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Preparing the Way for Productive Student Learning

1. Knowledge of Students

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers systematically acquire specific knowledge of their students as individuals and use that knowledge to help develop students’ literacy.

Evidence 1Student Digital Showcase This site was used not only as an online space to chronicle student responses to independent reading and to showcase the extensive work related to the Heritage Project, but also for helping students reflect on key ELA standards.

2. Knowledge of the Field

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers know the field of English language arts and how to teach it to their students.

Evidence 1: English Companion Ning This online space has been my greatest source of professional development for teaching middle school. The site allows me to discuss strategies and share ideas for everything from how to effectively respond to student essays digitally to specific ways to engage students on the periphery of my class.

3. Engagement

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers engage students in language arts learning and elicit a concerted academic effort from each of their students.

Evidence 1: Entry and Exit Slips – Simple idea of just giving students a scrap of paper and asking them to respond to a question that forces them to reveal their thinking on a topic. It’s a great formative tool and ensures that all students are participating on some level in the class. They naturally discuss their responses with their neighbors and receive immediate feedback on how their response compared to others. 

Evidence 2: Domino Activity –  I modified this idea that I found in Kelly Gallagher’s Deeper Reading. Five blank scraps of paper for each table group. They discuss the most important events in the text and then write them in ranking-order on each slip of paper. Each table rotates to compare and discuss how their events match another tables. Sometimes I have them leave questions or comments for the group. When they return to their original table, they have two minutes to revise or reorder the events on their slips of paper. We wrap-up with a discussion of surprises or most common responses. Compared to my whole class discussions that I lead, this increases engagement tenfold. The physical movement is a plus also. 

4. Learning Environment

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers create a caring and challenging environment in which all students actively learn.

5. Equity, Fairness, and Diversity

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers are committed to the celebration of diversity, practice equity and fairness, and use a variety of texts to promote opportunities to learn acceptance and appreciation of others.

Evidence 1: Heritage Project For most of the students, it’s the first time they’ve attempted to answer the question who am I or what do I know about my culture. This is where the application of digital storytelling has been most effective. The digital stories created as part of this project have encouraged me to continue to return to these questions throughout the year. The topic of third culture kids resonates with my students and I want to find ways of weaving it into more of our class discussions as well as the larger community discussions about our students’ school experience. 

6. Instructional Resources

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers select, adapt, and use instructional resources to develop student literacy and further curriculum goals.

Evidence 1: Once Upon a Time blog post  Story is at the heart of an English Language Arts curriculum. This is a fantastic tool. Every student I’ve introduced to it has found it a useful tool for developing their story skills. I plan to build on the use of the game throughout the year by having students write Once Upon a Time stories that combine our weekly vocabulary words. 

7. Instructional Decision Making

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers set attainable and worthwhile learning goals for students and develop meaningful learning opportunities while extending to students an increasing measure of control over setting goals and choosing how those goals are pursued.

Advancing Student Learning in the Classroom

8. Reading

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers promote reading development by ensuring that their students read a wide variety of texts and develop strategies for comprehending, interpreting, evaluating, and appreciating those texts.

Evidence 1: Blog post on reading incentive programs Student responses to independent reading have improved this year with the inclusion of a revised rubric that emphasizes analysis and clear evidence of individual thinking over general summary. Kelly Gallagher’s Deeper Reading has been invaluable in providing several effective strategies for helping students improve their interpretation skills. Also, many parent asked for a classics list of books to encourage their children to read. I created a poster and found success in cheerleading many of my favorite classics, such as Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie quickly. 

9. Writing

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers provide instruction in the skills, processes, and knowledge needed for writing to ensure that their students write effectively across many genres and for a variety of purposes and audiences.

10. Listening, Speaking, and Viewing

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers develop students’ skills in listening, speaking, and viewing in many ways and for many purposes.

Evidence 1: In a 1:1 laptop environment, the opportunities for students to view and respond to media related to class content is much easier as students can access the files outside of class. For nearly each unit, I provide a set of short video clips that extends the themes related to a novel being discussed in class. Students will view these without even being assigned to. Using a whole class to view a film is hard to justify. Providing the clips to the students and allowing them to watch them according to their own schedule allows us to use our class time for discussion of the ideas. Many students are able to connect the ideas from the optional media viewings in their essays.

11. Language Study

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers teach students to gain proficiency in language use and strengthen student sensitivity to appropriate uses of language.

12. Integrated Instruction

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers integrate learning and learning activities within the English language arts classroom and across the disciplines.

Evidence 1Facing History Collaboration The Facing History resources have helped me apply my essential questions in meaningful ways throughout the year. Most importantly, the dialogue among colleagues moves beyond the technical challenges of teaching our curriculum and focuses on the why we teach books like The Giver or To Kill A Mockingbird.

13. Assessment

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers use a range of formal and informal assessment methods to monitor and evaluate student progress, encourage student self-assessment, plan instruction, and report to various audiences.

Supporting Student Learning Through Long-Range Initiatives

14. Self-Reflection

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers constantly analyze and strengthen the effectiveness and quality of their teaching.

Evidence 1: teachstory.org This blog has captured the last ten years of my research related to digital storytelling and my thoughts about teaching students to read and write in the Digital Age.

15. Professional Community

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers contribute to the improvement of instructional programs, advancement of knowledge, and practice of colleagues.

Evidence 1: Newbery Award Books Many students often overlook this collection as quality choices for independent reading. I created this set of Virtual Portrait of the Story (VPS) diagrams to help students see story structure in a different way. Also, the VPS is a tool we use when creating digital stories and our short stories. 

16. Family Outreach

Accomplished Early Adolescence/English Language Arts teachers work with families to serve the best interests of their children.


Portfolio of work from three years as the Middle School Technology Resource Facilitator

Current Resume (Sept 2012)