Academic Word List with Spanish Cognates

The Academic Word List (AWL)
The AWL is organized into ten subsets, arranged in the order of frequency that the words appear in academic text. The words are arranged alphabetically within each subset. The sooner students learn the words in Subset 1, the more capable they will be as readers of informational text at the elementary level. Subset 1 contains the words that are the most common in academic text, followed by Subset 2, and so on. 
 

Is This a Complete Sentence? Five Sentence-Testing Devices

Is This a Complete Sentence?
 
 Five Sentence-Testing Devices
 
As you may have noticed, the definition of a sentence as “a group of words that expresses a complete thought,” does not do the trick. The definition that some people use of a sentence as “a group of words having a subject and predicate” is the definition of a clause, not necessarily a sentence. (Tack a subordinating conjunction on a group of words having a subject and a predicate and you have a subordinate clause, not a sentence.) 
 

Spanish Cognates: The Key to the Academic Word List for ELL's

Whether you teach native Spanish speakers, bilingual Spanish speakers, or speakers of English only, your students can benefit from an awareness of Spanish cognates. For English onlys, the cognates are simply another dimension, another moment of exposure. 
Here is Subset 1 of the Academic Word List (Coxhead). These words are indispensible for academic reading. It's never too soon to use them in as you speak to students. Following, are the Spanish cognates.
Subset 1: 

Why Are You Teaching These Kids Shakespeare?

I colleague of mine, who teaches special education at the high school level, relayed a story in which an administrator observed her English class and asked, "Why are you teaching these kids Shakespeare?" She explained, apologetically, that the version of the Shakespearean play that they were reading had the "translation" on the opposite side of each page. Both the question and the response are troubling to me. Does this administrator believe that "these kids" are not worthy of the best?

Differentiation in the Age of the Common Core

I continue to think about how differentiation needs to be re-evaluated in light of the Common Core. Unless we are using assessments diagnostically (aka formative assessment), we really are doing students no favors by altering summative assessments. By "altering," I mean giving easier texts and questions to different groups of students depending on what we judge to be their abilities. Also, I mean providing the same text and questions with varying degrees of scaffolding, depending on what we judge to be different abilities of students.

Eye Readers and Ear Readers

Close reading is slow reading. Robert Frost said it best, when he talked about being an "ear reader." "The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader. I've known people who could read without hearing the sentence sounds and they were the fastest readers. Eye readers we call them. They get the meaning by glances. But they are bad readers because they miss the best part of what a good writer puts into his work. 

November 22, 1963

Fall, 1956:  I am five years old. We are shopping at the bustling Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, where my father would many years later manage a flooring store. Over the megaphone, a woman's voice blares: "Don't vote for Nixon!" over and over again. "Don't vote for Nixon! All he wants is to make our country poorer! Don't vote for Nixon!" I am terrified of this bad, bad man. Anxiously, I wait for my mother to come back to the car so I can ask her who is Nixon and what is "vote for"? She assuages my fears by saying: "Oh, don't worry.

How do words get learned and stay learned?

 
 Can you believe it? Students are still being given lists of unrelated, random words from a workbook, copying dictionary definitions, writing sentences (that are as short as possible), memorizing definitions that they don't even understanding, and purging whatever they memorized on the (predictable) Friday quiz. Next week, same thing. If there's anything in education that we can be sure about it is 1) vocabulary growth is essential and 2) the above is not the way to achieve it.

Public Forum in Port Chester with the Commish

On October 28, 2013, Dr. John King, Commissioner of Education in New York State, along with his entourage, held a public forum to hear comments and questions about the Common Core and its related issues. There was very little notice to the public about this event, but the auditorium at the Port Chester Middle School was filled. The forum began at 4:00pm and went until about 7:15.  On the dais were Dr. King, Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Regent Harry Phillips, and a sampling of Westchester state legislators.

When the Book is Too Hard: What Not to Do (Tim Shanahan)

     Today I attended an informative session called "Leveling Up to the Common Core" given by Dr. Tim Shanahan. As one of the authors of the Common Core Literacy Standards, Dr. Shanahan's words have credibility. Happy to say, I found the session very affirming of my own work and beliefs. Also, he helped me to understand something that I really need to understand, and that is what reading instruction looks like on the elementary level.

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