Making Powerful Connections Across the Twitterverse Using Social Media to Become Agents of Change
Amy Brennan, Jill DeRosa, Jenn Hayhurst, Mary Howard, and Jeanne Marie Mazzaferro shared how Twitter, a book Good to Great, and Voxer has led to changes in instruction and professional development. Read more about their session here on Jennifer’s blog.
Embracing Trouble: Problem Solving and Responsive Teaching in the Reading and Writing Classroom
Colleen Cruz, author of The Unstoppable Writing Teacher: Real Strategies for the Real Classroom, presented a series of steps to problem solve writing difficulties. This was interactive as we were working on a problem of our own as we learned about the steps.
- Name your trouble.
- How do you know it’s a problem?
- Where do you feel stuck? Why is it keeping you up at night?
- What are you most afraid will happen?
- Rename the problem as a realization or goal.
- Name the roadblocks that might get in the way.
- How might you deal with those roadblocks? Find a small little piece to start with.
- Plan first step. Second step. Send yourself a text with your plan as a reminder.
Barb Golub reminded us that “No matter what, Independent reading time needs to happen every day.” EVERY.DAY.INDEPENDENT.READING.EVERY.STUDENT
“Be true to yourself.”
“Teaching is hard.”
“You need to find your group or tribe for both celebrations and in times of trouble.”
Jennifer Serravallo, author of The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers, began with a description of her previous typical classroom of 32 children, 10 with IEPs, 5 Ells, and parents who felt disconnected from schooling.
Because it was chaotic, she knew that she needed an action plan to fix the problem. She relied on experiences from her father, a chemist, to develop a plan.
1. Get to know the student. Stuff inside a messy desk may tell us more than the assessments. Use an engagement inventory to consider student stamina/ability to re-engage. How do you use running records? Not use for process, not as summative, but for formative information, but for next steps in teaching.
Where is the student pausing?
What patterns in pauses, miscues, . ..?
What is the student thinking about?
2. Decide on a goal for each reader. Honor student strength and potential when determining next steps. Jen referenced both Petty and Hattie for research in goal setting and specific feedback focused on goals. She reminded us that you must have a goal in order to be impactful. Look at the Hierarchy when making decisions about goals. “Have one goal for kids.”
3. Teach a strategy that aligns to goals. The strategy will have actionable steps with a verb. It will literally break down the work in a skill. (The newest publication has the goals color coded like the picture above!)
4. Make the goals visible. The goals need to be visible for the reader, other teachers, and parents. Pictures can help. Information on class website / blog can also provide visible goals.
“Have Student notes in a two pocket folder. Put reading information in one pocket and writing in the other pocket. Write notes. Have this chart ready at all times for communication purposes. Make it be like a “chart” at the hospital that hangs on the end of the bed. The doctor comes in and picks it up – One chart that travels with the student. (BRILLIANT coordination of information about the student!)”
5. Stay focused on the goal during conferences and small group work. So if you are working on fluency, you will make sure the student reads text.
“Teachers: You matter! You make a difference!”
The Art of Knowing Our Students: Action Research for Learning and Reflection
Matt Renwick – Elementary principal in Wisconsin
We began with Matt’s question, “What do you think of when you hear the word ‘research’?” Research should actually include listening, talking and even laughter as everyone learns from each other. Action Research – be a renegade / individual who rejects conventional behavior. Matt shared examples of research that both he and the teachers in his building are engaged in
Karen Terlecky – literacy coach for teachers of grades 3-5
“The stories behind children are important! It’s not all about the numbers!” Karen’s research question is “How might stamina and choice increase student reading engagement and achievement?” Observational data might include taking pictures/video, listening to students read. Additional information from “status of the class” can tell about stamina, where stuck, favorite genres, and whether students are just “skipping around.” And a shout out to Cathy Mere, “How might celebration within the literacy block incrase student motivation and engagement?”
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan
Clare and Tammy speak and write so eloquently about assessment and making sense of all the data that is collected – and so much more than just the numbers! How do we get “Wonder” as a regular piece of teacher work? In other words getting past issues of time, learning, questions, AND not having ALL the answers!
- More than a number
- Assessment and instruction are inseparable
- Instruction can meet high standards and be developmentally appropriate.
“Students want to know how they are doing. They don’t want to just hear about the errors that have been recorded.” Triangulating data must include teaching. Ask: “What do you notice? What do you wonder?”
I loved our work where we looked at the data pictured below and listed what we knew and wondered about this student who had scores below the benchmark and above the benchmark as well. What do you notice and wonder?
Take aways for today:
Learning is complex, for adults and students
Assessment is complex, more than a number
Students are complex.
Quality literacy instruction is hard because no script can meet the needs of all students.
So the data is in, now what?
Progress Monitoring and Intervention requirements are set by the system.
But how to focus?
What do students REALLY need?
What questions will help the teachers move forward?
How can we organize the data to use it?
Here is my thinking.
We have all this data from the screener used three times a year.
Step One: What if I put student names into the boxes so I can “see” who the students are that both did and did not meet the benchmark criteria? I plan to also record the score after the name so I can see those students who just made the benchmark and those who maxed out that part. Similarly, I can see those students who just missed the benchmark and those who are farther out from the targets.
Correction to Chart Above – Nonsense Words – Fall = 9, Winter = 15, Spring = 20
Step Two: So what?
Should I use “Messy Sheets” to triangulate the data and look for patterns? You can learn about “messy sheets” in the preview of Clare and Tammy’s Assessment in Perspective available here or in my post here.
Because this was a screener, there is no additional information about student performance/miscues.
What if we begin by looking at just the Sight Words subtest?
(Thinking about the fact that sight words, AKA snap words or heart words, drain time and brain power when a student has to stop and attempt to sound out “said” on every page of the book.)
What if we provide some instruction and begin to look for patterns in response to instruction?
Which students are successful?
Which students are on target for the end of the year goals?
Does EVERYONE in the class need some work with sight words?
ONE way to sort this out might be to begin with the whole class.
Hmm . . . This adds more detail and now I am considering more than “red, green” and “does or does not meet the benchmark”.
But is this more helpful?
What do the students in the group scoring from 0-10 on sight words need?
Is it the same as those students in the 11-20 group?
Is there a difference in intensity for the interventions? Frequency? Total time? What will really close the gap and get the students on a trajectory to close the gap?
How do ALL students get what they need in order to continue making progress?
Are there some commonalities that ALL students may need?
How do you handle this dilemma – When your data just causes more questions?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
I was back in some classrooms this week and I was continuing to think about generative writing, in particular with younger students. See this earlier post for the nuts and bolts about generative writing. I continue to believe that it’s a powerful strategy not only for writing but also for formative assessment.
I saw students working with tubs of objects based on the vowel sounds of the words. The tubs looked like these.
These first graders were using the tubs to name the objects, write the words and / or use the words in sentences as part of a focus on Word Work during Daily 5 rotations. Students could choose the vowel sounds tub that they wanted to use. Some students were writing words, others were writing sentences, and still others were filling a page with sentences that clearly demonstrated their understanding of the items in the tubs.
How did I know the students were learning?
At first glance it seemed that students were working on many different levels of writing. How could I capture that information? My mind was buzzing. What did I see in front of me? How could I capture that information and make it usable as well as “teacher friendly” so that it could be one piece of formative assessment that was used to guide future instruction?
What if I created “messy sheets” to “sort the work that students were doing? See Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan’s blog (@ClareandTammy), “Organizing and Displaying Assessment Data so We can Use It” for an explanation of messy sheets (or check out their book here).
Here are my drafts of two types of messy sheets (student names would surround the ovals – initials are shown for the first two ovals on the left): one for volume of writing and one for quality of writing. (Do note that I did not have a complete set of classroom data and I was operating on the basis of what I saw students doing at that point in time.)
What do I know about a writer who only uses the “word” as the last word in a sentence (thinking back to the previous post about generative writing)? Which “Messy Sheet” helps me better understand these writers? Is it an either / or? Do I have to choose one? My questions continue on and on.
Take a deep breath.
Remember my “OLW15” (“One Little Word”).
Can my questions guide my continued study of the student writing? If yes, then I might also consider adding ovals or even a third “Messy Sheet” for conventions. From this writing sample, I could gather data about the “transfer” of learning from one writing activity to another. Which students consistently have capital letters at the beginning of their sentences? Which students consistently have end punctuation? (I don’t need to give students a prompt. I can use this “data” to add to my picture of each student as a writer!)
How could a teacher use the information from the “Messy Sheets” to guide instruction?
In order to determine the need for additional small group or whole class explicit instruction, I could develop instructional groupings! Here are three examples:
◦Use generative writing in small groups to work on missing skills in writing for the students.
◦Tape record instructions of generative writing for students to complete in small group with a leader in charge of the recording. (interactive white board with picture and recording or ipad)
◦Revise and expand generative writing in a mini-lesson during Writer’s Workshop. (ie. Work with revising sentences in writing pieces to further develop sentence fluency and/or to show word meaning when deepening word understandings)
Additional Word Work:
Let’s consider the “long a” tub that is open in this picture. It contains the following miniature items: snake, scale, whale, bacon, baby and a cage. Students can practice naming each of the items and can record those words on paper because they are listed on the under side of the cover. Additional activities that involve sorting could be combining items from the long a and short a tubs and sorting them into columns based on the vowel sound, the location of the vowel sound, or even the number of syllables in the words (or even the spelling patterns that are used for that particular vowel sound – How many follow the cvce pattern?).
How might you use generative writing in the primary grades or to teach the writer?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work.