Summer Reading

In just 5 short days, we will be sending our students off for an extended summer break. For some of our students, summer will be a time of vacations and experiences, but for others, summer can be a time of inconsistent schedules, routines, and limited educational opportunities. The research is clear, students who do not read during the summer months lose up to 3 months of reading progress. This loss is cumulative and has long term effects on our students’ academic success.

Summer Slide

Because it simply isn’t enough for us to remind students to do some reading during the summer as they exit our classroom doors on the final day;  the challenge becomes, how do we provide our students with some simple tasks and/or challenges that will keep them reading during the summer?  Here are a couple of ideas:

Reading Plan:  Create a summer reading plan with your students, complete with a reading calendar, thinking stems for responding to text, and a personalized reading goal(s) established cooperatively between you and the student.

Literacy Journal:  Create a summer literacy journal for students to document their thinking. The journals can be something as simple as paper (folded and stapled) or a spiral notebook. Add a list of prompts to the front cover to provide students with support for responding to their reading.

Reading Lists:  Provide students with a list of books to investigate over the summer. Make the list specific to the student’s reading level as well as interest. Here’s a couple of lists to get you started…

Happy Summer Reading!

Thank You!

teacher_word_cloud-What are the characteristics of a great teacher?  We know that great teachers are knowledgeable individuals who have a strong understanding of the content in which they teach.  However, a great teacher exemplifies a plethora of other characteristics that go beyond knowledge. When we begin to think of adjectives that would describe our vision of a great teacher the list may include words such as compassionate, empathetic, caring, inspirational, nurturing, etc.  More importantly, these characteristics do not begin and end at the classroom door.  Educators who emulate these characteristics are those who are truly committed to the mission, vision, and collective commitments of a building.

As we approach Teacher Appreciation Week, I would ask you to reflect on those individuals who exemplify the characteristics of a great teacher. The challenge – write a personal note to that educator expressing your appreciation for what they have done for our students, building, and/or profession as a whole.

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the students we serve. Have a great week!

Red Apple

Summer brings an opportunity for us to relax, rejuvenate, and grow professionally!  Check out what Red Apple has to offer:

  • PAGE Mindsets Training: This is a highly recommended course. You spend a week digging into equity issues at play in our educational system nationwide and locally. You’ll leave with a new outlook on the value of our profession and the importance of our work in addressing equity issues in our nation.
  • Lucy Calkins: This course will be held the first week of June. You’ll spend the week digging into the Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Writing. You’ll leave with a plan in place to launch your writing next fall. This would be great to sign up for with your grade level team!
  • Google Classroom:  This class is designed to help teachers create and collect assignments, provide feedback to students, and manage a “paperless” classroom. By using Google Classroom, teachers can quickly see, grade, and provide feedback to students in real-time.
  • SIOP Effective Instruction for All: This workshop will explore ways to teach and integrate the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking in K-12 content-area classrooms for English Language Learners (ELLs).


The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) is our district reading assessment administered fall and spring of the school year to determine a student’s independent reading level. While the process of administering DRA’s can seem daunting, the importance of an accurate reflection of our students as readers is critical. The scores provide information for teachers (current and future) to plan appropriate instruction. The scores are also used to report student progress (strengths and challenges) to parents via the report card, 1st and 4th quarter.

A couple of things to consider as you begin the DRA process:

  • For validity purposes, follow the DRA as written.
  • The only acceptable prompt during testing is “Try Something”
  • To be independent a student must score within the independent range on all parts of the DRA (Accuracy, Comprehension, & Fluency).
    • Accuracy:
      • Proper nouns are counted as one error/miscue IF the student consistently pronounces the name the SAME way (e.g. Dukey/Duke=one error/miscue).  If the student pronounces the name in DIFFERENT ways it is counted as an error/miscue EACH time (e.g. Dukey, Duked, Duck/Duke=3 errors)
      • Any word, other than a proper noun, pronounced incorrectly is counted as an error/miscue EACH time
      • Repeats and self-corrections are not counted as errors/miscues
      • Skipping an entire line is counted as one omission thus one error/miscue
    • Comprehension
      • Be consistent and conservative when scoring a student’s responses on the comprehension rubric.
      • Students must complete the written component beginning at level 28.
      • Exemplars can be found in the Teacher’s Manual (found in your kit).
    • Fluency
      • Oral reading should be timed and noted (beginning at level 14) on the DRA.
      • Students can be given the opportunity to reread the text (after oral reading) quietly to themselves prior to the retelling.
  • Continue to administer the next level in the assessment until the student is unable to pass a text at an independent reading level. There is NO testing ceiling.
  • Report the student’s independent reading level on their student card and report card.

ELL DRA Scoring Companion Document


Barnes and Noble Educator Appreciation Days – Enjoy a 25% discount (classroom and personal items) this week!


A great quote has the ability to motivate and inspire. In a recent conversation with an educator, we were commenting on the number of teachers who display quotes in their classrooms, email signature lines, classroom blogs or webpages, and/or use them as screensavers.  Below is one of my favorite quotes. A quote that epitomizes the importance of what we do every moment of every day.  Is there a quote that inspires you?  If so, please leave a reply below to share it with the group.

Best part of teaching

Don’t fret, you’ve taught them the things they’ll need to succeed!

“We’ve taught you that the earth is roundHooray_for_Diffendoofer_Day

That red and white make pink

And something else that matters more –

We’ve taught you how to think.


There were questions about other things

We’d never seen or heard

And yet we somehow answered them

Enjoying every word.”

As we move into testing season I would encourage you to reflect with your students on the teaching and learning that has happened in your classrooms over the past 6 months. There’s no doubt our testing system doesn’t necessarily align with our daily instructional practices and strategies, but there should be one aspect that remains consistent – thinking.

As we prepare to partake in Smarter Balanced, I would encourage you to promote this to our students as an opportunity to “show off.”  A chance to demonstrate their ability to think critically and problem solve (growth mindset) versus a test that they are required to take (fixed mindset). It is how we present it to our students that could possibly make the difference in how they perform.