Iowa Council of Teachers of English

Nonfiction Signposts guide our way

Nonfiction Signposts guide our way

February 21, 2016

A week ago at an EdCampIowa session in Ames on "Teaching Literacy 6-12 with the Iowa Care," the discussion turned to reading instruction. This is a particularly relevant topic for me because I have one section of Additional Instruction Reading each day with a group of students who are not re...

This I Believe: Make Wise Choices (How do you end your year?)

This I Believe: Make Wise Choices (How do you end your year?)

May 26, 2014

This year I am ending 8th grade with speaking essentials.  Our last task is a This I Believe speech.  Here is mine. Make wise choices. I’ve dismissed nearly every class period of my teaching career with this admonition. I believe that if my students hear it repeated often enough, and most wil...

Review: Close Reading and Writing from Sources

April 28, 2014

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey offer significant, intelligent, and balanced ideas about close reading and the Common Core in Chapter 2, “Close Reading of Complex Texts” from their IRA Close Reading and Writing from Sources (2014). They open the Chapter 2 like this: “Deep understanding, and writin...

Book Love + Google Sheets = Happy Teacher

Book Love + Google Sheets = Happy Teacher

February 20, 2014

This is part of a New Year’s resolution that I titled “Visible Teaching, Visible Learning.” It originally started with a goal to help my students make their own learning more visible through blogging, and then I started to think about how I need to model my own visible learning and how I need to make my teaching more visibl...

Pulling Up the Roots by Mark Schillerstrom

June 11, 2013

Nearly 30 years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Donald Graves speak at the Iowa Writing Project’s Fall conference. One of the topics he addressed was assessment. In those days, the drum beat for incessant assessment was just beginning, and today as it is reaching a crescendo, I remembered an ana...

A Summary of “Building World Class Schools for Iowa: A Legislative Brief” from the DE & the Governor’s Education Bill ~Jeff Finn, ICTE Advocacy Chair

February 9, 2013

1.       Changes for Returning Teachers: a.       Career Path System: i.      Take effect 2016-2017 ii.      Model Structure: 1.       Initial Teacher a.       No more than 75% teaching load b.      I believe everything else is the same as before 2.  ...

Managing the Common Core Document—Just the Document

January 6, 2013

Setting aside the discussion that should surround the implementation of the Common Core, a little attention needs to be paid to the document itself—the actual PDF or Word version that can be downloaded from the Iowa Department of Education website (

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