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Izzit Current Articles


Hello everybody! We are going to try out our blogging feature today by using the “Student Zone” on 

I’m excited to explore the possibilites of communicating and interacting with each other in real time!

Once you have your “Current Events” article summarized, go ahead and post it here. Don’t forget to

respond to 1 post and ask 1 question of another post. Have fun!

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What have you been doing this summer?


Have you traveled far? Have you met a really cool person? Done a really exciting activity?

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Speaking the lexile language


Hey everybody! I’ve been busy at work this summer getting things ready just for you and part of our program includes understanding lexiles. If you are interested in learning about this text/reader measurement, please click on the link below and watch a great video. I’ll see you in a few weeks and soon enough you’ll be speaking lexiles, too!

Lexile Overview Video

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Check out the links on “Workshop Magic”!


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Motivating the Unmotivated Students


Motivating the Unmotivated

By Debbie Cargill

How do students become self-motivated learners?

In Hattie’s Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement (2009), motivation is ranked 51st (of 138) in terms of its impact on student achievement. Dörnyei (2001) noted that “motivation is highest when students are competent, have sufficient autonomy, set worthwhile goals, get feedback, and are affirmed by others” (as reported in Hattie, 2009).

A first step in helping students become self-motivated learners is to create a classroom culture of cooperation and collaboration in which students’ voices are heard and honored. Students should also become active partners in planning their own learning.

Educational writers and researchers have identified many strategies for motivating students. Among those are the following:

• Make sure they understand. Do students know what you are asking them to do? There are several tools and strategies in the LEARNING-FOCUSED Strategies Model that ensure expectations are clear for students. The Student Learning Map visually shows the key concepts, skills, essential questions, and vocabulary to be learned in a unit. The Lesson Essential Question focuses the lesson and communicates what you want students to know and be able to do by the end of the lesson. Students know that they must answer the question.

• Make learning interactive. Are your students actively engaged in the learning? In the Acquisition Lesson plan, there are multiple opportunities for students to be engaged. The use of collaborative pairs allows for talking about the learning. Assessment Prompts, distributed summarizing, distributed practice, and Summarizing Strategies that answer the Essential Question help to maintain a high level of student engagement. When engaged in Extending Thinking activities, students are typically actively participating in a project or performance. Engaging work should stimulate curiosity and creativity which serves as motivation for students.

• Make sure you care about your students as individuals. Do students feel like valued members of your classroom community? When students can make sense of and connect to the learning, they are more likely to see it as relevant. Recognizing different learning styles and providing opportunities for choice when demonstrating learning gives students a greater buy in.

• Give frequent and specific feedback. Are students aware of how well they are doing or of the progress they have made toward a goal? To ensure student success, tasks should neither be too hard or too easy. Appropriate and timely feedback helps students to stay on task and move forward with the learning process. Assessment Prompts and distributed summarizing by collaborative pairs builds feedback into your lessons.

Motivating students to become self-motivated learners requires deliberate and thoughtful planning of lessons and units that engage students with clear expectations and opportunities for success.

Educational Leadership. What Helps Us Learn? February 2010, Volume 67, Number 5, Pages 68-69.

Hattie, John A.C. (2009). Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge, New York.

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Excellent Homework article


Heads-Up Homework Hints for Teachers and Students
by Debbie Willingham

Fact: schools in which homework is assigned and quality feedback is provided tend to have higher achieving students. Fact: students complete more homework when teachers make it central to course work, collect it routinely, and spend time reviewing it.
So what does this mean? Homework should be tied to current subject matter and assigned in amounts and levels of difficulty which students can complete successfully. Homework should be necessary and useful, appropriate to the ability and maturity level of students, well-explained and motivational, and clearly understood by students. In a nutshell, students should understand they NEED to do their homework because they will need it for something else – in other words, it is not just “busy work,” and they can be successful in completing it. Refer to homework content in class and use it in classroom a ssignments to reinforce its value. Most importantly, it needs to be done in a fairly short amount of time, checked quickly (either in or outside class), and feedback given to students in a timely manner. Is this doable? Yes, if you tie it closely to the Lesson Essential question (or as the answer to part of it) and to what students did in class that day.

Never give homework as punishment, and never use “no homework” as a reward for behavior. Daily assignments should not be overly long; research shows that teachers usually underestimate the amount of time necessary for students to complete it. This can lead to frustration by both students and parents, which does not help anyone. In middle and high school coordinate homework assignments with other teachers as much as possible so students do not receive excessive assignments on a single night. Care should also be taken to prevent any one subject from dominating a student’s homework time. Whether you assign points toward a grade for homework is of course optional, but sometimes students need to know there is an expectation and the work assigned is important enough to at least count somewhat. Sometimes, assigning a point or two to each question or problem, with the points from 10-12 homework assignments could add up to the equivalent of a quiz grade.

Students need to have a specific place to write down all the assignments for any given day. They should include a list of any materials from school that they will need to take home to complete them. They should have a specific place and time at home to do homework; teachers should ask them about this and reiterate its importance. The non-negotiables for students include completing assignments on their own, on time, carefully and thoughtfully with attention to detail and quality of work. They should feel comfortable talking to you about problems with understanding assignments, skills, content, volume of homework, or other circumstances that you need to know. Above all, students need to know that the homework assigned is important and will be useful to them, that they can successfully complete it, and that doing it is not optional.

Making sure the guidelines are clear and that both teachers and students have a clear understanding about homework gives both a greater sense of organization and expectations. In a future Connections newsletter look for Heads-Up Homework Hints for Administrators and Parents.

Learning Focused Connections newsletter Issue 93:  Week of May 31, 2010

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Read180 is an innovative and interactive program that reaches struggling readers and writers.

Hello to all parents, guardians, and students! I’ve created this site to keep everyone “in the know”- students can find links to more reading and writing resources, games and activities, and parents will find  information on what we’re studying in class and even authorized pictures of your students. Visit us regularly to see what’s going on!

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