Monthly Archives: April, 2014

April Showers and April Data Dump


slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

 

Image

April Showers have been devastating in many regions of the United States this week.  Equally devastating is the April Data Dump that is happening in many schools across the United States.  Are you drowning in data?

Image

How many of these pieces of data have you accumulated for each of your students?

 

  • National Assessments
  • Local Assessments
  • Benchmark Assessments 
  • MAP 
  • STAR Reading 
  • STAR Math
  • NWEA 
  • Accelerated Reader Tests
  • Unit Tests
  • Screeners
  • Formative Assessments
  • Book Logs
  • Rubrics
  • Checklists
  • Running Records
  • Observations

Do you have others that are not on the list?  Does each piece of data match up and tell the same story or is there a dissonance from conflicting data including the student’s work in the classroom during reading or writing workshop?  What is the role of data in instruction?

Which assessments REALLY inform your instruction?
What do you change, today, in your instruction as a result of your assessment data?
How do you make a mid-class period correction to ensure every student is learning?

When you have data collected, it needs to be organized and then it needs to be USED to inform instruction. This sounds simple but additional ideas about data are shared by Brianna Friedman at her blog entitled “Adventures in Staff Development” and more specifically in her February 18th post, “What Does the Data Say?”  In today’s slice, Jana tells a story from the view of teachers reviewing the data in “Data Review – – Evaluation or Judgement?”

The number of days left in this school year are finite.  If you are counting those days, my hope is that you have set your end goal targets and are counting the days in order to allocate precious, finite resources that will help all students reach the targets. Every minute, hour, and day is an opportunity for student learning!  

How are you utilizing data to inform instruction and maximize student learning in order to meet your end of the year goals?

 

 

YET!


 

                                        YET
Yet:
three letters
consonant
vowel
consonant

Yet:
letter formation
in capitals –
stick, stick, stick, space, stick, stick, stick, stick, space, stick, stick
straight lines and angles.
in lower case –
stick, stick, stick, curved, stick, stick, stick
lines, angles and curves.

Yet:
rhymes with
let
bet
and met

Yet:
in #WRRD
necessary
for visible thinking

Yet for students:
Confidence and purpose.
Encourages goal setting
and a plan to reach goals.
Honors all student processing.
Becomes a way of life –
a mindset.
Changes possible
trajectory of students.
Means not right now,
Creates hope.
Know that they won’t
run out of time.

Yet for teachers:
Gives us room
to expand and / or
Adjust our teaching and thinking.
A way to show students
we want to stand by them
and we will help them get there.

Yet:
Lets students and teachers
grow and learn,
Bets on students and teachers
to do the best that they can, so
All have met the power
of a growth mindset
with multiple materials
and multiple opportunities
because
“Yet” opens doors that “can’t” wants to close.

 

Image

 

What does the word “yet” mean to you?

 

[Tweets that were used for the creation of this content poem can be found here.  Thank you Dorothy Barnhouse and Kylene Beers for your illuminating quotes during our 04.22.14 Twitter book chat (#WRRDchat) discussing What Readers Really Do!]

This is my celebratory 100th post with over 25,000 hits since October of 2012!  Thank you, READERS!

100

Know and Wonder Charts and Patterns


slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

Through Twitter and many Twitter friends, I have come to value charts.  If you aren’t familiar with @chartchums, you need to check out their blog here or their book Smarter Charts here.

Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton have introduced us to Know and Wonder Charts in their magnificent text, What Readers Really Do:  Teaching the Process of Making Meaning.

Image

 

There is a Twitter Chat, tonight, April 22, 2014 from 8:30 – 9:30 EST (#WRRDchat) where many of these ideas including “implementation” will be discussed.  Our chat leaders include:  Allison Jackson (@azajacks), Julieanne Harmatz (@jarhartz) and Ryan Scala (@rscalateach).  Additional resources include these previous posts: “The Process of Meaning Making,”  “Beyond CCSS: Know and Wonder Charts” (July 2013), and our group facebook page where last year’s chats are archived.

 

What have I learned since last summer?  
Students must do the work!

Teachers cannot wait until their comprehension instruction is perfect. Students need to be “doing” the work of constructing meaning. There is a huge difference between students who “don’t understand YET” and students who don’t know what they are doing.

Here is some of our work from third grade last month.  Our book was Fifty Cents and a Dream:  Young Booker T Washington.

Image

Here is page 2 – the first text:

Image

 

After reading this page, students discussed with a partner both what they knew and what they were still wondering about.  So the picture below is what the first whole-class “Know / Wonder” chart looked like.  A lot of conversation centered around the word “longed” which JD so aptly told us “did not mean long like 2 feet long.” That discussion led to the inference (with evidence) that Booker “wanted to read.”

Image

 

 

As we read on through page 3 we were thinking about:

  • Were any of our questions answered?
  • Were any patterns beginning to emerge?

Image

 

Our question of “Why is Booker NOT reading?” was answered on this page.

Now our chart began to get messy as we used it to demonstrate how we were “making meaning” as our first question was answered with a bit of color coding for our question in the “Wonder” and our answer in the “Know.”

Image

 

One of our goals was to see how the character developed over time in this text.  How did the author reveal information about Booker? As students worked with partners, they crafted their own post – it descriptions (rewritten here –  😦 poor photography skills).  How could these descriptions show a progression of  “drafting understanding” that could be used to dig deeper into the author’s words?

Image Image

 

These first two were pretty similar and were easy for the students to think about as “evidence-based” descriptions with picture two adding the inference “be a reader.”  Picture 3, below, demonstrated students who continued on through the text in search of “MORE” ideas and evidence.  They wanted to know “WHY” reading was so important to Booker and they did not stop until they had drafted their theory.

 

Image

 

Because we have also worked with formative assessment and checklists, we tried another view of the same post-its in a chart with labels and descriptors so students could begin to “self-assess” their own work.  This was the FIRST draft – an additional step was later added between the “two stars” and “three stars.”

Character Dev. Booker

 

 

After discussion, students could perform some self – assessment to determine where they were at in their understanding.  This self-assessment allowed most students to answer the question:  “What would they need to do to ‘move the level of understanding in their post-it response?'”

But, we had to take a deep breath and stop and rethink here.  The ultimate goal is NOT to get the “top star” rating. We wanted to include some self-assessment so students could focus on the learning targets, but we wanted to be crystal clear in our ultimate goal.  This sent us back into the book to re-read to check what the text REALLY said instead of what we “thought” it said!

The focus for instruction moved to “patterns.”  Students begin to look for “patterns.”  This is the stage where the students were “reading forward and thinking backward” as they” tracked patterns to see how the patterns were  connecting developing, or changing.”  The “What we Know” changed to “ALL” about the pattern – What is the pattern?  How is the pattern changing?  and the “Wonders” shifted to – Why? What could the author be showing us?

This was hard.  It was tempting to set the students up with more modeling or even more scaffolding.  However, will more “teacher work” REALLY  increase the likelihood of “independence” for the students as they construct “meaning making?”

 

What do you think?  How do you help students  draft their understandings?  And how do you stay focused on the real goal?

The Process of Meaning Making


During July 2013 we read and chatted about this book for several weeks in the Twitterverse and created a facebook page here that includes several of the storified chats.  We are currently prepping for a reprise chat, Tuesday, April 22 from 8:30 – 9:30 EST.  Questions for the chat are on this google doc. Our hashtag is #WRRDchat .  Follow @azajacks @rscalateach @jarhartz  who have been an integral part of this adventure for the last year.

Image

 

Why is this book so important?

It is important because the authors, Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton, illuminate the process of meaning making for teachers and then provide clear, explicit examples from work with students at a variety of levels.  Too often, teachers feel pressured to “test” the students into comprehension and to search for that “one” correct interpretation.  In this life-changing text, Barnhouse and Vinton remind us that the readers truly must be the ones who are “making meaning.”

Check out the free samples on line:

Other sources of information:

Vicki Vinton’s blog “To Make a Prairie  http://tomakeaprairie.wordpress.com/

 

and a previous post of mine from last July:  CCSS and Beyond:  Know and Wonder Charts https://franmcveigh.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/ccss-and-beyond-know-and-wonder-charts/

 

Join us Tuesday night, April 22, 2014, as we share our learning, continue to ask questions and expand our learning community!

Image

What is your favorite quote?

Spring? Winter?


slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

 

My favorite picture from Facebook yesterday was this:

 

Image

 

Saturday –

80 degrees and sunny –

Washed the car

Ran errands

Went for a walk

Sunny, bright and cheery

Enjoyed the weather.

 

Sunday –

60 degrees and rainy –

Revised class on moodle

Set up grade book

Selected learning activities

Dreary, dark and gloomy

Sent emails

Made lists.

 

Monday –

33 degrees and snow on the ground –

Dog would not go outside

Warmed up the car

Drug out the winter coat

Found gloves

Cold, bone-chilling and windy

Sent “snowy picture” to kids.

 

Tuesday morning –

Full moon and currently 26 degrees –

Predicted high in the 40’s.

 

Iowa

Weather

Wait a day,

Wait an hour,

Wait a minute,

It WILL change!

 

What will tomorrow’s weather bring?

*

Is your spring weather unpredictable?  Warm?  Sunny?  Meeting your expectations?

 

 

Writing Feedback


slice

On April 1st, I read this tweet from Cornelius Minor that has sent me on a path of discovery, learning, and thinking about writing instruction and writing feedback.

corn . writing.better pic.

 

When I followed his link to the blog, the Chart Chicks had an entire blog post on writing that you will want to check out for yourself for the detailed explanations.  Here is the summary:

“Have you noticed that there seems to be three main approaches to teaching the writing process?

  • The “free to be me” approach
  • The “assigned task” approach
  • The “demonstrate, scaffold, release to write” approach”

 

I often see variations of those approaches in classrooms ranging from kindergarten through twelfth grade in school districts of varying size.  Instruction in writing varies.  Teacher assignment of writing is the norm in many classrooms.  Why is this?  Is it the lack of instruction for teachers themselves?  Or does this concern begin with teacher preparation courses?  Do teachers know how to demonstrate, scaffold, and release to write?

Writing Feedback

After attending the June 2013 writing institute at Teachers College, I had many choices to make in how to help teachers and myself improve writing.  One area of special interest to me is feedback because of John Hattie’s work in Visible Learning for Teachers.  Feedback is critical for growth in teaching knowledge and confidence.  A second source of information more recently has been Taylor Meredith’s The Formative Feedback Project that can be found here.

I believe that “feedback” for writing can also be categorized in three main approaches as well.  Writing responses that I commonly see are:

  • bleeding red ink
  • no red marks – just a summative grade, score, or comment
  • a thoughtful post-it with “think abouts” for the author

Writing is hard for students and teachers.  Writing is evidence of thinking.  If quality thinking is one of the classroom goals, teachers need to provide thoughtful, individual feedback that is  goal referenced, tangible and transparent, actionable, user friendly, timely, and ongoing (Grant Wiggins, 2012).  That may require a transformation by many teachers.

So let’s explore those a bit more.  The first form of “feedback” listed above is “bleeding red ink.”  So what does that look like?

red ink

Who did the work here?   The teacher!

The teacher should not be the copy editor who corrects every error.  That kind of “feedback” is merely information for the writer.  There is no learning or change in the student’s knowledge.  Recopying “corrected” work is only editing.  No revision or understanding of revision has transpired.  There is also a high probability that the next written work will have similar errors.

End Result:   Student writing   +   Teacher red ink   =  No real learning  (only recopying)

 

The second form of “feedback” is no red marks,  just a summative grade, score, or comment.  This may look like:

checked                         B

 

A check mark or a B+ provides minimal information for the writer. Someone has read that work and left one mark.  A one word comment can also be limiting as evidenced in this Jerry Seinfeld quote about essay tests:

“I always did well on essay tests. Just put everything you know on there, maybe you’ll hit it. And then you get the paper back from the teacher and she’s written just one word across the top of the page, “vague.” I thought “vague” was kind of vague. I’d write underneath it “unclear,” and send it back. She’d return it to me, “ambiguous.” I’d send it back to her, “cloudy.” We’re still corresponding to this day … “hazy” … “muddy”…”
– Jerry Seinfeld  (SeinLanguage. Bantam Books: 1993)

Who did the work here?   There is not enough evidence to tell us who is doing the work.

But how helpful is that singular piece of information?

The student on the receiving end of these marks may say, “Wow, I dodged that.  I don’t have red marks all over my paper so I don’t have to rewrite my paper.”  But what did he or she really learn?  Are the learning targets clear?  How “close” to the learning targets was the work?  What needs to be done in order to show improvement? And even more importantly, “How does the student really become a better writer?”  “What does the student need to improve?”

End result:   No red marks    +  Summative mark   =   No real learning (No idea how to improve the quality)

 

The third form of “feedback” is a  thoughtful post-it with “think abouts” for the author.  What does this look like?   The first picture shows three post-its coded with + and one with “??” for think abouts for the author.   The pink flower post-it says, “Tell us what you think!” so that also gives the student enough feedback to know “what” to do as the next step.

post it comments                                   think

 

It’s more helpful to focus on one single aspect of a student paper for improvement.  Taylor Meredith has a great post on the difference  between input, information, and feedback.  You can find the link here, “Feedback or Not”.  You will notice that I “borrowed” the idea of “equations” from that post.

End Result:   Student Writing  +   Thoughtful post-it with “think abouts” for the author   + Revise, Grow, Change  = Student who is able to Revise /Change “own writing” now in this piece  and also on the next piece!

There is a shift in this third version of feedback for student writing!  The student knows exactly what to do!

What does your writing feedback look like?  What will you do next?

Source:  Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback.Educational Leadership, 70(1), 10–16.

 

Celebration: Learning


March is finished.  I have studied my #sol14 data.  31 days of writing charted.  Goals reviewed.  New goals considered.

Write for the weekly “slice”?

Nah!

Time for a break.

Done with “Slicing” for a bit.

Time to get caught up with housework, laundry, cleaning  .   .   .   .   .

 

But,
April Fool’s!

Image

I’m back!

What?  Slicing Again?

It’s Tuesday.  Slice of Life – regular schedule!  Once a week!

I loved the routine of writing daily.  I did worry about tasks left hanging while I “sliced” daily.  Just how far behind did I get?

It doesn’t matter because I need to share this story with you.  No, I have to share this story with you!  I really want to share this story with YOU!

 

Yesterday

Yesterday was the seventh and final day of our standards – based grading sessions (K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).  It was a smaller group because sixth grade is middle school for many of our districts but we still had sixth grade teachers from nine districts working collaboratively to deepen their understanding of the Iowa Core ELA Standards.  Our purposes for the day were

Today, I can:

•Increase my knowledge of standards-based reporting
•Increase my skill at determining standards-based proficiency of a writing piece
•Locate quality sources for instruction and assessment for grade 6 ELA standards to increase student learning
•Begin to plan for communication processes for this continued work
It was a great day of professional development.  I literally talked for less than an hour at the beginning of the day.  (“What a change from the old days of PD when I was yakkkkkkkkking all day long!”)  Then the teachers moved in to the writing analysis task stage.  I wrote a bit about that process with our third grade teachers last month in this post three weeks ago.
*
The next big chunk of time had teachers working in table teams and multiple table groups to locate quality resources for ELA instruction and assessment.  Teachers worked collaboratively, “Have you seen xxx?” and shared freely.  The opportunity to dive into resources and share the results was a great use of time.  With a Google doc as the teacher resource, all had multiple opportunities to add exactly what they needed to their own knowledge.  Excited conversation was the “unofficial rule” of the day during this work!
*
The final learning chunk was about communicating changes with standards – based reporting and considering the appropriate frequency and the messenger for each level .  A tight alignment of both would also increase parents’ knowledge and inform the public.  “Have we ever ‘over-communicated’ our message to parents?”    What if that became a focus for our schools?
*
After participants had completed a three question evaluation/planning response, I had them line up in two lines facing each other.  We literally practiced “communication lines” (live link) with our “favorite learning from today.”  Participants had an opportunity to experience this “increased talk” or “increased practice” that could also get middle schoolers up and moving!  They worked with their first partner and one other rotation and clearly understood the value of “oral rehearsal” of a learning task.
*
But the best part of the day for me, was my new learning.  Yes, “My New Learning!”  A fantastic day with new learning for me!
New Learning # 1

Our new literacy specialist shared this  with me, posted it on our working site and then shared it with the entire group:

Readability:

Image

This icon (comfy red chair) is then placed on your toolbar and is readily available to turn any “article” on the web into a “better” print version that can be enlarged or even shrunk to make it fit the “reader’s needs!”

Image

New Learning # 2 (also shared by our new literacy specialist):
From a sixth grade teacher:  Viewpure.com
Why would I want or need it?  It removes the comments and all the “clutter” around a YouTube video.  All you need is the URL of the video!
Image
Although I was the facilitator for the day’s work, I learned about these two new tech applications from a colleague who shared one source of her own and a source shared with her by a teacher seated at her table.  Collaboration and learning at its best!
I love learning!  Yesterday’s celebration: learning about readability, learning about pureview, learning from “participants”

It was a fantastic day because I was ALSO a learner!  That’s the best part of professional development!

And thanks for feeling comfortable enough to share so everyone could learn, including me!

 

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