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Literacy Team

Debra Petish, Director, Curriculum and Instruction

TBD, Curriculum Coordinator

Great Apps for Literacy

ABC Magic--Engaging for Primary

Grammer APP HD--Progress Testing

Chickionary--Best Word Game

Bluster--Elementary Vocabulary Builder

Storyrobe--Story Creator

(Remember – a conference is really just a conversation between two writers. Here’s some language to get you started.)

Sometimes a compliment conference is all that’s needed, or all that you can manage. It’s a great place to start. Just remember, even a compliment is an opportunity to teach. Push yourself to go beyond “Good Job!’ and be specific.
  • I see you’ve been getting a lot down on the page today. That shows me that you’re the kind of writer who uses writing as a tool to think. I’ll bet you’ve got some great ideas that you’ll be able to use as you work on crafting your essay. Nice job!
  • Wow! I see you’ve been doing lots of thinking today. Look at all those cross-outs, and notes in the margin. I love the way you keep going back and revising your draft. Your final draft is going to be brilliant because of all the work you’re doing now. Can’t wait to read it!
  • I noticed you re-reading all your notebook entries today. That’s a really great way to discover what’s important to you as a writer, and really, as a person. I know you’ll probably be relying on all that you just read to write a really strong piece. I’m looking forward to reading it. (You might add a suggestion to motivate this writer: We’ve only got a few minutes left today; why don’t you just jot yourself a few notes about what you noticed in your writing? That will give you a place to start next time.) 
General Questions and Suggestions for a Productive Conference:
  • How’s it going with your writing today?
  • Can you tell me what you’re working on?
  • What’s your plan for your writing time today?
  • Are there some entries in your notebook that you want to go back to? Can you show me where?
  • That’s great that you’re trying ________ in your writing today. What else have you been trying?
  • I see that you’ve been doing lots of thinking work today. I know that your head is filled with ideas. It’s hard sometimes to get the ideas out of your head and onto the paper though, isn’t it? Why don’t you try writing non-stop for three minutes straight and see what comes out of your pen? You might be surprised by what you think.
  • You know what helps me sometimes when I can’t think of what to write? I start with this: I don’t know what to write about, but if I had to write I’d probably start by saying…. I know it’s weird, but it works. Why don’t you give it a try? I’ll check back to see how it goes. 
  • As you’ve been writing have you noticed any changes in your thinking?
Student: Yes
Teacher: Where are some of those places where you discovered a change? That might be a good place to go back to and do a little more writing. I always find that when my thinking changes as I write, I’m onto something important. I bet you’ll find the same thing.
Student: No
Teacher: You might want to find a place where your thinking is particularly strong and push yourself to look into the issue more deeply. You can start by writing, “on the other hand…” and see where that takes you. Why don’t you give that a try?
Reading and Writing Workshop Teaching in the 21st Century Classroom

The workshop strategies that teachers practice through the District’s Reading and Writing Project are constantly evolving. Today the 21st Century Learning Skills of curiosity, creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration serve as the foundation for the work we do to support students and their learning. The definition of literacy in 2010 is a broad one including visual, digital, technical and environmental strands that prepare students to thrive as global citizens.

The big questions driving all our instruction continue to be “What’s my purpose in teaching this? How are these instructional strategies helping to support my students and push them to higher levels of understanding and independence?”  The Reading and Writing Project has resources to support all your literacy needs. Please visit this site on a regular basis to join the conversation and to be part of the future…the future is now!

SRVUSD Libraries

We live in the Information Age, and because we do, information literacy has become one of the most important competencies required for success at any stage of life.

Our resource-rich school libraries play a key role in promoting both information literacy and reading for information and inspiration.  Staffed by credentialed teacher librarians our middle and high school libraries are becoming 21st century learning environments that offer equal opportunities for achievement to all students.

The mission of the SRVUSD library program is to provide an information-rich environment which enables students to become effective users of ideas and information and literate life-long learners.

  • In the 21st century this means our students will use skills, resources, and tools to:
  • Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge
  • Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge
  • Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society
  • Pursue personal and aesthetic growth

We hope that you will find the information here useful, and will seek out the teacher librarian at your site to begin (or continue) to design and implement technology-rich, content-deep learning opportunities.

Critical Thinking Skills

The attached PDF is a free eBook from Microsoft that looks at utilizing Web Based Research to Develop Critical Thinking skills. It's very comprehensive and has great ideas and conversation starters.

Google Books

Google has launched their eBookstore, which is different than Google Books. The great feature about the Google eBookstore, is you can download these books on many different types of devices. iPod, iPad, Android, Computer, Nook and Sony devices. The books do cost money, however there are many free titles to choose from as well.

Here are some tips to build 21st Century skills into Workshop.

21st Century Post-Its! (and other ways to integrate tech skills into workshop)

WALLWISHER: think of it as digital Post-Its!


GLOGSTER.COM: kids make posters/collages about ANY topic!! (a “graphic blog”)

Student blogs: these are not password protected, so kids shouldn’t have their names or faces, or even a school sweatshirt on in a photo:

To make a blog:

To make little screencasts/videos of you doing something on the computer:


  • Moodle : a course management system to help educators who want to create quality online courses. Free.
  • Ning : a social networking site, excellent for education. * Must be 13 to years. Gale Ranch is using nings in many classrooms – links, kids can comment, etc.
  • PBWorks : make a wiki for your kids. You can have a “WW Persuasive Essay Wiki” with directions, links, resources, video, folders for kids’ work, etc.
Grammar Apps for iTouch/iPad

Pearson Education has some excellent Grammar apps  if you have iTouches/iPads on your campus. Some of the apps are free with limited access, and others will cost $.99.

San Ramon Valley Reading and Writing Project
Quick Links

Youngzine is a digital 'mini' Time for Kids

Guided Reading/Lexile Conversion Table Where English Teachers Meet: 

ShapePoems  is a great way to have kids visualize what they're writing about. They can pick from several different visuals to write about and then complete the writing process through the site or on their own. 

National Gallery of Writing . You and your students are still welcome to submit pieces to the SRVUSD Gallery on this website.

Check out the International Reading Association website for book lists, lesson plans, interviews on IRA Radio and the latest literacy research.