Meeting a Rock Star

A few years ago Eddie Vedder threw me his tambourine during a concert. I like to fantasize that he picked me out of the crowd because my praying mantis-like dance movements caught his eye; in reality I just out-jumped the people around me to snag it spinning in the air above our heads. Still, I felt connected to my musical idol in a way I never had before. (Humor me here.)  Continue reading “Meeting a Rock Star”

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EPS Integrated Scope and Sequence Site

It’s here! We’ve been working on the new integrated scope and sequence for elementary writing, reading, social studies, and science for over a year now. Thank you to the teachers, coaches, and principals who have provided feedback throughout the process.

You can access the site through the links provided here, using the Evergreen Bookmarks folder in Chrome, or through ClassLink.

At the site, you’ll find information specific to the content areas of  ELA, social studies, and science with images and links to resources. On the grade level pages, all 36 units for grades K through 5 are included, with unit themes, standards, resource suggestions, and integrated literacy task ideas.

We’ll continue to improve the format, add more details, and link more resources to make this resource as valuable and accessible as we can, but we continue to need your help. If there’s something that we can do to make the site better, please let us know! Your ideas and feedback will help us prioritize the ongoing work.

Linking the Known to the New

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I have a confession to make. Despite working in the curriculum department, despite quite a few years in this education field, and despite reading, researching, and hours of discussions with colleagues…I’m still trying to figure out what personalized learning is.

Good news, though, if you’re sitting next to me on the same gently rocking boat–it’s OK. We still have time. In my case, things became clearer when I listened to students.

Last Monday night I drove my two boys to Covington Middle School for their 6th grade orientation/showcase night. Wearing both my educator and dad hats, we toured familiar hallways (to me, at least; my 5th grader’s eyes bulged a bit at the rows of lockers and the open staircase in the entry, “Is this school really TWO WHOLE STORIES?”). I slyly introduced him to some 6th grade teachers, and embarrassed him in front of Mr. Gourde, the principal (“I can text him anytime, you know.”). Continue reading “Linking the Known to the New”

Teaching Literacy in the “Age of Alternate Facts”

My colleague Ryan Theodoriches (eminent social studies specialist) and I have worked together for ten years now; during that time we’ve tried to support teachers and administrators with thinking about ELA and social studies as two content areas with huge overlap. Teaching critical literacy skills is an overriding priority when engaging students with the variety of texts, topics, and tasks that prepare them for a life as an informed and active citizen.

Forgive me as I gingerly tap dance around politics here–I think few would argue that our ELA and SS classes have plenty of “grist for the mill” provided by the lead-up to and aftermath of the presidential election. Teachers are certainly used to side-stepping their own political opinions to deftly present students with opportunities to think through all of the various current political perspectives warring for our nation’s attention, and connecting those perspectives to themes and concepts rooted in their ELA and SS units.

In particular, teaching students to express their ideas and opinions through argument using rhetoric and information literacy skills has never been more important. Teaching them to listen critically and avoid being blinded by their own biases helps build a solid foundation for actual discourse. While talking (screaming?) heads in the media can certainly provide endless entertainment and shock value, they are not models or paragons of civil discourse.

Sometimes (in my case, many times) others speak out far more eloquently on certain topics. Check out this essay, “Teaching Writing in a Post-Truth Era” published recently in the Seattle Times. It’s a call to action that, regardless of political stance, few teachers of ELA or SS can ignore…and most have been working toward long before this current administration was elected.

Thanks to Ryan for finding the article and for his efforts at always promoting civil discourse.