Tag Archives: collaboration

The Day I Became an ASCD Emerging Leader

It was Friday, May 16th.

That day, I was demonstrating close reading strategies I learned from the professional book Falling in Love with Close Reading. The teacher and I specifically created lessons on how to read closely for word choice. We introduced the lesson using a popular 2013 Super Bowl commercial and an article about the Nigerian girls who had recently been kidnapped. Overall, the lesson went well, but we struggled with keeping all of the students engaged. It was “Prom Day” — anyone who has taught high school knows exactly what that energy is like. After reflecting on the lesson together, I went back to to the media center (my “office” at each of my schools), debriefed with the media specialist on the Tech Bytes training we offered on the previous day, and I began checking my e-mail.

I saw an e-mail from ASCD.

Here is the funny part. You know how you sometimes just skim an e-mail when you are rushing through things. That is exactly what I did (bad literacy coach, I know!). I thought it said that I wasn’t chosen. I had applied the year before, and I did not get selected then. I closed the e-mail (but, thankfully, did not delete it.)

Later on, I re-opened it to get a better sense of its contents. That is when I saw the word Congratulations! I literally jumped out of my seat. I hugged my friend, the media specialist, and when, she asked me why, I told her that I had just received fantastic news (ASCD asked us to keep our selections confidential until the official ASCD press release). If you are unfamiliar with the ASCD Emerging Leaders program, you can learn more about it here.

It all happened on a normal day.

For the next several minutes I thought about what a great opportunity was ahead of me. I will be attending the ASCD L2L (Leader to Leader) conference later this month. I am most excited about the opportunities I will have to network with ASCD leaders, including the 2014 Class of ASCD Emerging Leaders. Already several former and new ASCD Emerging Leaders have contacted me. In my mind, I keep envisioning a “Community of 45.” Lately, I’ve been listening to the ASCD Whole Child Podcast, and I have heard frequent host Sean Slade discussing the concept of the classroom as a “Community of 30,” meaning that all students have a voice and important role in the learning in the community. I hope that each member of our 2014 Emerging Leaders group will share his or her voice, knowledge, and skills to contribute to the enhancement of our group as whole. I believe that together we are better.

So, back to the day that I became an ASCD Emerging Leader.

Did I go into the next class even better, knowing that I was an “ASCD Emerging Leader”? Well, let’s just say the last class of the day on “Prom Day” is no one’s shining moment. However, lots of learning occurred. My colleague and I probably learned more than that particular group of students.  But, we planned together for how to move learning forward on Monday.  We implemented new strategies  to foster student accountability, and we selected new engaging narrative texts based upon students’ feedback.

You see, I believe collaboration is the key to getting better, and I can’t wait to collaborate with the team of Emerging Leaders when I get to ASCD L2L.

The Vocab Games: Dinner Party

Dinner party is a fun game that you can use to expand vocabulary. The game develops students’ word consciousness by having them explore the morphological patterns between words.  Morphology, or teaching students to recognize the spelling-meaning connection of roots and affixes, has been proven to be enhance students’ vocabulary acquisition more effectively than using context clues alone.

Here is how you play Dinner Party.

First, create sets of cards with words that feature the target morpheme.  For example, one set might  focus on the root cand:  candidincandescentcandle, and candidate.  Another set could have pend, pens words:  pendantpensive, appendage, and impendingWords Their Way is a great source, but you can also find many sets by just Googling “words with ______ root.”  Make sure that you have at least one card for each of your students.

Here is a photo from one set I created for a recent game.  It featured nat, which means “birth.”


Now that you have all of the cards, simply shuffle them all together.  You will hand each of your students a card, and you will ask that they find “guests” who have similar cards to their own.  Once students begin to find one another, they are to sit down for their “dinner party.” They will then discuss what their words have in common.  This discussion should lead to students understanding the meaning of the root.  In addition, they begin to see how the root has literal meanings in some words and figurative meanings in others.

One of the best aspects of Dinner Party is that it is inquiry-based. Students discover meaning by connecting the new words to words they already know. In addition, it provides students with opportunities to move, which can increase engagement. Dinner Party can be a short activity, or it can be expanded upon by reshuffling the cards and playing again or by students sharing and teaching their word groups to the class.