Five ways I still use my workshop videos

Almost two years have passed since I recorded every mini-lesson for the whole year in my Grade 6 English class. Here is how I use still use them:

  1. Teacher support – I’ve shared the channel and unit playlists on a variety of platforms and many teachers have responded positively saying that the videos have helped them. I also share them with teachers on my team as refreshers for upcoming units.
  2. Reading Intervention prep – I teach reading intervention groups using LLI each day. I constantly refer to my videos so I know exactly what is happening each day of the unit. LLI provides opportunities to teach a large number of skills and referring back to my own teaching helps me choose something appropriate. It’s like having a script of what I said for a whole year that’s very neatly organized.
  3. Professional Growth – I often look at the playlist and think about why some of the lessons were so damn long. I’ll watch parts of the lesson and talk with English teachers about where I screwed up so that they can avoid the same mistakes. I think about what I could have done differently, what makes me cringe, and what makes me proud. Conveniently, YouTube playlists show the time of the video in the thumbnail.
  4. Reminiscence – The videos capture two quarters of school prior to COVID. They are like the book Tommy discovers is “The Fun They Had.” Like the book in the story, the videos are a window into the past when students and teachers didn’t wear masks, could sit shoulder to shoulder, and hi-five each other. It was a time when we could see each other smile, and I am fortunate to have captured it.
  5. Adjustment & Growth – No one was prepared for virtual school. Being able to look at my early virtual workshop lessons and compare them to the end of the year is interesting for me because I can see how we evolved as virtual students and teachers, as departments, and as teams of teachers.

These aren’t the only reasons to record yourself teaching. These are on my mind right now because the unit that just started in English is Social Issues Book Clubs, the last in-person unit of the 2019-2020 school year. It’s hard to believe two years have passed.

I feel fortunate to have these recordings and suggest everyone try it.

Word Wall Card Template

Creating a word wall that is a living and breathing part of the classroom can be a challenge for teachers. Unfortunately, if words are simply put on the wall, they don’t do much to promote acquisition. Word learning requires repeated exposure to words in different ways; word walls need to be interactive to be effective. Here is a way that we are trying this year:

Click HERE for a copy of the slides

This template can be used in a variety of ways to promote repeated exposure and thinking about words on the wall.

Suggested Use:

  1. Teacher starts the class with a word on each student’s desk, or a word per group of students.
  2. Teacher asks students to discuss the word and add the Korean translation, English synonym, or an English example.
  3. Students pass the cards to another student or table and repeat step 2.
  4. New groups or a new student reads the card and fills in the missing piece(s) of information.
  5. Students put the words back on the wall.
  6. The same thing happens in a later class.

Ideally, the students are thinking about three different ways to interact with the target word. Discussions can happen about pronunciation, nuances, and real world examples. While the words are on the wall, it’s important that teachers are constantly referring to them when they come up in teacher talk.

This is one of the many ways the cards can be used. What is important is that students are:

  1. Sharing ideas with others about words.
  2. Considering more than only a definition of the word.
  3. repeatedly interacting with the words.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to know if this is something you are interested in trying and how it works.

NoRedInk and ReadTheory in Grade 6 Reading/Writing Workshop


This post will present preliminary data on the effect of NoRedInk and ReadTheory on Korean international school grade six students. Grade six English teachers gave students 10 minutes in the beginning of every English class to work on NoRedInk (NRI) and Readtheory (RT). Based on MAP growth in Reading and Language Use, NoRedInk has a stronger effect on student performance.


I am a grade six ELL teacher at Korea International School Jeju. We use a co-teaching model in the MS, so I am in every English class with the English teacher, Paul Boland. We started using the Teacher’s College Reading/Writing Workshop this year in the MS, continuing its rollout that began the year before in the ES. Our student population is mostly Korean, and while they are high-performing students, many need English language support.

As we started developing our lessons, we realized there weren’t many opportunities to practice language during the class. Our instinctual need to provide opportunities for student output set us up to struggle with the 10-12 minute mini-lesson time limit. Both Paul and I have been in Korea for a long time (longer than our students), and we know that students – and their parents – want opportunities to practice language. Long story short, we wanted an easy way to practice in class and at home, so as soon as workshop started, so did NRI and RT.

We see four groups of students for 80 minutes every other day on a 4-day schedule (A, B, C, D). Students begin every class with 10 minutes of NRI or RT, depending on the day. Students were also encouraged to use these programs at home. Every report or email home reminded students and parents that they should be practicing at home.

No Red Ink

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 9.33.43 AMNo Red Ink is an interactive website where students can practice their grammar and writing skills. We really like how NRI differentiates and provides tutorials that teach students when they’re wrong. We also like that sentence subjects come from movies, books, sports, and a variety of other topics the kids are interested in. There is even a way to put your friend’s names in the system so that they show up in your practice sentences.


readtheory logoRead Theory is an interactive website focusing on the skill of reading comprehension.  To start, students must read several pieces and answer comprehension on each one. The texts are organized into Grades 1 to 12 reading levels.  Once a beginning level is determined by the program, the student must read texts that at the determined level. When the student continues to get all the questions correct, the program bumps them up to the next grade level of reading text.  Likewise, if the student makes several mistakes while reading the text, the program bumps them down to a lower grade level. This program does not show the students why their answers were correct or incorrect.


Data Organization

At the end of the year, we had data for 60 students; 60 students that had an equal amount of instruction and had taken the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) tests in the Fall and Spring. All 60 students also had an equal amount of time to use NRI and RT.

To organize the data, we split the students into groups of 15 and labeled them A, B, C, and D. To measure their growth, we used the Conditional Growth Percentile (CGP). The CGP is a percentile that compares students growth with other students in the same grade beginning the year at the same achievement level and receiving the same amount of instruction. The CGP is useful because it levels the playing field in terms of how much growth is expected each year.


Here is an example of what the data looks like:

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 6.12.53 PM

To see the effect of RT and NRI on growth, we sorted each column numerically and divided the list into four groups. As you can see above, the number of topics mastered increases as you would scroll down the page. The 60 students, as mentioned before, are split into four groups. The example above shows group A. The CGP of group A was then averaged and compared to the other groups. To compare groups, we averaged the CGP of each group.



RT and NRI collect different data. For the NRI analysis, we used the number of topics mastered; for RT, we used number of quizzes taken and number of quizzes passed.  

We also asked students if the program helped them grow as a reader (RT) or learn about English (NRI).

Results & Discussion

Quizzes Taken and Average CGP .                 Quizzes Passed and Average CGP

The above charts show CGP growth in the four groups. Keep in mind that a 0.50 CGP (50th percentile) means that the group as a whole grew just as much, or better, than half of the students who started the year at the same achievement level, received the same amount of instruction, and were in the same grade.

What sticks out to us is that the difference among groups is small. When comparing the data, there is a slight upward trend in Chart #2. What this suggests is that passing tests requires more engagement. It is likely that some of the students simply clicked through questions for 10 minutes. 

Topics Mastered and CGP (1)Within NoRedInk, students master a topic once they’ve answered a number of questions successfully. The data here clearly shows that the more topics a student covered, the more they grew. We’re excited to see these results because direct language instruction is something that we find difficult to include in the workshop model. A strength of NRI is that it tells students what they are doing wrong. When a student provides an incorrect answer, NRI gives tips and clues, and the student can try again.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 4.29.42 PM

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 4.29.27 PM

It’s clear that student feel the programs are helping them learn about English and grow as readers. So far, our data show that NRI is doing a better job at that. What we find curious is that about 80% of all students feel that the programs help them, yet the amount of time students spend working through the programs varies greatly. If most of them feel that it’s helping them, why aren’t more of the students reading more articles and mastering more topics? If 80% of people agreed that drinking eight glasses of water a day kept them healthy, but less than half of them drank eight glasses a day, what questions would we ask? These are the same questions we need to ask our students.

Looking ahead

We hope to continue using these programs during the 2018-19 school year and move from 60 to several hundred students. Keeping in mind that students will need to be taught how to use the programs effectively, in and out of school, we hope to increase the amount of time they spend meaningfully working through the material.

Flipboard Magazines with Google Docs

Two years ago, our language arts class tweeted photos explaining text-to-world connections while reading The Giver. That was an eighth grade class well versed in social media. This yescreenshot_2016-12-12-23-20-47ar I teach sixth grade and though Twitter doesn’t enforce their age requirement of 13, other social networking services like Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram do enforce theirs. As a result, social media is still a few years away from most of my sixth graders – I’m not complaining!

Creating a Flipboard magazine from the student tweets was simple. All I had to do was assign a unique hashtag for the assignment, search for the hashtag in Flipboard, and flip the results – simple.

It’s not so easy this time, but I’ve found a solution that I want to share.

  1. Clean up the Google doc: Things like paragraph spacing and picture placement can make the post look odd if it’s not done right. What I’ve found is that tabbiscreen-shot-2016-12-12-at-11-26-28-pmng the beginning of each paragraph and keeping pictures in line with text work best. Make sure the title of the document is the title of the article and that student last names are removed.
  2. Publish: Click ‘File’ and ‘Publish to web’. This will open a window that gives you a link to the published document. Copy and paste link to open the published document.
  3. Flip it!: To complete this step, you’ll need the Flipboard + Flip It Google Chrome extension – get it here. Once you’ve added the extension to Chrome, click the extension to add the published document to your Flipboard magazine.
  4. Enjoy: Now that your published Doc has been added to your Flipboard magazine, you can share it with your students and colleagues.

Our students wrote newspaper articles loosely based on research they had done to create a video for the student video contest. Since they submitted their articles in Schoology via Google Drive, I can make a copy of the original documents to ‘clean up’ and then publish.