Shurley English 101: Teaching with Confidence

Shurley English 101: Teaching with Confidence

So, you have purchased your Shurley curriculum, you open the book or access your digital teacher’s manual…and then it hits you! “What’s all this? How am I going to cover all of it? Can I even do it?” If you have had these or similar feelings, don’t panic. It’s going to be all right.

My post today is about confidence. Yes! You can teach with confidence, especially if you are just embarking upon your first journey with Shurley English. I realize that the sheer volume of information about English that we teach might be enough to send you to the edge. But, pull back. Breathe. Help is on the way.

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The Art of Self-Care for Teachers: Saying "No."

The Art of Self-Care for Teachers: Saying "No."

Last week, we discussed how practicing the art of self-care IS your duty.  Learning how to set boundaries at home and work helps you take care of YOU so you can take care of others. One valuable way to break your pattern of self-sacrifice is by learning how to gracefully say, “No.”

When you’re a chronic giver or helper, it’s really hard to tell people, “No.”  Most of us don’t like to disappoint people.  We avoid conflict when possible, and many people simply believe that taking care of one’s self is just plain selfish.  These days, more and more people have started shifting their beliefs around self-care; personal health and well-being have become a part of people’s lives in the 21st Century.  People are empowered when they can say, “No” to a request that is not absolutely necessary.

Please be aware of this important point

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The Art of Self-Care for Teachers

The Art of Self-Care for Teachers

Are you familiar with the frog in boiling water metaphor?  (Of course, do not attempt this at home!)

Imagine a pot of cold water sitting on the burner of a stove. A frog is peacefully swimming in it. The heat is turned on, and the water starts warming up. The frog finds this pleasant and keeps swimming. The temperature keeps rising, though. Now, the water is a little more than what the frog enjoys; it becomes a bit tired, but it doesn’t panic. As the water continues to heat up, the frog finds it very uncomfortable, and

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Writing Time: Let's start a blog!

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Journal Writing is an activity that is implemented very early in the Shurley English curriculum.  Students are taught how to create a written journal to record their thoughts and feelings.  Then, throughout the school year, they are encouraged to respond to specific prompts in their personal journals. (If you’re wondering about the benefits of journaling, please check out my previous blog, “The Value of Journal Writing (…and how to get started).”)

Today, I’d like for you to think beyond the written journal and consider developing a classroom wall blog.  This type of activity affords you an opportunity to support your classroom instruction and teach your students how to become responsible writers. 

To begin, here’s a blog for you and your students to read:

Hello, students! Have you ever been in class and felt as though you had something important to say, but you just couldn’t raise your hand to speak up?  Me too! 

Sharing your voice is not always easy.  Writing in a journal is an excellent way to get your thoughts out of your mind and onto paper without speaking in front of anyone.  When you journal, you can record your thoughts and feelings about people, places, things, or events that are important to you. Journaling gives you an opportunity to express yourself!

Did you know that you can also journal online?  It’s called blogging, and it can be a lot of fun! A blog is a journal that you share with others. When you write a blog, you express your own thoughts and experiences, knowing that others will be reading your words.

A fun way to start blogging is to participate in a Classroom Wall Blog!  It is a great place to practice and improve your communication. Remember, when you write your blog….

  • Always take responsibility for how you express yourself when writing in a place that others can read.

  • Don’t write anything private, rude, or unkind.

  • Have FUN sharing your voice!

 

Activity Time:  Classroom Wall Blog

Teachers, this Wall Blog activity is an awesome way to get your students more engaged in journaling, support your grammar and writing instruction, and create a closer sense of community in your classroom. 

1. Define your wall blog space with butcher paper or poster board.

2. Create a fun name for your Wall Blog.

3. Discuss what topics are appropriate for student blog entries.

4. Encourage students to express their thoughts about what is going on in their classroom, family, school, and community as blog topics

5. Have students write their blog entries on notebook paper and hang them on the wall.

6. Incorporate time in your weekly schedule to discuss hot topics posted on the Wall Blog.

After your students practice their blogging skills by contributing to the wall blog, you may consider creating a private, online classroom blog. This will afford your students the opportunity to develop good digital citizenship while under your supervision. 

An Open Letter to Teachers: Taking off with Shurley English

“Without continual growth and progress, such words such as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”      -Benjamin Franklin

“Without continual growth and progress, such words such as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”  -Benjamin Franklin

Dear Educators,

Welcome aboard Shurley English flight ABC. Please find your seat, stow your baggage in the overhead bin, and buckle-up as we take off into your new school year!  This year’s destination is progress and growth.  We’ve got a long flight ahead of us so, sit back, stay focused & relaxed, and enjoy the journey! 

For some of you, Shurley English might be a new addition to your curriculum.  Several of you may already be familiar with the effectiveness and uniqueness of our Grammar, Skills, Writing, Reading, and Speaking & Listening features.   Regardless of your passenger status, I encourage each of you to keep your eye on the prize: progress & growth!  Throughout the journey this year, you may experience some turbulence, making you feel a bit outside your comfort zone, but don’t worry!  Simply refer to the previous posts called: “The Perfect Shurley Teacher” and “First Year Freak-Out.”  They are loaded with information to help guide you; you can find them in the archives.  

Passengers sitting in the “New to Shurley English” seats, please remember:

1. Stick to the Script!

2. Repetition & Consistency build Mastery!

3. Trusting the Process leads to Success!

Passengers sitting in the “Seasoned Teacher” seats, please remember to:

1. Aim for Progress over Perfection!

2. Practice what you Teach!

3. Get Outside of your Comfort Zone!

Keep in mind that Shurley English Curriculum is installed with a built-in support system, including modifications, extra-practice, and SEDA lessons, should they be necessary.  In addition, the “Always Keep Learning & Be Brave Enough to Keep Growing” light will stay lit for all passengers for the duration of our flight.  We are here to support you as you teach students to become competent, confident communicators that will be prepared for any and all future destinations!

On behalf of the entire flight crew, “Welcome aboard!”

 

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Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

Authentic Assessments: How Shurley English integrates real assessments

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So, what’s happening “testing-wise” in your school and in your classroom? Let’s continue the conversation about real or authentic assessments.  (If you missed part one, click here.) In my opinion, it is vital to add these authentic assessments to your “testing bag-o-tricks.” Just look at some of the benefits:

Authentic assessments…

*provide direct measures;

*capture the true nature of learning;

*focus on the process-integrating teaching, learning, and assessing; and,

*provide a myriad of ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge.

Did you know that Shurley English integrates authentic assessments throughout the curriculum?  Let's take a deeper look...

Shurley English provides the opportunity for students to learn grammar and the connection to writing at such great depth that, when the process is taught correctly, the evidence of this knowledge is seen in a child’s writing. We teach students how to really think about using the knowledge they’ve acquired…we teach them to know the content, think about the content, and process the content correctly. 

By demonstrating a Jingle, the teacher is showing the student how to learn a language arts definition and think about it, not just memorize it. 

The questions asked during the Question & Answer Flow are the set of criteria by which we measure a student’s understanding of specific grammar concepts.  So, that’s your rubric, and when your students correctly identify the parts of speech of each word in a sentence or classify a sentence type, using the Q & A Flow, you have an authentic assessment opportunity!

Even though the Classroom Practices/Chapter Check-ups are essentially paper assessments, they’re still authentic.  Students take the information learned and apply it to questions they’ve never seen.  This is teaching them how to think about using the knowledge they’ve learned.

Have you ever witnessed your students revising their Sentence Blueprints/Practice & Improved Sentences and discussing word choice with another student, or simply thinking through the process of finding a synonym/antonym to improve their word choice?  These actions will eventually become second nature to them.  This is a form of an authentic assessment…because it is observable.

Writing is the obvious authentic assessment in Shurley English!  Whether it’s an entry in a journal, a short constructed response answer, a presentation, or the final paper of a formal piece of writing, the teacher can observe a student’s depth of knowledge.  The teacher can see and hear where grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling have been used correctly or incorrectly.  In Shurley English, the Writing Evaluation Guide (WEG) and Teacher Rubric are key components to the process. The WEG teaches students how to start thinking about what they write and how to apply the skills they’ve learned to their writing.  The Teacher Rubric is used to measure the student’s work against specific criteria. 

I’m suggesting this…

If you imagine the process that the student experienced in learning specific information, understanding the information, and then actually applying the information in a meaningful and realistic scenario, it’s clear that IS an effective form of assessment.

So, don’t just leave your academic assessment up to the paper test, AND AVOID TEACHING to TEST! Be creative and assess your students’ knowledge with authenticity and purpose.

“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts." -Albert Einstein

Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

Authentic Assessments: Breaking the Paper Test Cycle

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When you think of testing, do any of these statements come to mind?

“I want to see what my students have learned at the end of each chapter.”

“I want to make sure I’m teaching effective lessons.”

“My administrator says I have to have a certain number of scores in my grade book.”

“I’d like to see the strengths and weaknesses of each student so I can know how to differentiate my instruction.”

We’re all familiar with national standardized testing, the numerous true/false or multiple choice tests a teacher gives throughout a school year, along with the benefits these assessments can provide.  One school of thought says that assessments are a key component of learning because it helps students see how well they understand subject specific material.  Others say assessments can help motivate students.  Still, testing often feels like a necessary evil that all teachers must do to show evidence that students have learned the content teachers worked so hard to teach.

I’d like you to consider looking at the way you assess your students through a different lens.  What if your student assessments consisted of noting missed cues while a child reads from a real book; recognizing correct or incorrect grammar usage and punctuation in a student’s essay or hypothesis in Science; or the actual act of using measurement to build a raised garden bed as opposed to solely using typical paper, true/false, or multiple choice assessments?  Assessments do come in all forms!

If you’re differentiating your instruction for students in the classroom, then differentiating the way your students are assessed is a strategy for best practice.  To me, it makes sense why, in school, I thrived with hands-on and oral work, but struggled taking paper tests; I’m still a horrible paper test-taker, but ask me to “show” you how something applies to a real life scenario, and I’ll nail it all day long. That’s what a REAL Assessment or Authentic Assessment is all about!  You might have heard the terms, Performance Assessment, Alternative Assessment, or Direct Assessment-all common names for the Authentic Assessment.  These kinds of assessments ask students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they’ve learned when applying them to real-world tasks— then measuring their performance against a set of pre-determined criteria in the form of a rubric.  REAL Assessments value the thought behind the work and the process, as much as the finished product.

So, before you start planning all of your paper tests, consider learning more about and creating a real, authentic assessment. Your students will welcome the opportunity to show their knowledge in a new way! 

 

“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts." -Albert Einstein

-You have just read part one of a series on Authentic Assessments. Are you ready for part two? Click here.

Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

Vitality in Veteran Shurley English Teachers

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Visualize this scenario:  It’s early August, and as you scroll through your inbox you see the first of many emails from your school administrator.  “Already!?!” you say to yourself as you hesitate to open it.   You guessed it!   It’s your new school year Welcome Letter and Professional Development Schedule. On the agenda, you notice a full-day training scheduled for Shurley English! Your next few thoughts go something like this: “I’ve taught Shurley English for 5 years now!  I don’t need training!  Maybe I can get out of it this year!”  

Warning:  Thoughts like these are exactly why veteran teaches still need our support!  Take these thoughts as a sign! I know because I’ve been there!

Certified Shurley English consultants typically train new and seasoned teachers from all grade levels at the same time…WHY?  Well, I would say from my experience, we do this because it is an excellent way to ensure consistency across all grade levels.  It also gives us the opportunity to re-motivate and re-inspire teachers who have been instructing Shurley English for many years.  Veteran teachers, me included, tend to develop habits of comfort that can lead to getting stuck-in-a-rut, or so to speak.  We want to make sure all Shurley English teachers understand the BIG PICTURE of what the curriculum was designed to do in order to successfully teach it with confidence and enthusiasm.  A Shurley English-Full Day Training can energize and inspire a veteran Shurley English teacher with what I like to call the “Vital V’s!”

The Four “VITAL -V’s” of a Veteran Shurley English Teacher:

1. Know that YOU ARE VALUABLE!  YOU are the best RESOURCE for new Shurley English teachers. (Never forget what it was like your first year.)  You have a wealth of experience and knowledge to offer the newbies…SHARE IT!  Take the LEAD & step up to the next level, especially if Shurley is your “thing!”

2. Add VARIETY to your lessons! Keep challenging yourself to stay in alignment with the curriculum (teach with fidelity), but add your flare of creativeness to Shurley English; this gets easier the longer you teach Shurley.  Get more engaged in the Enrichment Activities, Discovery Time Activities, or try creating Learning Centers.

3. BE VIEWABLE & VISIBLE! YOU ARE A LEADER & A MODEL TO NEW TEACHERS! Make sure you’re a part of the professional development opportunities no matter how long you’ve been teaching-never stop learning!  With grace, show them how it’s done…because they ARE watching you-observing how you make it work.  INVITE them into your classroom for a Shurley English demonstration.  Mentor them.  Collaborate with them.  Lead them.  Help mold them into a successful Shurley teacher like you are!

4. VOCALIZE with AUTHENTICITY & SINCERITY!  Your thoughts, questions, and concerns need to be heard and can be validating to teachers not willing to speak-up.  When you do speak-up, be genuine, honest, and tactful.  If you see teachers not staying in alignment with the curriculum, I encourage you to say something.  A broken cog in the wheel makes it difficult for the wheel to roll, and the Shurley wheel needs all cogs in place.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.” -Martha Graham

Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

Back-to-School Planning: Educational Posters with Purpose

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Although summer is in full swing, we all know that August is just around the corner and school will begin soon thereafter!  I feel like a killjoy for bringing this up, but I know from experience that now is a great time to work on a few of those back to school to-dos!  Instead of waiting until the last minute, why not check a few of them off the list? This week, I would like to focus on selecting and positioning Shurley English Jingle Posters in your classroom!  

Shurley English Jingle Posters are available to purchase.  They are 17” x 22” each and provide a colorful visual aid to assist students’ learning.  The posters are great tools for reinforcing grammar concepts taught using the curriculum, especially when they are displayed properly.  Your students can join the lovable Quigley character as he escorts them through the adventures of grammar if you choose to buy the posters!

Another option is to create your own Shurley English Jingle Posters.  Since Jingles are located in the Quick Reference section of the teacher’s manual or student book, all you have to do is copy them into your own design and VIOLA!  Ideas for how to create your own posters are endless, so if you have a theme in your classroom, use it. 

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Keep in mind that educational posters should be well-designed, well-organized, legible, and attractive.  They should be positioned in a spot that will be visible to every student in your classroom.  In order to promote learning and serve as an effective teaching tool, each poster should contain the following characteristics. The posters should:

  1. motivate and inspire students to learn.
  2. stimulate interest in the topic.
  3. effectively illustrate a concept or skill.

 

Jingles are an essential element of Shurley English.  They not only teach and reinforce important skills and definitions; they help transition students’ brains into a ready-for-learning state of mind at the beginning of class.  Researchers report that the visual sense is responsible for 90% of brain stimulation and that vision and visual memory take up to two-thirds of the brain.  Those findings substantiate how educational posters can truly assist students’ learning.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with items on your classroom to-do list, especially if you wait until the last minute.  So, get Shurley English Jingle Posters on your mind and either purchase them or start creating them.  Either way, they serve as an effective learning tool all year long! 

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Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. 

What is the value of a pretest?

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What is the value of giving the Shurley English Pretest if students are not familiar with the curriculum?  As a consultant, I’ve heard this question before, and I want to urge you to listen up!  Even though the pretest may appear extraordinarily difficult, you should never avoid it!  Let me explain. 

You may be new to the curriculum, but as the classroom teacher, you must always keep the main goal of Language Arts instruction in mind.  The goal, of course, is to give students the tools they need to become competent, confident communicators!  Simply stated, you want your students to be able to speak and write with fluency.  

One way to support this goal is to allow students to see their own progress for themselves. The Shurley English Pretest can be used to compare with the Posttest at the end of the year.  You do not need to formally grade the Pretest; all you have to do is file it away in a safe place and pull it out at the end of the year.  Then, students will see the value of the Pretest and the Posttest as they compare the two assessments. They (and their parents) will be amazed at what they have learned during their first year in Shurley English.

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So, why give our Pretest? It is simply a benchmark which measures the beginning of the journey into making the grammar/writing connection. As your students grow in their skills, both you and they will be glad you took the time to mark where they began the trip.  That, my friend, is the value of our Pretest.

 

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Cindy Goeden

Cindy Goeden has enjoyed being involved with Shurley English for the last sixteen of her twenty-six years in the field of education.  Working with various levels of students in elementary, junior, and high schools, in both the private and public arenas, Cindy surely is thankful for the providential day that she was introduced to Shurley English, which changed forever her approach to Language Arts instruction. That has led to her current job of having the joy of sharing about Shurley with other educators.  Her love of learning has prodded her to earn over two hundred and twenty hours, which includes two bachelor degrees in education.

 

Cindy currently lives with her husband, Donald, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she enjoys puttering in her flowers, changing up her décor with the seasons, and occasionally getting out and traveling with Donald to either explore a new beach or view historic sights and gardens.