2017/2018 Events

Spelling Bee – Bee BRAVE, BOLD, BRILLIANT!

We hope all of our schools are preparing and implementing their local bees during the month of October.   As you know, we were asked to take over the Spelling Bee on short notice, so we have a very tight timetable this year.  Special shout out to Ms. Shaffer in St. Louis for catching the error about deadlines – one set of eyes is not often enough to catch everything. Thank you.  By catching this we have been able to revise the FINAL deadline to register your students to Wednesday, November 1st. 

Please go to the webpage and make sure you are clear on deadlines, expectations, and requirements for the Chicago BEE on November 11th at UIC.


2017/2018 Goal:  Improve our attendance and audience support for language events/competitions.  Shout out to Ms. Petrella, at HSA Belmont, for turning the Spelling Bee into a CYSP field trip!

Writing Competition – # It’s a Matter of Words   

For further details and prompts go to http://english.conceptschools.org/writing-competition/

Concept Reading Challenge (#LeaveYourMark)

Students create bookmarks and post them around your classroom.  When a classmate accepts the challenge and responds to the claim of the book mark makes,  she/he (the book mark maker) is entered into a raffle for prizes.

This program was announced last month.  You can easily adapt you work with reading tools like STAR or DEAR time to fit our Reading Challenge format.  Let us know if we can help. Has anyone tried it? I have not had any requests for the Challenge Response form.

ReadingChallengeBookMark template.  It is best if you create your own bookmark from my model to motivate your students.

Parent/Family Network Writing Initiative

This year Concept English will be meeting with parents and families, wherever possible.  This year we are hoping to have our families share success stories that celebrate our student’s accomplishments at Concept Schools.  For further information go to http://english.conceptschools.org/parent-writing-program/


Curriculum (PBA and connections to the # It’s a Matter of Words competition) in October.  Here is where we want you to be in October with our Core English courses:

  • 6th grade – Unit/Collection 2, Animal Intelligence (Science). PBA – Write an expository essay.  NOTE: Unit 3 – coming up in November) is also a Science unit that could be adapted to work with the writing competition prompts #1 and #2.
  • 7th grade – Unit/Collection 2, Perception and Reality (the whole premise of the writing competition is that perception of who did what in the STEM field is often not reality)
  • PBA – Write an opinion or expository essay. Note: You might adapt Unit 3 (November) to deal with the Natural Sciences and connect to the writing competition prompts #1 and #2.
  • 8th grade – Unit/Collection 2, The Thrill of Horror (this may be a challenge in terms of the writing competition).  PBA – Write a literary analysis.  Note:  Unit 3 (November) involves history and could be adapted to the writing competition prompt #2.
  • 9th grade – Unit/Collection 2, The Struggle for Freedom (History).  PBA – Write an argument essay. This could be adapted for prompt #2.  Note: You might adapt Unit 3 (November) with its Science and Technology focus to address writing competition prompt #2.
  • 10th grade – Unit/Collection 2, The Natural World (Science).  PBA – Write a research report.  Prompt #1 is an expository/research report. Note: Unit 2 and 3 (November) are Science units and can be adapted to fit the writing competition prompts #1 and #2.
  • 11th grade – Unit/Collection 2, Building a Democracy (History).  PBA – write and informative essay.  This could be adapted for prompt #1.  Note:  Unit 3 (November) with its History focus could be adapted to work with writing competition prompt #2.
  • 12th grade – Unit/Collection, Gender Roles (History). PBA – Structured discussion group.  The notes prepared for this discussion could be used to develop an essay for prompt #1 or #2.  You could infuse the unit with more Scientific articles on gender roles too.  Note: Unit 3 (November) has a History focus and could be adapted to work with writing competition prompt #2.


Other Curriculum/Resources

Infusing writing into your daily and weekly lessons can be very hard for some people.  These are the three simple steps we need to follow.

  1. Have students write about the texts they read.
  2. Teach students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text.
  3. Increase how much students write.

However, the how aspect of these steps is difficult.  Most of us try to work on one area at a time like focusing on grammar but the truth is the issue is helping students discover what they think and having enough to write about (fluency).  I, personally, try to remember that whenever I can get students to “think down their arms,” they are writing.  Graphic organizers, post it notes, etc.  The chart below refers to the types of writing we need to be doing in all classes, but since our units are interdisciplinary ALL English classes.

Two NWP articles/resources that might shed some light:

Useful links for the writing process, revision, editing, and plagiarism:



We have begun or monthly visits to Chicago/Milwaukee schools and are looking forward to our ongoing coaching sessions.  So far we have started professional dialogues with 15 wonderful teachers!  Thank you

We will be traveling to our regions for observations/coaching during the month of October/November.  If you are wondering about our approach on these trips go to this short article adapted from our presentation to Assistant Principals at http://english.conceptschools.org/portfolio/observations-coaching-in-20172018/

Here is our schedule:

  • South Ohio, October 2 – 6 (will coordinate with Columbus Middle School teachers on a schedule to come back in November/December to model requested lessons)
  • North Ohio, October 9-13
  • Chicago/Milwaukee, October 15-20
  • Indiana, November 2 & 3
  • Michigan/Toledo, November 13 & 14 (Will coordinate with Toledo teachers on a schedule to come back in November/December to model lessons)


Professional Development/Webinars

We have completed 7 Webinars during the month of September and 3 have been schedule for October.

We have had our first 2 requests for information related to data reports and how to help differentiate for varying student abilities.  2 teachers have also requested individual data conversations.

If you want to to build our Thought Partnership, send an email and we will help you sign up via SIS as well.  The bolded listings on this screen shot are the options available and they can be found under the Performance Management tab.

NEW – Professional Development Committees on Assessment

Assessment is always a hot topic.  A few teachers have asked about District and EOC assessment deadlines.  Please refer to the Concept Assessment page and verify school deadlines with your administrators.  http://assessment.conceptschools.org/?page_id=2384

With many new school administrators/teachers we are fielding questions about NWEA and EOC’s.  The NWEA committee will work to help develop ways to strengthen testing and practice between the Fall, Winter, and Spring test.  The EOC team will work with me to understand how and why we have the EOC’s we do, whether or not we should update them, or even create new ones.

If you would like to be on the EOC Committee for High School, submit your name to aflaherty@conceptschools.org with the subject line Concept English EOC Committee

If you would like to be on the NWEA Committee for 6-8, submit your name to aflaherty@conceptschools.org with the subject line Concept English NWEA Committee