Category Archives: Writing

#SOL19: Publish


The Writing Process

Is it a straight line with rigid steps?

Is it a circle? 

Does it depend on the type of writing and the purpose? 

What does your writing process look like?

I began with google images and was shocked to find that most images of the writing process were line by line lists vertically presented.

But I just published and I know that my process was more like this:

            ink

 

My publication as Lead Author for an ILA Brief on January 14, 2019:

Creating Passionate Readers through Independent Reading

This is me!

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How do we ensure that students get this excitement? 

Where do your students publish their work? 

Where do YOU publish your work?

 





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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Phonics


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Letter – Sound Relationships

One part of learning to read

One part that serves the reader in his/her meaning making reading work!

Avoiding Instructional Missteps in Teaching Letter-Sound Relationships

Go read it.  Bookmark it. Download it.  Study it!

7 Pitfalls from the past . . .

How to teach phonics . . .

How not to teach phonics . . .

“Specific, Applicable Generalizations

Simplistic, broad generalizations or “rules” do not work. For example, if we say that silent e signals a long vowel sound all the time, then we have a lot of issues. But if the generalization is made more specific, it is more applicable. For example, the silent e pattern is consistent more than 75 percent of the time in a_ei_eo_e, and u_e, but only consistent 16 percent of the time with e_e.”

Details matter.  The quote above came from #7 in the linked article. Perhaps you skimmed over that section.  I believe it is probably one of the most critical sections.  And in case you missed it, #7 is

7. Missing Essential Elements of Phonics Instruction

Teach Letter – Sound Relationships.

Check the research on teaching letter-sound relationships. 

Check the instruction in your classrooms. 

Then check the student learning. 

What work with Letter-Sound relationships have your PLN’s been doing?




Arm yourself with knowledge!

How do you know what students understand about letter-sound relationships?

By their writing.

What do they use?  How do they apply their knowledge?

Have you studied these?   Utility of Phonics Generalizations

Due Diligence


“If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, quacks like a duck . . . ”

probably a duck!

Unfortunately, there’s “Trouble in River City” as there are a ton of snake – oil salesmen who preach “Research says . . .”,  “Research says . . .”, and “Research says . . .” who are “building on their own self-interests to increase fear and doubt in public schools and teachers.  Every one who has attended a public school or not (Betsy DeVos to name one) has an opinion about education.

An opinion!

Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the fear mongering.  Be BRAVE. Think. Exercise Due Diligence.

  1. Read the resources.
  2. Check the author’s credentials.
  3. Fact check the statements. (By the way when national normed tests are used, 100% of the population is not going to be successful.  They would renorm the test and change the percentages. Assessment 101)
  4. Take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this even logical?”
  5. What do the researchers really say?

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Research:  What does every educator need to know?  Please download Nell Duke’s  document below and have it ready to email to teachers in your own community. Those you can listen to and respond to. Your community.  Where you can also be proactive. Showcase what you are already doing and your own results.

A.  Nell Duke – “10 Things to Know about Research”  Today’s focus is on #9.

9. Where and How Research Is Published or Presented Requires Particular Attention
Consider a particular news item and the range of different ways it is covered, for
example, by the New York Post, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Economist,
Fox News, or the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. These sources will cover the same
story in substantially different ways. Similarly, literacy research in different
outlets, and by different writers, may be reported very differently . . .”

New York Times. NPR.

Think.

What is the goal of an author for those sources?

What is the type of information presented?

B. Instructional Practices Matter 

Round robin reading is not OK. Neither is popcorn reading or “bump reading”. NOT.OK. NEVER! And “BUT my kids like it” is only an excuse and not an acceptable excuse.  What should teachers be doing instead?  Check out Evan Robb’s post here.

Do you have these three types of reading in upper elementary and secondary classrooms?

  • Instructional Interactive Read Aloud
  • Instructional Reading
  • Independent Reading

In addition to Read Alouds?

C. Equity Matters 

Regie Routman covers this beautifully in Literacy Essentials as it it one third of the content. Expectations matter for all learners.  Check out this blog post – “9 Key Actions We Can and Must Take to Ensure Equity for All” link

3. Become professionally knowledgeable. No shortcut here! Until we become highly knowledgeable as teachers of literacy—regardless of what subject we teach–we will always be seeking the “right” program, text, or expert to tell us exactly what to do. Equity for all requires that we teachers and leaders know relevant, research-based and principled literacy practices and how and when to apply those practices in all content areas.”

What do you believe and value?

How does that align with your professional knowledge?

D. Dear Media, Stop Misrepresenting Reading Instruction, Please   link

Who does it profit?

“Here is a final note worth emphasizing: Phonics-intense and phonics-only reading instruction is a gold mine for textbook publishers, reading program shills, and the testing industry.

Consider carefully the who and why of public commentaries screeching about reading instruction, especially when the arguments are full of easily identifiable holes in their credibility and logic.”

Why are those who are NOT certified to teach so blindly convinced that they hold “THE ANSWER” to teaching reading?

There are many other great resources . . . blogs, facebook, and twitter.

BE CAREFUL!

BE DILIGENT!

THINK of that student in front of you!

 

Milestones


Milestones vary.

As the odometer turned 48884, a mathematical palindrome, I wondered about the 50,000 mile warranties that would soon expire. And the endless phone calls and junk mailings about warranties . . .

I watched the green mile markers as I traveled . . . another mile completed.

In life:

The big ones are birth and death.

But what is in between?

Everything that happens in year 1 is a milestone:

that first bottle

that first cooing sound

that first “roll over”

that first “pulling up”

that first step.

And then as life progresses –

Age 5 – eligible for kindergarten

Age 13 – teenager

Age 18 – voting rights

Age 21 – adult rights

And then the “0” birthdays . . .  30, 40, 50 and beyond.

All these milestones are CELEBRATIONS!

For clarity, here is a definition of milestones:

What do milestones look like?  

A fairly even and balanced stack of smooth, polished events?

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Rough shapes, each one unique, that are part of a route?

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Smooth shapes with a highly polished finish?

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A combination of  shapes, sizes, colors and routes?

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Do we recognize and celebrate the scholarly milestones that grow our students into readers and writers? 

Do we make allowances for alternate routes for students? 

Must all students meet the exact same criteria at the same moment?

Who chooses the milestone path? 

Milestones and benchmarks:  Helpful?  Harmful?  Does it depend on how they are used? 

Benchmarks that are used to “sort” students into colors, red/yellow/green, or groups for intervention or instruction may fall short of their goals because they are artificially imposed goals.  They also may be goals that are set independently of the assessment measure being used. Benchmarks that are used in “punitive” ways to slow down instruction and build isolated skills that are not used in real world literacy activities may fit into the category of “unhelpful” or even harmful benchmarks.  Benchmarks that require additional information to be collected including multiple reading and writing samples are a part of a “body of evidence” that covers many milestones . . . more than once!  And more than one type!

What milestones are critical for your grade level?  Why?

 

 

#SOL18: Reflections


I was amazed, disheartened, and ready to stop writing several years ago when I discovered and announced fairly publicly that my narrative writing skills were weak.  Maybe lower than weak.  Definitely NOT where I wanted them to be.

So what did I do?

I committed to writing more narratives.  I tracked when I wrote narratives.  I pulled out some rubrics. I studied some mentor texts. I wrote more.  I did not avoid writing narratives even though I can candidly report that I still “don’t love writing narratives.” My writing slowly and painfully improved.

And then having made some gains, I set narrative writing aside.

Does that process sound familiar?

Make a goal. Set a criteria as a measuring point.  Work towards the goal. Goal met!

DONE!

Perhaps it’s the “hurry up and git’r done” nature of many goals.  Perhaps it’s the idea of “taking your medicine quickly” to get it over with.  At any rate, I fear that I have lost some of those skills in the lack of volume in my writing and, in particular in my narrative writing.

I’m going to continue to study my writing as I also consider my “OLW” for 2019.  A couple words have fallen from the sky in front of me lately.  They are on the list.  But are they the “one“?  I don’t yet know.




PROFESSIONAL Learning Matters!

Have you checked out this work from Regie Routman?

How do you become a more effective teacher?

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Link

Out of the 10 which are you focusing on?

I’m working on these:

  • Prioritize
  • Work Toward a Culture of Collaborative Expertise
  • Focus on whole-part-whole teaching and learning



But what do I know? This data is shocking . . .

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Shared by Penny Kittle, 12.14.18  Source Link

This was looking at Middle School Writing Assignments in 2015.

How are they doing?

WE will have a state writing assessment this year.  Will our students be prepared if this is their background?  If 78% of middle school students’ work requires only short responses or a sentence or two?  Another 14% required a paragraph . . . hmmm ……. 14 out of 100 had assignments that required the student to write a paragraph.

What doesn’t this data say?

The data does not tell us whether 100% of the students attempted the task.

The data does not tell us if 100% of the students completed the task.

The data does not tell us anything about the quality of the paragraphs submitted.

The data does not tell us anything about how the paragraph was scored.

I am not advocating that all students be required to write multiple paragraphs every day.  But can we INSPIRE THEM to write more and CAN we ASPIRE to provide quality instruction that will encourage students to envision and craft stronger examples of personal writing?

But what about the 9% required to write more than one paragraph?

All four of the statements above apply if your change “paragraph” to “more than a single paragraph.”

Volume of writing does matter just as the volume of reading matters.  Based on the data above, students are still probably NOT writing enough per class period, across the day or across each semester of the year.

Where should we begin? 

What steps can we commit to for the long haul? 

What goals will we agree on?

Where is our sense of urgency?




On Friday, I sat next to sketchnote extraordinaire, Paula Bourque.  I did not know that she would be attending, but I had planned in advance to sketchnote and brought my Flairs knowing that I needed my markers in order to make progress.

Here’s my first page of notes from the day!

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My goals:

Take notes.

Add some graphics.

Use some color.

Show improvement.

More ideas than white spaces.

Find one part I really like:

  1. Distraction Addiction and Use Notebooks to slow down thinking
  2. Writing Matters – Emotional Response
  3.  Choices – We have to balance reading and writing

What are you learning that is new? 

How is it going? 

What is your goal?

Curious minds want to know! #OLW18




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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#SOL18: Remnants


In the trails

In the hollows

In the ditches

In the shady spots

Out of the sun

In those darkened spots

Traces remain

A glimpse of what was 

Just two short weeks ago.

Flat spaces of brown

Dry and sparsely vegetated

Scattered collections of gray and white

Remnants of the great snowstorm of two weeks ago.

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Snow in the news.

20 ” shattering records

Causing accidents

Collapsing roofs and

Exploding transformers.

A blanket of snow

A fresh new covering

Quickly fades as the danger emerges

For people, animals, and vehicles on the road.




Observation and Reading the World – First four stanzas

Final two stanzas – Found poem from CBS Nightly News @ 5:30 pm on December 10, 2018.




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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Bloom’s and Thinking


With the advent of the twenty first century, Bloom’s Taxonomy was revised and all the descriptors were changed to verbs.  One revised view looks like this

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How does this model serve the needs of our students and their lives?

Some might argue that the model is still too “bottom-heavy” as it appears to remain focused on “remembering” – a very low skill level.  Probably not quite as transformative and maybe also why packets still remain in classrooms as there is that “base knowledge” that students need to know . . . before they can move on to a higher order thinking skill.

So should we JUST flip it over and indulge in more creating (note = NOT crafting) and less emphasis on “rote memory”?

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So visually, the colors and words did NOT match so I struggled with thinking and re-thinking about what a re-conceptualism would look like.  “But my goal of drawing” this electronically was proving to be a challenge. So as a veteran color coder, I quickly fixed the word order and colors so I could literally compare apples to apples and the same levels across the board.  Creating was back at the top as you can see in the next iteration!

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Some might argue that “Remembering” truly does need a bigger section and that would also help this triangle better “stand on its own base without danger of tipping over. I can go with that.  Some might argue that this might serve to show the cumulative outcomes of an entire educational history.

But what if . . . since we know that we are boring many students, still providing students with few choices, and not giving them a voice to co-construct evidence of learning, we shifted this view again?

My goal – reenvision how much time is spent on each of the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. What would the graphic look like if it more accurately portrayed the time that students need to be doing the thinking, reading, and writing work during the school day?

How do we shift to what STUDENTS need?

What if the shape was more of an hourglass?

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Where does your work as a teacher fit right now? 

Are you creating?

Are you analyzing and applying a lot?   

What would your new “thinking” or “curiosity” about Bloom’s lead you to?

How does this fit or align for students?




Can’t stop thinking – even if it is a Saturday . . . How would you “re-draw” Bloom’s?

#SOL18: Cookies


It began with a tweet.

And then my #OLW, “curious” surfaced.

What would a student response be?

Quirky, out of the box. Unexpected!

How about response #2?

And again, an unexpected answer!

Now, all in, I had to ask 3 more so I had an even 5.

Small data pool.

But yet, bigger than an N of 1.

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Answer 1: “He will have to take the 98 burned cookies sprinkled in powdered sugar because Cameron’s friends and family ate the 185 good cookies!”

Answer 2: “If he promised to take 283 cookies, Cameron will go to the store and make 98 more cookies so he can take the cookies he promised.”

Answer 3:  “Cameron wanted to make sure the cookies were good, so he ate four.  Then he could only fit 135 cookies into his container.  He took 135 cookies to the cookie swap and left the rest for his brother.”

Answer 4:  “Cameron will be so embarrassed that he burnt the cookies that he will not go to the cookie swap.  He won’t be taking any cookies.”

Answer 5:  “Cameron was taking the 185 cookies that were fine to the cookie swap. Along the way, he met a man who was hungry so he gave the man five cookies.  Then he met his friend Albert who was not going to the cookie swap because he didn’t have any cookies.  Cameron gave him 80 cookies.  Cameron took the 100 he had left.

Thinking? 

Reasoning? 

If any of these students “chose” a multiple choice answer and filled in the bubble, would we have known WHY they missed the answer?

100% accurate according to the stories.  Hmmm. When a wrong answer is a RIGHT answer!  




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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#SOL18: Which View?


Fluffy

Pellety

Pristine

Early

Pretty

Accumulating

Blanketing

Warning

Caution Urged

“Tow Ban”

Travel Not Advised

White Out

Weather Channel personnel on site

Millions under “Blizzard Warning”

3″ in Pella

15 miles away – 12″

Busy Travel Day

Flights Cancelled

Cautious Early Travelers Rewarded

Overturned bus stranded passengers at casino

Early snowstorm

Snowmaggedon

Blizzard of the Century

Depending upon your snowfall

Pretty – Hazardous

Snowball packing snow

0 Visibility

Better inside

Off the roads

YAY! Snow Day!

Rats! Off to work . . . Slowly . . . Cautiously!

“Bruce” according to the Weather Channel

Travel conditions deteriorate

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Maybe as bad as the “Blizzard of 73” . . . Maybe . . .

I’m in the gold; fortunately not in the orange!

Which view of the winter activity matched your area?

Why does perspective or point of view matter?

Can it change over time?  Can you “choose” your response?

What’s your prediction for the winter?




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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#NCTE18: Decisions


Research-Based Decisions

I wrote about Reading Research here and Dr. Mary Howard capped our #G2Great chat with this post on 11.03.18.  As I reviewed the #NCTE18 program in the weeks before the conference, I thought about my “research filter” and the sessions available.  I also thought about previous conferences and this post. What factors would drive my decisions about sessions to attend?

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Before I even arrived in Houston, I had perused the app and added many of my favorites to my list. At first glance about half of our crowd-sourced experts would be present.

“Richard Allington; Donald Graves; Don Murray; Peter Johnston; Marie Clay; John Hattie; P David Pearson; Lucy Calkins; Tom Newkirk; Taffy Rafael; Nell Duke; Ken and Yetta Goodman; Louise Rosenblatt; Kylene Beers; Bob Probst; Carol Lyons; Ellin Keene; Donalyn Miller; Kathy Collins; Fountas and Pinnell; Stephen Krashen; Stephanie Harvey; Regie Routman; Debbie Miller; Jennifer Serravallo; Gravity Goldberg; Kate Roberts; Maggie Roberts; Ralph Fletcher; Nancie Atwell; Penny Kittle; Kelly Gallagher; Kara Pranikoff; Dave Stuart Jr.; Cornelius Minor; Katie Wood Ray; Anne Goudvis; Georgia Heard; Jan Burkins; Kim Yaris; Susan Zimmerman “ (Literacy Lenses 11.03.18)

And I added others:

Tom Marshall, Kari Yates, Christina Nosek, Clare Landrigan, Tammy Mulligan, Lester Laminack, Colleen Cruz, Justin Dolcimascolo, Jess Lifshitz, Jeff Anderson, Smokey Daniels, Sara Ahmed, Carl Anderson, Ruth Ayres, Stacey Shubitz, Katherine Bomer, Donna Santaman, Dorothy Barnhouse #BowTieBoys, #TeachWrite, Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capelli. (Representational list and not meant to exclude anyone.)  And then there were teachers, authors, poets, “Slicers” and friends as presenters.

What was the reality?

With luck, I would be able to choose about 15 sessions.

15

The names above represented about 65 sessions.

I had four time slots with five possible sessions to attend.  Without Hermione Granger’s “time-turner” that was not going to happen.  So how was I going to make decisions? What would I use as my filters?

Research-Based Decision-Making Filter

Why was I interested in research?  I wanted the best quality experience that #NCTE18 had! Research, classroom-based and empirical has always fascinated me. I’m pretty picky about my educational research. I believe in being an “informed educator” as espoused by Nell Duke and Nicole Martin’s 10 Things Every Literacy Educator Should Know about Research.  The work presented at #NCTE18 would be research-based.  Much would not be research-tested. It is easy to get lost in the misrepresentation and misuse of research. Of course, there are limitations.  But one only has to read this gorgeous new text by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp to connect with the research about the need for book access for all! And just like a book and movie pairing – I want to read the book before hearing Colby and Donalyn talk any more about it – so one decision made!

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I was pretty sure that sessions at #NCTE18 would not be guilty of these misleading uses of research that Mary Howard listed in her blog post.

“Citing research to sell products

Citing research to justify practices

Citing questionable research to support an agenda

Citing flawed and outdated research”

But I do want to remind you that some national conferences have sessions that seem to be at cross-purposes with the beliefs and values listed for the conference! Careful reading of program descriptors and sponsors is always a good idea.

How would I use research as a filter?

One of my criteria for session selection was NEW and recent work, perhaps something that has become an addendum or just a continuing evolution since the last book was published or their July #ILA18 presentation. That was the purpose behind my attendance at both Responsive Teaching:  The Courage to Follow the Lead of the Reader and Capacity – Based Writing: Instruction Empowers Students –  Deconstructing the Struggling Writer Label while Championing Inclusive Practices.  I knew some individual pieces of their work and wanted to see how the “presentation package” brought in the research, the work with students, and increased my knowledge.

What other criteria did I use?

Who have I not seen lately? So after spending an entire day with Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher and 350+ best friends in Iowa in October,  300 minutes . . . Was I going to try to catch them as a part of a 75 minute panel? . . .

Ellin Keene was with Debbie Miller in July at #ILA18, so I heard about her new book there after reading it.

Have I already registered to see them at CCIRA in Denver in February? There are another 10 slots or so where I will see presenters alone . . . no panels, no roundtables, just the speaker and a room full of learners. And with preregistration everyone should have a seat.

Where are there gaps in my knowledge base? This question led me to sessions about equity, mentor texts, and literacy mentors on Friday. And then there was the second session about the 4th edition of the Handbook of Research on Teaching of the English Language Arts.

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Am I under-utilizing available resources? Of course that led to the featured student panel, the ubiquitous #BowTieBoys that I heard three times at #NCTE17, and #TeachWrite friends.

Will I be able to make it to the room in time to actually be in the room for the program? We tried five different sessions on Thursday and ALL were overcrowded and packed with “bouncers” on the door to keep additional attendees out. Many times the lack of seating in the room was a decision point as well.  Sometimes I deliberately chose a session that I believed would have fewer attendees.

#NCTE18 often had over 60 sessions per time slot.  That means there were many choices.  Some might even argue that there were too many choices.  However, 7,000 + attendees had to be somewhere so “choice” of sessions is crucial.  I believe that filters to sort out expertise and research wer helpful for me when I had to make final decisions about the sessions where I would learn the most. And the sessions that I was curious about. And the sessions that challenge me to stretch and grow!

 How do you make decisions about competing sessions?   

What criteria do you use? 

What criteria will you consider at your next conference?

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#NCTE18 Posts

#SOL18: Literacy Superbowl

#NCTE18 Bound: #G2Great

#NCTE18 Thursday

#NCTE18: Friday

#NCTE18: Saturday

#NCTE18: Sunday

#SOL18: #NCTE18 Family

#NCTE18: Digging Deeper #1

#NCTE18: Digging Deeper #2

#NCTE18: Digging Deeper #3

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