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Anchor 1

Literacy on the Move: Follow the Moon to Applied Literacy

April 28, 2018

How can we care for the living things in our community? We are all connected! In this workshop, participants learn about the interdependence of animals, including humans, in our local ecosystem through a project-based, interdisciplinary experience. They gained strategies to deepen empathy, grow foundational literacy skills, and apply those skills through writing. They learned powerful standards-based, enriched literacy strategies embedded in a comprehensive plan designed for the Moonshot Academy summer program, that will compel students to take action and improve our world.

Essential Questions:

How can we care for every living thing in our community? How can we care for each other? 

​Focus Standards

  • SC.2.L.17.2. Recognize and explain that living things are found all over Earth, but each is only able to live in habitats that meet its basic needs.

  • RL/RI.1.1. Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

    RI.1.2. Identify the main topic of a multi-paragraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.

    W.1.2. Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

  • W.1.3. Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.

Success Skills:

  • Students will feel empowered to have a positive impact on their community.

  • Students will work collaboratively to investigate and solve problems.

Anchor Text: Follow the Moon Home, Phillippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson. 
In keeping with the idea of "Applied Literacy," Marie O'Brien, Digital Media and Community Outreach Manager for The Learning Alliance, shares opportunities to connect with the community through this year's Summer Learning theme: "Moonshot Kids Can!" 
Debbi Arseneaux, MSI Manager, explains the goals and intentions for the day. This, the last workshop of the school year, focuses on the "Applied" component of the Enriched Literacy model, which also integrates Social Emotional and Foundational Literacy.

"I learned a lot and enjoyed myself. That does not happen often at teacher trainings. Thank you!" - Participant Comment

Mindful Moonshot Morning Routine 
Leslie Connelly, K-2 Coach and Educational Consultant for The Learning Alliance, takes participants through a Mindful Moonshot Morning Routine, which includes activities to Unite, Connect, Disengage Stress and Commit. 

A Moonshot Talk: Learning Is A Connection Project

Liz Woody-Remington, Director of Professional Development and Co-founder of The Learning Alliance, shares the research that supports the need to create a learner centered, connected classroom. We are meaning making machines! Because learning is linked to our senses, multi-sensory environments deepen learning.  Teachers need to address the 4 E's: Existence, Emotion, Experience and Efficacy to create the optimal conditions for learning.

Leslie Connelly, K-2 Coach and Educational Consultant for The Learning Alliance, leads participants through several entering text strategies to build student vocabulary comprehension. These strategies are adapted from the book Word Nerds (Overturf, Montgomery, Turf). Guess My WordPlug it In, and Chain Link give students fun ways to play with words and provide valuable formative assessment opportunities.

Entering Text Activities

Fran McDonough, Moonshot Academy Manager, discusses

the importance of read alouds and models  interactive read aloud strategies. Particpants then have opportunities to practice at their tables. 

Why Read Alouds ?
From Reading to Writing
Key Word Outline. Liz Woody-Remington shares a strategy to glean meaning from informational text by turning comprehension into a game. First, choose 3 key words from each sentence that convey the key details. Then, see if you can recreate the main idea of the sentence using only those words as the prompt. From here, write your own version of each sentence and make it even better.  With informational text available at each table, participants then practiced this strategy to research animals in our community. Not only is this a great strategy for reading comprehension, but it can be a formative assessment for educators.
Slide Show. As they learned about their chosen animal, participants used a slideshow as a digital graphic organizer to capture their research. This included prompts about the animal's habitat, life cycle, and challenges they might face. 
Tea Party. After participants learn about their animal and why they are important to the local ecosystem, they engage in a role play as their animal, asking and answering questions,  pretending that they are at a tea party.
This strategy can be used in many different contexts. It's fun for the students and an effective way for educators to formatively assess comprehension. It also builds empathy and compassion through perspective taking. This leads students into writing a narrative about the life of the animal from its point of  view.

"Excellent job. Best workshop I have been to in some time." - Participant Comment

Collaborative Digital Presentation

For their culminating showcase of learning, participants work in groups to share why their chosen animal needs our help, and to propose a plan of action. One tool they could use to do this is called Voice Thread. This type of project presentation can be assessed using a rubric from the Buck Institute for Education, leaders in Project-Based Learning for students at all levels. PBL is a powerful way to create applied literacy opportunities for students. Inspired directly from the anchor text, community projects like these launch students into action and make their learning personally relevant and meaningful. 

The Learning Alliance has partnered with Share Your Learning to give more students the opportunity to share their learning with an audience beyond the classroom. Increase student engagement by making learning public. Find out how to #shareyourlearning at

Tweet, post and instagram students sharing their learning using both @TLA_Moonshot and #shareyourlearning

Afternoon Breakout Sessions
Participants had the opportunity to learn from peers and colleagues in the afternoon sessions. They rotated through three separate breakouts which included, Framing your Thoughts with Liz Woody-Remington, Applied Literacy in the Community with Sue Flak, and Project Based Learning with Anne Smith and Jessica Singwald.
Framing Your Thoughts
Liz Woody-Remington gives participants tips to help their students write, starting with the "bare bones." Using simple concepts (and dog biscuits) to explain the mechanics of writing, participants learn a strategy to teach their students how to construct sentences and improve their writing.

"Loved the sentence activity Liz did. Going to implement it into my writing center soon!
" - Participant Comment

Project Based Learning
Jessica Singwald (left) and Anne Smith (right) of Vero Beach Elementary presented on their PBL experience. Based on the Buck Institute model, they explain how they were able to facilitate a Reading Nook makeover with their second grade students. Their students developed collaboration and critical thinking skills throughout the project design process, and they presented their ideas to an audience of community members who selected the project which would receive funding and become reality.   
Applied Literacy In The Community
Sue Flak, Environmental Science Coordinator and Project Learning Tree Facilitator at Pelican Island Elementary, shares the many environmental initiatives in which her school is involved. She highlights the role and availability of a wide range of community partnerships to support learning through making a difference in the local and global environment. 

"I was surprised by all the great things going on in our learning community." - Participant Comment



Connection Checklist

Mindful Moonshot Morning Routine

Entering Text Activities

Presentation Resources

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