Two Saturday sessions have left me with a lot of thinking points. Thinking, processing, writing, and thinking some more. Here’s the first one!
|Capacity – Based Writing: Instruction Empowers Students – Deconstructing the Struggling Writer Label while Championing Inclusive Practices
Presenters: Kass Minor, Colleen Cruz, and Cornelius Minor
Not one to leave seating to chance, I had a two-pronged plan. A) I asked a friend to save seats and B) I mapped out the plan to access the room and literally ran to the session. So three of us had front row seats. It was packed. People on the aisles. People on the sides. People on the floor. Everywhere.
And then the audience. Carl Anderson in row two. Kelly Gallagher in row two. Dorothy Barnhouse on the floor. Katie Wood Ray in the back. And a whole room full of people I didn’t even see!
What’s in a label?
Kass had us thinking about language right off the bat. If we begin with describing our own behaviors, needs and characteristics, what’s the range of descriptors that we use? She modelled some and then put us to work with a partner doing the same work. Pay attention to the language you use. Too often schools (and the people inside the school) see what the person cannot do. This pushes a student to one extreme or the other. Then we have to spend time repairing those ideas. If we are aware of our language, we can be less dehumanizing.
|Positive Descriptor||Behaviors, Needs and Characteristics||Negative Descriptors|
|Can tap out multiple recognizable cadences – beyond beginning drummer!||Fidgets – finger tapping||ADHD – Disturbs others, Noisy|
How do we make sure that students can and are accessing the core curriculum?
Colleen batted this section literally out of the ball park. Her knowledge of kids, instruction, and the law make her a powerful connection for helping students who are experiencing difficulty in writing.
Disabled? People still don’t talk about it. Both of her last books have some sections on access: The Unstoppable Writing Teacher and Writers Read Better. Colleen began by reminding us that, “Where you are positioned is affected by your ability. It changes from place to place. Kids are only special education students at school. We are the power brokers for our kids. Not coming up with nicer synonyms for a label. Being authentic. Removing instructional obstacles.
“Do students need to sit still for writing?
Do students have to use a pencil?
Do students have to write quietly?”
These were just a few of the questions that Colleen posed. And quickly answered with my favorite, “Burn the pencils for students who are struggling with them!”
And what about the student who is using a wobble chair with a chromebook that has Dragon that does not understand his/her speech?
“Where did you do the most work?
What part do you like?
What are you working on in your writing?
Who is your audience?
What kind of writer are you?” ( with a response in a letter format)
Amplifying students’ strengths and approximations – and complying with ESSA – help students be more successful. They sit a bit taller when we call them “authors” and “writers”. What language and actions set students up for success? What language and actions set students up to advocate for themselves?
Supporting claims with well-reasoned writing
Cornelius put us to work instantly with a 30 second search on our phones for a photo to talk about. We had an oral rehearsal with our partners to tell the story of a picture. And then we practiced messing around with claims, first to support a claim of his: A – protagonist is super resilient or B – protagonist is super clumsy and silly. We examined a video text for evidence, watched the video clip twice and then stated our claim and evidence to our partner.
What did this feel like/ look like?
Quite comfortable. Skill isolation. Just like in sports. Beginning with the skill in isolation before chaining any other actions. Building the context.
Beginning with popular media, a video clip and then talking with friends. Then moving to a different text. Could be a poem. Could be a short story.
Cornelius labelled this: Standards Bearing Writing – meeting you where you are.
No annotation. Beginning with viewing and talking. Beginning where all students can experience success.
Then planning instruction based on students readiness for the next step and then the next. This does not have to consume tons of time. We practiced two different arguments in less than 10 minutes.
Talk. A plan. Setting the stage. Building context. Legitimatizing “effort” with many possible answers.
“I teach people – not a curriculum.
Love in a classroom is attention to people.
The first attempt is messy. Handwriting is not a concern.
Spelling is not a concern. Writing is a process.” Cornelius Minor, NCTE18, 11/18/18.
Improvement begins with US!
How are you improving your language?
How are you providing real choices so students will be successful?
How are you beginning your instruction so that kids are first successful, with a lot of talk, on the initial isolated skills?
How are you building your own capacity?
Colleen: @colleen_cruz and colleencruz.com
Kassandra Minor @MsMinor1 kassandcorn.com
Cornelius Minor @MisterMinor
The magical learning continues at #NCTE18 and a theme that emerged on Saturday:
Slow down . . .
Yes, there is a sense of urgency.
Make every minute count.
BUT stop counting every minute.
Look into the eyes, heart and soul of every student.
The day flew by and again there were folks that I never saw. Decisions about sessions were incredibly hard to make.
The #BowTieBoys, Jason Augustowski and Dr. Mary Howard
It is all about the heart. And paying attention to the students. Listening. And learning WITH them. This quote from Jason is a great snippet for teachers to consider.
Roundtable sessions planned and executed by the students. Simply amazing.
Showing not just telling
Students from middle school through high school.
Not to be missed!
Responsive Teaching: The Courage to Follow the Lead of the Reader
The respect, love and joy of this panel made my day! Students at the heart of our work.
A perfect merger. And such important work!
“Think about a teacher who loved you into being. Responsiveness begins with heart . . .”
Don’t rush to “check it off”. Skill and expertise has to come behind. Don’t land on the side of “judgment”. “What’s going on?” “Wonder.” And then the learning that comes from the four quadrants.
“Step back so your students can step forward.” Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris
Tom Newkirk has been a favorite of mine from my first #NCTE conference when he bemoaned that “the hamburger graphic organizer is not only an insult to a paragraph, but is also such an insult to a hamburger”.
4 Battles Literacy Educators have to Fight
- Economy – Curriculum as Hoarding (add, add , add & nothing is deleted)
- Louise Rosenblatt – Model of Reading – Literacy as Transaction
- The battle for writing. Writing should not be colonized by reading.Literary analysis 795,000 fanfiction pieces about Harry Potter
- Battle for choice- Carnegie – “public library” Teachers will need to make it free!
Questions to Ask when you Write
When Phonics is the Foundation – in a Curriculum of Authentic, Deep Literacy
Lucy Calkins, Rachel Rothman-Perkins and Rebecca Cronin
“To teach well is to rally your people with heart and soul to learn with courage and enthusiasm. Fear: Is this curriculum going to cover everything? Mastery? Proven? Everything? Fear-driven anxious place is far too common with NO place in child’s emergent literacy. Voice is the single quality that matters most. Voice matters for teaching, and learning (as well as writing). To teach phonics well, imagine yourself at kitchen table talking to someone right there with you. Teaching phonics is leading and teaching. “
“That sense of connectedness matters tremendously. Connecting matters. Connecting to reading and writing. TRANSFER – only reason to teach phonics for reading and writing. TEACHING kids identity. Language is a joyful world!”
And because this is not an “All About” post since I promised “snippets” I will write later about the fabulous session from Colleen Cruz, Kassandra Minor, and Cornelius Minor.
Saturday’s alright for learning . . .
Terribly pun-nish, but that’s what happens when you have to create your own atmosphere! Because you aren’t there learning with thousands of friends!
I literally mined my #tcrwp column on Tweetdeck for some key takeaways for myself! Thanks to all who tweeted and generously shared their learning from #TCRWP.
Tied for # 2
What was on your Saturday learning agenda?
What gems did you discover?
Still not out of my system, but moving on!
A search of my own blog posts showed that I attended the 88th, 89th, and 90th in a row.
Fall Saturdays are so problematic with so many events.
Last week’s issues with Hurricane Michael and flights was an unexpected glitch.
Whether it’s your first or too many to count . . .
Find the fun!
Find something new!
Don’t just stick
With the tried and true!
Find an online friend
Say hello face to face
Say hello to strangers
Make new friends as you race
From session to session
Learning at a speed of light pace.
Does it better.
And a link.
Units of Study
and new best friends Rashid and Mabel.
TCRWP Staff Developers
Teachers, Administrators, and Authors
by the droves . . .
Enjoy! Learn! Enjoy! Laugh! Enjoy! Make New Friends!
After a quick search, I found that last year’s check-in on my One Little Word (#OLW) was mid-July so I’m pretty much on target again. July. Summer. Heat. A time to reflect.
Where has “curious” taken me this year?
Curious and Learning
Iowa Reading Association and
Front row learner
#BookLove, #CyberPD, and more
Curious and Joyful
Near and Far
And special serenades
Curious and Fun
Ladies Football Academy
With my sister
And finding cousins along the way
Reading, Writing, and Blogging
Curious and Books
A Novel Approach
It’s All About the Books
To Know and Nurture a Reader
Kids 1st From Day One
Being the Change
Megabook of Fluency
Reclaiming the Principalship
What are you curious about?
How is your #OLW?
Have you checked in lately?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Coffee deliveries may be the highlight of your day. Sharing the love, being responsible for alternating days, vulnerability in early morning hours . . . exquisite moments in time!
Life in the dorm!
The Big Ideas of Teaching Spelling and Grammar are so important.
- What is the purpose? Purpose vs. rule
- Time for practice
- Having a focus or goal
- Differentiation that works
- Bite-sized pieces
- Consider reading level
- Provide opportunities for transfer
And then we dug into the actual lessons to find where they occur. How can you, the teacher, make them more explicit? Notice them during a Read Aloud or use them in Interactive Writing before that lesson so the students have the language in their repertoire!
Tears of laughter and joy from Colleen Cruz’s closing. But this I will remember.
Use the resources in the Units of Study. Here’s the “problem“.
Here’s the solution.
Build your community. Follow #TCRWP on Twitter and on Facebook. Find your “family reunion” at TCRWP (nothing like being called out by Lucy Calkins in her speech at the closing). There is no better support in the world than in the #TCRWP community whether you leave your red knapsack in the subway, have questions, or are “going it alone” in your district. Reach out. There will be support!
What great learning!
What great adventures?
How will you continue your summer learning?
Fantastic Four Fireballs
Fantastic learning continues and today’s countdown of learning is from Thursday at the June TCRWP Writing Institute.
From Simone Fraser’s session, there are at least three different ways to teach grammar.
- Interludes and Extravaganzas
As teachers, we need to reflect:
Who is doing the work?
Who is doing the most talking?
Do we always use the same group size? Or do we vary whole group, small group, partners, 1:1?
Do students really have enough “work” to really understand?
When do students become more independent?
Which method leads to the best transfer?
If you are only using one method, which one would you add to your repertoire?
From Marie Mounteer and our Interactive Writing session,
When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.
When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.
When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.
The WHY? is critical.
Marjorie Martinelli’s message in her choice session was exactly what I needed to hear. When we consider any practices in our writing workshop, we need to consider these three lenses:
We were looking specifically at writing centers, routines and rituals, and anchor charts, but these three bulleted ideas can frame our discussions about classroom environments, all parts of the writing workshop, writing process and even genre work. Reminding ourselves of the WHY or purpose behind our work is always a great beginning to review our goals and purposes in order to keep our eye on how all students can have increased access, agency and independence in writing.
Katharine Bomer knocked it way out of Cowin Auditorium with her keynote titled, “With an Air of Expectancy: Teaching Writing with Belief, Hope, and Respect”.
Which one is more inviting? Which one is more inclusive?
They aren’t the same. Just as learning and achievement are not the same.
But this is my favorite and what every teacher needs to remember:
““Let us become ambitious about believing kids and lifting them up… let us see their knowledge, their experience, their languages as gifts. All kids.”
What are you remembering?
What are your big ideas?
What will you DO as a result of your learning?
What’s the key word connecting today’s “Fantastic Four Fireballs”?
Day 3 Countdown . . .
Working with Jeff Anderson’s Patterns of Power this week in Marie Mounteer’s section has been a special treat in a section where our focus has been on Interactive Writing,
The steps for a lesson.
When to use.
Work with Conventions. Spelling. Capitalization.
Work with Grammar.
Beginning with the standards.
Using student writing to determine needs.
Formative assessment at its best.
Analyzing student writing to plan for one small group of three students with different needs.
Lifting the level of work for all.
It all began with this:
Everything you will need for planning is in Jeff Anderson’s book. Sample sentences from fabulous literature that you will be reading to your students. The only exception would be an actual sentence from the reading students are doing in your classroom.
Don’t consult other sources like TpT!
Use the research-based work from Jeff Anderson! (never a rip off) as you work and plan with a partner – Priceless!
Simone Fraser and Toolkits
What do you include?
- Mentor Texts
- Checklists from Writing Pathways
- Progressions from Writing Pathways
- Tools to do big work (micro-progressions! Also see Kate and Maggie and DIY Literacy – link)
- Anchor Chart – Anchor Charts for the whole unit as well as charts from previous years
How do you organize?
So many possibilities. By units or within bends.
“I organize by the stages of the writing process.”
Working collaboratively to create tools and share . . .
Do.not.ever.pass.on.an.opportunity.to.hear.Georgia.Heard. What an inspiring keynote!!!
Her writerly life will inspire you as she details her process and shares the final product.
Her student examples will bring you to tears.
Gaspar’s Heart Map with a single wavy line down the middle to represent the line at the Mexican border. He wrote a poem off of that map about his Mexican heart and American heart with alternating lines written in English and Spanish. Awe-inspiring.
“Heart maps are a powerful tool for writers and writing. No one has ever said, ‘I have heart map block.’ Many students have said (prior to heart mapping), ‘I don’t know what to write about.’ Small moments can change us. My writing teacher who wrote ‘add more details’ was really saying, ‘pay attention and gather ideas for your writing.'”
What are you learning this week?
How are you filling and fueling your brain?
How are you filling and fueling your writing heart?
Read Alouds are to be savored and today was a day to be all in because after hearing the back story, we had the distinct pleasure of having Matt de la Pena read Love to us.
It won’t be the same. You won’t be in Cowin Auditorium with 600+ best friends. You won’t be in the front row. But here’s your opportunity to have the book read to you. Read by Matt de la Pena.
That came from one little poem
About seeing “love” in the mirror.
Need more? Interview with author Matt de la Pena and illustrator Loren Long here.
Tissue Alert! Tissues Needed!
Pure Delight for those of you that work with the precious “littles” in kindergarten. I attended Marie Mounteer’s Choice Session on the new kindergarten writing unit out in July – “Show and Tell: From Labels to Pattern Books”. The room was packed with teachers and the excitement bubbled within the room as Marie previewed some of the 17 sessions in the unit.
I am totally in love with this progression of spelling development.
Nerd out over spelling.
I see that eye roll!
But how do we explain this to colleagues? That first, yes, there is a progression and second, that not all students arrive at the same time on the same day. I believe that the explicitness in this chart makes it easier to describe ALL the things that a student can do on their journey as they develop as spellers.
The key is growth.
The key is celebrating growth along the progression so a child who enters kindergarten may be at a different stage than peers, but just look at the journey. It’s not about color coding whether a child is green, yellow, or red at any one stage. Instead it’s all about building on what the child can do . . . writing in kindergarten . . . so important to recognize that it is a journey. A journey students will love! A journey we will love!
And this unit gives students so many access points to be successful writers who can explore their passions. Thanks, Marie Mounteer and Lizzie Hetzler for authoring such an important unit and for all the wisdom from Natalie Louis and Lucy Calkins (and other staff developers and teachers) that helped bring this joyful unit to life.
What were your top 2 Highlights from Day 2 at the 2018 June Writing Institute at #TCRWP?