Digital Natives


When Kaylee was three, she was able to maneuver an iPhone and knew how to put in the password and go to her 4 folders of apps.  Wheels on the Bus was one of her favorites when she was three.  

At age four, she loved AniMatch, an electronic version of the old memory game with animal pictures and sounds, as well as FirstWords Animals, where she matched lowercase letters and spelled words of animals that made noises and twirled and jumped and made her laugh.  And, by age four, she knew how to swipe and drag, pinch and enlarge on the iPad.  

At age five, she enjoys TeachMe Kindergarten and TeachMe First Grade, where addition, subtraction, spelling, and Dolch Sight Words are the topics.  

The other day, she sat on my lap to watch a You Tube video with me, and as it started, she moved my hand away from my laptop, went right to the arrows, “We need it bigger!” and took care of it herself, enlarging the screen. When did she learn that?  

Marc Prensky refers to our students of today, like 5-year old Kaylee or 9th grader Joey, as Digital Natives.  They are growing up or have already grown up in the digital world.  And we must adapt our teaching  to engage them in ways that interest them

Digital Natives.are used to receiving information fast.  They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than after. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards.  They prefer games to “serious work.” They have a whole library in their pocket. They have little patience for lectures, step-by-step logic and “tell-test” instruction. These skills are often totally foreign to the Digital Immigrants (Prensky 2001, 2010).  

When I presented at the National Title I Conference in January 2012, there were a handful of Keynote and smaller sessions that opened new windows and doors to digital literacy.  I consider myself fairly savvy when it comes to technology, not great, but better than some… but I had one “ah-ha” moment after another.   

What do some of the experts say? 

According to Ormiston (National Title I Conference 2012) the communication spectrum that supports a digital rich classroom includes:
è Collaborating
è Moderating
è Negotiating
è Debating
è Commenting
è Net meeting/Skyping/Video conferencing
è Reviewing
è Questioning
è Replying
è Posting and Blogging
è Networking
è Contributing
è Twittering
è Instant Messaging
è Texting
è Podcasting
è Producing
  •  Technology-related discussions often are focused primarily on ways to keep students from using it during the school day, rather than on the potential of digital technology to motivate students and enhance our instruction (Kingsley, 2010, Dagget, 2012).
  • Subjects (ages 10-11) translated a paragraph of texts into standard English and a Standard English paragraph into a text – There is considerable evidence of higher achievement with students who text (Plester, Wood, & Bell, 2008). 
  • “If teachers are not up-to-date with technology, (including but not limited to smart phones, text messaging, tweeting) they have no business teaching today’s children/students – they don’t have a clue what’s going on” (Dagget, National Title I Conference, 2012).

What can we do in our K-12 classrooms?  “Go faster, less step-by-step; we want more random access,” said a 12-year-old girl.  We can use Smartboards, blogging, podcasting, video production, digital storyboarding, wordle (a word generating image), glogster (a graphic blog), and don’t stop there… try digital story telling or writing. (Thanks to Stone & Norman, 2012, Speakers for Seattle Reading Council’s Spring Professional Learning, for sharing the following sites):

We will continue our digital conversation next week, with the benefits of Gaming, some more tips for the classroom, and a bit of research to support it. 


Until next time, share a literacy strategy!
Dr. Denise Gudwin

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today’s Tip: Unwrapping the Standards Step 3 and Looking at the whole picture.

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today is a continuation of last week’s look at Ainsworth’s (2003) work in unwrapping the standards, where we focused on Steps 1 and 2 (out of 5). Today’s tip is  Unwrapping the Standards Step 3.  We also want to take a moment and look at the whole picture.  Ainsworth’s whole 5-step process is a very good way to get to know the Common Core Standards, so next Monday, we will continue with Step 4 and then Step 5 the following Monday, but today we are focusing on Step 3 – Determine the Big Ideas.

Step 3 – Determine the Big Ideas… What do they need to already know?  What type of literacy skills will they need to use? Is this important for my students to learn?
Need to Know
Skills to Use
How will this help my students?





First, here are the standards.  Then look below for our focus discussion:

Kindergarten Teachers: 
Standard RL.K.2: With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
1st Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.1.2: Grade 1 students will retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
2nd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.2.2: Grade 2 students will recount stories, including fable and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
3rd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.3.2: Grade 3 students will recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
4th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.4.2: Grade 4 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

5th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.5.2: Grade 5 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
6th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.6.2: Grade 6 students will determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

Take a moment to think about what your students will “need to know” to do this…   what “skills will they need to use?”  and always, the bottom line is “how will this help my students?” Ask yourselves the questions that are pertinent to your grade level, your students’ levels and the needs of your group… For example:

What do they need to know?
  • Do they need to know what retell or recount means?
  • Do they need to know how a folktale is organized?
What skills will they need to use?
  • Do they need to be able to retell or recount?
  • Do they need to be able to listen to a story, to use their listening comprehension skills?
  • Do they need to know the difference between major details and insignificant ones?
How will this help my students?
  • Will this help them during your instructional time?   
  • How?
  • How will retelling, recounting, determining theme, identifying major details help them with their achievement in reading?

And finally, let’s look at the whole picture… go back and look at how the standard builds from one grade to another, look at the Kindergarten one, and the first grade, and second grade, all the way to sixth grade or above.  It is important to see where our students are going, not just having tunnel vision looking at our current grade only.  We can see how the learning is layered.  We will look at this whole picture more in-depth in a future post, with another standard.

“ ‘Unwrapping’ the academic content standards is a proven technique to help educators identify from the full text of the standards exactly what they need to teach their students.  Unwrapped standards provide clarity as to what students must know and be able to do.  When teachers take the time to analyze each standard and identify its essential concepts and skills, the result is more effective instructional planning, assessment, and student learning  (Ainsworth, L., 2003).

Until next time, share a strategy!

Dr. Denise Gudwin 

100 BOOKS EVERY CHILD SHOULD HEAR BEFORE STARTING SCHOOL

Since it’s back to school time, it seems fitting that we share some great books for kids…  Local librarieshave various lists of books – here’s one, Thanks to the King County Library System, Washington.  What if our Kindergarteners, first graders, or second graders come to us not having heard most of these books (or any others)?  We need to read aloud to our students.  Every day. Just like we eat. And just like we need gas in our car (or a plug in for our electric car) to drive it, our students need to hear good books, for reading and writing and background knowledge and vocabulary – and just for the love of reading…  Don’t let the age levels cloud your thinking!

Recommended for Babies:
 1.   Ten, Nine, Eight by Mollly Bang
 2.   Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
 3.   The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
 4.   Freight Train, by Donald Crews
 5.   Lunch, by Denise Fleming
 6.   Where’s Spot, by Eric Hill
 7.   Is it Red? Is it Yellow? Is it Blue? An Adventure in 
      Color, by Tana Hoban
 8.   Brown Bear, Brown Bear, by Bill Martin
 9.   Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom, by Bill Martin
10. Who’s Counting? by Nancy Tafuri
11. How Do I Put It On? by Shigeo Watanabe

Recommended for Toddlers:
12. On The Day I Was Born, by Debbi Chocolate
13. Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day
14. Feathers for Lunch, by Lois Ehlert
15. Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
16. Ask Mr. Bear, by Marjorie Flack
17. Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarina
18. Hush! A Thai Lullaby, by Minfong Ho
19. Rosie’s Walk, by Pat Hutchins
20. Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson
21. Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan
22. The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, by Jimmy Kennedy
23. Whose Mouse are You? by Robert Kraus
24. The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss
25. Over in the Meadow, by John Langstaff
26. Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin
27. Little Blue and Little Yellow, by Leo Lionni
28. Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney
29. Whose Hat? by Margaret Miller
30. Shades of Black, by Sandra Pinkney
31. The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper
32. Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann
33. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen
34. Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, by Richard
      Scarry
35. Lizard’s Song, by George Shannon
36. It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles Shaw
37. Farmer Duck, by Martin Waddell
38. Mouse Paint, by Ellen Stoll Walsh
39. “Hi, Pizza Man!” by Virginia Walter
40. Noisy Nora, by Rosemary Wells
41. The Lady with the Alligator Purse, by Nadine  
      Westcott
42. Buzz, by Janet Wong
43. The Napping House, by Audrey Wood

Recommended for Preschoolers:
44. Happy Birthday, Moon, by Frank Asch
45. Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, by Judi 
      Barrett
46. Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
47. The Mitten, by Jan Brett
48. Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown
49. The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant, by Jean de 
      Brunhoff
50. Mr. Grumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham
51. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee 
      Burton
52. Mama Zooms, by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
53. The Empty Pot, by Demi
54. Pancakes for Breakfast, by Tomie DePaola
55. Abuela, by Authur Dorros
56. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
57. Corduroy, by Don Freeman
58. Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag
59. The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Paul Galdone
60. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, by Paul Goble
61. All the Colors of the Earth, by Sheila Hamanaka
62. Lilly’s Puple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes
63. Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban
64. Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman
65. Angelina Ballerina, by Katherine Holabird
66. The Wolf’s Chicken Stew, by Keiko Kasza
67. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
68. The Caterpillar and the Polliwog, by Jack Kent
69. Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock, by Eric Kimmel
70. I Took My Frogs to the Library, by Eric Kimmel
71. Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester
72. I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, by Rose Lewis
73. On Market Street, by Anita Lobel
74. Frog and Toad Are Friends, by Arnold Lobel
75. Frog Goes to Dinner, by Mercer Mayer
76. Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
77. Raven, by Gerald McDermott
78. Goin’ Someplace Special, by Pat McKissack
79. Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore, by David McPhail
80. Martha Speaks, by Susan Meddaugh
           81. The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, by Trinka  
                 Noble
           82. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff
           83. The Ant and the Elephant, by Bill Peet
           84. The Talk of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
           85. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King,            
                Jr., by Doreen Rappaport
           86. Curious George, by H. A. Rey
           87. The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant
           88. Grandfather’s Journey, by Allen Say
           89. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
           90. The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss
           91. Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina
           92. Imogene’s Antlers, by David Small
           93. Snapshots from the Wedding, by Gary Soto
           94. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig
           95. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, by  
                 Simms Taback
           96. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very 
                 Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
           97. Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, by Bernard Waber
           98. Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen
           99. Seven Blind Mice, by Ed Young
           100.  Harry, the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion

How can exposing students to these books and others increase higher order thinking skills?

My favorite is My Big Dog, by Janet Stevens and her sister, Susan Stevens Crummel.  What’s yours?  Next month, I’ll share my personal favorite list, including Children’s and YA books.


Our topic next Thursday is Digital Literacy.  Stay connected for some great info!

Until next time, share a literacy strategy,
Dr. Denise Gudwin

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today’s Topic: Unwrapping the Standards – Beginning with Steps 1 and 2

Ainsworth gives us 5 steps to follow when Unwrapping the Standards. Today we will look at Step 1 – Code It, and Step 2 – Unwrap It, with one sample standard. Next Monday, we will dive into Step 3 – Determine the Big Ideas..  The whole 5-step process is a very good way to get to know the Common Core Standards. (Steps 3-5 are my favorites, but let’s start with #1 and #2.)

Step 1 is easy.  All you do is Code It! – Highlight or underline the verbs and then highlight or circle the nouns.  It’s just a way to start the whole unwrapping process. After you do that, complete Step 2 – Unwrap It!  Identify the concepts and skills in the standard, to determine what students need to understand and do… You may want to rewrite them separately, to help them stand out.  (For example, one of the standards below has as many as 7 separate concepts and skills embedded in it – read your grade level(s) and identify each concept and skill in your standard.)

Choose your grade group(s):

Kindergarten Teachers: 
Standard RL.K.2: With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.

1st Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.1.2: Grade 1 students will retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.

2nd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.2.2: Grade 2 students will recount stories, including fable and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

3rd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.3.2: Grade 3 students will recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

4th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.4.2: Grade 4 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

5th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.5.2: Grade 5 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

6th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.6.2: Grade 6 students will determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

Enjoy getting to know this one standard. This is just the beginning of the 5 Step Process. Next Monday, we will dive into it a little deeper. 

Until next time, share a strategy!
Dr. Denise Gudwin

How Do We Help Kids Pick the Right Books?

In my recent LITC 525 class, a few of my students asked the question, “How do we help kids pick the right books?”  Choosing books for someone else to read, especially if that someone is a student who struggles in reading, can be tricky  here are a few tips you might want to use:



1.  Let the students choose their own book based on their interest.  If Casey wants to look at a book about frogs, even if it is too difficult for him to read on his own, let him have time with the book on frogs.  Nonfiction books can be an excellent motivator for students.  Casey can gather information from the photographs and charts, and this particular book might encourage him to read a book on frogs at his level.  This is where an exemplary educator comes in – He/She will notice that Casey chooses books about frogs and will make sure to have other frog books accessible to him at his level.  (Books at his level and even some that are easier and more difficult.)  This is where topic baskets or theme bins come in handy!

   2.  Good Fit Books for Kids – I PICK (Boushey & Moser, based on Allington’s work)  Create an I PICK anchor chart for your students:
I choose a book.
Purpose – Why do I want to read it?
Interest – Does it interest me?
Comprehend – Am I understanding what I’m reading?
Know – I know most of the words?
3.  Five Finger Test
  • Choose a book that interests you.  Open to a page somewhere in the middle of the book.
  • Read the page. (Out loud is better.)
  • Hold up a finger each time you come to a word you don’t know or don’t understand.     

  • Now, the Five Finger Code:

1)    If you have only ONE FINGER up, you knew all but one word.  This book will be PRETTY EASY for you.  Thumbs up!
2)    If you held up TWO FINGERS, this book is JUST RIGHT FOR YOU!  You may need some help, but it will be a good learning book for you.
3)    If you held up THREE FINGERS, this book might be CHALLENGING, but try it.  You may enjoy it.  If you keep this book to read, be aware that it might be frustrating and you may not understand it as much as you’d like.
4)    If you held up FOUR FINGERS, this book will be VERY CHALLENGING, but you can read it with a partner if you’d like. If you really like this book and if it has pictures, illustrations, or charts, you may want to look at it on your own, but still find another book to read or a buddy to read this one with you.
5)    If you held up FIVE FINGERS or more, this book is probably TOO HARD to be fun to read.  That means STOP, and either save it for later or read it with someone who can read it to you.  If you really like this book and if it has pictures, illustrations, or charts, you may want to look at it on your own, but still find another book to read.
    4. The Goldilocks Rule – Find a book that is NOT TOO HARD, NOT TOO EASY, BUT JUST RIGHT. 
Which do you think your students would like the best?  Let’s keep them in the core of what we choose!
Until next time, share a strategy!
Dr. Denise Gudwin

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day!  Today’s Tip: Team Up With Your Librarian.


I met an amazing School Librarian last week, during my Common Core seminar in Oklahoma City. We had a great discussion about her role in the Common Core at numerous times during the day.  She’s the type of librarian that we all want to know.  Since she used to be a teacher for eight years, she has a broad vision of literacy in the library, coupled with her love of teaching and her love of reading. Every time I looked over at her during the all-day workshop, she was smiling, enthusiastic, validated, taking notes, sharing with her colleague, saying, “yes!”
Here are some of her ideas (which are absolutely wonderful, by the way!) specifically for teachers:

  • Get together with your librarian.  They have books and stories and ideas to share with you. Collaborate together.
  • She has lesson plan ideas and would love to share them with you.
  • She would love to use her lesson plans with your students during her library time, especially if you have communicated with each other, and if she knows the direction you are headed.
  • She would love to co-teach a lesson with you.  She will come into your classroom and teach a lesson with you.  Together.  Co-teaching.
  • The standards you work on are some of the same standards she works on. She would love to piggy-back on what you’re teaching.  She can reinforce that learning if she knows your focus.
  • She is passionate about books and learning, and wants to work together to give her students/your students a love of reading.
  • She wants to search, find, and gather up books and resources for you, to support you in this Common Core journey.

I hope you know a librarian who has some of these same attributes.  Think of what a team you two would make.

Does your librarian have similar characteristics?  He/she may, and you might not even know it!

What can you do to bridge that relationship between teacher and librarian?

Until next time, share a literacy strategy!
Dr. Denise Gudwin 

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day!

So, RL.__.6 is a standard that opened my eyes last year when I was preparing a Common Core workshop with teachers in New Hampshire, Missouri, and N. Dakota.  I wanted to share this one with you…

RL stands for Reading Standards for Literature.  The middle number ( __ ) represents the grade level, and the 6 represents the standard.

Now, what you want to do, is read over all of them, all the way down:

RL.K.6 (Kindergarten) – With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

same standard, 1st grade… RL.1.6 (1st grade) –  Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text.

same standard, 2nd grade… RL2.6 (2nd grade) – Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

WOW – did you just have the same though I did?  

If I was a kindergarten teacher, it would be really good for me to know that point of view is where this standard is leading, down the line.  As a kindergarten teacher, I wouldn’t stop at name and illustrator and the role(s) of who is telling the story… I would start to weave in oral discussions about point of view.  

I know a 5-year-old little girl named Kaylee, who has been talking about point of view with me since she turned 4.  We didn’t call it point of view then… We talked about what the story would be like if my cat Mika, was the main character and she was telling the story, and how would the story change if Ty, my big brown chocolate lab was telling the story, and how it would sound really different from Mika’s version.  I didn’t label our discussions “point of view” but we had some rich dialogue going back and forth, all laying the foundation for point of view later on.

With Common Core, it’s really important that we look down the road and see where our grade’s standard is heading.  It’s a way we can set our students up for success. 

Here’s where that same standard is heading:
RL.3.6 (3rd grade) – Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

RL.4.6 (4th grade) – Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

RL5.6 (5th grade) – Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

RL.6.6 (6th grade) – Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

and then look where 8th grade takes us (I know I skipped 7th grade, but I just want us to look ahead.)  RL.8.6 – Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

WOW!  So, my It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! TIP this week is – don’t put blinders on and only see your grade level’s standards.  Take the one you are working on and look at the next grade, and the next, and the next… It might help direct the way you are teaching. 🙂

Click here for more Common Core ELA Standards.

Until next time, share a literacy strategy!
Dr. Denise Gudwin