Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top 10 Accent Fonts for Teachers

Notice the personality of the é in each one.
free font downloads here,   and here.   Here too!
These are my favorite accent fonts that I use as a teacher. I like them for many reasons, mostly because they all have a normal "a" with the exception of Tekton Pro, that was already on my macbook pro. The weird seems to confuse my young students. I expose them to that a as well. . I also like these because they have a range in thicknesses and the accent marks look different in each. As a bonus, we don't have to use Comic Sans anymore! Since I'm always creating Spanish Resources, the most important thing to me is finding fonts that have accent marks. For more fancy fonts, use my links at the top of this post. I promise that I am not getting paid per click or anything. I just think they are a good resource. I didn't even know about the Google Fonts! Please let me know if this post was helpful.

Charlie Chaffin

Common Core and Poetry


There is one that can clink
And one that can fold
“A dollar is a dollar is a dollar...”
But I am yet to be sold

White powder wig, 
And lips shut tight
Like Mona Lisa
No teeth in sight


Four little Presidents
Lined up one by one 
Can hope to be more
But only make one

and Lincoln

Ten that shine so bright 
20 that can stand upright 
And 100 copper men 
...with no hat in sight

E Pluribus Unum
“Out of many, one”
This stands for the 13
That also became One

by Charlie Chaffin

This poem can be used in conjunction with Shel Silverstein's poem called 'Smart.' Have you ever read it? It is so funny, so this kid gets a dollar but he keeps making bad trades because he thinks that 'more' is better. In the end, he ends up with five pennies instead of a dollar. Students are supposed to be making connections across texts so that they can integrate their knowledge. Hence, my poem about the dollar. I also suggest reading a book called Benny's Pennies. That would be a perfect addition to this introduction to money for kids. Have students demonstrate the kid's confusion about money in Silverstein's poem. Let students act out the scenarios with plastic or magnetic coins. This is critical thinking, baby. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

4 Close Reading Strategies

“Close, analytic reading stresses engaging with a text of sufficient complexity directly and examining meaning thoroughly and methodically, encouraging students to read and reread deliberately.” (PARCC, 2011, p. 7)

     This very well may be how "Close Reading" became such an important term as we shift to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).   
     The Common Core urges teachers to expose students to complex texts, exemplary texts, and real documents like the Constitution. Imagine what information can be gleaned from Abraham Lincoln's speech, 'The Gettysburg Address.' 
These are a four close reading strategies that you can implement now:

1. Short Reading Passages lend themselves to “close analytical reading” and they are easy to read over and over again. Use quality passages that are worthy of rereading.

2. An TUTOR paragraph or stanza can be pulled out from a long passage or poem, so that students can learn about key ideas, text structure, and author word choices. For KINDERGARTEN and 1ST GRADE, reading passages can be used as a ‘read aloud.' Young students can certainly learn about TEXT FEATURES even if they are not yet fluent readers. 
3. Teaching students to glean the meaning of words in context instead of giving them the definition right off is better practice. Let students them “grapple” and "wrestle" with the text to build their own understanding. No more is the teacher doing most of the work.
4. The COMMON CORE INITIATIVE expects students to synthesize information from multiple 'related' texts. This could be a biography and a timeline, or an article on a topic and a web source and a table or graph. Passing end of year PERFORMANCE TASKS will depends on these skills. Get your students used to this now.
Charlie Chaffin 

Friday, January 24, 2014

New Aptitude Test ?

The new future for test takers. No more pencil and paper tests.
     The definition of aptitude is the capability; ability; innate or acquired capacity for something; or talent. The key words are 'innate or acquired' and 'talent.' What if you have a talent for taking tests? Can tests measure true aptitude? 

     What happens when teachers 'teach to the test?' Then let's make a better test that measures students' application of their conceptual knowledge: This is what the PERFORMANCE TASK is attempting to do. 
     A test that shows student comprehension at a deeper level is a benchmark for the new SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) assessments. Some complain that this test will be too hard, but so few are achieving ADVANCED or PROFICIENT status in the current high-stake state exams. Here is an example of the new kind of aptitude test:

“My grandma pulled the ball out, unwrapped it, and held it out for us to see. The ball was 
scarred almost beyond recognition. It had dog bite marks, dirt scuffs, and fraying seams. Right in the middle was a big signature in black ink that I had somehow overlooked. It was smudged now and faded, but it still clearly said ‘Babe Ruth.’ I began to shake inside.”

Instructions to students:
Click on two phrases from the paragraph that help you understand the meaning of scarred.

Along with this sample item there are others that include watching a video, synthesizing information from at least two sources, writing a new ending, and clicking on sentences that support the main idea. This just seems more fun and valuable than a paper and pencil test with four choices to bubble. Do you agree? See for yourself by clicking the link below. 

On the flip side, have you ever wondered what a world without assessments be like? No red ink, no stressed out principals, students, and teachers. Imagine how colleges would accept student candidates or how lawyers or doctors would show proficiency, UC Santa Cruz tried it and failed in my opinion. 

Because of tests, the very rich cannot buy their way into professions. Remember how many times John Kennedy Jr. had to take the BAR Exam. Could tests actually be good? 

Yes, I believe so, but we have to continue the quest to build a better test.

Do you believe America has a true meritocratic society? 

Charlie Chaffin

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Writing in Kindergarten

The COMMON CORE suggests that our students master Persuasive, Explanatory, and writing that Conveys Experience, either real or imaginary. 
     In KINDERGARTEN, students may not yet able to write persuasive pieces or an argument but an Opinion piece is a baby step. From there, they will be able to support their opinion with evidence. These are both skills that will help with the aforementioned writing styles. 

 Graphic Organizers work well with 'Informative Writing'
     Here is a great example of how a Kindergarten teacher is showing her students the different types of writing styles. Just exposing students to quality WRITING will pay back in millions as kids "get it." An example with pumpkins is great for OCTOBER but the idea can easily be incorporated with any HOLIDAY theme. Imagine a President topic in FEBRUARY. 

What would that look like 
in your classroom?

Charlie Chaffin

Teacher Blog

Just came across a job post on NPR for an Education Blogger. Dream job alert! Is this a good place to insert my teaching credentials?

I have been an educator for many years and in many capacities. I taught KINDERGARTEN ( This was by far the most enjoyable because I was their first teacher and I taught them to read! ) Nobody ever forgets their Kindergarten teacher.  

I taught FIRST GRADE but as a DUAL IMMERSION teacher. (This was amazing because I learned so much myself. I knew Spanish very well, but not being formally educated in the language, accent marks were not my strong point. I learned that only the first word in a title is capitalized. Most of all I learned that there are not enough resources for DI teachers. I literally spent hundreds of hours creating new resources for my class.

SECOND GRADE is truly the sweet spot. They are more independent, most can read and write well enough AND they  are still cute.

THIRD GRADE was very enjoyable because the math concepts got more intense. I loved teaching them the ROUNDING RAP! I see this as a BRIDGE year. Connecting them to all of the possibilities. If they are still having reading difficulties by the end of this year, chances are they may never catch up.

FOURTH GRADE was all about STATE HISTORY and the application of their conceptual knowledge.

OOOH! FIFTH GRADE students are more into their peers than the teacher. It gets a little depressing. As a SUB, however, in short amounts of time. I really like this group.

I also got my Masters in ED ADMIN, which means I can be a principal but that is a BEAST I will tackle much later.  

Ahem but my qualifications fall short? 

They want a journalist with six years experience but I believe that a teacher that has been out on the front lines make a better reporter. At the very least they would know what issues are truly important to teachers. Nonetheless, I applied and I would be willing to move to Washington D.C. to prove that I can hang with the big journalists at NPR. But for now the Common Core Blogger teacher blog makes its debut! 

Like every new blogger asks themselves, "How will my blog be different?" and "Why will someone want to visit my blog?" Hmmm…I know that I want to be an advocate for students, parents, teachers, and even to fellow teacher bloggers. I'm hoping to share some of the best BLOG TIPS that I come across. Stay tuned in by following ! I have a great READING STRATEGY that I want to publish soon.

I do know that I cannot just concentrate on one grade as most education bloggers do. So you will be seeing posts about MANY IDEAS across MANY GRADE LEVELS and so many TEACHING STRATEGIES

What do you think, are teachers better equipped to blog about education or are journalists?

Charlie Chaffin