Third time’s a charm! It was so helpful to dig into additional chapters from this book.
Assessment: Peter Afflerbach Handout
So much to think about from this outline. Some key takeaways to discuss: What do you know about your assessments? What do they claim to measure? How well does the assessment align with your “needs”? What are the challenges?
How do we get quality, informed research in the hands of teachers and administrators around the world?
- Know the source. What Works Clearinghouse
- Know the researchers and their reputations and experience as researchers and practitioners. Reading Hall of Fame is one trusted source.
- Know the goals of research. Nell Duke and “10 Things Every Literacy Educator Should Know about Research”
- Attend the #ILA19 Research session with P. David Pearson and Nell Duke at 7 AM on a Saturday morning in New Orleans!
Lucky Day 7
On Day Seven . . . Using the Throwback Time Machine . . .
Quality Instructional Practices
- How do teachers improve?
- How do they know what to improve?
- How can teachers be given an opportunity to rethink, reflect, and revise with support?
This post began four years ago today, March 7, 2015. But the content remains pertinent.
What is the source of teacher improvement? Is it “Professional Development”? Is it “Professional Learning”? Is it time for “Reflection”? Are there some features that should be present for all teachers?
Collective Teacher Efficacy – John Hattie – effect size of d=1.57 (approx. 4 years growth)
Feedback – effect size of d=0.72 ( half of Collective Teacher Efficacy)
The message seems to be clear: together teachers can achieve more, especially if they collectively believe that they can do so!
But what if . . .
These discussions / conversations were a part of “regular business” in all our schools . . .
How do I know I am using my instructional time wisely?
How do I know my students are learning?
One professional filter might be Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters . . .
Where is the learning?
Are pendulum swings the result of information overload or the lack of solid grounding in the research/understanding WHY?
A search for FUN?
A search for the EASY button?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum in March from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
I’m still reeling from the information on goals in Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris’s post about the 1% of the population that set goals and regularly review them. It’s a short post. Go read it here. The numbers are staggering and the consequences for learning are dire if teachers are NOT setting goals in their classrooms.
Let’s Review: How important are clear learning targets for students?
Hattie, Fisher and Frey say that their effect size is .75 for “Teacher Clarity”. Teacher clarity could easily transfer to deeper student understanding of the desired learning target. Clarity in knowing what the target looks like would make the target easier to meet..
What kind of goals should teachers be setting for writing instruction?
“Teach the writer, not the writing.
Teach strategies for elaboration and development.
Teach for transfer.
Teach for increased student independence.”
What could goal setting look like?
One way it could go is through the use of the goal and technique cards from this post. As a writer I could pull out the techniques that I have already taught for the writing types this year. I could list them in descending order by the frequency with which students are using the techniques. Then I could check the on-demand writing for the new unit and see which techniques are present. This is one example of using data to determine goals.
Another way it could go would be to set up an inquiry study. Students could have the technique cards and could self-assess their use and / or understanding of the writing techniques. Then these students could use the goal cards to set some writing goals for themselves. Maybe the goals will be about structure, development OR transfer! Maybe students can begin to be “better than the 1%” if they have:
to practice using the techniques
and goal-setting to improve writing across the text types.
Win/Win in Student Goal-Setting and Teacher Clarity!
Are goals for the day, month, or year?
Won’t there be a variety of goals and time lines? Perhaps there will be an over arching goal that all students will love to write that will have its own steps or mini-goals. Perhaps it will be to improve the quality of the students’ narrative writing during this unit. Perhaps it will be the goals for this week. But without clear goals . . . what learning path are you on?
How could you use the techniques cards, goal cards and teacher clarity of work to improve your own writing and/or student writing?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Because Margaret’s daughter was married yesterday, today’s digilit linkup is over at Julieanne Harmatz’s blog “To Read To Write To Be” here. Check out the other links.
Trust me, Conferring Carl is so right. Conferring is the whole cake, the whole enchilada, the whole meal because it’s already the combination of many great ingredients in a flavorful mixture designed to entice the consumer!
One goal of conferring is to move the writer to effective and more deliberate practices across multiple pieces of writing. The goal is NOT to just make this piece of writing better by fixing it. It’s about going for “big ticket items” that will help all future writing be better.
“How on earth do I do that?”
“Please say more . . .”
Conferring does seem to resemble coaching. I have been working with coaches lately and I know there’s also a part of coaching that involves a specific teaching point. Dana’s post here about teaching points in writing is so spot on. It’s about:
“Writers (insert a skill) by using (insert a strategy) so that (insert a purpose).”
There’s a part of conferring that requires the teacher and the student to have clear targets and end goals about writing.
Hattie, Fisher and Fry say it best with this finding from John Hattie (millions of kids in the data pool) about teacher clarity in their book Visible Learning for Literacy.
Teacher Clarity has an effect size with the equivalence of almost two years of growth in one year of instruction. That’s what the 0.75 means. A d= 0.40 means one year’s growth. That’s why the 0.40 is often used as the “cut point” for choosing effective strategies. (Mini-stats course/refresher)
So what do clear teach goals look like? What are the possiblities?
Here is an example of one way a class is looking at “leads” for organization in narratives based on checklists (Calkins and colleagues, Units of Study in Writing). If a student identifies that “leads” are the area of “trouble” that he/she wants to work on in a conference, a checklist like this may have been used. The student would not just be saying, “This story is not good or this lead is not good.” Instead the student would be saying, “I need to work on leads because my readers have commented on the last two stories that it’s hard for them to get right into the story.” This student may have self-identified that most of his/her leads were only a “one-star” lead according to a chart like this. The goal might be four star leads.
The long term writing goal for this student may be about volume, it may even be about stamina, but for now this student really wants to focus on better leads so
and not stop reading
because there is no hint of
what might later become a problem for the reader.
Do you see langauge that might lead to a teaching point?
Teachers don’t need a “new and different” list of resources to confer from. They are working with the lessons that have been taught and/or looking for those next step items that will strengthen student writing across the rest of the year. Leads are important in narratives, informational writing, and opinions/arguments.
Is this the only concern in a narrative lead for fourth graders?
Of course not. But this use of checklists in goal setting (Calkins and colleagues, Units of Study in Writing) helps students (and teachers) who are not yet expert writers with some common language that can be used for teaching points within a conference to improve all future pieces of writing. The student made some choices about his/her own writing and made a conscious decision about what to work on. That’s a win/win.
The writing conference needs to be about moving forward. There are many ways to move writers forward throught conferences that are shared in many books (and Conferring Carl’s books are awesome)! How’s It Going? is a must have for your professional collection and has this review:
“This is by far the best writing on the conference I have read. It is a book that is far superior to the other texts-including my own.
—Donald M. Murray”
But the work ultimately needs to be done by students and involving them in this process and honoring their own goals/wishes/needs is critical. A conference like this with a writer allows the student to continue writing and may well set them up to be able to show peers and parents exactly how personal work with leads has improved his/her own writing.
This student may well be able to teach other students exactly how and why to do this with their own writing. More writers who know why and how . . . that’s a reason to invest time in writing conferences.
Don’t worry about perfect conferences! CONFER!
What’s your next “Conferring” step?
Twitter connections are so fabulous. Via Twitter today I found out that the focus of #Digilit Sunday was function. Check out Margaret’s post here. The part of “function” that I have been thinking about a lot lately is “executive function”.
It’s close to the end of this school year, but how can students still be increasing their own level of executive function? Isn’t this where deep learning and even transfer live? Isn’t this the whole point of moving beyond “surface learning”?
And of course, the most important factor in executive function, in my opinion, is that a student has had plenty of opportunities to “do the work”? How do teachers ensure that students are doing the organizing and the self-talk? They must “say less so readers can do more” and demonstate over and over that they really can do the work with panache and confidence!
For me, the connections from this post all began years ago during TCRWP Writing Institute with a conversation between Allison Jackson and myself about this book. That conversation grew into a book study, Twitter chats and actually meeting the authors. Completely life-changing . . .
The function of learning is that students do the hard work of making meaning. That students actually dig into surface, deep and transfer learning. That teachers are like the conductors on the train. Recognizing the signs, making them visually and verbally apparent, but that ultimately students are really the ones who need to be in charge of their learning. And that learning should always, always, always be JOYFUL!
Unfortunately, this Mark Twain quote may still be true:
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
But I can learn in spite of or even despite my education!
Is learning the FUNCTION of your work?
How do we know?
New professional books in the field of literacy are headed your way this spring from the following authors: Stacey Shubitz; Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris; Kate and Maggie Roberts, Dana Johanson and Sonja Cherry-Paul; and Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey and John Hattie. Get ready for some amazing learning!
Stacey, Two Writing Teachers, has this book out from Stenhouse this spring: Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts. Stacey blogged about her book here.
Jan and Kim’s book (available May 2nd from Stenhouse):
Kate and Maggie’s book (available April from Heinemann):
Dana and Sonja’s book also available in April from Heinemann :
And from Doug, Nancy and John (March, Corwin Press):
Coming later this year a new book from Vickie Vinton . . .
Waiting is so hard . . . sometimes waiting on “new friends” is harder than waiting on Christmas.
Where will you start?
What books are on your professional reading list?
Do you share “your reading plans” with your students?
(*Truth: I have some 2015 books to finish soon to clear the decks for spring break reading!)
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Get ready to share your writerly life in one week with the March Slice of Life Challenge!
This summer is a FEAST of professional development for me. I had the great fortune of being accepted for two weeks of learning at TCRWP for Writing and Reading Institutes. (You can check out my public learning log under the “Recent Posts” at the right.) Next weekend I will be in St. Louis for ILA.
How are you preparing for your learning?
What information do you need to KNOW before you look at specific sessions?
Do you look for specific PEOPLE?
Do you look for specific TOPICS?
Here’s the link to the 16 page preview guide pictured above.
I used the search tool to create a DRAFT LIST of those I know that I MUST see.
Chris Lehman – Sunday, Writing from Sources is more than. . .”The Text Says”
Jennifer Serravello – Sunday, Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading
Nell Duke – Saturday, A Project-Based Place
Lester Laminack, Linda Rief, and Kate Messner – Saturday, The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Text to Teach the Craft of Writing
Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller – Sunday, Complex, Rigorous and Social: Fostering Readerly Lives
and then added in others previously marked in the program:
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan – They are authors of the book Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers.
Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul – Preconference Institute – Friday, Reading with Rigor: Interpreting Complex Text Using Annotation and Close Reading Strategies
Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins – They are the authors of Reading Wellness. Check out a bit of their work here.
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst – Notice and Note and Nonfiction version to be out in October.
Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey – Many, many ELA texts involving Gradual Release of Responsibility
Other faves that I hope to see at ILA15 include: Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse – What Readers Really Do; Dr. Mary Howard – Good to Great; and ANY and ALL TCRWP folks!
Any Two Writing Teacher Slicers? – please say hello in person!
Any #G2Great chatters?
Any #TCRWP afficionados?
I’m ready to rename ILA15 as “Gateway to the STARS!” as I look at this line up of literacy greats. What great learning opportunities and I’m still at the pre-planning stage. (Maybe I will find Hermione’s secret so that I can be in at least two locations at the same time!)
Who would you add to this list?
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.
Last week I was working with a group of pre-service teachers like I do every semester. I lingered on the writing examples, techniques and goals in the genres, mentor texts, and specifically generative writing. As I presented to this group, I literally wondered “aloud” why I had never written about generative writing. I believe that the power of generative writing lies in its ability to replace tired, ineffective DOL practice with meaningful, relevant writing that can also be used as formative assessment tasks.
So what did the pre-service teachers do?
They wrote a sentence where “writing” was the first word in a sentence with at least 10 words. And then they wrote a sentence where “writing” was the last word in a sentence with at least 10 words. Finally they wrote a sentence with “writing” as the fourth word in a sentence where they could choose the length (but it had to have a minimum of five words so “writing” was not the last word).
And then we had a conversation/discussion with a few focused questions:
- Which sentence was the hardest to write?
- What made it hard?
- What strategies did you use to help complete the task?
The majority said that the sentence with “writing at the end” posed the most challenge because it was the complete opposite of the first sentence. Some said that the first two were basically easy because it was about “flipping” the words in the sentences and that the third use of “writing” as the fourth word was harder because “you had to think about what could go before it”.
Strategies that they used were counting words on their fingers, oral rehearsal, drafting and scratching out, drafting and then counting, and checking with a partner. This was meant to be an introduction, that in a classroom would include oral practice, study of mentor texts, and examples of vocabulary words used in various positions in real published work.
What is Generative Writing?
Generative Writing is a term used to describe instructional strategies that provide students with parameters for their writing. These factors define boundaries for writing at the sentence level.
Providing a word to be used
Defining the word’s position in the sentence
Specifying the number of words in a sentence
Limiting the number of words in a sentence
The model described above comes from Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s Scaffolded Writing Instruction: Teaching with a Gradual-Release Framework.
What are the effects of generative writing?
- Build sentence fluency
- Build word choice
- Deepen understanding of content
- Deepen understanding of vocabulary
- Use writing as a tool for learning
- Write in a variety of genres
I think that sentence fluency, word choice and writing in a variety of genres are already covered in many writing workshops at a variety of grades. However, I believe that using generative writing in content areas to deepen understanding of content, vocabulary and even as a tool for learning and assessment are previously untapped areas of formative assessment that could be guiding higher-quality targeted core instruction for ALL students.
So how would I use generative writing as a Formative Assessment?
I would use this with departmentalized content-area teachers who have all of their own content standards as well as a responsibility for reading and writing ELA standards. Asking a science class to use “photosynthesis” as the first word in a sentence will probably result in a definition. Here is an example of how the work may be sorted as well as the plan for using a second generative writing after some re-teaching.
How did I plan for the generative writing at the top of the page?
I am a firm believer that I must “practice what I preach” and complete writing tasks in order to increase my own understanding of writing. So of course I actually wrote some sentences. Here are some examples of sentences that I generated during the planning phase for my work.
Writing is one of my favorite ways to express ideas because my artistic and musical talents are limited. There are some days that I feel like the most important part of the day is when I have time for writing. Some may argue writing is just one of many skills that students need to develop, but I would suggest that totally divorcing reading and writing is an exercise in futility. “Show don’t tell” and “Teach the writer not the writing” are my two most favorite Lucy Calkins’s quotes about writing. What are your favorite quotes that you use to encourage writing?
The tasks I assigned myself:
- Use “writing” as first word in a sentence with at least 10 words.
- Use writing as the last word in a sentence with at least 10 words.
- Use writing as the fourth word in a sentence as well as somewhere else in a compound/complex sentence.
- Use writing as the last word in a sentence using quoted text.
- Use writing as the last word in a question.
- Develop a cohesive paragraph during this generative writing exercise.
I believe I met all 6 of my tasks; what do you think?
How might you use generative writing?
(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!) Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge: Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna and Beth. More Slice of Life posts can be found at Two Writing Teachers .
How do teachers maximize time for student benefits?
Tip One: Increase talk time of students in order for them to solidify their learning. A very specific tip was shared by Lucy Calkins at the Spring Saturday Reunion at Teachers College.
Five minutes. Find five minutes for students to talk after they have been reading. No cost. No text dependent questions. No quiz.
“TALK!” – Lucy Calkins
Chapter 1 “Why Talk is Important in Classrooms” from Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s Content Area Conversations will give you additional ideas about the value of talk including “Reading and writing float on a sea of talk.”
Tip Two: Maximize your use of small groups across the day from Shanna B Schwartz. “Weave small groups across the day, through reading workshop, writing workshop and word study periods.” Use small groups to help students meet targets and accelerate learning!
Another source of information about “small group” instruction is Debbie Diller’s Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All. In this book Diller also explains the difference between guided reading groups and small groups working on such skills as comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, etc. The goals of the group are determined by the data upon which they are formed!