Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Beautiful New Picture Book for reading aloud:The Little Yellow Leaf September 22, 2008

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger is a beautiful book! This picture book not only explores why leaves fall from trees with wonderful poetic words. I love all the illustrations, but I especially love the one of the trees from the overhead view. I think I will use this book to illustrate Units of Study personal narrative lesson on true and exact details lesson. It would be a great mentor text for not just that lesson, but many others. It would have been so fast for the author to say something boring and short like, “The leaves all fell except one,” but then we wouldn’t have gotten this great new picture book. 

A must for adding to your 2008 school year collection.


Primary Comprehension Toolkit September 21, 2008

I am most of the way through the teacher’s guide of the Primary Comprehension Toolkit and I am impressed and excited! I began using the grade 3-6 Comprehension Toolkit a year and a half ago and our building began using it for all 4th and 5th grade at the beginning of the last school year (2007-2008). It is one of the few resources that all 15 teachers have been able to agree on-everyone likes using it and thinks the learning it promotes in our students is very worthwhile and comprehensive. 

Last year one of the fifth grade teachers and I went through and divided the texts that came with the Comprehension Toolkit and added onto the lessons as needed from the Toolkit Text book for grades 4 & 5. We then made binders for each teacher by grade level.  We agreed last year that teachers would use the binders as suggestions, but if they found new books or texts, they were free to substitute their own titles. The division of the texts left no teacher feeling frustrated that the “lesson had been taught” by the previous year’s teacher. We all saw the value in teaching and reinforcing the comprehension strategies in both grades, but most teachers wanted the security of knowing which texts to use and also the security of knowing their like-kind colleagues would be able to talk to them about how the text had gone when used in their classroom. Once teachers had taught the lesson once, they felt more comfortable branching out into their own text selections. 

I like how the Primary Comprehension Toolkit’s Teacher’s Guide lists the 12 Principles that Guide Our Work.

1. Teach for Understanding and Engagement

2. Create an Environment for Active Literacy

3. Understand that Text Matters

4. Foster Passion and Curiosity

5. Share Our Literate Lives

6. Create a Common Language for Literacy and Learning

7. Build Instruction Around Real-World Reading

8. Provide Explicit Instruction with the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework

9. Make Thinking Visible

10. Recognize that Reading, Writing, and Art and Interconnected and Synergistic

11. Differentiate Instruction Paying Special Attention to the Needs of Developing Readers and English Language Learners

12. Teach with the End in Mind


There are also sections on how to set up an active literacy classroom in a primary grades, how to fit the primary toolkit into reading workshop, a basal based program  or into content areas, depending on time constraints. 

It seems that the lessons are easier to transfer to your text selections than the intermediate edition, but I haven’t compared them lesson to lesson, so it could just be me being used to the format and equating familiarity with easier.