Shurley English 101: Teaching with Confidence

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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.

Narrow the Field: First, don’t view the entire bulk of the curriculum in preparation for your school year. Look at it in terms of only a school day…in other words, narrow the field. By nature, our brains can get way too overwhelmed by all the text you find in Shurley. Believe it or not, when I first started teaching this curriculum, I only needed to stay a day or two ahead of my students. Sure…preview the student objectives because they are a guideline for WHAT you will be teaching during a specific chapter and lesson. However, the crux of the teaching is found in the References. They are numbered for you, so simply read the teaching scripts and the References found in only the first lesson you plan to teach. Make any notes you might think will be handy when you start working with the materials and teaching the kids.

Pre-learn the Jingles: Next, make sure you know the jingles that accompany the lesson before you actually teach them. You will reflect confidence to your student if you already know each jingle well. Spend the first minutes of every session practicing the jingle with your learner(s). If you have our Jingle Posters, chunk the verses a bit to make them more bite-sized. With a marker, draw brackets around each section you want to rehearse. It’s easier to add on new verses of the same jingle over several lessons.

Pre-read the Scripts: As you move into the Question and Answer Flow, pre-read the scripts before actually teaching. Start slowly. You don’t even have to do all of the sentences required during the same lesson at the beginning of your school year. You and your student(s) will gain momentum quickly! (If you find that you would like to supplement your sentence work, you can check out our Sentence Booklets for extra practice.)

Pre-determine Words: Finally, to help build your confidence in the area of teaching writing, again, preview the Builder Sentence Blueprints that occur every so often in the program. The first time you introduce the concept, make sure you have pre-determined some of your own words you want to use for composing your sentence. That way, as you invite your learners to volunteer answers for the spaces on the grid, you have a pre-planned word to use if everyone gets stymied. You will appear to be completely in control and very confident during what might seem like an intimidating exercise. 

The bottom line rule for growing in your confidence is more about a balanced ratio of pre-reading to avoid surprises and following the script when it is provided! You will quickly gain the confidence you need by rehearsing your lessons beforehand in the ways I have outlined above. Good luck! And, don’t forget, you can always call our office and speak with any one of our expert customer service representatives. If you just need to talk, or if you want a boost of confidence, don’t go to silence. Call us at 800-566-2966.

Go forth and teach confidently!

The goal of Shurley English

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It’s that time of year again, and most teachers are trying their best to enjoy their final days of summer break. It’s hard to believe that some schools have already started professional development opportunities for their staff members.  Before you know it, your own classroom will be filled with a new group of young learners. 

Some teachers are looking forward to teaching a new curriculum this year.  Even though that can be exciting and motivating, it can also cause feelings of nervousness.  Some teachers have a curriculum in place with nothing new to add.  For these teachers, feelings of confidence about the content are more likely to occur. Either way, it’s helpful to be reminded of curriculum goals and to be re-motivated to teach certain subjects. 

If Shurley English training is not on your professional development schedule this year, I’m here to remind you of your goal when you teach the curriculum…

First, I highly recommend for you to read my previous blog post titled, The Perfect Shurley Teacher; it will help to relieve any unnecessary pressure you might have placed upon yourself when teaching the curriculum.

Next, I’d like to expand on a paragraph in that post that reads:

“Your goal is to complete one lesson per day (if possible), and if you finish the book…GREAT! But, that’s not the goal!  The long term goal is to teach your students how to make the grammar-writing connection so they can be successful communicators for the rest of their lives.”

When teachers receive their new teacher’s manuals and student textbooks, many look at the size of the book(s) and automatically decide whether or not they’ll be able to finish the book(s) by the end of the school year.  When I show my trainees the size of their Shurley English books, their faces say, “How will I ever finish those books?”  Remember that finishing the book is not your goal!  Let that go.

Your goal is to build a competent, confident communicator using the Shurley English curriculum! 

All you have to do is follow the lessons step-by-step.  The features are set up so that your students receive the knowledge, skill, and practice they need to help them understand how grammar connects to writing and ultimately leave your classroom feeling like they own the English language.  Each unique feature in the curriculum is purposeful and prepares your students to become successful communicators for life; therefore, every grade level plays a vital role in this development. (If you need a bit more motivation, here’s another insightful blog post on Trusting the Process of Shurley English.)

This new school year is going to be an impactful one because you have all the tools you need to build competent, confident communicators! BEST of LUCK in 2019-2020

Creating a Writing Inspiration Station

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There’s nothing like the dreaded feeling of sitting at your desk with a blank sheet of writing paper staring back at you.  You see some of your classmates busily jotting down ideas; you see them creating their prewriting map; or you see some classmates looking upward with a pleasant grin, lost in their imagination.  Not you though; your white paper just taunts you with thoughts like these: “So, what are you going to write about this time?” or “There’s nothing to write about; you’re all out of ideas!” 

For some students, it’s very challenging and even defeating to come up with an idea to write about.  As teachers, we know how valuable the process of writing is, but our students may not.  The process of writing is already a lengthy and sometimes scary journey for many of them.  I believe it is important to create a writing experience in which students can be inspired and where they will feel comfortable enough to take some writing risks.  Create a new writing vibe in your classroom by setting up a Writing Inspiration Station.  

The purpose of a Writing Inspiration Station is to help your students experience how special the process of sharing their voice in the written form really is.  The level of comfort a student feels when they know how to write a paragraph, an essay, and write for all purposes is empowering!  The station acts as a quiet place where a student can sit to gain inspiration or to work through the Writing Process.  It can be that special place where a student might spread out and really engage with their writing. 

The Writing Inspiration Station needs to be set up so that your students want to do their work there.  For instance, it needs to be warm and inviting.  Ideally, organize the station with a table and a few chairs.  Stock it with all of the writing essentials—paper, pens, pencils, pre-writing maps, writing outlines, dictionaries, thesauruses, a soft light, and a Shurley English Writing Folder.

In addition, create a bulletin board adjacent to the table so students can easily review writing tips, transition words, Power Words, steps in the Writing Process, or writing samples.  For those kiddos with writer’s block, add a small bucket of writing prompts for each genre of writing to help inspire them.  Change it monthly, align it with the genre you’re currently teaching, and use it as your Teacher-Student Writing Conference space; the ideas are endless!

Use your own creativity to set up a unique Writing Inspiration Station, and see how your students thrive with the new writing vibe.

BONUS:  If you’re looking for some extra writing prompts to get you through the year, try these!

FIRST LINES/LAST LINES

Think of a story that might begin or end with one of these sentences:

  1. Today, I got the phone call.

  2. Heidi dropped the last of her photographs into the trash.

  3. Why wasn’t I surprised that the light switch didn’t work either.

  4. I hoped they remembered the old adage, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”

  5. One of these days, I’m going to say no.

  6. I knew that sound. Dragons.

  7. I thought space was supposed to be silent.

  8. Who’s that woman in the photo?

  9. Two years ago, I swore I’d never come back here again.

  10. It’s not unusual to find odd bits of paper tucked into library books for a bookmark, but this time it was a letter.

  11. Some jokes just aren’t funny.

  12. “Moon Base Epsilon failed to report, sir.”

  13. We heard the approaching horses (car) and hurried further into the woods.

  14. I was not ready to admit defeat.

  15. “This is the last straw!”

  16. Josh looked guilty.

  17. Maria looked up from her reading and her book fell from her lap.

  18. I’d always wondered what real fear felt like. I was sorry I found out.

  19. Monday was supposed to be the worst day of the week. Today had it beat by a mile.

  20. We all felt the cold before he entered the hall.

    First Lines/Last Lines Source: http://www.wrightingwords.com/writing-starters/