Dipping into the facebook group here
@HeinemannPub resources here
and original blog posts at “To Make a Prairie” here.
It’s a delicate dance similar to a waltz.
Think: “How does this fit into my current beliefs?”
Write down questions, changes, fleeting thoughts . . .
To be absorbed into the mental stream of consciousness
A new belief
Test it out
And with reading, writing, thinking, and more practice . . . It’s time to begin sharing!
This week marks the beginning of #cyberPD for the summer of 2017. Check out the hashtag and the blogs and hold onto your brains as the pace is quick, the thinking is challenging, and you will question your own beliefs about reading! Be prepared for the provocative nature of this book, the discussion, and the debate!
Here’s the challenge from Ellin Oliver Keene in the Foreword:
Why were Chapters 1-4 challenging?
Because I didn’t begin with them. I began with Chapter 5.
Check the text.
Vicki gave readers to start with either part 1: background, values and changes or part 2: problems and practices. Of course, I began with Part 2. It’s my favorite. But in order to sustain changes, I know that I have to understand the “why” in order to stay the course and continue to “steer the ship”. (page xix)
Values and Beliefs:
Reading is meaning.
Meaning is constructed by the reader.
Use inquiry or a problem-based approach. What I do 1:1 with striving readers.
Inquiry or problem-based approach with all – that’s new!
Students doing the work.
Ditch assigned patterns of close reading. (AMEN!)
Creative thinking. Hit the brakes! Do I really get the difference?
Real meaning of read closely and deeply. (YES!)
Teaching vs. learning (including over scaffolding and too much priming the pump)
I’m still learning about problem-solving. I understand the basic principles. As I read this summer, I’m keeping track of what I do when I get stuck, tangled up in the words or tangled up in the ideas. How do I work through the “stuck” and the “tangles”. I need to continue to practice on my own reading.
Same for creative thinking and critical thinking. Such a delicious thought that they are not the same. I’ve had
years decades of imitating, patterning, and coasting in the shadows. Am I really creative? Too early to tell.
What do you value in reading?
What will you read that will be provocative this summer?
Do you dare break out of your complacency?
Want to join #CyberPD?
Join the Google+ Community https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/107711243109928665922
Follow #cyberPD on Twitter
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.
What messages am I hearing every day at #ILA15?
Ask students what they need
Data is more than a number
What treasures remained from Saturday’s sessions at #ILA15?
1. The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing
Ruth Culham, Kate Messner, and Lester Laminack
Mentor texts in the form of fiction and nonfiction picture books provide teachers with a powerful teaching strategy to help students of all ages learn to write. Good models come in many forms: picture books, chapter books and everyday texts that allow students to study craft techniques in order to create their own strong writing using the writing process.
Ruth Culham shared some of her beliefs about mentor texts that are elaborated in Writing Thief. She read Bully to us as we focused on the reader’s view and then had us “re-read” paying attention to the author’s craft and studying the writing as an author.
She also shared a video from the author about the book. Her text includes Author Insights from: Lester Laminack, Lola Schaefer, Nicola Davies, Toni Buzzeo, Ralph Fletcher, David Harrison, and Lisa Yee.
Kate Messner shared her writing mentors: Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. They taught her how to read like a writer and how to find mentors on her own bookshelf when there were not live mentor authors in her hometown. Kate also shared that her own daughter knows how to find mentors. Merely by asking, “How are you doing that?” she found her own hula-hoop mentor. We should use that question with students and encourage students to query authors using that question to grow their own knowledge of the skills and strategies that authors use. Kate reminded us that mentor texts are found in the books that we love, so students who are readers will also have the background necessary to be a writer!
Lester Laminack wants Read Alouds to be FUN for students. He does not want every Read Aloud to be an “interactive read aloud” and even said that you can only “unwrap” the gift of a book once – let kids get lost in the story the first time. Lester is fun, funny and literally pulls no punches. My favorite quote was that “Read Alouds should be like drug dealers: deliver a little somethin’ somethin’ today, then come back tomorrow and deliver a little more somethin’ somethin’ on a schedule.” Showing up, delivering, creating a deep need and continuing to meet that need.
Read Alouds feeding the soul.
Read Alouds helping students grow.
Read Alouds for fun.
Take Away: Mentors are all around us: books, authors, teachers, and yes, even students! Choose and use wisely!
2. In Defense of Read-Aloud
Steven Layne literally had to stop his presentation to wipe the tears, from laughter, from his own eyes. Steven provided an overview of some of the instructional highlights from his book. Chapter one, In Defense of Read Alouds, is basically an overview of Why Read Alouds are needed. This is one of two slides listing benefits.
Launching a book requires intentional planning. Teachers carry an invisible backpack that includes their schema, but care needs to be included in developing schema with students. An example that Layne used was The Giver which would need two and a half 40 minute class periods to launch WELL! It’s a complex text.
The shared letters were my favorites, letters and responses to:
Witless in Walla Walla
Addled in Anchorage
Troubled in Telluride
Crazy in Calabasa
And if you are relatively new to Read Alouds, you may want to check out chapter 4, “The Art of Reading Aloud”.
Take Away: All students deserve carefully planned Read Alouds that introduce them to all genres of texts in order to find personally loved texts.
3. Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading
Hundreds of teachers attending a session at this hour of the day on the first full day of the conference? REALLY?
Yes, it’s true!
Jennifer Serravallo masterfully led us through some possibilities for instruction and conferring to meet student self-chosen goals. With accomplishment of these goals, students will also increase their motivation to read and their student reading growth.
How much time is spent on reading?
Do classrooms have books?
Great questions that can jump start student reading!
I love this look at Hattie’s rating scale. It’s a great visual to remind us of the importance of that .40 effect size lynch pin (the light blue area). Kids need to read a ton but with goals and feedback they will be successful. Jennifer referenced some of the visuals from her book.
As with her previous texts, Conferring with Readers, Teaching Reading in Small Groups, The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K-2 or 3-5, I knew this was a great book but I have an even greater appreciation now that I understand the depth of care and attention given to each of the strategies.
I also believe that we need to “Teach strategies based on student needs – not just off of Pinterest randomly”. And the fact that we need to use common language in our buildings that matches the assessment language was clearly explained with “not slip and slide that may have come from Pinterest.” We must work on consistency of language in our classrooms for STUDENT success, not just because “I like this idea that I found somewhere”! Student learning is at stake!
Prompts fit these basic five categories. Do you know the differences?
- sentence starter
When and why would you vary your use of these five types of prompts?
This is a great text that is going to be so helpful for teachers!!!
Take Aways: The goal of strategies is to learn the skill so well that the reader uses the strategy automatically on a regular basis! Students must be a regular part of goal setting!
Many sessions still remain at #ILA15. Did you attend any of these sessions?
What would you add?
What are you hearing at #ILA15?
IRA now ILA = International Literacy Association
I’ve skipped over this paragraph in the ILA materials (probably 100 times now), but please slow down and read it . . .
“Illiteracy is a solvable problem, and together, we can make a difference! Amplify your efforts by joining forces with us at ILA 2015 in St. Louis, where you’ll get information and inspiration to transform your students’ lives. Register now for this can’t-miss event, where you’ll experience endless opportunities to network and learn—and leave feeling part of a meaningful movement, resolved to end illiteracy.”
And this . . .
“Literacy—across all sectors, mediums, and channels—is increasingly critical. In order to effectively prepare children and adults for the future, teachers must be well prepared to help diverse students improve their literacy skills.”
Whether illiteracy or aliteracy is a concern for you, follow the twitter stream on #ILA15 to LEARN from July 17 pre-conferences to the sessions on July 18-20 in St. Louis! Who defines well-prepared? Are your current efforts REALLY working for ALL your students?
What are you learning this summer that will improve student literacy?
How will you use your learning?
How will you share your learning?
What thoughts run through your mind when you hear the word “poetry”?
Like to read it?
Hate to write it?
Those thoughts are probably directly connected to your previous experiences. If you remember “being required” to write in iambic pentameter for example, you might not be on the “love” side. If you believed that free verse or the way poetry “looked” was as important as what it said like Anastasia Krupnik, poetry may not have been your favorite writing unit. (Creativity week excerpt from Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik here) Encountering a real-life Mrs. Westvessel may have harmed the poetry writer in you. But don’t despair! You can still read, write and enjoy poetry and yes, even change your attitude about poetry!
April is National Poetry month. I hope that poetry is embedded into your English Language Arts work every month of the year because poetry is included in CCSS.Reading Anchor 10. April might just be that month to “Celebrate” the joy of poetry and turn to poetry writing as another way for students to share specific work with language, rhyme and rhythm.
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has a whole month of celebration going on that includes song at Poetry Farm here. Continue to scroll down the left hand side of her blog for the vast resources available including the Poetry Friday links.
Mary Lee Hahn at Poetrepository is another great source of poetry ideas for teachers and students. Her April Po-emotions series is quite fun!
Steve Peterson also is posting poems here at Inside the Dog.
One of my favorite posts from Reading At the Core is this one featuring Walt Whitman.
Who are some of your favorite poets?
What poetry anthologies do you recommend?
Are you celebrating Poetry Month?
Today’s story is the final installment in this week’s recounting of a focused professional development opportunity that our literacy team developed and delivered that included Quality Instructional Practices, ELA Iowa Core Standards and Assessment for Learning. To recap, the first post began with much Anticipation on Day 5.
And then based on learning with Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate, I shared the Instructional Strategies Bracket on Day 6 that Dyan Sundermeyer created and used to refocus attention on common strategies in a building.
On Day 7 I shared the work that we did around Quality Instructional Practices based on scenarios in Chapter 1 of Dr. Mary Howard’s Book.
So for those of you that live and breathe in the world of professional development or coaching, here are a few more details to whet your appetite.
Modeled Grade 5 Scenario
The scenario you read about yesterday was used on our second day with leadership teams. The thinking behind the grade 5 scenario was modeled after everyone had a chance to read and reflect (gradual release of responsibility) Then participants had a choice – scenarios from first grade, third grade or even title 1. Their task was to read the initial scenario and record the “Great, Good and Bad”, reflect on some questions, read the follow-up teaching scenario and consider the deliberate changes made by the teacher to move more actions to “Great”. At that point the teachers and administrators found a partner in the room and talked about the scenario and their understanding of the teaching sequence, student learning, and teacher changes. (Each scenario was color coded so it was easy to find a partner with the same color pages.)
Deepened Understanding of the Iowa Core ELA Standards
Our PD work continued with looking at two specific ELA standards through the K-5 range and considering these questions. How do they build on the previous grade level learning? What do they require of teachers? What do they require of students?
- Anchor Standard RL.3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
- Anchor Standard RL.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Close Reading of the Scenarios
Participants ended the “Standards Learning” portion with an application piece. Here was their task:
The teachers and administrators reread the scenario through the lens of “which standards” and then checked for grade level standards on those color coded documents. Possible answers for grade 5 include: RL.5.10, W.5.10 and SL.5.1.
Assessment for Learning – Learning Targets
Time was going to be an issue so our plan was to just begin with Learning Targets and provide an opportunity for our participants to work on those before we meet again. I’m going to stay with the “plan” as time did necessitate some shifting. We had some learning around the big definition of “Assessment for Learning” including Learning Targets and the fact that “clear goals” is .75 Effect Size (Hattie). Clear learning goals are absolutely essential for learning and assessment but we did not go into the difference between “goals” and “targets” at this time. Here is how the scenarios were used for the third time (close reading).
And the finale learning activity for the session involved watching a video of classroom instruction and in a triad looking for 1) “Great, Good and Bad; 2)Iowa Core ELA Standards and 3) Learning Targets. Can you identify the iterative nature of our work?
How do you have teachers grapple with the HOW – Quality Instruction and the WHAT – ELA Core Standards simultaneously?
How important is our design of GREAT work?
How do you model GREAT work in your PD?
Professional Development – Always a work in progress . . . Our state model
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!
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!)
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.
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:
- Vicki Vinton’s blog “To Make a Prairie” – Of interest to you might be this specific post “Learning vs Training – The Power of Real Professional Development“
- Melanie Meehan’s blog – one of the two authors of “Two Reflective Teachers” and this post “Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text”
- Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan’s blog, “Teachers for Teachers”, where they describe themselves as “… staff developers who are still teachers at heart. We believe that effective professional development includes side by side teaching; discussions of current research; analysis of student work; and mutual trust and respect.” A post that may be of interest is “Applying Some ‘Brain Rules’ to Professional Development“
- Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris’s blog, “Burkins & Yaris Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy” and a favorite post, “The Power of Job-Embedded Coaching” that contains additional references to the work of Joyce and Showers
- Two Writing Teachers (and that will also lead you to the amazing blogs written by the SIX authors!)
- and many great teacher blogs like Julieanne’s “To Read, To Write, To Be“; Mary Lee’s “A Year of Reading“; Steve’s “Inside the Dog“; Christina’s “The Teacher Triathlete“; and Taylor’s “The Formative Feedback Project“.
2. Twitter hashtags
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.
#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 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.
What are informational texts?
The Common Core State Standards include the following in their definition of informational texts:
biographies and autobiographies; “books about history, social studies, science, and the arts”; “technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps”; and “digital sources on a range of topics” (p. 31).
That’s a broad range so what does that really mean? Sources that can inform your work include:
Research and Policy: Informational Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway? by Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer
6 Reasons to Use Informational Text in the Primary Grades – Scholastic, Nell Duke
The Case for Informational Text – Educational Leadership, Nell Duke
Where can I find lists of Mentor Texts?
Award winning lists include:
Mentor Texts to Support the Writers’ Workshop (Literature and Informational Texts)
This list supports writers’ workshop. Others are readily available on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.
What about professional books to help me with Mentor Texts and Informational Writing?
Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing through Children’s Literature K-8 by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capeli (website)
The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham (Chapter 3)
Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (Chapters 3 and 5)
Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Essential Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard
and many grade level texts in the separate Units of Study of Writing by Lucy Calkins and friends at TCRWP.
What do I do with the books that I am considering as mentor texts?
Your number one task is to Read informational texts that you also like. And then your second task is to read these books from the lens of a writer. Identify techniques that the author uses very successfully. Third, talk with other teachers about the techniques and goals! To get started consider these helpful blog posts: A brilliantly written blog post on the use of a mentor text during a co-teaching instruction session by Melanie Meehan can be found in this post “Slice of Life Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text” on the Two Reflective Teachers blog. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris list “Our Top Eleven Nonfiction Books for Teaching . . . Everything!” here! Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers also have a post titled “Two Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts”. Tara Smith writes routinely about texts. “Mentor Texts” is a recent one. Two Writing Teachers: mentor text archive (You can also search any of the above blogs for additional posts about Mentor Texts!) And three from my blog archives: Reading and Writing Instruction – Paired Mentor Texts #TCRWP Day 3: Information Mentor Texts (based on Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing – and Ways to Use Them with Power”) #SOL14: Writing Techniques and Goals
This was a Topic Focus: Informational Texts; Not a Compendium of all available resources . . . Do you have a better idea of the “types of writing” included in the informational category? Did you find some new ideas? Or revisit some old ideas with a new purpose in mind?
Wow! It’s been over a year since Chris Lehman (@ichrislehman) and Kate Roberts(@TeachKate) published Falling in Love with Close Reading. There have been Twitter chats, presentations, Twitter book study chats, PD sessions and much continued conversation about the many facets of close reading.
It has also been more than a year since the Close Reading Blog-a-thon! This post “Close Reading is not THAT important!” is one of my favorites. Have you read it? What about the series of posts between Chris and Kate? Check out the thought-provoking posts and reread CCR Reading Anchor Standard 1.
So today, it was back to work on reading for a bit. This is a short look into my thinking since Chris, Kate and Kristi Mraz’s (@MrazKristine) presentation at NCTE14!
- Reading –
- Close Reading –
- Reading Closely,
- Still thinking about!
- How Often?
- Wondering . . .
- Hopeful . . .
- Silent . . .
- Watchful . . .
- Listening . . .
- Fun . . .
- Thoughtful . . .
- Effective! ❤
Close Reading Session – Not starting with a song . . . (sigh!) but here are screenshots from a presentation that made us laugh, cry, and cheer for its thoughtful work with “The Little Ones”! The presentation – “Close Reading and the Little Ones: How it’s Different (And Incredibly Fun and Effective) in Early Elementary Grades” from #NCTE14
Think about “HOW” you make sense of these pictures . . . where and when do you linger?
I was excited to try out the routine. Amazed! It’s all that Chris, Kate and Kristi promised. And even more! What an empowering tool for students! Supportive of curiosity, wonder, and so much talk – what a wonderful way to frame paying close attention to “read” the world! (NOT a bloody hammer for teachers!)
Check out these notes! @ShawnaCoppola has the most beautiful notes. Here is her visual of the session! If you are on Twitter and are following Shawna, you would have already seen this! If you are not on Twitter, you should be. Lurking is encouraged. Explore the possibilities!
What questions remain?
All good things must end. But must they really?
What if we added another day to NCTE?
What if we wrote another chapter?
What was the story of NCTE14?
Everyone at NCTE14 was the author of their own story: where they came from, why they came, what they wanted to learn, and what they learned. Each person was able to write his/her own story to share (or not) upon return to classrooms, colleges, and family across the country.
What story will I share?
Members of NCTE are dedicated teachers who spent an entire weekend soaking up knowledge from their peers. They laughed (a la Lester Laminack), they cried (Marian Wright Edelman) and rejoiced as stories boldly claimed learning paths for the children of this great nation. Our students are our hope and our future. We must nurture them and encourage them ALL to grow.
A theme of inquiry filled the hearts and souls of participants. Everyone was seeking knowledge and affirmation and yet also questioning that we are on the path of learning – that right path for our students.
Our panel presentation
Vicki Vinton asked what if teachers explored their curiosity?
I (Fran) asked what if Know and Wonder charts were used with text to explore understanding (and not text dependent interrogations)?
Julieanne asked what if students were asked how read alouds helped them in their independent reading?
Steve asked what if students search for theme and bigger ideas in informational texts?
Mary Lee asked what if students blogged to increase community?
Have you asked “What If?” lately?
How are you embracing your curiosity?
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 work collaboratively.
Writing has become a more “urgent” focus in many schools due to the College and Career Ready K-12 Anchor Standards listed here:
What about instruction?
There are specific grade level standards that further illuminate the expectations for the end of the grade for each of the 13 years that students are in school. Materials can be found for both instruction and assessment at all grade levels. As a critical consumer, you can sift through those resources to find the ones that provide authentic writing opportunities for ALL students and a plethora of evidence of student growth.
What about assessment?
A three page checklist with a variety of “levels” describing writing for students in grades K-5 can be found here. This checklist is aligned with the Common Core writing standards that are outlined above. Districts using standards-based reporting systems also have several variations of checklists or rubrics designed to measure “growth”. Can you tell if a student is “making progress” from this checklist?
. . . Student Role in Assessment?
However, a system of measurement would be remiss if it did not provide student self-assessment of writing progress. That progress can be captured in the children’s own words as in Dana Murphy’s blog here: “What Do You Know About Being a Writer?” The words of kindergartners remind us that reflection on learning needs to begin early – In kindergarten!
Are all students developmentally ready for writing when they enter kindergarten? The chart below would suggest that there are many levels that can be “named” for early writing stages. Waiting for “readiness” is not the answer. Lack of quality writing experiences prior to school is also not an acceptable excuse.
Building a need for writing is critical from the first day of kindergarten. How and when can and should the student be writing? The end goal for the kindergarten year is “writing” and will require both instruction and practice each and every day of school. However, quality writing instruction can and should accelerate student writing because kindergartners are encouraged to “draw and write” all year long.
Will EVERY student go through every stage?
Perhaps not. Maybe splitting out so many stages really just slows down the learning for students.
Will it be hard work?
Will it require change?
Do kindergarten writers deserve quality instructional opportunities that engage them in authentic learning?
Consider this: “Revision may seem like something older kids do, but really kindergartners revise in the block center so why not in writing.” -Lucy Calkins (TCRWP Saturday Reunion, 10.18.2014) Check your beliefs at the door. Open your eyes and mind to the standards to see which ones are “Mission Possible” for kindergartners.
Are teacher beliefs holding students back?
Is growth about counting the levels or writers who who read, talk, and do the real work of writing EVERY day?
Once students are sure that they have stories to share, they will be able to write those stories! Once writers are TAUGHT at all grade levels, writing quality will improve. No more assigning writing. No more teaching writing.