Tag Archive: University of Northern Iowa


Welcome Ms. Young

Ms. Acuff’s Title 1 Classroom is getting a student teacher for the next 8 weeks and we are REALLY EXCITED!  Please help me welcome Leslee Young from the University of Northern Iowa.  Leslee comes to us with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Literacy Minor. img_0385

UNI Up-Close

IMG_9582Thank you to the University of Northern Iowa College of Education for inviting me back again this year for your four session of UNI Up-Close.  I am always so honored to be able to speak to young students wanting to get into the education program.  There isn’t a better program out there than UNI!  Go Panthers!

Thanks, UNI COE!

IMG_6729A big thank you to the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Education for giving me a shout-out on Facebook!  I’m continually honored that people come to my blog for reading and writing strategies!

UNI Up Close

IMG_8371A big thank you to UNI for inviting me to speak at your UNI Up Close event for the 2nd year in a row.  I’m always so honored to be asked to talk about all the great things happening at Lowell, the great education I received at UNI, and inspire students of all ages.

Superhero Writers

IMG_5188I spent Tuesday and Wednesday this week at UNI’s Jacobsen Center for Comprehensive Literacy’s Reading Recovery Conference and I have come back thoroughly inspired.  I went to a seminar called Engaging the Disengaged Writer by Christopher Lehman, a New York Times Best Selling author and took away so much from it.  I went to it because I think I’m pretty good at teaching reading, but I don’t feel as strong in the way that I teach writing.  I would say that I definitely have disengaged writers in my room.  One of the things he talked about was putting the joy and passion back into it.  Another teacher had already done what I had done with the superhero strategies, but with Star Wars.  She also included a rubric of sorts on what level of expertise you were.  I thought this would be a better (and more positive) way to teach writing with my kiddos.  Even today, as I was modeling some writing to my 3rd graders I didn’t notice I forgot a letter in one of my words (I wrote animal instead of animals).  One of my kiddos said, “Ms. Acuff, you don’t want to be a Sidekick writer.  You have to reread what you write.” and it was then I noticed my error.  It was a good teaching point to the kids on how even I make mistakes and how there are little things we can do as writers to take us from Crime Fighters to a Sidekick and then all the way up to a Superhero.  Also, I left room at the bottom of each page so we could add more descriptions of what would fall into a category as we come upon things and so the kids can take some ownership of the rubric as well.  I want them to make this their own.  I have had a TON of requests for my Superhero Strategies so if you think this is something that would benefit your room as well I’d be happy to share this with you as well OR if you have ideas on how I can make mine better I would love to hear from you!

UNI Up-Close

IMG_9561Thank you to University of Northern Iowa’s Ed Tech department through the university’s College of Education (COE) for inviting me to speak via Skype to prospective Ed majors on how UNI has impacted my teaching and gave me the tools I needed to be a successful teacher.  I was very honored to be asked to speak, answer questions, and give advice students and parents had about the College of Education’s programs they offer.

I will be getting another opportunity to speak with students and parents again tomorrow and look forward to doing so.  Thanks again for the invite UNI, with special thanks to Magda Galloway and Dr. Zeitz for arranging everything!!  They actually happened to be two of my professors when I was at UNI.  Here are some photos from the last UNI Up-Close seminar.

IMG_9564IMG_9565IMG_9563

IMG_8299Woo!  It feels good to be back at school.  I was at the UNI Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy Reading Recovery conference these last 2 days, but with the weekend, I feel like I’ve been away from school for a week.

The conference was GREAT!  I got to meet Linda Dorn (pictured above), who is the author of many books, some of which we are implementing at Lowell.  You know how I talk about Interventions That Work and Guided Reading Plus, Interactive Writing, IMG_8298Writing Aloud, and Comprehension Focus Groups??  Those are all from her.  She talked a little more in depth about adding in some Teaching for Deep Comprehension (also by Dorn and Carla Soffos, who I also got to hear at the conference)  I took away a lot of great things that will help improve my teaching with groups.  I have heard Dorn speak several times, but this is the first time I have actually gone up and talked with her and the first time I’ve seen her since Lowell started implementing Interventions That Work.

I also am a HUGE fan of Dr. Barbara Schubert (pictured on the right), who spoke on Reading Recovery.  I got to hear her speak at the National Reading Recovery Conference in Ohio 3 years ago and it was a treat.  She is an expert in Reading Recovery and brain based teaching and I always take away so much from her after her seminars.

IMG_8302Author Lester Lamanick spoke to the whole group and emphasized the importance of reading aloud to our children.  With everything they want us to pack into our day this often gets put on the back burner.  It was inspiring to hear him talk about his positive and negative experiences in education as a child and how that shaped him into the person he is today.  It just reminded me of how I am in the business of loving and caring for our kiddos and need to do all I can to make them all feel smart and important.

Lastly, I was really surprised when a reading teacher from another school showed me that I am in one of the photos in the Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy brochure!!!! (Photo on the left)  I was really excited to be a part of the promotion to help other teachers learn more about what Waterloo is implementing and how they can help their struggling readers and writers, too.

OK, my planning time is about up, so I will sign off and go get my Reading Recovery kiddos! 🙂

I’ve been meaning to write about this for the last two months, but hadn’t gotten the chance to upload the video!  Back in February our 1st graders were able to participate in The University of Northern Iowa’s African American Read In, where students get to listen to stories about African Americans and African cultures.  Our 1st graders, along with 1st graders from all over the area came and participated in several different seminars.  Since I work mostly with 1st graders I was able to be one of the chaperones for the field trip.

IMG_6202My personal favorite was our session with author and musician Shane Evans.  He incorporated music into his presentation and did a looping song with our kids.  It was a lot of fun.  He even got our kids up and dancing and really ingrained the message that you can and should follow your dreams.  You can locate his books on Amazon or from his webpages: http://www.olusdream.com or http://www.oluizumz.com  Enjoy the following video of the looping.  I wish I would have gotten more, but my phone was out of space and stopped videoing.

IMG_6189IMG_6193Another session our kids attended was one with UNI students.  One student read Langston Hughes’ My People, with photographs by Charles R. Smith, Jr.  The kids then were asked to cut out photographs from magazines of who they thought were “their people” and who they associated with.  This was a little tricky for our kids as a lot of them just cut out people or pictures they liked.

We were able to listen to the dean of UNI’s COE read us a story as well as listen to an African Folktale Storyteller.  The kids loved her silly voices and were very engaged.  We had another session with an African Folktale Storyteller who used the art of dance to help tell her story.  She got all of us up and dancing along with her.  It was a lot of fun.

IMG_6198And of course, we can’t forget our lunch because TC came and visited us!!  Poor TC!  We were VERY excited to see him and the kids swarmed him.  I don’t know that he’s ever gotten as many hugs and what he received from the kids at Lowell.

It was great for our students to be read to and be exposed to different kinds of literature and stories.  It was a jammed pack day full of reading, dancing, singing, and fun!  We’re so fortunate to have UNI right in our back yard to provide our kids with great learning opportunities like this!