Three simple letters
One short little word
“For what purpose?”
“Help me understand!”
“For what reason?”
Why . . .
Never confused with my cousins
The other 4 W’s and the H
Who? What? Where? When? and How?
One little word that asks you to DIG deeper!
Requires time to reflect
Requires student work!
An amazing question: Why?
In order to have life-long learners, we must ensure that curiosity is front and center for our students. Students should be asking questions (and seeking answers) every day. (Ask and answer questions – CCR.RLK.1. Standard) Multiple questions. Every day. Wonderopolis may be a source of more student choice and voice in the topics explored. However, even during reading and writing workshop students need to be asking questions. Questions are a source of learning if one is confused, one is clarifying, one is making connections to real life. In student-centered classrooms, student questions should be as necessary as breathing if students are doing the work!
Why this instruction?
The instruction should support high levels of student learning. The use of scaffolds can ease the transition to more difficult strategies or materials, but the ultimate goal is that students will be able to independently DO the WORK! That means they need just in time instruction, that meets their needs, that increases in complexity and has student work and practice at the heart. No boring monologues, no arts and craft instruction, no mindless worksheets. Real questions generated by the students that they can and do answer.
Why this assessment?
Assessment that measures learning, moves students forward, and informs instruction has to be a part of the instructional cycle that has students at the heart or center. Educators must move beyond the “I have to use these assessments” to the ones that are pedagogically sound, that matter to students and provide clear evidence of student learning. That takes teacher advocacy and teacher depth of knowledge of instruction, assessment and curricula. There are no easy shortcuts in education and creating specific, engaging, real-world tasks are not easy but are so necessary for student learning.
The #1 Why: The Ultimate Goal
Not mere regurgitation
But taking ideas,
With the goals of
Shaping the World!
And their own Futures!
How do you use “WHY”?
Why do you do what you do?
Additional posts at Reflections on the Teche
Check out other #DigiLit Sunday posts at Margaret Simon’s Reflections on the Teche here.
Purpose: The End or the Beginning?
In the process of getting ready for #NCTE16, I was considering not blogging about this topic today. And yet, here I am because of three different conversations this week. I vacillated between:
What’s the “purpose” for assessment?
What’s the “purpose” for instruction?
What’s the “purpose” for digital tools?
- What does the research say?
Doug Fisher and John Hattie both shared this effect size for “Teacher Clarity” in Iowa in separate October, 2016 professional development sessions. That’s well about the “.40” that is touted as a “cut score” and is almost the equivalent of TWO YEARS of learning for students. Therefore, Teacher Clarity is important in instruction, and equally important in assessment aligned with instruction and perhaps has the greatest importance in the selection of digital tools for students.
2. What do teachers need to consider in the planning process?
Teachers spend hours poring over lesson plans and planning for instruction that will meet ALL students’ needs. Searching for the right resources, planning that delivery that will empower students and most of all trying to make learning purposeful and engaging. That’s not easy as some content is hard for students to really “grapple with” for real understanding ans not just rote memorization. However, if the goal is “LEARNING” and is focused on Teacher Clarity, won’t that require the teacher to BEGIN with “What will the students know and be able to Do after they complete this learning? So the teacher process might include some or all of these steps depending on the curriculum that exists and the expectations of any given curriculum.
Each step in the process above has ideas for “possible tools” to use during the planning and / or learning process.
3. But what about the learning environment?
Which classroom promote accelerated learning for students? How and where are students preparing for today, tomorrow and life “after school”?
What should classrooms look like?
4. What tools should the teacher and the students use?
The learning purpose should determine the possible range of tools that both the teacher and the students will use. Will the students ALWAYS have a voice in selecting the tools? Probably not, YET. Should the students have a bigger voice in selecting the tools that will showcase their learning? YES! Students should be
allowed encouraged to showcase their learning in a variety of ways. Learning should not always look like “cookie cutter” factory models.
As I’ve thought about purpose and its role in learning, this is the way that I have viewed it . . . with “purpose” as a critical factor at each level.
But now I wonder if “PURPOSE” should be the circle that houses the other four circles. Maybe purpose really is all encompassing and is the “driver” behind all decisions. So are the learning targets the center and purpose the frame for all learning?
Where do you believe “Purpose” lives in the daily decision-making processes involved in instruction?
How do we know students are making progress in writing?
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.
Writing has become a more “urgent” focus in many schools due to the College and Career Ready K-12 Anchor Standards listed here:
What about instruction?
There are specific grade level standards that further illuminate the expectations for the end of the grade for each of the 13 years that students are in school. Materials can be found for both instruction and assessment at all grade levels. As a critical consumer, you can sift through those resources to find the ones that provide authentic writing opportunities for ALL students and a plethora of evidence of student growth.
What about assessment?
Checklists with a variety of “levels” describing writing for students can be found here. Are the checklists aligned with the Common Core writing standards outlined above? Do you have different standards that need to be aligned? Districts using standards-based reporting systems also have several variations of checklists or rubrics designed to measure “growth”. Can you tell if a student is “making progress” from this checklist?
. . . Student Role in Assessment?
However, a system of measurement would be remiss if it did not provide student self-assessment of writing progress. That progress can be captured in the children’s own words as in Dana Murphy’s blog here: “What Do You Know About Being a Writer?” The words of kindergartners remind us that reflection on learning needs to begin early – In kindergarten!
Are all students developmentally ready for writing when they enter kindergarten? There are many levels that can be “named” for early writing stages. Waiting for “readiness” is not the answer. Lack of quality writing experiences prior to school is also not an acceptable excuse.
Building a need for writing is critical from the first day of kindergarten. How and when can and should the student be writing? The end goal for the kindergarten year is “writing” and will require both instruction and practice each and every day of school. However, quality writing instruction can and should accelerate student writing because kindergartners are encouraged to “draw and write” all year long.
Will EVERY student go through every stage?
Perhaps not. Maybe splitting out so many stages really just slows down the learning for students.
Will it be hard work?
Will it require change?
Do kindergarten writers deserve quality instructional opportunities that engage them in authentic learning?
Consider this: “Revision may seem like something older kids do, but really kindergartners revise in the block center so why not in writing?” -Lucy Calkins (TCRWP Saturday Reunion, 10.18.2014) Check your beliefs at the door. Open your eyes and mind to the standards to see which ones are “Mission Possible” for kindergartners.
Are teacher beliefs holding students back?
Is growth about counting the levels or writers who who read, talk, and do the real work of writing EVERY day?
Once students are sure that they have stories to share, they will be able to write those stories! Once writers are TAUGHT at all grade levels, writing quality will improve. No more assigning writing. No more teaching writing.
Professional Development Model
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 Betsey for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.
What is professional development?
Does your answer include a focus on student needs to drive decision-making, and student learning as the basis on which professional development is planned, implemented and evaluated? If your answer also includes a focus on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, please keep reading. Leadership is also an important principle of professional development, whether it be the instructional leadership of the principal or the teachers within the building. Simultaneity is another important principle to continue as no one action in school improvement occurs in a vacuum. Participative Decision Making would be a final principal for ongoing sustained professional development designed to improve student learning.
Do those principles sound familiar?
In Iowa, they form the chevron at the top of the Iowa Professional Development graphic pictured here.
What are the core beliefs in this model?
o All students can learn.
o The purpose of professional development is to increase student achievement.
o Professional development should be collective learning by all teachers and administrators with an emphasis on improving instruction.
The cycle of professional development includes many familiar steps:
- Collecting/Analyzing Student Data
- Goal Setting and Student Learning
- Selecting Content
- Designing a Process for Professional Development
- and a mini-cycle that includes Training/learning opportunities; Collaboration/implementation; and Ongoing Data Collection/formative assessment
Cycles – Training/Learning, Collaboration, Formative Assessment . . . . .
With a focus on tight alignment between curriculum, instruction, and assessment, this model parallels many Professional Learning Community cycles including the functions of data teams. The “name of the organizing framework” is not nearly as important as checking to ensure that all elements are present within any professional learning group! Leadership needs to focus on how and when collaborative time can be provided so teachers can work together. The training includes modelling and gradual release of responsibility as the participants take over the leadership role.
Additional ideas from the Iowa Professional Development Model include:
To be able to transfer new learning into the classroom, teachers need multiple opportunities to see demonstrations, plan together, work out problems, rehearse new lessons, develop materials, engage in peer coaching, and observe each other.
Often, learning opportunities need to be interspersed with classroom practice so that questions that arise from early implementation efforts can be responded to in a timely manner.
. . participants are provided with multiple demonstrations of the teaching strategies within the model . . .[and] multiple
opportunities to practice the teaching behaviors. . .
Professional development must be designed to be sustained over time. The initiative must be designed to last until implementation data indicate that the teachers are implementing accurately and frequently and student performance goals are met. (Joyce and Showers, 1983, 2002; NSDC, 2001; Odden, et al., 2002; Wallace, LeMahieu, and Bickel, 1990.) https://www.educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/IPDM_Guide.pdf