Reflection: Top 10 Posts for 2016
Which of my 131 posts during 2016 were most read?
In reverse order (10 to 1) with a few notes:
10.#SOL16: #WhyIWrite – No More Red Ink!
What happens when a teacher “edits” with red ink?
9. #SOL16: What are you planning to read?
Five books in February that were on my “MUST READ” list from authors: Stacey Shubitz, Kate and Maggie Roberts, Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins, Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen, and Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie.
8. #SOL16: Professional Development
Characteristics of professional development were highlighted for four different “sessions” attended within a two-week time frame. Are these important for you?
- Learning Collaboratively with Others?
- Available 24/7 to Revisit?
- Passionate and Inspiring?
7. #TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 2
Different ways to share – a symphony and a museum share from Celena Larkey, why students need to write with a pen from Colleen Cruz, letting students lead with mentor texts with Mary Ehrenworth, and “DON”T KILL THE BOOK” with Donald Graves keynote.
6. #TCRWP Reading: Takeaways Day 2
The value of READING mini-lessons with Amanda Hartman, the value of “practice, practice, practice with Kathleen Tolan, What readers need in order to become AVID readers with Mary Ehrenworth, and Matt de La Pena’s keynote! “Teachers and authors don’t often immediately see the results of their work. Patience . . . you will!”
5. #SOL16: Who’s Doing the Work?
Have you read this book? You should have annotated and dog-eared it by now! This post celebrates the twitter chats (with links to the storified archives) as well as an inside look into many of the activities Kim and Jan developed in their study guide. How do you know you have “learned” something? How do you expect students to share their learning? So many DIFFERENT ways are shared here!
4. #TCRWP Reading: Takeaways Day 3
Learning about the many ways of shared reading with Amanda Hartman, inquiry for developing fluency with Kathleen Tolan, close reading with Kate Roberts and the keynote session with Donalyn Miller. What a fabulous learning day!
3. #TCRWP Reading: Takeaways Day 1
A Lucy Calkins’ keynote on developing reading community, sessions with Amanda Hartman on “one-focused teaching point” and Kathleen Tolan – a mind-blowing small group read aloud. Never.thought.of.a.read.aloud.for.a.small.group. And so obviously why I need to continue to learn. Such a privilege to have been a part of Kathleen’s June Institute.
2. #SOL16: March Challenge Day 23 – DIY Toolkits
Have you read this book? You can create your own tools after reading this book. Better yet . . . study it with a friend and then work together on creating tools. Tip: Best part of this blog post is the “summary tool” that Kate created and the links to other pages about this session (Tara, Sally and NCTE).
1. #TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 1#TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 1
This post includes quotes from Lucy Calkins (opening keynote), revision across the day with Celena Larkey, the power of stories with Colleen Cruz and planning for two or three days of small group sessions at a time from Amanda Hartman. What an amazing first day of Learning for the 2016 #TCRWP Writing Institute!
Data is so interesting. I was not surprised at the popularity of the #TCRWP posts as the June learning has been quite high on the list in previous years. Some of those posts continue to be “all-time” highs as well. I was surprised that the top 10 was split evenly between #SOL posts and #TCRWP posts and absolutely delighted to see that three of the posts where Kathleen Tolan really stretched my brain were in the top 10. I learned so much from Kathleen this past summer and YET had so much more that I needed to learn. It’s time to practice, practice, practice. I do write more “slices” than any other “type” of posts so I thank my slicer readers for boosting those stats! It was great to reread those posts with a “reader’s eye” as I considered WHY those posts were read more often than others!
What are you reading? What are you writing?
How do you set goals and reflect on those goals?
And as always, dear readers . . .
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?
Because Margaret’s daughter was married yesterday, today’s digilit linkup is over at Julieanne Harmatz’s blog “To Read To Write To Be” here. Check out the other links.
Trust me, Conferring Carl is so right. Conferring is the whole cake, the whole enchilada, the whole meal because it’s already the combination of many great ingredients in a flavorful mixture designed to entice the consumer!
One goal of conferring is to move the writer to effective and more deliberate practices across multiple pieces of writing. The goal is NOT to just make this piece of writing better by fixing it. It’s about going for “big ticket items” that will help all future writing be better.
“How on earth do I do that?”
“Please say more . . .”
Conferring does seem to resemble coaching. I have been working with coaches lately and I know there’s also a part of coaching that involves a specific teaching point. Dana’s post here about teaching points in writing is so spot on. It’s about:
“Writers (insert a skill) by using (insert a strategy) so that (insert a purpose).”
There’s a part of conferring that requires the teacher and the student to have clear targets and end goals about writing.
Hattie, Fisher and Fry say it best with this finding from John Hattie (millions of kids in the data pool) about teacher clarity in their book Visible Learning for Literacy.
Teacher Clarity has an effect size with the equivalence of almost two years of growth in one year of instruction. That’s what the 0.75 means. A d= 0.40 means one year’s growth. That’s why the 0.40 is often used as the “cut point” for choosing effective strategies. (Mini-stats course/refresher)
So what do clear teach goals look like? What are the possiblities?
Here is an example of one way a class is looking at “leads” for organization in narratives based on checklists (Calkins and colleagues, Units of Study in Writing). If a student identifies that “leads” are the area of “trouble” that he/she wants to work on in a conference, a checklist like this may have been used. The student would not just be saying, “This story is not good or this lead is not good.” Instead the student would be saying, “I need to work on leads because my readers have commented on the last two stories that it’s hard for them to get right into the story.” This student may have self-identified that most of his/her leads were only a “one-star” lead according to a chart like this. The goal might be four star leads.
The long term writing goal for this student may be about volume, it may even be about stamina, but for now this student really wants to focus on better leads so
and not stop reading
because there is no hint of
what might later become a problem for the reader.
Do you see langauge that might lead to a teaching point?
Teachers don’t need a “new and different” list of resources to confer from. They are working with the lessons that have been taught and/or looking for those next step items that will strengthen student writing across the rest of the year. Leads are important in narratives, informational writing, and opinions/arguments.
Is this the only concern in a narrative lead for fourth graders?
Of course not. But this use of checklists in goal setting (Calkins and colleagues, Units of Study in Writing) helps students (and teachers) who are not yet expert writers with some common language that can be used for teaching points within a conference to improve all future pieces of writing. The student made some choices about his/her own writing and made a conscious decision about what to work on. That’s a win/win.
The writing conference needs to be about moving forward. There are many ways to move writers forward throught conferences that are shared in many books (and Conferring Carl’s books are awesome)! How’s It Going? is a must have for your professional collection and has this review:
“This is by far the best writing on the conference I have read. It is a book that is far superior to the other texts-including my own.
—Donald M. Murray”
But the work ultimately needs to be done by students and involving them in this process and honoring their own goals/wishes/needs is critical. A conference like this with a writer allows the student to continue writing and may well set them up to be able to show peers and parents exactly how personal work with leads has improved his/her own writing.
This student may well be able to teach other students exactly how and why to do this with their own writing. More writers who know why and how . . . that’s a reason to invest time in writing conferences.
Don’t worry about perfect conferences! CONFER!
What’s your next “Conferring” step?
#Digilit Sunday: Function
Twitter connections are so fabulous. Via Twitter today I found out that the focus of #Digilit Sunday was function. Check out Margaret’s post here. The part of “function” that I have been thinking about a lot lately is “executive function”.
It’s close to the end of this school year, but how can students still be increasing their own level of executive function? Isn’t this where deep learning and even transfer live? Isn’t this the whole point of moving beyond “surface learning”?
And of course, the most important factor in executive function, in my opinion, is that a student has had plenty of opportunities to “do the work”? How do teachers ensure that students are doing the organizing and the self-talk? They must “say less so readers can do more” and demonstate over and over that they really can do the work with panache and confidence!
For me, the connections from this post all began years ago during TCRWP Writing Institute with a conversation between Allison Jackson and myself about this book. That conversation grew into a book study, Twitter chats and actually meeting the authors. Completely life-changing . . .
The function of learning is that students do the hard work of making meaning. That students actually dig into surface, deep and transfer learning. That teachers are like the conductors on the train. Recognizing the signs, making them visually and verbally apparent, but that ultimately students are really the ones who need to be in charge of their learning. And that learning should always, always, always be JOYFUL!
Unfortunately, this Mark Twain quote may still be true:
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
But I can learn in spite of or even despite my education!
Is learning the FUNCTION of your work?
How do we know?
#SOL16: What are you planning to read?
New professional books in the field of literacy are headed your way this spring from the following authors: Stacey Shubitz; Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris; Kate and Maggie Roberts, Dana Johanson and Sonja Cherry-Paul; and Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey and John Hattie. Get ready for some amazing learning!
Stacey, Two Writing Teachers, has this book out from Stenhouse this spring: Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts. Stacey blogged about her book here.
Jan and Kim’s book (available May 2nd from Stenhouse):
Kate and Maggie’s book (available April from Heinemann):
Dana and Sonja’s book also available in April from Heinemann :
And from Doug, Nancy and John (March, Corwin Press):
Coming later this year a new book from Vickie Vinton . . .
Waiting is so hard . . . sometimes waiting on “new friends” is harder than waiting on Christmas.
Where will you start?
What books are on your professional reading list?
Do you share “your reading plans” with your students?
(*Truth: I have some 2015 books to finish soon to clear the decks for spring break reading!)
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 and teachers here. Get ready to share your writerly life in one week with the March Slice of Life Challenge!
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.