Not merely regurgitation
Not just analyzing
But moving on to . . . dare I risk it? . . . innovation?
By reassembling ideas
Through some thoughtful reflection
Should I attempt it?
If you read my found poem yesterday here, you know that I did not attend the 92nd Saturday Reunion sponsored by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. But I did follow along in the TwitterVerse and even collected my re-tweets here in storify. There are about 150 Tweets there if you want to see some of the quotes, ideas, and Tweets that caught my attention.
In the interest of accuracy, this is NOT my first reporting on LEARNING when I was NOT at the conference.
My Previous Learning Via Twitter instead of In Real Life
- May 2016 – New England Reading Association (#NERA2016) in Portland, Maine
- April 2015 – #TCRWP in Paris and #NCTE and Poetry
- and that doesn’t even include Ed Collaborative Gatherings here and here
- And yes, I had a Tweet Deck column following the PAWLP Spring Day today #PAWLPARTS17
Teachers need to have many layers of skills and knowledge. They need to be EXPERTS with their content skills and strategies (Knowledge Base – the what), pedagogy (how to teach in an interesting and engaging way), design (why and how certain aspects of environment, technology, and instruction overlap) and in student development (to understand the faces/bodies in front of them each day). Which of those gets precedence on any given day?
As a teacher, it’s important for you to know and understand the skills, strategies of the standards and curricula as well as your goals for your grade level so the learning targets are crystal clear. Communication skills must be honed so that students clearly understand the purposes of today’s work and the connections that build every day to meet those end goals. However all of these are totally influenced by teacher beliefs and expectations. The teacher has to believe that ALL students can learn and learn at high levels. And what is it that they must learn?
Learning and school CANNOT be about preparation for the next grade. Grade levels assigned by century old arbitrary calendar years are not working for students. The goal in every classroom must be to prepare the students to be productive and independent citizens of the world. So that means no more points taken off for papers turned in a day late (where does that REALLY happen in the real world?), and that students need more VOICE and CHOICE in the work that is done in classrooms on a regular basis. And they also need to be risk takers, entrepreneurs, brave, empathetic, and . . .
“Wow, Fran, I was at #TCRWP and I didn’t hear any of that?”
My Take Aways from #TCRWP by Twitter:
- What do you value? How do we know? Set clear expectations for your students. Share your expectations for the students with them and then share what they can expect from the teacher. Here is one example from a reading teacher. Source: photo and tweet by Jane Losinger
Why does this matter?
This is NOT the same as My Job/Your Job. These statements share/show what you, the teacher value as a promise to the students. When I see these statements in your classroom or on your class website, I know how you will make decisions about time, resources, and even daily instruction. I can also make predictions about what I think your classroom will look like based on what you say you value! Bonus: This maters because of this Hattie result:
2. Be excited, passionate, enthusiastic EVERY minute of EVERY day!
Who knows when or which connection will work for a student? If it’s boring for you, it may also be boring for your students. You don’t have to be an entertainer and an expert at “song and dance routines”. But you do need to be reflective and consider your impact on your students. Ask yourself, “Would I REALLY want to be a student in this class?” Source: Keynote Address – Tweet by Mike Ochs
“Come to work every day like it’s your first day”—Drew Dudley
Why does this matter?
The first day of a new job is filled with excitement and wonder. Share that wonder ALL the time with your students! The students deserve your very best every minute. There really is no time in the schedule for “do overs” so make every minute count the first time. But also focus on how each student can be a future leader. Leaders are kind. Leaders are caring. Leaders are compassionate. Teach for long-term transfer. Know your class well so you can make wise, well-informed decisions that fuel your students’ passions and excitement.
3. Make the learning work visible and therefore attainable for students.
Make sure that you have a depth of knowledge about your content so that you truly understand what students need to do for the next increment of learning. That deep understanding is your own scaffold that you can later remove when students are successful. Tools that can help students reach for the sky and all those lofty expectations are critical. Source: Katie Clements tweet
“@ shares an awesome progression to help Grade 3 mystery readers lift the level of their prediction work.#tcrwp”
Why does this matter?
Students need to have clear learning targets in order to meet them. They can’t be secrets. They can’t be moving targets. Clear. Attainable. Clearly defined for self assessment because then students can figure out exactly how to improve their work in order to meet the criteria. Predictions seem like a fairly easy skill but they don’t occur in isolation and need a cycle of predicting, reading/watching/viewing, considering the degree to which the prediction was met, re-predicting (rinse and repeat) with those elements based on both explicit text references and implicit or inferred responses to the text! And to top it off a student needs to be predicting while collecting evidence to help grow other theories. Reading is COMPLICATED and does not happen one individual skill at a time!
And this bonus from Hattie:
4. Readers and Writers must be thinkers.
In your adult life are you really expected to be a “fact regurgitator”? Or are you expected to be a problem solver? A creative thinker? Source: Tweets from Mary Ehrenworth’s presentation.
“We are not looking for your first thinking, we are looking for your best thinking.”
Create reading notebook pages that open up thinking and develop thinking not tell what you already know.”
Why does this matter?
Thinking in life is not optional. The twenty first century is leaving the adults in the dust and we REALLY have no clue what jobs will be available for our kiddos when they graduate from school and move into the work force. We need to stop pretending that we have any real ideas and instead support students to make choices now. Students need a lot of practice in making decisions and being successful as well as making decisions and FAILING. That really is part of life. How we respond in the face of adversity is a true sign of our character. Let’s support students to be more cognizant of their own need to self-advocate for time, resources, and choices to increase their own learning NOW!
5. Circling back around to values – How are you going to put them into action?
What is your plan? Where will you start? What will you do? “Talk is cheap.” Time is precious! How do you make your actions match your “Professed Values”? Source: Mr. Minor tweeted by Julie Jee
Why does it matter?
Without specific actions, what will change? Keep it simple and doable. Don’t make it another form to be filled out and submitted to the accountability committee for leadership committee for change. Make it a focus for face to face conversations. Build a plan with someone else to increase your own accountability!
Ultimately . . .
I am ending with my thoughts after reading many of the quotes from Lucy Calkin’s closing. I’ve been there. Inspired. Mesmerized. Prepped for action. Ready to conquer the world. Ready to slay dragons after a day at a Saturday Reunion. And yet I can also imagine the tears shed for our beloved friend, Kathleen Tolan.
Something you believe in.
Work for change.
The Democracy in your classroom and in the world still needs your voice and the voice of your students who will inhabit this earth for many years to come!
Where will you begin?
How will we know you are using your gift of learning?
Innovation = My application of doing new things as a result of what I thought/believed I heard today in my #tcrwp Twitter Feed.
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.
You can read more #DigiLitSunday posts at Margaret Simon’s blog, Reflections on the Teche.
What is blended learning?
One definition is that:
“Blended learning is an education program that combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.” Source
I appreciate Beth Holland’s view in the quote that began this piece. . . “not only the opportunity to gain . . . but also an element of authority over this process.” The students are an integral portion of this work. Blended learning, implemented well, has the potential to provide some of the best differentiated instruction. Blended learning done poorly has the potential to provide mind-numbing, electronic worksheet type practice in a “one size fits all environment”. The key is “some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.”
Here’s an example:
“Tracy is a language arts teacher who has posted all of her lesson plans, assignments, and quizzes online so that students can access them at home, as well as at school. Tracy’s school recently implemented a one-to-one program in which each student has access to a personal computing device. To leverage the technology, Tracy has all of her students follow along on their devices during a guided reading exercise, during which the teacher and students examine a piece of text together. After a class discussion on the text, Tracy has the students switch over to Google Docs where they each write their own agreement or disagreement with the central argument of the text. During this time, Tracy roams the classroom making sure students are on task and answering any questions that arise.
Is Tracy using blended learning in her classroom? No. Let’s understand why:
- By posting all class material online, Tracy is using the Internet to merely host information, not to manage the delivery of content or instruction.
- The fact that Tracy’s school is a one-to-one program is irrelevant to whether blended learning is taking place. One-to-one is not synonymous with blended learning, as it doesn’t imply a shift in instructional delivery or an element of student control. Although equipping all students with devices can be a crucial component of creating a blended-learning program, if not implemented correctly, the devices themselves can easily be used to support traditional instruction (as in Tracy’s case).
- Tracy’s students are all using the personal computing devices s to read and write, but they are moving through the content as a single batch doing the same thing at the same time with no element of control over the time, place, path, or pace of learning.
- Tracy’s use of Google Docs for the student writing exercise is no different than if her students were writing with pencil and paper.
Tracy is participating in a “technology-rich” classroom, not a blended one. Technology-rich instruction shares the features of traditional teacher-led instruction with technological enhancements. This includes electronic whiteboards, digital textbooks, online lesson plans, Google Docs, virtual reality, and so forth. These tools may enhance learning experiences, but do not fundamentally shift instruction in a way that gives students some element of control.” Source
Are you providing blended learning environments?
Are you providing technology-rich environments?
How could students have more control over time, place, path or pace?
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.
Check out Margaret Simon’s blog “Reflection on the Teche” for additional #DigiLitSunday posts here!
A favorite quote of mine is this:
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!
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?
Join Margaret Simon at “Reflections on the Teche” for additional #DigiLit Sunday reading here.
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.
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 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
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?
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!
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?
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)
Digital Design: What is it?
I love this word cloud as the words that I immediately see that match my definition and / or understanding are “text, creativity, photoshop, palette, copy, and color. There are many more words to explore but those immediately aligned with my thinking.
But visually, is digital design
Because it is a phrase, dictionary.com has no definition for “digital design” so I resorted to asking “the Google” “What is digital design?” and choosing answers to browse.
This one made the most sense:
“Digital design is the branch of graphic design that uses computers, graphics tablets and other electronic devices to create graphics and designs for the Web, television, print and portable electronic devices.” (Reference.com)
Graphics, pictures, the use of white space . . . the purpose of all of these is to deepen understanding. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And yet when does a teacher need to proceed with caution . . .
- If the quest for a picture to add to a page of 10 words takes 2 hours, is that time well spent?
- If the quest for a specific background takes three days of writing workshop while the student searches for the “perfect app”, is that time well spent?
- If the idea is never revisited, revised, or re-framed but now becomes cemented into a constant image, is that the goal?
When is design the goal?
I love this quote from Deb Frazier’s first grade classroom: “If the tool is telling you what to do, you aren’t in charge of your learning. You tell the tool what to do!” See this blog post for the context.
Isn’t this the ultimate goal?
The best of all worlds, expressing yourself!
When do you need words?
When do you need graphics and/or video?
When do you need both?
When does the “cost benefit” in terms of time/energy of design outweigh its use?
When teaching, goals and needs often become blurred due to perspective. Whose goals and needs are the basis for planning, instructing and assessing? When are student voices heard? When are parent voices heard? When does the community have input?
Today’s topic seemed like an easy one:
Balancing Goals and Needs
This morning I had a lengthy conversation with Mya over coffee. Her needs seem simple: food, water, shelter, hugs and kisses, time to play. How many of those do I define? How many of those does she define? I laughed last week as she went nose to nose with an opossum and it was not playing. As Mya barked, the opossum snarled back. Not the quiet, placid Mya who walks among the deer without a sound. Not the quiet Mya who allows Harry the cat to tell her what to do. So I’ve been wondering what are Mya’s needs and what are her goals?
On this foggy Sunday morning Mya has no need to head outside. She’s curled up on the love seat napping. She’s already had her breakfast, her treat, a bit of conversation and she’s now in her own little world.
Are her needs met? Are her goals met?
Conversation with Mya about basic needs is quite simple. If either her food bowl or water bowl are empty, she comes and tells me. Her nose on me is quite telling. No words are needed.
And when she’s ready to play. OMG! YES! She’s bouncing. Or she’s patiently waiting. That stare. Those eyes!
And of course, I’m well trained. When she’s standing, nose against the door, tail wagging, it’s time to open the door for her!
Are her needs met? Are her goals met?
Because we live in the country, Mya has a LOT of unsupervised, unstructured time outside. No pen, no fences, no boundary fencing. I like to think that her time outside gives her the opportunity to be an independent free spirit. (Mya is a Lab and loves recognition for her skills.)
What about balancing my goals and my needs?
My initial draft of this post included a list of goals and a list of needs. As fast as I listed something in either category, I was deleting it and moving it to the other side. And then . . . . there were the list items that HAD to be in BOTH categories! Ay, yi, yi – not productive! Way too much thinking!
Last week I had the pleasure of learning with and from Cassie Erkens (@cerkens) author of Collaborative Common Assessments: Teamwork. Instruction. Results. One important point she made was that we must understand the DNA (Desires, Needs, and Assets) of ALL students.
Do we even “know” that information about our students?
So that long conversation with Mya led me to realize this morning over coffee that it doesn’t really matter whether I can specifically IDENTIFY all my goals and needs. Instead living my life so that I BALANCE my goals and needs in service of being brave and remaining a life-long learner is important.
Family, Comfort, Love, Peace, Fun, Faith, Joy, Reading and Writing
Fun, Learning, Collaborating, Equity, Joy, Reading and Writing
Fun, Family, Reading, Writing, Joy, Faith and Brave Support for a Better World
Can you tell what I am working to “Balance”?
How do you balance your Goals and Needs?
How do you make sure that all voices are included?
Check out the posts at Margaret Simon’s “Reflections on the Teche” for more ideas / thinking about balance!
What is “Fake” news? What is “Real News”?
I have NOT YET taught this but I so appreciate that Margaret Simon has posed this for today’s conversation and you can read more posts at “Reflections on the Teche” here.
Defining the Issue: Fake? Real? Is it that Simple?
I was thinking that this graphic would be black and white so I was surprised to see the green and red that I found when looking for a graphic for “real/fake”. But yet I don’t believe it’s that simple. I wonder if there’s really a range of possibilities inspired by all the “reality” shows and images that now exist in life. (Note: I am deliberately not YET using “True”opposite “Fake”.)
I’m going to work with this topic in an inquiry mode. I really want to see how this grows as teachers and students think through how they understand and truly know whether news/events are “real” or “fake”. I believe that there is going to be a continuum and this chart shows my beginning thinking.
What needs to be explored?
Every newspaper headline could be explored. Any statement by a political figure stated as a fact that sounds totally bogus could also be explored. Or google “John Lewis civil rights hero” or “best president ever” and see the articles that pop up. How do you determine whether they are “real” or “fake”?
What are some criteria to consider?
Source of the information – online (.org or .gov = tend to be real; co. or lo. = tend to be fake)
Who is “reporting”? What information is available about the author?
Who is the “audience”?
Is only one side of the issue presented?
Do the headline, quotes, picture and story support the same conclusion?
Are there “exaggerations” or blatant “lies”? Is the supporting information “credible evidence” or “suspicious photo shopped pictures or unidentified sources”?
Are there discrepancies between “words spoken” and “actions”?
Are there other stories, quotes or pictures that support an opposing view? How credible are those sources?
Will this “study” change readers’ minds?
Doubtful. However, a frank discussion of the rights from the First Amendment may need to also occur. Just because one has the “right” to say anything doesn’t mean that “anything and everything” should be said! Discerning citizens need to have a “filter” or “lens” to dig into statements, articles, reporting that seems to be less than accurate. Maybe the goal is to begin to understand how much of “reporting” seems to have a purpose of shaping the news rather than simply stating the facts.
Personally . . .
I remember following my Twitter feed on Monday, May 2, 2011 to find out that Osama bin Laden was killed. That was where I first saw it reported. I verified with multiple other sources, ever hopeful that initial announcement was correct. However, Twitter is not currently my source of “Real News”. Neither is Facebook. News and social media don’t always mix in my opinion because the rush to be “first” often does not allow for the “paragraphs” that need to address all of the possibilities. Being cautious and a bit skeptical works for me!
How will you determine whether news is “Real” or “Fake”?
It’s time to celebrate! Celebrate the waning moments of 2016. Celebrate the oncoming 2017. Celebrate winter in all its glory. Celebrate family and community and togetherness! I continue to celebrate “Joy” as my OLW for 2016 (how many times do you see that word in the background?) and as I spend this weekend with family! (Check out the other posts on Margaret Simon’s blog, “Reflections on the Teche” found here!)
Today, I celebrate the kids in my life. Short, tall, running, playing, talking, card playing and just down right entertaining. Here’s the long and short of it: 35 inch grandson at 19 months and the 6’11” nephew who is 17!
What are you celebrating?
Check out the links to other DigiLit Sunday posts at Margaret Simon’s blog here.
Craft: What is it?
A woodworker has many tools that may range from hand tools like chisels. planes and mallets to power tools like saws, drills, and presses that can aid the process of turning out finely crafted projects.
Is the craft in the “Doing” or is the craft in the “Final Product”?
In writing there are many sources of craft. Some of my favorites are:
Lester Laminack, and
Stacey Shubitz to name just a few.
So many sources of craft information exist. Do I need craft information along the way as I draft or do I need the information as I revise and improve the clarity, anticipate a reader’s questions, and add additional information to make the work more interesting? I believe that writers need both skills. The more that a writer knows and anticipates in the drafting process, perhaps the revision will become less burdensome.
What is a teacher to do? Where should the teacher begin?
Many strategies and craft moves can be and are taught, but at some point the choices used by writers will come down to the individual authors. Strategic use of those moves needs to fit within the piece of writing that the author has undertaken. A wide repertoire of moves that fit into a grade level range of writing will come from mentor texts. Those mentor texts are often published texts, teacher written texts or student written texts. What a student will use will depend on the applicability to this piece. Teaching students to “self-assess” and even to “self-reflect” on their use of craft will be important. That’s one of the reasons why I believe these items in a fifth grade opinion writing checklist that students can use are absolutely critical!
Writers make many decisions as they draft and revise about their own writing. Tools with visible examples that students can use when talking about their writing or matching to a checklist or a rubric will put the power of writing choices in the hands of students.