Book Birthdays Abound; What should I read?
If you also wonder, “How do we create lifelong readers?”, then this is the book for you because it all begins with books! Yes, books!
One book that’s hot this week is: It’s All About the Books!
Event 2: #Good2Great chat at 8:30 EST on Thursday, April 5 will have Tammy and Clare as guests hosts. (Literacy Lenses post with storify & Tweets from chat- Link)
What’s the book about?
This book helps teachers figure out how to maximize their resources (classroom libraries and bookrooms) in order to have the most engaging books available for students when they need them. And you will soon know what Tammy and Clare’s signature quote is when asked how to get the money for more books! It will make you laugh!
Resource 1: Heinemann Web page
Resource 2: Podcast with Tammy and Clare (Link Here)
Resource 3: Sample chapter
Not YET convinced?
Tammy and Clare are donating their royalties to Penny Kittle’s Book Love Foundation in order to put additional books into the hands of elementary and middle school students.
And in Clare’s own words, the power of books:
Slice one – “A Reader Reminds Me”
Slice two – “The Power of a Book”
This book explains how to inventory, assess and reassemble your book collections so more books are in your students’ hands across the entire year. This is the week to learn about books with several resources at your fingertips!
What professional books are you reading?
What’s on your TBR stack?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this writing forum each Tuesday. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
The link up to other #DigiLit Sunday posts can be found at Margaret Simon’s Reflections On the Teche. Please check out what other bloggers are writing about today!
And today’s topic:
What does agency mean to me?
It means choice. Yesterday I chose #TheEdCollabGathering created by Chris Lehman (definition one below) and I made sure that I acted on that agency (definition two) by attending sessions live all day. Barely pausing for conversation, my brain on fire, I moved from one session to the next, each one carefully chosen as a tapestry of confirmation.
Topics I needed to revisit. Topics I needed to dig deeply into again. Topics I needed for inspiration and affirmation seven weeks into this new year. Welcoming learning with friends. Welcoming new friends in the Twitterverse. Welcoming a day of JOYFUL learning from my home on a Saturday. (Agenda for #TheEdCollabGathering here.) The sessions were free. The sessions will remain free and accessible. The sessions can be accessed at your leisure. The.sessions.are.well.worth.your.time! TRUST ME! Check them out!
Evidence of Agency for me yesterday?
- That I could choose the free sessions to attend from the comfort of my home.
- Attending the sessions, tweeting out and having conversations with fellow attendees, presenters, and colleagues from around the world . . . and then Blogging about my attendance and learning today!
No . . . er . . . I don’t know YET!
Kind of . . .
I have been working with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge lately. Those four levels that in some circles have replaced Bloom’s Taxonomy. I don’t think either one is exclusionary and in fact believe that there are some positives in each. Both invite thinking in order to move up the levels.
These Depth of Knowledge levels are available about writing at this Edutopia resource.
Level 1 (Recall) requires the student to write or recite simple facts. This writing or recitation does not include complex synthesis or analysis but is restricted to basic ideas. The students are engaged in listing ideas or words as in a brainstorming activity prior to written composition, are engaged in a simple spelling or vocabulary assessment or are asked to write simple sentences. Students are expected to write and speak using Standard English conventions. This includes using appropriate grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling.
Level 2 (Basic Application of Concepts & Skills) tasks require some mental processing. At this level students are engaged in tasks such as first draft writing for a limited number of purposes and audiences. At Level 2 students are beginning to connect ideas using a simple organizational structure. For example, students may be engaged in note-taking, outlining or simple summaries. Text may be limited to one paragraph. Students demonstrate a basic understanding and appropriate use of such reference materials as a dictionary, thesaurus, or web site.
Level 3 (Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning) tasks require higher-level mental processing. Students are engaged in developing compositions that include multiple paragraphs. These compositions may include complex sentence structure and may demonstrate some synthesis and analysis. Students show awareness of their audience and purpose through focus, organization and the use of appropriate compositional elements. The use of appropriate compositional elements includes such things as addressing chronological order in a narrative or including supporting facts and details in an informational report. At this stage students are engaged in editing and revising to improve the quality of the composition.
Level 4 (Extended Thinking & Complex Reasoning) tasks may incorporate a multi-paragraph composition that demonstrates synthesis and analysis of complex ideas or themes. Such tasks will require extended time and effort with evidence of a deep awareness of purpose and audience. For example, informational papers include hypotheses and supporting evidence. Students are expected to create compositions that demonstrate a distinct voice and that stimulate the reader or listener to consider new perspectives on the addressed ideas and themes.
As I reflect on my agency and my learning today, I am confident that most of my Tweets fall into the Level 1 category. I often try to capture exact words – the very essence of the speaker’s thoughts – and that is totally recall. No doubt. Level 1. And yet sometimes, I’m pulling in background knowledge or shortening the exact quotes when there are long hashtags and I must cut down the number of symbols. Is that always Level 1? Probably not. Is it sometimes Level 2? Perhaps yes.
And what of this blog post? Where would it rate? Ideas from the day are flowing through my brain. Some pictures are already uploaded. Others are paused. Too few? Too many? Which serve the meaning and the understanding of the reader? Which are examples of MY thinking?
Right now I think that I am approaching or possibly just peering over the ledge of DOK 3. Your thoughts?
As I consider all the meaning embedded in Level 4 (Extended Thinking and Complex Reasoning), I believe this is where Katherine Bomer’s thinking lies when she said,
“Capital E, Essay equals thinking!”
A student or adult is agentive and completing that “extended thinking and complex reasoning” when totally engaged in a task of their own choice. When writing, it may be an essay, a poem, or some great work of literature. But it’s something the student knows and knows well due to their passionate study. It may be a study of their own thinking and problem solving as suggested by Burkins and Yaris in Who’s Doing the Work? when the students are actually working harder than the teachers as they problem solve and persevere in forging their own learning paths when “given the time to do so”.
Jan’s metaphor of shopping was played out in this chart and compared to choosing a just right book. Students choosing their own books . . . not being handed books by the teacher brings up a question: “Who SHOULD be choosing the books?”
Tara Smith tweeted out that “agency = knowing how to make choices.” How often do our students struggle with making decisions? When should they be “practicing” quality decision-making skills? Is that not a skill that should be part of the daily routines during the school day?
Consider how engagement and accessibility play into these four elements. Jan actually framed and labeled them for the viewers. But at any point there could be a mismatch. Clare and Tammy would also point out that the mismatches are opportunities for learning and even ownership of their learning. A celebration of learning. Every data point can also bring hope, joy and agentive power to the students.
And what if students were publishing regularly for real audiences? #TWT authors and bloggers, Beth Moore, Deb Frazier and Dana Murphy literally hit the game-winning touchdown with their sharing and feedback strategies! (It was a Saturday after all-so there was some collegiate football in the background.) Deb suggested feedback to young writers on day one, Dana said it could be ‘fancy like “Wow and Wonder”, “Glow and Grow”, or like “slicers” -1. feel, 2 notice, 3. connection’ and Beth Moore said that someday a student writer might tell friends about how special their teacher made them feel as a writer. Honoring students and their writing work doesn’t cost a lot of time or money. Celebrating student learning should be an every day constant.
After all this is “their” learning! Fewer behavior management systems might be needed if there was more emphasis on “student choice” and so much less emphasis on “compliance” and “silly tasks” but those are both topics for another day!
The intersection of agency, choice, engagement and learning seems to be a good fit for students who are “doing the work” and not passively watching others engaged in the work. Even kindergarten students want to share their thinking . . . not their fault that sometimes their symbols and/ or work needs translation for our adult brains to make better sense (Clare and Tammy’s story about Zachary) .
But what if the entry point for all students was simply choice?
What if the responsibility and accountability lies with students?
Lucy Calkins reminded us this summer that “To teach well, we do not need more techniques and strategies as much as we need a vision of what is essential.”
What if agency is essential? How does that change instruction and assessment?
(Did I make it to Level 4 -Extended Thinking and Complex Reasoning? You be the judge!)
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.