Category Archives: Reading

#SOL19: #OLW Celebrate


My One Little Word (#OLW) was out in force this holiday weekend.

Celebrate

So many choices . . .  It was a family weekend . . .

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Relatives  and a funeral

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Saturday Wedding

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The beginning of the NCAA football season . . .

Sunday AMarekN Family

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Monday Labor Day Dinner and 15 Mareks/Ruths

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A blog post for Literacy Lenses:  All Learning is Social and Emotional:  Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom and Beyond.  (link)

It began with a text!

“Good morning, Fran. Just realized you’re in the great state of Iowa and so am I this weekend!  My brother lives in Kalona.  How far am I from you?”

The irony.

And so noteworthy!

On Saturday we were playing cards at my aunt Janie’s in Kalona which is about 100 miles from my home.  I was there in Kalona the day before.  Kalona, a town in the northwest part of the county where I grew up.

It was an irresistible invitation. We solved the problems of the world, literacy, schools, and the state of education on Sunday when I met up with Dayna Wells, from California, that I met in real life in New York City at a TCRWP Saturday reunion over four and a half years ago (Link). A reader. A writer.  A blogger.  A Slicer. A TCRWP learner!

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How did you celebrate Labor Day weekend 2019?

What were your choices?  




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: “Testing, 1, 2, 3”


Which season of the year is it?

Do I hear the echo of “Testing 1, 2, 3” as a microphone check from the press box before the announcer begins pre-game festivities?  Or do I hear “Testing 1, 2, 3” as a part of Test Prep?

As an elementary student, I loved multiple choice assessments.  Yes, those ovals were sometimes a challenge.  Filling them in neatly.  Not over-coloring.  Staying inside the lines.

On testing days my bifocals would get a work out because I would literally almost put my nose on the passages as I absorbed the stories.. I put my heart and body into those tests and I loved getting the scores back because I would be praised for my work.

Because I scored well.  I was typically able to make good guesses when I narrowed down the choices.  Because I read quickly, I always had enough time to double check the passage to verify my answers. I agonized over my  answers and spent time trying to do my very best work.

When tests are used to SORT students, it’s really hard to figure out if groups of students are actually progressing.  And labels don’t help.

Case in point:  NAEP Scores

Let’s look at a few characteristics of the NAEP test that is used as the “Nation’s Report Card”.

PERFORMANCE LABELS:

Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, or Advanced.

But what does this label tell me? Here is what “Basic” looks like for 4th Grade:

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Many of the tasks listed in CCSS RL4.1-3 and RI.4.1-3 are included in “Basic” level.  The NAEP page even contains a caution: “It should be noted that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments).”        -Source

Why then does everyone think that “Proficient” is the goal?

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So “below basic” still means a student can “demonstrate a literal understanding of what they read, understand a main idea from expository text, or follow a simple plot. “Below Basic” does not mean that the students cannot read.  And that is worth repeating.

“Below Basic” does not mean that the students cannot read. 

I’m not saying that high expectations and goals are not a part of our targets.  But what I am asking you to do is think about the criteria, who sets it, and what they have to gain by reporting that “education is failing” as the press seems to quite often do.

Let’s take a bit of time to explore NAEP assessments.

QUESTIONS:

Each test item in reading is labeled as one of these three:

  •  locate/recall,
  • integrate/interpret, or
  • critique/evaluate.

And the NAEP website shows this:

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So by percentage distribution (and for the sake of a conversation with 10 questions as an example):

2 out of 10 are locate/recall

6 out of 10 are integrate/interpret and

2 out of 10 are critique/evaluate

So what does this look like?  Are they all multiple choice (multiple guess) questions?   Here’s a released sample from 2017 for fourth grade.   You can check out additional samples or grade levels.

As you check out the sample, think about the skills and strategies that you, a proficient reader, use when you are reading.

Here are a few I thought of:

  • preview the questions before beginning
  • reread when stuck
  • be sure to check out headings
  • what do I need to remember about folk tales?
  • wonder the impact of character’s names
  • ask questions:  What exactly is a “merchant”?
  • reread to eliminate mc answers
  • reread to affirm possible multiple choice answers
  • reread to check your spelling for a constructed response

What is the ratio of the work that you ask students to do in your classroom on a daily basis?  Is it

  • 2 out of 10 are locate/recall
  • 6 out of 10 are integrate/interpret and
  • 2 out of 10 are critique/evaluate?

CONTENT:

How much does the content of the assessment matter?  How would you explain this to your students?  Your fellow teachers?  Your community?  How are you thinking you would fare on this assessment?

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And of course, the assessment is timed.  Readers have 30 minutes to read one story and respond to 10 questions.  They can reread.

But they seldom do.

They can reread, but they seldom do.

What is the thinking that students need to be able to do to be successful on this test? 

What is the thinking that students need to do to be successful in life?




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#TCRWP 19: Conferring, Small Group and Transfer


It was a typical ending to the Reading Institute.  Filled with knowledge, new thinking, ideas from thought partners and then. . . WHAM! Unavoidable delays at the airport.

Choosing to harness the gift of time was difficult.  I wanted to complain so I did but I also wanted to take a look back at this week, a  typical week at #TCRWP where as a learner I was drinking from the fountain of knowledge at the same rate and intensity as the water erupting from a fire hydrant!

What was I working on? 

How did it go?

I’m still thinking of the three levels of transfer from Alexis Czeterko’s choice workshop, “Teaching for Transfer:  Remember What You Learn is for Life!  Supporting Transfer of High Level Skills across the Year and across Disciplines” and how these also REALLY apply to life.

The three levels were:

  1. Across Units
  2. Across the year/years
  3. Across Disciplines

How does that work in real life?  I’m still thinking on that answer, but I did have some “aha’s” as I thought about my learning during this week.

We were challenged to think of a way to share our learning in our advanced section, “The Intersection of Conferring and Small Group Instruction (3-8),” with Hannah Kolbo.  And as I struggled with a way to collect, organize and synthesize my learning across the ten hours this week, I abandoned idea after idea.  (Yes, many solely because I knew of no way to capture them on paper!)

This is my first draft attempt. I had to make conscious decisions about some things that just didn’t fit into this draft.  I was wishing for a flap to hide them under.  Or a second layer or even third layer. Or a way to visually construct something with moving parts. But it is what it is. A draft with room to revise, rethink, and perhaps to reimagine.

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Many of the big ideas are included.

One area where I continue to grow and learn is in the broadening of my definition of texts.  After all,  life isn’t really ONLY about texts and print or digital resources.  There were so many examples of “reading” at the airport that didn’t involve words. So many nuances. So many choices.

So many pieces to pull together and weave into the fabric and soul of my own literacy life as well as my learning life during the days, weeks, and months yet to come.

What did you learn this week? 

How will you hold onto your learning?

 

#TCRWP: Art and Science


Hall of Famer Dr. Tim Rasinski literally knocked it out of the park in Cowin Auditorium with his keynote, “Let’s Get back to the ART and Science of Teaching Reading!” We began with songs because songs after all are fun, aesthetic, and cultural.  But most importantly, it’s also READING!

We learned about Irving Berlin and the backstory for “God Bless America” first performed on Armistice Day by Kate Smith, the “Lady Gaga of the day”.

Song wasn’t the only art that Dr. Rasinski shared.  He used ART to illustrate the fact that the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is “CREATE” and that art is a pathway to creation for students and teachers.  Quotes and stories included:  Elliot Eisner, Steve Jobs, Alfred Einstein, Dalai Lama, and Nell Duke.

Tim Rasinski cited research and you can find it on his blog here that supports school work that he outlined where one component includes students learning poems every day. Poetry, another art, to be added back into teaching!

Of course we saw and participated in word ladders. Here is the Shark Week word ladder that Tim referenced in his keynote presentation.

Teachers can teach all of the “Big Five” from the National Reading Panel “Artfully”:  phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension through songs, poems, nursery rhymes, and performances. Student written scripts from existing stories were an extra plus for comprehension and that reading-writing connection!

His most recent work (co-written with 5th grade teacher Melissa Cheesman Smith) is The Megabook of Fluency, winner of the 2019 Teacher’s Choice Award.

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More about this text from Literacy Lenses here

A keynote that literally flew by with learning, fun and joy encapsulated in Dr. Rasinski’s 50 minute presentation!

Where might you add “ART” into your day?  What would be your goal? 

What have you added to your thinking about the art of teaching?

What were your takeaways from the keynote?

#TCRWP Reading Day 3


Reading habits for students and teachers are a skillfully woven thread to this week and from Day 3 this post could be about how Read Alouds, small group work and coaching intersect and complement each other.  But I am going to back up a step and share with your some of the learning that was emphasized yesterday about book selection by Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul in her choice workshop “All Diverse Books are NOT Created Equal:  A Toolkit of Critical Lenses for Teachers to Diversify Your Classroom Library.’

You may know Sonja from any of these works:

If you follow #G2Great you know that she was the guest on last week’s chat so I was delighted to see and hear her in person (although the topic was just a piece of this new book with Dana).

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Interactive?  Check

Read Aloud? Check

Informative? Check

WHY?

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop and the need for “Windows”, “Mirrors” and “Sliding Doors” were part of the why so students can see themselves and the value of their own lives in books. (More about Dr. Bishop here.) Sonja shared that her parents are happily married and her brother is gainfully employed which are two characteristics of stories NOT found in many current stories. Too many stories perpetuate false narratives.

Is the situation improving?

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You be the judge.

What are the 4 lenses?

Lenses:

  1. Representation
  2. Context
  3. Content
  4. Authorship

We physically looked at and read books from these collections as we learned about the four lenses and Sonja shared how even the books in her own classroom library had gaps when she applied those four lenses in her own audit and literally spread the books out on the floor.

The hard part of this is it will take time and work to diversify your classroom library.  Don’t make assumptions that it already is diversified.  Don’t just check off the four lenses.  Think about your students, their families and the community as you work to fill your classroom with books that represent your students and their lives!

When you think of your classroom library what books do you see?  What books do you not see? 

When you think of your Read Alouds what books do you read?  What books do you not read? 

How will you tackle both the “quality” and quantity of diversifying books in your classroom library?

 




Additional Resources:

Classroom Libraries

diversebooks.org

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

#OwnBooks

#disrupttexts

#31DAYSIBPOC

#SOL19: A Mystery


My favorite series as an early reader was Nancy Drew.  Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock was the first one.

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I didn’t really understand college, the job of a defense attorney, nor a housekeeper but I devoured them all.  I did understand that there was a mystery for Nancy to solve and that she always ended up in more trouble before she actually solved the mystery named in the title. I was simultaneously working my way through the Hardy Boys and was even more clueless about what a “roadster” was other than what I saw in the picture as those didn’t exist in my world.

Courtesy of the Elementary Book Love Summer Book Club, I am rereading The Parker Inheritance.  It’s a mystery, a puzzle, and definitely historical fiction.  I’ve been fascinated by the time periods because they are similar to my life.

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There are two different sets of characters.  In the present we have:

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In the 1950’s we have:

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How will it turn out? Will Candace and Brandon solve the mystery?

Who is James Parker?  What happened to the Washingtons? 

What will happen to Candace’s family?  And what about Brandon’s future?

. . .  more sketching ideas to come.  This is totally a work in progress. The book study began Monday, July 1.  Join  summerbookclub.org and help put libraries in classrooms as well as discuss some great books!




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: Celebrate Learning


Summertime . . .

Summertime . . .

Summertime . . .

Where and how will you be learning?

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In person?  Face to Face? 

The lineup includes: Jeff Anderson, Mary Howard, Maria Walther . . . Rockstars All!

Online Book Study?

Summer Book Love – Elementary and Secondary (FB Live with Cornelius Minor today from Boothbay!)  Supporting Teachers and Classroom Libraries! Register at Summerbookclub.org

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This is the lineup of authors already scheduled by Clare Landrigan for FB live sessions! (plus some surprises as well)

Literacy Essentials – Stenhouse Publishers on Facebook now

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Regie Routman:  Engagement, Excellence and Equity!

These 6 Things – Twitter Slow chat – check out the #These6Things hashtag

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Dave Stuart’s book is a must read for simplifying your teaching life!

Welcome to Writing Workshop – #cyberPD

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What a great way to revisit the basic components of Writing Workshop with Stacey and Lynne!

Reading to Make a Difference  – July book study on Facebook

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Lester Laminack and Katie Kelly . . .

Professional books abound.  These are some of my re-reads!

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And currently reading . . .

What will you be reading? What will you be learning?




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: What Counts?


What do I read?

Mail, Blogs, Tweets, Chapters . . . and Books

I have always envied those who kept a list and reported out like Regie Routman here, here and here. Currently many are reporting out #BookADay now on Twitter or Facebook. For more information about #BookADay created by Jillian Heise in 2014 go here.

So during the winter break I decided one goal of mine was going to be to “celebrate” my reading in 2019.  And of course that would mean that I had to keep track of it somehow. So being ever mindful of this quote, I’m tracking my reading. (Note the key word: I)

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William Bruce Cameron

 

We aren’t quite to the midpoint of the year, but here is what my reading life looks like through most of May  . . .

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Search for a “balance” with NF labels a la Melissa Stewart

I’ve written about reading goals before here, but I found that round chart didn’t have enough spaces for my book count.  Holding on to one single list has not been helpful. I create stacks of the “done” books and record them every two, or three or four weeks. Based on my records thus far for 2019, I believe that I can confirm that I am a voracious reader.  But are there other ways to display the data as I think of students who want to make sense of their own reading lives.

So again this week, I saw a tweet that caught my eye about reading circle graphs and I replied. And then the learning began when Steve Peterson (@Steve1Peterson) replied with the fact that Excel and Google Sheets could make radar graphs.

And the same data above looks like this.  Fiction = 72, Nonfiction  = 52, Professional  = 50.

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This graph is quite interesting.  Having all professional books in one category quickly made it into an outlier in this format.  Five of the 10 remaining categories were in the 20-ish category with four in the single digits and only one category reporting a zero. (Radar chart)

No external pressure other than the public announcement.

No public accountability required.

No summative assessment.

Just recording a snippet from my life . . .

I am Wondering . . .

Is my reading varied enough?  

Varied enough? The good news is that I still have time to have a mid-course correction.  I will purposefully pick up some titles for those four single digit categories.  (And I am already plotting to combine some so that I will have fewer gaps – Yes, manipulating the categories.)

What does not show in this data?

What does concern me is that the data does not show my growth.  This year I have made a conscious effort to read more graphic novels, cartoons, and even narrative prose. Those books are represented in the totals for F and narrative NF but not as separate categories because they are not separate genres.   

What else?

The data also doesn’t share my frustration that tracking my books read over a year is cumbersome.  It’s easy to make a “pile” when reading at home.  But when I’m not there where and when do I record the data?  Do I really only have one list?  NOPE!  I have some post-its with some scribbles, some lists in my Kindle app, and who knows what else!

The lesson here was to give myself grace. My list does NOT have to be perfect.  The data is for me. It’s not a “controlled study” so error is fine.

So my final advice to myself . . .

Take a breath.

Take another breath.

LET IT GO!

NEXT!

Where, why, and when might giving yourself “grace” free up positive energy? 

When could you TRY something without trying it “forever”( so you have room to modify to match the needs)? 

When will you commit to JUST being the best that you can




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: Really?


I blew it! What was I thinking?

Twitter Chats are easy. A few questions. A few responses. Let’s talk. And then taking my turn on writing a summative blog post.  Predictable patterns.

Book clubs . . . What’s the format?  What’s the end goal?  What’s my role?  More questions than answers. And each club . . . renegotiating the roles and the expectations.

Check. Deadlines met.

Check. Responses entered.

Check. Make no waves. Agree with the participants

Check. Check. Check.

I was focused on the product and got lost in FEAR!

I was worried if it was good enough and was frozen in time!

I rushed to task completing and forgot it was about the thinking!

This was the format for my early book club participation and it has followed me around worse than the groundhog’s shadow ever since.  Book clubs were a place of similar thinking; thinking outside the box resulted in social ostracism.

I went underground as a reader as I have had a LOVE/HATE relationship with book clubs.  Some have been fun. Some have been tedious. All have provided learning. But what was that learning?

I love talking about books. Mary Howard and I talk about a tweet, a blog post, or a book on a regular basis.  Her reading is also voracious! At CCIRA, Regie Routman handed me a book, I thumbed through it, and I had to order it. Penny Kittle told me about a book and I forwarded the title also to my sister and a niece.  I hadn’t even left Maria Walther’s session and I was forwarding the book list. Reading and talking about books is fun!

And then last night I watched this video of Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher. You can watch it too if you are a member of the Summer Book Love Club 2019.  What do you notice?  What would you name as the key points of the video?

Link

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A photo clipped from the video

And because the link does NOT work if you are NOT a member, here are the TOP 10 REASONS you should join Summer Book Love 19 from the Nerdy Book Club here.

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Elementary Book Club Books July 2019

Here’s what Penny said about the FB Live session:

“From Concord, CA… I’m here with Kelly Gallagher, my co-author and friend, to talk about the importance of book clubs in his professional life.”

The importance of book clubs in his professional life.

The sheer joy.

The number of books he has read as a part of a book club.

The fact that he, a good reader, learns something from every book club meeting and that they celebrate the different ideas everyone brings to the book club.

Somewhere

Somehow

Sometime

I lost the sheer joy of talking about books in a book club.

The book club became about the process of my notes, my annotations or my writing about reading.

The book club became more about compliance than learning!

I became that “kid” who completed the work but maybe didn’t invest very much of myself.

It’s book club season. I will be in several this summer. I will be watching my own learning.  And just as I detailed the process for “Professional Learning” in the last 5 posts about Repeated Reading, so will I also monitor my own learning, processes and products.  I think it will be critical to be brutally honest with myself.

And I can do that personally with a process that is also set up for bigger systems work.

How will I find the gold and the JOY in book clubs?



What is the process for professional learning?

  1. Set a Goal – Participate productively in book clubs
  2. Selection of Content which includes Checking the Research – Talk about the books
  3. Design a Process for Professional Development/Learning – Check the schedule and allow plenty of time. Refusing to allow lack of time to be an excuse.
  4. Teaching / Learning Opportunities – Checking in. What do teachers need to learn?           How will they learn it?  How can we set some measurable targets? – Pay attention to my “joy” meter.  When does it stop being fun?
  5. Collaboration / Implementation  Reading and Participating
  6. Ongoing Data Collection including Listen to the Students – Consider my responses to students with actions similar to mine
  7. Program Evaluation – Going back to the teacher data: Has there been growth? How do we know? Plan ahead – what will I do if  when I get stuck?
  8. Collecting / Analyzing Student Data – Is the gap closing? Are students growing          more capable?  Are students more independent?  Balancing “habits” of reading, attitudes, processes and products
  9. (WHY would I use a different process?)


I will be a part of at least three book clubs this summer and as the summer wanes, I will let you know if I was successful and how and when I will be celebrating the continuous JOY in reading and talking about books!

What is your experience with book clubs? 

What motivates you to continue to learn and grow as a reader? 

What learning targets would you consider?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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Coming Soon

Repeated Reading: Part 4


Is my teaching working?

What about fidelity to the instructional model?

Those are tricky questions to answer because there are so many variables in any equation seeking to measure instruction. Process. Product. Growth. Learning. Knowledge. Evidence. The list continues and grows quickly when adding in all forms of literacy!

What might a path to studying implementation look like?

10 years ago, I might have believed that implementation study began with an initial study of the frequency of teaching moves and then moved on to consideration of the results as one part in an intermediate study of implementation.  We counted. We checked. We logged and logged and logged. That was the type of process we were using  in our state. In the case of repeated reading, it might have looked something like this.

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We would have collected the data from self-reporting, from classroom observations, leadership team observations, and from principal walk throughs to confirm this before we moved to another level of implementation.  We would have been monitoring student growth, but it wouldn’t have been a major focus YET!

Instead today, I would probably ask teachers to begin first with a self- rating, similar to this one, to determine the teacher’s perception of both their understanding and their role in instruction.

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This study of teacher’s perception of their instruction would be one way of considering some starting points and setting personal goals for teachers for future professional learning.  Some work needs to be done collaboratively across a grade level, some needs to be done vertically in order to strengthen the connections and expectations for students, while some needs to be done in smaller groups, with a partner or individually.  Just as we consider how time is spent for students, so must we be thoughtful about how we organize teacher learning time as well. These three structures could drive purposeful study!

The key to moving through the levels on this second data collection tool is that it is student-centered and allows for data collection around what students are doing as a result of instruction AND in response to instruction. It’s quite simply better aligned to instruction than a single summative assessment that results in a number.  Instead it includes the actions and habits that increase student learning.

The second tool is also “less rigid” about a lock step set of directions “1- 5 Do This” in spite of or without any regard for the students in front of the teacher. Or without any differentiation for the student who is “almost at the target” in comparison to the student who is just learning the skill.”

What professional learning would be your focus? 

What do you use as “targets” for professional learning? 

Who sets the goals? 

How do you know when the students are learning?




Big picture:  Research + Purposeful Instruction + Students’ Deep Learning + Professional Learning = Student Success

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