#SOL17: First Day


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The bus turns the corner.

My last check to see that everything is in my car.

One picture down.  It’s kind of gloomy.  No sunshine for this auspicious day.

The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road.  I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended.  “Smile!  Just one more picture!”

He takes three steps, turns, and looks.  I snap the photo. He starts up the steps.

I’m sure it’s blurred.  Tears stream down my cheeks.

This would not be the day to take a lousy picture.

I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat.  Third row. Behind his friends.  He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning.  Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window.

The driver looks down.  Closes the door and the bus lumbers down the road.

  I hop in my car.  Five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture.  It’s 1995.  The First Day of School. No digital pictures.

As a teacher, how do your own personal “First Days” impact your attention to detail in your classroom?

What are you planning for this year?  Why?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

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#SOL19: Celebrate!


“Almost 90 cards. So close. Can we count the card sitting at your sister’s?” (The goal was 90.)

Of course, I agree.  Doesn’t every family have one member that keeps time in a different fashion?  Later arrivals?  Later mailing dates?

I’ve written about my family before.  One of my favorite posts is this one with a few of our Christmas traditions.

A family that celebrates:

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Our family

Descendants of Grandma Ruth

But as time has marched on, change has been happening.  We communicate by family Facebook, my immediate family and the Ruth family.  We hold tight to our Christmas celebration as we lose elders and gain littles.  And we have added “Cousins” meeting monthly.

Yesterday was special as the Ruth cousins celebrated Aunt Janie’s birthday.  Of course the 5 sibs were the first ones there . . .

BEFORE the scheduled time!

They may be the elders but EARLY is how they roll.

I don’t have a picture of the cake or the honoree.  But use your imagination!

A cousin’s breakfast at 7 in the morning complete with birthday cake.

Currently the eldest of the “Baby Ruths”;

With 5 siblings – two brothers, their wives, and a sister;

With all 5 children celebrating again with cousins;

(With the possibility of 50 first cousins . . . )

The second oldest cousin up from Danville;

Five Droll cousins;

A Jenn cousin;

A cousin from Frances and Emily’s family;

My sister and I . . .

And even a cousin of the honoree!

Eight families represented . . .

Twenty three was the count .  .  .

Celebrating a 90th birthday . . .

Celebrating the joy of a Mom, Sister, Aunt, Godmother, Cousin . . .

Stories, past and present;

Conversations;

Perusing pictures;

Connecting times and places.

So many reasons to celebrate family, fun, and food!

What family birthdays do you celebrate? 

What makes family time extra special? 

What are your favorite stories?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: 100% Guarantee


“How was your stay?”

“Do you need anything for your travel? Water?”

Those are questions that I hear often at a hotel chain with 100% guarantee. And not just at check out. Reminders of the daily events.  Check ins. A call from the front desk to see if I have everything I need. A call initiated by the hotel. Daily conversations.  Helpful staff. Friendly staff. And always, there is a survey to rate the services used – products and processes.

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What is the daily guarantee at schools? 

1.  A kind, warm welcome by name 

Being met with a “We’re glad to have you here at school” attitude sets the stage for a day of possibilities. Welcomed. Every. Day. In spite of or despite the events between the last visit, a warm, gracious welcome is extended to every student every day. This is especially important when many schools now have more formalized processes for school entry with buzzers and cameras as the daily norm.

2. Formative Assessments

Check ins. In the moment. “How did that go? Thumbs up? Across?  Down?” Instruction that changes based on the information received from the learners. An expectation that learning is not a “one and done event” but involves processes and practices with time to improve and learn. A collection of unobtrusive assessments and observations.

3. Two way communication

A variety of forms for feedback – nonverbal, oral, and verbal. Questions and concerns are addressed. The process for dealing with questions and/or concerns is shared and consistent. Agreement is not the goal. Building understanding. Deepening commitment to common goals. Listening to diverse opinions. Listening to understand. Not just rules and “thou shall nots” handed down as edicts. Everyone is asked for input.  Everyone is included. Input from all!

Expected?

Nothing new? 

But are those expectations for all levels of interactions? 

Students? 

Teachers and staff? 

Families? 

Community?

How are all voices heard?

How are all voices valued?

How do you know?  




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Milestones


What milestones do you recognize?

There are many throughout a year:  birthdays, anniversaries, and remembrances.

What about summative milestones?  Which ones are important?

So a bit of Jeopardy here.

Answer under “Milestone” for $100:  All 5 remaining children of Bob and Mary. (my parents)

Answer under “Milestone” for $200:  9 grandchildren of Bob and Mary

Answer under “Milestone” for $300:   1 great grandchild of Bob and Mary

Answer under “Milestone” for $400: Katarina Britane Rose last night

Answer under “Milestone” for $500:  3 “kids” with 4 degrees in two generations

Commercial Break:  Do you know what the theme is?  Even if you are not a family member, can you make a guess about what this milestone is?

And the Bonus Round:   Link


It’s a common topic and as you can see above, there’s a high frequency in my family.

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This post last year has links to six other posts with some topical story.


Did you get every question right?  Let’s check . . .

$100: How many living children are college graduates?  (5/5 or All – some multiple, multiple times and would probably involve higher math or algebra)!

$200:  How many grandchildren are college graduates?

$300:  How many great grandchildren are college graduates? (Keeping in mind that these 15 kids range from 22 to 3 months!)

$400: Who was the most recent graduate and when?

$500:  How many doctors in the family?  (3 have 4 doctorates.  PhD, PhD and M.D., and PhD)

Bonus Round:  What is “Pomp and Circumstance”?

Would it surprise you to know that this is one of my most favorite songs?

I wrote about it 5 years ago as a system of “reading” unlike words but filled with symbols and cymbals, figuratively and metaphorically. Link

What do I value?  Education!   

And what a celebration!  But that also means on the road!


What summative milestones do you celebrate? 

What traditions surround those celebrations?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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The well-deserved graduation bling:

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#SOL19: In Retrospect


I was ecstatic.

When reporting on my ancestry, I said I was from Czechoslovakia.  Sometimes I spelled it – showing off just a bit because it was a six syllable word.  But most of the time, I just wanted to beat classmates to it and tell my version first. I was in third grade.

My heritage. Mom’s side and Dad’s side. Bohemian. Czech. Others. But probably 75% Czech.

My goal:  To be proactive.  I don’t remember if anyone in my third grade world knew where Bohemia was and ever mentioned it to me.  But my goal was to end it before it began.

“My family is from Czechoslovakia.”

 

Why did it matter?

The joke of the day then was always about “Bohemians.” It was the 60’s. More recent iterations have been “dumb blonde jokes,” “midgets” or ethnic variations.”  (We were short on entertainment as tv watching was rationed and phones still had party lines.)

Jokes.

Just jokes.

A common one was: “How many Bohemians does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

Iterations readily found online include:

How many Bohemians does it take to change a light-bulb? Five. One who does it and four who would chat about that the old one was much better.

How many deputies of Kénikrát (Bohemian parliament) does it take to change a light-bulb? Absolute majority. The opposition thus could not propose a bill to screw it in the other direction.

How many Bohemian cops does it take to change a light-bulb? Eleven. One stays on a table, four move around the table, next four move in an opposite direction to prevent nausea of the first four, one checks the service box, if the current is on, and commands it all.

How many Bohemian clerks does it take to change a light-bulb? Five. One writes an application form to screw off the old bulb, the second stamps it, the third writes an application form to screw a new one in, the fourth stamps this and the fifth, after few hours of argumentation if there are correct stamps, would exchange it. (Retrieved from IllBethisad wiki – link)

How bad was it?

So many terms come in varying shades. How do we navigate in these times without getting carried away? These definitions from Intermountain Health Care seem to make sense to me.  

rude – inadvertently saying or doing something hurtful

mean – purposefully saying or doing something that hurts someone once or twice

bullying – intentionally aggressive over time and often involving an imbalance of power

So the intentionality matters.  Multiple events over time matters. The perceptions of the “wronged individual” matter.  It’s possible that rudeness could develop into meanness over time and as specific behaviors became habituated.  Yet I don’t know if one could become a bully without being aware of the hurt they were causing.

Was it rude?  mean?  a case of bullying? 

With the passage of time, it’s hard to say. 

I still have that gnawing, churning feeling in my stomach when I hear jokes that demean any group of people… even by profession!

What I do know is that we must be more aware.

It’s not okay to let incidents pass by. It may be the first instance that I’ve heard that comment, but what if it has been long standing behavior by the speaker? 

How do you differentiate between “rude, mean, and bullying”?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Family Traditions


“I just picked up two dozen, ” Mom said. “If you need some before tomorrow you will have to stop by.”

I relayed the message on to my sister Sherry.

But  . . .

Two dozen?

JUST two dozen?

There would be twelve of us. How many would we need?

It would be inappropriate to run out of such a signatory heritage dish at a family holiday dinner.

We drove to Cedar Rapids to the  bakery and picked up another dozen and a half. After all, it was 24 hours until our dinner.  We would be hungry before then and holidaying at the hotel rules out our own baking.

We MIGHT have ordered some extra that we consumed during our travel as well . . . but that story will stay in the Ford Expedition!

All in all we celebrated with blueberry, cherry, rhubarb, cream cheese, and pineapple . . .

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KOLACHES!

What traditional family dish have you eaten recently?

(And yes, astute readers . . . I just wrote about them last month here!)




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Really?


I blew it! What was I thinking?

Twitter Chats are easy. A few questions. A few responses. Let’s talk. And then taking my turn on writing a summative blog post.  Predictable patterns.

Book clubs . . . What’s the format?  What’s the end goal?  What’s my role?  More questions than answers. And each club . . . renegotiating the roles and the expectations.

Check. Deadlines met.

Check. Responses entered.

Check. Make no waves. Agree with the participants

Check. Check. Check.

I was focused on the product and got lost in FEAR!

I was worried if it was good enough and was frozen in time!

I rushed to task completing and forgot it was about the thinking!

This was the format for my early book club participation and it has followed me around worse than the groundhog’s shadow ever since.  Book clubs were a place of similar thinking; thinking outside the box resulted in social ostracism.

I went underground as a reader as I have had a LOVE/HATE relationship with book clubs.  Some have been fun. Some have been tedious. All have provided learning. But what was that learning?

I love talking about books. Mary Howard and I talk about a tweet, a blog post, or a book on a regular basis.  Her reading is also voracious! At CCIRA, Regie Routman handed me a book, I thumbed through it, and I had to order it. Penny Kittle told me about a book and I forwarded the title also to my sister and a niece.  I hadn’t even left Maria Walther’s session and I was forwarding the book list. Reading and talking about books is fun!

And then last night I watched this video of Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher. You can watch it too if you are a member of the Summer Book Love Club 2019.  What do you notice?  What would you name as the key points of the video?

Link

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A photo clipped from the video

And because the link does NOT work if you are NOT a member, here are the TOP 10 REASONS you should join Summer Book Love 19 from the Nerdy Book Club here.

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Elementary Book Club Books July 2019

Here’s what Penny said about the FB Live session:

“From Concord, CA… I’m here with Kelly Gallagher, my co-author and friend, to talk about the importance of book clubs in his professional life.”

The importance of book clubs in his professional life.

The sheer joy.

The number of books he has read as a part of a book club.

The fact that he, a good reader, learns something from every book club meeting and that they celebrate the different ideas everyone brings to the book club.

Somewhere

Somehow

Sometime

I lost the sheer joy of talking about books in a book club.

The book club became about the process of my notes, my annotations or my writing about reading.

The book club became more about compliance than learning!

I became that “kid” who completed the work but maybe didn’t invest very much of myself.

It’s book club season. I will be in several this summer. I will be watching my own learning.  And just as I detailed the process for “Professional Learning” in the last 5 posts about Repeated Reading, so will I also monitor my own learning, processes and products.  I think it will be critical to be brutally honest with myself.

And I can do that personally with a process that is also set up for bigger systems work.

How will I find the gold and the JOY in book clubs?



What is the process for professional learning?

  1. Set a Goal – Participate productively in book clubs
  2. Selection of Content which includes Checking the Research – Talk about the books
  3. Design a Process for Professional Development/Learning – Check the schedule and allow plenty of time. Refusing to allow lack of time to be an excuse.
  4. Teaching / Learning Opportunities – Checking in. What do teachers need to learn?           How will they learn it?  How can we set some measurable targets? – Pay attention to my “joy” meter.  When does it stop being fun?
  5. Collaboration / Implementation  Reading and Participating
  6. Ongoing Data Collection including Listen to the Students – Consider my responses to students with actions similar to mine
  7. Program Evaluation – Going back to the teacher data: Has there been growth? How do we know? Plan ahead – what will I do if  when I get stuck?
  8. Collecting / Analyzing Student Data – Is the gap closing? Are students growing          more capable?  Are students more independent?  Balancing “habits” of reading, attitudes, processes and products
  9. (WHY would I use a different process?)


I will be a part of at least three book clubs this summer and as the summer wanes, I will let you know if I was successful and how and when I will be celebrating the continuous JOY in reading and talking about books!

What is your experience with book clubs? 

What motivates you to continue to learn and grow as a reader? 

What learning targets would you consider?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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Coming Soon

Repeated Reading: A Cycle


This is Part 5 and the final in a series about Repeated Reading.  But it could be about any popular  research-based strategy.  It should be!

Student Learning is the Focus. All decisions about resources, including time and money, are based on the cycle of learning. Not just “buying stuff.”  Not just “here’s a PD day to fill.” Not just “what do we like?”

Beginning with student learning. Students at the center of the decisions.  Student Learning driving ALL decision-making!

“Core Beliefs:

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.”

What is the process?

I. Set a Goal

2. Selection of Content which includes Checking the Research (Part 1)

3. Design a Process for Professional Development/Learning (Part 4)

4. Teaching / Learning Opportunities – Checking in (Part 2) What do teachers                need to learn?  How will they learn it?  How can we set some measurable                targets?

5. Collaboration / Implementation

6.  Ongoing Data Collection including Listen to the Students (Part 3)

7. Program Evaluation – Going back to the teacher data in Part 4:  Has there been       growth? How do we know?

8. Collecting / Analyzing Student Data – Is the gap closing? Are students growing          more capable?  Are students more independent?

Always, Always, Always keeping students at the Center!

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Also blogged about here

What does the model say?

Participative decision-making

Not just one person making a decision

Not just one person buying a “box of something”

Not just one person saying, “go forth and use this”

The process would be to study the research, consider the needs and then make a decision based on resources, match to student population, cost to implement, and time frame needed for results. Consider the status quo, set up a plan for professional learning, and then get started while watching for checkpoints across the journey.

It looks and sounds easy. It’s not. It’s messy. Forward two steps and back one. People. Temperaments. Knowledge. All impact implementation plans.

But with STUDENT LEARNING (not achievement) at the center, the focus is on the right thing!

Are you focused on learning? 

Are you focused on achievement? 

Which one has life-long implications?

Which one no longer matters after students finally walk out the school doors?

 

 

 

Repeated Reading: Part 4


Is my teaching working?

What about fidelity to the instructional model?

Those are tricky questions to answer because there are so many variables in any equation seeking to measure instruction. Process. Product. Growth. Learning. Knowledge. Evidence. The list continues and grows quickly when adding in all forms of literacy!

What might a path to studying implementation look like?

10 years ago, I might have believed that implementation study began with an initial study of the frequency of teaching moves and then moved on to consideration of the results as one part in an intermediate study of implementation.  We counted. We checked. We logged and logged and logged. That was the type of process we were using  in our state. In the case of repeated reading, it might have looked something like this.

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We would have collected the data from self-reporting, from classroom observations, leadership team observations, and from principal walk throughs to confirm this before we moved to another level of implementation.  We would have been monitoring student growth, but it wouldn’t have been a major focus YET!

Instead today, I would probably ask teachers to begin first with a self- rating, similar to this one, to determine the teacher’s perception of both their understanding and their role in instruction.

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This study of teacher’s perception of their instruction would be one way of considering some starting points and setting personal goals for teachers for future professional learning.  Some work needs to be done collaboratively across a grade level, some needs to be done vertically in order to strengthen the connections and expectations for students, while some needs to be done in smaller groups, with a partner or individually.  Just as we consider how time is spent for students, so must we be thoughtful about how we organize teacher learning time as well. These three structures could drive purposeful study!

The key to moving through the levels on this second data collection tool is that it is student-centered and allows for data collection around what students are doing as a result of instruction AND in response to instruction. It’s quite simply better aligned to instruction than a single summative assessment that results in a number.  Instead it includes the actions and habits that increase student learning.

The second tool is also “less rigid” about a lock step set of directions “1- 5 Do This” in spite of or without any regard for the students in front of the teacher. Or without any differentiation for the student who is “almost at the target” in comparison to the student who is just learning the skill.”

What professional learning would be your focus? 

What do you use as “targets” for professional learning? 

Who sets the goals? 

How do you know when the students are learning?




Big picture:  Research + Purposeful Instruction + Students’ Deep Learning + Professional Learning = Student Success

Repeated Reading: Part 3


“This is Station 1. We read poems, mostly funny poems.  Then we vote for the poem that we like best. We can record it for Seesaw. But the important part is that we have to read it without laughing but with expression so our audience can tell we like it.”

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Today’s Winning Poem – By Jack Prelutsky

“And this is Station 2. Here we practice reading information.  Today we are reading about sharks.  When we finish, we tell our partner two things we learned about sharks and if we have any questions that we would still like answered about sharks.”

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“And this is Station 3 and here we practice tongue twisters.  We try to read them as fast as we can but we have to make sure that we say each word exactly the way it is written.  Sometimes it’s hard. We try to beat our personal highest number of reading any one in  a row”

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“And this is Station 4 where you can read anything you want. We use this station last because it’s the most fun and if you are not causing trouble, you can stay here as long as you want because it’s important to build your stamina.”

What did you see and hear on this mini-tour of 4 Reading Stations? 

What did you learn about reading through the words of the student explanations? 

What were they working on? 

Can you see and hear these kiddos?




Where was I?

In a bookstore

Eavesdropping on two boys who were book shopping for real,

But also “playing school” . . .

There were so many questions I wanted to ask,

but I listened and watched as I sat reading my own book, hoping I was holding it right side up as I was also scribbling down notes as fast as I could write. The joy and the seriousness juxtaposed in their words as they read.

What routines would students take from your classroom to play school?

What would they tell an observer about your beliefs and practices? 

Repeated Reading: Part 2


ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If . . . 

I were to engage in Repeated Reading for whole class Tier 1 instruction, what would that look like?

Which of these would signal the beginning of quality instruction? 

A. “Read the passage. Record your time. Reread the passage. Record your time. Read a third time. Record your time. Turn in your passage and your scores.”

 

B. “Listen as I read this poem that I have put on the screen. Watch and listen especially for the ‘goal’ for my reading.  Class, today I am sharing one of my favorite poems because I want you to listen for both the rhyme and rhythm in this poem because – it’s almost like a song!  . . .”

 

C. “Today, I am going to demonstrate one way that readers read fluently and with prosody. Remember we have been talking about prosody which means sounding like ‘talk’ and your goals may be: volume, expression, accuracy, or phrasing. Listen carefully to be ready to tell your partner which you think is my goal focus as I read the first stanza . . .”

What are you thinking? 

Which one is the best choice? 

Of course, it depends . . .

It’s hard to tell from just a few sentences, BUT:

A. Telling. No instruction. NO!

B. Rhyme and rhythm are important, but what is the driving WHY?

C. Student goals sound like they are individualized and the talk about fluency and prosody sounds connected to student goals.

Focus

Continue to Study

Focus

Study the Students

What do they need? 

What’s your purpose?

 

(In case you missed it, Part 1 Here)

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