What was your “Most Trusted Resource” for 2017?
Who do you turn to?
I listened to the local meteorologist this morning to hear that the temperature was -10 with a wind chill of -35. I did not turn to the Weather Channel. I did not want to see an entire country enveloped in cold. My little region with the ticker of church cancellations across the bottom of the screen was sufficient. It met my needs. I did not need a second source. I already had verification when Mya was outside for less than one minute. It’s cold! It’s REALLY cold! Right now Iowa is as cold as the South Pole.
So if the local TV weather and my dog’s reaction were “enough” today . . . how do I typically make decisions about resources? Here’s the process that I typically use with my criteria.
1. What’s my learning goal?
Begin with the end in mind. What is the end point learning? What do I want to be able to know and do after the use of the resource that adds to my knowledge base? Because I value this thinking, I often search for UbD resources, Understanding by Design – Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. Resources built on a UbD framework already encapsulate some basic learning principles that I value as shown in this ASCD resource. How well does this learning goal align with the standards, assessments and learning targets? How will I measure learning. All of these questions and more are evaluated in the UbD process!
2. Are the resources accurate, useful, efficient, and relevant?
Putting four criteria together is daunting because these can and should all be evaluated separately. But here’s the deal, if they aren’t all present to a high degree, the resource is really useless. Not needed. Not wanted. Not going to be in a “fixer-upper” pile as life is too short to be re-working resources that are not accurate, useful, efficient, and relevant.
3. Have the resources been written, taught, and vetted using a process/protocol to improve them?
How were the resources developed? Were they written by persons who haven’t been in a classroom since they were students? Or are they written and reviewed by teachers who are constantly striving to improve their teaching practices and who are willing to work collaboratively and diligently to appropriately give credit to original authors for their ideas? Was a template or framework used so developed materials align vertically within the content area and horizontally across grade levels and content areas? What information is available about the process? What information is available about the review?
What resources meet this criteria?
One FREE source is found with the Massachusetts Department of Education. You will need to create an account (good for 30 days) and agree to honor copyright – you can’t profit from the work! Here’s the link – doe.mass.edu
“Why these resources?”
- Massachusetts is getting results in literacy.
- This resource comes from their state department of education website and was the result of a collaborative process Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe and hundreds of teachers.
- You can begin by using a unit and adding or subtracting learning activities based on the needs of your students.
- There is a TRANSFER goal in every unit.
- Outcomes, Assessment, Standards, and Instruction are aligned. Resources are the last to be chosen. That’s a part of the UbD model!
- The resources are accurate, useful, efficient, and relevant.
- The materials reference sources and are not plagiarized intellectual property.
- The units only require a registration (and renewal after 30 days).
Check out the resources NOW!
Access to multiple grade levels can help you with pre-requisite skills and learning expectations!
Grade 2 Example ELA Units:
Grade 9-10 Example ELA Units:
What are YOU waiting for?
How could using these units as “mentor” units help you increase student learning?
What process are you using when you search for learning resources?
AMAZING LEARNING continues at TCRWP!
Liz Dunford Franco – State of the Art Curriculum to Support First Grade Readers
We began with a study of mini-lessons in the first grade Book 1 of the new Reading Units of Study. With a partner, we read a sample, role played it and then debriefed with table groups with these questions in mind:
- How are students engaged across these lessons?
- What does the teacher do?
- What does the student do?
Liz shared some tips for reading the lessons with our group. They included:
- Use a highlighter to mark the language so you are clear and consistent.
- Teaching Point – echo the language in the plan
- Connection- This is where you can add your own personal touch and make it relevant but keep it short and sweet.
- Make notes to yourself – ( My thinking – Consider a different color of post it for what you as teacher need to do or say in advance so everyone has “materials” needed.)
What does kid watching look like at the beginning of the year in first grade?
The teacher might be looking for evidence that a student is able to
Self – start
Refocus with a teacher gesture
Work with table group
Work with partner
We talked about keeping the mini-lesson short and staying under the 10 minute guideline length for a true “mini-lesson”. Liz pushed us to think beyond just the “10 minute time limit” in order to determine where the lessons broke down. By studying “where the trouble was” in the lessons, we could see where we were losing time and avoid those behaviors.
What patterns did we see?
In active engagement, was too much time spent going back over the strategy for an extra mini-mini-lesson?
Did the Link involve reteaching instead of just a nod to the chart?
Were students being kept in the group and not sent off for additional work?
How could the teacher check in with students later (without losing time)?
Hand student a post it and then after all students are off reading,, say, “1, 2, 3 eyes on me! If I gave you a post-it, come back to the table!”
“Taking a sneak peek could be taught as an Inquiry Lesson.”
We jigsawed sections from the 2nd book – Unit 3 Learning about World – Reading Nonfiction with the following bends:
Bend 1: Getting Smart on Nonfiction Topics
Bend 2: Tackling Super Hard Words in Order to Keep Learning
Bend 3: Reading Aloud Like Experts
A feature that I loved and tweeted out was that in grade 1, Book 2 Nonfiction, students are put in the role of teacher to do their own read alouds! (This was always the goal with Every Child Reads in Iowa: students would be able to do their own Read Alouds, Talk Alouds, Think Alouds, and Composing Think Alouds.) I also loved to hear that kids need 10-12 informational books in personal baskets or common group baskets. At this stage I am waiting to hear more about both the Read Aloud 5 day plan and Shared Reading Plan.
Possible assessments for Grade 1 students include:
Letter sound ID
Comprehension to be assessed through Read Alouds, talk, conference and the use of a pre-assessment to determine whether students need another bend to build up habits or a unit from If/Then before beginning the nonfiction unit.
What are you thinking right now?
What “AHAs” did you have?
Any specific connections/questions that came to mind for the non-first grade teachers?
Katie Clements – Embracing Complexity: Teaching Kids to Tackle and Love More Complex Nonfiction (Grades 3-6)
How can we support students in tackling and loving more complex texts?
We began with four minutes to teach about our non-fiction book with a partner (after a few tips about how to do this well). This was a great energizer for the group, as well as validating our homework assignment.
- DRAFTING main idea
We began with nontraditional texts: Main idea from text and pictures combined that Katie modeled and then main idea from a video that we practiced with a partner.
- Don’t just name a topic.
- As you read on, hold the main idea loosely to see if it STILL fits.
- Revise main idea as more information is added.
We watched a very short PSA video clip. First viewing: “As you are listening and watching – watch for the chunks, we will see how the chunks fit together!” We discussed. Katie posted the three big ideas she heard and then put bullets under them. Before we watched the video again we were told to sort and rank details for a mini-debate.
As we worked on this, I tweeted out:
“Use of non-traditional texts. . . do our students know how to process/understand text that they will live with all their lives?”
1. Revision will be necessary in complex text.
2. I believe we have a moral obligation to teach students how to do this complex work with the texts that they are using in their lives. This means students will need to learn how to do this work independently!
Katie shared some ways that this tool was used in a fifth grade classroom and we brainstormed some additional ways that it can be used. As I read my homework assignment, I watched to see if these areas were also “complexity issues” in my book. Much potential here!
How do you teach main idea in nonfiction text?
What makes it complex for kids?
Does it get “messy”?
Kathleen Tolan – Closing Workshop
Groups and Maximizing Student Growth
Key Takeaway: Small groups for all – not just struggling readers!
How can we get a routine for ourselves so we “know how it is going to go?
We need to take interventions to mastery instead of introduction so students get reading practice and their work can be lifted. Because growth takes time, we need realistic strategies. Anything that is hard takes practice. Name it for yourself. Put the work into your daily schedule so the students can do it again and again and grow.
Kathleen share some of the frustrations of planning for small groups.
- Sometimes it takes 45 minutes to plan for one session.
- And then the lesson doesn’t go the way we want it to.
- The students aren’t doing well.
- There is no magic fairy dust to sprinkle on the students!
What would it be like to plan for the increments along the way?
Small Group Session 1: Small groups should NOT be using new material. You will need to go back to the exact space in lesson plans. RETEACH! Don’t do a big demo or Think Aloud! Instead invite the small group to “co-create the original lesson!” This allows you to turn the work over to the students quickly and also see which parts of the original lesson stuck with the kids! This way within minute two of a small group, students are at the. “Open your book and now you do it!” stage.
Coach! Coach! Coach! Coach!
All of us do it together quick and then to transference.
Link – add in when we will meet them again! Put on schedule to make sure it is included. Check in is short – 10 sec.
Small Group Session 2: Reread from Read Aloud
Redo what you did last time or shared writing from last work. Take this into your own book. Read – your 5-7 min. are up. But they are still there “DOING” the work!
Students don’t need us there for repeated practice. Leaning happens when you are not there! Set them up and give them tools!
Small Group Session 3: We are working on envisionment. Go, work.
Our goal is not to talk all the time. Use progression on envisionment and write around the post it, naming the work. When we use the progression, make sure you teach down all the way through that level and then teach one thing that leans into the next level. Be realistic. If a student is at level 2, don’t expect them to immediately jump to level 4.
Give one tip.
Students doing the work!!!
Repeat coaching one more time!
- Small Groups – set 2 groups up. Move faster! Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t sit as Teacher! You will move faster! After 5 min. move on!
- Need internal sense – Need to reset our clock!
- Tangible tools. What can you leave behind? What’s important?
- If we introduce tools that go across content areas, look at the amount of practice students will have!
What is your routine for small group work?
Who do you work with in your small groups?
Mary Ehrenworth – Keynote
Remembering Grant Wiggins: Innovating “Teaching for Transference”
Mary shared that this session was the result of collaborative work from the TCRWP staff. Students in school need less drill and more scrimmage because feedback varies. Feedback in skills and strategies are “can you do them?” In scrimmage feedback is likely to be, “How are you doing with them on your own?”
- book to book – Piggy book – Work you can do in any book
(characters in books are more than one way (strengths and flaws) Your opinion is more valuable when allow for nuance and acknowledge there are some troublesome parts!
- Book to book – (Characters with strengths and flaws) Maddie and Tae – “Girl in a Country Son”
“What’s the most important thing?” Sorting and ranking made discussions stronger.
“What’s the next important thing?”
“What makes you say that?” Don’t just nod your head. Ask “Why is that important?”
3. Transference to another text – history text – Schoolhouse Rock – Elbow Room
(Strengths and flaws, Power and disempowerment) Stems you might use are
“While it’s true…” “Nevertheless…”
4. Inside / outside school Transfer
Mary shared that she and Cornelius Minor will have a JAL article next week that included close reading of sports event that allowed students to “read their lives”. Our goal should be to nurture transference form one book to another, from one reading experience to another, and from one reader to another. How often do we feel like we are around the campfire having fun? Don’t want to leave the story?
How do you teach for transference?
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.
My One Little Word (#OLW14) for this year is
Our focus for curriculum development for all content areas is Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design (UbD). UbD is one of three models typically used in Iowa. Since June, we have worked with four different groups of ELA teachers and administrators to begin development of “units” through the UbD planning process. We have also worked with two content area groups on how to use the ELA Standards for all content areas as required by the Iowa Core Standards. Jay McTighe will be in Iowa next week for the fall ASCD conference to work with educators on unit design to improve understanding. What a great opportunity to increase our own understanding of UbD.
In the UbD model, what is transfer?
Grant Wiggins says it is the “Point of Education” as teachers plan, teach and assess for transfer including long-term goals. In a post that includes that phrase, Wiggins defines transfer as:
“[Transfer is] the ability to extend what has been learned in one context to new contexts. Educators hope that students will transfer learning from one problem to another within a course, from one year in school to another, between school and home, and from school to workplace. Assumptions about transfer accompany the belief that it is better to broadly “educate” people than simply “train” them to perform particular tasks.” (“Transfer as the Point of Education”)
Does transfer happen automatically?
As a teacher have you ever taught something, given students time to practice, used a formative assessment, but still had students fail the summative task? I think that the typical ubiquitous spelling list often led this category for many students. Transfer can only happen when there is reflection, analysis, and generalization from the lessons learned as “rote memory tasks” do not typically “transfer” learning.
So are hands-on projects conducive to “transfer” of learning for students?
Wiggins says, “The typical hands-on project – done for all the right reasons – does not assess for transfer if the student 1) gets help all along the way in completing the project, 2) the work is highly contextualized, and 3) little demand is typically made whereby the student must draw general and transferable lessons from the doing of this and other projects.” The thought that projects are often not about transfer can also be a reason to stop and think about the purpose of the performance task that is being used. Is it a new, real, and relevant situation? (“Transfer as the Point of Education”)
What does transfer look like?
In this UbD video, Wiggins talks about soccer and education. “The goal is not to see if they got what you taught; the goal is to see if they can use it when you are gone. The goal is NOT to be better at school.” Specific information about Transfer Goals can be found in this video by Jay McTighe. Additional articles and blog posts include:
So how does transfer fit into my life as a Reading Specialist? What are my expectations?
Considering Transfer and Professional Development. . . .
I will model a lesson / strategy / practice and then:
- Teachers will practice and use modeled lesson in PD..
- Teachers will use lesson in classrooms.
- Teachers will independently use lesson in other content areas/situations in their lives!
Considering Transfer and Students . . . .
Teachers will model a lesson / strategy / practice and then:
- Students will practice and use the lesson in class.
- Students will use the lesson in other classrooms where not taught.
- Students will apply the learning on their own, in any situation, without help!
Possibilities for transfer . . .
There are many paths for instruction, further work with UbD and even this post by Anna Gratz Cockerille, “Using assessment tools to teach transference”. with my “One Little Word” I am looking for transfer every day.
What is your understanding of “transfer”? Do you see teachers or students “transferring” their learning?
On April 1st, I read this tweet from Cornelius Minor that has sent me on a path of discovery, learning, and thinking about writing instruction and writing feedback.
When I followed his link to the blog, the Chart Chicks had an entire blog post on writing that you will want to check out for yourself for the detailed explanations. Here is the summary:
“Have you noticed that there seems to be three main approaches to teaching the writing process?
- The “free to be me” approach
- The “assigned task” approach
- The “demonstrate, scaffold, release to write” approach”
I often see variations of those approaches in classrooms ranging from kindergarten through twelfth grade in school districts of varying size. Instruction in writing varies. Teacher assignment of writing is the norm in many classrooms. Why is this? Is it the lack of instruction for teachers themselves? Or does this concern begin with teacher preparation courses? Do teachers know how to demonstrate, scaffold, and release to write?
After attending the June 2013 writing institute at Teachers College, I had many choices to make in how to help teachers and myself improve writing. One area of special interest to me is feedback because of John Hattie’s work in Visible Learning for Teachers. Feedback is critical for growth in teaching knowledge and confidence. A second source of information more recently has been Taylor Meredith’s The Formative Feedback Project that can be found here in Medium.
I believe that “feedback” for writing can also be categorized in three main approaches as well. Writing responses that I commonly see are:
- bleeding red ink
- no red marks – just a summative grade, score, or comment
- a thoughtful post-it with “think abouts” for the author
Writing is hard for students and teachers. Writing is evidence of thinking. If quality thinking is one of the classroom goals, teachers need to provide thoughtful, individual feedback that is goal referenced, tangible and transparent, actionable, user friendly, timely, and ongoing (Grant Wiggins, 2012). That may require a transformation by many teachers.
So let’s explore those a bit more. The first form of “feedback” listed above is “bleeding red ink.” So what does that look like?
Who did the work here? The teacher!
The teacher should not be the copy editor who corrects every error. That kind of “feedback” is merely information for the writer. There is no learning or change in the student’s knowledge. Recopying “corrected” work is only editing. No revision or understanding of revision has transpired. There is also a high probability that the next written work will have similar errors.
End Result: Student writing + Teacher red ink = No real learning (only recopying)
The second form of “feedback” is no red marks, just a summative grade, score, or comment. This may look like:
A check mark or a B+ provides minimal information for the writer. Someone has read that work and left one mark. A one word comment can also be limiting as evidenced in this Jerry Seinfeld quote about essay tests:
“I always did well on essay tests. Just put everything you know on there, maybe you’ll hit it. And then you get the paper back from the teacher and she’s written just one word across the top of the page, “vague.” I thought “vague” was kind of vague. I’d write underneath it “unclear,” and send it back. She’d return it to me, “ambiguous.” I’d send it back to her, “cloudy.” We’re still corresponding to this day … “hazy” … “muddy”…”
– Jerry Seinfeld (SeinLanguage. Bantam Books: 1993)
Who did the work here? There is not enough evidence to tell us who is doing the work.
But how helpful is that singular piece of information?
The student on the receiving end of these marks may say, “Wow, I dodged that. I don’t have red marks all over my paper so I don’t have to rewrite my paper.” But what did he or she really learn? Are the learning targets clear? How “close” to the learning targets was the work? What needs to be done in order to show improvement? And even more importantly, “How does the student really become a better writer?” “What does the student need to improve?”
End result: No red marks + Summative mark = No real learning (No idea how to improve the quality)
The third form of “feedback” is a thoughtful post-it with “think abouts” for the author. What does this look like? The first picture shows three post-its coded with + and one with “??” for think abouts for the author. The pink flower post-it says, “Tell us what you think!” so that also gives the student enough feedback to know “what” to do as the next step.
It’s more helpful to focus on one single aspect of a student paper for improvement. Taylor Meredith has a great post on the difference between input, information, and feedback. You can find the link here, “Input, Information, Feedback“. You will notice that I “borrowed” the idea of “equations” from that post.
End Result: Student Writing + Thoughtful post-it with “think abouts” for the author + Revise, Grow, Change = Student who is able to Revise /Change “own writing” now in this piece and also on the next piece!
There is a shift in this third version of feedback for student writing! The student knows exactly what to do!
What does your writing feedback look like? What will you do next?
Source: Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback.Educational Leadership, 70(1), 10–16.
I am fascinated by the discussion level that continues around “Close Reading” which is just a “part” of the text in Reading Anchor Standard 1. (Specifically two words out of 31 that actually say, “Read closely.”) You can read what Grant Wiggins posted about Close Reads here.
Tim Shanahan has several posts about close reads. This one, “A Time for Humility,” posted after the IRA conference on April 23, 2013, is particularly enlightening as Shanahan shares that there is no “one perfect model” for close reads.
Who are the experts? Is there a “formula” or a plan that works for every story? No, NO, NO! Close reads are dependent on the complexity of the texts, the skills of the students and the goal of the specific lessons.
When a reader begins with the text, the meaning has to be aligned with the author’s words and craft. How do students understand that? Some students may get all that in the “first read” and therefore not need a second or a close read. But if the second grade students can only provide a “topic” when questioned about a page they have read, a “second read” may be necessary for instruction/modeling of main idea whether explicitly shared by the author or implicit in the text.
Will a single close read work for all students? Probably not! That is the “ART” of teaching, a teacher that can propose a learning target, provide a model and the resources and then begin to check for understanding to specifically meet the needs of all students.
In the waning days or weeks of the 2013 school year, I would encourage teachers to continue to challenge students. Ask your classes when they felt that they were “stretched” in their learning this year. Likewise, ask them when they felt like they were “coasting” and they didn’t need to put out a great deal of effort. Consider students’ input and “Try something different” in your implementation of the Core. A lot of other bloggers and authors have written about the value of high expectations. With scaffolding and some collaborative practice, many student CAN be successful!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
What is close reading?
To begin at the beginning, this began with Reading Anchor Standard #1.
- “Close Reads” are not the Final Goal (March 19, 2013 post)
- How Often Do I Use a Close Reading? (March 9, 2013 post)
Then when considering text for use in close reading demonstrations or for student practice, two posts that cover this ground are:
- Close Reading: Not for Every Text (February 28, 2013 post)
- How Do I Choose Text for Close Reading? (March 2, 2013 post)
What should be the content or purpose of “close reads?”
- Are you allowed to make “connections” in close reading? (February 22, 2013 post)
- and just as a reminder: “Common Sense” and the Common Core (February 21, 2013 post)