Saturday, January 31, 2015

Quotes from Children's Books

Check out this link for great quotes.  It doesn't surprise me that Dr. Seuss and A.A. Milne are on there in multiples.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015


While in my college chair's office, I took note of all the published dissertations on his bookshelf as a motivating visual.  I hope to be able to produce one of those things!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What is Environmental Print?

I'm sure you've heard all the terms but perhaps you are like many other teachers who get them mixed up now and again. Let's review the differences between print awareness, print-rich, concepts of print and more.  

environmental print awareness
Environmental print awareness is the ability to recognize signs, symbols, and words that occur frequently in the environment.  It seems to develop through children’s natural engagements with their environments through discovery. Environmental print awareness is demonstrated when children recognize familiar symbols and words, and display understanding and knowledge that print carries meaning. Environmental print is a sample measure of pretending to read, and pretending to read is a component of emergent reading.  It develops in all children from literate cultures. It t is unclear if this skill develops at a specific age though it is typical to notice this skill sometime after the age of two. Children are generally able to recognize environmental print before they are able to read print in books. Environmental print is a developmental accomplishment of literacy acquisition. Environmental print awareness has not been found to be strongly related to later reading.  Reading words in the environment may be the lowest level of a hierarchy of word knowledge.
print-rich environment
In print-rich environments young children are continuously interacting with, organizing, and analyzing the meanings of visible print. Children do develop concepts and construct knowledge about the functions and uses of print through engagement with print in everyday or natural environments. Adults can affect children’s environmental print learning in a play setting.   “Reading” environmental print is highly dependent on the context and a set of cues, including people, place, and purpose. Opportunities to engage in environmental print events are not equally available for all children. The authors purposely conducted an environmental print. Children who grow up in a print-rich environment seem to learn that print is different from other kinds of visual patterns in their environment. They also learn that print is print across any variety of physical media and notice that print is all around them in different categories, such as books, newspapers, lists, and price tags, or on signs, boxes, television, or fabric. Soon, children explore the details of print in their  environment—on signs, on cereal packages, and in television advertisements.
print awareness
Parents may observe their child’s awareness that written language carries meaning when their child points to something and asks what it says. They notice that print is used by adults in different ways. Children quickly realize that print symbolizes language and holds information. Print awareness is related to reading achievement.  Print awareness focuses on discrete skills that children would presumably learn through multiple interactions via instruction.  Young children progress through various hypotheses about written language until they develop ideas similar to those of older children. Children are not passive learners of language but active participants in the language of their environment and society. . Despite young children’s lack of understanding about the symbolic nature of print, children know that print has meaning.
concepts of print
Even the children with limited exposure to print had accumulated knowledge about print before they came to school. Children learn concepts of print through engagement in a print-rich environment.  Concepts about print includes print awareness that: print carries a message;  but also more specific skills.  For example, there are conventions of print such as directionality (left to right, top to bottom), differences between letters and words, distinctions between upper and lower case, punctuation; and books have some common characteristics. Concepts of print are how print and text “work”; how books and other written words function to create meaning, and it includes an understanding of writing conventions such as punctuation and capitalization. Concepts of print are essentially the basics of reading, and without mastering these skills, a student will not be able to become a successful reader.  They can be viewed as the beginning stepping stones in reading acquisition that are needed to be able to read effectively later in life.  Most instruction assumes the knowledge of concepts of print, so mastery of these skills is essential to learn later reading concepts (Duke, 2008)
emergent literacy
Emergent reading consists of a set of skills and processes referred to as outside-in processes, defined as children’s understanding of the context or knowledge of the world in which the writing they are trying to read occurs. It can be referred to as reading readiness.  It relies on developmental learning.  Some concepts of print can develop as early as the toddler years, while others may still be being mastered through elementary school.  Some are more basic than others, so are able to be learned earlier.  For example, a young baby may be able to turn the pages of a book from left to right, but a student may not know that a comma means a pause in a sentence until taught so in early elementary grades.  As children are developing concepts of print, they may be forming assumptions about how print works.  These may not be accurate assumptions, but they show how children actively form theories about concepts of print.

early literacy
Often overlapping with emergent literacy, early literacy can be defined as the components of instruction that become the building blocks for later reading and writing. It builds on the prior knowledge of language use and print awareness and begins the cognitive processing of skills including:
·      Vocabulary
·      Print motivation, or a child's interest in and enjoyment of books
·      Listening comprehension
·      Narrative Skills, being able to understand and tell stories, and describe things, are important for children being able to understand what they are learning to read.
·      Letter Knowledge
·      Phonological Awareness


Duke, N.K. (2008). Literacy Achievement Research Center (LARC). LARC Project: Informational Comprehension Assessment in the Primary Grades: Concepts of Comprehension Assessment (COCA). Retrieved October 14, 2013, from
Horner, S. L. (2005). Categories of environmental print: all logos are not created equal. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(2), 113-119. doi:10.1007/s10643-005-0029-z
Kassow, D. (2006).  Environmental print awareness in young children.  Talaris Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, Vol .1(3)
Kirkland, (2006).  What we now about environmental print and young children.  Integrating Environmental Print Across the Curriculum, PreK-3.  Chapter 1. 


Valentine's Art

Need some ideas for your Valentine's arts and crafts party? 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Order of the Phoenix Author's Notes

This was passed to me from a friend and I have spent a lot of time looking over this and enlarging it to see the inner-workings of JK Rowling's mind as she wrote this book.  I love how it is on lined school paper sideways too.  This is my favorite thing I've seen in a while!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Professional Book Handling

My husband sent me this on facebook. The man really gets me.

It reminds me of my brother.  He always would be so careful reading any book he bought because he didn't want to break the spine.  I used the same idea when I was a teacher.  I would hold my hardcover books so gently when reading aloud, take off book jackets by sliding them off and putting them in front of me before reading to the kids.  I would never explain why but they always noticed that I was handling my books respectfully and I would see them doing it too.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Kindergarten Classroom

I thought that this kindergarten room had some great classroom environment ideas.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Common Core Standards

I thought I'd add an excerpt from a book chapter that was published last fall in the book Best Practices of Literacy Instruction that I co-authored which talks about the common core. 

In an effort to “raise the bar” of literacy achievement expectations to assure readiness of U.S. students for career and college upon high school graduation, the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (NGA & CCSSO, 2010) joined together in the adoption, implementation, and assessment of the CCSS for the English language arts (K–12) (ELA K–12 CCSS).

As of this writing, 45 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the ELA K–12 CCSS. This state-by-state adoption of learning standards represents the first time in U.S. history that there has been a near border-to-border coordination of learning goals. The vast majority of teachers and students nationally will be using these ELA K–12 CCSS or something closely related to them now or in the near future.

Not only do the CCSS represent the most extensive basis in history for national agreement on learning standards concerning what students should know and be able to do in literacy, but these new standards are markedly higher than past standards in terms of what they expect teachers to accomplish with their students (Carmichael, Martino, Porter-Magee, & Wilson, 2010; McLaughlin & Overturf, 2013; Morrow, Wixson, & Shanahan, 2013). In the past, educational standards have usually been written using a developmental model from youngest to oldest learners. With the CCSS, the designers seemed to have followed the recommendations of the late Stephen Covey (2004) in his book titled, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; they began with the end in mind. In other words, they reverse-engineered the CCSS by starting with what is expected of college- and career-ready high school seniors, and then reverse-engineered the CCSS from there. As Shanahan (2013, p. 208) wrote, “Past standards have represented what educators thought they could accomplish, while the CCSS are a description of what students would need to learn if they are to leave school able to participate in U.S. society and to compete globally by working or continuing their education.” (pp. 369-370)

I also know that each state was allowed to add up to 15% of the CCSS.  Most states opted to not change anything.  Utah decided to add only one thing (handwriting) to the English Language Arts (ELA) standards. 
The SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) test was used for the first time in Utah last spring to test the CCSS and results have not returned yet.  It is a computer-based test that is summative (given at the end of the school year to hold schools/districts/states accountable to the adopted standards).  Like many other assessments, it will be a few years to determine validity and reliability. It is a criterion test that measures each student to the criteria (or standards) and not a norm-referenced test (which measures a child against other children in their same age to determine where he/she ranks against the "normal fourth grader," for example).  For more info, you could look at

My advice with regard to CCSS is to refer to building knowledge from reputable and honest sources.  The people I know who disagree with the common core look to resources that are often not true, written emotionally, and sometimes even dishonest with photos taken, or questions copied from the test (which is illegal).  Before I read anything about CCSS, I glance at the source first to see if they are informed.  Most teachers are familiar with the need for standards to guide instruction (there have been state standards in most states for years, while these are now nationally accepted) and are busy learning and studying the best ways to teach their specific students.  There are also many new books and products and curricula being written/created to meet the needs of teachers.  I am wary of products/curricula that claim they are the only common core curricula or use the CCSS as a marketing strategy. Schools are also re-evaluating if their existing programs align with the CCSS.

For those of you who are interested in learning a little bit more about the common core, you can go to the website of the Common Core Initiative at


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

TALS...a Listening Strategy for cognition

Here's a language strategy often used in speech classes to help metacognitive and mental processing skills in students.  This would make a great poster.  


Saturday, January 10, 2015


Meet my CFF.  It stands for Critical Friends Forever.  

It's not what you think.  

We were told in our doctoral work to find someone who is a good friend who can tell you when you are wrong, critique you, listen to your ideas, help you when needed, and be the counter point of view if necessary.  

Here's one of mine.  

She is brilliant, a newly married 20 something doctoral student and teacher and is great at listening. We are statistics study buddies and have our nervous breakdowns on alternating days so we can support each other.  

You've gotta have a CFF to get through this kind of journey.  Thanks Alayne!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ice Art

There is a place near here where they have ice engineers create a large mazelike art display called "Ice Castles."  We visited it when it was halfway built and saw them strategically placing hoses with running water where they needed it to build up the walls of icicles.  I'd never seen anything like it!  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Matthew Effect

Have you heard of The Matthew Effect?  It basically says the more you read the smarter you are, and the smarter you are the more you read.  

Here is Dr. Keith Stanovich, leading researcher, telling about the importance of this theory in the classroom. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Valentine's Mailboxes

The tradition in our school is to have the kids bring Valentine's Boxes to exchange on party day.  These were my favorites.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Show and Tell

Did you know that the good old fashioned activity "Show and Tell" is a great exercise for speaking and listening Common Core standards?  In this kindergarten classroom, the teacher sends home four lunch boxes a day and they return the next day with items to show and tell with five clues.  There is a question and answer period too.  With that many bags going home each day, the students get to have a turn about every 2-3 weeks.  

After Christmas time, it turns into a Show and Teach Assignment and must be something that is summarized and taught to the class, taking turns two per day.  

The oldies can still be "good"ies.