolios
  10. Zoho Zoho offers a suite of online web applications geared towards increasing your productivity and offering easy collaboration.

The Terra Nova Expedition, officially the British Antarctic Expedition, was led by Robert Falcon Scott with the objective of being the first to reach the geographical South Pole. Scott and four companions attained the pole on 17 January 1912, where they found that a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had preceded them by 33 days. Scott's entire party died on the return journey from the pole; some of their bodies, journals, and photographs were discovered by a search party eight months later.

Scott was an experienced polar commander, having previously led the Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic in 1901–04. The Terra Nova Expedition, named after its supply ship, was a private venture, financed by public contributions augmented by a government grant. It had further backing from the Admiralty, which released experienced seamen to the expedition, and from the Royal Geographical Society. As well as its polar attempt, the expedition carried out a comprehensive scientific programme, and explored Victoria Land and the Western Mountains. An attempted landing and exploration of King Edward VII Land was unsuccessful. A journey to Cape Crozier in June and July 1911 was the first extended sledging journey in the depths of the Antarctic winter.

For many years after his death, Scott's status as tragic hero was unchallenged, and few questions were asked about the causes of the disaster which overcame his polar party. In the final quarter of the 20th century the expedition came under closer scrutiny, and more critical views were expressed about its organisation and management. The degree of Scott's personal culpability remains a matter of controversy among commentators. Wiki

The term woodcraft (or woodlore) denotes skills and experience in matters relating to living and thriving in the woods—such as hunting, fishing, and camping—whether on a short- or long-term basis. Traditionally, woodcraft pertains to subsistence lifestyles, with implications of hunting-gathering. Whether traditional or modern, woodcraft may be roughly equated to the phrase "living off the land". Wiki  

My Opinion about Boys and Reading!
Many boys find school assigned reading and reading curriculum to be a vast wasteland of boring, useless lesson that hold no appeal. Boys in my opinion need to read about rugged men going on perilous adventures living off the land with just a Hatchet "Gary Paulsen", thwarting evil doers and or dispatching wild beasts with sharp teeth. As a former boy I wanted to read about rugged men or boys surviving against all odds, stories of redemption and honor. The sad truth is the stories I gravitated to as a boy are not in school libraries today or for that matter on boy’s radars today. Many boys gravitate to books like Captain Underpants and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid to many teachers and librarians chagrin. Try to find any worthwhile frontier literature in public school libraries, you will find very few books maybe if your lucky the Boy Scout Manual and some field guides on camping. 

Many boys have lost that love and or desire to read field guides, expedition journals, frontiersman biographies, and woodlore guilds that inspired so many boys to join the scouts or become woodsman themselves. Sean Taylor

More  Adventure Articles and Reading ideas for Boys to Read! 

Classic Camping - The Frontier Connection
The Ascent of Mount Everest
Camping. Merit Badge Workbook
Winter Camping Equipment List
Woodcraft and Camping by Nessmuk

Monday, June 3, 2013

Teaching Nonverbal Autistic Students to Read

Teaching Nonverbal Autistic Students to Read

Non Verbal Autistic students may be brilliant and have a genius IQ but they may struggle with anything more complex than basic concrete concepts. 

Helping nonverbal Autistic students learn to read is nigh on impossible without a can do attitude, you must try everything, even if that means failing hundreds of times, you must find something that works. My 14 years of teaching reading to struggling students has given me insight into the importance of ignoring the bureaucratic rules. The job of the teacher is to find many methods that can help all students learn to read and love reading. Students with autism spectrum disorder are all unique, like all children, and one solution or idea is suited for nearly no-one! The Secret is developing all areas of language, and study and try what has worked with other students with severe language delays. 

"Children are made readers in the laps of their parents." quote  by Emilie Buchwald Nonverbal students may have issues with social interactions that negate traditional methods of teaching reading. Learning what is socially acceptable to a nonverbal autistic child is key before you begin instruction or reconstructing literary ideas that can be understood by a mind that see the world differently.

The first steps to helping Non Verbal Autistic students learn to READ the written word!
  • Read, read, and read what the child finds fascination
  • Use charts for nonverbals students that allow them to demonstrate feelings, thoughts, or questions, like the CAT Kit: By Tony Attwood Cognitive Affective Therapy Kit to Improve Communication Autism
  • Learn Sign language to help break through and make conections
  • Always read out-loud and track each word with your finger when possible
  • Draw, paint, sing, act or sculpt tricky words
  • Learn the art of cursive using classic fountain pens and modern parchment paper (Spencerian)
  • Learn how to use a traditional dictionary 
  • Use the Closed Caption on your TV
  • Skip the computer reading programs and phonics programs and use great books
  • No test, no worksheets, no basal readers, and no grades when you are learning to read!
  • Sing and learn new songs and lyrics weekly 

Students that struggle with reading, language and writing need to be immersed in a language rich environment.

  • Create a language rich environment
  • Turn off the TV or turn on the "CC" Closed Captioning
  • Watch YouTube videos with lyrics
  • Join the Church Choir
  • Watch foreign movies with the subtitles turned on
  • Always talk and engage with children asking them deep questions that make them think
  • Learn Christmas carols
  • Join a children's theater group
  • Play lots of board games
  • Go on field-trips
  • Go Camping
  • Join the scouts
  • Play great music with lyrics that bring the world to life
  • Read Jokes and Riddles
  • Read "Horrible Histories", kids love the Non Fiction BOOKS!
  • Keep trying new ideas
  • Go horseback riding 
  • Parents need to learn how to use academic language in the home
  • Math, Science, Music and Art are all Languages that needs to be taught
  • Use magnetic poetry words 
  • Read books about Theory of Mind and Executive Function 

Reading comes in many forms and one lesson supports them all! 
The power of music and lyrics has time and time again been the first path for many of my students, learning to read. My love of music helped me to listen more intently, and in many ways was my first reading ah-ha moment. It was one of the many things that helped me to make an important connection to written words.

The list of songs below is a collection of songs that my Autistic students have loved. Sean The Dyslexic Learner

This Post is for a Special girl Em! More to Come!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

CCSS ELA and MATH Practice Test Online 2013-2014

Smarter Balanced CCSS ELA and MATH Practice Test Online 2013-2014 | Smarter Balanced Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11 Pilot Test

Smarter Balanced just announced the start up of its online practice test portal for all grade tested on the CCSS ELA and Math. PARCC released online practice test in a different format for grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11 a few moths ago. The Smarter Balanced website is using a java style testing portal that is open for guest to try the new CCSS modern testing format for ELA and MATH.

"The Smarter Balanced Practice Tests provide an early look at sets of assessment questions aligned to the Common Core for grades 3–8 and 11 in both English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The release of the Practice Tests follows the Smarter Balanced Pilot Test, the first large-scale tryout of items and performance tasks, conducted February – May 2013"

Smarter Balanced Practice Tests Practice and Pilot Tests Portal  

Common Core State Standards Practice Test

Common Core State Standards Practice Test: ELA  English Language Arts and Reading
The Common Core Standards will be implemented fully in 2013-2014 in 47 states. The Standards are 1.5 standard deviations above today’s mean. Publishers (Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw-Hill, Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin company), and NCS Pearson) and software developers (NWEA MAP) are writing and developing criterion/standards based assessments that meet the new higher standards. Teachers need to have access to assessments that give a baseline of skills and ability to meet these higher standards TODAY! The best free resource for teachers to do test prep and asses student readiness are the TAKS and CRCT released test. Teachers may want to use the grade higher to make sure they are evaluating student readiness.
     I teach 4th grade in a Title I school with 90% free and reduced lunch and my students have the highest reading and language arts score in the district as measured by percentile of student growth and number of student meeting or exceeding state assessments. My students have used the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade TAKS released test and the CRCT practice test. They are a great free resource that exposes students to key Tier 2 and Tier 3 academic vocabulary.

Common Core Practice Test ELA

 Common Core Sample Questions - Grade 3 English Language Arts
Common Core Practice Test Math and ELA

Grade 3 ELA Annotated 2013 State Test Questions
Grade 3 Mathematics Annotated 2013 State Test Questions

Grade 4 ELA Annotated 2013 State Test Questions
Grade 4 Mathematics Annotated 2013 State Test Questions

Grade 5 ELA Annotated 2013 State Test Questions
Grade 5 Mathematics Annotated 2013 State Test Questions

Grade 6 ELA Annotated 2013 State Test Questions
Grade 6 Mathematics Annotated 2013 State Test Questions

Grade 7 ELA Annotated 2013 State Test Questions
Grade 7 Mathematics Annotated 2013 State Test Questions

Grade 8 ELA Annotated 2013 State Test Questions
Grade 8 Mathematics Annotated 2013 State Test Questions

CRCT Middle School Test Prep
6th Grade
Language Arts
MathSocial StudiesScience

7th Grade
Language Arts
MathSocial StudiesScience

8th Grade
Language Arts
MathSocial StudiesScience
4th Grade CRCT Language Arts Test
6th Grade CRCT ELA Reading Test
7th Grade CRCT ELA Reading Test
8th Grade CRCT ELA Reading Test

6th Grade Reading
Language Arts
Social Studies

7th Grade
Language Arts
Social Studies

8th Grade
Language Arts
Social Studies

First Grade

Grammar, Phonological Awareness, and PhonicsResearchSentence Correction
Data Analysis
GeometryMeasurementNumber and Operations
Second Grade

Grammar/PhonicsGrammar, Phonological Awareness, and Phonics
ResearchResearch/Writing ProcessSentence Correction
Data Analysis and ProbabilityGeometryMeasurementNumber and Operations

Third Grade

Grammar/Sentence ConstructionResearch/Writing Process
Computation and EstimationGeometry and MeasurementNumber Sense and NumerationPatterns and Relationships/AlgebraProblem SolvingStatistics and Probability
ComprehensionReading for InformationReading for Literacy ComprehensionReading Skills and Vocabulary AcquisitionVocabularyScience
Earth ScienceLife SciencePhysical Science
Social Studies
CivicsCore SkillsEconomicsGeographyHistory

Fourth Grade

Grammar/Sentence ConstructionResearch/Writing Process
Computation and EstimationGeometry and MeasurementNumber Sense and NumerationPatterns, Relationships, and AlgebraProblem SolvingStatistics and Probability
Reading for InformationReading for Literacy ComprehensionReading Skills and Vocabulary Acquisition
Earth ScienceHydrology and MeteorologyLife SciencePhysical Science
Social Studies
CivicsCore SkillsEconomicsGeographyHistory

Fifth Grade

Grammar/Sentence ConstructionResearch/Writing ProcessMath
Computation and EstimationGeometry and MeasurementNumber Sense and NumerationPatterns and Relationships/AlgebraProblem SolvingStatistics and ProbabilityReading
ComprehensionReading for InformationReading for Literary ComprehensionResearch/Writing ProcessVocabularyScience
Earth ScienceGeologyHydrology and MeteorologyLife SciencePhysical Science
Social Studies
CivicsCore SkillsEconomicsGeographyHistory