Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton have introduced us to Know and Wonder Charts in their magnificent text, What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Making Meaning.
There is a Twitter Chat, tonight, April 22, 2014 from 8:30 – 9:30 EST (#WRRDchat) where many of these ideas including “implementation” will be discussed. Our chat leaders include: Allison Jackson (@azajacks), Julieanne Harmatz (@jarhartz) and Ryan Scala (@rscalateach). Additional resources include these previous posts: “The Process of Meaning Making,” “Beyond CCSS: Know and Wonder Charts” (July 2013), and our group facebook page where last year’s chats are archived.
What have I learned since last summer?
Students must do the work!
Teachers cannot wait until their comprehension instruction is perfect. Students need to be “doing” the work of constructing meaning. There is a huge difference between students who “don’t understand YET” and students who don’t know what they are doing.
Here is some of our work from third grade last month. Our book was Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T Washington.
Here is page 2 – the first text:
After reading this page, students discussed with a partner both what they knew and what they were still wondering about. So the picture below is what the first whole-class “Know / Wonder” chart looked like. A lot of conversation centered around the word “longed” which JD so aptly told us “did not mean long like 2 feet long.” That discussion led to the inference (with evidence) that Booker “wanted to read.”
As we read on through page 3 we were thinking about:
- Were any of our questions answered?
- Were any patterns beginning to emerge?
Our question of “Why is Booker NOT reading?” was answered on this page.
Now our chart began to get messy as we used it to demonstrate how we were “making meaning” as our first question was answered with a bit of color coding for our question in the “Wonder” and our answer in the “Know.”
One of our goals was to see how the character developed over time in this text. How did the author reveal information about Booker? As students worked with partners, they crafted their own post – it descriptions (rewritten here – 😦 poor photography skills). How could these descriptions show a progression of “drafting understanding” that could be used to dig deeper into the author’s words?
These first two were pretty similar and were easy for the students to think about as “evidence-based” descriptions with picture two adding the inference “be a reader.” Picture 3, below, demonstrated students who continued on through the text in search of “MORE” ideas and evidence. They wanted to know “WHY” reading was so important to Booker and they did not stop until they had drafted their theory.
Because we have also worked with formative assessment and checklists, we tried another view of the same post-its in a chart with labels and descriptors so students could begin to “self-assess” their own work. This was the FIRST draft – an additional step was later added between the “two stars” and “three stars.”
After discussion, students could perform some self – assessment to determine where they were at in their understanding. This self-assessment allowed most students to answer the question: “What would they need to do to ‘move the level of understanding in their post-it response?'”
But, we had to take a deep breath and stop and rethink here. The ultimate goal is NOT to get the “top star” rating. We wanted to include some self-assessment so students could focus on the learning targets, but we wanted to be crystal clear in our ultimate goal. This sent us back into the book to re-read to check what the text REALLY said instead of what we “thought” it said!
The focus for instruction moved to “patterns.” Students begin to look for “patterns.” This is the stage where the students were “reading forward and thinking backward” as they” tracked patterns to see how the patterns were connecting developing, or changing.” The “What we Know” changed to “ALL” about the pattern – What is the pattern? How is the pattern changing? and the “Wonders” shifted to – Why? What could the author be showing us?
This was hard. It was tempting to set the students up with more modeling or even more scaffolding. However, will more “teacher work” REALLY increase the likelihood of “independence” for the students as they construct “meaning making?”
What do you think? How do you help students draft their understandings? And how do you stay focused on the real goal?
It is officially summer! In Iowa that means that the temperature and humidity are creeping up!
What are you planning for this summer?
I am fortunate to have been accepted into the June Writing Institute and the July Reading Institute @TCRWP (Teachers College Reading and Writing Project) at Columbia University in New York City. As Eva Gabor said in Green Acres, “New York is the place for me!” (You will recognize me as I will probably look and act more like Eddie Albert!)
So what will my focus be for those two weeks (and beyond)?
1) Read: I will be continuing to read the new Units of Study by Lucy Calkins and all the authors at #TCRWP. They are phenomenal. I am already rereading parts because they are so well crafted. Other books are downloaded on my iPad including The One and Only Ivan and Teach Like a Pirate (#educoach twitter chat book study beginning July 10 at 9 pm CST).
2) Write: I will, of course, tweet from #TCRWP. I believe that one day with Lucy Calkins in January was the source either four or five blogs. I cannot even imagine how much I will have to share after 10 days with Lucy and the #tcrwp tweeps on their home turf!
And then there is this other little thing called #teacherswrite. It begins on June 24th and the goal is to write and share every day. As @azajacks said last week, “I am putting my money where my mouth is!” Time, or lack thereof, cannot be an excuse. In order to continue to grow as a teacher of writing, I need to write more. (Intrigued? Information about #teacherswrite can be found here http://www.katemessner.com/teachers-write/ ) Check it out yourself!
3) Continue to grow my technology skills! I have a love/hate relationship with technology as I have used/owned my own personal technology for more than half my life. When it goes well, it is a blissful honeymoon. But when the computer exercises its control, my frustration level rises faster than the temperature!
I need to explore more tools to help teachers increase their efficiency and effectiveness. I think I was one of the last people to know about Read and Write (Google extension that requires Google Chrome, Google Docs, etc.) and its quick conversion of spoken words to text. Eliminating the need for a scribe sounds both efficient and effective to me!!! Three or four tools that are VERY user friendly are exactly what I need to use well before I share with teachers!
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And in the interest of full disclosure, the three items on this list came from a blog I follow at http://chartchums.wordpress.com/ that was posted on June 17th. Check it out! Their explanations were much more eloquent than mine. (And borrowing ideas matched my fortune cookie: “Imitation is a sincere form of flattery.”) Their blog and book are fabulous. Both have totally expanded my view of how “charts” can make learning “visible” for students. Their charts are a perfect match for gradual release of responsibility that results in student independence!
What are you going to plan to do this summer to improve your knowledge of ELA?
And the Common Core?
Record your plans below! Let’s encourage each other to meet our goals!