Monthly Archives: February, 2017

#SOL17: Fun with Words


(Today is the last day of February so I will be blogging and posting for 32 straight days.  Thank you, in advance, for your kind comments and thoughtful reflections!)

footsteps.JPG

K-r-u-n-c-h!  K-r-u-n-c-h!  K-r-u-n-c-h!  K-r-u-n-c-h!

Tracks in the snow show where I have stepped.

Soft snow covering treacherous ice.

Danger! Danger!

Coat zipped, hat on, scarf around my neck, gloves on hands and ice scraper ready.

18 degrees

S-c-r-a-p-e.  S-c-r-a-t-c-h! Scrape,Scrape,Scrape!

Window on door cleared.

I tug on the door.  It does NOT budge.

I tug AGAIN!

Scr-e-e-e-e-ch!

18 degrees

“How can this be?”  I wondered.  “Just yesterday it was 74 degrees.”

So cold.

“Can it get any worse?”

Eventually, windows cleared and I’m on the road.

“NNNNNN – N – N- O – O – O – O!

I slam on the brakes.

A deer strolls casually across the road!

So, slowly – barely inching across!

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“Not a good morning!  Do I continue on my way?”

18 degrees

“That darn deer should be holed up in a warm spot – not out for a morning walk!”

A dilemma

“Does she have any friends?  Do I tempt fate by continuing on?”

“It’s okay. It’s daylight.” My self-talk is not very convincing.

“But does that mean MORE deer?”

It should be too cold for deer!

Off to work with miles to go . . .  AND . . .

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It’s obviously a “Deer Thirty Day”.

Caution, caution, caution . . .

On this 18 degree day, it’s obviously a “Deer Day”.

Not to be confused with a “Deere Day” . . .

deere

Nor with D.E.A.R . . .

d-e-a-r

Deer, Deere, D.E.A.R . . .

All in a day’s travel to work!

How do you “PLAY” with words?

When do you intentionally have “FUN” with words?

Which words caught your attention?

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

#DigiLitSunday: Critical Thinking


 

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Additional posts at Reflections on the Teche

So I had a week’s worth of thinking about this topic after Margaret Simon proposed it last week in a response to my blog here. But this quote really caused me to pause yesterday. “Critical thinking” is a buzz word; what does it really mean?

blog-critical-thinking

. . . “not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”

In the field of education and state standards, Iowa was the LAST state in 2008 to adopt state standards for all students in Iowa because of our much lauded “local control”.  So when I look for “critical thinking” I rely on the 21st century standards that are in addition to the literacy standards that apply for all content areas.

“The reality of building capacity for the 21st century is that we do not know what the work of the future will be like (Darling-Hammond, 2007) or how technology will influence health and financial issues. The challenge is to prepare students to think critically, to engage in mental activity, or habits of mind, that “…use facts to plan, order, and work toward an end; seek meaning or explanations; are self-reflective; and use reason to question claims and make judgments…” (Noddings, 2008). It may be that our task is not only to prepare students to “fit into the future” but to shape it. “…If the complex questions of the future are to be determined… by human beings…making one choice rather than another, we should educate youths – all of them – to join in the conversation about those choices and to influence that future…” (Meier, 2008).”

This challenge continues to be hard work. “To think critically”, “to engage in mental activity” and “…use facts to plan, order, and work toward an end; seek meaning or explanations; are self-reflective; and use reason to question claims and make judgments…”  Those quotes are hard to define, explain, teach and even harder to assess.

What does “critical thinking” look like in a classroom?

Well, the easiest answer is to go directly to Vicki Vinton’s post today.  Yes, NOW!  Stop.  Go read it.  Then come back.  THAT post is all about critical thinking!  Is that the work that your fifth graders are doing?  Is that the work that your high school students are doing?

In the spirit of full disclosure,

that is work that I NEVER did even in college.

I seem to be saying that a lot lately.  Maybe I went to the wrong school.  Maybe I was educated in the wrong era.  Maybe I was never “pushed” to go beyond the literal.  Maybe I was not really paying attention.  Maybe I never had to do any critical thinking in school.  YEP, I was thinking, without a single clue of HOW to be thinking!

This might have been a school’s approach to “Critical Thinking” in the past. . .

critical-thinking

or still in the present. You be the judge!

Has it been effective?

When problem solving is a part of the critical thinking conversation the water may be muddied as the two are not necessarily the same.

critical-thinking-two

Nevertheless, critical thinking will be required of all our students in their lifetime.  They need the best preparation for life possible and that DOES include learning to read and understand at deep levels as well as a call to action to solve problems and think of creative solutions.  Critical thinking does require a variety of skills as shown in this graphic.

critical-thinking-three

And unfortunately, we will continue to expect folks to use all of these critical thinking skills to process driving situations, TV commercials, and yes, printed text almost simultaneously.  In order to be able to do this efficiently and effectively, our students will need a lot of practice.

How will you continue to define and study your own knowledge base of “critical thinking”?

When do you use “critical thinking” in your life?

How do you model, plan for, and provide time for critical thinking in your classroom?

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#SOL17: Inspiration


The #SOLSC will soon be here. One of the most amazing sources of inspiration is Sally Donnelly’s padlet here.  It’s a treasure trove of writing ideas!

inspiration

What will I write about every day in March?

Narratives continue to be my personal struggle.

Poetry is always a “fall back”option.

Checking the “Call for Slices” for quotes/inspiration is another option.

Personally, where will my inspiration come from?  I’m beginning with rereading the posts in the chart from another slicing year..  Do I want to reconsider the formats?  What about the topics?  What if I rewrote from another angle?  All of these ideas are circulating in my brain. In the spirit of being “BRAVE” (my #OLW17), I plan to have fewer pre-planned posts and truly practice more extemporaneous daily writing.

What is your plan for Volume and Stamina for the #SOL17SC?  

How are you preparing?  

What will be your measure of success?
slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

#DigiLitSunday: Relationships


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Check out Margaret Simon’s blog “Reflection on the Teche” for additional #DigiLitSunday posts here!

A favorite quote of mine is this:

Maxwell.png

Relationships are critical for teachers and students.  Relationships are critical for increased learning.  Relationships are critical for grounding students in a community of learners working together.

But are relationships enough?  Are they the end goal?

Learning classrooms with teachers and students working in tandem to curate, innovate, and create require a great deal of trust and autonomy.  That trust and autonomy is not created in a vacuum.  It is also not created without a great deal of  hard work. The relationships are important, yes; but they are not the end point.

Learning that beats the odds and exceeds the possibilities requires a community of committed learners, choice, and trust. A teacher will be the director or facilitator of the learners and the community, but should not always be “at the helm” directing every single minute.

How important is community?

Communities are important because they allow people to bond together through common interactions, experiences, and work to meet a common goal.  A community can be physically together in a classroom or even together on a Twitter or Voxer chat.  The goal of a community is to bring people together to achieve that common goal.  Valued relationships keep communities together.  Perhaps some communities outlive their usefulness but the value of shared experiences helps them deeply understand each other.  That community can also come from books.  Books that show “me”.  Books that show “people like me”.  Books that show people “who are NOT like me”.  Books that help me understand people “who are NOT like me”.

How important is choice?

Name the last three things that were JOYOUS for you?  Were they required?  Did they include elements of choice?  You can read about the benefits of “Choice” from many of the #BowTieBoys blog posts referenced in Jason Augustowski’s blog.  Jason writes about the fact that education is one of the few fields of work where the customers are NOT routinely consulted about and given input into their work.  Why not?  Why are students assigned mindless task after task instead of being given respectful choices about how to share their learning?  Where can choice be included?  Providing choices to the students where only two “pieces” are read by everyone in the class.  The rest of the books, stories, articles, songs, or videos are student-selected from a list curated TOGETHER in the classroom community.

How important is trust?

Trust is a two way street that is so dependent on relationships.  It may well be that I will trust you solely on the basis of our relationship.  However, in times of stress or confusion that relationship may falter if respect for the individual or his/her beliefs becomes an issue.  Will the trust hold?  In the presence of community and choice, trust will be maintained.  In the absence of trust the community will slowly wither away.  Without choice the trust vine will begin to shrivel up as well.  How is trust maintained?  Within a community the possibilities of positive interactions and sincere communication allow trust to flourish and doubt to die off. Trust that students will do the work that they need to in order to provide evidence of their learning.  Trust that students will build upon choice learning within their community to extend trust to others outside their own circles.

Relationships between teachers and students are critical for learning environments but relationships alone cannot be expected to maintain sole responsibility for the benefits that will come from a well-developed culture of community, choice, and trust. Teachers benefit. Students benefit. The research shows that relationships are critical. Please provide time to nourish learning by building strong communities with choice and trust!

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Do we REALLY want students to be critical thinkers?  

Then how are we encouraging “critical thinking” every day in our classrooms?  

How are we REALLY encouraging independent thinkers and workers?

#SOL17: Heart Mapping


As a reader I have many “Fan Girl” moments. The list of favorite authors is even longer and my “TBR” stack has collapsed upon itself. So it’s time to write.  Pick up the book. Test out some of those post-it marked pages and try it on.

But wait . . .

I signed up for the webinar.

Please, oh, please

Procrastinate until  the webinar.

And that gem . . .

The idea of waiting

WAS

BRILLIANT!

Have you noticed?

One of my all time favorite topics is writing about my learning!

Ahhh, you have noticed!

Thanks for traveling this learning journey with me!

As a result of my learning . . .

A Heinemann PD webinar with Georgia Heard,

I created a heart map with some of the best quotes.

Not an assignment.

My choice.

A way to collect and perhaps savor some ideas that I heard.

heart map for the webinar.JPG

And now I know that this is bigger than a topic list.

It’s bigger than just writing any old ideas into a heart shape.

It’s about REAL writing.

Writing that comes from my heart.

(Crap . . . can’t fake it . . . Must make it real . . . Writing!)

It’s about “an ache with caring”.

The passion to write comes from the connections I have to that topic that I have chosen …

Learning

Thinking

Writing

Checking out Mentor Texts . . .

What is the purpose of writing.JPG

“Heart Mapping” Webinar with @GeorgiaHeard

So many REAL reasons to write . . .

To Think,

To Dream,

To Play,

To Share,

To Dare,

To Capture Thoughts . . .

tips for writing from heart maps.JPG

I don’t just write to persuade, to inform or to entertain. (PIE)

I reject only having three reasons to write.

I write for many reasons.

Most of all, I write for me.

I write about ideas that matter to me.

Why do you write?

Plan:  To create a heart map after PD to hold onto favorite quotes or ideas. That visual learning map of the important parts that I choose to store visibly so I can return and unwrap their precious wisdom. My Learning Map.

Text Based Questions (Close Reading of my Webinar):

Phase 1:  What are Heart Maps? When would I use them?  Why would I use them?

Phase 2:  How does the design of a Heart Map support its use?

Phase 3:  How will students be able to use Heart Maps to increase their passion for writing?

How can models of Heart Maps result in crafting authentic, personal writing?

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


Additional Information about Heart Mapping:

Georgia Heard’s website

Heinemann

#DigiLitSunday: “Possible Sentences


Join Margaret Simon at “Reflections on the Teche” for additional #DigiLit Sunday reading here.

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Kylene Beers and Bob Probst are both speakers that I can listen to time and time again I’ve seen them at ILA, NCTE, and Kylene more than once at #TCRWP.  One strategy that I participated in that has stuck with me is “Possible Sentences”.  As a workshop participant, it went as Melanie Swider of “Two Reflective Teachers” described here although the session I attended was on a different date.

today

How can students more “authentically” USE vocabulary words and do more of the vocabulary “heavy lifting” in understanding and owning the words?

Possible Sentence Basic Process:

The teacher chooses vocabulary words.

The students, doing the work, predict and use the words in sentences.

*Then as a class, all the sentences are compiled and then questions are generated for each sentence.

Students read.

Students return to their sentences and questions to revise them based on the understanding of the topic after reading.

How could we start using “Possible Sentences” in Book Clubs or in Content Area classes and add in some meaningful, very purposeful, use of technology?

Here’s what I proposed for our first learning practice:

You can go to the actual documents through the links below and save your eyesight:

Google Drawing Student Task Card link

Google Drawing Teacher Card linklink

Tools:  NewsELA article, Wordcounter.com, Google Drawings cards, Google Docs – Response

Are you using “Possible Sentences”?

Have you added a technology component to increase student collaboration?

What tools did / would you use?

#SOL17: Words


Recognize this?

letter

I saw a three letter word.

Then a five letter word.

I shuffled the letters around.

I could use six letters.

Whoa!

Check out the point total.

A silent, mental, fist bump.

“Oh, YEAH!”

“48 points!”

Then I tried just again to add in that final seventh letter.

Greedy. . .

I wanted the bonus from playing all the letters in one word.

It did not work.

Once more. . .

No Go.

I quickly pulled out my six letters.

Arranged them

Pressed the send.

Pushed the button to say, “YES, I want to play this word.”

And then a scream of anguish.

“NOOOOOOOO!”

I had played “enslave”

On the wrong “e”.

Not 48 points

A mere 18.

Attention to detail.

Real life importance of “word placement”.

A game I lost by 5.

And should have, could have, won by at least 30 points.

“Can I have a redo?  Video instant replay?  Do over?”

word

The difference between absolutely no “extra point tiles”  or two “DW” tiles . . .

The difference between enslave for 18 points or 48 points.

One of my favorite pastimes – “Words with Friends”.

One of my most frustrating pastimes – “Words with Friends”.

Where do you learn your “Life Lessons”?

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

#DigiLitSunday: Vocabulary


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Additional DigiLit posts can be found at Margaret Simon’s blog, Reflections on the Teche.  Check them out here!

I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing “feral” posted in a variety of tweets and blogs over the last year.  I know what I thought it meant but before writing this morning, I decided to “see” what a definition really looked like!  Here’s what I found!

feral.JPG

What if our students were encouraged to have feral vocabulary experiences?

Would that be too extreme?  

What if students were thinking users of vocabulary?  

That was the premise of a session led by Katy Wischow (@kw625) at the 89th #TCRWP Saturday Reunion that was summarized in this post.  Vocabulary is complicated.  It cannot all be taught through context.  But when do we KNOW that a student really knows a word?

I believe that it’s when a student owns the word and uses it in his/her writing and quietly sit and wait for the teacher response after the word is found. It’s also when the student says, “Ms. M, I tried out “plethora”.  I think it works; please check it out for me!”

I gained an even deeper understanding of vocabulary at #NCTE16 with a presentation by Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow, and Char Shylock summarized here.

What do you believe about vocabulary instruction?

Does it “WORK” for all students to “study” the same words on a list?

When it comes to Vocabulary, I have more questions than answers.  If I am a “wide reader”, I have exposure to more words.  I can still remember my first exposure to “supercalifragilisticexpealidocious”!  Such a fun word that over shadowed the plot in “Mary Poppins” for days!  And words like “loquacious”, “accolade”, “capricious”, and “ubiquitous” add fun and joy to my life!  None of those words were ever on a vocabulary list for me to memorize or write in a sentence!  (Just sayin’.)

What words do you like to USE?  

How do you collect and use new words?

Bonus:

For those of you who coach others or provide PD, here’s an example of a Vocabulary Hyperdoc created by members of our literacy team for our local coaches designed to help teachers reflect on their vocabulary instruction and assessment practices.   (Content + Technology)

 

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