Join the #DigilitSunday authors at Margaret Simon’s blog here.
Welcome, old friend.
My #OneLittleWord for 2015.
So enough said?
Not so fast! Let’s reconsider “Focus” with a different lens – or two!
Focus on Who?
Simple . . .
Focus on Students
Who will focus?
The teachers and the school community
This two-fold approach ensures that students are the center of the work. And as teachers and the school community focus on students, the teachers will collaboratively work together as they learn, grow and share ideas and techniques to best meet the needs of students.
Maintain status quo?
Teachers and schools are constantly considering what is working and what is not. It’s 2016 so schools and “learning” don’t look the same as they did in the 1960’s, 1980’s or even in 2000. The adults in the community have already “DONE” school and years of schooling don’t make them experts. The students currently in the building are the FOCUS.
Focus on What?
Learning . . .
How does an educator decide “WHAT” to focus on? There are many lists/features that are all “research-based” and even appear to have “gold stickers”.
Which one is best? There’s no “clear cut” answer for the best or even the “one” that will have the greatest impact because many of the “whats” that teachers can work on can also be combined for even greater student results. Instead of searching for the best, look within. What can you the teacher, add to your repertoire to increase your impact or effect?
What happens when a teacher uses data to study what is working currently in the classroom with the current students and then decides to change one variable and measure that effect?
Any of these could be a target of district or personal teacher study (and could overlap):
- Hattie’s effect sizes,
- Art of Comprehension via Trevor, Rich, Donna, & Justin’s graphic, or
- questioning (DOK).
Art of Comprehension, Bryan, Donner & Dolci #40CF “Art of Comprehension” Voxer Conversation
The key is using several data points (never just one) to determine where a change needs to occur, developing a plan and then working that plan! Quality instruction, quality teachers, and a quality use of time!
Focus on How?
How are decisions made about instruction, learning and teaching? How is technology involved? (I know you were waiting for the “DigiLit” connection!) How can technology be a TOOL that allows equitable access for ALL students? How can technology level the playing field for students and for student learning? How can technology allow students to APPLY their learning outside of school settings?
Methodology varies from classroom to classroom, building to building, and district to district. Some have local choice and some have state mandates. Within all situations one factor remains, professional responsibility! The professionals in the classroom have a responsibility to provide the environment and instructional opportunities that enable ALL students to learn at high levels!
And now I’ve gone full circle. The answers to Who? What? and How? have brought me to the Why? which brings me back to my 2016 #OneLittleWord: Joy.
There is JOY for students when students are the focus. There is JOY for students when learning is the focus. There is JOY for students when teachers are growing, learning and sharing those practices that have data to support that they increase students’ desire to learn and their learning. There is JOY for teachers when students and teachers have learning as the focus. Teaching is NOT for the faint of heart; teaching is FOR the students! All students must be growing and learning every day and that’s no easy task!
Joyful Learning Every Day!
What do you focus on? How do we know that is your focus?
And what if?
What if . . .
Teacher Clarity (Hattie), The 6 Things We Teach Every Day (coming soon in a book by Trevor Bryan) and Questioning at higher levels (DOK) were all strengthened simultaneously? How would that look for the students? How would that make a difference for students?
My #OneLittleWord15 was focus. It’s reckoning time as 2015 nears the end.
How did I do?
Focus on Family:
now seven months old
with just the cutest grin!
The center of our Christmas Celebrations!
Who is the center of YOUR conversations?
Focus on Friends:
Near and far
At TCRWP Spring Saturday Reunion
At TCRWP Writing Institute
At TCRWP Reading Institute
At Iowa ASCD with Lester Laminack
At TCRWP Fall Saturday Reunion
On Twitter with #TCRWP, #G2Great, and #WRRD
And on Slicers, Too!
Can you find yourself?
Focus on Reading:
- New Units of Study in Reading
- Mindset for Learning: Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth
- Reading Nonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies
- Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom
- The Construction Zone: Building Scaffolds for Readers and Writers
- The Common Core Companion: Booster Lessons, Grades 3-5: Elevating Instruction Day by Day
- Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters
- Read Write Teach: Choice and Challenge in the Reading-Writing Workshop
- The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching
- In Defense of Read-Aloud: Sustaining Best Practice
- Readers Front and Center: Helping All Students Engage with Complex Text
- The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers
- What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making
- The Unstoppable Writing Teacher: Real Strategies for Real Teachers
Which of these have you read?
Which of these are on your holiday TBR stack?
Focus on Writing:
About TCRWP Spring Saturday Reunion
About TCRWP Writing Institute
About TCRWP Reading Institute
About Iowa ASCD with Lester Laminack
About TCRWP Fall Saturday Reunion
Tweets about #TCRWP, #G2Great, and #WRRD (and all the above!)
And Slices with #TWT!
What have you written about?
A Focus on Focus:
Ever on my mind
Often changing to meet my purpose
To complete my tasks
Sometimes a nagging worry
Other times a constant fear
. . . . Ever forward
Difficult to pin down
What is your FOCUS?
How would we KNOW?
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 andteachers here.
I’m in NYC!
So excited to be back, with friends, literally from around the country, to learn, live and celebrate writing this week! (Can you guess my favorite punctuation?)
The Saturday before #TCRWP Writing Institute found several “slicers” meeting up at Bank Street Bookstore. Our goal, Julieanne Harmatz (@jarhartz) and I, was to meet Sally Donnelly (@SallyDonnelly1), a fellow slicer up from the Washington, DC area. We had met Sally, oh so briefly at the March Saturday reunion, and were interested in longer conversations. We all found ourselves purchasing Cynthia Lord’s A Handful of Stars that had been highly recommended by fellow traveler Allison Jackson (@azajacks). (sidenote: What’s up with the @? Those are twitter names to follow. If you aren’t following these three, why not? Oh, not on Twitter; well, why not? You should be!)
Amazing book. A dog balancing a blueberry on his nose should “hook” you right into this book! Bank Street Bookstore was also the site of an amazng toddler read aloud with parents, toddlers and accompanying strollers filling the aisles. And that’s all I have to say about that topic because of another book that I purchased that I will be gifting soon. (Hint – book is by Jimmy Fallon; yes topic connected to the new addition to my family.)
We adjourned to the Silver Moon Bakery and cafe for some coffee and much, much, much conversation. Sally is returning to a third grade classroom after years as a reading specialist. We had advice about techonolgy, blogging, professional books (Good to Great: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters by Mary Howard) and fellow bloggers for additional advice.
My one little word is “Focus” so I am thinking about my own professional reading for this summer. This book and my all time favorite What Readers Really Do are my re-reads for this summer along with Colleen Cruz’s, The Unstoppable Writing Teacher, and Jennifer Serravello’s, The Reading Strategies Book, as my two new books. Only four – but rich, savory texts that will feed my soul and brain for the year to come.
What professional reading will you FOCUS on this summer?
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!
Where are my teams playing?
What is the schedule?
I’m in a small midwestern state – Iowa. Our most recent claim to fame is the home of this season’s “Bachelor”. But, if you want impressive, all three of our State Regents’ schools are going to the NCAA tournament. ALL THREE! One plays in Louisville (where I just was) and two head to Seattle. AND THEN the women from two colleges also play. That’s five teams for NCAA tournament madness!
Aye, here’s the rub. . . I don’t really like basketball. I wanted to play basketball in high school but we didn’t have a girls team. Finally, our relentless work to add girls basketball paid off during our senior year. However, we were destined to have a JV team only. No seniors could participate as they “built” a team for the next year. So no, not basketball. . . Not that orange pumpkin-pushing sport. Not my favorite sport.
And yet, I will watch any collegiate sports as I know how hard students and athletes as well as the “student athletes” work! I will cheer for all five teams. I also appreciate the venue that sports teams provide for musicians to really OWN the field or court. But I will also have to
Life is full! Life does not revolve around sports! AHHH, life also does not solely revolve around sports. But what a year to enjoy! Time to focus on some of the great athletic teams in our state!
What teams will YOU be supporting?
Do you have your bracket ready?
Check out the writers, readers and teachers 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!
When you write a blog, when is it time to panic?
When you don’t have a topic . . .
When you REALLY don’t like what you have written . . .
When you are past 30 revisions according to WordPress but the post seems to be pretty pathetic . . .
When today is the day to post, and life happens . . .
When the water line bursts . . .
When the computer shows the blue screen of death . . .
When you have assignments to read and comment on that you SHOULD do before writing your next post . . .
When the snowstorm knocks out the power and internet AGAIN . . .
When you are at a “state” meeting and time for writing is so very precious . . .
When you hit the “Publish” button instead of the “Preview” button . . . (as I did on Sunday)
When your #OLW15 is “Focus” and all sense of focus is lost!
How do you get back on track when you have lost your focus and/or believe that your writing has slid off the edge of the cliff?
Do you panic or do you “write on” until that magic returns?
How do we teach students to focus and write on?
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.
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 work collaboratively.
Words are so important; how do I choose just one for 2015? I have lists of words with many scratched out and some circled. The next list has similar words including some very specific synonyms. Words scribbled in random order on post its abound! A great deal of perseverance as well as drafting, reading, drafting, and looking up even more definitions led me to my word for 2015.
Focus is defined as to concentrate on something in particular. Focus is defined as to bring into view.
- An example of focus is to put all of one’s energy into a science project.
- An example of focus is to adjust a microscope to better see a specimen.
2015 is full of promise. By choosing to “focus”, I will be prioritizing my time every day in order to be as efficient and effective as possible and yet have time to complete the tasks that are necessary as well as things that are on my “fun” list. Focus will allow me to set goals and strive to meet them in both my personal (soon to be grandma) and my work roles. Every day is a treasure and concentrating or focussing will allow me to reflect at the end of the day on my goals and actions!
One little word to
Center my life,
Using words to
Sustain my actions!