Day: October 26, 2015

The Power and Elegance of the Infographic Part 2

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We are sharing this slide deck to follow-up a previous session on infographics called The Power and Elegance of the Infographic. This session went further in depth into why infographics are effective, and is loaded with examples and considerations for those interested in making infographics part of into their students’ learning experience.

Most of the graphics, with the exception of the infographic examples and some icons, were created using tools and graphical elements that are part of Google Slides.

Common Core English Language Arts Standards: Tips for Parents

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Schools throughout the country are working to improve teaching and learning so all children will graduate high school with the 21st century skills they need to be successful in college, their careers and beyond! In English Language Arts (ELA), there are several changes that parents should be aware of. Students will, in addition to stories and literature, be required to read more non-fiction to learn important facts and background knowledge in subjects like history, art and science. They will need to read more challenging texts more closely and will be asked the kinds of questions where they will need to go back to the text to find answers. Students will need to learn how to make strong arguments and support their views using evidence from diverse viewpoints.

These changes outlined in the ELA Common Core Standards aim to prepare students for college and careers by:

  • Increasing the quality and amount of reading and writing students are doing on a wide range of subjects – you should see your student reading more closely about current events in news articles for example in addition to text books and novels and writing more frequently
  • Teaching students to work in teams to collaborate on tasks by listening to each other – you could see your student participating in teams tackling word games or preparing debates
  • Teaching students to make strong arguments both in writing and while speaking – you will see your student back up what they say with lots of evidence from text and not just from their opinion.
  • Teaching students to be independent readers and writers – you will see your student learn how to tackle difficult text and write clearly by themselves

Strategies parents can do to support ELA Common Core success:

  1.  Talk to your child’s teacher about how you can best support your child during the transition to the ELA Common Core.
  2. Get to know your child’s interests and choose books and magazines about those topics. Don’t worry if all they want to read about is cats for a couple of months or if they tire of a subject and move on. Find the zone that’s right for your child. Reading should not be a chore.
  3. Read to your child often – even just the sports section or in a language other than English.
  4. Answer questions by asking more questions whenever possible. Ask your child what they think the answer could be. Help them give reasons for their choices.
  5. For the reluctant reader, ask them to replace the name of an animal or character in a story with a familiar name from your child’s life, a pet or friend will do.
  6. Encourage your child to write letters or emails to relatives and friends describing their day or a recent celebration or event.
  7. For older children, talk about the news together. Pick one story in the news, read it together, and discuss with your child what it means. 
  8. Visit the campus of a local college with your teen. Have them write about what he or she expects from college. 
  9. Visit a local museum together. Take time to closely observe the details of the paintings or exhibits and talk about what you see there. Have your child draw and write about what you saw and experienced.

For more information for parents on Common Core for each grade level visit:
PTA Parent Guides to Common Core

The ELA/ELD Framework

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Today, we had the chance to present information on California’s new ELA/ELD Framework to our Curriculum Council–educational leaders from around the county.

(Click either on the image to the left, or here, to view the presentation.  Navigate to our website,, and scroll down to Curriculum Council to view and print out all handouts.)

Unlike the California ELD standards, California’s ELA/ELD Framework is a useful tool that is aimed at providing guidance on how to implement the ELA/Literacy standards and the ELD standards in tandem.

The Framework is built upon the premise that there exist five themes that run throughout both the ELA/Literacy and the ELD standards; these five themes are Meaning Making, Language Development, Effective Expression, Content Knowledge, and Foundational Skills.  Chapters 3-7 of the Framework focus on specific grade level spans, and provides specific suggestions for the implementation of these themes.  Most importantly, these chapters provide snapshots and longervignettes, which provide examples of lessons and units that implement all five of the key themes.

The Framework, then, is a chance for teachers to see what the ELA/Literacy and ELD standards, working in tandem, look like.  And what it boils down to, frankly, is really great instruction that is rooted in scaffolding learning for all students, including ELD students (but also any struggling readers).

The Framework emphasizes a need for collaboration (between elementary teachers, and between secondary content area teachers and ELD teachers) in order to curtail the problem of LTELs (long-term English learners)–students who stay in the ELD classes, not progressing towards College and Career Readiness.

With the right structures in place, and support from administrators, teachers could begin to implement this important work, and see the resulting success in students who have bridged the achievement gap.

-Maria Vlahiotis, Literacy Specialist, ACOE Core Learning