February 19

Revamping my Summary Assignments

I am Shaking up the way I have my scholars summarize information. 

This MONTH’S #BLOGAMONTH TOPIC is a challenge to ‘do things differently.’

“Change a constant.”

Whether this is taking your class outside, putting music on, removing desks, unplugging your tech lesson, going paperless…etc, lets break the routine and reflect.

I decided to shake things up and do away with requiring summaries from my Scholars. I will instead be focusing on Gist statements, Blackout Poems, and Student Generated Questions. We do need to check on their understanding but as you read your 30th rendition of

  • First, this happened
  • Then, this happened
  • So then, this happened

It gets old and hard to deal with. They hated writing it and after picking up the 31st paper, I am apt to declare, “Nope not interested at all. No thanks. Don’t want to read anymore.” But what I can deal with is a quick check that requires my Scholars to summarize the text in 25 words. Okay yes, I know I used the dirty s@@#$%^ word but the number of required words in the summary gives it an interesting twist.

“Whoa! Wait!?!? What?!?! 25 words?!?!” – their response.

“Yes, 25 words. No more. No less. Exactly 25 words.” – my response.

Not only have I just decreased the number of words that I have to read but I have drastically increased the rigor. It takes some serious critical thinking to reduce a passage into a prescribed number of words. Gist Statements are just one way to rid your Scholars of the dreaded, boring, standard summary assignment.

Gist Statements

  • Objective:  Accurately paraphrase sentences, keeping original meaning, and changing the structure of the sentence if necessary
  • Learning experience: Learners will read and locate/synthesize information and create a summary of 20-25 words.
  • Student product:  Brief summary passage
  • Rationale: This strategy helps students identify the most important ideas in a text, put those ideas into their own words, and then make connections between among these important ideas.

BlackOut poem

  • Objective: Read closely to determine the main idea or purpose of a text and eliminating all other words. Blackout poetry is a page of text that has been partially blacked out – colored over with a permanent marker so that the only visible text provides insight into the text as a whole.
  • Learning experience: Learners will read, locate information of interest and highlight sections of a chosen text.
  • Student product: Text based poem that can be shared and displayed.
  • Rationale: Creating BlackOut Poetry is an effective strategy to promote active and critical reading skills by requiring students to read the text and identify points of interest. These points of interest can either be teacher directed or student driven.

Student Generated Questions

  • Objective: analyze and synthesize a text and compose possible test questions.
  • Learning experience: Learners will read and locate/synthesize information to create questions.
  • Student product:  Discussion and/or multiple choice questions.to be used for a test, Kahoot game or a round of Quiz-Quiz-Trade.
  • Rationale:  Creating questions help students gain a deeper understanding of the text. It requires students to find textual evidence to support their question/answer choices. This activity requires students to explore concepts from the assigned text.

Can you revamp your summary game by using Gist statements, Blackout Poems, and Student Generated Questions? Try these activities out and I guarantee you that your Scholars will thank you.

(That’s not really true.) 

Condensing text drives many of them crazy and the responsibility of creating possible test questions scares many but at least it is not the same, boring assignment and you can get the necessary feedback that you need.

December 31

Group Responses – way to TEACHtheTEST

How do we Teach the Test without really teaching the test?

Question for the ages! !!

How do we?  

I dunno????

What I feel intuitively as a Professional Educator is that

YES, our students will benefit from exposure to testing environments : timed (or untimed with focus), textual rigor, test format, etc.

NO, our students will not benefit from taking 1 test,  2 test,  3 test,  and more. That is NOT going to help our SCHOLARS.

YES, there is way to teach a / ‘The’ test without really TEACHING THE TEST.

H O W !!  You may ask (as do I by the way)

I know that if we stimulate our Scholars, they can read, comprehend and discuss complex texts.

They can.

They can do this if I allow them the opportunity to explore and analyze text in an unthreatening manner.

Hmmmmm….  What ? How?

I dunno. It is my goal that my Scholars will be able to read, relate, revise, present, dissect, remash, publish, discuss and  record the written, visuaL and oral texts that they will be examining.

Step one: How do we eliminate the threat of failure when we ask our Scholars to read and respond?

The only way that they can do any of this is if they feel comfortable enough to share and engage.

They often feel too uncomfortable to respond and if we are going to have a class that is student driven, their has to be student contribution.

Group Responses are often a way to lessen the threat of openly failing. Failing is a part of learning but it is more palpable to possibly fail in front of a few and not many.


Take a TEST (a cold read selection with multiple choice questions and a written response component) and have them complete an individual testing session before they get into learning communities to share answers and select the group’s Best Answer. Their Group Answer can be recorded on mini whiteboard, via Kahoot response, Google Doc,  worksheet, etc.

Playing Kahoot

Playing Kahoot

Object of the activity is to individually take test, discuss answers with others and then get immediate confirmation and feedback for answer choices.

Group response worksheet

Group response worksheet

Posted from Edublogs for Android as I sit and wait in COX CABLE!! 

More to come.

Will check back in soon. ♡♡♡

December 9

We are finished reading. Now what?

Let them Create!!!!

Here are presentation materials.

Sign In Sheet so that we can remain in contact.

I am working on this “Show Me What You Know” handout that allows my Scholars to create something that allows them to demonstrate their understanding of a text.
Screenshot 2015-12-09 at 4.34.16 PM


Here are my presentation slides from today. 


Click Here for a Livebinder with more resources.

Livebinder with lots of resources

January 3

Annotating and GISTing – Literacy Strategies

When working with text, we need to find Literacy strategies that require our students to do more than read and recite facts. We need to get them to connect with the text and go beyond recalling details.


These slides are a part of a presentation that I created for the 2013 Louisiana Council of Teachers of English Conference.





January 3

Organizational Tip #20DayBC

Anyone who knows me that Being Organized is something that I am NOT.

I TRY, but I FAIL, often.

Because I know myself and my weaknesses, I am going to enlist the help of my students. The best way to ensure that students take an active role in maintaining the classroom is to assign classroom jobs on a rotating basis.  This is a win-win situation. I get assistance and they get the respect that comes with responsibility.


Two things that I am determined to use this semester are: classroom managers and inbox envelopes.  

Classroom managers can help me stay organized and it gives the kids the recognition of feeling needed and being important.

  1. Message Manager serves as the classroom runner. Classroom_jobs
  2. Attendance Manager takes the daily attendance.
  3. Library Manager supervises the distribution of textbooks.
  4. Door Manager greets all visitors at the door. 
  5. Materials Manager supervises the distribution and collection of needed resources. 
  6. Pocket Manager collects and distributes inbox envelopes to the learning communities.
  7. Assignment Blog Manager is responsible for keeping a record of what exactly the class has done every day. If someone was absent they check the blog and easily understand what they need to do to catch up without asking.

Inbox envelopes hold student work to be collected and distributed.

My students are placed into learning communities and each community has its own envelope. The envelopes are placed into a file folder caddy.  Each period has its own set of envelopes. This way I do not have to collect and organize 100 assignments that I might collect during the day.



My Day Two – 20 Day Blogging Challenge

December 3

Tech + CCSS = Engagement

Here are slides from my LACUE 2013 Presentation

Tech + CCSS = Engagement

Lacue presentation 2013 ccss and tech from VR Burton

Integrating technology into your classes can help to cover Common Core State Standards. 

Many tech tools can aid students in reading and connecting with written and visual text.

ELA » Anchor Standards » College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading

Key Ideas and Details

R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the visual or written text.

R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a visual or written text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a visual or written text.

Craft and Structure

R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a visual or written text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word or image choices shape meaning or tone.

R.5 Analyze the structure of visual or written texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a visual or written text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a visual or written text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

R.9 Analyze how two or more visual or written texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.


ELA » Anchor Standards » College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing

Text Types and Purposes

W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing

W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge

W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing

W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences


ELA » Anchor Standards » College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening

Comprehension and Collaboration

SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

SL.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

October 3

Using exit tickets to check comprehension

Exit Tickets can be used to gauge whether or not students have processed new concepts. It is a quick way to have them reflect on information learned or to express their thoughts about new information.  Students need to respond to a prompt and it is an easy way to incorporate writing into many different content areas.  Here are a few examples of exit tickets that can be used:


At the end of class, have students complete exit tickets to:

  • have students summarize key points from the lesson
  • make sure that students can solve a problem
  • highlight an essential question from the day’s activities
  • answer a significant question based on the lesson
  • allow students to ask questions they still have about the lesson

They can be as structured or un-structured as you need them to be. 

October 2

I will be presenting at RSCON, LCTE, TCEA and hopefully LACUE!!!

‘Tis the season to present…. fa-la-la-la-laaaaaa-la-la-la-la

I really do believe that to blog is to share and to learn. I love being able to present, blog, share and learn/teach.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell offered me the opportunity to present at this year’s 4th annual Reform Symposium Free Online Conference (RSCON), I was awe-struck when I received her invite because I have followed her for so long and I was giddy to realize that she thought enough about what I do to deem me a valuable educational resource.  I will be sharing the importance and ease of creating ePortfolios using Weebly.com.  I found this tweet from July, 2010 in which I shared the schedule for that year’s conference.

RSCON10How cool is that? 3 years later and I will be one of the presenters who will (hopefully) inspire someone to share the conference so that others can benefit from these amazing resources. Whoo Hoo!!!!  I am feeling just a little awesome and geeked out but lovvvvving it!!!

LCTEI am currently scheduled to present at the Louisiana Council of Teachers of English Convention.

Conference dates: Friday, November 1, 2013

Conference location: Northwestern State University Friedman Student Union, Natchitoches

I will be demonstrating ways to increase the engagement level of students as they connect with text in their classes. My presentation will focus on the need to provide students with opportunities to think and discuss ideas and themes within and beyond the text.

How? By creating assignments that require students to answer pre-reading questions, read (and re-read, if lucky) text while taking notes/annotating, share their notes and questions during shared inquiry discussions and post-discussion writing.


My proposals for presenting at the Texas Computer Using Educators Association’s Convention. I will be presenting at the TCEA 2014 Convention & Exposition, February 3-7, 2014, in Austin, Texas.  I will be sharing ways to connect through  badge1

PLNs and ways to engage students using technology in the classroom.  I have presented both of these sessions in the past but I feel that they are topics that must be shared and re-shared regularly because they are so important.

Session Title:   Are You Online and Connected?

When:  05/Feb/2014, 5:00pm – 6:30pm
Where:  Room 5C

Session Title:   30 students + Computers = Engagement
When:  06/Feb/2014, 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Where:  Room 8A


Closer to home, I have submitted a proposal for LACUE. I hope to be accepted.  I want to share with other Louisiana Educators ways to integrate technology into their lessons. Session: Tech + CCSS = Engaging Lessons 
Description:  What does it look like when you integrate technology into your Common Core classroom?
~Google Docs to activate background knowledge.
~Piclits to identify tone.
~Wikis to examine author’s style.
~Blogs to analyze and reflect upon text.
~Padlet to post questions about nonfiction.
~Publishing ePortfolios.  


‘Tis the month to connect…. fa-la-la-la-laaaaaa-la-la-la-la 

              Presenting is my way of connecting with the world and sharing what I do with others. It has always been important to me to show teachers and students what can be done in the classroom if you are willing to try out new tools and open the doors and windows of the classroom. Some of what we do is ‘good’ and some of what we do is merely ‘mediocre.’  Either way,

I hope to inspire and encourage. 

March 28

Class Participation

This year is almost over and I am thinking about next year. I am working out a different system for issuing class participation points.  I will start off the school-year using index cards, Popsicle sticks or ?? something that randomly allows me to ‘select’ a student.

Kagan dvd for sale

Online Super Teacher Tools Site

I know that many feel that this nonvoluntary participation is a horrible thing to do. To terrorize students who may or may not know the answer by pulling their name out of a hat is considered by some to be ineffective.  I agree to a point.  I also know that I am using this technique as a way to let them know that they are ‘required’ to participate in class discussions.   Each week I will try to hit each child at least once to make sure that they all have a chance to receive participation points.

I am still slicing through my 31 posts for this month. I am almost halfway there.

My 15/31 slice

March 28

Daily slides to ‘show’ daily agenda

When the students walk in and see this slide, they know that for today’s class they will need to get out their workbooks, paper and the textbook.

I am trying to be sure that I use my projector and board to SHOW the students what I need from them. This picture shows their homework assignment: there is a picture of the reading passage/poem, the question starters that they were to use to create questions based on the text and the index cards they need to turn in to me.

This picture will be on the board at the beginning of class as a reminder of what I need to collect from them. Most times as they file into the room it serves as a reminder for both of us as to the homework that must be turned in.  I teach 4 classes and 3 subjects each day and there are quite a few times during the course of the day that I can’t remember what I class I am in and what we are supposed to be doing. Creating PowerPoints with pictures of the daily work helps to keep me on track.

What do you use as classroom management tools to help you focus and stay on track?

My 14/31 slice