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Catherine Pelley

Dr. Seuss activity

1 min read

Oh The Places You'll Go!


After reading Oh The Places You'll Go as a class, plan a day for the students to come in "dressed for success." You can explain to students that they can use this day to dress up like people that they would like to be when they grow up, a career path that they hope to choose, or even dressing to represent a place that they would like to visit one day. Students will then spend the literacy portion of this day writing about the places that they would like to go to, the things that they would like to accomplish, or what their dreams are. They can then create lists of things that will help them accomplish these things and then share out to the class. 


This is a great way to get to know students and to help them think about their future!


Catherine Pelley

Module 4 mini lesson

1 min read

My mini lesson for module 4 incorporates the CCSS RL 1.3- Describe characters, settings, and major events, in a story using key details. As a class, we read the Story Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber (one of my favorite childhood stories.) We then work together to identify the characters, settings, and key details of the story before students work idependetly to identify the same things in a story of their choosing. I had a lot of fun doing this and I hope that you all enjoy it as well!

Catherine Pelley

Walk My World Learning Event #5

4 min read


 For this week's learning event we were asked to share an obstacle or turning point in our lives. This past summer I had spinal fusion surgery to correct my scoliosis. I have struggled with this condition for my entire life, but it didn't really start to interfere with my life until I was eleven years old. This was when my curvature started to become noticeable so my pediatrician referred me to a scoliosis specialist at Yale. At my first, and only appointment with him, I was told that my curvature was so bad that I would need to be put in a back brace until I was completely done growing. This was supposed to help stop my curvature from increasing so that I would not need surgery. I was a cheerleader and I knew that if I was put in a back brace I would never be able to continue doing the sport that I loved so much. My mom agreed so she did hours of research and found the top rated pediatric orthopedist in the country, Dr. Eberson. After pulling a few strings she was finally able to get me an appointment with him so that we could get a second opinion. The only problem was that he worked out of Hasbro Children's hospital in Providence, RI, three hours away from my home in Hamden, CT. That didn't stop my mom from ensuring that I saw the best possible doctor. After meeting with him for the first time he told me that I was eligible for the "Providence back brace" that he and a colleague created. It was a back brace that only had to be worn when I slept so I could continue doing everything that I normally did. Although I didn’t want a brace at all, this news was certainly better than the first. I wore the providence back brace every night for three years. My curvature didn’t improve, but it didn’t get any worse either.

My scoliosis never really bothered me. It was just there. I was a cheerleader for ten years and was more flexible than any of my teammates. When I graduated high school, however, my back began to ache every day. The pain was so bad during my freshman year of college that whenever I wasn’t working or going to classes I was at home with a heating pad pressed against my spine. It became so painful that I knew something was wrong. I went to Providence, RI to meet with my doctor hoping that my curvature wasn’t starting to increase all of a sudden. The news was good. My curvature was stable, but the pain that I was feeling was because of the stress that my curve was putting on my back muscles. I was told that the only way to fix this was to have corrective surgery which would require attaching two steel rods to my spine through spinal surgery.

I had no idea how I’d be able to have surgery and continue going to school without taking any time off, but somehow I managed to do it. I had surgery as soon as classes got out last spring, and spent all of summer break recuperating. Fall semester was tough because I was still in a lot of pain, but I managed not to miss a single class and made it onto the Dean’s list.


Having spinal surgery has definitely been the hardest obstacle that I have ever had to overcome. I feel so much happier now that I am no longer in pain, and am so blesses to have such a devoted mother who made sure that I had nothing but the absolute best care.  I never would have been able to get through this without her.

Catherine Pelley

Catherine Pelley

Video Response for Module 4

6 min read

Rick’s Reading

What went well:

Rick keeps his students very engaged in the reading by stopping after he reads each page and commenting on or asking students questions about what he has just read. I think this is a very important strategy that all teachers should use because it is very easy for students to sit and listen to a story without thinking critically about the text. Rick’s method of reading workshop guides students to do this and really helps them to pull apart all aspects of the story.

Rick also took time before completing the story to have students turn and talk to one another about what they thought the surprise in the story was. I thought this went well because all of the students were able to share their ideas with another student without taking too much time away from the lesson. I thought it was great that Rick went around and listened to what certain groups were discussing. This allowed him to ensure that the students were staying on track, but it also helped him to understand how each student was interpreting the events in the story thus far.

After the students shared their theories, Rick continued to read the story. It seemed to me like he purposely had the students discuss what they thought would happen right before the story took a turning point. I thought this was a great way to show students that their theories will often change as they read, but only if they stay absolutely present with the text.  


1st Grade Mini Lesson

What Did Not Go Went Well:

The teacher asked students to turn to their neighbor and tell them how they could tell the difference between an informative text and a story, but she answered the question for them before they were able to discuss it with one another.

I felt like this particular teacher had a great lesson planned, but she did not allow the students to brainstorm about what she was teaching them. Instead, she just lectured for the majority of the lesson. I think this lesson would have been more beneficial for students if they were given an opportunity to think about the difference between informative texts and stories before their teacher told them what those differences were.

I also thought that she jumped around a little bit with the topic of the lesson. When she began the lesson I thought she was just going to focus on the different types of books that there are, but then she started discussing the themes of books. I think this would have been more effective if she taught the class about different types of books in one lesson and then themes in another. This way students will really be able to understand how to identify different types of books, as well as the themes of books without getting confused because too much information is being taught to them at once.


Poetry Mini-Lesson in Reader's Workshop at Walker Middle School

What Went Well:

This teacher used the same technique that Rich used which I really liked. She allowed students to think about questions that she asked with the help of each other before she gave them the answers. This is so important for teachers to do because it helps students stay engaged in the lesson.

I liked that this teacher gave her students a copy of the poem that she was reading so that they could all follow along. This went really well with her lesson because they were discussing alliteration. Giving the students an opportunity to see what alliteration looks like instead of just what it sounds like will help them to fully understand what that literary technique is and how it is used in poetry.

After the teacher read the poem allowed she had students work independently to identify sensory imagery and alliteration in the poem. I think this was much more beneficial than just identifying these things as a class because it forces all students to be involved instead of just a few students contributing all of the answers.

The ending of this teachers lesson referred back to everything that was covered. I think this is very beneficial for the students and the teacher because it allows the students to think back on the concepts that they went over, and it gives the teacher an opportunity to verify that she covered all of the topics that she intended to. This would be a great time to ask the students if they have questions about anything that they discussed.


Reader's Workshop, Rena Norwood

What Went Well:

I loved that this teacher began her lesson by creating an anchor chart with the class. She gave them the opportunity to brainstorm about reasons why it is important for people to reread books. I also liked that she modeled a reread before she had the students do it independently. Doing this is often helpful for students because it shows them what they need to do when they go off on their own. This also helps to make the lesson more effective.

What Did Not Go Well:

I thought that this lesson would have been more effective if the teacher had students reread a book specifically so that they could identify something that they did not realize the first time that they read it. One of the best aspects about rereading a story is that you notice intricate details that were looked over the first time you read it. The students then could have shared with each other what new information they learned.


Kindergarten Writer's Workshop mini-lesson A. Mueller.avi

What Did Not Go Well:

Once again this teacher modeled what she wanted the students to do independently, but she did not include the students in her model. I think it would have been more beneficial if she asked the students to help her figure out how to spell the words and which words had capital letters.

What Did Go Well:

The teacher thought out loud as she modeled the lesson to the students. This gave students the opportunity to see what their thought process should be when they work independently. She also gave students examples of words that they already knew that started with the same letter as words in her sentence. I thought this was a good strategy to use because it may help some students to remember how to spell certain words that may be difficult for them.

I also thought it was great that she reminded students what to do before they went off on their own. Kindergarteners do not have a long attention span so although she told them what they had to do at the beginning of the lesson, some may have forgotten by this point. Giving them a reminder is helpful to ensure that they all stay on task.



Catherine Pelley

Complex Literacy Practices

2 min read

A few complex literacy practices that are not commonly used in the classroom are:


1) Focusing on students' personal interests:

Now that the CCSS have been put into place, there is very little wiggle room in the curriculum. When I was in elementary school we were able to choose topics that we were interested in or that we wanted to learn more about. We would take these topics and read books about them and then create our own projects that incorporated those topics. Now teachers are so fixated on meeting benchmarks, assessing students, and fitting everything else into their already busy schedule that they don't make the time for students to learn as individuals in their own creative way. 


2) Reading one on one with students:

I don't mean using this time to assess either. Reading with an adult is so important when students are first learning how to read on their own. I remember how much I loved reading to my mom when I was younger. She would act so proud when I finished a story or sounded out a new word. Unfortunatley, many students do not have the opportunity to do this at home for one reason or another. Teachers should make the time to read individually with students to help encourage them and create a bond that they may not have at home. 

Catherine Pelley

Reading Response Module 3

4 min read

Rationale for doing queer work in schools: dissertation excerpt:


            This article really helped me think about how I will address gender in the classroom. I have never really thought about how sensitive this subject actually is until reading this. I agree that schools should never single students out based on gender stereotypes (playing particular sports, wearing certain clothing, or simply acting a specific way.) To eliminate students from creating these stereotypes themselves, they should be taught from the very beginning of school that no one needs to act a certain way just because they are a boy or a girl. Heterosexual relationships should not be normalized. Students should be taught that people fall in love based on personality not gender. I hope that when I am a teacher I will be able to stock my library with books that represent characters who are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, and asexual so that my students can read about all different types of people and learn that differences should not be judged.

How Common Core’s recommended books fail children of color:

            This article really hit home with me. I have two half siblings who are biracial and often wonder why kids at their school don’t look like them. I thought that I could help them feel less confused if I read them a book that had a biracial main character. It was so hard for me to find a story like this, but as I searched, I found tons of stories with white main characters that have two white parents. As diverse as this country is, I was shocked at how few children’s books contain characters of a minority. It is important that students of all races are able to read stories about characters that are like them so that they can make connections and predictions as they read, but it is also important for students to read stories about people who are of different races so that they can broaden their knowledge and understanding of diversity.

            I was appalled to read that the Common Core State Standards has yet to add the multicultural titles that educators from all over the country suggested. The Common Core State Standards where put into place to benefit students so why have they not yet added books that would help to educate students about diversity?

Engaging African American Males in Reading:

            I read this article directly after reading the article above. I felt that the two complemented each other nicely because the previous article seemed to focus on students in younger grades, while this article discussed students in older grades. The commonality between the two articles is that they both discuss how literacy can positively impact the lives of minority students.

            Providing older students with books that address the issues that they are facing in their own lives can help improve their behaviors in and out of the classroom. Teaching lessons through literacy is beneficial because it is done in an indirect way that doesn’t make students feel like they are being singled out or disciplined.

Informing Our Practice: Modernist, Transactional, and Critical Perspectives on Children’s Literature and Reading Instruction:


            This article was very interested because right off the bat I learned that schools often choose programs that will help raise test scores instead of choosing programs that will best benefit students. Schools should choose programs that are interactive and fun, but that teach students the skills that they need. Literature should not be taught so students can simply pass a test. Students should learn from a very young age that literature is fun and interesting so that they become lifelong readers. If literature is always connected to tests and assessments then students will grow to hate it. Literature is such a wonderful part of education and students should learn to appreciate it as such. 

Catherine Pelley

Module 2 Slide Deck

1 min read

Hi Everyone! Despite many technical difficulties, I was finally able to complete my slide deck for module two. I created a google slides presentation that teaches literary elements using a ccss for first grade. For this assignment, I used the book Me First by Helen Lester. I hope you all enjoy it!

Catherine Pelley

Response to readings regarding literary elements

2 min read


Literary Elements

            Reading the elements of literature was a helpful reminder of all of the necessary elements that it takes to make something a “good” piece of literature. I think it is really important to teach these elements in a way that will ensure that students remember them and are able to identify them in any piece of literature that they encounter. When I have a classroom of my own and have to teach these terms, I will have every student make a literary journal. Inside the journal the students will create their own definition of all of the terms that we go over in class, as well as an example of each term from literary pieces that we read in class. I think this is a very engaging approach that requires students to not only memorize the definition of terms, but actually explain how these terms are used in literature.


Teaching Literary Analysis

            I thought this article was very interesting because it explains an effective way to teach students about analyzing pieces of literature. Last semester, I took a literary analysis class and realized that I had never been properly taught how to do such a thing. I think this is important to acknowledge because it shows that analyzing texts is not always a skill that is taught thoroughly enough in the classroom. This is a skill that students are going to need to know as they continue their education so it is important that the skill is introduced in a way that allows them to fully understand the literary concept.


            Alrubail provides some great tips about how to introduce the concept of analyzing to students. I really liked her idea about providing students with a five step guide to help them understand what exactly they’re looking for. This is something that I would definitely use in my own classroom because it is a visual aid that helps students without giving them the answer. 

Catherine Pelley

Annotating the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Grades k-5

1 min read

Hi everyone! Here are my annotations for the ccss for literacy in grades k-5. I really enjoyed doing this because it helped me think about some examples of lessons and books that I can use in my own classroom someday.