Assign to students: ELA

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This video is the fourth in a series of five tutorials on how to create a class, assign students Common Core content and track student progress on LearnZillion.com.

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Assign a video lesson

  1. **Note: you must first create a class on LearnZillion before assigning students content. Learn how to do this by clicking here.
  2. Find your lesson: type a lesson title, topic or Common Core standard into either of the search barsScreen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.07.13 PM
  3. Click into the lesson you would like to assign
  4. Click the Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.09.32 PM button in the upper lefthand corner of the video lesson
  5. Enter a due date
  6. Choose to assign to either your entire class or individual students
  7. Click done – you have now assigned that lesson

Assign a video playlists

  1. **Note: you must first create a class on LearnZillion before assigning content to students. Learn how to do this by clicking here.
  2. Click classes in top left corner, click into your respective class.
  3. Hover over the drop-downScreen Shot 2014-03-03 at 8.27.24 PM, and click “Assignments”
  4. Click “+New Assignment”
  5. Search and filter the assignment library by grade level and subject Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.21.52 PM
  6. Select a playlist (a selection of videos that cover a specific standard) by hovering over said resource and clicking “select”. You can also preview each assignment before you assign it.
  7. After you select all desired assignments click the assign button Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.27.28 PM .
  8. Select a due date, choose the class and/or student(s) to whom you like to assign the assignment, and click done – you have now assigned that quiz and/or playlist.

Student view

When your students log in, they will see their assigned assignments. They can click into each assignment, complete it in full, or complete part, save and finish the rest later.

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Student view

Track student progress

Learn how to do this in the next video …

Addition resources

Each ELA lesson set comes with additional resources. Consider printing these out or sharing them with students. Possible resources include:

  • Anchor texts that you can download and distribute to students (most lesson sets)
  • Read aloud videos (some lesson sets)
  • Printable assessments (some lesson sets)

Access these by clicking into and/or by previewing an assignment:

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ELA lesson set page

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Click below to watch more:

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My First Year Teaching: Discovering the Magic of Watching Great Teachers Work

Boaz Munro, former 3rd grade teacher

Boaz Munro, former 1st grade teacher

My first day teaching on my own came about two weeks into the school year.   I worked at an elementary charter school that devoted the beginning of the year almost entirely to promoting an orderly yet joyful school culture.  My first several days in the classroom, therefore, were spent supporting my more experienced co-teacher as she led activities and games to prepare our kids to be diligent scholars and responsible citizens.

By the end of this initial period, I felt much less nervous than I had on the first day of the year.  I had bonded in small ways with my students, met their parents, and even led some brief activities in front of the class under my co-teacher’s supervision.  I was cautiously confident about being a teacher.

A Confident Start

During those first few weeks, we had assessed each student’s reading level and organized them into leveled guided reading groups named for the planets in the solar system.  I was in charge of Uranus—10 students at a small, crescent-shaped table—until the next assessment six weeks later.  I had planned the next six weeks carefully, organizing my library, downloading resources, and studying research on reading comprehension.

And now the day had come.  I had a hand-drawn visual anchor up on my easel, a fresh container of sharpened pencils, and placed a shiny book in front of each little seat.  I expected the students to file in and sit down respectfully, hands folded, eyes on me.  And that’s exactly what happened.

A Humbling Realization

Just kidding.  That first class quickly fell apart, as would many others.  As anyone who has ever taught knows, and as my colleagues Posie Wood and Alix Guerrier have vividly related in their own stories, the first year of teaching is one of the most humbling experiences a person can have. I spent hours preparing for each day’s class, and was still not moving my students nearly far enough.  My students’ reading levels were not increasing as quickly as those of their schoolmates.

Looking back, it’s easy to see why.  So often, I taught my students skills or standards I had never seen anyone teach before.  All of the lessons I planned started with an “I-do”—a modeling of the skill I was trying to teach—and yet I was not watching enough people model the skills I was trying to learn.

A Hope for Support

The times when I improved the most were the times when I stopped toiling alone for a moment and learned from mentors around me.  Occasionally my coach would cover a class so I could observe my co-teacher explaining a difficult concept, or I would sit with the academic dean and we would plan a lesson together.  Just like my students, I learned best by watching talented people work.  This simple realization improved my teaching significantly.  The well-known “beg, borrow, and steal” mantra described by my colleague Lisa Bernstein in a recent post is apt, but I would add a fourth verb: watch.  Watching great teachers work, by sitting next to them to plan or observing their instruction, was unquestionably the single best thing I did to improve my teaching practice during my time in the classroom.  

But there were obstacles to watching these great teachers as much as I wanted to.  I had my own students to look after, and they had theirs; I could only visit other classrooms occasionally.    

Technology has removed these obstacles.  Watching great teachers work is exactly what LearnZillion enables us to do—every day.  Each LearnZillion video is created by an exceptional teacher from around the country, with support from academic coaches, LearnZillion media experts, and peers. These teachers have watched and worked with the best.   They have struggled with the question how best to teach the same standards millions of teachers are adjusting to, and the results of their work are available for old and new teachers to learn from.

Watching the lessons on LearnZillion is like standing in back of a great teacher’s classroom—you’ll see concepts your kids need to learn a new way.  Most likely, you’ll customize or improve on what you see.  As we grow as teachers, our students benefit.

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My First Year Teaching: A Reading Revelation

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Beyond the serial illnesses and perpetual lack of sleep, my first year teaching was a set-up for the rest of my professional life as an educator.

With an undergraduate degree in economics and an early career in real estate development where I analyzed the merits of new deals, I came to teaching with a practiced analytical lens.

Recognizing the Problem

My first year AH HAH moment. . .

  1. Not every student in my 4th grade class was on grade level in regard to their literacy or numeracy.
  2. The curriculum and materials did not in any way account for this reality.

This was 15 years ago.  Instruction was primarily delivered via whole class instruction and student activities.  I quickly realized my students that read below grade level struggled in all academic disciplines.  I marinated uncomfortably in this ‘knowing’ for a while-frustrated by the disconnect between the curriculum/my instruction and my students’ needs. Some of my students were soaring, learning every day, while others just slogged through the day learning little.  I was missing the mark.  It drove me nuts.

Understanding the Problem

The essential question that drove my insanity was how do I get all my students to love learning like those who are already successful in my classroom?  How can I shape my teaching and the curriculum, so ALL my students engage enthusiastically to learn?  What is my responsibility in this dynamic?  Some teachers told me to chill out-that it was not my responsibility to worry about those that don’t learn what is taught well.  That perspective did not work for me.

Addressing the Problem

The first realization was I needed to break from my current approach. It just wasn’t working.  So, after relentless research through reading and discussion with respected veteran colleagues, I took a risk.  I decided a love of reading might address many of my worries for my students.  Towards that end, I begged, borrowed and stole (like any effective teacher) any trade books across a continuum of reading levels for my classroom.  Research by Dr. Richard Allington indicated that the volume of reading was the best pathway to growing reading achievement, so applying the human axiom that we prefer to do what we are successful at, I started an independent reading program in my classroom by putting three components in place:

  • An assessment of each reader in my class in order to appropriately match readers with texts, so a high success rate would be ensured.
  • A diverse collection of books that met the distribution of reading levels in my classroom and offered choice to students.
  • A system of accountability on daily reading volume and reading growth over time, especially around comprehension.

It was a mess to start: books everywhere, confused parents and a hesitant administration.  Systems had to be developed to manage the flow of books in and out of our classroom library, to level books for easy identification, to offer feedback on student accountability, for ongoing assessment to move students up the reading level continuum, and to schedule time for students to choose an ample weekly diet of independent reading books.  Pangs of doubt that I was just creating chaos and not supporting my goal for creating a love of reading to drive higher reading achievement ate into my already deficient sleeping time.

Independent reading: classroom library

Independent reading: classroom library

Perceived Success

But one bad day, when everything seemed to go awry and desperate to regain control of my classroom, I declared 10 minutes of silent reading of independent reading booksand thunderbolt, silence descended-not one complaint!  Shocked, I realized my students must like to read their independent reading books-my hypothesis was proving true. If kids can read and understand a text, they will read more! New rule: carry your independent reading book with you everywhere.  Independent reading became a go-to when lines had to be quiet or assemblies were late to start or even when students completed math tests early.  By the end of my first year, I was thinner and harried to the bone, but my students were reading a significantly greater volume of text—and although some of them may not have admitted it publicly, they actually enjoyed reading.

Growing Success with Common Core Standards

A love, or strong like, of reading may not solve all my students’ problems, but it clearly had a positive impact.  Students start to see themselves as readers, general academic confidence grows and academic performance across disciplines nudges upward.  Please, ask any teacher with an established independent reading program about student outcomes.  By 2nd grade, the CCSS Anchor Reading Standard 10 expects students to read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently (in that grade band). The roadmap to meeting this standard is at least in part dependent on a robust independent reading program that holds students and teacher accountable.

To scaffold growth in comprehension, see any LearnZillion lesson set on reading at the appropriate reading level.  These lessons not only reveal the thinking process readers employ to create meaning from any text but also offer an instructional approach to support a teacher’s practice using any fiction or non-fiction text.

What are your thoughts? In the comments below, please share any resources you find helpful for matching readers to texts.