Sunday, October 16, 2016

#ISTELitChat is back this fall 2016

Michele Haiken

Sep 20, 2016 9:57 PM
Michele Haiken
#ISTELitChat is back this fall with an amazing line up of guest moderators.  Join us THIS SUNDAY 9/25 at 9pm EST in celebration of librarians when guest moderators of #2jennsbookclub - a young adult literature twitter book club - Jennifer Lagarde and Jennifer Northrup address librarian's as a school's best resource and friend.

Mark your calendars for twitter rich conversations about topics relevant to technology and literacy.
September 25th - Librarian’s Are a School’s Best Friend w/@candidlibrarian & @jenniferlagarde of #2jennsbookclub
October 23rd - Guest Moderator: @LeeAraoz
November 27th - Guest Moderators @TheConnectedEDU
December 18th - Supporting ELL/ESL Learners in our Classroom
January 22nd - Guest Moderator @jmattmiller, author of Ditch that Textbook
February 26th - Addressing Dyslexia in Our Classrooms w/International Dyslexia Association
For more information check out
All are welcome to participate in twitter chats.
Michele Haiken
Rye Middle School Parents Organization
Stamford CT

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Student Animal Advocacy Online: Humane Education, Literacy Learning, and More

 by Dr. Rose Reissman

The author’s  sample animal advocacy project as it appears on the Jane Goodall website: It is hoped that teachers and students will become part of the site’s projectmap and develop online resources highlighting their local, national orinternational animal advocacy projects.  The site offers mini grants.

Middle School Humane Literacy

Humane education and citizenship learning can be made to happen jointly as a single classroom participatory action. This, without the class needing time or permissions for a school trip.

As they enter a classroom door embellished with downloads of animal advocacy graphics and student posters protesting animal abuse, students can immediately act as animal advocates while learning grade literacy skills.  How better to further the goals of  middle school language arts learning, including text engagement, spoken and written persuasive arguments, and short research, plus range of print and digital texts for reading and writing,  than through integrating deep content study as students work to save animals. 
Two middle school language arts professionals, who have integrated student advocacy around the needs of abused animals into their teaching, do so based on their personal involvement with dog and cat rescue animals as well as their interest and concern about endangered chimps. 
Each was originally inspired by their personal experience in adoption and volunteering at an animal rescue site. They now make Human Literacy a favored part of their curriculum and define it as using humane content study, which can included:  viewing of videos, reading of texts, review of websites, interacting with rescue workers at local animal shelters, writing advocacy letters on animal rights issues, creating persuasive posters on behalf of abused animals, and unwanted pets needing adoption, as well as developing a website to link animals with adopting families in forever homes- a slew of literacy skills embedded real world actions.   
What is truly magnificent about humane literacy is that through focus on these deserving animals who obviously lack spoken and written literacy skills to communicate their needs and plight to government and public, students in middle school classes become their authentic voice and advocates as they validate literacy skills learning. 

Students address persuasive skills writing and reading, read across a range of print and digital texts and demonstrate speaking and listening skills as they fundraise for dog treats and medical care costs plus chimp sanctuaries at school . 
One of these colleagues' classes uploaded an animal advocacy project to Jane Goodall's website
( ), sharing their learning about the plight of animals and illustrating at the same time how this approach represents a door to literacy and humane learning in a real world context.
Copies of letters students sent their New York Council representative asking that he vote for legislation against dog fighting.  This complex issue deeply engaged students in online news texts like the emotionally gripping story of Oogy the pit bull, whose ear was torn off as a result of his having been deliberately bred for dogfights, the picture of a dog with half a face and one ear, the extensive medical support he received, and then his eventual adoption into a loving “forever” family, touched the students emotionally; far beyond the boundaries of   mandated ELA text engagement. 
Through such emotionally charged digital storytelling, middle school students were able to proudly and passionately voice their arguments against dog fighting in a set of letters. Katherine, a sixth grader noted:  “Dog fighting is bad because the owners make their dogs suffer so very much.  Dogs are sentient animals who can love and be loved.  They should not be used by owners as weapons against their own species. “   Nyla, another sixth grader, noted that dogs “deserve like children to be treated with respect and care.”  Nyla also advises the Council Member she wrote to, that he will gain votes if he “stands against animal abuse.”  Daysy wrote about Oogy (the dog) who had inspired her ELA teachers to coin the term “humane literacy” by saying that the story of this “dog with one ear teaches people that dog fighting is bad.” 

In their persuasive letters to their Council Person about dog fighting, students accomplished immediate citizen participation through a required literacy skill of letter writing. Through their involvement with the websites of the Unwanted Pets shelter in Brooklyn, students at Intermediate School 62 in that part of NYC, and of the ASPCA and Animal Shelter in Manhattan, two District 4 schools, there, actually contributed to saving specific dog’s lives or improving them immeasurably through helping them find “forever homes.”

In the case of the District 4 schools, I took a junior high class to the local Animal Shelter that was located a few blocks from the school.  A volunteer worker showed the students the stalls for dogs in which they were almost no chew toys, blankets, or other necessary items and explained to them how many of the dogs at the shelter were found abused or abandoned on the streets.  The students saw how alone the dogs were and how desperate for a petting or a walk in a small walled in courtyard.  Students learned how being anxious or territorial or unable to get along with other dogs or young children or being older than 4 often spelled doom for a dog, or at best made the dog less likely to be adopted.  The odds of adoption also went down if the dog was labeled or looked like a pit bull, even if that dog was gentle.

The students created posters for the dogs with the greatest odds against being adopted to persuade potential shelter visitors to adopt these deserving furry friends.  One of the dogs—Pluto- a large German Shepherd mix, aged 5, who was unable to live with any other dog and very territorial- was adopted and the class felt they had saved a life!!!  Due perhaps to the student posters online the students had a strong sense their actions were effectively saving a specific dog’s life....

To read the full article follow this link:

Dr. Rose Reissman is the founder of the Writing Institute, now replicated in 145 schools including the Manchester Charter Middle School in Pittsburgh. She is a featured author in New York State Union Teachers Educators Voice 2016 and was filmed discussing ESL student leadership literary strategies developed at Ditmas IS 62, a Brooklyn public intermediate school.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Join the ISTE Literacy Professional Learning Net @ its ISTE 2016 Conference Session

Please be sure to join the Literacy PLN @ its ISTE Conference Session.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Beeline Reader: Literacy Special Interest PODCAST Episode #19

Beeline Reader: Literacy Special Interest PODCAST Episode #19

In this PRE-Conference  /  ISTE 2016 - Denver / episode. Host Mark Gura shares his interview with Nick Lum, CEO and Founder of Beeline Reader, a powerful literacy learning resource. Find out about this new approach to making text easier to track that produces strong results in improving reading. Nick explains Beeline Reader's origins, development, functions and results... and directions it will take to expand and develop in the future.
As requested, Nick forwarded the following links for those who want a little more info. about Beeline Reader: 


Here are a few links that could be relevant for your audience:

Let me know if I can get you anything else. Look forward to meeting you in-person next week!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Literacy Special Interest PODCAST – Episode # 18 Class Pages: Using Hyperlinks and Simple Web Pages to Support Student Literacy... Interview with Joel Heffner

Player may take a short while to load on page - click arrow above to launch podcast audio....

Literacy Special Interest PODCAST Episode # 18 
Class Pages: Using Hyperlinks and Simple Web Pages to Support Student Literacy Learning and Boost Motivation by Making Instructional Activities Relevant in Our Web-Based World.

This episode features an interview that was recorded as part of Prof. Mark Gura’s online graduate class for Touro College, The Educational Technology Specialist as School Leader (Touro EDIT 670).

The class guest speaker was Mr.Joel Heffner, a highly experienced educator and staff developer. He worked for decades for the New York City Dept. of Education, who  spoke about some uses of the web for teachers,a subject on which he has written and published and has appreciable insight. Among the themes covered were the use of hyperlinks in student writing activities,hyperlinked class publishing projects to update Literacy learning and model authentic 21st Century collaboration, and web safety for studentswhen publishing student work on the web.

Follow this link to access and/or download Mr. Heffner’s handout for the session and to access the HTML template he refers to: 
Joel Heffner is an technology consultant who conducts workshops, including Web Your Classroom, Email in the Classroom, and iPhoneography: The Good, The Bad, and The Creative. You can find him at,, and He can be reached at and on Twitter at @JoelHeffner.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Literacy Special Interest JOURNAL Issue #5

Scroll down for ISSU magazine reader
and Google Drive link to download as PDF

Table of Contents

Up Front
By Mark Gura, Editor                                                            
Page 4
Coding for Literacy                                                 
By Joel Heffner
Page 5

Scaffolding Presentation Skills with eduBuncee, a Multimedia Creation Tool
 by  Ferancesca Arturi and Claire Cucci                           
Page 15
Wonderopolis® as a Versatile Digital Learning Tool        
By Brittany Howell and Lindsay Sainlar
Page 21
Level Up Literacy!                                                   
By Shawn Young 
Page 29
Listening to the Dead and Famous: How English and Social Studies Teachers Can
Make Speaking and Listening Come Alive                        

By Dr. Rose Reissman6b.
Author Inspirational Voice
(student work submitted by Dr. Reissman                                        
By Jannatul Yesmin
Page 32

Page 37

Using “Just Right Books” to Enhance Early Literacy Instruction
By Kristi Meeuwse, Dr. Diane Mason, and Dr. Kaye Shelton 

Page 38
The Bronx Book Blog: Blogging to Develop and Support Writing Teachers
By Erica Newhouse                                                               

Page 43
Engage Me! Building Family Connections Through Digital Storytelling
Family, Student, School, Community
By Blanca Duarte, Toni Kinnear, Carol Varsalona,
and Kris Yturraspe
NOTE: This article appeared previously in The English Record. It was originally published there, and is reprinted here under permission, by the New York State English Council.
Page 49

Click to>>>Download from/Open in Google Drive