What do your students “write” after reading? Do they only complete assigned tasks or do they write because of an inner compulsion to record a very specific thought? Do you need some new thinking?
Check out this entire week’s worth of posts from “Two Writing Teachers” and then plan to attend next Monday’s twitter chat!
Monday, January 27 Writing About Reading Blog Series: 3 Ways to Write about Reading
Tuesday, January 28 Writing About Reading Blog Series: A Quick Guide to Quick Essays
Wednesday, January 29 Writing about Reading in the Writer’s Notebook
Thursday, January 30 Writing about Reading Blog Series: Offering Students Choice in Reading Responses
Friday, January 31 Writing about Reading Blog Series: Opinion Writing in a K-1 Collaboration
After reading these, get ready to jump start your February “Writing about Reading!”
Storify from 02.03.14 Twitter Chat sfy.co/hb9N
How are YOUR students doing in writing? How do you know?
A few years ago the National Writing Project commissioned a public opinion survey entitled “The 2007 Survey on Teaching Writing.” The results are reported here and one quote is also included directly below.
“Americans believe that good writing skills are more important than ever, but they fear that our schools and our children are falling behind. Two-thirds of the public would like to see more resources invested in helping teachers teach writing. And 74 percent think writing should be taught in all subjects and at all grade levels.”
The good news is that the Common Core State Standards do include writing standards that cover ALL subjects and ALL grade levels. Those College and Career Ready Writing Anchor standards are:
Text Types and Purposes
- CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
- CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
Production and Distribution of Writing
- CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
- CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
- CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
- CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
- CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
- CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Range of Writing
- CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Last year #TeacherWeek reported that “80% of the U.S. population surveyed think that writing well is more important than 20 yrs ago; 75% think schools should put more emphasis on writing.” Both of these percentages continue to climb steadily upward.
Do you know the answers to these questions?
- Are ALL teachers teaching writing in their content areas?
- Do teachers use the same common language when teaching writing?
- Do students know what the writing learning targets are?
- Do parents and community members know what the student writing learning targets are?
- Are the same rubrics used across multiple content areas and multiple grades?
- Do students write for a variety of purposes, across content areas, throughout the day?
- Are students making progress in meeting the writing anchor standards?
Who have you shared those answers with?
What would your community say about the progress that the students in your school are making in writing? How would they know?
How do you know that your students are effective communicators?
Do you measure communication? Do you use writing assessments for that purpose? If so, what are those writing assessments? How do you know that your students have made growth in writing?
Those questions and their answers have been responsible for district-wide writing assessments for over ten years in a local district. Currently, narrative writing at third, and persuasive letters at eighth and tenth grade are assessed with a Six Traits rubric.
The work in this district = 900+ student papers that are all read by at least two scorers: teachers, administrators, university students, community members, retired teachers, and AEA staff. Over three days, approximately 100 scorers (30-35 each day) are greeted by the superintendent of schools for a welcome that includes history, data and purpose for the assessment. Professional development includes increasing knowledge of effective writing instruction, the writing process and the Six Traits before the group begins to look at the rubric and anchor papers. Each day the scorers must calibrate because that unique group has never been convened before. “What qualities of the rubric did the NWREL scorers see?” dominates the conversations. Confidence in the use of the rubric and identifying the traits increases with practice and even a “happy dance” may occur as participants match the NWREL anchor scores. And then (drum roll, please) the scoring begins . . .
The goal: adjacent scores. What does that mean? If Joe scores a trait a 3 and Suzie scores a 4, that is adjacent. If that “adjacency” has occurred for all six traits, the scoring for that paper is over. But if Joe scores a 3 and Suzie scores a 5, the paper will be reread by a third reader for that trait (or traits). If the third reader does not agree exactly with Joe’s 3 or Suzie’s 5, and believes that trait is a 4, the three readers will conference with the paper and the rubric and discuss their thinking. Imagine, teachers and others, spending time talking about student writing because students are counting on feedback about their writing!
Wow! Annual scoring of student writing at three grades. Sound easy?
The support staff prep and post work for scoring writing from three grades of students is phenomenal. The “behind the scenes” orchestration involves year round work! Winter scoring “work” begins in September when the packets with prompts, draft writing paper, and final copy writing paper are assembled for each classroom at grades 3, 8, and 10. Maintaining the anonymity of students and teachers involves the use of codes. Recruiting scorers begins. Later, students write and teachers return papers to central office where packets of five papers are assembled with a quick scan of every page of student writing to remove any possible student identification. These packets are readied for the scorers. Reminders to scorers about plans in the face of adverse winter weather, ordering food and snacks for scoring days, and packing up all the materials are just a few of the tasks that precede the scoring.
During scoring days, basic work schedules for key support staff members are put on hold. Checking scorer registration, last minute substitutes, phone calls to absent scorers are just a few of the early morning tasks after the materials for the day are set out. Checking the details for the next day also encompass some of the morning. With luck, there is some office time before lunch. But the entire afternoon is dedicated to routing scoring packets to readers, collecting and matching score sheets, recording final scores, noting 3rd reader or conference needs and meeting the needs of scorers. Busy, busy days!
But the work is not yet done! After the scoring days, data entry (six scores for every student paper) becomes the next task. Scores are compiled for district, building, grade level (dept.) and teacher totals. Papers are returned to teachers for February parent-teacher conferences. Notes are made about the work and filed in preparation for the next round. And then the process of scheduling for the next year begins.
I work with a small portion of this work, co-facilitator for the scoring days. I am always amazed by the enthusiasm and dedication of the scorers who are now on the main stage. They are conscientious about “getting the work done right” and are also eager to learn. Classroom teachers and administrators often find a gem to add to their instructional repertoire. Many first-time scorers are anxious about this responsibility. Other scorers have literally scored for at least ten years. It might be easy for them to become blase about their task, but they remain committed to finding a common language to describe the qualities of writing that they see!
Congratulations on a scoring job well done!
Good luck with continued instruction!
Will there be changes in the future? Sure! With implementation of the Iowa Core, assessments will inevitably change. Will SBAC be used to assess writing? Will there be a different writing assessment? A planful decision will be made as more information becomes available!
Are you assessing writing? Do you have experience with district-wide writing conversations? What is/ was your role? I would love to hear about your experiences!
Fellow blogger Dave Stuart, Jr. published this fabulous blog post “12 Skills the Common Core and Employers Want” on January 4, 2014. Please go read it and then come back.
Here is the book that Dave was quoting from:
I am in the process of reading the book, but I couldn’t wait to get to the end before posting this!
Here’s my shortened “Cliff-Notes” version of Dave’s post that I have been analyzing for the last ten days. Did you notice which Common Core Anchor Standards were most important to employers?
Which skills were #1, #2, and #3? Did you notice that those were all three Speaking and Listening Standards? And the content is way beyond an obligatory, one semester “Speech” class.
Study the chart for a few minutes and notice the color coding for the Anchor Standards? What patterns do you notice? (ahem, a bit of #close reading required!) Are there other standards that you would consider adding based on the full quotations in Dave’s blog?
For the 12 features, the following ELA anchor standards were listed:
- 4 Speaking and Listening Standards (yellow)
- 10 Writing Standards (green)
- 4 Language Standards (blue)
- 4 Reading Standards (white)
Is that what you expected? Granted, some standards are included in more than one feature. In the world of English Language Arts, there are 32 Anchor Standards. An unduplicated count above has 13 or 41% of those standards as skill areas that employers want.
Do your students have these skills when they leave your school? Why or Why not?
Do your students have opportunities to begin to develop these skills every day in every grade?
Three Sunshine Award nominations later and a return to my laptop have finally induced me to respond. Thank you, friends! In order my first nomination was from Jamie Fath and is included here in her blog “On My Mind.” Then over Christmas, I was nominated by Vicki Vinton in her blog To Make a Prairie” and today I received my nomination from Julieanne Harmatz in her blog “To Read To Write To Be.”
- Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
- Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
- List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
- Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
My random facts:
- I was born on Father’s Day and my dad always said that I was his best gift EVER!
- I love the holiday tradition that my son began which is to eat pie/dessert at 10 on Thanksgiving or Christmas with dinner following at 2 pm. “That way you always have room for dessert!”
- I seldom have “birthday cake” and usually have gooseberry pie to celebrate my birthday.
- I have taught or facilitated graduate classes as an adjunct instructor for the past twenty six years.
- I have participated in summer workshops or classes every summer but one for the past twenty eight years.
- One of my favorite songs is “Pomp and Circumstance” and I have worn a cap and gown five times.
- I really LOVE to read and wish I could think of a marketable book to write in order to be a published author.
- Of my nominators, I have only met Jamie face-to-face. I know Vicki and Julianne through their blogs and tweets and our #wrrdchat last summer.
- My goal is to respond to at least one blog every day in order to encourage others to continue writing.
- I love my job because I really am often paid to “talk!”
- I love technology when it does exactly what I want it to do!
Because I had three different nominations, I am going to change the rules and answer 4 questions from each of my nominators!
Questions from Jamie:
3. What’s your favorite ‘get to know someone new” question? I love “Two truths and a lie” because it requires close listening and a bit of creativity!
6. Now, what’s your dream job? I would love to be president of my own teacher education college in order to provide an education that would truly prepare teachers for their future jobs.
9. What’s your favorite thing to cook? My daughter-in-law’s corn dip that goes in the crock pot! – Simple and YUMMM!
10. Android or iOS? Android
Questions from Vicki:
- What book would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island? Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
- What did you learn from your mother? That reading a good book was more important than cooking or cleaning and a lot more fun as well.
- Where do you find joy in your classroom or work? When teachers or students excitedly share “what worked!”
- What do you do to recharge? Attend high school or collegiate football games or wrestling meets, read my Twitter chat stream and chat with friends!
Questions from Julieanne:
2. Who was your hero growing up? My grandmother on my mother’s side who was a teacher, had 10 children, 56 grandchildren and always knew all of our names and birthdates!
5. What motivated you to start blogging? In order to talk with teachers about writing, it was important that I spend time writing as well!
9. What technology has made your life better? Skype – being able to visit with my son overseas and his lovely wife in Kentucky are fun because of skype!
10. Why teaching? In third grade I wrote the traditional “When I Grow Up” paper in which I said I would be a teacher or a nun. Too many raps on the knuckles with a ruler knocked out the nun. I have been teaching in some format for 30++ years!
Kathy Perret @kathyperret Learning is Growing
Shannon Clark @shannonclark7 i run read teach
Dea Conrad-Curry @doctordea Partner in Education
Melanie Holtsman @Holtsman Once Upon a Teacher
Jenny Maehara @jennymae Raising Voices
Rusha Sams @RushaSams Oh the Places We See . . .
Amy @directoramy Reflections on Leadership and Learning
Steve Peterson Inside the Dog
Ryan Scala @rscalateach Tapping into Words
Tara Smith @tara_smith5 A Teaching Life
11 Questions for the Bloggers:
1. What is your most treasured piece of writing?
2. What author would you like to personally chat with (time travel is acceptable!)
3. What would members of your family say that you are somewhat obsessive about?
4. What book should never have been made into a movie?
5. What are the defining qualities of a “good book” in your own opinion?
6. What is your favorite sport and why?
7. In your life, is the glass typically “half full” or “half empty?”
8. What life accomplishment are you most proud of? And why?
9. What one word would your best friend use to describe you?
10. What is your favorite comfort food?
11. What outdoor temperature range would be your ideal year round temperatures?
After a very, very family-filled holiday break and ten days without using my laptop, it’s back to “thinking” about professional development for the next two work days. But I would be remiss in moving straight to the list of upcoming events, if I did not slow down and consider the data from last year.
Top 10 posts on my blog (by number of readers):
In rereading those entries, I found that eight of the ten were posted in late June – September with only #3 and #5 before that time frame. Interesting for me to note that all of the top 10 were about reading and writing and not necessarily about “resources” which was my original thought for this blog!
Book chats on twitter or in blogs during 2013:
- Units of Study in Writing (Lucy Calkins and friends – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project) #tcrwp
- Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts – and Life! (Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts) #filwclosereading
- What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making (Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse) #wrrdchat
- Notice and Note (Kylene Beers and Robert Probst) #NNN
- Teach Like a Pirate (Dave Burgess) #educoach
- Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Learning (John Hattie) #educoach
- Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction (Jim Knight) #educoach
My Twitter Video from 2013 (Have you tried this at #visify? https://www.vizify.com/twitter-video):
Goals for 2014?
Still pondering where my focus will be! As a teacher/learner I found that 2013 was a year of growth in deeper understanding of reading and writing and the reciprocal nature of both. Continuing to write and “practice” author’s craft while I listen more to the learners (students and teachers) will also remain on my radar! Stay tuned for more specific 2014 goals!
What are your goals?