Idaho Core Standards

ELA: Text Structures on the S-BAC

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textstructuresWhile reading both literary and informational text, students should be able to analyze text structures and determine their impact on the overall meaning of a text.  — Can your students do this?

Try this eighth grade sample ELA question from Smarter Balanced to see how well you can use text structures  to analyze complex reading.

To learn more about text features, text structures, and the Idaho Core ELA Standards view the Haiku Deck above or consider registering for our Idaho Core ELA Series in January.

Stimulus Text:
Below is a story set in a Native American community. Read the text and then answer the question that follows.

Item Prompt:
Use details from the text to explain how time  and memory are used to structure the story.

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ELA: Georgia Content Area Frameworks

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Looking for high-quality content area units and lessons aligned to the Idaho Core Standards? Bookmark this site! 

core standardsWhile working with seventh grade science teachers this morning, we stumbled across a goldmine of content area resources for K-12 teachers. In addition to the ELA and Mathematics Frameworks that many of our elementary teachers use to supplement core instruction, Georgia now has frameworks for Modern Languages, Career and Technical Programs, Science, and Social Studies. These frameworks provide teachers with Common Core-aligned essential questions, instructional materials, lesson plans, and sample performance tasks and rubrics. These are high-quality examples of lesson plans for K-12.

Georgia Standards.Org

ELA: Four Tools for Teaching Idaho Core Vocabulary

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Is it main idea or central idea? How do I know what Tier Two words I should be teaching?

Nuts and BoltsOne of the major shifts with the Idaho Core Standards is a focus on developing a more academic vocabulary that allows students to access complex informational and literary text across content areas. Here’s four tools to help get you started down the path to success.

Middle School ELA Vocabulary List – I generated this list from the Total Instructional Alignment (TIA) documents that Post Falls teachers created last year. If you would like a digital copy of your grade level’s TIA, please email me.

Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Chart – Use this tool to help draft text-dependent questions when writing classroom assessments. This word list is great for ensuring teachers ask higher-level questions in the classroom.

S-BAC Representative Word List – A list released by Smarter Balanced with a words likely to appear on this spring’s field test.

Marzano’s Common Core Vocabulary List – The educational researchers at the Marzano Research Laboratory have analyzed the Common Core Standards to determine the words that appear most frequently.  By registering at the site, you have access to several lists and articles free of charge from their book Vocabulary for the Common Core.

Lastly, Edutopia has a great teacher-friendly article on how to teach vocabulary in the modern classroom. — 11 Tips on Teaching Common Core Critical Vocabulary

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ELA: Literacy & Technology Training

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Reading teachers and paraprofessionals from across the District were busy learning this morning. Ask them for a Web 2.0 tip or two!
ImageDistrict teams met this morning at Prairie View Elementary to explore the S-BAC testing portal and discuss ways Title I can support the Idaho Core Standards. Teachers also visited several interactive phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension websites that can be used to support explicit instruction. Teams logged onto informational text sites such as Discovery Education, Read Write Think, ReadWorks.Org and Wonderopolis before receiving more specialized iPad and Kindle Fire support. What a collaborative and hard-working group of professionals!

Want to try a new app or two? Check out this teacher-vetted list of iPad apps put together by Ponderosa Elementary counselor Laura Kast. — Teacher App List

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Ed Tech: The Teaching Channel

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But what does it look like in the classroom? The Teaching Channel can show you!

Literacy in Physics: Reading a Primary Source

Sometimes it is  difficult to envision classroom instruction aligned to the Idaho Core Standards. The Teaching Channel is an excellent resource for videos of actual teachers actually teaching. Many of the example videos also provide links to lesson plans, readings, and handouts. The site is searchable by grade level and subject and teachers can register to receive a weekly newsletter.

Yesterday I stumbled upon this video of a Louisiana Physics teacher using primary sources, close reading, and vocabulary instruction in her science classroom. She also shows how to use Google Docs for student assessment. Check out her other videos for great ideas!Jennifer Signature

ELA: Reading Recommendation

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Is informational text getting you down?  Read this month’s Educational Leadership and get inspired again!


This month’s  edition of Educational Leadership is all about  tackling informational text. How timely! Many of this month’s articles are available online without a subscription.

What Students Can Do When the Reading Gets Tough by Sunday Cummins

Points of Entry by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher

Planning for What Students Don’t Know by Robert J. Marzano

You Want Me to Read What? by Timothy Shanahan

Invitations to Read by Carol Ann Tomlinson

The Reading Skills Digital Brains Need by Bryan Goodwin

The Case for Reader-Friendly Articles by Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Do Caterpillars Eat Cake? by Panayota Mantzicopoulos and Helen Patrick

Tackling Complex Text with Language Learners by Debbie Arechiga

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ELA: Nine Sources for Informational Text

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Tired of weeding through the Internet looking for high-quality text? Try one of these nine sites next time you’re looking for Idaho Core resources.

One of the most common questions I get asked is where to look online for high-quality informational text.  Here’s a few sites I find myself visiting again and again.

  • Newsela Relevant non-fiction passages for students based on current events.
  • ReadWorks.Org Over 1400 K-8 non-fiction and literary passages ranging from 710L to 1430L.
  • Woderopolis Subscribe to receive a “Wonder of the Day” in your email or on your phone. Website is also searchable by topic and includes  digital and traditional paired texts.
  • Scope Magazine Scholastic has  made all current and past issues of Scope available online. Includes lessons plans, paired texts, and resources for argumentative writing. Targeted to grades 6-8.
  • Discovery Education Available to Idaho teachers, this is a database of lessons and materials. If you need help logging on, contact your building DRT.

Know of another great resource? Email me at

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