Thursday, April 16, 2015

Guiding Students Through Engineering Practices: A Cross-Curricular Approach

Today we are hosting our first science session at the Common Core Cafe. I am delighted to have two amazing master science teachers lead this session. Angelica Paz is an Intermediate science teacher at La Merced Intermediate and a teacher leader for the CTA. Gladys Garcia is a Teacher on Special Assignment and has been a science teacher for 12 years. In addition to being a Science content consultant for UCLA Center X. 
You can access today's presentation slides by clicking HERE
What is Engineering?

Engineering, according to NGSS, is applied science. Students must use the core ideas that they learned in the unit to solve an engineering problem based on real-world problems in the natural or designed world. Engineering has specific practices that correspond, but are not the same as, the science practices in NGSS. Engineering can be used to set the context for science learning, or as an assessment of the students understanding of science ideas. For example, the teacher could set up a problem on the sand table that mimics a city being flooded and pose the problem of developing a solution that would keep the city safe. The students would then need to go about developing the required knowledge about the way water moves over the land to solve the problem. They would end the unit with the student developing and refining their solutions. The other way to introduce engineering is at the end of the unit. In the earlier example, the students would learn about water and how it travels over land. The teacher could assess their understanding by posing the problem of the city being flooded and then see if the students’ solution showed comprehension of the disciplinary care ideas.
English Language Learners can demonstrate an understanding of ideas through their solutions and engineering, being extended more than one avenue to grapple with complex ideas and demonstrate science mastery. Also, engineering is another opportunity for students to use the discipline specific and general language involved in the disciplinary core ideas. This repeated experience of ideas through application generates flexible, creative thinking in a highly engaging setting, without a new barrage of required language. Finally, engineering is the perfect context for collaborative grouping and is an avenue for authentic discourse that involves academic language.

Standards arranged by Disciplinary Core Ideas (Life, Earth and Space, and Physical Science)

Videos that explain Practices in Science: 

Practice 1 - Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Practice 2 - Developing and Using Models

Sample Lesson Plans for Engineering Practices:

MIDDLE SCHOOL (Grades 6-8)

HIGH SCHOOL (Grades 9-12)

Additional Resources
Planning Tools
Sample Units K-8
Sample Units 9-12
Next Generation Science Standards Website
CSTA - California Science Teachers Assocation - NGSS Resource Page
NSTA - National Science Teachers Association - NGSS Resource Page
CDE - California Department of Education - NGSS Resources Page
Bozeman Science - This is a collection of videos and resources that outline the Science and Engineering Practices and more.  Paul Anderson is a high school teacher that does a wonderful job of presenting NGSS.
What is inside the box? - This document provides a “cheat sheet” to reading and interpreting the standards.
Connecting to the Common Core - a document that connects the Common Core practices in ELA and Math to Science.  
The Three Dimensions of the Standards - This document provides an overview of the practices, core ideas, and crosscutting concepts.
The Engineering Design Process - This is a document to illustrates to Engineering Design Process.
The Science and Engineering Practices - This document describes each of the Science and Engineering Practices in detail by grade level span.
The Key Content Sorted by Topics and Core Ideas - This document is a 2-sided resource that provides a snapshot of the content by grade level.
Teach Engineering. org: 
PBS LearningMedia-Engineering Through Media: 
Cross-Cutting Concepts - 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Using Interactive Read Alouds to Maximize Learning of the CCSS

Conference: Strategies for Implementing the Common Core State Standards Conference at MUSD

Workshop title for Today: 

Using Interactive Read Alouds to Maximize Learning
of the common core standards

Please click HERE to access today's slides 

Survey for today's Session:  https: //

Today was a very exciting day for me, since I was asked to present at our first Mini Conference at Montebello Unified. We had a nice turn out on a Saturday, before Spring Break. It really shows that the teachers that attended are dedicated to their own professional development and focused on student achievement. 

Interactive Read Aloud is a time for teachers to model the use of comprehension strategies while reading a variety of texts to an entire class. Interactive Read Aloud is a time to employ think-aloud to uncover what good readers do while reading to improve comprehension of texts. It is interactive as the teacher exposes her/his thinking while reading, then students do the same as their skill grows through numerous attempts to employ the new strategy. The integration of new comprehension strategy skills with those previously learned is vital to students' reading success.

I have composed a few Interactive Read Aloud lesson plans for grade levels K-5th. Please take a look and see if they can be used in your classroom. I have also added some additional resources below to enhance the your classroom lessons. 

Read Alouds Recommendations and Reviews:  

These are some of my other favorite books I have used in my class: 

Gardiner, John Reynolds - Stone Fox
Illus. by Sewall, Marcia, 1980, 81p
Description/Genre-Chapter Book/Realistic Fiction
Summary - Little Willy, who is ten years old, lives with his grandfather on a potato farm in Wyoming. Willy’s pet and best friend is a large, black dog named Searchlight. One morning grandfather wouldn’t get out of bed and wouldn’t respond at all to Willy. Doc Smith examined him and found nothing physically wrong. From that very first morning when Grandfather got ill, Willy was determined to stay with him and do all the work on the potato farm. Willy finally discovers that Grandfather owes $500.00 in back taxes and that they could lose the farm because of this. Willy enters a dogsled race to earn the money to pay the taxes. Stone Fox is a well-known Native American who has never lost a dogsled race. There is an exciting account of the race and a sad twist of events at the end. The ending of the story is based on a real legend that is reported to be true.
Review - This wonderful, heart-breaking story becomes so real to anyone who hears it or reads it that children become mesmerized by the story. The determination, hard work, and commitment that Willy displays in this book can certainly be admired. Wonderful traits are displayed throughout the book and it is a good example that shows these traits in action. Most children are shocked and surprised at the ending but it teaches a wonderful lesson of life-everything isn’t always good and happy and we must learn how to deal with the bad parts of life. I have read this book for years to different classes, and I will continue to read it for many more years to come because it shows so many wonderful qualities and traits to possess with love being the most important of all.
Audience - Grade 3, but it is also good for Grade 4 and 5.
  1. Teacher Guide for Using - Stone Fox
Polacco, Patricia- Thank You, Mr. Falker
1998, 40p
Description - Picture Book, Memoir
Summary – This is Patricia’s story of how she learned to read in fifth grade after struggling with a learning disability. Her teacher, Mr. Falker, stands up for her against the class bully, recognizes her disability and then gives her the extra help she needs to learn how to read.
Review – I read this book to my class every year as a reminder to myself and to set the stage for our classroom. I’m not sure what the children love more- the book or seeing me cry. This book spurs a wonderful conversation about persistence, success, and the power we have to help one another. 
Audience- Primary, Intermediate, and YA
  1. Digging Deeper: Developing Comprehension Using Thank You, Mr. Falker  Lesson Plan from ReadWriteThink
  2. Mentor Text for Thank You, Mr. Falker
  3. Close Reading of Thank You, Mr. FalkerThis unit plan develops skills in identifying main idea, categorizing details, identifying a character's motivation. Includes vocabulary, support materials. Designed for grade 3.
  4. Comprehension Questions
Ryan, Pam Munoz - Esperanza Rising
2000 264 pp.
Summary- Esperanza lives a life of privilege in Mexico until the death of her father leaves her and her mother destitute.  They must escape the far-reaching hands of brutal uncles and reinvent themselves in America.  The book follows this young teen on her journey of growth and change.  It has all the elements of a great story…villains, friendship, death, sacrifice, and love.
Review- The story is poetry in novel form, so beautifully written.  Each chapter title is the name of a fruit or vegetable, which is symbolic for the challenge or triumph that is unfolded within.  The book tackles many harsh realities: death, barriers of social class, labor relations, and the hardships of the Great Depression.  Esperanza is a testament to the human condition.  Girls and boys enjoyed it equally. 
Audience - This book makes a terrific read aloud for grade 5 but could be used as an independent read for older grades, especially when supported by background on the Great Depression.
  1. Guide for Teaching the novel Esperanza Rising
  2. Study Guide for the novel Esperanza Rising
  3. Huge resource with all many ideas and resources for teaching Esperanza Rising
Scieszka, Jon – The Frog Prince Continued
Johnson, Steve; 1991; pages 27
Description/Genre Picture book, Fiction, Fairy tale
Summary The Frog Prince and Princess are not as happy as we would like to think. The Frog Prince decides to leaves home to find a witch who will change him back into a frog. He encounters and nearly escapes several witches from other familiar fairy tales. (Ex: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty). He finally returns home to the Princess and realizes that she truly loves him and believes in him. (Why else would she kiss “slimy frog lips”?) He kisses her and they live happily ever after as frogs. 
Review I love reading fractured fairy tales to students. I have found that once students begin to read chapter books they don’t go back to picture books very often. Scieszka does a great job of expanding the standard fairy tale. I enjoy reading these type of picture books to older students because they always lead to very interesting discussions. Reading examples of fractured fairy tales is a fun and humorous way to introduce creative writing. I’ve had my students take their favorite fairy tale and continue the story or rewrite the story from the perspective of another character in the story. 
Additional books that work extremely well are: 
Scieszka, Jon The True Story of the Three Little Pigs 
Audience – Grade 3 and up


  1. Activity Guide 
  2. Discussion Points 
  3. The Frog Prince Teacher Guide
Martin, Rafe – The Rough-Face Girl
Illus David Shannon, 1992
Description – Picture Book, Fiction, Native American
Summary – Rough-Face Girl, so called because tending the fire has scarred her face, has two greedy sisters who want to marry the great Invisible Being.  Her sisters take the family’s only goods to try and woo him.  Neither is successful.  Then Rough-Face Girl decides to try, as she sees the Invisible Being everywhere she looks.  Because there is nothing of value left for her to use, she must make do with what she has.  A Native American Cinderella story.
Review – I loved reading this to my students, especially when learning about Native American nations.  It has a theme that speaks to most people, because it is not about being beautiful but about looking at things in different ways.
Curriculum Connections – Social Studies for learning about Native American legends; Character Education; English in a storytelling or short story unit.
Audience – all ages

  1. Lesson Plan 
  2. K-2nd Grade Lesson Plan
Articles on Read Alouds: 
The Power of Planning Developing Effective Read-Alouds
Article on read alouds and stragtegies

Vocabulary Development During Read-Alouds: Primary Practices
Reading aloud is a common practice in primary classrooms and is viewed as an important vehicle for vocabulary development. Read-alouds are complex instructional interactions in which teachers choose texts, identify words for instruction, and select the appropriate strategies to facilitate word learning. 

Sample Lessons
A concise Lesson Plan models an interactive read aloud and then offers an end of story reflection and strategies for extending and assessing the learning.
Share the Reading provides a shared text to reinforce the lesson's teaching in a type treatment that is easy to read and in a reproducible format that is easy to photocopy.
A Readers Theater script introduces drama into your class in a way that allows students of varying reading abilities to interact with different types of text and each other.


Stories and Books Online
  1. Goodnight Stories - Read, Listen, See and interact.
  2. Story Place - The Children's Digital Library.  Go to the pre-school theme page or the elementary theme page to see all the stories and activities at a glance.
  3. StarFall: Learn to Read - Online stories and activities for students learning to read. StarFall: It's Fun to Read - Online stories for beginning readers
  4. StarFall: I'm Reading - Online stories for the more advanced early reader.
  5. Aesop Fables - Listen and watch.
  6. Children's Storybooks Online - Online books for 3 different ages.  Audio not included.
  7. Clifford - Read and Write with Clifford
  8. Binky's Story Scramble - Help Binky put the mixed-up Arthur stories in the right order
  9. Story Circle - Online, interactive stories
  10. Mighty Books - A subscription service that offers a few free books
  11. Robert Munsch Web Site - Listen to Robert Munsch read some of his stories.
  12. Reading is Fundamental - Read along stories and songs.  
  13. The Screen Actors Guild hosts Storyline Online, chock-full of video read alouds.   Well-known actors read children's books - there are many current and diverse new titles here:
Visit my NEA Greater Public Schools (NEA GPS Network) site to join me in a conversation about these resources. Visit my NEA site and leave a comment. Be a collaborative part of my online community! The site is free and its the largest professional learning community in the nation. Click on the link HERE to take you there.