When learning is in the very air that you breathe, it’s totally exhilarating. And that’s just a small piece of #NCTE16!
Session G12: Writing for a Better World: Poetry Responses to World Events
This session should have been live streamed for educators around the world. Poetry is such an important part of the “meaning making” that we must construct of our daily lives.
if poetry is not a typical part of your repertoire, why not? Humor can add fun. Serious topics can add empathy. And above all, poetry can add truth to your life.
Check out this storify that introduces the folks at this session. In no way does it capture the essence of the conversations. That richness lies in the poetry of their talk.
Poetry – Do you need to add some to your life?
Do you need to add some to your teaching life?
Additional Poetry links from/about NCTE poetry presentations:
Poetry is Truth – Irene Latham
Risking Writing – Heidi and Mary Lee Hahn
Kate Messner – Collaborative Poetry Writing
From our view together again at #NCTE
(Still practicing on “selfies”)
The link up to other #DigiLit Sunday posts can be found at Margaret Simon’s Reflections On the Teche. Please check out what other bloggers are writing about today!
And today’s topic:
What does agency mean to me?
It means choice. Yesterday I chose #TheEdCollabGathering created by Chris Lehman (definition one below) and I made sure that I acted on that agency (definition two) by attending sessions live all day. Barely pausing for conversation, my brain on fire, I moved from one session to the next, each one carefully chosen as a tapestry of confirmation.
Topics I needed to revisit. Topics I needed to dig deeply into again. Topics I needed for inspiration and affirmation seven weeks into this new year. Welcoming learning with friends. Welcoming new friends in the Twitterverse. Welcoming a day of JOYFUL learning from my home on a Saturday. (Agenda for #TheEdCollabGathering here.) The sessions were free. The sessions will remain free and accessible. The sessions can be accessed at your leisure. The.sessions.are.well.worth.your.time! TRUST ME! Check them out!
Evidence of Agency for me yesterday?
- That I could choose the free sessions to attend from the comfort of my home.
- Attending the sessions, tweeting out and having conversations with fellow attendees, presenters, and colleagues from around the world . . . and then Blogging about my attendance and learning today!
No . . . er . . . I don’t know YET!
Kind of . . .
I have been working with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge lately. Those four levels that in some circles have replaced Bloom’s Taxonomy. I don’t think either one is exclusionary and in fact believe that there are some positives in each. Both invite thinking in order to move up the levels.
These Depth of Knowledge levels are available about writing at this Edutopia resource.
Level 1 (Recall) requires the student to write or recite simple facts. This writing or recitation does not include complex synthesis or analysis but is restricted to basic ideas. The students are engaged in listing ideas or words as in a brainstorming activity prior to written composition, are engaged in a simple spelling or vocabulary assessment or are asked to write simple sentences. Students are expected to write and speak using Standard English conventions. This includes using appropriate grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling.
Level 2 (Basic Application of Concepts & Skills) tasks require some mental processing. At this level students are engaged in tasks such as first draft writing for a limited number of purposes and audiences. At Level 2 students are beginning to connect ideas using a simple organizational structure. For example, students may be engaged in note-taking, outlining or simple summaries. Text may be limited to one paragraph. Students demonstrate a basic understanding and appropriate use of such reference materials as a dictionary, thesaurus, or web site.
Level 3 (Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning) tasks require higher-level mental processing. Students are engaged in developing compositions that include multiple paragraphs. These compositions may include complex sentence structure and may demonstrate some synthesis and analysis. Students show awareness of their audience and purpose through focus, organization and the use of appropriate compositional elements. The use of appropriate compositional elements includes such things as addressing chronological order in a narrative or including supporting facts and details in an informational report. At this stage students are engaged in editing and revising to improve the quality of the composition.
Level 4 (Extended Thinking & Complex Reasoning) tasks may incorporate a multi-paragraph composition that demonstrates synthesis and analysis of complex ideas or themes. Such tasks will require extended time and effort with evidence of a deep awareness of purpose and audience. For example, informational papers include hypotheses and supporting evidence. Students are expected to create compositions that demonstrate a distinct voice and that stimulate the reader or listener to consider new perspectives on the addressed ideas and themes.
As I reflect on my agency and my learning today, I am confident that most of my Tweets fall into the Level 1 category. I often try to capture exact words – the very essence of the speaker’s thoughts – and that is totally recall. No doubt. Level 1. And yet sometimes, I’m pulling in background knowledge or shortening the exact quotes when there are long hashtags and I must cut down the number of symbols. Is that always Level 1? Probably not. Is it sometimes Level 2? Perhaps yes.
And what of this blog post? Where would it rate? Ideas from the day are flowing through my brain. Some pictures are already uploaded. Others are paused. Too few? Too many? Which serve the meaning and the understanding of the reader? Which are examples of MY thinking?
Right now I think that I am approaching or possibly just peering over the ledge of DOK 3. Your thoughts?
As I consider all the meaning embedded in Level 4 (Extended Thinking and Complex Reasoning), I believe this is where Katherine Bomer’s thinking lies when she said,
“Capital E, Essay equals thinking!”
A student or adult is agentive and completing that “extended thinking and complex reasoning” when totally engaged in a task of their own choice. When writing, it may be an essay, a poem, or some great work of literature. But it’s something the student knows and knows well due to their passionate study. It may be a study of their own thinking and problem solving as suggested by Burkins and Yaris in Who’s Doing the Work? when the students are actually working harder than the teachers as they problem solve and persevere in forging their own learning paths when “given the time to do so”.
Jan’s metaphor of shopping was played out in this chart and compared to choosing a just right book. Students choosing their own books . . . not being handed books by the teacher brings up a question: “Who SHOULD be choosing the books?”
Tara Smith tweeted out that “agency = knowing how to make choices.” How often do our students struggle with making decisions? When should they be “practicing” quality decision-making skills? Is that not a skill that should be part of the daily routines during the school day?
Consider how engagement and accessibility play into these four elements. Jan actually framed and labeled them for the viewers. But at any point there could be a mismatch. Clare and Tammy would also point out that the mismatches are opportunities for learning and even ownership of their learning. A celebration of learning. Every data point can also bring hope, joy and agentive power to the students.
And what if students were publishing regularly for real audiences? #TWT authors and bloggers, Beth Moore, Deb Frazier and Dana Murphy literally hit the game-winning touchdown with their sharing and feedback strategies! (It was a Saturday after all-so there was some collegiate football in the background.) Deb suggested feedback to young writers on day one, Dana said it could be ‘fancy like “Wow and Wonder”, “Glow and Grow”, or like “slicers” -1. feel, 2 notice, 3. connection’ and Beth Moore said that someday a student writer might tell friends about how special their teacher made them feel as a writer. Honoring students and their writing work doesn’t cost a lot of time or money. Celebrating student learning should be an every day constant.
After all this is “their” learning! Fewer behavior management systems might be needed if there was more emphasis on “student choice” and so much less emphasis on “compliance” and “silly tasks” but those are both topics for another day!
The intersection of agency, choice, engagement and learning seems to be a good fit for students who are “doing the work” and not passively watching others engaged in the work. Even kindergarten students want to share their thinking . . . not their fault that sometimes their symbols and/ or work needs translation for our adult brains to make better sense (Clare and Tammy’s story about Zachary) .
But what if the entry point for all students was simply choice?
What if the responsibility and accountability lies with students?
Lucy Calkins reminded us this summer that “To teach well, we do not need more techniques and strategies as much as we need a vision of what is essential.”
What if agency is essential? How does that change instruction and assessment?
(Did I make it to Level 4 -Extended Thinking and Complex Reasoning? You be the judge!)
Tonight’s the night. Get your fingers ready to dance across the keyboard in conversations with Katherine Bomer. If you haven’t read the book, come join the chat. If you have read the book, come join the chat. If you love to write, come join the chat!
The Journey is Everything
Somewhere back in April or May several of us online began discussing an option for a book study. Several ideas were tossed out. Some of us were already in the midst of one book and said “SURE!” because “What’s one more book?”
And so a book study began online with GoogleDocs. The pace varied with our lives. Reading. Writing. Teaching. Working. And then it became real when we were so hooked into the book.
It was scary when I actually tweeted out about a travel incident and then added “Food for an Essay Soon” or something like that. It was a done deal. In writing. I would blog about the incident. And it would be an essay.
What on earth was I thinking?
Emboldened with knowledge.
Empowered with learning.
Ready to give it a go.
I sent it to friends.
Is it an essay?
And they said, “Yes.”
And oh, the comments . . . But one in particular!
I’ll be at the #DigiLitSunday chat tonight to capture more wisdom from Katherine Bomer.
Head over to Margaret Simon’s Reflections on the Teche for more #DigiLit posts.
On Friday the pace quickens, the sessions are shorter, goodbyes to session partners are bittersweet, the closing session is uplifting and motivating and then final farewells to friends who leave for home and other travels (Boothbay, ILA, Nerdy Book Camp). New trail guides are perused. Weekend planning begins.
But I must end the week with a smidgeon more.
|Advanced AM Session
Ratchet up the level of your students’ writing by teaching them revision: Tapping into the power of mentor texts and checklists (K-2
- Our ultimate goal: Teach our students how to “mine” mentor text. (published, teacher written, AND student written) When students can mark up texts, they will truly know the strategies/skills. CL
- Our toolkits need a wide variety of pieces in a variety of process stages for examples. Some pages may even need to be in plastic sleeves for extra practice by students. CL
- Students need to talk more EVERY day. Find little pockets of time (like snack time) and create little boards to rehearse the stuff on the checklist. CL (Double, triple, quadruple the talk time to increase volume and stamina in writing.)
- The Units of Study are not always specific about revision. Maybe you will add a physical revision bend for three or four days as a mini-bend towards the beginning of the unit and then another day in bend 2, bend 3 and before the end of the unit with a revision club. C
- Have writing goals. Make sure that the goals are clear. Have you ever had revision goals like:
Using tools to revise
Revising to make ideas clearer
Revising to make structure better
Review revision in each unit and build the expectations across the year. CL
How will we know talk and rehearsal are important in your classroom?
How will we know that students are working on revision every day? Across the day? And across the units?
|Advanced PM Session
Power Tools, Methods and Strategies: Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)
We made some tools today that matched the needs of our case studies. They were mini-charts, bookmarks, and choice tools for students. Many were flexible so students could add or take away skills/strategies as needed.
- Use Smarter Charts or DIY Literacy for basic ideas for tools and tool development.
- Consider whether some pictures/icons should be the same across the grade/building for increased access AND understanding for ALL students. (reading – same book, writing – same pencil/pen)
- Consider how color coding could increase access for students: science = green, writing = blue, across the grade/building.
- Provide choices in writing tools for students. Check the recommendations of OT/PT/SLPs. (As I looked around our classroom, there were many variations in tools!)
- Build a plan for the year. Think of it as menu planning for your entire family. What dishes can everyone share? And what dishes meet specific needs/diets? Be planful in advance so that everyone has the sustenance that they need!!
Who ALWAYS asks the question: “Is this good for ALL students?”
How can planning in advance for ALL students improve instruction across the board for ALL?
Lucy began our closing as she began the opening onMonday. . . “We came from 48 nations and 43 states . . . ”
We thanked everyone who made this week possible.
ALL the staff at TCRWP, Teachers College, and our beloved Staff Developers for the week.
Celebrating Student Writing – and the Effect of Your Teaching
We looked at student work to celebrate the growth in writing where we could see huge growth from the beginning to the end of a unit. But we also celebrated what wasn’t necessarily the attainment of a standard or items on rubrics and checklists.
Writers develop a deep passion for knowledge.
Writers cultivate their urge to teach others.
Writers making sense of themselves, exploring their identities.
Writers increasing their visibility.
Writers developing a deep sense of civic engagement.
Writers learning to correct social injustices.
- Just as students celebrate their writing, teachers must regularly celebrate their writing instruction and feed their writing souls.
- Writing improvement may seem like it’s gaining at a tortoise pace, but movement will vary across students. Celebrate growth!
- What are your grade level expectations? Are your goals concise?
- What is your grade level vision? Is your vision broad enough?
- A la Katherine Bomer, what critical literacies do you encourage:Superheroes, Muscles, Politicians / leaders, Fantasy, or Argument – that founding skill set of a democratic country?
What takeaways are going to linger with you?
What and where do you need to consider “revising” in your instruction?
It began with an email. Late Sunday evening, an email in my inbox with the subject, “Five pound favor, please.” I was on the receiving end of chuckles from colleagues every time I recounted the story. Was it not believable? Was it too far from the norm?
And then the box arrived. A perfect cube. Two foot by two foot by two foot. Except for its size, totally inconspicuous in a normal, brown cardboard box. Two layers of packing bubbles hid the goods. Oh, no the corner of the bag was open! White and teal orbs peeked out from around the bag. Fortunately for me the box had arrived early. I had some leisure time to study the size and shape. How would it be best to repack this package for its safe trip to Florida?
On the day of the flight I had my typical early morning pre-dawn arrival at the Des Moines International Airport. My boarding pass and ID were verified in the TSA pre-check line. Easy peasey! No waiting! My phone was in the bowl. My two carry-on bags were on the conveyor belt as I strolled through the scanner. No hands over head. No stopping to hold a pose. The line was moving quickly, quietly, efficiently! And then the line slowed. The man in front of me had his carry-on bag inspected by hand. I saw the location of his bag as my items slowly emerged on the conveyor belt. Phone, check. Computer bag, check. I held my breath. Oh, no, the turquoise carry-on bag was pulled off the line to be inspected.
Darn it. All because of my favor. I wish I could have seen how indistinguishable that item looked in the top of my bag. A Thermos lunch bag cooler, five pounds of teal and white candies inside, carefully cocooned in two layers of bubble wrap to keep them from crumbling and occupying approximately one-third of the space in my carry-on bag.
Have you ever wondered about which candy is most popular? The Mars company claims its M&Ms® are the most popular chocolate candy in the world. The coated candies were created in the 1930s in order to add a chocolate candy to soldiers’ meals that would not melt. How are they made? The candies begin as liquid chocolate poured into tiny molds. They are then “tumbled” to make the chocolate center smooth and rounded. After they harden, a liquid chocolate and corn syrup coating is sprayed on them. Multiple coats. Multiple drying times. The color is the very last coat that is applied. You can read more about how M&Ms® are made here. Additional factoids about M&Ms® can be found through google searches. I wondered how many M&Ms® were in my five pound package? At one point, I had around 2500 M&Ms® in my possession.
My favor, requested by my favorite younger sister, was to deliver five pounds of teal and white M&Ms® for my favorite oldest Florida nephew’s graduation party. The company would not ship them in May to Davie, Florida because of the fear of melting. So after a 1500 mile special delivery trip, here is what the hand stamped M&Ms® looked like and why a TSA screener in Iowa is still asking his peers, “Did you know that M&Ms® could be printed with a picture on them and all kinds of other sayings?”
Have you had personalized M&Ms®? Did you ever wonder about their creation? Or their delivery to their final destination? What stories could your M&Ms® tell?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Visual structures of this draft of the essay above based on my current understanding of Chapter 3: The Journey is Everything.
- The favor – 5 paragraphs
- M&Ms® – 1 paragraph
- Questions for readers – 1 paragraph
- Introduction to the favor – 1
- The story- 3 paragraphs
- M&Ms® – 1
- The specifics of the favor – 1
- Questions for readers – 1
- The mystery – 2 paragraphs
- DSM airport story (the mystery continues) – 2 paragraphs
- M&Ms® – 1
- The favor revealed (including picture) – 1
- Questions for readers – 1
- The Favor
- Mini-story – hint (2 paragraphs)
- Explicit reveal (with picture)
- Involve reader with questions