English Language Arts

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Independent Reading is Transformative in Reading Development

The research into independent reading shows a clear correlaton between time spent reading high-interest, trade books and reading achievement, fluency, vocabulary developmet, and knowledge building.  Click on the document below for a summary of many of the major research projects into reading achievement and development and their correlation to independent reading. 



ELA Test Prep -- Middle School

ELA Test Prep - Middle School


ELA Test Guidelines from NY State Dept. of Ed


Exerpt from EngageNY

"In an effort to provide educators with as much support as possible regarding the instructional and assessment shifts necessitated by the Common Core, the Department has prepared 2014 Test Guides for each subject and grade. 

The Grade 3–8 Common Core English Language Arts Test Guides will introduce several changes that differentiate the 2014 CCLS English Language Arts Tests from past New York State tests.  Some of the important changes discussed in the 2014 English Language Arts Test Guides include:

  1. additional information about authentic passages
  2. the 2014 ELA tests will be split into 3 books administered across 3 days
  3. Day 2 will consist of one book with both multiple-choice and constructed response questions
  4. in Grades 5–8, Day 2 will have fewer passages and questions than Day 2 of  the 2013 tests"


Click here to find the 2014 Educator Guides for ELA



Click on this Link for:  New York State 2013 Grades 3-8 Common Core ELA Rubric and Scoring Turnkey Training  

This is a PowerPoint presentation from a NY State training on scoring using the 2013 Rubric.  This presentation includes scored examples of student writing.


Click here to find the Annotated 2013  3-8 ELA State Test Questions.  These packets include readign passages, multiple choice questions, writing prompts and sample student responses.  All portions are annotated with the explanation for the score. 



Evaluating Data to Support ELA Test Preparation Planning

Instructions for Finding Your Item Analysis of the ELA Test in ARIS   ARIS Directions.doc

Planning Small Group Instruction Using ARIS Data from 2012 Tests

Using Grade 3 Data  Using ARIS Item Analysis from 2013 ELA Test - Grade 3.doc   Using ARIS Item Analysis from 2013 ELA Test - Grade 3.doc

Using Grade 4 Data  Using ARIS Item Analysis from 2013 ELA Test - Grade 4.doc          Using ARIS Item Analysis from 2013 ELA Test - Grade 4.doc

Using Grade 5 Data  Using ARIS Item Analysis from 2013 ELA Test - Grade 5.doc

Using Grade 6 Data  Using ARIS Item Analysis from 2013 ELA Test - Grade 6.doc

Using Grade 7 Data  Using ARIS Item Analysis from 2013 ELA Test - Grade 7.doc


Navigating ELA Prep Materials

The following lists support teachers in locating the lessons that support individual Common Core Standards

Ready NY

Ready NY Grade 3.pdf

Ready NY Grade 4.pdf

Ready NY Grade 5.pdf

Ready NY Grade 6.pdf

Ready NY Grade 7.pdf

Ready NY Grade 8.pdf



Kaplan Keys Advantage Grade 3.pdf

Kaplan Keys Advantage Grade 4.pdf

Kaplan Keys Advantage Grade 5.pdf

Kaplan Keys Advantage Grade 6.pdf

Kaplan Keys Advantage Grade 7.pdf

Kaplan Keys Advantage Grade 8.pdf




ELA Test Prep Unit Planning

Possible Structure for ELA Prep Unit -- Possible Unit Structure and Possible Daily Plan Structure  Possible Schedule for an ELA Test Prep Unit.doc

Building Reading Volume and Stamina -- 

Planning for an Extended Reading Session  Planning for a Day of Extended Reading.doc

Strategies for Building Reading Stamina  Refresh Button.doc

Reading Log for Reading Stamina Days  Reading Volume and Stamina Log.doc

Writing About Reading Cards (Using test language)  Prompts for Writing about Reading.docx



Tips for Answering Multiple Choice Questions

Top Strategies to Answering Multiple Choice Questions.doc

Strategies for Answering Vocabulary Questions.doc


Small Group Lessons/Games to Support ELA Test Prep.

2014  Use the Clues -  Vocabulary game -- Use the Clues - Vocabulary game 2013.doc

2014  Candy Jar Game -- Central idea game -- Candy Jar Game - central idea.doc

2014  I Say... -- Developing familiarity and expertise in using test language -- Talk Cards - Test Language Practice.doc

2014 Match Game -- Matching Claims and Supporting Details Matching Claims to Supporting Details.doc

2014 Central Idea -- Distinguising between Central Idea choices that are too broad, too narrow and "just right" Central Idea Too Broad Too Narrow.doc

2014 Short-Response Small Group Lesson  Short Answer Revision - Sweet Science - Grade 6 2013.doc



Preparing for the Writing Portions of the Test

Tips for Teaching the Short Response -- Short Response 2014.doc

Tips for Teaching the Extended Response --  Extended Response 2013.doc



Common Core State Standards

CCSS Continuum -- This chart shows the development of each of the Literacy CCSS for grades K-12 highlighted for several of the power standards.  This chart has been used to help with assessing student work.  It may help with not only stating whether students are meeting grade level standards, but also with stating what standards the students are meeting.  By doing this, it may be possible to look across the continuum to see the ways in which the expectations of each standard are lifted each year and imagine a teaching trajectory for lifting the level of student work.   CCSS Continuum 2012-13.doc


The Continuum Record is an Excel Spreadsheet to help note student progress.  This may aid with looking at student work in the fall to note where students are in relation to the standards and then again looking at how students are performing in the spring following the unit of study designed to lift student performance.   CCSS Continuum - Record 3.xls


Argument Writing -- Annotated Student Samples -- These are pieces of student writing from the Common Core State Standards -- Appendix C.  They have been color coded and annotated to help see precisly which writing moves are meeting which portions of the argument writing standards.  These versions may be helpful as anchor texts when looking at student work and determining which writing moves are or are not meeting the grade level expectations. 

4th Grade Argument Writing - annotated.doc

6th Grade Argument Writing - annotated.doc

7th Grade Argument Writing - annotated.doc

9th Grade Argument Writing - annotated.doc

10th Grade Argument Writing - annotated.doc

12th Grade Argument Writing - annotated.doc




Finding Hot New YA Books

The Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) offers many lists of YA literature organized by genre and by topic/issue.  Each year they also publish an essay on current trends in the publishing industry.  It's wonderfully helpful in anticipating trends in teen reading.  You can find their lists at: http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/detailLists.asp?idBookListCat=4
 The Horn Book Guide comes out twice a year and offers short reviews of thousands of recently published children's and YA books.  For a list of books that received a review of "Outstanding" or "Superior"

Alternatives to Round-Robin Reading

Teachers are again recognizing the vital importance of fluency work in the ELA classroom.  However, many teachers have been asking for alternatives to round-robin reading, because it only offers fluency practice to one student at a time and very little time at that.  For a bit of information on round-robin reading and several alternatives

Write Like a Pro

"You can't create, what you can't imagine."  --Eloise Greenfield

To write well, we need a clear vision of what it is that we are creating, but finding mentor texts to use in the classroom can be a daunting task. 
"Mentor Texts for Writing" offers suggestions of texts for essays, feature articles, short fiction and personal narratives.   Next to each text is a short list of possible writing moves that can be taught with each.  Happy Writing!!
Click here for: 

Using Reading Logs To Plan Additional Teaching -- Sample Reading Conference Notes

Reading logs can be a powerful window into the reading lives of our students.  We can study reading volume and stamina, reading rate, genre preference, author preference, and more.  For a few tips on how to study reading logs and a few ideas of what to teach students based upon your findings:  Studying Student Reading Logs.doc


Sample Reading Logs

Reading Log - Bookmark.doc

Spring Break READING LOG.doc


Tips for Reading Conferences

Reading Conferring Tip Sheet.doc


Samples of Forms for Recording Conferring Notes

Conferring Record Single Student boxes.doc

Conferring Record Single Student Columns.doc

Conferring Record Whole Class.doc

Vocabulary Development

"Now That's a Word I Can Take My Hat Off To!"

Needing a few new techniques for teaching vocabulary?  For several strategies for teaching vocabulary in context as well as Vocabulary Sandwiches and Vocabulary Icons: 

Unit Planning Support

Model Units in Reading and Writing

As many schools are reviewing the Common Core State Standards, they are considering revising some units of study and possibly adding in a few units. To help with this process of developing curriculum, I’ve created a list of professional resources that support unit planning for reading and writing instruction. For each of the units included, I’ve listed titles of professional resources and noted whether those books offer daily model lessons, a unit description with a few sample lessons or whether they offer an assortment of model lessons that could be organized into a unit of study.