What was your “Most Trusted Resource” for 2017?
Who do you turn to?
I listened to the local meteorologist this morning to hear that the temperature was -10 with a wind chill of -35. I did not turn to the Weather Channel. I did not want to see an entire country enveloped in cold. My little region with the ticker of church cancellations across the bottom of the screen was sufficient. It met my needs. I did not need a second source. I already had verification when Mya was outside for less than one minute. It’s cold! It’s REALLY cold! Right now Iowa is as cold as the South Pole.
So if the local TV weather and my dog’s reaction were “enough” today . . . how do I typically make decisions about resources? Here’s the process that I typically use with my criteria.
1. What’s my learning goal?
Begin with the end in mind. What is the end point learning? What do I want to be able to know and do after the use of the resource that adds to my knowledge base? Because I value this thinking, I often search for UbD resources, Understanding by Design – Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. Resources built on a UbD framework already encapsulate some basic learning principles that I value as shown in this ASCD resource. How well does this learning goal align with the standards, assessments and learning targets? How will I measure learning. All of these questions and more are evaluated in the UbD process!
2. Are the resources accurate, useful, efficient, and relevant?
Putting four criteria together is daunting because these can and should all be evaluated separately. But here’s the deal, if they aren’t all present to a high degree, the resource is really useless. Not needed. Not wanted. Not going to be in a “fixer-upper” pile as life is too short to be re-working resources that are not accurate, useful, efficient, and relevant.
3. Have the resources been written, taught, and vetted using a process/protocol to improve them?
How were the resources developed? Were they written by persons who haven’t been in a classroom since they were students? Or are they written and reviewed by teachers who are constantly striving to improve their teaching practices and who are willing to work collaboratively and diligently to appropriately give credit to original authors for their ideas? Was a template or framework used so developed materials align vertically within the content area and horizontally across grade levels and content areas? What information is available about the process? What information is available about the review?
What resources meet this criteria?
One FREE source is found with the Massachusetts Department of Education. You will need to create an account (good for 30 days) and agree to honor copyright – you can’t profit from the work! Here’s the link – doe.mass.edu
“Why these resources?”
- Massachusetts is getting results in literacy.
- This resource comes from their state department of education website and was the result of a collaborative process Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe and hundreds of teachers.
- You can begin by using a unit and adding or subtracting learning activities based on the needs of your students.
- There is a TRANSFER goal in every unit.
- Outcomes, Assessment, Standards, and Instruction are aligned. Resources are the last to be chosen. That’s a part of the UbD model!
- The resources are accurate, useful, efficient, and relevant.
- The materials reference sources and are not plagiarized intellectual property.
- The units only require a registration (and renewal after 30 days).
Check out the resources NOW!
Access to multiple grade levels can help you with pre-requisite skills and learning expectations!
Grade 2 Example ELA Units:
Grade 9-10 Example ELA Units:
What are YOU waiting for?
How could using these units as “mentor” units help you increase student learning?
What process are you using when you search for learning resources?
By Sunday the air is bittersweet. Farewells begin. Last conversations are passionate pleas to capture frantic final minutes. Choices are final. Options are few. Time races. No second chances to catch folks as flight departures begin before the sun is above the horizon.
And yet, gems . . .
“What is Authenticity?
Is it the same when viewed with a student lens?
How do we know?”
L. 30 Prioritizing Student Voice: Honoring Independence, Identity, and Advocacy as the Cornerstones of Learning
And from the #G2Great family:
- Samuel Fremin @The Sammer88
- Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson @kkht6912
- Susie Rolander @suzrolander
- Justin Dolcimascolo @jdolci
- Kara Pranikoff @pranikoff
Sam Fremin began with asking us to not constrain student’s creativity! He told us the story of having a two page limit to an assignment that meant he had to cut almost everything out of his original seven page response.
What is the purpose of a two page maximum assignment?
What is your response to a “page limit”?
Is that indicative of the teacher’s attention span?
Sam contrasted that with this year’s AP Lang course where they were to “Write about something important to us” as they compared and analyzed two essays. As a 15 year old, Sam, who likes The Onion wanted to write a satire about “Discrimination not really being that bad” and through multiple conversations with his teacher, worked out the details and “used a display of writing that I will never get to write again. I displayed my need to try that voice.” And the teacher, even though she wanted a tight rein on the expectations, did participate in a two-sided discussion that allowed Sam to write his satire!
And then Sam’s role (as a high school junior) was to continue to introduce each of the panel members. Such poise and great presence for a high school junior and one of the #BowTieBoys! (Sam blogs here.)
We also learned that advocacy for Native Americans is important because Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson shared a US map with reservations marked although only 22% of Native Americans live on reservations. Kathryn teaches at an Ojibwe school so she is very cognizant of appropriate language and respect for cultures. Awareness may be a great first step but Kathryn also encouraged us to be aware that work barely scratches the surface of working with folks who have different beliefs and values. How do Ojibwe students want to be named? When do we ask?
Susie Rolander shared that we need to let student input drive our work. This means we need to revise and renew our professional practice. (A plug for Coppola’s book – Renew!) It’s a Journey! But for students who are struggling there does need to be a Sense of Urgency! And that this meant as an interventionist, Susie wanted her students to be independent. “I don’t know what I would do without you!” from a student was not what she wanted so one big action in her productivity plan was to move to student goal-setting so the students themselves would know if they were meeting their goals. Their goals. Not teacher goals.
Justin had us begin by completing this statement: “I am _____”
I am a:
Am I real? Do my students know my many roles? Do other staff know our roles? Justin shared a “I am” board created in his school.
Justin’s parting challenge was to consider equity and how we build our identity every day of our school lives so that we are not just working on career education in high school. Instead of “What do you want to be?” in terms of a career, Justin said we need to shift to “What great problem do you want to solve?”
Kara Pranikoff, author of Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation, closed out the presentation with thoughts on how to use talk in the classroom to increase student engagement and agency. And also, “Deep thinking takes time, we’ll wait. Take your time.” Students set the pace. As an instructor at Bank Street College, Kara and Susie routinely invite their students to Twitter chats!
M. 24 Rekindling Our Teacher Hearts and Minds to Reclaim Our Sense of Agency and Purpose
(Ellin Oliver Keene, Vicki Vinton, Donna Santman)
What is the purpose of education? Which of the four statements matches your thinking?
What do you value?
” We overestimate children academically and underestimate them intellectually.” ~Lillian King
Shout out to Regie Routman:
Resources will often dictate practices. (from Read, Write, Lead)
“However, we NEED to begin with Beliefs first, then our Practices, and then choose Resources that align LAST!”
Beliefs and Practices – Donna Santman @dsantman
What made your current school a match for you?
When Trouble Starts:
What do you do?
What flexibility will be required of me here?
And how will I respond when trouble happens?
Our core beliefs about children;
Our core beliefs about ourselves.
We are humbled in the face of children;
We are humbled by our children.
There has been a huge language slide in our country.
How do we convert deficit language to asset language?
Check out the asset mapping resources on Ellin Keene’s website Mosaicliteracy.com
N.O8 Redefining Authenticity: Empowering Student Ownership
(Do you know their Twitter names? @acorgill @katiedicesare @ruth_ayres @coloreader)
I was expecting to be blown away by Ruth Ayres because I can’t stop talking about her new book just out, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. It’s an amazing personal heart-wrenching narrative about her children who struggled with life and then also a “how to” deal with teaching writing. And yet all three of the other panel members complemented that presentation.
Skills and dispositions for writing are the same for real work. We have to get the heart right. Students need to write. Yes, kids are afraid! Writing is where I can help kids see the different ways a story can go.
If we have authentic writing projects, teachers cannot make all these decisions. Students need some choice and voice. This is NOT a free-for-all! You don’t have to leave ALL open! But you must leave SOME open!
How do you ensure that students have an authentic voice?
How do you know that students REALLY believe that they have a voice and some choice?
What did you learn on Sunday at #NCTE17?
Where do ideas for stories come from?
Some stories come from a picture that captures an idea.
Some stories come from an observation.
Some stories come from a conversation.
Some stories come from a thought or idea inside the brain.
Some stories come from a question.
I had the pleasure of hearing Kate Messner share with a panel on Friday where the idea for Over and Under the Snow came from . . .
tracks and then a hole in the snow
And then this book became a mentor text for additional texts.
About Over and Under link
Advice for writers from Kate Messner here
Where are your ideas coming from?
What are you paying attention to?
What are you wondering about?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Neil Gaiman on ideas here
Story Nuggets here
Wiki how here
Heart Maps by Georgia Heard here
And the answers were:
Bob Probst: “I would give students more access to models of student discourse so they can talk about the content.”
Lucy Calkins: “I would give teachers more time for professional conversations, to dive into problems of practice together as a community and share their discoveries.”
Kylene Beers: “I would double your pay and cut the number of students in your class in half.”
This last question posed by moderator Lester Laminack who was seated on stage with the panel was: “If you had a magic wand in public education today, what would you do with it?”
Was this the most memorable question of the day? Why begin here? Because Saturday was a ginormous day of learning at #NCTE17. My day was filled with nonstop sessions and meetings from 7:30 am until 10:05 pm. It was Saturday. I was in St. Louis. And let me repeat, “my day was filled with nonstop sessions and meetings from 7:30 am until 10:05 pm.” And it was Saturday. If you do the math, the answer is something like 14+ hours.
Details: The first meeting was a breakfast. The last gathering was dinner. 15 minutes in between sessions to race from one end of the convention center and settle in for 75 minute learning opportunities… On a Saturday!
What is personalized learning?
What is the role of technology?
My answer is #NCTE17. A conference that I choose to attend, at my own expense, in order to learn and grow professionally. A conference where I renew my professional “joie de vivre“. I chose my schedule (or does it chose me?). I make a plan or two. I continually check my list of “Must Learns“. Some items are topics. Some items are names. Names of people. Names of books. And the best intersection . . . authors of books from book chats or book studies. The books in my bag in my hotel room that I forgot to match up to my schedule to bring for autographs. Those authors. Those from whom I want to learn MORE!
Personalized = my choice. Technology = those I have met on Twitter, Voxer, and blogs (that I now meet face to face). A lasting marriage of Voice and Choice on Saturday for 14+ hours of learning! Learning on my own dime and time.
So what did I learn?
“We still need a balance of technology and print in our literacy lives. There is not yet a definitive answer on when and how much screen time is appropriate for effective learning. Think balance.” Colleen Cruz, TCRWP
Lucy Calkins: “Transference of phonics is the goal. We don’t need a professor of phonics.”
“Our new work is our best work. We are always striving to improve and outgrow ourselves as a community of learners.”
To learn more about Jacqueline Woodson, Saturday General Session, check out her website. Simply gorgeous keynote!
F.38 What Matters Most About Reading and Writing
(Lester Laminack, Kylene Beers, Robert Probst, and Lucy Calkins)
What I will hold onto:
Kylene shared that 80% of adults go to text in order to be right. So we need to teach HS kids that reading, entering a text, is an opportunity to change yourself.
Lucy Calkins – “Live as if one of the pillars of your thinking is dead wrong.” Go to sessions, work with folks because if we only read our books and stay in our bubble – we will not be surprised and will not outgrow ourselves.
Lester Laminack: Our children are 21st century citizens . . . ask Siri ‘Why do bees buzz?” (and he did on stage for all of us to listen to) How do we convince Ss to fall in love w/ books? That’s a question for your, dear reader!
Lucy: We can grow as writers if we write along side our students when they are writing. We don’t have to be writers before we begin teaching writing.
Kylene: Writing to tell or Writing to discover. We can’t and don’t write enough. We shouldn’t teach kids non-fiction means not fake which then turns to true…let’s teach them non-fiction means not fiction. Non-fiction can be fake, not because you don’t agree with it though.
G.04 How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More: Developing Agentive Readers
(Jan Burkins, JoAnne Duncan, Gravity Goldberg, and Renee Houser)
We read passages at 90% accuracy. They were tough to understand. Sometimes reading is tough. We need to acknowledge that. But we also need to make sure that students DO THE WORK! We need to set up those conditions of learning!
Haven’t read it? No excuse!
Gravity and Renee have this fiction and a nonfiction parallel book as well. Have you read them? Reflections on the books are included on a post here.
JoAnne shared the journey of a particular student in her building who learned to read and was then given books when she moved from the school. Powerful and tear jerking reminders that our relationships matter. We have to be a part of our students’ lives.
H.08 Harnessing the Power of Multicultural Literature and Critical Literacy to Generate Authentic and Enjoyable Writing Spaces That Bring Writers Back into the Workshop
(Brian Kissel, Kristina Kyle, and Lauren Rudd)
The two first grade international teachers shared the influences of their work:
- James Paul Gee
- Paulo Freire
- Vivian Maria Vasquez
Social action (for a Better World)
- Randy Bomer
- Katherine Bomer
- Stephanie Jones
And then Brian had us read and think alongside his reflections on his student work! For more information about Brian and his work, check out this post.
Thought to Ponder:
What would happen if you read every piece of student work just like you read every published book?
I.20 Recapturing Assessment: Student Voices in Aiding Our Mission
(Jason Augustowski, Dr. Mary Howard, Dr. Katie Dredger, Cindy Minnich, Sam Fremin, Ryan Hur, Joseph O’Such, Christian Sporre, Dawson Unger, Spencer Hill, Jack Michael, Ryan Beaver, Sean Pettit, and Kellen Pluntke)
Take aways from the #BowTieBoys:
- Students do not want multiple choice tests.
- Students do not want to regurgitate facts.
- Students do not want to write essays every time to show evidence of their learning.
- Students do not want to sit in rows of desks.
- Students do not want to listen to lectures.
- Students do not want a two page writing limit.
Students want choice.
Students want voice.
Students want opportunities to negotiate HOW to share their learning.
Students want to explore their own interest.
Students want to use technology.
Students want to learn even if that takes more work.
Students are less concerned about “fairness in grading” then they are about having choices in open-ended rubrics.
(edited) For additional details about the individual presentations from this round table see Mary C Howard’s Facebook post here.
J. 21. Beyond Levels: Choosing Texts to Scaffold Instruction for Engagement and Agency
(Clare Landrigan, Tammy Mulligan, Terry Thompson, and Dorothy Barnhouse)
It was such a pleasure to see the cover of Clare and Tammy’s new book and then to have Dorothy read Yo, Yes to us. We can find authentic ways to build in engagement and agency without “cute” worksheet pages! Tammy and Clare’s blog is here.
And of course, ending with the Slicer Dinner! 16 bloggers (weekly and each day in March) meet up for food, fun, continued learning, and conversation. (Again . . . Personalized Learning and Technology) Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!
What is your personalized learning plan?
Does technology play a part?
Are you ready to sign up for #NCTE18 in Houston?
Keynote: Jimmy Santiago Baca
Jimmy Santiago Baca’s said that reading and poetry saved his life in the NCTE opening keynote filled with his stories as well as a call to action for teachers: “If not teachers, who should be teaching our kids to take action!” He also shared a deep appreciation for teachers and the work they do. Jimmy told of teaching reading to kids even if it meant bringing in pizza to first meet their physical needs. He also spoke about the need to involve parents and communities in our work and that would mean meeting them where they are. . . not always waiting for them to come to a school event. You can learn more about him here.
A45. Conferring as a Path to Help Students Develop Voice and Agency: Today, Tomorrow and Forever
(Christina Nosek, Jennifer McDonough, Kristin Ackerman, Patricia Vitale-Reilly, Lisa Eickholdt, Kari Yates)
What a start to the conference. Some friends in real life, or from books, blogs or Twitter chats. These six each offered round table sessions where you could choose three 20 minute sessions. Here are a few of my key take aways.
Patricia Vitale-Reilly How to Make Conferences for those who struggle REAL!
R – Relevant
E – Engaging
A – Authentic
L – Lasting
Each part of the acronym was supported with items from her toolkit. (And a few were even marked up as figures from her books.) It was great to see her mentor texts and some examples of her student tools and checklists.
Kari Yates – Four Ways to Know and Nurture a Reader
These characteristics are NOT hierarchical but Book Choice can and will impact all the rest. In order to have confident and competent readers book choice will often be the first area for teachers to begin their conferring work. Kari shared some key questions that teachers would use to focus their conferring work.
Christina Nosek – The Language of Conferring
Enter as a gracious guest
Step it Up
Make it Stick
If you are following along on Twitter, you saw those five!
Christina’s videos of her conferring work with students from her fifth grade classroom illustrated each of the five points above. (Extra bonus: Watch for the book, currently in publication, from Christina and Kari that will be out in early 2018.)
B. 36 Reading as a Personal Art
(Anne Atwell Merkel, Nancie Atwell, Kelly Gallagher, Penny Kittle)
Seats were scarce on the first floor and both balconies of the Ferrara Theater as Anne Atwell Merkel began with some basic information about the status of readers, reading in schools, and a deep appreciation for her mother’s gift to their school. Passion and activism as themes continued in Nancie Atwell’s speech. “Activism is a teacher’s right and responsibility. What do you do and why?” Kids are readers when they leave her K-8 school but they come back to share that they don’t read in high school. why not? Because in high school reading is often still about whole class novels, usually chosen by a teacher, with packets and/or art work that is wasting students’ precious reading time. Blunt, practical, and yet Nancie continues to be an advocate for student choice and voice in order to have a reading life.
Check out this quote from Nancie Atwell:
“Inexperienced unenthusiastic readers NEED workshop, not strategy instruction or digital platforms. Give them time to read.”
And then Kelly and Penny stepped to the podium. The cover picture of their new book (February?) has been on Twitter this week, so it was no surprise to me that their duet was a perfect mixture of their classrooms and their thoughts as they easily highlighted their main points. Flipgrid videos literally showed us how they were working together as well as with a class of college students for two purposes: to build connections to help students be more successful in college and to challenge each other, respectively, to think deeper about the ELA work they are doing in their classrooms. Secondary folks, you will want this book just for their thoughts on HOW MANY whole class books, scheduling, and the amount of independent reading time that literally will help craft the citizens of tomorrow that we need today. (HINT: New book also coming soon!)
C.37 Learning Process and Craft Strategies from Authors
Jennifer Serravallo – Learning Process and Craft Strategies from Authors
A series of actionable steps
Break down the skill (How to show not tell)
Make the way I say it generalizable
Authentic – show what I do
Something to outgrow
How to develop writing strategies
- Spy on yourself.
- Notice what writers do in mentor texts
Kate Messner – 15 yrs. as a MS teacher before moving to full time authorship
Structure is Kate’s niche. She found a structure for Over and Under the Snow. Then she used that text as a mentor text to write more texts. I’m looking forward to the “document” format in Breakout.
Sarah Weeks – Beginnings
“That’s my favorite part of writing. Haven’t messed up anything yet!”
“Ideas come from unusual places.”
“Always have my eyes and ears open.”
“When working with young students and grad students, photo prompts let us see what happens. Start with talk— what do you notice?
“What are you thinking?”
“How does it make you feel?”
“Let your emotions come out your pencil – not your mouth!”
Kat Yeh – Find the Emotions
“When you write from an emotional truth, the fiction that you put around it becomes believable for the reader.”
“No matter how ridiculous something is . . . there’s a way to connect them so even in the not working, you will have something to add to your story.”
“Write without lifting pen from paper. . . .Start writing. Cannont stop and cannot lift your pen.”
“What are you feeling?”
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater @amylvpoemfarm
Amy shared that Poem Farm began as a poem for every day for a month and then expanded to a poem every day for a year. Since then she has gone on to catalogue the poems. Amy’s advice included:
“In order to write, do stuff in the 22 hours away from your desk. Not just watching shows but up and moving around.
Use photo prompts. Take pictures when you see something that strikes you.
Varian Johnson – Author of The Parker Inheritance
Look for inspiration in:
Other people’s work
Two examples of real life events were the: Uke Medical Varsity team – 1944 North Carolina College Eagles and a secret tennis game in 1957.
And is that was NOT enough, check out some of the books generated by this panel.
D.18 Choice Matters: Perspectives of Students and Teachers
(Lester Laminack, Jason Augustowski, Linda Rief and the #BowTieBoys: Ryan Beaver, Sam Fremin, Ben Hawkins, Ryan Hur, Joseph O’Such, Sean Petit, Kellen Pluntke, Jack Selman, and Dawson Unger.
If you haven’t seen the #BowTieBoys, then it has totally been your loss. In this panel session, Lester Laminack quizzed the two teachers and the gentlemen students. Ranging from eighth graders to juniors in high school, they were:
with thoughtful responses,
provided suggestions and solutions to add MORE choice the day!
E.12 The Secret of Crafting Engaging Nonfiction
(Alyson Beecher, Candace Fleming, Deborah Heligman, Melissa Stewart)
With 190 published books to her credit, Melissa Stewart drew my attention in this session. Some gems that I gathered:
“Concept books: what is the Concept? What is the connection for students? What is my emotional commitment in order to work on this book? (Hear the backstory for Can an Aardvaark Bark?)”
“Where do my ideas come from: What I see, What I hear, and What I experience. How do we “teach” this to students?”
“If you write broadly, you are not going to get good research.”
“”Research is like a treasure hunt. Research is fun. What interesting facts can you find? How can you find a community person to interview?”
“Have students use sources they can’t copy during research like watching a webcam video of animals.”
Did you have a great learning day Friday at #NCTE17?
What else did you learn?
A new day. Typical. Some leaving home. Some already arriving at their destination. Snow on the mountain pass. Video from walking through the rainforest. And the ubiquitous, “Are we there yet?” Pictures of the first two arrivals at the airport: Kathryn arriving from MN and Justin from PA. They trickle in. The #G2Great Cousins are arriving from literally across the nation and within 24 hours all attendees will be present.
And then the Gala Event . . .
#NCTE17 began with celebrations divided by grade levels: elementary, middle, and secondary. The Elementary session recognized many attendees for their current work as well as their past work. First time attendees were equally applauded for their presence. The stars were aligned. Ones that I saw and or spoke to included:
Katie Ray Wood
Mary Lee Hahn
Literacy Rock Stars!
The big, big crowd was there to honor and salute the work of Katherine and Randy Bomer, who in their own inimitable style rallied us to action after Kathy Collins’ hilarious introduction of the honorees because she has known and worked with them for year. An interesting factoid is that their November interview is the most retweeted NCTE article. (link)
Critique and resistance are necessary.
What are our values in teaching? How do we translate those into practice?
In a time of resistance, what are we ADVANCING into the world?
Katherine encouraged us to:
- Meet every child with an air of expectancy: open heart, open mind with respect. Awe, wonder, and love. (Maxine Green – TC – “Humans are never done becoming.)
- Delight in students’ voices: “Does it bring joy?” “Student writing is the place where I know I am doing something meaningful.” “Best place to fall in love with student writing is in the notes you find in your room.“ From her mentors: Lucy Calkins, “Children can write, children have stories, and children can write with laser like vision”; and Donald Graves “Children will write if we let them.”
Randy shared that it’s not enough to resist. It has to be part of an action. He proposed that we advance justice and respect.
- Advancing Justice – Critical Lenses – Writing for Change
“Doing critical work is how we continually check the differences among people. How we restratify our relationships. Big concepts are: Groups, Power, and Relationships. Where do we find these in stories?” Student voice, agency, and thinking about hard things in the social world. . . Advancing more critical perspective. Reading our shared lives to see when we see something that someone should do something about – our actions, habits, and lenses.
- Advancing Respect – Appreciative Stance – Critique of Deficit Stance
“Listen to a reader to understand them. Readers come with enough.”
“No deficit perspectives.This has fueled me.” Hold up a mirror to check for an appreciative stance. Call people’s attention to injustices. DO something about them! Polarization that may have begun on internet but have moved to the street. Continue to resist injustice. “White folks are obliged to do that!”
You can hear more from both Katherine and Randy at 9:30 Friday, today, at NCTE. Or check out #NCTE17. Follow the hashtag through Sunday for the best and most important happenings from St. Louis, Missouri.
Final thought I tweeted out before we left the convention center:
“Do we tell teachers? . . .
You are enough!
You don’t need a basal.
You don’t need Pinterest.
You don’t need TpT.
You are enough.
Make decisions for the students in front of you!”
And with that the #G2Great celebration began . . .
Rumor has it that the Friday evening #G2Great meet up will include ukeleles.
How do you celebrate students?
How do you celebrate your own learning?
Who are your ELA heroes?