Tag Archives: literacy

Say Something

Today at my school, students left school at 12:45 so that teachers could have time for Professional Developmnet.  I found this time to be extremely valuable with my fellow teachers.  Our Leadership Team provided spot on workshop material based on our previous work with the book, “Academic Conversations”.  Our focus today was on a learning routine called “Say Something”.  We silently read a complex text, chunked it by labeling paragraphs with numbers, decided with our partner who would “say something” after we read each portion of text, then analyzed vocabulary and interacted with a graphic organizer to help us give supporting reasons to a claim we made after reading.  In order to facilitate our “Say Something” conversations about text, we were provided with sentence starters which in our classrooms will go up on Anchor Charts or mini Charts for students’ notebooks.  We also documented our prior knowledge on our topic by writing words in Alpha boxes on a sheet before we read the text then again after we read it to gather more complex vocabulary.

We first talked about what had gone well since our last training then were sent out of the library to do a ghost walk around the school to see examples of student work in classrooms and bulletin boards where students had closely read text and of how teachers facilitated academic conversations with Anchor Charts in their classrooms.  I took many pictures which I compiled into an iMovie and have shared below:


I also am excited to have left the meeting and made plans for the coming weeks which I plan to do with my first and second graders using iPads.  I found some “Say Something” half sheets which I will use as mini individual Anchor Charts and give to students when I teach them during Tehcnology Classtime.

Here are some of my lesson ideas for how to use the “Say Something” routine which we learned about today:

1st Grade

Obj:  SW discuss moon text, make a claim, provide reasons for their claim and create a talking avatar who will share their reasons in the Tellagami app.


I will remind students that they have been studying the moon with their teachers. I showed some of them a Google Earth Moon Guided tour in our last class which described how Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969 and how dangerous it was. Today, I will have them watch another video about how astronauts live on the international space station: (http://wtvi.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.eiu.astronauts/expedition-8-crew-talks-to-students-in-japan/ or read aloud “Night Light” book or “The Moon Book” by Gibbons and go through the “Say Something” routine where I will pause the video and have them

Make a prediction

Ask a question

Clarify something you had misunderstood

Make a comment

Make a connection

I will first show them the routine that I will have them do with Say Something on my Anchor Chart. I will have them use some of the sentence starters on the Anchor Chart which I will show to help them know how to stop and “say something” the first time I stop the video, Partner 1 will talk and the second time I stop the video, Partner 2 will talk. After we have watched and discussed the video, I will have students tell why they think we should go to the moon again with people or why we should not go to the moon. They will write down reasons for why NASA should or should not send astronauts to the moon. They will need to use “because” in their complete sentences. I will require at least three sentences.

Lesson Jan.30 – Feb.6
In our next class, I will hand out their sentences that they wrote in our first lesson. I will show students how to record themselves reading their sentences into Tellagami, a video creation app. They will present their claim and their reasons as to why NASA should or should not send astronauts to the moon. The students will be able to quickly create a picture in the StoryMaker Free app which they used in the Lab when they watched the Guided Tour in Google Earth/Moon. They will take a screenshot of the image and then place the image in Tellagami where they will record their voices reading aloud their sentences. They will go to quiet corners around the room to record themselves reading. Some students may need to finish writing their sentences.

2nd Grade Life CyclesObj: SW listen to a butterfly book, use the “say something” routine to talk about the book, find images about butterflies on the internet by scanning a QR code and take screenshots of the images.

I will read aloud portions of the “Monarch Butterfly” book by Gail Gibbons.

I will ask them to “Say Something” after I read a few pages and give them a scaffold for the Academic Conversation of “Say Something” by providing the following Mini Anchor Chart sheets:

You will turn and talk but first you will decide who will “say something” when the teacher stops reading and who will “say something” second for each chunk of text that the teacher reads aloud.

When you say something, do one or more of the following:

Make a prediction

Ask a question

Clarify something you had misunderstood

Make a comment

Make a connection

3. If you can’t do one of those five things, then you need to reread the section.
I will provide a mini anchor chart for each child to use as I read aloud portions of the book found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByZ0eMz5vnK8QU9naDBFY1UxWWJYMlhjQnc4Zmsxd2t0ZjV3/edit

Once I have read aloud through half of the book, they will have had the opportunity to turn and talk about a topic of choice from the book.

Make a Prediction

Clarify Something

Make a connection

Ask a Question

Make a Comment


I will show them how to use Pic Collage app and they will learn to scan QR codes with the Scan app, open the pics, take a screenshot, resize the pictures by pinching out or in, etc. Next, they will be able to “play with” the Pic Collage app and see what it does. In our next class, they will create a poster with vocab words from the “Monarch Butterfly” book that I will have read in this lesson and show again about life cycles:
Lessons Jan.30 – Feb.6

2nd Grade Lesson – continuation of Lesson 1

Make a mini poster in Pic Collage of each stage of life cycle


Scan the images using QR Codes at this doc to get to websites where you will take a picture of the lifecycle and then add to Pic Collage:




I like how the “Say Something” routine helps students with being accountable to talk about portions or chunks of text with their peers.  I look forward to using this routine in my first and second grade classes in the next few weeks.  By having reminders on the Anchor Charts of how to interact with text and with peers while reading, students will become stronger as readers and internalize metacognitive strategies.

I would love for other teachers to share in the comments section about how they use the “Say Something” learning routine.


Lighting Up Literacy


This is Day 5 of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge that I am participating in which is hosted by twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.
After sharing the book “This is the Rope” by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome (whom I met 17 years ago and whose illustrations are rich with detail) with my fourth grade students recently, I asked them to create blog entries about a special object or tradition that has special meaning to them and is one that they could pass down to future generations.  The book shares stories of how the rope was used during the family’s journey from South Carolina to New York City during The Great Migration in the early 1900’s through the 1960’s.  As an historical fiction piece of literature, I found it to be a perfect jumping off place to launch into writing.  Students went to their computers in the Computer Lab where I teach, opened their blogs inside of the Gaggle web platform that my district uses and began writing.  A few of them had some difficulty getting started but for the most part, they ran with the assignment.  Some objects that were written about included a Bible, a father’s shirt with his favorite college on it, a necklace given by a grandmother, an XBox, and many others.  I gave suggestions to students who could not immediately think of a topic and encouraged them to write about an object that they enjoyed using now.
I decided later that it would be a good writing exercise to write about an object that was special to me and one that I would want to pass down to my children.  Although I have objects that will always be associated with fond memories throughout my life, I decided to choose a unique glass lamp that has been in my family already for two generations.  I did not know at first which object to choose so I called my mother who lives in another urban town.  It was nice to be able to talk about the topic of a special object over with her because she suggested the glass lamp.  I realized that talking as a way of rehearsing is powerful and will plan to have my student bloggers rehearse by talking about topics in the future before having them compose after just giving the assignment.
My mother lived in a rural town as a child in the 1940’s.  The houses on her dirt road did not receive electricity until the late 1940’s.  In order to read at night, her family would light their three glass lamps filled with kerosene.  The cloth wick would absorb the kerosene causing it to immediately ignite when a lit match touched the wick.  The flame would rise into the long glass cylinder emitting a warm, glowing light.  By this light, my mother learned to read.  The lamp is special because my grandparents used it to light their house then my mother also used it as she read by its light when she was a child.
One of these lamps now sits in my parent’s house having been passed down to her from her parents.  As a child I remember seeing it sitting on display above a cabinet.  My parents lit it a couple of times when our power went out when I was growing up.  I remember being excited to see the light, but also a bit alarmed if the flame rose too tall in the glass chamber.  My dad would turn down the knob which would cause the tall flame to shorten, but still provide a warm glow to the room.  The inner glass surface seemed a bit charred with a brownish hue from the flame scorching it.  It was always an object that had to be used with great care.  Since we had electricity when I grew up, I didn’t see it used often, but knew that it was always there.
This special lamp was a tool that allowed my mother to become a reader, but interestingly enough, I just realized when I called her to rehearse writing ideas that my mother learned to read by its light.  She told me about her reading by its light when I called her and talked about the object that I would choose to write about.  I have viewed it mainly as a relic of the past and valued it due to it belonging to my grandparents.  The lamp has a greensish color in the glass basin that holds the kerosene and demands attention when you walk into the room where it now sits on a chest of drawers.  It has taken on new meaning as I associate my mother’s literacy development as a child with it.  Because she learned to read and valued books, she and my dad always read aloud to me as a child.  Often, we would be sitting in the same room reading where the lamp was located back then.  So, in essence, this lamp witnessed my literacy development too.
I will one day inherit this lamp and share the stories with my own children of how this lamp illuminated our family’s history.  My mother valued teachers so highly in her small town, one room schoolhouse.  She encouraged me to be a teacher because of the value she saw her community place on the role of the teacher.  Doing her reading homework given by her teachers by the light of the lamp, laid the foundation for not only her life, but also for mine.

As I did a Google Advanced Search for kerosene lamps to find a suitable image that was “free to use, share or modify”, I noticed a Foundation called the “Kerosene Lamp Foundation”.  It turns out that it was started by a former NBA player who studied by the light of a kerosene lamp on the island of St. Vincent when he was a child because at that time, it did not have electricity.  I don’t know much about this foundation, but liked how the “About” page described his vision and the significance of its name.  The kerosene lamp is a symbol to the player, Adonal Foyle, of “his mission to brighten the futures of today’s youth”.  Such a great connection to my special object!  Here is the link the the “About” page of the Kerosene Lamp Foundation: