Free Resources For New Teachers

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Common Core Standards

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2009 Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to Anna J. Small Roseboro, the California Association of Teachers of English 2009 Distinguished Service Award winner. In our profession, so much is required in order to be everything our students deserve. The demands are great; this is no career for the uncommitted. Teaching well takes diligence, knowledge, passion, energy, flexibility, and skill. More »

Books written by Anna

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New Teacher Resources

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Revisions that Improve Writing

Writing Draft -2How Do I Make It Better?

” Students sometimes wonder how they can make a well written early draft even better. If you teach them specific steps they can take to improve their writing themselves, you will have taught a skill they can use for life. Consider using alliteration to help them recall the tasks that can be done in any order. During revision, encourage students to apply the Four E’s.


  •  Expand – develop what is written to make ideas clearer and more interesting without being repetitive. Add more information to show rather than tell. Use carefully chosen examples from literature (any reading and viewing), life (personal experiences and observations), and lessons learned in other content area courses. This may require research to find credible sources and experts to add weight to their arguments.

  • Explain  – clarify what is written by using various reasons based on experiences and observations and lessons learned in other courses. “This is important because…”

  • Exchange and rearrange – what words can be substituted that will make the writing clearer, more interesting, more precise? Consider using more active verbs instead of passive ones with forms of the verb “to be”; more concrete nouns, more words that have the positive or negative connotations to create the desired mood in your reader. Think about ways words, sentences, paragraphs can be rearranged to make the ideas unfold more smoothly, making the thoughts less unambiguous, more interesting, and more inviting to consider. What does audience need to know before making a decision? This is why skillful informative writing is important.

  • Expunge - get rid of distracting or weak words, phrases, and sentences that cloud writing that clouds and prevents ideas from shining through, glowing with authority as the writing informs, convinces, persuades, and even entertains.”

*Excerpt from TEACHING WRITING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL: Common Core and More (2013)

Formative Assessment

Thinking - Clip ArtHow do students use results of your assessments?

“Informative assessment isn’t an end it itself, but the beginning of better instruction” Carol Ann Tomlinson

Teachers can increase student learning by helping students understand ways to use results of formative assessments.  Include in your instruction time for students to discuss what they are expected to know and be able to do by the end of an instructional unit.

Equally important is to let them know how you will measure their acquisition of knowledge and demonstration of skills.  This, of course, will take some planning on your part.  you will need to know what you expect to see as you measure their increased knowledge and skill. Blooms Verbs Action Wheel

Talk about levels and depth of thinking.  Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy is accessible to most students, but you may need to help them understand the academic language.  Share with them this chart with set of verbs to give students ideas on ways they can demonstrate their learning.

Discussing these issues puts teachers on the same side…learning together.

While I agree with Carol Ann Tomlinson’s quotation that informative assessments can be beginning of better instruction, I’d add that informative assessments can be the beginning of better learning for the students.

Once students understand what they are expected to know and be able to do as well as ways they can demonstrate their increased understanding, they are more likely to cooperate, collaborate  and eagerly anticipate a range of assessment opportunities.



Engaging Starts

Introducing New Units of Study

We know that getting off to a good start makes all the difference in the world.  Why not consider some of these ideas for kicking off your next unit of study or the next book you plan to teach.  With careful planning, gathering resources, and scheduling use of technology, you and your students can have the time of your lives reading, writing, viewing and talking about fiction, non-fiction, print and digital media on topics that interest you all
and also meet those COMMON CORE STANDARDS  or curriculum standards
required by your school, district or state.

Introducing New Units and New Books
at the 2014 National Conference of English Teachers annual convention.

Presentations for NCTE and CEL 2014

NCTE and CEL 2014 were Inspiring!

2014 Convention Logo


Thanks for joining me  in Washington, DC area , November 19-25 for the 2014  National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention at the Gaylord National Harbor in Oxin Hill, MD.

Story As the Landscape of Knowing

ANDERSON BOOKS had my  books on implementing COMMON CORE and MORE.

If you did not  did not have opportunity to come, you still  can download handouts from sessions.

FRIDAY, November 20

2:30pm-5:15pm DE High School Matters – Join me at round table for English Department Leaders – Share ideas and learn about CEL“Introducing New Units and Books” Especially designed for Department Leaders.

Introducing New Units or Books PPT.




Monday, CEL Session D2 “Maximizing Meetings – Department-Chairs-Handout

Conference on English Leadership 2014 “Leading in a Collaborative World”

CEL Conference events.


Exploring Genres of Fiction #2

#2 – Historical Fiction

Teaching or assigning historical fiction can be a rewarding experience for teacher and students.  I’ve found it a great way to collaborate with colleagues on cross-content or interdisciplinary assignments.  Students have found it a wonderful way to learn about specific historical periods, people and events within the comfort of a familiar text structure of fiction.

 This assignment is one designed to assess student recall, interpretation and ability to analyze a work of historical fiction they’ve read for a quarterly book report.  Notice there is choice within an element of teacher control. All students are required to respond to the first five questions, then they can choose five or more from the remaining eight prompts.  Here are the questions: Historical Fiction Book Report

Depending on the length of your class periods and the skills of your students to work in a time crunch, you may decide to give your students the questions the day before the class meeting.  In that case, you probably can be more demanding about the details and citation for page numbers.  In most cases, you want the students to think carefully about their reading and the concepts you’ve been teaching, so the in-class assessment may be more on your students’ ability to synthesize, to  pull things together rather than on what they can assess rapidly.

If you’re working on an interdisciplinary unit based on a specific historical period, you may decide to tailor this assignment to validate what students are learning in history instead of focusing only on the literary elements of their book.  Anyway, here’s a link to the set of question I used for an in-class assessment.  See Chapter 9. “Opening the Past Imaginatively: Teaching Historical” of my book TEACHING MIDDLE SCHOOL LANGUAGE ARTS: Incorporating Twenty-First Century Literacies for more ideas for teaching historical fiction in an engaging and effective way,

Depending on the length of your class periods, or the skills of your students to work in a limited time session, you may give the students the questions the day before the class meeting.  In that case, you’ll probably be more demanding about the details and citation for page numbers.