This week’s theme for #DigiLitSunday is “Slicing our lives”. Head on over to Margaret Simon’s “Reflections on the Teche” for additional posts.
Slicing our lives is what many bloggers do each Tuesday throughout the year. But when March arrives (whether like a lion or a lamb), it’s time for the “Story Challenge” where bloggers write each day of the month. So that’s 31 consecutive posts to write as well as to respond to fellow bloggers in the community! This year is the 10th annual SOLSC so that’s a whole lot of stories.
It’s an opportunity to write stories every day and live a more writerly life . . . in public. Sharing stories allows us to build a community of writing friends. Perhaps in the first year of slicing, you only read the posts of those persons who post just before and after you. But after a while, you branch out and look for those who write about similar topics, teach the same grade, have similar jobs, people you follow on Twitter or those you have met in real life (IRL) or face to face (F2F).
What is a community?
It’s often considered to be a group of people joined together for a common purpose or passion. Today I celebrate both the Slice of Life Community and the DigiLitSunday Community. Friends from around the world that I rely on when I’m looking to learn more. Friends that I often meet in both the blogosphere and the Twitterverse. Friends with whom I enjoy spending time!
Members of both communities that I have met face to face at NCTE and/or TCRWP Institutes or Saturday Reunions include:
- Margaret Simon
- Tara Smith
- Carol Versalona
- Julianne Harmatz (We even presented on a panel together at NCTE15!)
Slice of Life Community members that I have met face to face at NCTE and TCRWP (Institutes and / or Saturday Reunions)
Slicers that I have met face to face at TCRWP Institutes or Saturday reunions:
Slicers that I have met face to face at ILA or NCTE:
- Leigh Anne
Slicers in my neighborhood that I see at local/Iowa events:
- Kathy Scuitema
- Deb Day
Slicers that I am looking forward to meeting:
Everyone of you that I have not yet met. I so enjoy reading the “About” section of blogs to see where you are from and whatever additional information you provide. I have gone with you to quilt shows, Africa, France, to family events, to dinner and have so enjoyed learning with and from so many talented writers!
My life is richer for all the slicers that I know around the world IRL (F2F) or online! Thanks for being so generous with your time and stories! I’m honored to have so many great “blogging mentors” in my life! Thanks to so many of you for stopping by, reading and commenting.
(And my sincere apologies, in advance, for anyone I’ve accidentally left off the list. I started it two days ago and I’ve been checking my blog posts and my ILA, NCTE, and TCRWP notes to try to be as accurate as possible. However, the mind is the first thing to go . . . with old age!)
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.
A common theme in these four sessions that I attended at #NCTE15 was the importance / necessity of involving students in their own learning. (It’s a connection that I could make about ALL of my #NCTE15 sessions in retrospect.)
1. Bring Students into the Conversation: Goal-Setting, Tool-Making that Supports Transfer
#TCRWP Staff Developers: Valerie Geschwind, Marjorie Martinelli, Ryan Scala, Amy Tondeau began this session with a “Turn and Talk”.
Think of a recent goal that you have achieved.
What were the conditions that helped you to reach that goal?
Motivation is a Result of . . .
- Social interaction
Tools that Support Self- Assessment
- Tools created from Mini-Lessons
Goal Setting with Students and Language that Honors Choice
And then Val introduced the cycle of learning. . . in student language.
- I am working towards a new goal.
- Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it is really hard!
- I need my tool to know each step.
- I am practicing my goal all the time: in every book or in every piece of writing.
- I use my tool as a check-in.
- I can use my goal in lots of places.
- I can teach other people what my goal is and help them do it.
I loved the idea of the three stages. I believe Brook Geller first introduced me to the belief at #TCRWP 2013 July Reading Institute that most “students are over taught and under practiced.” Many students seem to need more practice time with specific feedback and a lot less “teacher talk”. In this case a practitioner is someone who is actively engaged in the doing, who repeatedly exercises or performs an activity or skill to acquire, improve, or maintain proficiency, or who actually applies or uses an idea, a method, or a skill across many scenarios. In other words, our students are the practitioners!
Practice does not have to be boring. There are many methods (see picture below) that can be used to reach “expert” status but the key to this entire presentation was that students would be working on a goal of their own choice and moving from novice, to practitioner, to expert. What wonderful language to put into the mouths of students . . . How motivating and empowering!!!
Caution: These are not stages to be RACED through. They will take time to develop. Students in charge of their own assessment of these stages will definitely be students who know exactly what skills and strategies that they do have in their repertoire.
Be the Force! Help students
- Take on their own learning
- Take on their own change
- Cultivate a growth habit of mind
- See each other as experts
Tools: Checklists, rubrics, progressions, charts from mini-lessons. However, a new look . . . Bookmarks with 3 or 4 choices. Students marked the choice that they were using with a paperclip. Clearly visible!!!! AWESOME!
And then a final reminder .. . .
You’ve met your goal. Now what?
- Maintain your skills
- Teach others
- Get critical
- Set new goals
It was the first time for me to hear #TCRWP Staff Developers Valerie, Marjorie, Ryan, and Amy and I’m definitely looking forward to learning from them during future opportunities!!!
2. Responsible and Responsive Reading: Understanding How to Nurture Skill and Will
Kylene Beers, Teri Lesene, Donalyn Miller, Robert Probst
Of course this was a popular session so I was willing to sit on the floor (don’t tell the fire marshal) because I wanted to be able to be up front and see!
Donalyn’s presentation is here for you to review at your leisure. A very powerful activity included these questions: “What books and reading experiences would form your reading autobiography?” Donalyn explained that: What matters is WHY you chose the book? Insights from these responses lead to deep conversations with students. Convos for Ss
Teri Lesene’s presentation is here. This fact was startling to me! Obviously I need to read more than a book a week!
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst shared a great deal of information about nonfiction reading that has come from the process of writing their new book. This slide is something I want to remember. . . “when I have answers I need to question”.
And this one on the importance of reading.
3. Finding Their Way: Using Learning Tools to Push Rigor, Increase Independence and Encourage Learning in Your Classroom
TCRWP Staff Developers: Mike Ochs, Kate Roberts, Maggie Beattie Roberts
Maggie began this session with many great connections. “We haven’t seen teachers work harder than they currently are, YET sometimes students aren’t working so hard! ” Tools can help students buy into learning. Tools, in our daily life, extend our reach, meet our needs, help us tackle big problems and personally get better! Tools connect, access, build community . . . should change over time!
- Rigor and motivation
- Memory . . . Why don’t we remember things? (short and long term memory) “I’ve taught this 1000 times. I know they learned this!”
“A great coach never achieves greatness for himself or his team by working to make all his players alike.” Tomlinson
And then a typical problem from narrative writing. . . How to stretch out a frozen moment. Kate created a demo page in front of us and told us it was, “Messy!” Lean on a menu of ways, decide the color scheme, and title.
Another tool might be a Micro-Progression. It provides a clear description of behaviors that are expected so students will know where they stand. Middle level is good. Students don’t always have to think they should be at the top level of performance.
Bookmark – 5 or 6 most important things for students to work on. Let students create this for themselves. They can be different!
Mike – Framework for creating tools adapted from The Unstoppable Writing Teacher with a shout out to Colleen Cruz.
Do not plan to use a tool forever. Have a plan to remove the tools. Some tools we will always need (the hammer), some we want to go away/become automatic (steps to hammer a nail) Some tools become references, set aside until needed. Sometimes need an additional/alternate tool. Most writing tools are not designed to be used indefinitely.
Kate: “You find yourself getting as smart as the toolmakers as you use the ‘tools of others’ and you get better as teacher! You don’t want to teach without a sidekick. Your tools can be a sidekick.”
News : Spring 2016 a book from Kate and Maggie!!!! SO EXCITED!
4. Transforming Informational Writing: Merging Content and Craft
Seymour Simon, Kelly Boswell, Linda Hoyt
I think I know this boy!
Seymour’s part was actually titled: Celebrating the Wonder in Nonfiction Storytelling. He began with a discussion of what nonfiction really means. If nonfiction is really “not true” than fiction should be “not real”. There is something about the use of “non” that marginalizes the texts that are labeled nonfiction. After all, who takes anything with “non” in the title seriously?
Not much difference between teaching F and NF. . .
- Who am I?
- What am I?
- What about me?
Mystery, wonder, poem, the universe!
Seymour read aloud many great fiction and nonfiction pairings. One of my favorite pairings was:
Kelly: How Mentors and Modeling Elevate Informational Writing
Mentor texts plus teacher modeling equals quality student writing. When teaching writing, FOCUS! If the target lesson is about leaving spaces between words, only teach “leaving spaces between words.” Don’t teach everything in the world of writing.
Kelly’s example for the text went “something” like this as an example of what NOT to do! “Class, we are going to work on leaving spaces between words today as we write. What does a sentence begin with? Good! Yes, a capital letter. (writes The) Our next word is ‘butterfly’. Let’s clap the syllables in butterfly. How many? Yes, three. What sound does it begin with?”
If the focus is “leaving spaces between words” – that’s the teacher talk!
On mentors and models – read the book once to enjoy, then mine for craft. Use a favorite book over and over and don’t forget to use it for conventions! Here’s an example from Hank the Cowdog.
- Create a culture of Curiosity.
- Provide time for students to ask questions
- Immerse learners in fascinating informational topics and sources
- Focus on content and craft in the writing they see, hear, and produce
- “Float the learning on a sea of talk.” – James Britton
- Teach research strategies
- Teach visual literacy – First grade writing example
8. Writers Workshop Every Day
9. Make sure learners are writing all day long. Write to remember. Write to question. Write to think. Write to express yourself. Write to share your learning. In every subject area.
10. Write Using Elements from Real World Informational Texts (lists, emails, letters, notes, newsletters)
Involving Students Take Aways:
Students can set real goals and self-assess their progress toward their goals.
Students are motivated when they have control and real choices in their work.
Models and tools aid students in moving through a cycle of novice to practitioner to expert.
What are your thoughts about involving students at this point?
Making Powerful Connections Across the Twitterverse Using Social Media to Become Agents of Change
Amy Brennan, Jill DeRosa, Jenn Hayhurst, Mary Howard, and Jeanne Marie Mazzaferro shared how Twitter, a book Good to Great, and Voxer has led to changes in instruction and professional development. Read more about their session here on Jennifer’s blog.
Embracing Trouble: Problem Solving and Responsive Teaching in the Reading and Writing Classroom
Colleen Cruz, author of The Unstoppable Writing Teacher: Real Strategies for the Real Classroom, presented a series of steps to problem solve writing difficulties. This was interactive as we were working on a problem of our own as we learned about the steps.
- Name your trouble.
- How do you know it’s a problem?
- Where do you feel stuck? Why is it keeping you up at night?
- What are you most afraid will happen?
- Rename the problem as a realization or goal.
- Name the roadblocks that might get in the way.
- How might you deal with those roadblocks? Find a small little piece to start with.
- Plan first step. Second step. Send yourself a text with your plan as a reminder.
Barb Golub reminded us that “No matter what, Independent reading time needs to happen every day.” EVERY.DAY.INDEPENDENT.READING.EVERY.STUDENT
“Be true to yourself.”
“Teaching is hard.”
“You need to find your group or tribe for both celebrations and in times of trouble.”
Jennifer Serravallo, author of The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers, began with a description of her previous typical classroom of 32 children, 10 with IEPs, 5 Ells, and parents who felt disconnected from schooling.
Because it was chaotic, she knew that she needed an action plan to fix the problem. She relied on experiences from her father, a chemist, to develop a plan.
1. Get to know the student. Stuff inside a messy desk may tell us more than the assessments. Use an engagement inventory to consider student stamina/ability to re-engage. How do you use running records? Not use for process, not as summative, but for formative information, but for next steps in teaching.
Where is the student pausing?
What patterns in pauses, miscues, . ..?
What is the student thinking about?
2. Decide on a goal for each reader. Honor student strength and potential when determining next steps. Jen referenced both Petty and Hattie for research in goal setting and specific feedback focused on goals. She reminded us that you must have a goal in order to be impactful. Look at the Hierarchy when making decisions about goals. “Have one goal for kids.”
3. Teach a strategy that aligns to goals. The strategy will have actionable steps with a verb. It will literally break down the work in a skill. (The newest publication has the goals color coded like the picture above!)
4. Make the goals visible. The goals need to be visible for the reader, other teachers, and parents. Pictures can help. Information on class website / blog can also provide visible goals.
“Have Student notes in a two pocket folder. Put reading information in one pocket and writing in the other pocket. Write notes. Have this chart ready at all times for communication purposes. Make it be like a “chart” at the hospital that hangs on the end of the bed. The doctor comes in and picks it up – One chart that travels with the student. (BRILLIANT coordination of information about the student!)”
5. Stay focused on the goal during conferences and small group work. So if you are working on fluency, you will make sure the student reads text.
“Teachers: You matter! You make a difference!”
The Art of Knowing Our Students: Action Research for Learning and Reflection
Matt Renwick – Elementary principal in Wisconsin
We began with Matt’s question, “What do you think of when you hear the word ‘research’?” Research should actually include listening, talking and even laughter as everyone learns from each other. Action Research – be a renegade / individual who rejects conventional behavior. Matt shared examples of research that both he and the teachers in his building are engaged in
Karen Terlecky – literacy coach for teachers of grades 3-5
“The stories behind children are important! It’s not all about the numbers!” Karen’s research question is “How might stamina and choice increase student reading engagement and achievement?” Observational data might include taking pictures/video, listening to students read. Additional information from “status of the class” can tell about stamina, where stuck, favorite genres, and whether students are just “skipping around.” And a shout out to Cathy Mere, “How might celebration within the literacy block incrase student motivation and engagement?”
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan
Clare and Tammy speak and write so eloquently about assessment and making sense of all the data that is collected – and so much more than just the numbers! How do we get “Wonder” as a regular piece of teacher work? In other words getting past issues of time, learning, questions, AND not having ALL the answers!
- More than a number
- Assessment and instruction are inseparable
- Instruction can meet high standards and be developmentally appropriate.
“Students want to know how they are doing. They don’t want to just hear about the errors that have been recorded.” Triangulating data must include teaching. Ask: “What do you notice? What do you wonder?”
I loved our work where we looked at the data pictured below and listed what we knew and wondered about this student who had scores below the benchmark and above the benchmark as well. What do you notice and wonder?
Take aways for today:
Learning is complex, for adults and students
Assessment is complex, more than a number
Students are complex.
Quality literacy instruction is hard because no script can meet the needs of all students.
From Twitter and Kelly Gallagher’s “Top Ten Takeaways” (and he said – in no particular order):
Julieanne Harmatz NCTE15 A Necessity
Mary Lee Hahn My NCTE Top Tens
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan (Assessment in Perspective) Slice of Life: Some Slices from #NCTE15
Jennifer Sniadecki Slice of Life Tuesday: NCTE Lives On
Carol Varsalona Celebrating Professional Growth
Middle English #NCTE15: Disney For English Teachers
Donna Friend Dear #NCTE15
Sarah Zerwin My Top Takeaways from #NCTE15
Dana Huff NCTE 2015 Reflections
Audrey Fisch and Susan Chenelle Day 2 at NCTE: Critical Encounters with Non-Fiction
Visiting with old and new friends
Our volunteer guide the first morning in the skywalk
Learning with a co-worker and friend
The skywalk and the inside path to the convention center
IKEA (first timer)
Sharing #NCTE15 love with @Tara_Smith5 and @Azajacks
Thousands of attendees and thousands of views of #NCTE15 . . . What will you remember?
The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning and Teaching was the source of the last panel presentation I attended on Sunday at #NCTE15 in Minneapolis. (Trivia note – #NCTE15 participants wrote 33,000 Tweets!)
Rock Stars on Stage:
- Katie Wood Ray
- Kathy Collins
- Vicki Vinton
The session was both funny, illuminating and oh, so insightful. After all, it was an introduction by Katie Wood Ray (who taught Matt Glover everything he knows as well as thinks of the greatest book titles EVER!), Kathy Collins and Vicki Vinton.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the illustrious crowd present: Kylene, Donalynn, Franki, Maggie, Katie, Christina, Dani, Katherine, Ryan, and Katie and many others that I did not see from the front row!
The 13 Beliefs
We explored these beliefs and the important qualities of readers.
And the question: How do we brand our reading? How do we really help students understand the importance of reading?
Kathy also spent time on belief # 3 – how do we appreciate that quirky child (annoying, yes) and make sure that he/she continue to grow and learn? And belief # 8 – Joy! Such a strong belief in joy that it needs to be a secret so that publishers don’t create and market “JOY kits”! And the gifs . . . oh, my! LAUGHTER! Here’s a gif that Kathy Collins did not use but may fit your future needs!
Vicki Vinton began with framing several issues with quotes and examples for the audience to consider.
And an example of grade three CCSS – aligned “reading work” for teachers.
Beliefs that were embedded in Vicki’s presentation included: 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. And then we moved into a demonstration . . . as we used a problem-solving approach to reading (like math?). “Words aren’t the problem…what does it MEAN when you put all the words together?”
And here’s the most important part of this post. I was the first volunteer for this problem-solving small group. Five of us – all adults and literacy folks – volunteered to participate in this demonstration. We had roles – as students – dyslexic, ADHD, ELL, ELL, and Unmotivated. We had never seen the script and time was fleeting. We actually read from a script and from text projected on the screen and we missed a couple of cues (“oohing” during reading) but we did “get into our parts”!
- As a reader, I was anxious.
- As a reader, I was worried about how well I could read and follow directions.
- As a reader, I was worried about the task.
- As a reader, I had no time to “think” about the text even though I scanned all my “parts” as soon as I had the script in my hands.
- As a reader, I wondered about “how well” we would do as a group.
- As a reader, I wondered if we would meet Vicki’s expectations.
In the interest of full disclosure, dear readers, I must tell you that I presented on a panel with Vicki Vinton last year at #NCTE14. So I was reading a script from a trusted/respected friend/mentor. Another group member was a respected colleague. I provide PD to all sizes of groups so the actual speaking/performing was NOT really one of my concerns.
If I, a confident reader, was worried about how well I would read so I didn’t let the group down, how do our students feel when they aren’t sure of the task or topic?
How do students really feel when they encounter new tasks/situations?
How have we structured our work/learning so that a mindset for growth is present?
The work that we demonstrated was important. The students were figuring out “Minneapolis Simpkin”. The teacher had not pretaught all the vocabulary words in the book. Words from “real students” showed that they were continually revising their thinking about what “Minneapolis Simpkin”was. This was a Peggy Parish “I Can Read” level 1 book. It was not a “hard” text. But the reader certainly had to be thinking in order to make sense of the text. YET, it was a tricky text where the narrator was not explicitly revealed. The text did not say, “Minneapolis Simpkin said, ‘——-.'” Students had to do the work of figuring out the story!
Big Take Away Thoughts:
Before: Remember to think of the student perspective when planning your instruction.
During: Listen to the students. Follow their lead. Don’t be the leader. (Remember that you already know how to read.)
After: Do notice and name the work students did (“Who’s doing the work?”) and discuss where and when this work might be expected to transfer.
What are the ideas that you want to remember from this session/post?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.