Reading Comprehension Tool – Read Works


Here is a great tool for Reading Comprehension. is a FREE site that has:

  • Leveled reading passages (grade level or lexile level)
  • Novel Units
  • Lesson Plans
  • Worksheets/Graphic Organizers
  • Comprehension Units
  • Skills/Strategy Units

When you sign-up for a free account, you save things to “My Binder.”  It allows you to refer back to lessons or units you have saved.  Another thing I really like is the abundance of informational non-fiction texts/passages – which is new for Common Core!  The passages also have questions associated with them.  Create an account and start using this great site.



Four Quadrant Math Problem

As most of of us know, math word problems are always at the end of the problem set for the day and 95% of the time we NEVER get to them. If you were to ask most students the math problems they dislike the most…drum roll… WORD PROBLEMS!!! Why is that? Maybe it is because, we teachers, never instruct our students to work them out, where to begin, or how to “attack” a word problem. I think it is our fault that they “hate” these type of problems. But, another sad part of this is that these word problems are usually the only time our students see the math in the “real world.” Word problems should help them make a better connection to the math. We should never get the question, “Why do I have to learn this?”

So, what does this have to do with the Common Core? Below is a graphic of The Standards for Mathematical Practices with Common Core:

Math Standards of Practice

Graphic –

If done correctly, a word problem can cover all eight mathematical practices, here is how!

Last year, a colleague of mine (Mrs. Mchale), told me about a way she was having students work in teams/groups to solve a math word problem. She explained the way she was having students do this on a poster. I thought this was perfect for the upcoming Common Core State Standards. I created a graphic organizer or template for my students to use. I named it Four Quadrant Math Problem:

  1. Show with numbers
  2. Show with a picture or graph
  3. Show with words/sentences
  4. Explain your thinking

You can give the same word problem to each group or switch it up. Usually, I have about six groups and will give half of them problem #1 and the other half of the groups problem #2. Then, they get to work on a rough draft, and then come to a consensus before making their final draft on poster paper with markers. After all the groups are finished, we display and discuss one problem at a time. We compare and contrast ways they solved problems, graphed or drew problems, and their thinking behind the problem. This really allows all the students to really “see” other ways to solve the same problem. This is truly the most powerful aspect of this activity. Below is the graphic organizer I created, please share and use it. I would love to hear from you on here about your experience using it in your class or even at home!!

4 quadrant math problem

My First Couple Weeks with Common Core…



Well, my first couple weeks of implementing the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.  Some of you are re-reading and probably scratching your head!  Basically it means that I will be using more Social Studies, Science, and Technical text to teach English Language Arts.

So, my biggest challenge so far has been how to use my school district’s adopted History/Social Studies curriculum for my language arts program.  In other words, I am basically creating my own pacing guide and ways of meeting the CCSS Standards.  Additionally, I have to make sure to teach the current state content standards to the district benchmarks and the California Standards Test (CST).

Needless to say, I am kind of feeling like I felt my first couple years of teaching, when I had to create and plan everything from scratch.  This is time-consuming and draining mentally and physically.  Last week, I was feeling like I was burning the candle at both ends.  Some of you are probably saying, “How come you are doing this?”

Well, the answer is simple, the new Common Core Standards are better for our kids and future generation.  We haven’t done a great job teaching our students how to think critically or for themselves.  We have taught them to take multiple choice test well, but that isn’t how the real world is.  These new standards are meant to get our students college and career ready!  We lost sight of that since I have been teaching the past ten years.

This challenge of piloting ways to implement CCSS, has changed the ways I am teaching and what my kids are doing to show what they really know.  They are just picking “C” for an answer choice.  Here is a great video about picking “C” and I encourage you to watch and share this.  It is what our current college and young adults have been trained to do!

I hope you follow me on this exciting journey into Common Core and I encourage you to comment and share with friends.

Here’s to a great 2013-2014 School Year!