The Week of November 9th, I visited Columbus Middle School and Noble Columbus… great teaching and use of our new HMH resources too!

On Thursday, October 22nd, I visited HSA Lorain. 

Mrs. Laszlo had her 7th grade students using a binder system and engaged in a close reading activity for reading a folktale, “The People Could Fly.”  Using the guiding questions that can be printed from the HMH Collections dashboard, students were engaged, focused on word choices like  “flying and flapping,” and recording information in their notes/binders.

Mrs. Alexander created strong engagement with her 10th grade students by connecting their own ideas of nature as a class first, and then broadening through the reading, to expand how individuals impact nature.  The class began with a video and students reflecting/reacting in their journals, followed by Mrs. Alexander’s restatement of the posters on the walls that they created, before students were asked to work in small groups and focus on key passages in the Science Essay “Called Out.”

Mrs. Ostroske’s 6th grade students were engaged in a close reading lesson from Unit 2 on Animal Intelligence.  Mrs. Ostroske was doing an excellent job using the new Collections technology with the highlighting tools and the audio close reader examples.  Students were listening, watching, and writing notes to offer multiple opportunities to learn.

Mr. Pishnery’s 11th grade students were asked to complete a journal entry to assess prior knowledge since many of them had already read “The Declaration of Independence.”  After a short discussion as a group, his students then watched an Interactive Textbook video from the HMH Collections dashboard.  This was followed by the use of a graphic organizer for vocabulary from the Collections resources as well.

Images from HSA Lorain visit, 1 Student writing, 2 Tell Tale Heart, 3 Binder system, 4 Publishing the week, 5 Ms. Laszlo at work, 6 Ms. Alexander setting up the the class, 7 Connecting the essential question to prior knowledge, 8 Differentiation by partner, 9 Using the HMH highlighter tools, 10/11 Close reading with Ms. Ostroske, 12 Promotional campaign for reading, 13 Ms. Pishnery and the bell ringer, 14 Journal prompt, 15 Using the HMH videos

On Tuesday, October 20th, I visited HSA Cincinnati.  

Ms. Johnson had a classroom with high expectations and great behavior.  Even though I am no longer overseeing 3-5, it was excellent to see her using the new HMH Journey’s texts and the online resources.  Not only was there great energy about learning, there was also a great balance of visual and oral instruction for differentiation.  Here is a link to social media sites for differentiation.  Also, there are attachments in SIS.

Ms. Orza had his students engaged in a close reading activity as partners.  Students worked with a partner or triad group to look at specific lines of text and ultimately compare the evidence that they found.  In addition to the board which reminded students about how to work together and types of questions for close reading, there was also an excellent list of questions students could refer to.  There was a specific mention of the I cans and a repetition throughout the lesson and use of words like “proof” and “evidence” to promote students going beyond opinions.   I was reminded that we use I cans to remind us to check for understanding and measure learning.

Ms. Noor Al-Salhi  had just begun Unit 2/Collection 2 The Thrill of Horror.  There was a great overhead slide used as a bell ringer/first five strategy to connect the prior lesson to the current on the reading “Scary Tales.”  Students then transitioned to a reading workshop area where Ms. Noor Al-Salhi went into more board note taking on point of view where she detailed rich knowledge of language – focusing on connotative/denotative information to teach vocabulary.

Images from HSA Cincinnati visit,

On Wednesday, October 14th, I visited IMSA South.

Ms. Stricker was having students almost performing a reading of “The People Could Fly” and having them work in small groups to find evidence from the text, note it on a Post It Note, which they then posted to the story map at the front of the class.  There were excellent sections to her lesson including a before, during, and after session.   Both Ms. Stricker and Ms. Chi use the RACE strategy as well.  Here is more information on RACE http://www.sharemylesson.com/teaching-resource/race-constructed-response-strategy-50029904/ 

Ms. Chi  had students engaged in the reading of “Hatchet” which came out of their Unit 1/Collection 1 study of Facing Fear.  She used an audio recording and then asked students to follow the development and changes in character traits, specifically those of the main character, Brian.  Further into this text students will look at character and theme as it applies to the topic of survival. Reading and summarizing these chapters will help students evaluate Brian’s character and decision making with later chapters and texts.

On Tuesday, October 13th, I visited IMSA West and IMSA North.  

Mr. Boyd was working with his students who were involved in group work in which they designed posters to represent the horror genre they were moving into with Collection 2/Unit 2 for 8th grade. Students established prior knowledge and used their prediction entries to complete the task.

My second stop was to see Mr. Mellencamp.  His students had written short stories as the final PBA for Collection 1/Unit 1 on culture and belonging and were reading their stories to the class.  In addition to obtaining feedback from their peers, students were given strong formative feedback and questions to stretch for growth by Mr. Mellencamp.  This activity allowed students to practice the very important speaking and listening skills they need to become better students and writers.

After meeting with Ms. Cummings and Mr. Atlihan, I then traveled to IMSA North.

Mrs. Tomasino had a very interactive classroom with specific jobs and responsibilities assigned to students.  In addition to her oral instructions there were also visuals all around the room as well as on the overhead.  She had her students engaged in a scavenger hunt using Chrome Books to learn the new technology tools with HMH Collections.

Ms. Bell was doing a close reading activity for the folktale in Collection 2/Unit 2 “The People Could Fly.”  Her seventh graders were listening to the audio recording from the online resource which she would pause to do Think Alouds to try to deepen students’ critical thinking skills.

Ms. Taylor was working with her students on research and the writing of an argumentative essay.  Students were using computers and searching for specific information to support their claims. Ms. Taylor was actively involved in the searches and helped differentiate for the varying ability levels in her classroom.

Images from IMSA West, North, and South,1 Mr. Boyd’s students creating posters for the “Horror” unit, 2 Mr. Mellencamp have students read their stories in Author’s Chair, 3 Mrs. Tomasino preparing students for technology, 4 HMH Collections scavenger hunt, 5 Ms. Bell working one-on-one with a student, 6 Ms. Taylor engaged in research with her students, 7 Posted argument writing reminders, 8 Ms. Chi reading for her Literature Circle, 9 Ms. Stricker setting her students up to work in pairs, 10 Posting evidence on the Story Map

On Wednesday October 7th and Thursday October 8th I visited HSA Toledo and HSA Springfield respectively.  Mr. Kara, Ms. Mossing, and Department Chair Ms. Russell met with me to discuss questions and concerns and share the many positive aspects of our new Concept English curriculum.   Ms. Russell was particularly pleased with all the additional readings attached in SIS and the ability to adapt the lexile for varying student abilities.

My first classroom visit was to see Mrs. Clark (HSA Toledo), who was working on classroom speeches as part of the final PBA for Collection 1/Unit 1 of English I.  These speeches were based on the inquiry into the essential questions when do I join, when do I walk away to engage students in readings about how we struggle to belong.  Mrs. Clark provided firm formative feedback and had students engaged in evaluating each other.

My second stop was Mr. McClellan’s class, where I watched a close reading lesson on the text “Once Upon A Time” from Collection 1/Unit 1 that focused on the use of imagery to paint pictures that we can see.  This follows students watching a video that Mr. McClellan created combining narration with images (https://goo.gl/zT7gLP) to help students use their senses to deepen their understanding while reading.  Students also completed writing activities to check for understanding.

The final stop on Wednesday was Ms. Russell’s class.  Ms. Russell had an effective way to help her students review Collection 1/Unit 1 of 6th grades “Facing Fear.”  She used her board to list the elements of the unit and graphically/visually represent the similarities and differences.  She then asked students to use the 5 W’s and the H to come up with questions that they felt might be on the test and to answer them.  After we discussed this, she then asked another class to write down as many facts from the readings as they could remember and then write the questions.  Sadly, I did not get a picture of her class.

I also had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Contreras, the ELL teacher, and learn about her approach to working with her ELL students.  Not only did I learn from her, I gained respect for her insightful understanding about the importance of balancing skills with ideas to ensure students will grow and develop.

Images from HSA Toledo, 1 Mrs. Clark transitioning from the bell ringer (concept attainment) to the “during” of her lesson, 2 A system for classroom behavior, 3 Student presenting her speech, 4 Mr. McClellan responding to a student question, 5 Student writing about text, 6 A technology approach to behavior rewards, 7 Ms. Contreras in her ELL office

On Thursday October 8th (HSA Springfield) I had the opportunity to visit Ms. Brown and Ms. Sweat.

Ms. Brown was the first stop and she had her students engaged in writing.  There was significant evidence of writing work being done as part of Collection 1/Unit 1.  In addition to her modeling of the revising process and using some of our elements from SIS, she had a nice activity she obtained from Time4Writing.com.

My second stop was Ms. Sweat who had students do a bell ringer with https://www.flocabulary.com/ and then a short quiz.  After this she transitioned to a close reading activity on conflict which began with a short animated video to remind students of the types of conflict they may encounter during reading.

I also had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Benner and Ms. Schreiner to clarify any questions of concerns that they might have about our new SIS curriculum and/or HMH Collections texts.

Images from HSA Springfield, 1 Mrs. Brown redirecting students to a writing task, 2 PBIS Bulletin Board, 3 Ms. Sweat leading her students in a close reading activity, 4 HSA Springfield Library

On Wednesday September 30th I visited HSA McKinley Park English teachers.  The school’s new high school wing is beautiful, and the classrooms were very well organized for learning.

My visit was for the sole purpose of offering support to teachers using the new English curriculum.  My comments were formative, non-evaluative feedback, and I was very pleased with their addition of  research-based strategies to enhance the close reading process.

The first stop was to see Ms. Godinez and her 6th grade lesson using the Sticky Note Challenge to find and use evidence from “The House on Mango Street” that supported the notion of gender norms.  Her walls were decorated with wonderful Running Records that helped show how the essential questions/enduring understanding in the Anchor Texts were connected to those in the novel.

My second stop was Mr. Schmith’s class, where students were working on the PBA for unit 1 for 10th Grade – Ourselves and Others.  Using an online survey tool (isidewith.com) students answered questions about how their political beliefs were reflected in the political candidates.  Extending the idea that we are part of a whole and that we are shaped by those who lead us the purpose of the class was to think about  how one person can actually lead a whole group.  This was research for presenting a speech on their pick for the President of the United States.

I also had a chance to speak with the English department and help them forge ahead with the new curriculum and our use of the HMH Collections texts.  We came to the agreement that rigor should not be confused with a difficult lexile and that doing something well was very important: quality over quantity.

Images from HSA McKinley Park, 1 Close reading groups, 2 Writing down the arm, 3 A peak inside Ms. Florey’s room, 4 Stickey note challenge, 5 A calm hallway, 6 Small groups, 7 Even more questions than answers, 8 Mr. Schmith is modeling, 9 Strong emphasis on vocabulary, 10 Online survey and research