Thursday Line Up: George Couros, Matt Glover, Colleen Cruz, Kelly Burns, and Stan Yan were presenters on my schedule for Thursday at CCIRA20. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the fact that I learned from other participants – during turn and talks, standing in line for restrooms, and over dinner!
Here are some key take aways from my Thursday sessions!
George Couros: The Core of Innovative Teaching and Learning
Two questions to ask at the end of a professional learning day:
- What did you learn today?
- How will your students know and benefit?
What questions do you ask at the end of a professional learning day?
What questions might you begin asking?
Matt Glover: Increasing Engagement in Writing Through Choice
Matt had us thinking about three different types of units: genre, craft and process! Often the genre studies are more specifically tied to writing standard. The key is that you will need some of all three types managed in a planful way so that a student does not have the exact same units year after year after year after year after year. There are too many choices to have that repetition. And yet, there needs to be some repetition in order for students to have enough practice to both increase engagement, competence, and confidence! Matt provided lists and tips as he reinforced the need to address choice of topic for students the majority of their writerly lives. More about the three types here.
What do we think about to make writing units Easier?
- Have a stack of text (know what it looks like)
- How to organize text in process or craft study? Is your text too narrow? Showed personal narratives and told them they could write any genre. Showing is more important than “telling”. Was MORE than one genre represented? The text does not have to be the genre students are writing. Teachers need to teach into the goals of unit NOT the genre. It’s a perfect time to choose units from earlier in year or later in the year.
- Caution: Do not confer into the genre. Have transferable skills in your conferring.
How many units of writing do you teach per year?
How many of each of the three types: genre, craft or process?
Colleen Cruz – From Clever Writers to Critical Readers: By Teaching Powerful Writing Skills First, We Can Equip Students with Robust Tools for Today’s Reading Landscape
Colleen Cruz’s presentation was different than her keynote. Yes, it was about writing but it was not about mistakes. It was about how “Writers Make Better Readers.” When we need a craft piece for our writing, we can go find it in our reading in order to strengthen our writing.
One area that is neglected and that needs to be taught is Media Criticism. Instruction needs to include these elements.:
Master narrative – Reluctant hero – struggling in life (Did they work hard enough?)
Counter narrative – Paperback princess, Frozen (writers in Brooklyn in Colleen’s neighborhood) sister love
Weight – more space on page or minutes of film; what we see most (repeat, repeat. repeat)
Source and perspective – Who wrote this and what do they want?
Manipulation – (dogs) always actively present
Power – who has / has not
Voices heard (or not) – Frozen 2 (Indigenous Scandinavian song that came back in 2.)
What parts of media criticism do you teach?
What parts of media criticism do you need to add into your instruction?
Kelly Burns – Wild Wonder: Reconnecting to Lead
Our connections matter. I immediately thought of Jody Carrington and her work with “attention-seeking” or “connection-seeking” children. Julie presented a framework of connection-building based on four Ws.
- Sitting down with our fear
- Reclaimiming our hijacked consciousnes
- Present moment
- Stillness (an invitation to slow down)
- When we are selfing (ego)
- Nervous system and our somatic response
- Tendencies and propensities
- Cognitive distortions
- Socio-political identity
- Radical self acceptance
- Re-evaluation. (Trash or meaningful)
- Respect (systematically)
Which of the four would you begin with?
What small steps could provide more balance in your life?
Stan Yan – Cartooning for Writers (stanyan.me)
This session was totally out of my comfort zone. Drawing?
I had an awful year in first grade where I was repeatedly told what to draw and what not to draw with many pages ripped up in front of me when I used colors differently than peers or the teacher. In this session we drew and drew and drew! Five minutes on a quick sketch with a marker seemed possible. Drawing as a way to connect to writing and to better understand graphic novels and cartoons seems a very natural expectation.
- Multi-aspect learning tool
- Character development
- Story structure and writing
What we saw:
- Interactive monster drawing demo
- Exquisite corpses
- Improv Comic Strips
I have to admit that the Daredoodles were fun even though the idea that I would draw around a shape, number, series of numbers, letter, or word given to me by my neighbor was a leap of faith at that moment. It was a fun challenge!
But my actual learning about cartoons came from the structure explanation. Structure? Yes. Better than the secret location of a pot of gold!
What do you know about cartooning?
How do you help readers better understand cartoons and/or graphic novels?
If you were to pick just one idea from above, what would it be?
How, when, and where will your plan be implemented?
How do you celebrate a day of learning?
Innovation: Imagining the future of Literacy is the theme of the CCIRA 2020 Conference on Literacy currently underway in snowy Denver, Colorado. The outside weather is not hampered by the excitement of learning! This conference is a favorite of mine because of their preregistration process that allows me to choose my sessions in advance.
Innovation began with a keynote for all on Wednesday evening, “On Writing and Reading” with Colleen Cruz and Donalyn Miller, stellar literacy leaders who rocketed us to the stars.
Reflections on Colleen Cruz’s keynote
Colleen talked about her current project with mistakes and then had us writing within the first ten minutes. Participants writing during her 45 minute portion of the keynote . . . what does that tell you about what she values? I appreciated hearing the difference between mistake and intentional wrongdoing, but I was very interested in the responses to mistakes that she shared.
Some common ways we deal with mistakes:
We can make the best of the situation (shake it off)
We can try to fix the mistake (apologize)
We don’t fix the mistake (leave it)
We don’t fix it AND we maintain it (protect and build it up)
Stop and think of a recent mistake that you made.
How did you respond? Is that your typical response? What “patterns” do you see in your response to mistakes?
A Thomasson is an architectural element that is:
And then the relevance? Thomassons appear to be mistakes. What practices in your classroom are Thomassons?
- Is it a graphic organizer?
- The ubiquitous hamburger organizer?
- “Said is dead” bulletin board?
What Thomassons could you remove from your practices that would improve writing for your students?
Reflections on Donalyn Miller’s keynote – Access and Choice: Supporting Young Readers
This question struck a chord with me: If school is the primary access point, what do our students do when school is closed?
Access is critical and NOW is the perfect time to be planning to prevent summer slide. Donalyn shared research and statistics about summer slide and then reminded us that access to public libraries is not FREE for all students. Working parents may not be able to ferry children to the library. The family may consider the requirements for a library card to be too invasive into family circumstances. Confusion about the role of government bodies and their influence may exist. And dreaded fines for lost or missing library books may prohibit students and families from accessing library books.
What did your summer program look like last year? What were your results? What should you change for this summer? What is your plan?
As expected the learning trajectories were high!
What is your definition of literacy?
What does access mean to you?
What innovations are you planning for?
What innovations are pushing your beliefs about literacy?
Labor Day weekend has come and gone. All schools are in session. Some have been for a week or so. Others have over a month in. It’s that time of transitions. No more “wearing white”. Getting out the college football colors and fall clothes. Trying to prep fo hot weather in un-airconditioned buildings.
I remember kindergarten in a country school. It was less than four miles from our house. Easy access. A true neighborhood school. The old “be careful what you wish for” as it was a small building and classes were combined. I loved that I was allowed to read. I hated that we wasted our time on silly worksheets and coloring pages and so much Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff. Their lives didn’t match our rural farm lives.
And then first grade was in town. In an addition to the school. First grade with other first grade classes. First grade where I could only read books off the first grade shelf in the library. First grade where I read all the books by the end of the first quarter. First grade where my teacher tore up my page with a red sun, a purple sky and green flowers. That wasn’t her picture. First grade where it didn’t matter what I needed or wanted to learn. First grade where I was going to conform. First grade where I was sick. A lot. first grade where I can still remember the number of tiles on the bathroom walls, the floor, and even the ceiling.
First grade when I hated school.
Hated the Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff stories that I already read the year before. They were awful the first time. They were an even bigger waste of time the second time around. I didn’t excel at coloring inside the lines. I wanted the task to be done. I wanted to be able to read, write and draw. Creativity was not prized. My pictures never made the wall. I know exactly how Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik felt when her teacher gave her an F for her free verse poem and this poem by Robert Gianni was praised.
“I have a dog whose name is Spot.He likes to eat and drink a lot.When I put water in his dish,He laps it up just like a fish.” *(Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry)
Which school better met my needs?
Access and Equity matter. All students need access to quality education. Equity is huge. The books that I was mining this holiday weekend are here. There are many others I could have consulted, but these were at the top of my stack!
What’s our goal?
If it truly is to “grow readers and writers” – students who want to read, who do read, and who love to read – kids need access to books. That’s an equity issue whether the school doesn’t even have books – due to their zip code! Or because the students have a new teacher and of course there is NO classroom library set up magically waiting for new teachers!
And then time to read glorious books. Self-selected books. Books that match their interests! Books that make sense to them!
Literacy for ALL . . . What does that mean?
Communicating as a priority. Classrooms not existing as rooms of silence!
Books that reflect the composition of the classroom and the communities around the world. No more “Boy Books” or “Girl Books”! Has you thinking been challenged?
A focus on learning NOT assessing.
The real tangible goal. Are ALL students progressing? Are all students learning self-assessment? Are students developing their own goals and agency? Are students transferring their literacy work to other content areas? What are your students telling you? Do they love learning? Are they curious?
Here are a few of the quotes I’m still holding onto . . .
How did you grow your knowledge and skills this summer?
What are you still wondering about?
What questions do your need answered?
What quotes would you add?
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.
Coffee deliveries may be the highlight of your day. Sharing the love, being responsible for alternating days, vulnerability in early morning hours . . . exquisite moments in time!
Life in the dorm!
The Big Ideas of Teaching Spelling and Grammar are so important.
- What is the purpose? Purpose vs. rule
- Time for practice
- Having a focus or goal
- Differentiation that works
- Bite-sized pieces
- Consider reading level
- Provide opportunities for transfer
And then we dug into the actual lessons to find where they occur. How can you, the teacher, make them more explicit? Notice them during a Read Aloud or use them in Interactive Writing before that lesson so the students have the language in their repertoire!
Tears of laughter and joy from Colleen Cruz’s closing. But this I will remember.
Use the resources in the Units of Study. Here’s the “problem“.
Here’s the solution.
Build your community. Follow #TCRWP on Twitter and on Facebook. Find your “family reunion” at TCRWP (nothing like being called out by Lucy Calkins in her speech at the closing). There is no better support in the world than in the #TCRWP community whether you leave your red knapsack in the subway, have questions, or are “going it alone” in your district. Reach out. There will be support!
What great learning!
What great adventures?
How will you continue your summer learning?
I search my computer.
My starting point.
What do I already have?
Take a walk.
Come back and dig in.
What does this connect to?
Who are my go to authors?
The most accurate sources?
So many tabs open that I can only see a letter on each.
What to keep?
What to file?
What to read?
Which books do I put on my stack?
And the big question:
What to use?
I’m working on my PD for Monday.
What’s my plan?
What’s my process?
Be not dismayed!
I have books.
I have professional books.
I have shelves and shelves and shelves of books!
But sometimes my book is on my desk at the office . . .
And sometimes someone has borrowed my book and is reading it!
Have you seen my secret weapon?
This was new to me just last month. It’s the Heinemann Digital Library and it’s already been a lifesaver. Understand this. I greatly admire the many authors that can narrow down their “5 Most Influential Book Lists”. I really, really do! However, I struggle to narrow down my “Top 5 Books for Fluency” or “My Top 5 Books for Conferring” or My Top 5 Books for Small Group Instruction”. (Is it too many books or too many favorites?)
What’s the Heinemann Digital Library?
It’s an annual subscription resource for unlimited and searchable access to books, articles, videos and even courses to learn more about reading, writing, assessment, early childhood, math, school improvement, and many more topics.
Why am I so fascinated with the Heinemann Digital Library?
Well, I am often known to have TWO copies of my well-used, beloved professional books. One is marked up with questions, comments, “!”, “*”, and other annotations. Pages will be dog-eared. Some may be tabbed. And yes, there will be sticky notes but those notes don’t remain sticky for long if I’m constantly peeling them off to peer at the words underneath. Access to the digital library now means that I can access the resource from my computer which is so handy when quite frankly, I don’t really remember where the book is right now.
How have I used this resource?
Here’s one example. I needed to add more information to my knowledge base and find some specifics for increasing student engagement during writing workshop. I have several resources on my stack on my desk:
Writing Pathways by Lucy Calkins
The Unstoppable Writing Teacher by Colleen Cruz (also in the Digital Library)
The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo
But I now also have these books, articles and a video courtesy of the Heinemann Digital Library.
One video, two articles, and three books . . . plus the resources that I already have. I’m pretty confident that I have a wide range of professional resources from recognized literacy researchers, experts and teachers. I have my resources and I’m now ready to work!
How does this connect to classroom work?
This is also the work that I would expect high school students to complete independently (after providing the groundwork in elementary) for the following ELA College and Career Ready Anchor Standards.
“CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCRA.R.2 Determine central odeas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.”
“CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.”
I would not presume to say that “working on the standards ONCE” would allow me to determine whether the standard has been met. I would want a body of evidence but that’s a whole different series of blog topics!
If you plan professional development, what’s your process?
Where do you get your quality resources?
Heinemann Digital Library Link here
and, in the spirit of disclosure, Yes, this was written after conversations with Cathy Brophy at Heinemann after I purchased my own personal membership to the Heinemann Digital Library and tweeted about it.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Which of my 131 posts during 2016 were most read?
In reverse order (10 to 1) with a few notes:
What happens when a teacher “edits” with red ink?
Five books in February that were on my “MUST READ” list from authors: Stacey Shubitz, Kate and Maggie Roberts, Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins, Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen, and Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie.
Characteristics of professional development were highlighted for four different “sessions” attended within a two-week time frame. Are these important for you?
- Learning Collaboratively with Others?
- Available 24/7 to Revisit?
- Passionate and Inspiring?
Different ways to share – a symphony and a museum share from Celena Larkey, why students need to write with a pen from Colleen Cruz, letting students lead with mentor texts with Mary Ehrenworth, and “DON”T KILL THE BOOK” with Donald Graves keynote.
The value of READING mini-lessons with Amanda Hartman, the value of “practice, practice, practice with Kathleen Tolan, What readers need in order to become AVID readers with Mary Ehrenworth, and Matt de La Pena’s keynote! “Teachers and authors don’t often immediately see the results of their work. Patience . . . you will!”
Have you read this book? You should have annotated and dog-eared it by now! This post celebrates the twitter chats (with links to the storified archives) as well as an inside look into many of the activities Kim and Jan developed in their study guide. How do you know you have “learned” something? How do you expect students to share their learning? So many DIFFERENT ways are shared here!
Learning about the many ways of shared reading with Amanda Hartman, inquiry for developing fluency with Kathleen Tolan, close reading with Kate Roberts and the keynote session with Donalyn Miller. What a fabulous learning day!
A Lucy Calkins’ keynote on developing reading community, sessions with Amanda Hartman on “one-focused teaching point” and Kathleen Tolan – a mind-blowing small group read aloud. Never.thought.of.a.read.aloud.for.a.small.group. And so obviously why I need to continue to learn. Such a privilege to have been a part of Kathleen’s June Institute.
Have you read this book? You can create your own tools after reading this book. Better yet . . . study it with a friend and then work together on creating tools. Tip: Best part of this blog post is the “summary tool” that Kate created and the links to other pages about this session (Tara, Sally and NCTE).
This post includes quotes from Lucy Calkins (opening keynote), revision across the day with Celena Larkey, the power of stories with Colleen Cruz and planning for two or three days of small group sessions at a time from Amanda Hartman. What an amazing first day of Learning for the 2016 #TCRWP Writing Institute!
Data is so interesting. I was not surprised at the popularity of the #TCRWP posts as the June learning has been quite high on the list in previous years. Some of those posts continue to be “all-time” highs as well. I was surprised that the top 10 was split evenly between #SOL posts and #TCRWP posts and absolutely delighted to see that three of the posts where Kathleen Tolan really stretched my brain were in the top 10. I learned so much from Kathleen this past summer and YET had so much more that I needed to learn. It’s time to practice, practice, practice. I do write more “slices” than any other “type” of posts so I thank my slicer readers for boosting those stats! It was great to reread those posts with a “reader’s eye” as I considered WHY those posts were read more often than others!
What are you reading? What are you writing?
How do you set goals and reflect on those goals?
And as always, dear readers . . .
On Friday the pace quickens, the sessions are shorter, goodbyes to session partners are bittersweet, the closing session is uplifting and motivating and then final farewells to friends who leave for home and other travels (Boothbay, ILA, Nerdy Book Camp). New trail guides are perused. Weekend planning begins.
But I must end the week with a smidgeon more.
|Advanced AM Session
Ratchet up the level of your students’ writing by teaching them revision: Tapping into the power of mentor texts and checklists (K-2
- Our ultimate goal: Teach our students how to “mine” mentor text. (published, teacher written, AND student written) When students can mark up texts, they will truly know the strategies/skills. CL
- Our toolkits need a wide variety of pieces in a variety of process stages for examples. Some pages may even need to be in plastic sleeves for extra practice by students. CL
- Students need to talk more EVERY day. Find little pockets of time (like snack time) and create little boards to rehearse the stuff on the checklist. CL (Double, triple, quadruple the talk time to increase volume and stamina in writing.)
- The Units of Study are not always specific about revision. Maybe you will add a physical revision bend for three or four days as a mini-bend towards the beginning of the unit and then another day in bend 2, bend 3 and before the end of the unit with a revision club. C
- Have writing goals. Make sure that the goals are clear. Have you ever had revision goals like:
Using tools to revise
Revising to make ideas clearer
Revising to make structure better
Review revision in each unit and build the expectations across the year. CL
How will we know talk and rehearsal are important in your classroom?
How will we know that students are working on revision every day? Across the day? And across the units?
|Advanced PM Session
Power Tools, Methods and Strategies: Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)
We made some tools today that matched the needs of our case studies. They were mini-charts, bookmarks, and choice tools for students. Many were flexible so students could add or take away skills/strategies as needed.
- Use Smarter Charts or DIY Literacy for basic ideas for tools and tool development.
- Consider whether some pictures/icons should be the same across the grade/building for increased access AND understanding for ALL students. (reading – same book, writing – same pencil/pen)
- Consider how color coding could increase access for students: science = green, writing = blue, across the grade/building.
- Provide choices in writing tools for students. Check the recommendations of OT/PT/SLPs. (As I looked around our classroom, there were many variations in tools!)
- Build a plan for the year. Think of it as menu planning for your entire family. What dishes can everyone share? And what dishes meet specific needs/diets? Be planful in advance so that everyone has the sustenance that they need!!
Who ALWAYS asks the question: “Is this good for ALL students?”
How can planning in advance for ALL students improve instruction across the board for ALL?
Lucy began our closing as she began the opening onMonday. . . “We came from 48 nations and 43 states . . . ”
We thanked everyone who made this week possible.
ALL the staff at TCRWP, Teachers College, and our beloved Staff Developers for the week.
Celebrating Student Writing – and the Effect of Your Teaching
We looked at student work to celebrate the growth in writing where we could see huge growth from the beginning to the end of a unit. But we also celebrated what wasn’t necessarily the attainment of a standard or items on rubrics and checklists.
Writers develop a deep passion for knowledge.
Writers cultivate their urge to teach others.
Writers making sense of themselves, exploring their identities.
Writers increasing their visibility.
Writers developing a deep sense of civic engagement.
Writers learning to correct social injustices.
- Just as students celebrate their writing, teachers must regularly celebrate their writing instruction and feed their writing souls.
- Writing improvement may seem like it’s gaining at a tortoise pace, but movement will vary across students. Celebrate growth!
- What are your grade level expectations? Are your goals concise?
- What is your grade level vision? Is your vision broad enough?
- A la Katherine Bomer, what critical literacies do you encourage:Superheroes, Muscles, Politicians / leaders, Fantasy, or Argument – that founding skill set of a democratic country?
What takeaways are going to linger with you?
What and where do you need to consider “revising” in your instruction?
New York City
This rural Iowa dweller says thanks for all the opportunities:
for face to face meet ups with friends from Twitter, Twitter chats, and Voxer,
to be able to chat excitedly with fellow Slicers, bloggers and authors,
to dine in all sorts of fabulous places,
and in such great company.
Attending the musical “Fun Home”in the Round was magical.
Ahh, the bookstores
Jazz at Smoke
So much to see and do
While in NYC
For #TCRWP’s Writing Institute
Because the learning does NOT stop when the sessions end!
The conversations, the questions, the talk about “What are you reading?” and “What are you writing?” continues into the night!
A glorious week long adventure!
Thanks to you, my friends
And Lucy and ALL at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.
And what about the learning on Day 4?
I begin, again, at the end,
the eloquence of Pam Nunoz Ryan
who brought us to tears with her harmonica rendition of “America the Beautiful”.
Thanks to Fiona Liddell and Twitter for this picture.
What an eloquent author and so nice to hear the backstory, see the grids of characters and plot, as well as the research that went into Echo – a MUST READ book for your #TBR (To Be Read) list.
- Find your passion.
- Thank those who help you find your passion.
- Writing a novel is hard but rewarding work.
- Stories matter, stories matter, stories matter!
- Rereading stories is important!
Have you read Echo?
Please reserve it at your local public library NOW!
Choice Workshop – Colleen Cruz
Editing Does Matter: Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary in a Writing Workshop
To think about when teaching Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary:
Teach into developmental level so it will stick. What do they know? What are they trying to approximate? We looked at a student piece of work. What can this student do?
- Curriculum and standards What should we teach?
What do my standards say that the students need to learn by the end of the year?
Just as revision is not taught only once in the writing process; editing is taught more than once in writing process. First time – teach in editing (comma in clause) in order to lessen the cognitive load for the students. Then the second time teach comma in clause during revision. And for the third time, the student can focus on the comma when generating ideas in his/her notebook. The repetition will be helpful for students!
Each time we revisit the skill, our methods may vary – or not! The typical methods are:
b. Apprenticeship – Mentor author – Example
c. Inquiry- let’s see what we find in the world and then find patterns (bio, /er/ was/were)
The tools can either be Teacher created or Student created. For grammar it may be a series of books to cover the variations in journalism grammar, grammar for fiction writer, or grammar for academic writing. It may be fun grammar books, vocabulary picture books, mentor texts, or student examples. Or it may be editing pens, gel pens, or other irresistible editing tools. Quite literally, physical tools like Mini editing checklists with 2 or 3 things they are checking for! Whatever they are into! Students can make their own reminder sheets! Work with grammar, spelling and vocabulary should be in the spirit of FUN and Exploration. NO RULES for number of spaces after a period. Talk about conventional understandings. How do people expect it to go?
- Perfection in writing is not the goal for 9 year old students. The New York Times allows four errors per page with page writers and paid copyeditors. No published piece of writing in the world has ever been 100% perfect.
- If you are writing with passion and focusing on content, writing will slip when you are“letting it rip”. Errors are a good sign because they indicate risk-taking.
- Post “not perfect” student work on the hallway bulletin board. Make a huge label and Celebrate – “Check out our capital letters and end punctuation. We’ve been working hard on them and ALMOST have them!”
- Kids fall into automatic, manual, wrong – if kids aren’t automatic, it does not mean they are lazy , not trying, or don’t care. It just means they haven’t mastered that skill YET.
- Conventions, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary work should be FUN and PLAYFUL!
How does your instruction in Spelling, Grammar and Vocabulary match up?
What’s one change that you would consider?
Jack Gantos was the featured keynote today during the TCRWP June 2016 Writing Institute. And he ended with
“See the stories and be the person who can write the story.
If they can write them, YOU can write them, too!!!
What a challenge!
If they (the students in your classrooms / your buildings) can write them,
YOU (all the adults in the auditorium – teachers, coaches, administrators) can write them (the stories), too!!!
Do you write?
Do you write on a regular basis?
The questions above were designed intentionally for you to think about your writerly life. How do your students know that you are a writer? Do you demonstrate your own writing? Do you use your own writing in your explanations? How do you “DO” these focused rewrites as Jack Gantos named them? How do you teach them?
The Writer’s Journal: Content, Structure, Rewrites = Success
- Elements from picture books are the SAME elements you find in short stories and that you will also use in setting up your writing journal so you can’t say, “Nothing interesting happens to you!” JG
- Your job when you sit down to write is to press the go button; you want to get words on the paper! JG
- Jack’s writing process: 2 hours 1st draft writing; 2 hours 2nd draft writing and then candy = 2 hours of reading! Another 2 hours of work after the scheduled reading. JG
- Don’t wait to read until the end of the day when you are too tired to remember what you read!
- If stop at physical ending, you will miss the emotional ending – what connects to the reader . . .JG
What Methods Do We Use with Mentor Texts?
Today, I heard Celena, Colleen, and Emily all talk the same language/consistent message about the instructional methods used with mentor texts depending on the purpose/needs of your students.
Demonstration Writing – How to do it step by step
- Has voice over of “how to do it”
- Might begin with a frame
- Shared writing
- Zero shame in using demonstration writing from the Units of Study IF it fits!
- Be aware that not all pieces work as well as others!
Explanation / Example
- Here’s the text and the explanation
- Example of how to take mentor text and put it into action
- Not step by step
Inquiry (Colleen Cruz details)
- Powerful in terms of agency and independence
- Learning theory – What student discover on own sticks more!
- Not everything is best taught with inquiry
- Sometimes there is content you need to know
- “Putting your hand in hot oven will burn it – don’t need to learn from inquiry
- That would be irresponsible
- No way to discover strategies – kids will not find boxes and bullets on their own
- Don’t use inquiry if only ONE right answer = allow differences!!
- 3 favorite things to teach during Inquiry
- Inquiry is good for ALL kids!
- Develop task cards
- Combine inquiry with structure/small groups
- Include discussion as rehearsal
Takeaways for Methods of Instruction:
- There is no one method of instruction that works ALL the time for all students!
- Match your Method of Instruction with the needs of your students.
- Check your methods for when you PLANFULLY teach/provide for “transfer work”.
- Consider when students are able to “Do the work themselves”.
- Always consider: “Would the students be better off writing?” Is “THIS” teacher talk time really more important than student writing time?
How do we demonstrate process with mentor texts?
I also heard Celena, Collen, and Emily talk about both the need for as well as how to demonstrate process with mentor texts. This seems easiest with teacher or student texts. But you can also go to Melissa Stewart’s website for a behind the scenes look at the process involved in writing No Monkeys, No Chocolate here. That book was not written overnight!
In Celena’s session today, we actually worked on making our own process mentor texts with a plan for writing, first draft, first draft with some revisions, and draft fancied up!
Takeaways for demonstrating process:
- Physical revision (flaps, post-its, cross-outs, different colored ink) clearly shows that revision has occurred.
- Having “process” pieces that literally show the progression of work is helpful for revision conferences.
- Process pieces that show revision – at all stages of the writing process – keep the focus on continual rereading and revision.
- You need clear expectations for student writing – for yourself as the teacher and also for your students.
- You need a vision for your student writing.
What do you see as emerging themes for the week?
What have you learned this week?
(Internet difficulties again interfered with pictures and the structure of this piece!)
For further reading, writing, response, or reflection:
Ratchet up the level of your students’ writing by teaching them revision: Tapping into the power of mentor texts and checklists (K-2)
Our 30 minute writing workshop felt like heaven. Time to write, time to think, time to talk with our partners!
“When we revise for meaning, we ask, “What’s this piece for?” Do I want the reader to feel a certain way? What do I want them to do? After I figure out that meaning, I scan my writing piece quickly. Any part that doesn’t match, I cross it out with one line. Any part that matches the meaning, BLOW it up ad I make sure that I tell it bit by bit.”
With that, Celena demonstrated in her text, had us read our own pieces and we were off revising. And it felt very comfortable and very doable.
Meaning – Development / Elaboration Strategies
- Jump into the moment & tuck into details later
- Make time matter
- Find heart of mater and add details, thoughts!
- End in the moment
- Stretch the moment across the pages!
- Show don’t tell – use describing words.
- Make characters talk.
- Make the characters move – add action words
- Add feelings
- Add thinking
- Find the important part – say more
- Symphony share.
Find one revision.
Put your finger on it.
Read just that revision for a single share.
- Museum share.
Walk around and look at the revisions.
Don’t take work to carpet. Quick.
Works in primary.
Can quickly see a variety of types of revisions.
Choosing a Mentor Text
We are using this format to study our mentor text.
Title and Author of Mentor Text
What do we see?
|What do we call it?||
Why would we use it?
- The standards (CCSS.W.5) can be a guide for revision with vertical teacher conversations about the expectations for each grade level. CL
- Revision is not like moving day where the big truck backs up to the door and EVERYTHING is loaded at one time. Choose one lens – meaning and revise. It will take practice. CL
- Use teacher written mentor texts to model how to “revise” so students can see the marked up copy. CL
- “A tool is only as good as the tinker’s hand in which it is!” CL
- Two ways of quickly sharing revisions are symphony or museum shares. CL
Consider: How do we make revision a part of every day’s work?
How and when do teachers study mentor text in order to really KNOW it?
Power Tools, Methods and Strategies: Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)
Tools: What should students write with?
Is this teacher preference? Student preference or both?
|Write with Pencils||Write with Marker / Gel Pen|
|First problem with volume
Hard to “push” a pencil – slows writer down
Great for sketching
“Are you writing volumes with #2 pencil?
Edit/ Revise with one line through previous text
Cannot lose data
Flows when writing
What most adults use in real world
(Skills list – draft by genre – not all inclusive)
Narrative Skills (fiction, historical account, personal, etc.)
- Generate story ideas
- Structure plot (sequence)
- Dramatize action
- Make meaning evident
- Develop characters
- Imbue voice
Information Skills (all about, lecture, article, etc.)
- Generate topics
- Structure content
- Elaborate on information
- Develop central idea
- Imbue voice
Persuasive/Opinion/Argument Skills (essay, lit. essay, speech, editorial, etc.)
- Generate ideas/opinions/arguments
- Structure piece
- Support with evidence and reasons
- Prove thesis/idea/opinion
- Imbue voice
- A skill is cooking; a strategy is the way you do it (boil, bake, fry, sear, broil, etc.) CC
- Skill? Strategy? Leads could be both – just like a square can be a rectangle! CC
- “I have to write a novel. Where is my #2 pencil?” says NO published author ever! CC
- Consider the physical demands on writing when a student uses pencil vs. pen. CC
- Make decisions about organization of notebook based on what students need and less on what is neat and tidy for the teacher. (If the organization of the notebook is a constant battle to get students to do it, are there more options / possibilities?) CC
To consider: Is the big question – Is this a skill or a strategy? Or is the big question – What can the student do over time in multiple pieces and with multiple genres?
How do we teach for transfer?
Mary Ehrenworth – Studying Mentor Texts for Possible Small Group Lessons – Read like a teacher of writing, considering:
What is the rationale for using mentor texts?
- Even in the Units of Study in 18-20 days, you can only teach about 6 new things.
- Mentor Texts – so you aren’t the only source of information about narrative writing.
- Mentor Text – opens up to 3-12 other things kids can be exposed to.
- Don’t wait until they are GOOD at it – not waiting for this work to be perfect!
- Mentor Text is important. Study. Incubation period may be long. You may not get the benefit of student learning this year.
Mary began with a demonstration text, “Brave Irene” and showed us how to look at Structure in terms of a movement of time. If it starts right away in one moment, when does time change? And then we did the same work in “Fly Away Home”.
Strong writers in small groups:
- Find things.
- Name them.
- Are they repeated?
- How would that work in our text?
Process that we used:
- Come to any text that we have and ask any questions by looking for most accessible text.
- Visual cues and language for a tool to help students. . . academic discourse.
- Sometimes I will do this work in video – engaging
- I try to demonstrate in my own writing – in the air.
- Teacher “shows” mentor text but doesn’t try it out is often the biggest problem with mentor texts.
- The teacher must know the mentor text very well.
- Students can make decisions about what to look for in mentor texts when the author’s repetition of structure, craft, or conventions is used.
- Mentor texts are the best way to study grammar “like an author”.
- Use of mentor texts should be engaging – and that might be why you consider video.
To consider: What if students were in charge of more “noticing” and determining what can be found in mentor text?
Is this the reciprocity that you would get from reading workshop?
Rethinking Mentor Text
Ralph Fletcher began with sharing letters from students, quotes from authors and many “craft” moves in the mentor texts. He also had us write during his keynote speech.
Using Ralph Fletcher’s mentor text, “The Good Old Days”, (keeping first and last stanzas), here is what I wrote:
The Good Old Days
Sometimes I remember
the good old days
Riding bikes on Sundays
Playing baseball games in the evenings
A carefree family life
Living on the farm
I can’t imagine
Anything better than that.
10 Tips for Using Mentor Texts to Teach Writing
- Read what we love ourselves
- Take advantage of “micro-texts” that can be read in one sitting (Picture Books, Poems, Paragraphs)
- Talk about the author behind the book. What itch made them write that story?
- Don’t interrupt the first reading of a text
- Leave time for natural holistic responses
- Reread for craft
- Design a spiral of Mini-Lessons that cycle back to teach craft
- Use the Share to reinforce the craft lesson from the Teaching Point – showing students in the class who did the craft move in their writing
- Invite (don’t assign) students to experiment with craft element
- Be patient – The student may not be able to do the craft this year but instruction was not in vain.
Bonus Tip – Don’t kill the book!
- Understand Means “To stand under”
- A writer MUST read!
- Mentor texts are available everywhere!
- There are many places to start but these institutes grow you personally and mentor texts will grow your classroom.
- Collect a lot of writing, including student writing, for mentor text use.
To consider: What if more teachers were writing? What supports do readers need in order to be better writers?