Express Yourself

Be who you are and say how you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
--Dr. Seuss

Monday, July 24, 2017

Opportunity Culture and Summer Planning-Spanish Writing Roadmap

Noemi and I finishing our day of planning on a Friday afternoon at Panera
Noemi and I have been planning every Friday this summer. We have been working the 2017-2018 Spanish and English Writing Plan/Roadmap. We finished the Spanish version for the first semester. Now we are going back and will produce an English version as well. In addition to that, we will add supporting documents. I expect that all of this will be ready by August 10th. Why August 10th? It seems like a doable timeline for us. If you are interested in having a gander, please go to the link below.

It feels wonderful to get this done as this was a project that we wanted to complete this summer. This year, we want to hit the ground running. Why are we working on Fridays? We want to plan ahead for the year before the year starts. The summer has been kind and our minds are free to focus on the task at hand. We have our data with us and have observed some trends from the STAAR Writing tests throughout the years. In a nutshell, we want to be prepared. Ultimately, we expect that this planning will help our students and others. Noemi and I have been working together for years, so we decided to bring it together to create a plan. We will be sharing our observations throughout the year together and with our teams. To me, this is action research.

This summer has been a time of rejuvenation. I have had time to meet and plan with Noemi, work with summer school students in 4th and 5th grade, and have had time to get to know the new administrative team at Edgewood. I am excited to continue the journey with Noemi and my colleagues in 3rd and 4th grade as well. Just because Noemi works at a different campus doesn't mean that we cannot continue to work together. As teachers, we are a community of learners who need to connect, learn, and help each other grow.

I am glad to be a part of the Innovative Culture in SBISD as well. I will be taking on the roll as a Multiclassroom Teacher Leader. In a nutshell, I will be teaching students and coaching teachers throughout the school year. I will be collaborating with my team and teams of teachers. I want to continue the networking that I already have with my colleagues and friends from different campuses as well. I feel empowered to try out new things with my students and teams. The wonderful thing about collaboration with my friends and colleagues is that we don't only have to be at the same campus to support each other and effect change. We are creating our own networks to build capacity among each one of us. We have the power to create and use the vast years of experience and resources to our advantage.  Ultimately, this will be efficacious for our students. Being risk takers and learners in the process is invigorating and freeing. We are trusted to make the best decisions for students in our personalized journey to impact student achievement. We do this one student at a time and one colleague as a time. Through Opportunity Culture, teachers are empowered to support one another and grow. If we grow as individuals and as teams, our students will benefit exponentially. Thanks to SBISD and Opportunity Culture, we have a voice and more choice to affect change.

Spanish Writing Plan 2017-2018

Friday, July 21, 2017

Working on the Work

Today Noemi and I are back at it. We are working on refining the plan of implementation. We sketched out where we wanted to go based on data and experiences from the last two years. Our goal is to create the best road map possible for us as we go through the 2017-2018 school year.  I will post more at the end of the day.

Interactive Spanish Grammar-Gramatica Interactiva de Oraciones


I made this video of what my students did during Writing Camp 2017. My students were studying different types of sentences. Each group created their own sentence. They then performed the sentence in front of the class. You will see examples of simple, compound, and complex sentences. It was a blast working with these wonderful young writers. I used Stupeflix to make the video. How I love Stupeflix!



Friday, July 14, 2017

STAAR 4th Grade Writing Weighting of Test Items

The Texas Education Agency has produced a document that you might find helpful. It breaks down the Fourth Grade STAAR Writing Test for Spring 2017. Basically, we know that the multiple choice portion of the Fourth Grade STAAR Writing Test is weighted heavily. The multiple choice portion of the STAAR test is weighted at 75% of the test. Of that 75%, the editing section is weighted at 50% of the text and the revision portion is 25%. The expository composition is scored in the adjacent scoring model where two people score one composition. Their scores are added together. Scorers use the STAAR Writing Rubric that is based on a score of 1-4.  The two scores are combined. The composition may receive a maximum of 8 total points. The editing portion of the STAAR Test contains 16 multiple choice questions, and the revision section has 8 items. When all items are added together, there is a raw score of 32 possible items. Below you will find a screenshot of the weighting document. You may find this document by clicking on the link titled TEA Weighed Document below.

4th Grade STAAR Weighting Document Link

Working on the Work-1st Nine Weeks of 4th Grade Writing in the Books!

Noemi and I working on the 2017-2018 Fourth Grade Writing Road Map and Framework
Noemi Leon-Garcia and I spent the day at Panera feasting on bagels and broccoli cheese soup. It seems that Fridays are our new ritual for planning. We are meeting to together to create our 2017-2018 Fourth Grade Writing Framework and Road Map. We are almost finished with the first semester. We looked over what we had planned from last year, tweaked some things, and added new ideas based on our experiences and data.

I worked with Noemi on a 2016-2017 Writing Framework and Road map last July after I attended the Gretchen Bernabei's Trainer of Trainers Trail of Breadcrumb Workshop. I left invigorated and ready to write a new framework and road map. I shared what I had learned, but I couldn't put it into practice immediately as I had taken a job in another district. I told Noemi that I would still plan with her and live vicariously through her as she taught. When I returned to SBISD in October, I didn't skip a beat. I continued the 4th grade writing journey with students and teachers in 3rd-5th grade at Edgewood Elementary. I was able to put much of the plan into action in classroom demonstrations and co-teach situations, small groups, after school tutorials, 5 Saturday Writing Camps, team plannings, and in professional development sessions.

Now, the journey continues!  My goal, as a Multi classroom Teacher Leader (MCL) from the Opportunity Culture at SBISD,  will be to impact  student achievement in 3rd and 4th grade in English and Spanish Language Arts.  As such, I desire to network and collaborate with teams at Edgewood and with colleagues with whom I have previously worked. One of them is Noemi. I will always work with Noemi Leon-Garcia who was and continues to be a  great teammate. Even though she is at Westwood and I am work at Edgewood, our level of planning and collaboration will not change. I very much enjoy working with her, bouncing ideas off of her, hearing her ideas and reflections, and growing professionally. We are a great team. I have worked with her for about 8-10 years now, and she is one person that I trust wholeheartedly.

Noemi Leon-Garcia
Last year, Noemi and I met practically every Saturday at Egg and I. This summer, we have changed venue and are working at Panera on Fridays. Our goal is to put our research and experience into practice. I say, "Why not?" What holds us back?  The only thing that could hold us back is lack of time and ourselves. I choose to move forward with this endeavor. We both have many years of experience and look forward to experimenting further with our students and teams. Together, we have more than 40 years of classroom experience. I am excited about this project because I know it will benefit my team, Noemi and her team, and many of our students and campuses. My passion is to explore new avenues and ideas on the teaching of Reading and Writing in monolingual and bilingual classrooms. I would like to be on the front lines and create the most effective curriculum, ideas, shared experiences, students work, and anecdotal records to benefit friends and colleagues. It all boils down to classroom research and experimentation.

I plan on working on and publishing the framework and road map on this blog. I expect that many teachers may find it helpful. It will be tweaked as we go, based on the data that we collect. I will also be posting  more this year than last because I will be teaching two classes of students during the day, working in classrooms, developing curriculum for tutorials, and Saturday camps. This will be so exciting. I share because would like to collaborate and help lighten the teaching load. Gretchen Bernabei has shown me that there is no limit to sharing.   I know how hard it is to teach Writing especially when there is lack of training. I feel that if people had the tools and training, the teaching of writing would be more efficacious and enjoyable. Anything worth doing requires commitment and passion. And so, I would like to share our collective experience and research with others. Noemi and I seek to lighten the load and widen the road of possibilities.

When I get a chance to type up all of our notes from today, I will put it up on my Drop Box and share. I expect that you will find it helpful.  Brocolli cheese soup, bagels with cream cheese along with light roast coffee with lots of cream, and 6 hour days bring satisfaction, collaboration and hopefully something extra special to share down the road. What a day it has been!



Friday, July 7, 2017

Spanish Grammar Keepers Teacher and Student Versions Are Ready for Pick Up!





Noemi and I have been working like crazy today. Thus far we have finished our work on the Spanish Grammar Keepers 101 Chart. We worked on this chart last week. This week, we added the student version. We also added a teacher and student version in color and included one in black and white. We hope that this will help  bilingual teachers who are in need of resources in Spanish.

In addition to the Spanish Grammar Keepers 101, we are working on creating a Spanish and English Writing Road Map/Plan for the first semester. It will include narrative and expository composition, grammar, conventions, usage, and spelling patterning in English and Spanish.  We will also provide supporting documents and strategies that will facilitate the teaching of Writing in grade four and intermediate grades. We will share these documents once they are completed.  We look forward to providing more documents in Spanish. Some of these documents will support the implementation of the Spanish Grammar Keepers 101 Chart. We will share some strategies to teach process writing, revision, and editing that can be directly bridged to the STAAR Revising and Editing portion of the STAAR Grade 4 English and Spanish Assessment.

To download a copy of the Spanish Grammar Keepers Chart, please click on the link below. We hope that you will find this resource very helpful.
Spanish Grammar Keepers 101 Teacher and Student Version

Friday, June 30, 2017

Spanish Grammar Keepers 101 Chart

Noemi Leon-Garcia and I labored all day at Panera creating this Spanish Grammar Keepers 101 Chart. We made sure to include all of the TEKS from the Grade 4 Writing Assessment of Eligible Essential Knowledge and Skills Spanish Version that would fit on the 2 page document.
Hard at work at Panera
The document is very similar to Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers 101 Chart. We will be adding lessons to go along with this chart. What you will currently see is the teacher version. The student version will be on the menu the next time we meet at Panera. We actually have spent 8 hours here! Wow!
Noemi and I have been planning to do this for quite some time. We hope that you find it helpful.  More documents are on the way. Stay tuned. Please go to the link to view and download.

Spanish Grammar Keepers 101 Chart by M Ucles and N Leon-Garcia


Weighting of 7th Grade STAAR Writing Test

I attended the Trail of Breadcrumbs Trainer of Trainers Conference in New Braunfels recently. I shared some resources that I had created with my school in bilingual and mainstream classrooms. I also spoke about the break down of the 4th grade STAAR Writing Test. I mentioned that 75% of the test is based on the multiple choice section. There are two sections of the multiple choice portion of the test. The two sections are editing and revision. There are sixteen editing questions and eight revision questions. The composition portion of the test is counted as 8 points using the adjacent scoring model. The test is based on 32 items.  When we took a break, a seventh grade teacher asked me about the break down of the 7th grade test. She said that her school had never discussed the break down of the test. I told her that I knew it was a bit different. I also promised to look into it. In this post, I have the break down from a document from the Texas Education Agency's website.  You may access more of their resources by clicking on the TEA link provided. TEA Writing Resource Link  In addition, I am providing a screenshot of that information.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Writing Journeys with Trail of Breadcrumbs and Colleagues 2016-2017

I just got back from attending the Trail of Breadcrumbs Trainer of Trainers Conference in New Braunfels. Last year I attended this wonderful four day workshop. I left energized and renewed. I also left a little sad because I was going into a new job where I wouldn't necessarily be able to try out my new learning. That's when I decided to continue my journey of planning and living vicariously through a trusted colleague and 4th grade teacher. I started planning with Noemi Leon every Saturday at Egg and I. I shared with her the new strategies that I learned.  We decided to create a Writing plan. Noemi and I worked together as colleagues at Westwood Elementary the previous year so we tweaked what we did based on the data and new learnings. We constantly were planning and adjusting the whole year. We wanted to include more grammar day one and ideas from Trail of Breadcrumbs.  I am glad that I didn't just drop the learning and planning with Noemi.

During the 2016-2017 school  year, Noemi shared with me how the implementation was going. We spent hours debriefing on the phone and spending Saturday mornings  with waffles and kernel essays. We enjoyed our breakfast of Grammar Keepers and found ways to modify it in English and Spanish. We also relied on a steady diet Jeff Anderson's Mechanically Inclined and Gretchen Bernabei's Fun-Sized Academic Writing  along with Dead Giveaways, Coloring It Up, Indelible Moments, Pitchforks, and Renaming with a side of extra crispy bacon. We studied and analyzed the 2016 STAAR Released Writing Test in both languages. We noticed patterns and trends from previous years as well. By this time, I made the decision to return to Spring Branch. At Edgewood Elementary, I worked as a bilingual interventionist. I continued my writing journey with the teachers at Edgewood in the areas of Reading and Writing. I was able to share and tweak the Writing plan and staff develop teachers on the use of kernels, grammar, revision, and the new ideas that I learned and was currently implementing with Noemi and the Trail of Breadcrumbs Trainer of Trainer Conference. Many of the strategies that we implemented were very successful. I worked very closely with the bilingual classes as I modeled in classrooms, worked after school tutorials, and organized and taught five highly successful Saturday Writing Camps. The Edgewood students progressed in their thinking and understanding of the writing process, revision, grammar, and usage. I was able to help the teachers and students with activities and processes that would help the students in the composition of writing and relate it directly to the STAAR Writing Test. As a result, the Edgewood bilingual students performed the best in the district on the STAAR 4th Grade Writing Test. Edgewood had a 25 point increase from the previous year at 82% and 17% Academic Performance.  I am so glad that I didn't allow my love of teaching Writing and planning go to the wayside. I owe a debt of gratitude to Noemi, Vivian Pratts (the principal at Edgewood), my colleague and fellow interventionist Yvonne Rodriguez, and fourth grade teachers at Edgewood for perservering, trusting in process, and learning alongside me. We made a wonderful collaborative team.
Principal Vivian Pratts and Maureen Ucles



Wow! What a crazy school year 2016-2017 had been. It was a complete whirlwind. I am looking forward to organizing all the classroom lessons and Saturday Camp ideas to share with everyone. I have photos as well. I am also planning on writing more of the lesson in Spanish. Noemi and I would like to add more Spanish grammar, spelling, and punctuation lessons together. It will be Grammar Keepers in Spanish. We will make a 101 Grammar Keepers Chart in Spanish as well. I will share lessons to help with the revision part of the multiple choice portion of the STAAR Test as well. I plan on showing the lessons as well as videos throughout the year.







I didn't blog half as much as I did the previous year. I plan to change that this year. I will have my own class. Because of this, I will be able to provide more videos and photographic evidence of student learning. The sky is the limit. Vamos a ver lo que pasa!  We'll see what happens.  Knowing that I will be working with Noemi, Yvonne, Maria Sagredo (4th grade bilingual teacher as Edgewood) and anyone else that would like to join us, I feel that this year will be even more rewarding. I cannot wait to get my hands on the 2017 STAAR Writing Released Test. I heard that it will be released in August by TEA. I will be studying it over and over again. I have already begun to study our 2017 Writing Samples. We did really well as we had 55% of composition fall in the 5-8 range. As time allows, I will be posting more this summer. You might like to check back from time to time. Just write, baby...1, 2, 3.






















Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bringing Back a Classic!

Here is a meme that I made last year. I was emphatic about the idea that students need to search for textual evidence to support their ideas.