A common theme in these four sessions that I attended at #NCTE15 was the importance / necessity of involving students in their own learning. (It’s a connection that I could make about ALL of my #NCTE15 sessions in retrospect.)
1. Bring Students into the Conversation: Goal-Setting, Tool-Making that Supports Transfer
#TCRWP Staff Developers: Valerie Geschwind, Marjorie Martinelli, Ryan Scala, Amy Tondeau began this session with a “Turn and Talk”.
Think of a recent goal that you have achieved.
What were the conditions that helped you to reach that goal?
Motivation is a Result of . . .
- Social interaction
Tools that Support Self- Assessment
- Tools created from Mini-Lessons
Goal Setting with Students and Language that Honors Choice
And then Val introduced the cycle of learning. . . in student language.
- I am working towards a new goal.
- Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it is really hard!
- I need my tool to know each step.
- I am practicing my goal all the time: in every book or in every piece of writing.
- I use my tool as a check-in.
- I can use my goal in lots of places.
- I can teach other people what my goal is and help them do it.
I loved the idea of the three stages. I believe Brook Geller first introduced me to the belief at #TCRWP 2013 July Reading Institute that most “students are over taught and under practiced.” Many students seem to need more practice time with specific feedback and a lot less “teacher talk”. In this case a practitioner is someone who is actively engaged in the doing, who repeatedly exercises or performs an activity or skill to acquire, improve, or maintain proficiency, or who actually applies or uses an idea, a method, or a skill across many scenarios. In other words, our students are the practitioners!
Practice does not have to be boring. There are many methods (see picture below) that can be used to reach “expert” status but the key to this entire presentation was that students would be working on a goal of their own choice and moving from novice, to practitioner, to expert. What wonderful language to put into the mouths of students . . . How motivating and empowering!!!
Caution: These are not stages to be RACED through. They will take time to develop. Students in charge of their own assessment of these stages will definitely be students who know exactly what skills and strategies that they do have in their repertoire.
Be the Force! Help students
- Take on their own learning
- Take on their own change
- Cultivate a growth habit of mind
- See each other as experts
Tools: Checklists, rubrics, progressions, charts from mini-lessons. However, a new look . . . Bookmarks with 3 or 4 choices. Students marked the choice that they were using with a paperclip. Clearly visible!!!! AWESOME!
And then a final reminder .. . .
You’ve met your goal. Now what?
- Maintain your skills
- Teach others
- Get critical
- Set new goals
It was the first time for me to hear #TCRWP Staff Developers Valerie, Marjorie, Ryan, and Amy and I’m definitely looking forward to learning from them during future opportunities!!!
2. Responsible and Responsive Reading: Understanding How to Nurture Skill and Will
Kylene Beers, Teri Lesene, Donalyn Miller, Robert Probst
Of course this was a popular session so I was willing to sit on the floor (don’t tell the fire marshal) because I wanted to be able to be up front and see!
Donalyn’s presentation is here for you to review at your leisure. A very powerful activity included these questions: “What books and reading experiences would form your reading autobiography?” Donalyn explained that: What matters is WHY you chose the book? Insights from these responses lead to deep conversations with students. Convos for Ss
Teri Lesene’s presentation is here. This fact was startling to me! Obviously I need to read more than a book a week!
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst shared a great deal of information about nonfiction reading that has come from the process of writing their new book. This slide is something I want to remember. . . “when I have answers I need to question”.
And this one on the importance of reading.
3. Finding Their Way: Using Learning Tools to Push Rigor, Increase Independence and Encourage Learning in Your Classroom
TCRWP Staff Developers: Mike Ochs, Kate Roberts, Maggie Beattie Roberts
Maggie began this session with many great connections. “We haven’t seen teachers work harder than they currently are, YET sometimes students aren’t working so hard! ” Tools can help students buy into learning. Tools, in our daily life, extend our reach, meet our needs, help us tackle big problems and personally get better! Tools connect, access, build community . . . should change over time!
- Rigor and motivation
- Memory . . . Why don’t we remember things? (short and long term memory) “I’ve taught this 1000 times. I know they learned this!”
“A great coach never achieves greatness for himself or his team by working to make all his players alike.” Tomlinson
And then a typical problem from narrative writing. . . How to stretch out a frozen moment. Kate created a demo page in front of us and told us it was, “Messy!” Lean on a menu of ways, decide the color scheme, and title.
Another tool might be a Micro-Progression. It provides a clear description of behaviors that are expected so students will know where they stand. Middle level is good. Students don’t always have to think they should be at the top level of performance.
Bookmark – 5 or 6 most important things for students to work on. Let students create this for themselves. They can be different!
Mike – Framework for creating tools adapted from The Unstoppable Writing Teacher with a shout out to Colleen Cruz.
Do not plan to use a tool forever. Have a plan to remove the tools. Some tools we will always need (the hammer), some we want to go away/become automatic (steps to hammer a nail) Some tools become references, set aside until needed. Sometimes need an additional/alternate tool. Most writing tools are not designed to be used indefinitely.
Kate: “You find yourself getting as smart as the toolmakers as you use the ‘tools of others’ and you get better as teacher! You don’t want to teach without a sidekick. Your tools can be a sidekick.”
News : Spring 2016 a book from Kate and Maggie!!!! SO EXCITED!
4. Transforming Informational Writing: Merging Content and Craft
Seymour Simon, Kelly Boswell, Linda Hoyt
I think I know this boy!
Seymour’s part was actually titled: Celebrating the Wonder in Nonfiction Storytelling. He began with a discussion of what nonfiction really means. If nonfiction is really “not true” than fiction should be “not real”. There is something about the use of “non” that marginalizes the texts that are labeled nonfiction. After all, who takes anything with “non” in the title seriously?
Not much difference between teaching F and NF. . .
- Who am I?
- What am I?
- What about me?
Mystery, wonder, poem, the universe!
Seymour read aloud many great fiction and nonfiction pairings. One of my favorite pairings was:
Kelly: How Mentors and Modeling Elevate Informational Writing
Mentor texts plus teacher modeling equals quality student writing. When teaching writing, FOCUS! If the target lesson is about leaving spaces between words, only teach “leaving spaces between words.” Don’t teach everything in the world of writing.
Kelly’s example for the text went “something” like this as an example of what NOT to do! “Class, we are going to work on leaving spaces between words today as we write. What does a sentence begin with? Good! Yes, a capital letter. (writes The) Our next word is ‘butterfly’. Let’s clap the syllables in butterfly. How many? Yes, three. What sound does it begin with?”
If the focus is “leaving spaces between words” – that’s the teacher talk!
On mentors and models – read the book once to enjoy, then mine for craft. Use a favorite book over and over and don’t forget to use it for conventions! Here’s an example from Hank the Cowdog.
- Create a culture of Curiosity.
- Provide time for students to ask questions
- Immerse learners in fascinating informational topics and sources
- Focus on content and craft in the writing they see, hear, and produce
- “Float the learning on a sea of talk.” – James Britton
- Teach research strategies
- Teach visual literacy – First grade writing example
8. Writers Workshop Every Day
9. Make sure learners are writing all day long. Write to remember. Write to question. Write to think. Write to express yourself. Write to share your learning. In every subject area.
10. Write Using Elements from Real World Informational Texts (lists, emails, letters, notes, newsletters)
Involving Students Take Aways:
Students can set real goals and self-assess their progress toward their goals.
Students are motivated when they have control and real choices in their work.
Models and tools aid students in moving through a cycle of novice to practitioner to expert.
What are your thoughts about involving students at this point?
In order for students to self-assess their own work, they have to have clear learning targets and be able to see the difference between their current work and the end goal. This is not easy work for teachers or students because the expectations are ever increasing under CCSS.
These first years of implementation of the Common Core may be transition years. If students have not had explicit instruction in understanding character development (R. CCR. Anchor 3), they may need varying levels of support. That instruction is going to be critical for fall 2013, in order to ensure success for students in their daily reading as well as future high-stakes assessments.
The last post included the chart below as an anchor chart that was a resource for a loop of :
- assessment, and
- planning for additional instruction for the students.
Joey, fictitious student, left his reading conference with a goal to work to increase his depth of understanding about characters. This is important for Joey and all other students to understand. It is not just about being able to understand the characters in this book. It truly is about how Joey will read and reflect on characters across all future reading (and will include many more attributes before he finishes elementary school – this is just ONE example).
Joey had some coaching in his reading conference about what he needed to do in order to meet that next level. But what if the coaching did not stick? What happens the next day? And what if there are many more students like Joey in the class?
Remember that group size for instruction is based on data and some general guidelines are:
- 1 student needs it – can be done in 1:1 reading conference
- 3 – 5 students need it – can be done in small group
- more than half the class needs it – whole group mini-lesson
Class data pointed to a need to improve understanding depth of character development. Planning an explicit mini-lesson in revising Post – Its, or “seeing again” is needed. Explicit demonstrations of what revision looks like and the many different ways it can be done will be modeled. The students also need more time to practice. Ultimately, the students will be improving their independent ability to describe character development in order to deepen their reading comprehension while simultaneously increasing their self assessment and reflection skills. This is HARD work!
What might instruction in revising Post-Its look like?
All students would come to the mini-lesson with a post-it about characters. The lesson will depend upon the data (the post-its in the hands of the students). It is possible that students may still be struggling with accurately self assessing that will require the teacher to teach the “assessing post-its” lesson AGAIN. Instruction has to be responsive to the student data!
As I move to instruction on revising, I will also be using some Question Answer Relationship (QAR) talk and labels because it is a strategy that students and teachers are already familiar with. That may not be included in your work with students/teachers. Instruction in the mini-lesson and subsequent student practice may include:
- self assessment of my post – it (review)
- talk with a partner about how I rated my post – it and WHY? (review)
- specific ways I can revise my post – it (includes ideas from the next chart about “HOW” )
- a second self-assessment of my post – it
- confirmation/validation with my partner of my revision
- an opportunity for students to practice this with a post – it I give them
- an opportunity for students to practice this with their own post – it
If my goal for the “Revising Post-Its” lesson series is to create a chart that would allow students to show which revision strategies they are using (public evidence of our learning), it may look something like the final chart below. (Remember this chart will be created with the students, but I do have to have a plan in mind.) As a teacher I could quickly check on the status of student revision with a simple thumbs up or down in response to this question, “Have I used more than one way to revise a post – it?” in a whole-class setting. However during a reading conference with an individual student, I could ask them to “show me other ways that you have tried revising?” if they seem to be stuck on just one way.
This was a bit of my holiday thinking. What would you do differently to increase self-assessment and revise post – its? I would love to hear your ideas!
* Reflection on large and small group sessions at July #TCRWP Reading Institute 2013 with Kathleen Tolan and Bianca Lavey.
What are the most effective uses of Readers’ Notebooks?
One of my pleasurable tasks this school year will be to work with a veteran group of teachers who will be implementing the new Units of Study in Writing. A secondary goal with that group will be to explore the use of Readers’ Notebooks as a tool that can:
- Assess the students’ ever-increasing levels of comprehension;
- Assist in student and teacher goal setting during individual reading conferences; and
- Provide structure for planning instruction.
I am excited about the possibilities for Readers’ Notebooks that I am hearing this week at the Teachers College Reading Institute, Columbia University, New York City(#tcrwp). (You all definitely should plan to attend next year!) This post contains several possibilities that I am considering. Please consider whether these match or extend your current thinking!
Setting the context:
In Readers’ Workshop, students will be reading for at least 30 minutes each day out of the ideal 60 minute block. There will also be an expectation that students will write for approximately 5 minutes (this is not writing workshop and does not replace that designated writing time) in order to show their level of understanding of the text that was read. This opportunity for writing will allow the students to develop their own thinking as well as provide evidence of application or transfer of a skill taught during a whole group mini-lesson.
1. How can teachers use Readers’ Notebooks as a Performance Assessment for Comprehension?
Example – Character Development in Book Being Read:
Just a quick reminder that I am making an assumption here that previous literacy work has included a Read Aloud where the teacher modeled some thinking about the character development in a text, a mini-lesson with explicit instruction in character development (or multiple mini-lessons depending on the grade level), and now conferencing and goal-setting with an individual student.
All students are jotting down evidence from the texts they are reading about character development on post-its in their reading notebooks. They have practiced jotting multiple times in whole and small group settings. The teacher may have already pulled the post-its and placed them into categories along a continuum of expected features for character development to create a rubric (or the teacher may be using information from #tcrwp as I am).
The teacher has then developed a chart for the classroom using examples from student post-its to fill in the third column in the chart below that uses student friendly language/phrasing. Students may also have a smaller version of this checklist (the same chart below minus the example column) in their notebook that they can refer to while jotting notes.
2. How can Readers’ Notebooks assist in student and teacher goal setting during individual reading conferences?
A Quick Peek into a Reading Conference in Progress:
For this example, I am having a conference with Joey (a fictitious student). I will look at the post-its on character development in Joey’s notebook during our reading conference. Joey will explain what “star rating” he believes his post-it is and “WHY” he believes so. We will use the examples on the chart to talk about the accuracy of Joey’s rating. Joey puts the corresponding number of stars on his notebook entry so he can literally “see” the rating. Then Joey and I set a goal.
How does this happen? If Joey’s post-it reflected a “1 star,” I will use a teaching point and teach Joey (using the chart with example) what he needs to do in order to have a “2 star” response the next time (goal). Similarly if Joey has a “3 star” response, I will use a teaching point and teach Joey what he needs to do in order to have a “4 star” response the next time (goal). Joey now has a clear learning target and is much more likely to meet his goal because he knows his current status and what he has to do to move on the continuum.
Joey knows what his target is and specifically what he needs to do to move up to gain another star. He will be able to meet that goal because he has seen and heard what that goal looks like from peer examples, and Joey can also consult the chart hanging in the classroom.
3. How can Readers’ Notebooks provide structure for planning instruction?
After a round of conferences I, the teacher, will have class data, (see example below), that I can use for small group instruction. Note that alphabet letters in the third column are codes for individual students. I could also decide to set up “partner groups” for accountable talk around character development by deliberately pairing two students with differing star levels in this skill area.
Performance Assessment: Star ratings based on student jottings on post-its on a continuum for a comprehension skill; character development is the skill in this blog post.
Student Self Assessment: Use of checklist to determine “star level” and explanation of “WHY” that rating
Goal Setting: Use of checklist to determine the next step to meeting the goal of higher comprehension in this skill
Informing Instruction: Class Status record allows teacher to see the current levels of understanding of all students in the class and make decisions about next steps in instruction.
College and Career Ready Anchor Standard RL.3
Is this new thinking for you? Are you using Readers’ Notebooks in these ways?
Thanks, in advance, for your comments!
(Sources of information: Reflection on large and small group sessions at July #TCRWP Reading Institute 2013 with Kathleen Tolan and Bianca Lavey and closing session with Mary Ehrenworth.)