What a lucky day! My role is a photographer! Back up a couple of years and think Austin. Yes, Austin, Texas. ILA in July in 2018 in Austin, TX. I had checked in to my hotel and hiked across town to find a friend in order to celebrate a book birthday. And the celebration was huge. Two authors meant twice the celebrations. And twice the joy!
Not a surprise to me! Books. Authors. Some of my most favorite things.
At this time, I really had little idea of the meaning of the word “nurture” in regards to friends and family. Sure, we dealt with it in our work in schools (though it was NOT in my boss’s vocabulary), but the idea of how to really “Nurture” readers and writers was new.
And yet . . .
Teachers who were writers were ahead of the game in nurturing readers. And teachers who were readers were ahead of the game in nurturing writers. The reciprocity was alive and well for teachers who were studying the knowledge, the skills and the craft of both.
This was one of the pictures that launched my photographic career.
It was a short-lived career. But the memories of that day continue to nurture my soul as Christina’s second book is now available.
Thank you, Christina Nosek, for nurturing both my reading teacher self and my personal self for many years!
How do you nurture yourself? How do your nurture your professional self? How do you share your journey?
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March.
Check out the writers and readers here.
This week you have been treated to a blog tour to introduce you to the big ideas in Melanie Meehan’s book, Every Child Can Write: Access Points, Bridges and Pathways for Striving Writers.
In case you have missed a post, here is the recap:
FYI: I reviewed an advance prepublication copy of “Every Child Can Write.”
This book is based on two beliefs:
“1. All children can learn to write.
2. It is a fundamental imperative that we do everything in our power to teach
the students in our care how to express themselves through words and through
writing.” – Meehan, M. Every Child Can Write. xviii.
Sometimes I am known as a “book devourer”. I pore over pages I love. I have conversations with the author as I read. And I often do NOT read a book, cover to cover . . . as in beginning with Chapter 1 and ending with the last chapter. I love to study a quality Table of Contents (and Melanie has the BEST ever). And the Introduction is superb. Colleen Cruz set the need and the goals of this book beautifully and Melanie delivers with encouragement, a bit of fun, and an honestly engaging text that has you nodding your head. The ideas and issues are real. This is a book that I did read cover to cover the first time. And the second time. Now I’m going back to my post its and selectively rereading the “good parts”! (and it’s a sizeable chunk)
The book delivers many entry points, bridges and pathways for striving writers as promised, but it is also about entry points, bridges and pathways for teachers. You will have many avenues to explore in this book. The “Pause for PD” section in each chapter is specifically designed to make the book interactive . . . to help you bring it to life.
Chapter 9 is truly a gift to teachers, coaches and PLC teams because it is ALL about problem solving. Melanie takes us all inside a third grade classroom, shares data, instructional planning, and both the questions and the thinking that guide the teachers’ writing instruction. Melanie is quick to point out that this is not a formula for success as you may not have that second person in your classroom. Remember that Melanie invited you to “tinker” with the ideas to make them work for you and your students. Instead this chapter is meant to reinforce all the learning in previous chapters and share a way that it “might go” in a classroom and how you in turn could use the learning to make sure every child is writing.
So how does this go? Writing is complex and there is no easy “one size” solution.
Keep in mind that this is just a brief summary of my perception of Chapter 9 where Melanie “shows” you how the information and tools in Chapters 1-8 can work together in order to help problem solve some very common writing problems that may exist in your classroom. (And some of the parts occur simultaneously and not in the abbreviated linear format that I have used for this summary!) These are five common writing concerns that teachers and I have had discussions about them past and present!
A. The teacher is concerned that several students just are not writing or are writing at a very minimal level. Note that this “concern” was bigger than numbers/scores!
- Course of Action: Check the environment. How does it look from the student view? Are their routines that will raise the level of student engagement?
B. What are the entry points for students? Is it content? Where to begin? How to prioritize?
- Course of Action: Increase writing volume through several entry points including reteaching routines and setting up clear expectations.
C. What are the bridges to increase student independence? How does the teacher ensure students are doing the work?
- Course of Action: Collect additional data on HOW students spend their writing time (engagement data). The teachers determine some very specific skills that with short term scaffolds would move the students forward. Those bridges help students grow their skills with shared writing and gradual release of responsibility to decrease teacher dependence.
D. What pathways will help students be more productive? How does the teacher encourage efficiency and effectiveness?
- Course of action: Explore specific paper and writing formats for planning to meet individual student needs. The teachers also look at a variety of ways to have students use charts including access on a bulletin board where students were expected to be responsible for getting mini-charts as needed, to use them, and then to return them to their place as originally presented in Lynne’s blog post yesterday. (Aha – not just gluing into a notebook very passively and then never being able to find the chart again!) And then also think about a way to encourage conventions (see Chapter 8 and Kathleen’s post) without stifling the production of ideas!
E. How does a teacher collect volume and engagement data as additional routes to provide enough practice for students to increase their skills and their own confidence and competence?
- Course of action: Change the color of Flair pens so the teacher can check writing volume each day. Develop individual plans for writing as necessary. Develop and/or strengthen writing partnerships. Focus on writing conferences that lead to a higher self-efficacy when using writing tools.
In Melanie’s example of a third grade case study where students were not performing at the level that the teacher expected, this plan was implemented for four weeks with a second teacher available to teach and coach three to four times a week. The results: the total number of students who were proficient in all district required traits of focus, organization, elaboration, fluency, voice, and conventions increased.
You will have to check out the data in the chapter to see exactly HOW MUCH and WHERE the greatest increases were. The data is solid. But beyond that, students began to view themselves as writers and were more willing to assume risks because they felt more confident and competent. (risk-takers!) In turn, they became more independent and successful in their writing. And based on student work, the teacher also incorporated some of the changes from the four weeks into the next unit BEFORE it even began! Win/Win, all around for students and teachers!
What do you need to study?
How could this case study inform your own study?
Where would you start?
Don’t forget the chat tonight with #G2Great at 8:30 ET and 7:30 CT!
Book Give Away
Go back up to the links at the top if you haven’t commented. Each blog will be giving away one free copy of Every Child Can Write. That could be YOU winning one of the five free books!!!
#G2Great Wakelet – Link
If you have been following along, you may have already read about
Thursday here (Danny Brassell, Debbie Miller, Kate Roberts, Donalyn Miller, Kelly Williams, and Patty McGee)
Friday keynote with Regie Routman here
Saturday finale with Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle here
But I would be greatly remiss if I did not return to recap learning from Friday’s sessions and acknowledge that it was a Corwin Press day!
Session 1: Dave Stuart Jr.
These 6 Things: Focusing Our Teaching on What Matters Most
Presentation Key Ideas . . .
One of many strategies referenced and available on Dave’s web site (see link in caption) .
This presentation and book really does enable you as a teacher to think about and consider where you need to focus your energy as you read wisdom from a high school teacher.
How can you do a better job teaching a shorter list of skills and still keep instruction motivating and engaging?
Lunch with Gerry Brooks
Creating a Positive Attitude About the School Year
Session Two: Maria Walther
Fifty Nifty Picture Books to Inspire Young Writers
Maria’s actual presentation about this book (her newest) was at a different time of the day but many of the texts were included in this book. We saw 50 mentor texts that were used in a first grade classroom to teach standards, qualities of good writing, and provide exemplar texts for imitation!
Maria reminded us to pay attention to all the pages in a book. One example was the end pages from Ralph Tells A Story. What did the author do specifically on the beginning end pages vs. the closing end pages?
Another very useful tip was the writing paper that Maria shared. Each month the editing focus varies but a brief checklist is included on each page. Here is one example with additional ideas available at mariawalther.com. Learning with and from a first grade teacher.
How and when might you consider adding an editing checklist to your writing paper?
Who needs this?
And what books/mentor texts are interesting and engaging your students?
Session Three: Leslie Blauman
Keeping it Real- Real Writing about Real Reading-NONFICTION
I knew Leslie as the author of these two books.
Her newest books are delightful especially with the online components. This was the basis for today’s presentation that included work from her fourth grade classroom.
As a teacher, Leslie is concerned about joy, choice and ownership of student writing. She encourages her fourth grade students to leave “Tracks in the Snow” as a metaphor for not having to write complete sentences all the time. Such a smart idea for this time of year!
To Inspire Critical Thinking these questions were our session guide:
- What is your goal?
- Who is NF important to? Who is the NF for?
- Would you want your kids to be doing your assigned tasks in your classroom?
- If no, WHY are you doing that?
- How do you teach it?
- How often do you practice?
- Why would you write about something you are not interested in?
However, one of my favorite learnings was about this site: https://www.allaboutexplorers.com/ Check out an explorer or two. What fun for students! What a great way to teach “fact-checking!