Scaffold Speaking and Listening the UDL Way

The Common Core requires teachers across grade bands and content areas to teach speaking and listening skills. In the spirit of UDL, these skills must be scaffolded so students understand how to contribute effectively in a discussion. Today I’m teaching a lesson in a third grade classroom where students will gain knowledge by closely watching, listening to, and conversing with students. To do this well, I will provide the following scaffolds to support them. If you’d like the Word document, download Speaking and Listening, grade 3. It’s Speaking and Listening Day! Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor

Visualize the CCSS as an Integrated Whole

When you’re planning lessons using the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), it’s beneficial to visualize them as an integrated whole. Gone are the days where lessons focus on one standard. Instead, the Core allows teachers to delve deep into literacy by teaching the four strands in an integrated way. When reading a text, write about the text in a narrative, informative, or argument piece, discuss the text, and learn about the use of language from closely reading and writing. Repeated close reads provide additional opportunities to read through different lenses and revise writing. Below is an image I created that

The Death of the 5-Paragraph Essay?

If I had a nickel for every time I heard the term “5 paragraph essay,” I’d be rich. First, to be clear, there is a 5 paragraph essay, but there is also a 4 paragraph, 17 paragraph, and a 22 paragraph essay. The number of paragraphs isn’t as important as whether the writing is organized appropriately for the task. The Common Core requires us to move away from counting paragraphs and instead, teach students to focus on the task, the intended audience, and the purpose of writing. Sometimes it is appropriate to address a prompt using 5 paragraphs, but there

Visual Literacy, UDL, and Common Core

Coming from a middle school background, I’ve never explored the teaching of visual literacy, but after reading, “Picture This: Visual Literacy as a Pathway to Character Understanding” (Prior, Wilson, and Martinez, 2012), I’m hooked.  Teaching students to read visual texts is an opportunity to work toward Common Core standards while engaging students in a universally designed reading experience (note: UDL Guidelines in bold below. For more information on the Guidelines, click here). When teaching students to read, one goal in K-4 is to “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it” (Common

More Appendix B

As promised, I designed more writing prompts aligned to the Common Core’s Appendix B. They are both Common Core and UDL aligned for grade 2. f you decide to use them, let me know how it goes. I’m always happy to connect. Here is a Appendix B – Grade 2 with all prompts in document form. Below is a prompt for an excerpt from “The Search for Delicious.” The Search for Delicious There was a time once when the earth was still very young, a time some call the oldest days. This was long before there were any people about to

UDL Does Appendix B!

If you teach ELA, you have to dig into Appendix B, which includes texts that “exemplify the level of complexity and quality that the Standards require all students in a given grade band to engage with.” Although there are valuable texts and some performance tasks, the teachers I work with wanted lessons they could use immediately. That’s why I’m committed to designing ready to use UDL writing prompts for the text exemplars in Appendix B. I started this week with the texts in the second and third grade band complexity, with an emphasis on second grade reading standards. I’ll be posting a few Appendix B lessons a

Teaching Common Core Language to Students

If you’re transitioning to Common Core, consider revising your writing prompts to reflect Common Core language. This practice introduces students to academic words and also prepares them for the language that is likely to be on standardized tests. Increasing students’ word knowledge is also an important UDL Guideline (Checkpoint 2.1), as students are more successful and more engaged when teachers clarify important vocabulary for them. Recently, I created the following list of “CCSS power words,”  which are words that appear in the Core Anchor standards for ELA. I thought I’d share. Teach the words to your students, model strategies for

Revision in Kindergarten: The Common Core and UDL Way

I am a huge supporter of the Common Core. One reason is because the Core heightens the saliency of goals and objectives (a UDL principle) by providing all teachers, PK-12, with Anchor Standards to guide instruction. These Anchor Standards are then broken down into developmentally appropriate levels of rigor for each grade. One great way to understand this is to examine the revision standard for kindergarten. Anchor standard Writing 5 reads, “Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.” Although this may seem overwhelming for kindergartens, the K standard only requires students to, “respond to

Free Common Core Resources

Last weekend I attended Education Nation, and let me tell you – it delivered. Not only was I surrounded with the best teachers in the country, but also an education star-studded cast that included Charlotte Danielson, evaluation guru, and Sue Pimentel, the mother of the Common Core (by the way, she loved my red heels.. a lady after my own heart!). Education Nation inspired me, solidified my conviction that the Core is the best thing for students, and helped me to realize the only people who will change education in this country are the teachers. To help make that happen, I learned about some amazing free

Post those standards!

One important principle of UDL is heightening the salience of goals and objectives. What better way to do that than to actually post them on the board every day? It’s simple, but effective. Professional development takes time and money, but there are some teaching strategies that do not require extensive training and that will help you now. One such strategy is to familiarize yourself with the Common Core standards and post relevant standards on the board each day. Responsiveness to standards is important because standardized tests are designed to measure knowledge and skills outlined the standards and prior research has demonstrated