Monthly Archives: December, 2012

“Silence is golden!”


When it comes to “learning,” my self talk the past two weeks has revolved around these conversations.

“Wait, wait, wait.”

“Keep your mouth closed.”

“Wait.”

” LISTEN! ”

“WAIT!”

“Listen with your mouth closed.”

“Don’t fix.  Don’t tell.  Just listen.”

And it has been incredibly hard. Increasing “wait time” is a cheap and economical way to provide students with the opportunity to really tell me what they know.  If I interrupt their thinking, I do not let them respond to the task at hand.  If the task was “easy” for the student, he or she would already be at an “independent stage” and really would NOT need me as a guide or coach.  I could move on to work with a student who needed assistance.

This has been an eye-opener for me!

It’s so easy as an educator and a Mom to be in a perpetual “fix-it” mode.  After all, I have years and years and years of experience in a variety of educational and Mom (including step-mom) roles.

However Vicki Vinton reminded me in her blog post (please read it here) To Model or Not to Model: That is the Question  that “Less = More.” If learning truly is the goal, I cannot be the person doing all the work.  Sometimes that means I have to stop, wait, close my mouth and listen to the student.

Wait time for our students is so powerful when the classroom is a trusting, student-centered environment.  It isn’t about 25 sets of eyes staring at Joey who didn’t even hear the question.  There are no “eye rolls” from exasperated peers because “Would anyone like to help Joey out?” is going to be the teacher’s followup question. That is a non-example of wait time.

Respectful, thoughtful wait time is the result of students working collaboratively as the teacher checks in with partners to see what strategies they have tried or are currently using.  Yes, there is a lot of work to be accomplished this year, but I cannot rush through teaching without providing opportunities for the students to literally show and tell me what they know.  Simply “waiting”  to hear each student voice (scaffolding with questions,prompts, or cues AFTER listening is acceptable) results in both formative data to guide my instruction and evidence of STUDENT learning.  That doesn’t happen when the teacher is busy telling.

Why is this important? Why does it matter?

After references to Ellin Keene’s new book, Talk About Understanding, from Vicki and my retired, but still voraciously reading, friend Darlene, I’m actually reading a book that doesn’t have the words “Common Core” in the title.   Observations of teachers revealed trends in talk that resulted in these behaviors:

  • “Cut students off before they have a chance to fully develop their thinking
  • Accept students’ first thoughts without probing for deeper thinking
  • Move on before we label students’ descriptions of thinking (i.e., naming for them what they’re doing) so that the thinking can be transferred
  • Segue from modeling to student responsibility too quickly”

In order to really talk with students, we must “WAIT” and allow them to both use their voices and interact with the meaningful, real-life tasks they are presented.  Instead of rushing to complete the task, please stop, WAIT and LISTEN for the student evidence that will inform instruction as you see and hear them collaboratively tackle the task before releasing them to independent work.  Remember, Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey would BOTH tell us, modeling does not have to be the first interaction.  It may be better served later in the the learning period as a demonstration during the “debrief” so learning is at the forefront with student talk as evidence of student thinking and learning.

So yes, sometimes “Teacher Silence is golden!”

Thank you @melaniemeehan1 for the suggestion of tying wait time into the self-talk.

What do you think?  Agree? Disagree?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Teacher? Coach? Both?


What is the role of a teacher?  Is it solely to be a teacher?  A coach?  Or both?

I believe that a responsive student-centered learning classroom requires the teacher to be part coach and part teacher in the role of lead learner in the classroom.  That combination of roles is necessary for students to meet the requirements of the Common Core!

Where can I find evidence to support this?

 

1) Reading Recovery

When a child doesn’t know a word, the Reading Recovery teacher does NOT tell the student the word.  She/he works with the student to figure out what the student knows and can try.  The quote that I remember hearing when I observed a “behind the glass session” was something like:  “A word told today is a word told tomorrow, is a word told the next day, and the next day!”

Why is this important?  Telling doesn’t work because the student isn’t engaged in the cognitive work!   (Saying the same thing over and over or louder and louder is often NOT effective!)

 

2) John HattieVisible Learning for Teachers:  Maximizing Impact on Learning

According to researcher John Hattie, the average effect size of feedback is 0.79.  That is twice the average effect of all the school effects and is also in the top ten influences on student achievement so it is very important. However, Hattie’s synthesis of over 900 studies also pointed out that “not all feedback is equal.”

What does that mean?  Effective coaches spend a lot of time “showing” how to do something and then getting out of the way to watch for application of the “something” that was taught.  Classrooms with more coaching and work done by the students may be the best indicator of success for classrooms implementing the Common Core.

 

Where can you find out more?

Last week’s posts by @burkinsandyaris on their blog “Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy” bring a laser focus to those teacher roles. They were also the source of inspiration for this post.  You can read all five yourself  on their Friday Weekend Round Up posted December 8th.  It included the different skills that a coach/teacher needs to employ for improved literacy for ALL students!

“Monday – The Coach and the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Part 1)

Tuesday – The Coach and the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Part 2): Coach as Demonstrator

Wednesday – The Coach and the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Part 3): Teacher as Spotter

Thursday – The Coach and the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Part 4): Coach as Consultant

Friday – Friday Favorite: Mindbending”

 

Check out all five posts.  As you reflect, consider where  your expertise lies .   .   .  

Are you a Coach?  

Are you a Demonstrator?  

Are you a Spotter?  

Are you a Consultant? 

Let me know how you weave those roles together!

 

Buyer Beware: Common Core Resources


“CCR.ELA Anchor Standard for Reading Informational Text #9 (K-12)
Analyze how two or more texts address themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.”

“CCR.ELA Anchor Standard for Writing #8 (K-12)
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.”

___________________________________________________________________

When you are looking for resources, how do you determine which resources are relevant, accurate, and appropriate? (And by extension, how do you “teach” those skills to your students?)

Just because the label says “Common Core,” it doesn’t mean that it really is the Common Core.  How do you know?  Check for the icon that represents Common Core.  Check  reputable sources. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!  Be careful out there!

In the beginning, consider these primary sources:

Possible Secondary Sources from ASCD:

10 Additional Resources to Consider

To find out more about what Common Core will mean for your teachers and students, follow these links.  (How will you decide which ones meet your needs?)

  1. The Common Core Standards in kid-friendly terms (handy if you need to post standards or “I can” statements) In English and Spanish from our friends in California.
  2. Common Core Standards AppThis iPhone application (it is also available for Android) lets teachers keep essential information about Common Core at their fingertips.
  3. The Teaching Channel – 100 videos about the Common Core Many are excellent and range from broad topics to specific lesson plans based on standards.
  4. P21 Toolkit for the Common Core  – A Guide for Aligning the CCSS with the Framework for 21st Century Skills is available here.
  5. achieve.org – Additional resources for implementation of the Common Core.
  6. CCSSI WikiOne simple way to learn more about the CCSSI is to visit the program’s Wikipedia page, which is packed with useful information on the subject.
  7. Common Core WorkbookUse this workbook from Achieve and the U.S. Education Delivery Institute to help guide the Common Core implementation process at your school.
  8. Bi-Weekly Newsletter from the Chief Council of Officers Useful information about all things Common Core and includes a free tool to evaluate CCSS text (registration required).
  9. Common Core State Standards for School Leaders  A Scoop.it! site that is filled with resources compiled from around the web.
  10. CommonCore.org:  Here you’ll find an organization dedicated to ensuring that the Common Core is about more than just reading and math, instead promoting a well-rounded education that includes reading literature, studying culture, and engaging with the arts. 

The promise of increased student learning through the implementation of the Common Core Standards will depend upon the decisions that you make about the resources that you consult on a regular basis.  

Is the most reliable and valid information available from a Google search?  

What other resources do you use for your information about the Common Core?  

Please comment below if you have additional resources that you believe I should add!

Writing and the Common Core / Iowa Core


In preparation for providing professional development on the English Language Arts (ELA) Standards, I specifically studied the Writing Standards.  The more I read, the more I wondered about my own writing skills.

What’s the big deal?  Are your students currently able to write at a level consistent with the language of the Common Core as outlined in the following excerpt?

“Note on range and content of student writing

 For students, writing is a key means of asserting and defending claims, showing what they know about a subject, and conveying what they have experienced, imagined, thought, and felt. To be college- and career-ready writers, students must take task, purpose, and audience into careful consideration, choosing words, information, structures, and formats deliberately. They need to know how to combine elements of different kinds of writing—for example, to use narrative strategies within argument and explanation within narrative—to produce complex and nuanced writing. They need to be able to use technology strategically when creating, refining, and collaborating on writing and visual media. They have to become adept at gathering information, evaluating sources, and citing material accurately, reporting findings from their research and analysis of sources in a clear and cogent manner. They must have the flexibility, concentration, and fluency to produce high-quality first draft text under a tight deadline as well as the capacity to revisit and make improvements to a piece of writing over multiple drafts when circumstances encourage or require it.” (page 41 Common Core/page 54 Iowa Core)

Resources Available to Enhance Your Understanding of Writing:

  • ELA Core Anchor and Grade Level Standards (Iowa Core in my case)
  • Common Core Standards Appendix A
  • Common Core Standards Appendix C – Writing Samples
  • The seven book series:    Getting to the Core of  Writing: Essential Lessons for Every   (Kindergarten through Sixth Grade) Student.  Authors:  Richard Gentry, Jan McNeel and Vickie Wallace -Nesler.  The resources are aligned with the Common Core State Standards and are embedded with six traits quality writing.
  • Energize Research Reading and Writing:  Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence, and Meet Key Common Core Standards, Grades 4-8 by Christopher Lehman. The book is designed to help students become critical thinkers.
  • The three book series:  So, What’s the Story?: Teaching Narrative to Understand Ourselves, Others, and the World (Exceeding the Common Core State Standards) by James Fredricksen, Jeffrey D Wilhelm and Michael Smith, Get it Done!: Writing and Analyzing Informational Texts to Make Things Happen (Exceeding the Common Core State Standards) by Jeffrey D Wilhelm, Michael Smith and James Fredricksen,  and Oh, Yeah?!: Putting Argument to Work Both in School and Out (Exceeding the Common Core State Standards) by Michael Smith, Jeffrey D Wilhelm and James Fredricksen
  • Teaching Argument Writing, Grades 6-12: Supporting Claims with Relevant Evidence and Clear Reasoning  by George Hillocks, Jr.
  • Numerous other texts on my shelves including authors Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, and Lucy Calkins

Deconstucted standards available include:

See North Carolina’s deconstructed ELA standards with narratives and prompts HERE.

See Kentucky’s deconstructed standards  HERE for ELA.

Added 12/2/2012 @ 3:21 pm CST http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2012/12/response_a_napkin_curriculum_for_writing.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

My most important takeaway ~ All of these authors are talking about writing beyond task completion in school!!!

What resources are YOU using to improve teaching AND learning in writing?

Doing The Work That Matters

a journey of growing readers & writers

Present Perfect

adventures in multiple tenses

Leadership Connection

from Great Prairie AEA

The Blue Heron (Then Sings My Soul)

The oft bemused (or quite simply amused) musings of Krista Marx -- a self-professed HOPE pursuing Pollyanna

Middle English

Life as an English teacher leader

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together

arjeha

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas, Strategies and Tools

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson

adventuresinstaffdevelopment

All Things Literacy! Brianna Parlitsis

TWO WRITING TEACHERS

A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

elsie tries writing

"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.

I Haven't Learned That Yet

This blog serves to document my path of learning and teaching.

Simply Inspired Teaching

A blog by Kari Yates

Reflections on Leadership and Learning

Sharing my learning experiences

AnnaGCockerille Literacy

The Generative Power of Language: Building Literacy Skills One Word at a Time

Reading to the Core

Just another WordPress.com site

Karen Gluskin

My Teaching Experiences and Qualifications

To Read To Write To Be

Thoughts on learning and teaching

Books and Bytes

Exploring the best of literature and edtech for the middle grades.

To Make a Prairie

A blog about reading, writing, teaching and the joys of a literate life

Raising Voices

Thoughts on Teaching, Learning, and Leading