#SOL15: March Challenge Day 5 Anticipation


Slice of Life

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.

Anticipation

Today’s a big day at work.   Well, they are all big days!  But in a few hours approximately 200 teachers and administrators will be filing in for professional development around K-3 literacy:  specifically, Instructional Practices, Iowa Core ELA Standards, Assessment for Learning,  and Quality Interventions for Fluency K-3.  Huge day!   Big topics that merit full days but we, literacy team, have five hours of learning delivered simultaneously in three locations.

Pre-training check:

Facilitation guide – yes

Handouts – yes

Sorting Envelopes  –  yes

Signs for walls – yes

Internet access  pages –  yes

Table tents – yes

Sign in sheets – yes

DVD  for demo – yes

Google form for feedback – yes

All materials linked on google site – yes

Weather – COLD, but nothing WET!

Why am I awake so early?  

It must be the anticipation of a GREAT learning day!  It  can’t be “anxiousness” about the event; an event to be streamed through technology (zoom) to three sites. No pressure . . . No stress  . . . No worries . . . Just fabulous  learning, RIGHT?

The alternative?

anticipation

I choose anticipation!

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 4


Slice of Life

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.

Based on Stacey’s inspiration (and working to write more spontaneously) I went to Kendra Limback’s post this morning that was the result of reading Brown Girl Dreaming by Jackie Woodson. Simply.amazing.Must.read.HERE!

A Creed

I Believe in students.
I Believe in being Kind.  All the time; Choose Kind.
I Believe in listening to students who will set the pace. That’s when real life happens and we really do “smell the roses”.
I Believe it’s sometimes necessary to “sprint” and other times to “stroll” down learning paths..
I Believe in FUN at school.
I Believe in collaboratively creating a space to learn.
I Believe that our lives need stories and books.  Great ones!
I Believe in a growth mindset. No goal is too high to reach.
I completely Believe in the power of a community to solve its problems.
I Believe in trust. Trust the child who needs the patience afforded by “Not Yet!”

I Believe in truth!
I Believe our students are our Miracles.  Our future!

I saw two basic definitions when I looked up creed:

  • a system of Christian or other religious beliefs or
  • a set of beliefs or aims that guide someone’s actions.  I chose the latter.

What guides your life? What do you Believe?

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 3


Slice of Life

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.

Ice 

Pink

on the weather map.

Not the green of rain

Nor the white of snow.

Temperature is 32.

Snow,

Changed to sleet,

pesky pellets of frozen rain,

Causing delays.

Two hour late start –

Found time?

But wait . . .

– 5 tomorrow night

and 50’s for weekend highs . . .

This roller coaster

named Winter

continues!

icy-tree

Winter Lingers in Iowa!  How about where you are?

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 2


Slice of Life

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  Stacey’s post calling for slices included this Elizabeth Gilbert quote.

 

Writing 

At least try . . .

Never too late!

Writing will get better

as YOU

get older and wiser.

Write something beautiful

to be discovered

and placed on the bookshelves of the world.

At least try . . .

Found Poem

Today I wrote a found poem.  The words in Elizabeth Gilbert’s quote called out to me.  I originally began with “At least try” but then I found myself back at the beginning focusing on pulling out specific images.  New to “found poetry”?  You can find additional information and examples here.

Welcome to Day 2!  What poem is calling out to you?

March Challenge: #SOL15 Day One


It’s March 1st and that means it’s the first day of 31 days of writing and posting blogs here.  This will be my second year of participating in the March Challenge and I am looking forward to growing even more as a writer and a teacher of writers! Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.

March

How will you begin? What will you write?

Respond to a quote . . .?

Which of these two quotes will help you  plan for the remainder of your school year?

“Education  is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” – Socrates

“Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius

I love the “positiveness” of both of these as I think about my role as a literacy coach.  I often have to do both as we look to see where to ignite the passion for continuous learning as we review the data of the past.  What can we do differently?  What must we do differently?  What is our end goal?

Write a poem . . . ?

Are-you-a-poet

March

stories

poems

posts about family

friends

life

Will you be writing?

Daily?

Why not?

Take the plunge . . . .

Invest in yourself

Invest in your own writing!

#SOL15: Generative Writing and Word Study


I was back in some classrooms this week and I was continuing to think about generative writing, in particular with younger students.  See this earlier post for the nuts and bolts about generative writing.  I continue to believe that it’s a powerful strategy not only for writing but also for formative assessment.

I saw students working with tubs of objects based on the vowel sounds of the words.  The tubs looked like these.

vowel tubs for phonics

These first graders were using the tubs to name the objects, write the words and / or use the words in sentences as part of a focus on Word Work during Daily 5 rotations.  Students could choose the vowel sounds tub that they wanted to use.  Some students were writing words, others were writing sentences, and still others were filling a page with sentences that clearly demonstrated their understanding of the items in the tubs.

How did I know the students were learning?

At first glance it seemed that students were working on many different levels of writing.  How could I capture that information?  My mind was buzzing.  What did I see in front of me?  How could I capture that information and make it usable as well as “teacher friendly” so that it could be one piece of formative assessment that was used to guide future instruction?

What if I created “messy sheets” to “sort the work that students were doing?  See Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan’s blog (@ClareandTammy), “Organizing and Displaying Assessment Data so We can Use It” for an explanation of messy sheets (or check out their book here).

Here are my drafts of two types of messy sheets (student names would surround the ovals – initials are shown for the first two ovals on the left): one for volume of writing and one for quality of writing. (Do note that I did not have a complete set of classroom data and I was operating on the basis of what I saw students doing at that point in time.)

Volume Messy Sheet

writing quality messy sheet

What do I know about a writer who only uses the “word” as the last word in a sentence (thinking back to the previous post about generative writing)?  Which “Messy Sheet” helps me better understand these writers?  Is it an either / or?  Do I have to choose one? My questions continue on and on.

word-focus-300x300

Take a deep breath.

Remember my “OLW15″ (“One Little Word”).

Can my questions guide my continued study of the student writing?  If yes, then I might also consider adding ovals or even a third “Messy Sheet” for conventions.  From this writing sample, I could gather data about the “transfer” of learning from one writing activity to another.  Which students consistently have capital letters at the beginning of their sentences?  Which students consistently have end punctuation?  (I don’t need to give students a prompt.  I can use this “data” to add to my picture of each student as a writer!)

How could a teacher use the information from the “Messy Sheets” to guide instruction? 

In order to determine the need for additional small group or whole class explicit instruction, I could develop instructional groupings! Here are three examples:

Use generative writing in small groups to work on missing skills in writing for the students.

Tape record instructions of generative writing for students to complete in small group with a leader in charge of the recording. (interactive white board with picture and recording or ipad)

Revise and expand generative writing in a mini-lesson during Writer’s Workshop. (ie. Work with revising sentences in writing pieces to further develop sentence fluency and/or to show word meaning when deepening word understandings)

Additional Word Work:

Let’s consider the “long a” tub that is open in this picture.  It contains the following miniature items: snake, scale, whale, bacon, baby and a cage.  Students can practice naming each of the items and can record those words on paper because they are listed on the under side of the cover.  Additional activities that involve sorting could be combining items from the long a and short a tubs and sorting them  into columns based on the vowel sound, the location of the vowel sound, or even the number of syllables in the words (or even the spelling patterns that are used for that particular vowel sound – How many follow the cvce pattern?).

How might you use generative writing in the primary grades or to teach the writer?

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 share our work.

#SOL15: When is it time to panic?


When you write a blog, when is it time to panic?

When you don’t have a topic . . .

When you REALLY don’t like what you have written . . .

When you are past 30 revisions according to WordPress but the post seems to be pretty pathetic . . .

When today is the day to post, and life happens . . .

When the water line bursts . . .

When the computer shows the blue screen of death . . .

When you have assignments to read and comment on that you SHOULD do before writing your next post  . . .

When the snowstorm knocks out the power and internet AGAIN . . .

When you are at a “state” meeting and time for writing is so very precious . . .

When you hit the “Publish” button instead of the “Preview” button . . . (as I did on Sunday)

When your #OLW15 is “Focus” and all sense of focus is lost!

 

How do you get back on track when you have lost your focus and/or believe that your writing has slid off the edge of the cliff?

Do you panic or do you “write on” until that magic returns?

How do we teach students to focus and write on?

 

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 share our work.

 

Generative Writing as a Formative Assessment


Last week I was working with a group of pre-service teachers like I do every semester.  I lingered on the writing examples, techniques and goals in the genres, mentor texts, and specifically generative writing.  As I presented to this group, I literally wondered “aloud” why I had never written about generative writing.  I believe that the power of generative writing lies in its ability to replace tired, ineffective DOL practice with meaningful, relevant writing that can also be used as formative assessment tasks.

So what did the pre-service teachers do?

They wrote a sentence where “writing” was the first word in a sentence with at least 10 words.  And then they wrote a sentence where “writing” was the last word in a sentence with at least 10 words.  Finally they wrote a sentence with “writing” as the fourth word in a sentence where they could choose the length (but it had to have a minimum of five words so “writing” was not the last word).

And then we had a conversation/discussion with a few focused questions:

  • Which sentence was the hardest to write?
  • What made it hard?
  • What strategies did you use to help complete the task?

The majority said that the sentence with “writing at the end” posed the most challenge because it was the complete opposite of the first sentence.  Some said that the first two were basically easy because it was about “flipping” the words in the sentences and that the third use of “writing” as the fourth word was harder because “you had to think about what could go before it”.

Strategies that they used were counting words on their fingers, oral rehearsal, drafting and scratching out, drafting and then counting, and checking with a partner. This was meant to be an introduction, that in a classroom would include oral practice, study of mentor texts, and examples of vocabulary words used in various positions in real published work.

What is Generative Writing?

Generative Writing is a term used to describe instructional strategies that provide students with parameters for their writing. These factors define boundaries for writing at the sentence level.

  • Providing a word to be used

  • Defining the word’s position in the sentence

  • Specifying the number of words in a sentence

  • Limiting the number of words in a sentence

The model described above comes from Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s Scaffolded Writing Instruction: Teaching with a Gradual-Release Framework.

scaffolded writing

What are the effects of  generative writing?

  • Build sentence fluency
  • Build word choice
  • Deepen understanding of content
  • Deepen understanding of vocabulary
  • Use writing as a tool for learning
  • Write in a variety of genres

I think that sentence fluency, word choice and writing in a variety of genres are already covered in many writing workshops at a variety of grades.  However, I believe that using generative writing in content areas to deepen understanding of content, vocabulary and even as a tool for learning and assessment are previously untapped areas of formative assessment that could be guiding higher-quality targeted core instruction for ALL students.

So how would I use generative writing as a Formative Assessment?

I would use this with departmentalized content-area teachers who have all of their own content standards as well as a responsibility for reading and writing ELA standards.  Asking a science class to use “photosynthesis” as the first word in a sentence will probably result in a definition.  Here is an example of how the work may be sorted as well as the plan for using a second generative writing after some re-teaching.

science

 

How did I plan for the generative writing at the top of the page?

I am a firm believer that I must “practice what I preach” and complete writing tasks in order to increase my own understanding of writing.  So of course I actually wrote some sentences.  Here are some examples of sentences that I generated during the planning phase for my work.

Writing is one of my favorite ways to express ideas because my artistic and musical talents are limited. There are some days that I feel like the most important part of the day is when I have time for writing. Some may argue writing is just one of many skills that students need to develop, but I would suggest that totally divorcing reading and writing is an exercise in futility.  “Show don’t tell” and “Teach the writer not the writing” are my two most favorite Lucy Calkins’s quotes about writing.  What are your favorite quotes that you use to encourage writing?

The tasks I assigned myself:

  1. Use “writing” as first word in a sentence with at least 10 words.
  2. Use writing as the last word in a sentence with at least 10 words.
  3. Use writing as the fourth word in a sentence as well as somewhere else in a compound/complex sentence.
  4. Use writing as the last word in a sentence using quoted text.
  5. Use writing as the last word in a question.
  6. Develop a cohesive paragraph during this generative writing exercise.

I believe I met all 6 of my tasks; what do you think?

How might you use generative writing?

#SOL15: Inspiring and Joyful Professional Development


joyful

Two blog posts this week caught my eye and lingered in my brain.  They were Jessica Lifshitz’s “A Different Kind of PD (AKA Thank You Kate Roberts and Chris Lehman)” linked here and Lisa Saldivar’s “Assigning vs. Teaching” here.  Jessica is a 5th grade teacher in Chicago and Lisa is an Elementary ELA Coordinator in Los Angeles.

How do I know Jessica and Lisa?  I follow them on Twitter and they participated in online chats last week.

How did I find out about their blogs?  The links were both tweeted out on Twitter.

Have I ever met them? No, not YET!

 Stop for a second.  

What was the content of the  last Professional Development session where you left energized, inspired and ready to move forward with implementing the learning?

Energy, enthusiasm and excitement were present in both their posts.   The three presenters referenced above, Kate Roberts, Chris Lehman (Falling in Love with Close Reading), and Cornelius Minor, are awe-inspiring and passionate about increasing literacy learning for students without drudgery.  They are also FUN to listen to in a PD setting!  You can hear Cornelius Minor in a podcast here.  If you haven’t yet seen them in person, you need to add them to your “must do” list!

joy

 

Focus:  What is professional learning?

I shared this model back in September because the work of Joyce and Showers is embedded in the thinking and development of this model that has “Student learning – at the center of school improvement and staff development”!  (Research-based, YES! and a model of how good things can be!)

Iowa PD Model

You can read more about the model here and also about CCSS.Writing Anchors 1-3 here for content of a two hour PD session with absolutely 0 power point slides but a lot of talk and “studying of texts”. Teachers had the opportunity to read new/revisit familiar texts to deepen their understanding of writing techniques and build a common language, K-5, across argument, informational and narrative texts.

 Where can you find joyful and inspiring PD on your own?

There are many quality sources of PD.  I encourage you to leisurely explore the following resources until you find one that you cannot live without!  Additional details are listed for:  blogs, twitter hash tags, twitter book chats, twitter blog chats, scheduled Twitter chats, and face-to-face presentations.

1. Blogs

blog

Reading a steady diet of blogs can inform your work.  Leaving comments on the blogs can also lead to conversations and even other blogs you might want or need to follow!

Must read literacy blogs include:

 

 2. Twitter hashtags

twitter-logo-bird

Twitter hashtags begin with the “#” sign and can be real or made up. Some hashtags exist for a long time (not saying forever because who REALLY  knows what “forever” means in the “TwitterVerse”) or they can be hashtags created for a specific event (and possibly linger after through posts/discussions).

Examples for meetings / conferences:

#NatRRConf  – National Reading Recovery Conference

#WSRA15  – Wisconsin Reading Association 2015 Conference

#NCTE14  – National Council of Teachers of English 2014 Conference

Examples of enduring hashtags (may want to have a dedicated column in Tweetdeck or Tweetchums):

#tcrwp – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project

#wonderchat – Wonder Chat

#tlap – Teach Like a Pirate

3. Twitter Book Chats

Twitter Book Chats are on line discussions of books (often with questions posted in advance in a google document) where readers and lurkers meet to answer questions and grow their own knowledge.  Powerful twitter book chats often include the authors responding to the questions as well!

#filwclosereading – Falling in Love with Close Reading (book and presentations by @teachkate and @ichrislehman linked above)

#wrrdchat – What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton

#NNNchat – Notice and Note @kylenebeers and @bobprobst

#wildreading – Donalyn Books

#booklove – Penny Kittle

#G2Great – Good to Great  @DrMaryHoward

4. Twitter Blog Chats

Twitter Blog Chats are often used to introduce an upcoming series of blog posts or to even wrap up a series of blog posts where the readers can interact with the blog authors.

Examples:

#TWTBlog – Aim Higher:  Outgrow old goals  and set new ones with the chat archive here

#T4Tchat – sponsored by Teachers for Teachers with the last chat storified here – Mid-Year Assessments Got You Down?

5.  Scheduled Twitter Chats

#tcrwp – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project  (Wed. 7:30 pm EST)

#educoach –  Educational Coaches (Wed. 9:00 pm CST)

#titletalk –  Promote reading and book titles that engage students (Last Sunday of each month from 8-9 pm EST)

#iaedchat – Iowa Educators (Sundays 8 am and 8 pm CST)

Many content areas and grade levels host their own chats – check out this list! (36  chats on the list last night between 5:30 and 10:00 pm!)

6.  Face to Face Presentations

face to face

Face to Face Presentations are often jazzed up to include a hashtag so participants can follow along or a back channel like “Today’s Meet” where participants can be posting favorite quotes or questions in real time while the session is taking place.  Today’s Meet is often used when there are multiple presenters so the non-presenter is monitoring the channel to feed to other partners/panel members or to address /build purposeful connections for all parts of the presentation.

Which of these 6 have you used to find your own joyful and inspiring professional development?  

What about your peers?  Where do they find joyful and inspiring PD?

(If you didn’t answer these questions in three seconds or less, click on a link above and find something you are interested in . . . NOW!!!)

 

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 share our work.

#SOL15: Wrapping up 2014 and Studying my Writing Process


Last week was a big week for writing assessments as well as professional development planning.  I was also working on some planning for future demonstrations. . . typical multi-tasking for a fairly typical week!  I actually kept a post-it open on my desktop to keep track of my writing process for this blog because it was the purest “creation” that I was developing.  Most of the other pieces were revisions or combinations of other past work.

The picture below from Jan Burkins and  Kim Yaris fascinated me last week!  Stop and read that blog about the writing process if you haven’t yet, because there is so much wisdom about what each of these “steps” really looks like!  Not every single second of writing is visible so take a deep breath and consider your own writing process as you develop a piece of writing from planning to publication.

My mini-research:  Does my writing parallel this?

wring process burkins and yaris

What was my topic for this next slice?  

I had spent some time in December looking at my blog data and wondering what my top blog posts were for 2014 when I wrote an average of two posts per week or at least one “slice” each week as well as a daily “slice” during March.

To begin my planning for this post, I went to my data to double check the top five blog posts and then created this table in Word. After previewing it, I decided that I didn’t like the “picture of the table” so I went with a word version so the links would be clickable. This caused a major discussion with myself about how I would classify adding links to the table. Was that Revision or Editing?  (I went with editing due to “surface changes”!)

5 #TCRWP Day One: Reading Institute
4 #TCRWP:  Informational Writing Goals
3 #TCRWP and a Teacher’s Toolkit for Teaching Writing
2 Lexile Level is NOT Text Complexity CCSS.R.10
1 Close Reading in Kindergarten?  Is it Possible?

My top topics for 2014 were:  Close Reading, Text Complexity, and #TCRWP Writing (2) and Reading (1). . . a mixed list.  Looking back at blog data for previous years revealed that “Close Reading in Kindergarten?  Is it Possible?” was also my top blog post for 2013.  (As a side note “Close Reading and the Little Ones” was also a great presentation at #NCTE14 by Chris Lehman, Kate Roberts, and Kristi Mraz. Check out Catherine Flynn’s post here about the presentation and how she used it.)

I learned two things about my process for writing blog posts.

1) I keep a list of possible blog topics.  By the time a topic is put on this list, I have already begun the pre-writing process.  I’m not sure that I can accurately record how often I work on “prewriting” because the list often includes two or three specific ideas about the topic.

2) I needed to add another step to the writing process.  Sometimes I do collect some information/evidence collaboratively with others.  However, that is NOT the step that I added as I developed this post. This post included both a picture and a table import with multiple opportunities to “check” or “preview” my work.  I included that as another step in the writing process.  Typically, I try to check to see what my post looks like on both a PC and a Mac because it is never the same.  Maybe the “preview” is important because I worry about the “publish” button.  It is still scary to push that button and then see that my post  does not match my “vision” for writing.

So here’s my best representation of my process for writing this blog post.

my writing process

Does everyone use the same exact process?

What does your writing process look like?

What are the implications for your students?

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 share our work.

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