Tag Archives: closing the gap

#SOL18: March 30

Targeted Writing Instruction to Close the Gap

Checking back in with N before the month ends. ( The story began Here, here and here)

Our Plan:

Week 2

Scaffolded Checklist Paper – Narrative Story Writing (below)  – Repeat 5 days

Week 3

Write Using “Regular” Writing Paper

Remember that the first few days had some focused one:one time that was productive and volume seemed to fly so I was concerned that without that one:one we would see the volume of writing decrease.  It did go down some but not nearly as drastically as we had one teacher and one “me” short video designed specifically for him.  Drastic, yes in terms of some time to create a video by each of us! Helpful that it did not take away from any class time with other students. But remember our ambitious goal – hit 3rd grade targets by the end of the year.

Week 2

N wrote 2 stories on the Narrative Paper with the checklists.  He met the targets on the checklists and it really helped that he was a part of the checklist creation.  He not only knew what it said.  He knew what each item meant.  He fancied one up and published it.  We used cut-up labels to fix some of the spelling words, added in some neon revising strips, and a front cover and a back cover.

He was Jazzed!  Normally fairly shy and reticent in many literacy activities, he read that book to EVERYONE that came into the room.  We recorded it on SeeSaw!

Weekly Goal met! (Support from classroom teacher in person, via video, and me also via video)

Week 3

N identified two goals for himself this week.  He did want to use regular paper (but he wanted the ones with checklists on his desk so he could look at them) and he wanted a writing partner in class. (I was toast and so VERY happy to not be a “required” part!)

He named two possible partners and one was available and willing.  During the week they planned, wrote and worked together. Two teacher conferences.  Two pieces written by the end of the week.  Both had evidence of revision and editing.  Solid meeting of the third grade checklist items.

Weekly Goal met!

Socially:  New friends courtesy of his writing partner. New activities at recess courtesy of changing weather.  Almost a “swagger” when walking in the hall.  Whole new confidence . . . across the entire day!

We don’t have a post on-demand score YET.

Our plan took time to develop. Because he was a part of the classwork he had all the behaviors in the first column.  We tried shared writing.  We added in partner writing with his choice of a partner.  We used the last two items on the volume column and reduced the items on the checklist to close the gap.  We’ll be able to evaluate our plan soon.  We did not “throw everything but the kitchen sink into this plan.”  Reasonable. Repeatable. Sustainable. Doable.  But now we do have some ideas and a framework; if and when the situation arises again.

Screenshot 2018-03-10 at 7.37.56 PM

How valuable is planning?

In this instance it’s not about THE plan, but it is about the conversations as we developed the plan. 

We named a variety of possibilities.

We identified some choices for the teacher and student! 

A win/win!

Remember that this student wanted to write as badly as we wanted to support his writing.  There are no guarantees that this will work for the next student, but we have identified a process, as well as a way to develop and organize some possibilities.  And we maximized our work by adding in some quick video responses without assigning the classroom teacher to be at his beck and call.

We believe the single most important factor: 

Planning to remove the scaffolds before we began.

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL18: March 11

Last week I introduced you to N on March 8 and March 9. We’re hyper focused on helping this 5th grader (recent move in) literally get moving in writing.  He wants to write. He listens. He participates. He talks. He uses all the language. His first on demand was rated at a kindergarten level in November and our goal is a third grade level by the end of May.  But he writes so little each day that it is hard to verify real writing growth.

Approximately 50 days to make that growth . . . we have ambitious goals!

How do you make decisions about changing instruction?  Or Practice?  Or Allocation of Time?

I like to think organically.  I use my friend Lynn’s quote often.

“I’m old.  I forget because my brain leaks.” (Lynn Selking, personal conversations)

So I like to start simply.  I’m not adding anything new until I know enough that I’m pretty sure my suggestion(s) will be productive.

So what does that really mean? 

First Step:  Current State of Instruction

I consider the balance of writing work in the classroom.  Is everything in sync? 

Mini lessons – 10 minutes or less?

Writing Time – at least 40 minutes during writing workshop?

Mid-Workshop Interruption – daily for 2-3 minutes?

Sharing – daily for 5-6 minutes?

Partnerships – daily talk and working together?

Small groups – planful and executed efficiently?

Conferences – Teach the writer and not the piece of writing?

Other writing opportunities across the day?

What is the role of TALK across the day?

What are students REALLY doing?

All of this is internal data.

No program.

No pinterest.

No TpT.

First round thinking as we consider current classroom work.

Everything is fairly solid.

Second Step: 

Name the current student behaviors with a focus on strengths.

Begin to brainstorm strategic actions to increase intensity of instruction.

With N, our draft looked like this:

Screenshot 2018-03-10 at 7.37.56 PM.png


  • What has a history of working?
  • What will maximize N’s writing time?
  • What is feasible?
  • What is efficient?
  • Are there charts/tools that we could pull from previous grades?

At this time, we know that lack of writing instruction in these grades (K, 1, 2, 3, 4, part of 5) may be part of the problem.  How can we compress time and increase productivity?


Dependent on what actually works, we have time for three or four focused two-three week cycles of instruction.  Beginning with our end goal, we are planning backwards.  Planning for lean instruction, lean conferencing, lean teacher work and ways to increase N’s independence in writing.  Is it confidence-building that he needs?  How can we  recircuit his thinking so N has a growth mindset?

What process do you use for problem solving? 

How do you use the resources that you have BEFORE looking for outside solutions? 

What would you add to this list?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

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