How do we know students are making progress in writing?



Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

 

Writing has become a more “urgent” focus in many schools due to the College and Career Ready K-12 Anchor Standards listed here:

W.1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
W.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
W.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
W.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
W.7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
W.8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
W.9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
W.10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
 How do you KNOW when students meet these standards?
What about instruction?

There are specific grade level standards that further illuminate the expectations for the end of the grade for each of the 13 years that students are in school.  Materials can be found for both instruction and assessment at all grade levels.  As a critical consumer, you can sift through those resources to find the ones that provide authentic writing opportunities for ALL students and a plethora of evidence of student growth.

What about assessment?

A three page checklist with a variety of “levels” describing writing for students in grades K-5 can be found here. This checklist is aligned with the Common Core writing standards that are outlined above.  Districts using standards-based reporting systems also have several variations of checklists or rubrics designed to measure “growth”.  Can you tell if a student is “making progress” from this checklist?

. . . Student Role in Assessment?

However, a system of measurement would be remiss if it did not provide student self-assessment of writing progress.  That progress can be captured in the children’s own words as in Dana Murphy’s blog here:  “What Do You Know About Being a Writer?”  The words of kindergartners remind us that reflection on learning needs to begin early – In kindergarten!

Are all students developmentally ready for writing when they enter kindergarten?  The chart below would suggest that there are many levels that can be “named” for early writing stages.  Waiting for “readiness” is not the answer.  Lack of quality writing experiences prior to school is also not an acceptable excuse.

Building a need for writing is critical from the first day of kindergarten.  How and when can and should the student be writing?  The end goal for the kindergarten year is “writing” and will require both instruction and practice each and every day of school. However, quality writing instruction can and should accelerate student writing because kindergartners are encouraged to “draw and write” all year long.

Will EVERY student go through every stage?

Perhaps not.  Maybe splitting out so many stages really just slows down the learning for students.

Will it be hard work?

Sure!

Will it require change?

Quite possibly!

Do kindergarten writers deserve quality instructional opportunities that engage them in authentic learning?

dev. stages of writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ABSOLUTELY! 

Consider this:  “Revision may seem like something older kids do, but really kindergartners revise in the block center so why not in writing.” -Lucy Calkins (TCRWP Saturday Reunion, 10.18.2014)  Check your beliefs at the door.  Open your eyes and mind to the standards to see which ones are “Mission Possible” for kindergartners.

Are teacher beliefs holding students back?
Is growth about counting the levels or writers who who read, talk, and do the real work of writing EVERY day?

Once students are sure that they have stories to share, they will be able to write those stories!  Once writers are TAUGHT at all grade levels, writing quality will improve.  No more assigning writing.  No more teaching writing.

Assigning writing vs. teaching writers

 

TEACH WRITERS!

 

#SOL14: Family Weekend FUN!



Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

It was a huge family weekend.  My youngest brother, the baby in the family, graduated summa cum laude with his BS in Business Friday night with Mom plus three siblings in attendance. We had a fabulous pre-party with food galore:  veggie and fruit pizzas, veggies and dip, sandwiches, cupcakes, pies, sweet potato cake, and a wee bit of Uncle Leo’s homemade wine.   Here’s a collection of photos from the festivities!

Wayne grad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone had read last week’s slice (Mom’s birthday post) except Mom so she read that later in the evening.  She wondered why I had left out the “riding the bull” picture.  That led me to wondering about the “Kiss the Blarney Stone” picture.  Darn, again. . . . all on an external hard drive at home – not where I am currently located.  I discovered this picture of orchids that Mom drew in a class on her Mediterranean cruise and decided to share it.  She has so much artistic talent!

Moms orchids

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday  was a fabulously great family day with our departure from Ankeny at 6:15 am for the Iowa Homecoming festivities. Drumline, Alumni Band, Hawkeye Marching Band – what a treat to see and hear so much great entertainment! And the “FUN that was had by all!  You truly can see just about anything and everything at a collegiate football game.  It was my sister’s first game sitting as a spectator in historic Kinnick Stadium, as well as niece Courtney’s first Hawkeye football game so the high-scoring first quarter and ultimate win were greatly appreciated!

homecoming game

 

 

 

 

Simple things like late lunch after the game, picking up Grandma and heading on to the next adventure occupied Saturday evening.  We watched nephew Josh’s high school band perform at marching contest at Muscatine.  What a pleasure to see and hear the pageantry that accompanies high school marching bands.  However, it was a bit nippy and the blankets to sit on and wrap up in were both greatly appreciated.

The big excitement from the weekend was skyping with my kids Friday afternoon.  It was so totally an “A-Marek-N” conversation with many people talking simultaneously and lots of laughter.  The seriousness was in this message!

Evan Julie and Coach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this one . . .

McVeigh pumpkin patch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So my final words for this weekend (courtesy of a vendor on Melrose Avenue), and I’m sticking to it . . .

20141012_125336

SOL14: Happy Birthday, Mom!



Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

 

Today is my mom’s birthday.  I searched for the perfect photo.  I found several and then I couldn’t make up my mind.

2011-10-18 13.35.42

 

 

 

 

 

Mom and Dad’s Wedding Day

2011-10-23 10.25.37

 

 

 

 

 

25th Anniversary

2013-07-19 15.51.39

 

 

 

 

 

45th Anniversary and the Grandchildren (My son Evan is the baby in Mom’s hands!)

I searched my memory for the perfect story.  I couldn’t make up my mind about which story to tell.  My mom has many talents.  She has been/is:

  • mom, grandmother, great grandmother
  • aunt, godmother, friend, confidante, citizen of the world
  • caterer, kolache baker, champion of the underdog, crocheted heart maker
  • cook, salad maker, bus driver, cake maker and decorator, Volunteer Soybean Spokesperson, sewer, quilter
  • support driver for RAGBRAI, concert attendee, Hawkeye Bowl Game attendee
  • mother of a nurse, farmer, teacher, doctor, hotel data management, soldier
  • a reader
  • a writer

So I continued my search for the perfect tribute; I found this poem that I really like!  I’ll work on my own for the next special event.

Her Hands

by Maggie Pittman

Her hands held me gently from the day I took my first breath.
Her hands helped to guide me as I took my first step.
Her hands held me close when the tears would start to fall.
Her hands were quick to show me that she would take care of it all.

Her hands were there to brush my hair, or straighten a wayward bow.
Her hands were often there to comfort the hurts that didn’t always show.
Her hands helped hold the stars in place, and encouraged me to reach.
Her hands would clap and cheer and praise when I captured them at length.

Her hands would also push me, though not down or in harm’s way.
Her hands would punctuate the words, just do what I say.
Her hands sometimes had to discipline, to help bend this young tree.
Her hands would shape and mold me into all she knew I could be.

Her hands are now twisting with age and years of work,
Her hand now needs my gentle touch to rub away the hurt.
Her hands are more beautiful than anything can be.
Her hands are the reason I am me.

Source: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/her-hands#ixzz3FUvCHmH1
Family Friend Poems

Memorable?  Memories?

mom and Obama

 

 

 

 

 With a President – to – be?

Mom outside St Peter's

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 In Rome?
Memories of my mom . . . Happy Birthday, with LOVE! <3

 

SOL14: Opinion Writing Grade 4



Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

 

What a fun day today as a fourth grade team reviewed opinion on-demands and worked on scoring them.  Conversations were rich as we focused on evidence of what the students “can do” and then moved on to consider the implications for instruction.

 

Instruction will include how students can use the Units of Study checklist to evaluate their own work and set goals.  Two definite areas that we saw for instruction were “leads” and “transitions” so that led our thinking to possibilities for charts.  (I like to “develop” them electronically in order to have a copy with me for reference as I move from building to building.)  Two charts that we are considering as we have students “reflect” on their own writing include:

lead in opinion

The first column in “rising steps of complexity” are examples of opening paragraphs.  The text boxes on the arrows name the student move(s) used.

transitions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This second chart is about transition words.  “Because” is tricky when it is used at three different levels.  Is it the only transition word used?  If so, probably not a “3 Star” use of transitions.  Because is a perfect direct link for a reason “why” but has less value as a transition as we move up the steps and through the grade levels.

After students self-assess their own writing, they can set goals and have some model words/text to help them visibly see what their targeted learning looks like.  Visible targets for students?  Increasing the likelihood that students can meet the targets – progressions that “show” students how to write better!

How are you helping your students “see” their writing targets?

SOL14: Collaboration


 


Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

 

Collaboratively

What does it mean to work collaboratively?

Dictionary.com defines collaboratively as:

adjective
1.  characterized or accomplished by collaboration:

collaborative methods; a collaborative report.
Dictionary.com defines collaboration as:

noun
1. the act or process of collaborating.
2. a product resulting from collaboration:
This dictionary is a collaboration of many minds.
canstock8042106
How do you work collaboratively?

Do you use Google Docs?  Google Hang Out?  Zoom?  Skype (some form of video conferencing) Telephone conferencing?  Email back and forth?  Texting? How does it work for you?

Do you focus more on the process or the product?

 

How do your students work collaboratively?

What devices do they use?  How do they use them?  Does their “quality of work” improve with collaboration? Does extra “talk” up front encourage deeper responses?  Does rehearsal with a partner in a collaborative environment promote higher levels of engagement?

Is their focus more on the process or the product?

 

Planning for NCTE14

It was truly a pleasure to join a Google Hang Out on Sunday with fellow NCTE14 collaborators:  Julieanne Harmatz, Steve Peterson, Mary Lee Hahn, and Vicki Vinton.  Our conversations interwove both process and product as we shared our thinking about student work and what we wanted to share. The combination of visually seeing each other and talking through our ideas was exhilarating as we added to each other’s conversations and made connections across multiple texts.

ncte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No surprise to those that know me; I have a plan that I will begin later this week with some professional development.  I hope to bring in a snapshot view of how the reading/understanding/thinking goes with both teachers and students. Because I am not in a classroom on a daily basis, I’ve been thinking about a progression of events for a bit and found what I believe to be the perfect material to use.  And as always, the plan will be flexible so that learning is the priority so maybe process and product will take a back seat for awhile.

 

When do you collaborate?  When do you literally have to share your thoughts with others?  How often do you work collaboratively?  What are your personal benefits from working collaboratively?

 

 

Professional Development Model



Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

 

What is professional development?

Does your answer include a focus on student needs to drive decision-making, and student learning as the basis on which professional development is planned, implemented and evaluated?  If your answer also includes a focus on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, please keep reading.  Leadership is also an important principle of professional development, whether it be the instructional leadership of the principal or the teachers within the building.  Simultaneity is another important principle to continue as no one action in school improvement occurs in a vacuum. Participative Decision Making would be a final principal for ongoing sustained professional development designed to improve student learning.

 

Do those principles sound familiar?

In Iowa, they form the chevron at the top of the Iowa Professional Development graphic pictured here.

Iowa PD Model

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the core beliefs in this model?

o All students can learn.
o The purpose of professional development is to increase student achievement.
o Professional development should be collective learning by all teachers and administrators with an emphasis on improving instruction.

The cycle of professional development includes many familiar steps:

  • Collecting/Analyzing Student Data
  • Goal Setting and Student Learning
  • Selecting Content
  • Designing a Process for Professional Development
  • and a mini-cycle that includes Training/learning opportunities; Collaboration/implementation; and Ongoing Data Collection/formative assessment
Cycles – Training/Learning, Collaboration, Formative Assessment . . . . .

With a focus on tight alignment between curriculum, instruction, and assessment, this model parallels many Professional Learning Community cycles including the functions of data teams.  The “name of the organizing framework” is not nearly as important as checking to ensure that all elements are present within any professional learning group!  Leadership needs to focus on how and when collaborative time can be provided so teachers can work together. The training includes modelling and gradual release of responsibility as the participants take over the leadership role.

Additional ideas from the Iowa Professional Development Model include:

To be able to transfer new learning into the classroom, teachers need multiple opportunities to see demonstrations, plan together, work out problems, rehearse new lessons, develop materials, engage in peer coaching, and observe each other.

Often, learning opportunities need to be interspersed with classroom practice so that questions that arise from early implementation efforts can be responded to in a timely manner.

. . participants are provided with multiple demonstrations of the teaching strategies within the model . . .[and] multiple
opportunities to practice the teaching behaviors. . .
Professional development must be designed to be sustained over time. The initiative must be designed to last until implementation data indicate that the teachers are implementing accurately and frequently and student performance goals are met. (Joyce and Showers, 1983, 2002; NSDC, 2001; Odden, et al., 2002; Wallace, LeMahieu, and Bickel, 1990.)  https://www.educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/IPDM_Guide.pdf

 

What elements are part of your professional development?
How do you know when your professional development model is really effective?  
How do you know when it is NOT effective?

9/11 In Remembrance


nina

Remembering the many who gave their lives;

Remembering the many who survived!

In honor of 9/11, please check out the 9/11 Museum.  If you would like a focus for just 10 minutes, check out my list of “5 Must See’s at the 9/11 Museum” from my visit in June here.

This song written by my cousin

never forget

 

And the many who have served and who continue to serve our country to keep America as the land of the free and the home of the brave.

SOL14: Starting a New Year



Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

In the Midwest, our school schedules vary.  Professional development schedules seem to vary even more.  August is always the beginning of a new year.  Sometimes it resembles March:  if it comes in like a lion, then it tiptoes out like a lamb.  Which was it this year?

 

Weather?  check

Relatively calm

 

Teachers?  check

Ready to learn

 

Students? check

Ready for learning

 

And then the late summer hit.

Hot, humid, blistering tormenting weather!

Were there any signs of the oncoming weather?

Many . . . but what good is fretting about uncontrollable weather?

 

Exactly one month ago yesterday my computer died. It was the fourth day of work. The fourth consecutive day of training. All links were open and live when the screen went dark and stayed dark. It would not turn back on. Not one single light was visible anywhere.  I was 50 miles away from one of our main offices with a class that had persevered in spite of the lack of air conditioning and internet access for the participants.  Black screen of death.

It wasn’t a complete surprise. I had been “limping along” waiting for “after July 1st” and the new fiscal year. But the suddenness was still a shock.  15 minutes to class time.

Fortunately, I had my personal laptop that I had been using since the June and July Writing and Reading Institutes at #TCRWP in New York City (longest battery time of all computer choices).  I was feeling a bit “schizoid” as some materials were on my computer and others were not.  It sounded like a simple solution.  “Don’t panic,” my internal voice said.  I wanted to go outside and scream, plead, bargain “PLEASE, just one more day!”

Obviously it was not meant to be.  I googled how to “present” a power point from my MacBook Air.  Settings – display – find that silly “dongle” in the backpack and the magical “tech bag” – remote . . . . . each minute went faster and faster.  My 15 minutes was gone. 3 minutes until show time.  Plans D, E, and F were vague possibilities in my brain.  “If this, then this as I pounded on the keyboard.”  Calm?  Not so much.  Was panic helping?  Not so much.

We were one minute late starting.  Some materials for the day were totally not accessible because they were locked inside the black dead shell of a computer.  Did we accomplish our goals?

Absolutely, yes!  Because at 15 minutes to start time with a dead computer my goals changed. It was survival mode. Technology was not my friend.

Life sometimes fails for the adult.  But what about our students?

Are there days when our students are in survival mode?  Are we “in tune” with their needs?  Do they need the comfort and security of the routines of our classroom?  How do we make sure they also have a way to voice their frustrations?  I’m not talking about a full day of whining and complaining.  But what if it truly is not a good learning day because of events beyond their control?

What learning will you and your students negotiate today?
When have you had to scrap everything due to technology failures?
How did you “trust” technology again? 

 

PS. So my good news is that I have my new computer. Last night I added:

  • skype
  • dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Twitter
  • wordpress.com
  • and this morning I am polishing off this draft of my blog post.  Earth is back on its regular rotation.  Life continues on!
What challenges have you already overcome this year?
How do we learn and grow from our own challenges?

 

 

 

2014-15 Goal: All Students Will Bloom


ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

 

When I think of flowers, I think of all the possible varieties, colors and locations where they can be.  Some plants need a lot of care while others seem to flourish with little or no attention necessary.  Some flowers grow in rocky areas courtesy of birds and other animals that have left the seeds behind.

This weekend I had the pleasure of observing moonflowers on three successive nights.  They are gorgeous white trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom ONE night for approximately 12 hours.  Here is a picture of one blooming.

20140901_073534

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Moonflower courtesy of Julie’s garden)

 

Many schools have been in session for awhile during this 2014-2015 school year.  Other schools are beginning today.

 What flowers will grow in your classroom?  
What care will you provide to ensure that all are growing?  
How can they all “BLOOM” and reach their full potential?  
How many will bloom all year long?
How can we share the “blooms” with parents, family members and our entire community?

 

This post was also influenced by the book Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden.

Editing Sticks


ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.

 

What is the purpose of punctuation?

Many believe that punctuation is most important in writing because it signifies both the beginning and ending of sentences as well as indirect (paraphrased) or direct reporting of speech.  Students in kindergarten are exposed to end punctuation marks (. ? !) as well as these marks associated with speaking (,  “  “).  But is the bigger purpose of punctuation to give the reader the necessary clues to understand exactly what the author has written?  If yes, then the reader also needs those punctuation marks.  Why? Punctuation marks are very important when considering phrasing and smoothness of reading as a part of prosody for fluent readers.  A review of the CCR Anchor Standards found these six as possible considerations when thinking about the value of punctuation for both authors and readers.

CCRR Anchor Standards Considered:

Reading

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3

Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Writing

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5

Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Language

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3

Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

My Version of Editing Sticks

2014-08-22 15.01.39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My tools for this work are editing sticks that I created after seeing some that looked more like clear acrylic chopsticks on Twitter.  The size of the sticks that resembled chopsticks does make them more accessible to working “inside text” but the main feature is that they must be clear.

(Clear disks with a variety of punctuation including:     .   !   ?   ,  “  “ )

 

Inquiry Mini-Lesson for Professional Development with Teachers

Connection:

Remember that we are working with narratives and one way that we “show” instead of “tell” is to add dialogue to our small moments story.  Sometimes as a reader, it is hard to know exactly what a character says because when a speech bubble is not used, the writing does not clearly say or show who is talking.

Name the Inquiry Question:

How do I decide what punctuation to use in my dialogue?  How can partners move the editing sticks around to show exactly what a character says in a story?

Inquiry Set-Up:

With a partner, decide which editing sticks you will use, where you will put them and why.  Jot a note to record your thinking and any questions that develop.

 

   The   principal   said   the   teacher   is   a   great   leader.

 

Active Engagement:

Listen for conversations and watch for jottings that show there is more than one possibility for this statement. (Who is talking? The principal?  Or the teacher?)  Chart some of the jottings to help remember the lesson later. (Possibilities – The principal said, “The teacher is a great leader.”  “The principal,” said the teacher, “Is a great leader.”)

Link:

Authors have to be very careful when they write dialogue in order to make sure that the reader clearly understands who is talking.  Changing the punctuation can change the speaker and/or the speaker’s words.  Continue to study conversations / dialogue as you read to find more examples from mentor texts.  Take time to double check the dialogue in your stories with the editing sticks to make sure that the reader can clearly tell both who is talking and what they are saying.

 

What kinds of mini-lessons are you using for punctuation, specifically quotation marks for dialogue?  How is this lesson different from Daily Oral Language editing?  How do you combine the “editing” from writing and the “language” conventions for meaningful practice with text that transfers to student learning? 

 

After all, is the goal “perfect punctuation” or “increased understanding”?  What are your thoughts?

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