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The Big Fresh November 17, 2012 Purse Pass

Brenda Power

Silence is a statement that is open to gross misinterpretation.

                                                                  Craig Bruce

"Why do you only have one dollar in your purse?" Ahna looked alarmed as she straightened my wallet.

I pointed to my bank cards and she continued to stare at me, confused.

"You know that my bank card is connected to our bank account, right? That they run the card to subtract the right amount from my money?"

"Oh, I kinda thought you gave them your card and it was permission for them to get into your purse and take out your dollars. Like if someone said, 'Hey what are you doing with that purse?' they'd show the card with your name on it."

How many times a day has Ahna watched me take that bankcard out of my wallet to pay for gas, groceries, and gifts? And each time she thought it was some sort of special "get into my purse free" pass? Oh how I love children! In the absence of an explanation -- they will always make up something. We adults do the same thing.

Not long ago, I was modeling a lesson for a teacher and had the students turn and talk about the learning objective I had posted. While they chatted, I found a better pen with which to chart their responses. I called them back together and the lesson continued. During our debrief with the teacher I took a moment to say explicitly, "After I posted and talked about the objective, I had the students turn and talk so they could put what they learned into their own words. This is something I do with most lessons. It helps the children understand and make connections." The teacher chuckled and said, "I'm glad you said something -- I thought you were just killing time so you could find a better pen."

What are you doing and why? What do you assume other people know that they may not? How can you talk about your instructional beliefs and behaviors in ways that invite others in?

This week we're highlighting some excellent free video resources for teaching the Common Core. Plus more as always -- enjoy!

Heather Rader

Senior Editor, Choice Literacy


Free for All

[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChoiceLiteracy or Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/choiceliteracy/]


Katie Doherty and Ruth Shagoury meld pop culture with strategic reading in Schema and YouTube in a Middle School Reading Workshop:


The nonprofit Teaching Channel has posted scores of excellent Common Core videos since their launch a year ago. The site is free, but it does require registration for use:


David Coleman, one of the lead contributors to the Common Core, models a lesson to demonstrate close reading of Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail:


We have a fun Facebook theme this month -- Teaching Mantras. Ruth Ayres shares her favorite mantras and why they mean so much to her at her blog:


You can check out our growing list of mantras from some of your favorite contributors at our Facebook page. Creating mantras at a staff meeting would be a fun icebreaker or community-building activity:



Are you unable to attend our workshops in person? Join Franki Sibberson for her online three-week course Becoming a Tech-Savvy Literacy Teacher beginning in January, 2013. This interactive course includes three webinars, support materials, and an introduction to scores of resources on the web to integrate into reading and writing workshops. Sign up before December 15th and receive an early bird discount:


For Members Only

A paid membership gives you access to all premium content. For details on trial and annual memberships, click here.

Franki Sibberson shares her latest Common Core Booklist on Teaching Personal Narratives:

Jennifer Schwanke remembers the awkward and stressful experience of being evaluated as a young teacher. In her work now as a principal, she's developed her own criteria for Evaluating the Literacy Classroom:


Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan have some practical advice for using drawing and routines as ways into understanding writing revision for learners in the primary grades:


Drawing is also a theme in this week's video. Linda Karamatic uses quick sketches to teach her second graders about sensory images in reading. This is the first installment in a two-part series:


We've posted a bonus quick-take video. Melissa Kolb explains how she supports many languages in her preschool classroom through the thoughtful use of volunteers and other resources:


Looking for more suggestions for how to teach reading strategies? You can browse through scores of videos and articles at our Reading Strategies link:


 That's all for this week! 


Brenda Power

Brenda Power is the founder of Choice Literacy. She worked for many years as a professor at the University of Maine and an editor at Stenhouse Publishers. Her publications as an author include Living the Questions and The Art of Classroom Inquiry. She has worked as a book editor and video producer for many of the authors featured at this site.