#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: Publish


The Writing Process

Is it a straight line with rigid steps?

Is it a circle? 

Does it depend on the type of writing and the purpose? 

What does your writing process look like?

I began with google images and was shocked to find that most images of the writing process were line by line lists vertically presented.

But I just published and I know that my process was more like this:

            ink

 

My publication as Lead Author for an ILA Brief on January 14, 2019:

Creating Passionate Readers through Independent Reading

This is me!

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How do we ensure that students get this excitement? 

Where do your students publish their work? 

Where do YOU publish your work?

 





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: Phonics Reprise


“The cat sat on the mat.

The fat cat sat on the mat.

The rat sat on the mat.

The fat cat sat on the mat.

The fat cat and the fat rat sat on the mat.”

“What are we working on today?” I inquired.

“I am practicing ‘the’,” was the earnest reply from the first grader.

 

“Can you show me where you see the word ‘the’?”

“All of them?” she queried as she pointed to two examples.

“They aren’t the same,” she added. “These begin with upper case and these begin with lower case.”

 

“Tell me more.” (falling back on that favorite response)

“These line up in a row,” pointing to the The in a vertical column. “And these don’t.”

 

“What did you learn in this story?” I asked.

“”That cats and rats can sit together,” was the response.

 

What was the goal? 

I saw that the student practiced the page three times as directed and then recorded it onto the iPad on a fourth reading.  It was flawless. Every word was pronounced correctly. The student stopped appropriately for end punctuation (periods) and it sounded okay . . . just a bit “sing-songingly” with an attempt to have some rhythm/intonation in the reading.

Is this reading? 

What role does this have in reading?

What happens if this becomes a “major portion of a steady diet” for a reader?

Valinda Kimmel had a great post about Guided Reading here last week, “Why Does Guided Reading Get Top Billing?” Please go read it and consider “WHERE”  you believe the above reading work fits in.

Phonics, Spelling and Word Work?

Guided Reading?

In this instance, the student self-reported that this reading was her fluency practice that she has to do before Independent Reading. Short passage with words she knew. Focus was on sight words “and”, “the”, and “on” according to the posted learning targets.

Fluency has many definitions  that include:

prosody,

reading like an author intended with phrasing, intonation, accuracy, rate, and expression

but all contain some reference to “fluency to support comprehension”.

Fluency – one of the “Five Pillars” of reading from the National Reading Panel report.

And I digress . . . Or do I?

Have I switched topics from Phonics (the title) to Fluency now?

In the classroom next door, the learning target was “practice /at/ phonograms in text and decoding cvc words with short vowel sound made by a.

How did the practice support word work?

37 words total

the – 11 repetitions

on -5 repetitions

and – 1 appearance

/at/- 20 (cat – 4, sat – 5, mat – 5, fat – 4, rat – 2)

This is an example of “decodable” text.  Some might call this “barking at print” because the text can be read but there is no deep meaning attached to the words, phrases, sentences or passage.  Worse yet, this might be something a student would be required to read multiple times, quickly, without hesitation in 30 seconds or less to meet some pre-determined correct words per minute goal. (Fluency, Automaticity, Word Work in “connected text” might be ways this text would be named._

Phonics – this post listed Faux Pas from the past

A need for Due Diligence and understanding Reading Research was the focus here

and yet . . . doubt remains

Check out Stephen Krashen’s response as well . . .

Comments on Morning Edition, January 2, 2019, What is Wrong with the APM report . . .

“There is no evidence that “Millions of kids can’t read …”. But there is
overwhelming evidence that low reading ability is related to poverty, contrary to
the claim in American Public Media’s report.”

The Case Against Intensive Phonics

and Basic Phonics.

What do we need?

Increased clarity of purpose by teachers?

Intentionality?

Continued conversations? 

Common language?

A potpourri of effective strategies and methodologies?

I celebrate the questions that lead informed conversations and decisions about the best instruction possible for students!




Alfie Kohn – phonics added!  Link




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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Phonics


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Letter – Sound Relationships

One part of learning to read

One part that serves the reader in his/her meaning making reading work!

Avoiding Instructional Missteps in Teaching Letter-Sound Relationships

Go read it.  Bookmark it. Download it.  Study it!

7 Pitfalls from the past . . .

How to teach phonics . . .

How not to teach phonics . . .

“Specific, Applicable Generalizations

Simplistic, broad generalizations or “rules” do not work. For example, if we say that silent e signals a long vowel sound all the time, then we have a lot of issues. But if the generalization is made more specific, it is more applicable. For example, the silent e pattern is consistent more than 75 percent of the time in a_ei_eo_e, and u_e, but only consistent 16 percent of the time with e_e.”

Details matter.  The quote above came from #7 in the linked article. Perhaps you skimmed over that section.  I believe it is probably one of the most critical sections.  And in case you missed it, #7 is

7. Missing Essential Elements of Phonics Instruction

Teach Letter – Sound Relationships.

Check the research on teaching letter-sound relationships. 

Check the instruction in your classrooms. 

Then check the student learning. 

What work with Letter-Sound relationships have your PLN’s been doing?




Arm yourself with knowledge!

How do you know what students understand about letter-sound relationships?

By their writing.

What do they use?  How do they apply their knowledge?

Have you studied these?   Utility of Phonics Generalizations

Due Diligence


“If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, quacks like a duck . . . ”

probably a duck!

Unfortunately, there’s “Trouble in River City” as there are a ton of snake – oil salesmen who preach “Research says . . .”,  “Research says . . .”, and “Research says . . .” who are “building on their own self-interests to increase fear and doubt in public schools and teachers.  Every one who has attended a public school or not (Betsy DeVos to name one) has an opinion about education.

An opinion!

Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the fear mongering.  Be BRAVE. Think. Exercise Due Diligence.

  1. Read the resources.
  2. Check the author’s credentials.
  3. Fact check the statements. (By the way when national normed tests are used, 100% of the population is not going to be successful.  They would renorm the test and change the percentages. Assessment 101)
  4. Take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this even logical?”
  5. What do the researchers really say?

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Research:  What does every educator need to know?  Please download Nell Duke’s  document below and have it ready to email to teachers in your own community. Those you can listen to and respond to. Your community.  Where you can also be proactive. Showcase what you are already doing and your own results.

A.  Nell Duke – “10 Things to Know about Research”  Today’s focus is on #9.

9. Where and How Research Is Published or Presented Requires Particular Attention
Consider a particular news item and the range of different ways it is covered, for
example, by the New York Post, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Economist,
Fox News, or the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. These sources will cover the same
story in substantially different ways. Similarly, literacy research in different
outlets, and by different writers, may be reported very differently . . .”

New York Times. NPR.

Think.

What is the goal of an author for those sources?

What is the type of information presented?

B. Instructional Practices Matter 

Round robin reading is not OK. Neither is popcorn reading or “bump reading”. NOT.OK. NEVER! And “BUT my kids like it” is only an excuse and not an acceptable excuse.  What should teachers be doing instead?  Check out Evan Robb’s post here.

Do you have these three types of reading in upper elementary and secondary classrooms?

  • Instructional Interactive Read Aloud
  • Instructional Reading
  • Independent Reading

In addition to Read Alouds?

C. Equity Matters 

Regie Routman covers this beautifully in Literacy Essentials as it it one third of the content. Expectations matter for all learners.  Check out this blog post – “9 Key Actions We Can and Must Take to Ensure Equity for All” link

3. Become professionally knowledgeable. No shortcut here! Until we become highly knowledgeable as teachers of literacy—regardless of what subject we teach–we will always be seeking the “right” program, text, or expert to tell us exactly what to do. Equity for all requires that we teachers and leaders know relevant, research-based and principled literacy practices and how and when to apply those practices in all content areas.”

What do you believe and value?

How does that align with your professional knowledge?

D. Dear Media, Stop Misrepresenting Reading Instruction, Please   link

Who does it profit?

“Here is a final note worth emphasizing: Phonics-intense and phonics-only reading instruction is a gold mine for textbook publishers, reading program shills, and the testing industry.

Consider carefully the who and why of public commentaries screeching about reading instruction, especially when the arguments are full of easily identifiable holes in their credibility and logic.”

Why are those who are NOT certified to teach so blindly convinced that they hold “THE ANSWER” to teaching reading?

There are many other great resources . . . blogs, facebook, and twitter.

BE CAREFUL!

BE DILIGENT!

THINK of that student in front of you!

 

Independence: Taught? Or Not?


Who is doing the work?

Students?

Teachers?

How do we know?

Does it matter?

This flow chart from an October 7, 2018 tweet by Daniel Willingham caught my eye this week out in the Twittersphere!

I have studied it on my phone, my iPad, and on my Chromebook. I continue to revisit the subheading “(doing laundry, making lunches, doing dishes, etc.)”

Does this chart apply to routines in the classroom? 

Does this chart apply to instruction in the classroom?

Should it?

Where does my “curious” mind go?  I “celebrate” the opportunities for formative assessment.  Observation and completion of tasks quickly come to mind. Fairly straight forward. Items that I can check off. Routines.

How much of the school day should be “routinized” to this level? 

What’s the end goal?

Previous posts have discussed the fact that many times students do not have enough practice in their work in order to really KNOW and DO the task at high levels of cognitive effort.  Is that a flaw in the curricular design, the instructional design, or in the instructional delivery system? Or a symptom of other issues?

And then Wednesday night’s Twitter chat with Alicia Luick and Taliah Carter was about the Independent Use of Mentor Texts to Promote Independence in the Writers’ Workshop. Serendipity and another celebration as topics aligned!!!

It helped me when Alicia explained the difference between mentor texts, demonstration texts, and exemplar texts.  All have many uses as we think about a “progression to independence”.

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How do we teach independence?

How do we provide practice time so students can develop confidence, competency and independence?

I love these ideas from Ryan Scala. Students can quickly be “upping their game” so they are ready to lead demonstrations, small groups or seminars!

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So many ways for teachers to scaffold and support students at their current level in order to “reach” for the next level and continue to stretch and grow.  Sounds easy but supporting all students in a classroom is hard work.

And who is doing the most work?

Do we “teach for independence”?  

Do we provide enough practice time and get out of the way in order to increase independence?

 

2018: In the Rear View Mirror


What a year!

What does the data say?

Looking back is something of a habit as the New Year dawns.  Here were my reflective posts from 2017,  2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.  It was fun to see where the emphasis has changed over time.

My Top 5 Most Viewed Blog Posts of all time are:

5. How do we know students are making progress in writing? (2014)

4.  Generative Writing as a Formative Assessment (2015)

3.  Lexile Level is NOT Text Complexity (2013)

                 2. Close Reading in Kindergarten? Is it possible? (2013)

1. #TCRWP and a Teacher’s Toolkit for Writing (2014)

Data analysis is interesting.  Four of the five posts were in my top 5 all time last year.  #2 this year is a new addition to the top 5. It leapfrogged to #2 by passing up three previous “all time” posts.

I continue to wonder if my OLD writing is more popular than my newer writing with two posts from 2013 in the top 5. “Or does the popularity mean that these posts are STILL topics/issues that present day literacy teachers are struggling with?”  Maybe these are topics that I need to review during the course of the year. They are definitely already on my March Slicer “To Write About” list.

My Top 8 Posts (by the number of readers) out of the 109 posts that were written in 2018 were:

8. #SOL18: Lit Essentials – Regie Routman’s Literacy Essentials with an entire section dealing with Equity!

7. #TCRWP: 3 Tips – Patterns of Power (Jeff Anderson), Mentor Texts with Simone Frazier and Heart Maps with Georgia Heard

6. #SOL18:  Reading Research  – Is all reading research equal?

5. Bloom’s and Thinking – Reconceptualizing Bloom’s Taxonomy

4. #SOL18: March 25 – Updated Reprise of #3 above “Lexile Level is NOT Text     Complexity (2013)

3. #NCTE18:  Digging Deeper #1 – Kass Minor, Colleen Cruz & Cornelius Minor

2. #SOL18:  March 15 – Barriers to Learning, Allington’s Six T’s, Student           Progress

1.#SOL18:  March 11 – Increasing Writing Volume

And this – Reading Research from the end of October and both a November post about NCTE and a December post can make it into the “Most Read in 2018” list within 4 – 8 weeks of the end of the year.  So Interesting!

What patterns do you see? 

Which topics did you find most compelling? 

What work do you review annually or over even longer time frames?




PROCESS:

Reflection

Analysis

Planning

Re-Reflecting

Wrapping up Curious with a Focus on being Joyful for this first chance to CELEBRATE!

 

#OLW19


Drum Roll . . .

Red Carpet . . .

Celebratory Toast . . .

My final choices were:  Gratitude, Celebrate, and Thankful.

I tested them out with flash drafts of this post.

What was I searching for?

Enduring words:  That would be a part of my life 24/7 – literally woven into the fabric of my life

Practical words: That would be like a ticker tape running in the background of my life.

All encompassing words:  That would be suitable for my professional life, my personal life and my role as a grandmother.

How would I know which word was THE word?

I would easily be able to flash draft a post about the word.

I would NOT check to see who else had chosen the word.

I would be able to use the subtle nuances of the word in my decision-making process.

My selection grid:

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One Last Review of Previous Words:

  • 2014    Transfer
  • 2015     Focus
  • 2016    Joyful
  • 2017    Brave
  • 2018    Curious

AND . . .

MY CHOICE . . . 

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Celebrate . . . 

Successes in work – the processes and the product

Successes in learning – the struggle of change and the challenges of implementing those                                              changes

Successes in family life – school and life events

Successes in being present – paying attention to small wins every day to fuel long term                                                          goals

Work attempted

Work completed

And when needed  . . . celebrate that which is YET to come!

My Goal = Celebrate . . . EVERY day!

What is your #OLW19? 

How and when did it find you? 

What will you celebrate in 2019?




Teacher Resources:

  1. One Little Word
@lhighfill

New Year, One Word HyperDocs wke.lt/w/s/5y4xQ via @wakelet A collection of three lessons for reflection/goal setting w students in the new year. Just file and make a copy to edit for your specific student needs. @TsGiveTs @SEANJFAHEY @WickedEdTech @KarlyMoura @SARAHLANDIS

         Check out the wakelet link above!   3 different choices!

       2. Word Comparisons      https://wikidiff.com/

#SOL19: #OLW18 Finale


#OneLittleWord (AKA #OLW)

This post has more about the origin of #OLW and links to other past posts about the purpose and process. Today’s post is a reflection on my 2018 OLW.  It was evident on my blog as it literally was a part of the wallpaper:  Curious!

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How did “curious” impact my life?

Seeing it at least weekly on my blog kept curious in my brain but even without the constant reminder, curious is in my bloodstream.  Considering life and life actions through the eyes of others has always been a part of my repertoire so “curious” was the perfect word for #OLW18.

Where did “curious” take me?

My learning journey included:

3rd Anniversary #G2Great Chat

CCIRA in Denver – February

TCRWP Writing Institute

#BookLove Summer Book Study

Iowa Reading Conference

ILA

Everyday Practices that Engage and Empower Readers and Writers – Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle – DSM

Nell Duke – JCCL – Cedar Falls

NCTE

Read, Write, Teach – Ignite Curiosity and Instill Confidence in Freeport, Maine with Linda Rief and Penny Kittle

Reading, reading, reading . . . professional texts

Researching

Writing about my reading

Twitter chats:  #ILA, NCTE, #bookaccessforall, #TCRWP, and #G2Great

What other words have chosen me?

  • 2014    Transfer
  • 2015     Focus
  • 2016    Joyful
  • 2017    Brave
  • 2018    Curious

I’ve narrowed my 2019 word choice down to three . . . A Decision and More in the next post!

How did you put your #OLW into action in 2018? 

What did you learn that will guide you in 2019? 

What will be your evidence of learning / use of your #OLW?




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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Milestones


Milestones vary.

As the odometer turned 48884, a mathematical palindrome, I wondered about the 50,000 mile warranties that would soon expire. And the endless phone calls and junk mailings about warranties . . .

I watched the green mile markers as I traveled . . . another mile completed.

In life:

The big ones are birth and death.

But what is in between?

Everything that happens in year 1 is a milestone:

that first bottle

that first cooing sound

that first “roll over”

that first “pulling up”

that first step.

And then as life progresses –

Age 5 – eligible for kindergarten

Age 13 – teenager

Age 18 – voting rights

Age 21 – adult rights

And then the “0” birthdays . . .  30, 40, 50 and beyond.

All these milestones are CELEBRATIONS!

For clarity, here is a definition of milestones:

What do milestones look like?  

A fairly even and balanced stack of smooth, polished events?

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Rough shapes, each one unique, that are part of a route?

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Smooth shapes with a highly polished finish?

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A combination of  shapes, sizes, colors and routes?

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Do we recognize and celebrate the scholarly milestones that grow our students into readers and writers? 

Do we make allowances for alternate routes for students? 

Must all students meet the exact same criteria at the same moment?

Who chooses the milestone path? 

Milestones and benchmarks:  Helpful?  Harmful?  Does it depend on how they are used? 

Benchmarks that are used to “sort” students into colors, red/yellow/green, or groups for intervention or instruction may fall short of their goals because they are artificially imposed goals.  They also may be goals that are set independently of the assessment measure being used. Benchmarks that are used in “punitive” ways to slow down instruction and build isolated skills that are not used in real world literacy activities may fit into the category of “unhelpful” or even harmful benchmarks.  Benchmarks that require additional information to be collected including multiple reading and writing samples are a part of a “body of evidence” that covers many milestones . . . more than once!  And more than one type!

What milestones are critical for your grade level?  Why?

 

 

#SOL18: Merry Christmas


Hope your day was filled with

JOY,

LOVE,

FAMILY, and

FUN!

And that whatever your beliefs, traditions, customs and celebrations,

That you also set aside some time to think about your thoughts, deeds, and actions in 2018.

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Which visual image matches your thinking?

How do you open your heart? 

How did you celebrate with friends and family? 

What memories did you create today?




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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