Margaret Simon’s tweet announcing this week’s #DigiLitSunday topic was intriguing. I had seen the link to Cornelius Minor’s new podcast. Thanks to my Voxer group I also know that it is part of a series of podcasts. I also know that Cornelius is a powerful advocate for students and is not afraid to take on difficult topics. But yet, I’ve not had time to actually dig into advocacy.
In order to begin this post, I had to back up and make sure that I clearly understood what advocacy is so I went to the dictionary and this is what I found.
So what’s the big idea about advocacy? Everyone has rights. If you don’t believe you have been treated fairly, you always have the right to ask about ways to remedy the situation. Advocacy is important because it is a way for you to access what you are entitled to and have your individual rights upheld.
Sometimes in the process of advocating for an issue unintended consequences emerge. Sometimes it’s in the tone of voice or even a calmly stated, “Now why would you think that?” A belief that a caring individual would diminish another person’s thoughts or ideas is unfathomable to many, “You must have misunderstood.” Communication is hard. Precise communication is even harder because it takes time to clearly address issues.
In education, I see two basic advocacy issues that emerge in the world of advocacy. Teachers as advocates for students. And the actual teaching so that students can be their own advocates . . . so they can be advocates for themselves for the rest of their lives.
Teachers as Advocates
What does this mean? What does this look like?
Providing just what students need . . .
a listening ear
Believing that answers lie within the students.
What does this look like in a classroom?
Students have voice and choice in what they read, write, and learn about. Students have the opportunity to discuss and disagree about what a text (book, story, painting, song, etc.) says and what the deeper meaning really is. Students can choose to dig into an idea and really STUDY the facets that emerge.
Students do not have arbitrarily 10 page papers assigned. Students do not have to read whole class books at the same time as everyone else in their class. Students do not have to use “one set format” to respond to the text.
Teachers, who are advocates, make decisions based on the needs of their students. Teachers, who are advocates, see things from a student’s perspective. Teachers, who are advocates, take a stand for their students. Teachers, who are advocates, create a positive environment for all the students in the classroom. Teachers, who are advocates, really take the time to listen to their students. Teachers, who are advocates, are role models for their students.
What about self-advocacy?
Teachers and supportive classrooms will provide opportunities for students to develop their voices. Student voices will rise above the clamor. They will not be silenced. They will not be shamed. They will be supported as they grow and learn.
- How to disagree without being disagreeable
- How to consider any action from more than one point of view
- How to develop one’s own sense of identity
- How to create checkpoints to maintain a course of action
- How to develop personal goals including action plans
- How to develop criteria to evaluate one’s progress in meeting goals
- How to share learning
- How to communicate with others
- How to listen
- How to play fair
- How to clean up your own mess
- How to say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody
- How to ask for help
- How to be kind
What are you thinking when you hear the word “advocacy”?
What does it mean for teachers?
What does it mean for students?
Recruiting Engagement and Establishing Expectations so That Kids Actually Read – Even when Classrooms Brim with Reluctant Readers with Cornelius Minor
After the keynote last Saturday, my first session was with @Mister Minor, Cornelius Minor, in a packed Everett Lounge. It was so packed that Cornelius moved a table so Tara and I would have a place to sit! Great facilitator, learning with a friend for turn and talks, and a room full of brilliant people. ALL SET!
Cornelius shared with us that the three main portions of his work would be around:
- Text selection
- What methods am I going to use to teach?
And then we, the audience, prioritized where we wanted to spend most of our time. So clever, “engaging” the audience with choice! As well as making sure that we walked away with our own expectations met! (And how cleverly already connected to the session title)
Gems of wisdom that I want to hold onto from his opening . . .
“Not all things work for all kids.”
“Resist paralysis when something doesn’t work. Continue to ‘do’.”
“Try a lot of things.”
“Embrace teacher tenacity.”
“Attitudes are important.”
“Think about compliance / obedience to a philosophy of agency vs. a deeply held value.”
“Consider when a student has problems and they are pulled out – remediation.”
“What if the teacher used ‘pre-teaching’ prior to classroom instruction . . . pre-teaching empowers students?”
What do you think of those quotes?
How do they apply to teachers?
How do they also apply to students?
Back to the session.
Cornelius asked us, “What are big skills that are scary?” After sharing with a partner, the ones that were quickly shared with the whole group were: analysis, synthesis, craft, inference, reading identity, and vocabulary.
And then we were told that we would see a process that we could take back to our PLNs and use. By answering the question, “What do I do as a reader that makes me proficient (invisible thoughts and actions) and explaining that to kids so they could understand in kid-friendly language, we will have kids growing as readers.
Skill: How to make an inference in nonfiction
The key was in how to introduce this to students and how to find text of interest to them. “What do kids care the most about?” While recently in LA, it was near the Valentine’s Day Dance so the idea was to find nonfiction that would help students get a date or dealing with love and relationships. Finding something of interest for middle schoolers is critical but students can help with that. The text we worked with was by David Wygant, “Put the Smartphone Down.”
- Find text
- Choose skill
- Ask teachers to do it – Take our invisible work and make it visible for kids.
- Read it
- Stop and ask myself “How did I do that?”
- Discuss with group
- List the possible strategies – “Strategy gives skill legs and tells you how toperform the skill
Key: There is no magic list. The work is to increase teacher proficiency first before you can increase student proficiency.
*** See also Tara Smith’s post (from Two Writing Teachers) about #DoTheWork.. . this same session here.
Just as Kate Roberts (DIY Toolkit) made a toolkit page look easy (yesterday’s post), Cornelius made this look and sound easy as well. Here’s what the first one looked like:
A. One way to infer in NF is to pay attention to specific words – name it (best teaching when use what we do)
How do we do this?
1. Read and stop when get to cool word.
2. Places you notices – Ask yourself : Why did the author say that?
3. Informed Guess
Then run through as mini lesson. Tips: Drop the teacher jargon. Don’t say, “close read”.
How could you and a team of teachers follow this process?
When would you all meet to do that?
One of my big takeaways from this sesion was how Cornelius literally modeled his life and his teaching by showing us how he lives his life out loud. It was an invitation to watch him work. And he said, “We can’t help striving readers with ‘Telling’! We have to model.”
Teaching reading is not easy. Teaching reading to/with/ for stiving students is not easy day after day. However these are the kiddos that need our “A” game EVERY minute.
How do we rise to the challenge?
How do we make sure the work is engaging?
How do we share our expectations?
Where and when do we #DoTheWork?
Process / Goals:
Drive time yesterday had me thinking about how I approached Kate Roberts’ work yesterday and what Tara had already written about Cornelius’ session. I loved the #DoTheWork hashtag and thought about how that would be part of the focus. I deliberately chose the portions of the session that dealt with teachers doing the work, how teachers could do the work, and what the results would be from one skill lesson to share. But then I also wondered about some of those quotes from Cornelius and how to include those as “think abouts” for the reader. With the advance thinking/planning time, the post was quickly written, revised, edited, previewed and tagged. My biggest issue was in trying to come up with a one or two word descriptor in the title for this session . . . it was a struggle!
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge; posts are DAILY!
Session # 3: Technology Tools, Tips and Apps to Make Your Writing Workshop Cutting Edge with Cornelius Minor
As we settled in to our seats In Milbank Chapel, Cornelius (AKA @MisterMinor) had these three questions on the screen for us to talk about with a person near us.
- What do you want to do in terms of workshop?
- What do you hope for in terms of “digital literacy”?
- What do you need to learn today to get you there?
We had not even begun and Cornelius had us thinking about our goals and purposes for the session as well as “TALKING” and “doing the work”! I was quite happy as I knew I was in the “right place”today!
Cornelius described himself as “a bit of a tinkerer” as he promised us cool techniques to blow up our writers workshop. That is an understatement as Cornelius has a great deal of knowledge about technology and always keeps his work practical!
As you read this post consider:
What are you already doing?
What could you add?
What could you do – more efficiently or effectively with technology?
Cornelius reminded us that the writing process is everything. Tech in the past has ranged from a hammer and a chisel to reed and papyrus. We have more options if we consider his definition of tech – “any device that helps me do my work better”. (As I sit here with four devices open, I’m wondering about the “do my work better” part as tech has again failed me this morning, but more about that later!) And to illustrate his point, Cornelius used the writing process as his organizing framework for his presentation!
Where do we begin?
- Prewriting or collection
Simple, begin with talk. We were to find someone who was not our partner. Ah, yes, the dreaded workshop facilitator move of, “Get up out of your seat and go talk to someone somewhere else in the room!” Then we were talk to that person about where we were from and how we traveled to TCRWP. We returned to our original seat mate partner and told the story that our “new friend” had shared.
a. Talk to someone outside your circle – Tell that story
b. Find a picture on your device (30 seconds) – Tell the story of that picture
What if students don’t have a picture? Send a device home so they students can take a picture and tell a story. Goal: Use technology to foster experiences, the source of narratives, so that talk can lead to writing!
Content Area Idea Collections: We watched “Climate Change with Bill Nye 101” and then used Today’s Meet to “collect ideas from all the participants in the room. When you need ideas in response to something, consider “Today’s Meet” or even a common google document to collect those ideas. Or for additional ideas, find an expert in your community and face time with them so you bring video into the classroom and expand the world of your students!
a. Today’s Meet – generate ideas in class
b. Face time – Bring in expert from outside
How can you increase production before drafting?
Choice . . .
Establish a personal help desk . . .
Students doing the work . . .
Increasing student agency because students are doing the work . . .
Cornelius called this the “hustle plan” . . . setting up students with their own personal help desk. Who are the three people who can help you when you are stuck? This list cannot include your teacher or your parents? Who would your three be?
A brother or sister of a friend?
- Having a list of three people to go to for support and then setting up those lines! (Using phone to call and ask if the person would be willing to help when stuck!) Just think about who will be doing the work here . . . who is already building their own PLN?
What about drafting?
Use the camera on your device, any device, to tell your story. That may have been your rehearsal, but now it can also be a part of your drafting process. Before you begin drafting, think about the structure of your piece. Use the structure to help you tell your story!
a. record your draft (audio or video)
b. consider the structure while drafting
This works for all ages. Here is a video of a kindergarten student that Melanie Meehan blogged about in January of 2015. ANYONE can do this. No more “I don’t know what to say.”
How can technology support Revision?
Up until this stage, all of the participants had been using “tools” that came with their device: camera, audio record or video record. (Although some of us are less familiar with those features than our students!)
An app to help with revision is “Skitch”. You can take a picture and then write, type or draw on top of that digital picture. Partners working on revision could actually annotate the text together!
Use the app skitch to share text for revision and then consider multiple ways to revise – word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph levels. Where could a graphic be helpful?
And the most important part of the writing process?
Celebration is the most important part of the writing process! (according to Cornelius) We have data from year after year that tells us that if the teacher is the only audience, kids don’t always write well! “Put the writing where the people are! Laundromat, coffee shop! Not just class blog. Nickelodeon. Teen magazines.”
Find real audiences for students outside your classroom!
Our final To Think About from Cornelius:
“Analogue writing is monologue; digital writing is dialogue.”
What’s your purpose for student writing?
How would we know?
And what are you going to change, add or delete from your current writing process work?
(I didn’t forget about those questions at the top of of the blog post. How can you re-energize your writing workshop for the final months of the school year?)
I shared my notes (in word) with my pc so I could return to using it now that I am back in Iowa. Surprise! Surprise! No menu bar in WordPress so I could not add a new post. So odd! Therefore, I continue to work on my personal Mac. I copied my notes from Saturday into the draft. I considered my own purpose as I felt the writing process framework was the heart of this post and the part that I needed to process in order to explain it to colleagues. (Any errors in the retelling are all mine!) My goal was to make this as doable as possible and yet also add text features to make it EASIER to find the main points in a reread of the text! I was anxiousing – so much to do – time was running out – so all errors would definitely be mine!
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!
Gold or Curmudgeon?
What is your mindset for a full day of professional development?
When the day is a FREE day at Teachers College with the most brilliant minds in the field of literacy, it’s so easy to look for the GOLD! Lucy Calkins’ Closing was titled: Straight Talk where do we go from here? and it was PURE GOLD!
As always, Lucy was passionate about her topic!
The future of our students is in our hands – the teachers. What we believe about our students is what they will accomplish. If we think, “oh, that’s too hard for them!”, it will be too hard. Our expectations set the ceiling for students! We MUST dream impossible dreams. We must work towards challenging goals. If not, our students will continue to be stuck in their current reality.
Is that what we really want?
As a writer, I appreciated hearing that a younger Lucy writer was asked to try 25 different beginnings for a piece. When we are challenged to do better, we can and do accomplish bigger and better things!
Study student work.
Give ambitious feedback.
Teach, teach, teach – and yes, this is not the way we were taught.
Work collaboratively – find/make a group that can and does work together!
To review the learning, the chapters in my blog posts for #TCRWP 89th Saturday Reunion (in order):
Additional Posts about the 89th Saturday Reunion include:
- Sally’s post – TCRWP Oct. 17, 2015 Saturday Reunion – from a 3rd grade teacher’s view
- Jenn – What does teaching for transfer look like? (Mary Ehrenworth)
- Jenn – Mo Willems: The opportunity to learn more about Pigeon, Elephant, Piggie, and Knuffle Bunny among others – A Q & A Session
- Jenn – Using video and film to teach narrative craft (Maggie Roberts)
- Jenn – Yes, you can teach grammar in workshop (Mary Ehrenworth)
- Jenn – Recruiting engagement and establishing expectations so that kids actually read even when classrooms brim with resistance (Cornelius Minor)
- Liberty Central School District Attendees
Learning Never Ends with the Sessions; Learning Continues in the Conversations . . .
How and what are YOU learning?
It’s the little things that make life wonderful!
Little things can seem like insurmountable objects . . .
like navigating the NYC subway system to arrive at Teachers College EARLY! I was actually more successful than navigating through my “home” deer country!
like organizing for a day run on an hourly schedule with 50 minute sesions (10 minutes to sprint to the next location) and NO time in the schedule for lunch (encouraged to pack and yes, you may eat in the sessions – ignore the signs that say no food!)
like finding your way among 4,000 friends engaged in learning on a Saturday at Teachers College
like worries about the wi-fi (had some overloads and would kick you off – How many total devices would 4,000 strong have? REALLY?)
and the ability to have a back up plan – First choice closed because you actually stopped to use the restroom? What were you thinking?
Other slicers who have posted about yesterday include:
and of course the many Tweets that emanated from the halls of the Teachers College campus. Right this minute, this tweet says it all:
What a day!
What a glorious day!
What a glorious day filled with laughter, love and learning!
(Notice how I worked on my elaboration there!)
Instead of an “All About Everything Post” the remainder of this post is dedicated to my #OLW “Focus” and will just focus on one key take away from the sessions I attended. (I promise – I will write more about what I learned. Some of it has to percolate!)
Patricia Polacco – Keynote Opening (Row 5)
“Teachers are my heroes. You devote your lives to the minds and hearts of others. What a wonderful calling”
Carl Anderson – Mentor Texts
We take the perfect text and we have to pull the curtain away. We need to love the mentor text. You wouldn’t marry someone you didn’t love. You are going to live with this mentor text day in and out. You have to know it inside and out. Work with a colleague to analyze the text. Make sure that kids will be moved by the mentor text (Not just one that you LOVE)!
Kylene Beers – Nonfiction Sign Posts
This is the picture that Kylene took from the speaker’s podium to show what the audience was doing as she displayed the slide listing the nonfiction signposts. By the way, the book will be out in October and we all had to promise to buy it! The nonfiction signposts are not ALWAYS found in each nonfiction piece of material because of the very nature of nonfiction. (more on that in another post) Here are the signposts in the order of frequency and importance:
Extreme and absolute language
Like this examples
Experts and Amateurs Words
Stats and Numbers
Contrasts and Contradictions
Again and Again
Cornelius Minor – Struggling Students
Cornelius began with an analogy about teaching skateboarding where one will fall the first 5-8 times. So he has to give you 20 opportunities to practice. “My job as a teacher is NOT mastery. Nothing will cultivate practice. Teaching sets you up for practice. Repeated practice sets you up for mastery. Engagement – how do I keep you moving! Multiple and intellectual energy to get some learning going! My job is ‘Teaching light and Practice heavy!'”
The brilliance of that philosophy!
Kylene Beers – Closing (Front Row)
Literacy is about power and privilege.
Slicer meet up at the Kitchenette! – So much fun to visit, share, decompress!
My head and my heart are both full from the learning. Much more to see and do while in NYC so “adieu” for now!
Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work. So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!
Two blog posts this week caught my eye and lingered in my brain. They were Jessica Lifshitz’s “A Different Kind of PD (AKA Thank You Kate Roberts and Chris Lehman)” linked here and Lisa Saldivar’s “Assigning vs. Teaching” here. Jessica is a 5th grade teacher in Chicago and Lisa is an Elementary ELA Coordinator in Los Angeles.
How do I know Jessica and Lisa? I follow them on Twitter and they participated in online chats last week.
How did I find out about their blogs? The links were both tweeted out on Twitter.
Have I ever met them? No, not YET!
Stop for a second.
What was the content of the last Professional Development session where you left energized, inspired and ready to move forward with implementing the learning?
Energy, enthusiasm and excitement were present in both their posts. The three presenters referenced above, Kate Roberts, Chris Lehman (Falling in Love with Close Reading), and Cornelius Minor, are awe-inspiring and passionate about increasing literacy learning for students without drudgery. They are also FUN to listen to in a PD setting! You can hear Cornelius Minor in a podcast here. If you haven’t yet seen them in person, you need to add them to your “must do” list!
Focus: What is professional learning?
I shared this model back in September because the work of Joyce and Showers is embedded in the thinking and development of this model that has “Student learning – at the center of school improvement and staff development”! (Research-based, YES! and a model of how good things can be!)
You can read more about the model here and also about CCSS.Writing Anchors 1-3 here for content of a two hour PD session with absolutely 0 power point slides but a lot of talk and “studying of texts”. Teachers had the opportunity to read new/revisit familiar texts to deepen their understanding of writing techniques and build a common language, K-5, across argument, informational and narrative texts.
Where can you find joyful and inspiring PD on your own?
There are many quality sources of PD. I encourage you to leisurely explore the following resources until you find one that you cannot live without! Additional details are listed for: blogs, twitter hash tags, twitter book chats, twitter blog chats, scheduled Twitter chats, and face-to-face presentations.
Reading a steady diet of blogs can inform your work. Leaving comments on the blogs can also lead to conversations and even other blogs you might want or need to follow!
Must read literacy blogs include:
- Vicki Vinton’s blog “To Make a Prairie” – Of interest to you might be this specific post “Learning vs Training – The Power of Real Professional Development“
- Melanie Meehan’s blog – one of the two authors of “Two Reflective Teachers” and this post “Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text”
- Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan’s blog, “Teachers for Teachers”, where they describe themselves as “… staff developers who are still teachers at heart. We believe that effective professional development includes side by side teaching; discussions of current research; analysis of student work; and mutual trust and respect.” A post that may be of interest is “Applying Some ‘Brain Rules’ to Professional Development“
- Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris’s blog, “Burkins & Yaris Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy” and a favorite post, “The Power of Job-Embedded Coaching” that contains additional references to the work of Joyce and Showers
- Two Writing Teachers (and that will also lead you to the amazing blogs written by the SIX authors!)
- and many great teacher blogs like Julieanne’s “To Read, To Write, To Be“; Mary Lee’s “A Year of Reading“; Steve’s “Inside the Dog“; Christina’s “The Teacher Triathlete“; and Taylor’s “The Formative Feedback Project“.
2. Twitter hashtags
Twitter hashtags begin with the “#” sign and can be real or made up. Some hashtags exist for a long time (not saying forever because who REALLY knows what “forever” means in the “TwitterVerse”) or they can be hashtags created for a specific event (and possibly linger after through posts/discussions).
Examples for meetings / conferences:
#NatRRConf – National Reading Recovery Conference
#WSRA15 – Wisconsin Reading Association 2015 Conference
#NCTE14 – National Council of Teachers of English 2014 Conference
Examples of enduring hashtags (may want to have a dedicated column in Tweetdeck or Tweetchums):
#tcrwp – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project
#wonderchat – Wonder Chat
#tlap – Teach Like a Pirate
3. Twitter Book Chats
Twitter Book Chats are on line discussions of books (often with questions posted in advance in a google document) where readers and lurkers meet to answer questions and grow their own knowledge. Powerful twitter book chats often include the authors responding to the questions as well!
#filwclosereading – Falling in Love with Close Reading (book and presentations by @teachkate and @ichrislehman linked above)
#wrrdchat – What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton
#NNNchat – Notice and Note @kylenebeers and @bobprobst
#wildreading – Donalyn Books
#booklove – Penny Kittle
#G2Great – Good to Great @DrMaryHoward
4. Twitter Blog Chats
Twitter Blog Chats are often used to introduce an upcoming series of blog posts or to even wrap up a series of blog posts where the readers can interact with the blog authors.
#TWTBlog – Aim Higher: Outgrow old goals and set new ones with the chat archive here
#T4Tchat – sponsored by Teachers for Teachers with the last chat storified here – Mid-Year Assessments Got You Down?
5. Scheduled Twitter Chats
#tcrwp – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (Wed. 7:30 pm EST)
#educoach – Educational Coaches (Wed. 9:00 pm CST)
#titletalk – Promote reading and book titles that engage students (Last Sunday of each month from 8-9 pm EST)
#iaedchat – Iowa Educators (Sundays 8 am and 8 pm CST)
Many content areas and grade levels host their own chats – check out this list! (36 chats on the list last night between 5:30 and 10:00 pm!)
6. Face to Face Presentations
Face to Face Presentations are often jazzed up to include a hashtag so participants can follow along or a back channel like “Today’s Meet” where participants can be posting favorite quotes or questions in real time while the session is taking place. Today’s Meet is often used when there are multiple presenters so the non-presenter is monitoring the channel to feed to other partners/panel members or to address /build purposeful connections for all parts of the presentation.
Which of these 6 have you used to find your own joyful and inspiring professional development?
What about your peers? Where do they find joyful and inspiring PD?
(If you didn’t answer these questions in three seconds or less, click on a link above and find something you are interested in . . . NOW!!!)
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.