3 – Reads at Feaster Charter Middle School

Often times, math is taught by simply answering questions and solving equations. However, when we are actually using math, we need to do so much more work than simply answering the question being posed. When we use math, we have to form our own questions and complete the operations necessary to resolve the task we are working on.

The 3-Reads strategy provides the opportunity to pose a situation and have students figure out what questions would be most relevant to the task being completed. Based on what they know from the situation being described, they form questions that would be relevant.

In the video from Ms. Morris, she follows all three of the steps to complete the 3-Reads protocol:

  1. Retell and take time to understand the vocabulary
  2. Make visual representations from the problem or topic
  3. Create questions that can be solved mathematically

You can watch the sample lesson on our YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EschxHkZzQw&feature=youtu.be

You can also watch the sample lesson on the CVESD Stream website: https://web.microsoftstream.com/video/0ed0758c-e608-4fb5-9b62-8fff6bd85b70 (you will need to login using your CVESD email account)

The purpose of the 3-Reads is to make sense of math intensive problems that are rich in language. The fact that there is not only one question being asked also helps the students develop a better understanding of math. The 3-Reads can also work to dispel the myth that people are born with a math brain by giving strategies to understand and work with math in different ways. (For more research on this, check out the video from Jo Boaler and her Twitter page).

“Open up math questions so that there is space inside them for learning.”

-Jo Boaler

How You Can be Good at Math, and Other Surprising Facts About Learning

3-Reads helps students build their mathematical skills by helping them develop strategies that will better support them as they work to understand the math they are being done. There is a time to learn how to solve specific problems, but within those lessons, there also needs to be time to develop a deeper understanding of math and that can be done by analyzing information and developing different questions that can be answered using what information is given.


Benchmark Education

This past week, we had a professional development session during which our third grade teachers shared their experience with Benchmark Education. They have been piloting this curriculum throughout the year. Before we commit to the curriculum, it is important to be well informed about this decision and ensure that it will benefit all learners on campus. This week’s post will summarize the information shared by our third grade team and the Benchmark Education representative.

What is Benchmark?

The Benchmark program has six components:

  • Whole Group Reading
  • Guided Reading
  • ELD
  • Writing
  • Assessments
  • Intervention

The program includes 10 units that are all CCSS aligned by grade level.  Units 1-7 work to introduce and spiral the standards, 8-10 are review lessons. Daily, teachers have access to two reading lessons, guided reading resources, ELD lessons, and one writing lesson.

Third grade shared that they have started incorporating GLAD strategies during their shared reading time. They use input charts to support reading comprehension strategies and to make connections to vocabulary words.

The program is organized by weeks:

  • Week 1: concepts and standards are introduced
  • Week 2: practice with differentiated texts and resources
  • Week 3; apply the skill

Whole Group Reading

The reading section includes ten units that are 50% fiction and 50% nonfiction. The nonfiction expository section alternates between science and social studies. Both digital and consumable resources are provided with the program. All themes are consistent across grade levels which will lend itself to cross grade level collaborative opportunities.

Guided Reading

All guided reading resources are leveled, include audio and digital components, DOK questions, and have a readers theater component.


This section is differentiated for all EL levels. It includes a rubric for formative assessments. Scaffolds are included to support students in achieving success in reaching grade level CCSS.


The curriculum includes weekly writing tasks. There is a task for the teacher and for the student. The writing section of Benchmark Education integrates with our current writers workshop model. Examples are included for each grade level, which could be used as mentor texts. Lessons on revising and editing and included as well.


All assessments are pre-made and aligned to CCSS. Weekly quizzes are also included to help teachers provide intervention to students who need additional support.


Mini lessons are included to support students with scaffolded instruction. The extra practice can also be connected to Achieve3000 by assigning readings about similar topics.

Dual Immersion

The DI section is not a direct translation of the english component. Instead, it works to maintain the meaning of the text while providing students with a grade level appropriate text.

Prior to choosing a curriculum to purchase, we should all take time to hear from others who are using the curriculum, explore the resources, ask questions, and reflect on whether or not this will benefit all students in our school.



Three Reads

This past week, teachers met to review our professional learning cycle focused on 3-Reads. Our students often struggle with word problems for many reasons including – complex vocabulary, intimidation of length, difficulty visualizing the problem, and lack of comprehension. 3-Reads is a strategy for solving complex word problems. Each time the students read the word problem, they are reading for a specific purpose – retelling vocabulary, making a visual representation, and creating a question. The 3-Reads protocol helps our students because it breaks complex word problems into manageable tasks while helping them understand the differences in operations based on the question being asked.

The Three Reads protocol is one way to do a close read of a complex math word problem or task. It is designed to engage students in making sense of language rich math problems or tasks. It deepens student understanding by surfacing linguistic as well as mathematical clues. It focuses attention on the importance of understanding problems rather than rapidly trying to solve them. It allows for natural differentiation within a class of diverse learners.


The objectives of this PD were:

  • Analyze 3-Reads data
  • Clarify 3-Reads protocol

Elements of a 3-Read Protocol


  • Facilitates conversation
  • Models as needed
  • Refers to 3-Reads protocol
  • Strategic planning of problem situations
  • Modeling content/language vocabulary


  • Participate in partner/group talk
  • Explain their thinking
  • Active listening

Room Environment

  • Sentence frames to support conversation
  • Vocabulary – word bank created with students
  • Strategic seating
  • Manipulatives are accessible (paper, cubes, etc)


Before Teaching

Prior to beginning, it is important to select a problem stem – one without a question at the end. This will help the students focus on the contextual and mathematical information before solving the questions the could be posed.

  • Questions:
    • Are there multiple questions that can come from the information provided?
    • Is this a complex word problem or task?

1st Read – Retell and Vocabulary

This is the read where students develop a context of the story. An understanding of the vocabulary words, character, and situations are developed. The numbers/quantities are also identified.

  • Questions to ask students:
    • What is going on in the story?
    • Who are the characters?
    • What words are important?
    • What are the quantities/numbers in the problem?
  • Modifications:
    • Annotations
    • Word Bank

2nd Read – Visual Representation

A mental picture of the quantities in the problem is created. This will help students see how the numbers will change depending on the mathematical operation and the question.

  • Questions to ask students:
    • How can you draw what is happening in the story?
    • Think about a way you can draw out what is happening.
  • Modifications:
    • Manipulatives
    • Prompts and cues

3rd Read – Create a Question

Students work to create questions that can be solved using the given information.

  • Questions to ask students:
    • What words can we add to make this a math problem?
  • Modifications:
    • Sentence frames for questions
    • Reminder of accountable talk norms
    • Encourage questions of different levels
    • Have students solve each other’s questions

Students often struggle with restating word problems in their own words; 3-Reads gives them a strategy to use when they are solving a complex word problem. Throughout the Three Reads process, students are:

  • Restating the word problem
  • Identifying the operation
  • Visualizing the structure
  • Recognizing patterns
  • Breaking down the word problem into logical steps
  • Using various strategies
  • Justifying their thinking

Videos from SFUSD


**Video of Feaster Charter teacher will be coming soon**

Communication Styles

Among the challenges in education is recognizing the individual needs of each learner. One of the most basic needs that we should understand, especially when we are using technology so much throughout the day, is how each individual most effectively communicates. Recognizing and respecting this can be crucial when we are working with our teams as well. I make a point of not only recognizing but also respecting this because  the primary task is to understand what method is the best form of communication and then the secondary task is to follow through and respect the needs of your audience.

When we are thinking about the different styles of communication, we can categorize them in many different ways. Based on what I have seen from our students and our staff, the most relevant categorizations for styles of communication are:

  • Verbal: face to face interactions where listening is required and body language reflects emotion
  • Digital: any communication done with technology, provides time to reflect on information and articulate a response
  • Written: can be a combination of digital and face to face

So, with a classroom full of students and school full of educators, how do we work to respect everyone’s preferred style of communication and why is this important?

Why to Respect Communication Style

Communication Styles

I love this image because it shows all of the various forms of communication in one room. We see students on computers and devices – this is what I notice first probably because that is something I am passionate about. However, there is more going on. Each student is demonstrating their preferred style of communication in this image. We have one kid who is on his phone, others who are working on MacBook devices, and one kid who is so disinterested in his device that he has turned it upside and is probably looking around the room for someone to talk to face to face. It is the subtle recognition of communication styles that can help to build the foundation of a positive classroom community. When we communicate in effective ways, our needs and objectives are heard and more likely to be met.

How to Respect Communication Styles

With most things, people are empowered when their voice and choice is heard and respected. The same can go for communication styles. The first need is to recognize how the audience will most effectively communicate with you. From there, it is simply giving the opportunity to respond in ways that are conducive to their voice and choice. We can do this by removing limitations on the way that learners can respond to questions and on how they can complete their work.


Allow these communicators to record a conversation they are having with other verbal students. They can still be held accountable by turning in the audio recording, but their conversations are purposeful because they are meeting the objective of the task while their voice and choice are both being respected.

If you are giving instructions, these are the learners who need to be able to hear your every word. If there are disruptions, that could hinder their overall understanding.



Allow these learners to meet your objective by giving them the option to create a product that demonstrates their learning. This could be a keynote presentation, an infographic, an email, even a social media post.

These are the communicators who are most likely to be on their devices constantly – walking and texting or sending messages to their peers via social media. By respecting their passionate use of technology, we can support them as they learn how to develop these skills and become respectful digital communicators.

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Those who prefer their communication to be done in the written form are more likely to be reflective people. This means that they typically like to read something and think about it. The written communication allows them to think at their own pace. They may even feel rushed when needing to respond to someone face to face. Allow these learners to meet your objective by encouraging them to be the recorder in your literature circles, help out someone who is absent by taking notes for them, and give them opportunities and time to write down their thoughts and reflections.

The written communicators can also be digital communicators in the sense that they may prefer to use their device to complete their notes or write to others. You can respect their voice and choice during your lessons by allowing them time to make notes and by giving them time to reflect throughout the lesson.

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Voice and choice are concepts that we should be consistently thinking about as we plan and teach lessons. When we think about it in terms of communication, we start to recognize that we can guide our students to communicate in ways that are most effective for them. This may even help with classroom conflict because the harm often occurs when one person does not feel listened to or respected. Therefore, by encouraging our classroom community to recognize and respect how others prefer to communicate, we can set them up for success.

This is also relevant within our grade level teams. For example, I know that I always need an email follow-up because I am a blend of digital and written communication. I am more likely to do a task well if I have the opportunity to go back and reread what the expectations are in an email or on a OneNote. When we recognize and respect these needs within our own teams, we are more likely to be productive and effective.

I encourage you all to think about how you prefer to communicate and to discuss with your teams and students to see how their communication styles  differ. We may find other communication styles too!

Zest & Gratitude

Character education is one of the many ways that we work on supporting our students as they develop social emotional skills. Character strengths are called “strengths” because we want to portray the message that these are not just traits that remain the same throughout life; instead they are strengths that can be developed and fostered throughout life.

Keeping in mind that all of our character strengths are crucial to the success of every individual learner, in order to maintain a focus on recognizing these strengths and developing them within our students, we choose two each quarter to concentrate on. Although we are only focusing on two each quarter, this does not mean that the other strengths are not recognized, celebrated, or brought up daily. Character education is also not a separate component of the typical classroom academics. Instead, it is continuously recognized and mentioned throughout the day. While a majority of teachers focus on character strengths during their trust circles or community meetings, they are also brought up during all academic lessons in order to remind students that certain character strengths will be relevant as they tackle specific tasks.

This quarter, we are focusing on zest and gratitude.

  • Zest: actively participate, show enthusiasm, approach new situations with excitement and energy

    Gratitude: notice when others help, say thank you, show appreciation for the good things in life, do nice things

Both of these character strengths were strategically chosen for this quarter because, during the third quarter, we have noticed that learners can easily feel stressed with the amount of intense review and strategic grouping being done. In order to truly keep students at the center of our decision making, we have recognized that zest and gratitude are the two skills they need the most in quarter three, and therefore, we have chosen those two to focus on.


It is a common misconception that zest is based on circumstances and situations as well as general personality type. However, when we think about zest as the “ability to approach new situations with excitement and energy,” we realize that part of it is being open minded. Teaching zest can be challenging when we only think of it as being excited or happy. Instead, we can teach zest as the ability to explore new things with a positive approach. We can also provide more opportunities for students to experience new situations that may ignite some passion in their learning. The more opportunities we provide to students and the more we listen to their interests and apply them to their academic learning, the more enthusiastic they will be about their learning. Allowing the students to have voice and choice in their learning will give them opportunities to feel zest and help them be even more open minded to changes and new experiences.




There are two parts to gratitude – recognition and expression.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

-William Arthur

Before a learner can feel gratitude, they must recognize that something kind has been done. Then, once that has been noticed, they can express their gratitude through their actions and words. When we are talking about gratitude with our students, it is important to make sure that they understand how to express their gratitude. Gratitude is not only about saying thank you, instead, it can also be done through our facial expressions, our actions, and our physical gestures. The Tiny Buddha has 50 great ways to express gratitude.

When thinking about character education, one of the most important things that we can do is to be continuous models for our students. When we exemplify the character strengths and recognize them in each other, the students sense that there is a community of support and they see the positive impact this can have.

More Resources on Character Strengths:

Keeping Technology Protected from Damage

We have had a 1:1 iPad program since the 2011/2012 school year. A majority of our students only know academic education that is supported by their own device. In the beginning, everyone was so cautious to keep the devices protected because it was new to them.

Now, 6 years later, some of those precautionary routines have been forgotten. It is not the fault of anyone, it is simply what happens when everyone on campus gets used to having these resources. It is no longer the new and shiny thing, so everyone just gets a little more relaxed. However, when a device is broken or lost, it can cause a disruption in education because one student no longer has their iPad. Therefore, paper copies need to be made for that individual student and teachers do not have the ease of digital grading. For me, as a classroom teacher, this was the worst! I was so inconvenienced by having to print out ScootPad assignments and by having to create individual paper lessons. It is much easier to prevent this altogether by making sure that the devices are used with caution.

Some of the most common reasons iPads are damaged:

  • Dropped (usually outside)
  • Put into iPad cart too agresively
  • iPad cases are not used correctly
  • Device is stepped on
  • Student is using device while walking, they trip and drop iPad

We can all work together to prevent the devices from being broken or misplaced by reminding students of a few routines and by holding them accountable for following these routines.

Inside Only

iPad devices should only be used inside the classroom. This will help make sure that the devices are not dropped on the hard ground outside.

If you have a student who goes to RSP, confirm with the RSP teachers that they will need their device with them before sending out.

If you have students who need to complete work or who have earned free iPad time during snack, have them stay inside the classroom while you wait by the door to monitor both groups of students. Or, set up a routine with your grade level where all students who get to stay inside during snack meet in one classroom.

iGenius/Tech Guru/Tech Support

One of your classroom jobs could be to give support to students who are experiencing tech issues. This job would also require students to monitor the iPad cart when the devices are being picked up in the morning and returned in the afternoon. Having two monitors on each side of the iPad cart will help students remember to put their device in safely. The iGeniuses could also be on the lookout for iPads that are left on the floor!  The two tasks – tech support and device safety monitor – give this job more purpose than simply overseeing the protection of the devices.

Device Checks

Have a trustworthy group of students conduct weekly iPad checks on the following:

  • Is the cover in working condition?
  • Are the pictures on the device all related to academics?
  • Is the Mosyle Manager profile still on the device?
  • What kinds of things are showing in the internet search history or is the student clearing their history?

The students can use a class list to record devices that you should check and students that you should conference with. If you are concerned about this job being labeled as tattle tailing, you can only offer it to students who can stay after school or you can reach out to our middle schoolers for community service hours.

Hug it Like You Love it

When walking in the classroom, devices should be closed and held like they are being hugged. This will help students remember to watch where they are walking so they do not trip and potentially break their iPad.


I appreciate that the devices are being used and loved by our learners! That is great and that is a routine we want to continue. I hope we can all take a few minutes to discuss the routines of preventing iPad screens from being broken! This could be a great trust circle conversation. We can also all find exemplar students who are already modeling iPad safety routines and compliment them during class. Together, I believe we can prevent future iPad breakage.

Getting Back to Routines After Break

Having breaks and taking that time to enjoy family and friends and even alone time is fantastic and something that should be taken advantage of by all educators. Making sure that you took time for you is a great way to come back feeling refreshed and inspired to tackle new projects after having reflected on the first part of our year. Whether you do this by vacationing, working out, obsessively checking emails, napping, spending time with family, going out with friends, or binge watching whatever you want, it is important to return feeling like you have gotten the most of what you wanted in your break.

Sometimes, getting back to work can be a challenging transition for surprising reasons. I recall coming back from summer this past July and being so hungry right at 8:30am because I’d just spent the past six weeks eating breakfast at exactly that time. Our bodies and minds both adjust to what we may consider a “regular schedule” and that is thrown off when we return to the routines of our classrooms and school. The transition from vacation to returning to work can be made easier if we do a few things to help prepare ourselves. The list below is in no way complete because each of us will find success in our own routines and strategies for adjusting back to our work schedules!

Be Realistic

One of the worst things about coming back from break for me is usually that I did not accomplish everything that I had hoped when I left campus. I am always so ambitious thinking that I have three weeks off and I can get anything done in that time. This has yet to be my reality; instead, things come up and some projects simply get pushed. Being realistic about what can be done and prioritizing those things that I would be most stressed out about if they were not completed has really helped me be more realistic about what would be accomplished over break.

One thing that Elizabeth Aderholdt introduced me to was a to do list system called Bullet Journal. This system has helped me prioritize my projects and create task lists that guide my day, week, and month. I set realistic goals for myself and make sure that I prioritize my time so that those goals are accomplished.

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Plan Out Your Prep Day – Add Time for Reflection

Not having students on the Monday we return is a great way to make sure that we are even more prepared for them mentally, emotionally, and physically.  We can know exactly what we are going to teach, how we are going to teach it and have everything prepped – this is the mental and physical preparation; however, we should also be emotionally prepared for them to return. We can prepare emotionally by taking time to reflect on what our most successful moments were from the first two quarters. By reflecting on this, we can recreate those instances of greatest successful – both for ourselves and for our learners.

Know how you left your classroom so that you are more prepared to plan this out. What needs to be organized, what needs to prepared, what do you need to do to make this week and even quarter go as smooth as possible? Plan out these tasks…I have found it helpful to even think about how much time each task will take so that I can keep myself on track. This prep day can go by so quickly and having a plan for it can make it even more effective.

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Be Ready to Review Routines

I have come to need that Monday prep day! I find myself having to recall that our students did not get that day to get back into the routines of our classroom. This is not saying that we should give them a day to adjust, but we do need to prepare to review the routines we spent so much time on that first quarter. They will forget things – they have not had to ask to use the bathroom for weeks, they have not had to wait with their hands raised for weeks, they have not done reading rotations or small group for what will seem like forever to them. Explaining your expectations and holding them accountable by using positive reinforcement will all be beneficial in getting them back into the routines of your academic setting.


Plan “White Space” in Your Day

I was reading various blogs about returning from breaks and I came across Miss Decarbo’s blog that suggested including “white space” in your day. This is the time that can be used to make up for those moments when our learners are simply trying to adjust back to the routines and schedule of class. In her blog post, she explains the importance of this for our students and discusses the fact that they will be “sluggish” throughout the day. While it is always important to have engaging and academic tasks planned and prepped, it is also crucial to recall that our students are getting back into this routine just like we are. You should also plan some “white space” for yourself to make sure that you are at your best and providing every opportunity possible to your students.


Make Sure You’ve Made the Most out of Your Break

For me this means that I’ve done everything on my self care list:

  • Spend time outside
  • Watch a few sunsets
  • Do brunch with friends
  • Clean and organize everything at home
  • Enjoy lazy days at home
  • At least attempt to ignore emails for a day/evening (a struggle for me)
  • Complete the most crucial things on my task list
  • Spend quality time with loved ones

Before we return, I encourage you all to think about what is on your self care list. Spend a few moments thinking about this and making sure that you have checked off everything that is most important to you. This will help us all return ready for the learners on our campus.



I hope that everyone has a successful first day back after having enjoyed their vacation and gotten the most out of it. I definitely encourage you to share with each other what you are doing to transition back into the routines of school and work!

Further Reading on this Topic:

Miss DeCarbo Blog

Forbes 5 Tips for Getting Back to Work After Vacation

5 Tips for Teachers to Take Back Holiday Breaks 

Forever Beginning

The Reflective Teacher