Stories: There are many. Too many to choose from. Too many that show the love, the independence, the strength.
Memories of going to MacDonalds as a child and getting a cheeseburger at MacDonalds. But my brother said he only got half a sandwich so we must have been sharing them as Grandma only had a cup of coffee and she was buying.
Memories of her peonies. That west property boundary. That gorgeous smell. And that occasional nuisance … ants.
Stories of Grandma as a teacher at a country school. My own teacher and role model. Sending me, the farm girl, downtown (5 blocks away) to the store to pick up groceries. She had called ahead with her meat order. But the prize was the quarter that I had to spend.
A quarter of my own.
Should I buy something solely for myself? Should I get something to share? Grandma couldn’t chew gum with her false teeth, but I desperately wanted gum. Gum that I could choose the flavor and then braid the wrappers.
Heaven. Choice. Freedom. Independence. Trust.
Grandma set those conditions for me.
I didn’t need someone to go with me and hold her hand. I didn’t need a babysitter. Grandma provided the environment that allowed me to make my own decisions, up to a point. The good old days.
Thank you, Grandma Ruth, for your ability to treat me as an individual and trust me all by myself. A teacher . . . outside a school building.
What “teachers” have you encountered outside of classrooms? How have they impacted your life?
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March.
Check out the writers and readers here.
By Sunday the air is bittersweet. Farewells begin. Last conversations are passionate pleas to capture frantic final minutes. Choices are final. Options are few. Time races. No second chances to catch folks as flight departures begin before the sun is above the horizon.
And yet, gems . . .
“What is Authenticity?
Is it the same when viewed with a student lens?
How do we know?”
L. 30 Prioritizing Student Voice: Honoring Independence, Identity, and Advocacy as the Cornerstones of Learning
And from the #G2Great family:
- Samuel Fremin @The Sammer88
- Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson @kkht6912
- Susie Rolander @suzrolander
- Justin Dolcimascolo @jdolci
- Kara Pranikoff @pranikoff
Sam Fremin began with asking us to not constrain student’s creativity! He told us the story of having a two page limit to an assignment that meant he had to cut almost everything out of his original seven page response.
What is the purpose of a two page maximum assignment?
What is your response to a “page limit”?
Is that indicative of the teacher’s attention span?
Sam contrasted that with this year’s AP Lang course where they were to “Write about something important to us” as they compared and analyzed two essays. As a 15 year old, Sam, who likes The Onion wanted to write a satire about “Discrimination not really being that bad” and through multiple conversations with his teacher, worked out the details and “used a display of writing that I will never get to write again. I displayed my need to try that voice.” And the teacher, even though she wanted a tight rein on the expectations, did participate in a two-sided discussion that allowed Sam to write his satire!
And then Sam’s role (as a high school junior) was to continue to introduce each of the panel members. Such poise and great presence for a high school junior and one of the #BowTieBoys! (Sam blogs here.)
We also learned that advocacy for Native Americans is important because Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson shared a US map with reservations marked although only 22% of Native Americans live on reservations. Kathryn teaches at an Ojibwe school so she is very cognizant of appropriate language and respect for cultures. Awareness may be a great first step but Kathryn also encouraged us to be aware that work barely scratches the surface of working with folks who have different beliefs and values. How do Ojibwe students want to be named? When do we ask?
Susie Rolander shared that we need to let student input drive our work. This means we need to revise and renew our professional practice. (A plug for Coppola’s book – Renew!) It’s a Journey! But for students who are struggling there does need to be a Sense of Urgency! And that this meant as an interventionist, Susie wanted her students to be independent. “I don’t know what I would do without you!” from a student was not what she wanted so one big action in her productivity plan was to move to student goal-setting so the students themselves would know if they were meeting their goals. Their goals. Not teacher goals.
Justin had us begin by completing this statement: “I am _____”
I am a:
Am I real? Do my students know my many roles? Do other staff know our roles? Justin shared a “I am” board created in his school.
Justin’s parting challenge was to consider equity and how we build our identity every day of our school lives so that we are not just working on career education in high school. Instead of “What do you want to be?” in terms of a career, Justin said we need to shift to “What great problem do you want to solve?”
Kara Pranikoff, author of Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation, closed out the presentation with thoughts on how to use talk in the classroom to increase student engagement and agency. And also, “Deep thinking takes time, we’ll wait. Take your time.” Students set the pace. As an instructor at Bank Street College, Kara and Susie routinely invite their students to Twitter chats!
M. 24 Rekindling Our Teacher Hearts and Minds to Reclaim Our Sense of Agency and Purpose
(Ellin Oliver Keene, Vicki Vinton, Donna Santman)
What is the purpose of education? Which of the four statements matches your thinking?
What do you value?
” We overestimate children academically and underestimate them intellectually.” ~Lillian King
Shout out to Regie Routman:
Resources will often dictate practices. (from Read, Write, Lead)
“However, we NEED to begin with Beliefs first, then our Practices, and then choose Resources that align LAST!”
Beliefs and Practices – Donna Santman @dsantman
What made your current school a match for you?
When Trouble Starts:
What do you do?
What flexibility will be required of me here?
And how will I respond when trouble happens?
Our core beliefs about children;
Our core beliefs about ourselves.
We are humbled in the face of children;
We are humbled by our children.
There has been a huge language slide in our country.
How do we convert deficit language to asset language?
Check out the asset mapping resources on Ellin Keene’s website Mosaicliteracy.com
N.O8 Redefining Authenticity: Empowering Student Ownership
(Do you know their Twitter names? @acorgill @katiedicesare @ruth_ayres @coloreader)
I was expecting to be blown away by Ruth Ayres because I can’t stop talking about her new book just out, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. It’s an amazing personal heart-wrenching narrative about her children who struggled with life and then also a “how to” deal with teaching writing. And yet all three of the other panel members complemented that presentation.
Skills and dispositions for writing are the same for real work. We have to get the heart right. Students need to write. Yes, kids are afraid! Writing is where I can help kids see the different ways a story can go.
If we have authentic writing projects, teachers cannot make all these decisions. Students need some choice and voice. This is NOT a free-for-all! You don’t have to leave ALL open! But you must leave SOME open!
How do you ensure that students have an authentic voice?
How do you know that students REALLY believe that they have a voice and some choice?
What did you learn on Sunday at #NCTE17?
August #TCRWP Reading: Day 2
My joy of advanced sections during the August Reading Institute at the #TCRWP centers around the thoughtful and deliberate choice of sections to meet my needs. As soon as I saw this title I was hooked because of the focus on “progressions” and “independence”. Transfer is always in the back of my mind as well. If a student doesn’t transfer the literacy work to both other content areas AND life, a lot of time has been wasted for minimal gains.
“Using Learning Progressions and Performance Assessments to Increase Student Skills and Independence” – Kelly Boland Hohne
On Day 1, less than 30 minutes into our first session, we were unpacking a strand. In a group of five other new friends, digging deeper into the meaning of just one reading strand with this process:
Unpacking a strand – do 3 things
- Study between the levels of the strands and note differences. What is the key work of this level?
- Try to put into own words or use keywords from description.
- Try to imagine how that would look in a student’s writing about reading or talk or what it would look like if the student is doing that work.
I appreciate so many things about the #TCRWP Institutes as the brilliant staff developers each have a different style. And though my brain felt like it was melting, I was so excited (and yet a bit apprehensive) about digging into this work immediately. As in one strand with gradual release (Teacher modeling, Group Practice) and then a second strand in our group with constant check ins and support (if needed). All On Day One! I think this was the point where I tweeted out that I was getting my $$$ worth at #TCRWP. However, it could also be where I first thought it, but had zero seconds to actually tweet it out! The pace is not for the faint at heart!
When dealing with the progressions: Do I have to do everything listed in the level to be “in” the level? (Have you ever had this question about the rubrics or the checklists?)
No, No, No. You just need to do more than the previous level. This is why demonstration texts are critical. If and when you make the thinking and the writing visible, students can figure out how to rise to the next level. However, teachers do need to unpack these strands themselves for deep understanding. Making a copy of someone else’s chart does NOT give you the background knowledge to help a student. After all you, as a teacher, are more flexible when you understand the tool which is why you need to do this work yourself.
Where might you begin? Which progressions stand out?
Focus on some key strands to begin with because they are repeated a lot (via Kelly Boland Hohne):
Literal – Envisioning/Predicting
Interpretive – Character Response/Change
Interpretive – Determining Themes/Cohesion
Analytical – Analyzing Parts of a Story in Relation to the World
Analytical – Analyzing Author’s Craft
We worked on these topics in small groups. Our group focused on “Character Response/Change”, What does this look like across grades? What would a demonstration piece of writing look like across the grades? Here’s what the draft of my chart looks like!
As we use the chart, it’s highly probable there will be some revisions. It’s also possible that there will be continued discussion about “quantity” and “quality” of responses. Those are some of the common issues in trying to measure/assess learning. The key is to:
- Make a plan.
- Think about the information you plan to use.
- Work collaboratively to consider theories about student work.
Making the invisible visible in reading comprehension is a lofty, noble and worthwhile goal. It CANNOT be handed to you in a book, a set of standards, or even a set of progressions. The meaning comes from digging into the work.
What work are you doing to build students’ independence?
How will you know you are on the learning journey?
How will you know when you are successful?