We began with Lucy Calkin’s, “We come from . . .” but it wasn’t the countries and states typically heard in Riverside Church. It was about the difficulties and the joys from the past year. It’s easy to focus on March to the end as we prepare for the 2020-21 school year, but let us not forget that August to March was ours. Ours to teach. Ours to plan. Ours to build community. Ours for face to face instruction. And ours to celebrate.
We ended with a celebration. Music greeted us as we entered. These brave authors read their work. They read from their boxes . . . not from the stage in Cowin Auditorium.
And then Hareem Atif Khan had the closing. So many tears as she shared stories from several stages in her life.
To bookend the you come from beginning, Hareem said, “You go to your communities, schools, classrooms, children, children whose voices need amplifying. Let’s leave vowing to be the teachers that this world needs.”
I wrote about this summer’s reading virtual institute here. I still missed some of the same things this week during the writing week. I wanted to sit and chat with my small groups F2F. I wanted the fun of exploring new restaurants and the closing book sales at Bank Street Book. I wanted at least one Broadway show. Not in 2020.
My Writing about Reading from notebook to literary essay daily sessions with Katy Wischow who was the Institute guide for the week, announcing all the keynotes, was beyond my expectations. And our sessions with Alicia Luick . . . ended with singing. More about both of those later.
My Tips for a 30+ hour long Virtual Institute
- Study the Trail Guide and organize your days.
- Figure out a format to organize your links. Quick access is the key. This simple table works for my links page.
- Consider how you like to organize your notes. Organization matters. How will you access the information? Do you like every session on a single page? Do you like all sessions together by the day? Or together by the session so all five days of Writing about Reading are together? WHY? Set up at least your Monday, Day 1. The 10 minutes between sessions goes so quickly!
- Plan your backup for device failure. What is your plan if your device goes wonky during Zoom streaming?
- Plan your backup for WiFi failure. What is your plan if WiFi decides to take a break?
- Headphones and mic are not really optional if there are other beings in your house. Seriously, conversations are fun and funny with other 2 legged and 4 legged critters interrupting and dark screens and mics off work, but sometimes your patience gives out first!
- Break out rooms – If you have used them, awesome. What did you like? What did not work so smoothly? If there was a slide with directions, I took a quick pic on my phone so I would have it. (Borrowing from my friend Lynn, “I am old and my brain leaks.”) Jot a note. Think about how you focus on remembering and doing the task in small groups. (Ignore if you are not obsessive about remembering the task; someone in your group will capture it for everyone else!)
- Plan to participate as fully as possible. I personally felt the learning was MORE intense than in an “in-person” institute, and I have always felt those were like drinking from a fire hydrant. I didn’t have a plan for evening “think” and “work” sessions. That work space instead of canning 14 pints of salsa might have helped me to feel less stressed.
- Make plans to connect with folks beyond the institute. Your small group? A partner?
- Plan to learn AND have FUN! It’s a transformative week! You will be amazed at the tech tips and tools that you use and learn as well!
What tips would you add?
What are some characteristics that you expect from a keynote speech?
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of seeing/hearing five different keynotes as a part of the TCRWP June 2020 Reading Institute. Each had its own distinct features due to the knowledge base and presentation styles of Lucy Calkins, Katy Wischow, Sonja Cherry-Paul, Michael Rae-Grant and Sarah Weeks as you can see in the keynote titles below.
- An Opening
- You Never Read Alone: Community, Identity, and The Power of Talk
- Radical Teaching: Reading Workshop as a Powerful Space for Transformation and Liberation
- I Know, Therefore I Am: Why Nonfiction Reading Is About So Much More Than Extracting Information from Texts
- A Few Choice Words
Some common themes I found: Communities of learners and stories draw us together in these turbulent times. The texts of our lives ARE our lives: Are we living them? We are the sum of our experiences so we need to make sure they reflect our lives. If not you, then who? Readers are never alone!
But the surprising commonality for the five keynotes was the deep emotional connections: the tears, the laughter, and the joy of learning in a community. And yes, even through Zoom/electronic devices, the stories were that powerful.
If you would like to learn more about “keynotes” here is a great source from the business world. Link Tips 1, 3, 7, and 10 are my favorites. Especially 10. Always 10.
What will be your keynote for the 2020 school year?
How will you focus on priorities?
What are your expectations from a keynote?
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.
I tugged at the thing in my mouth. A string? What on earth?
I started to gag.
Someone grabbed my wrist and held it tightly. But the string in my mouth! I know I was screaming “Take it out” but only a garbled mess came out.
My teeth hurt. Something was rubbing my lips. My throat hurt. And that string!
“Help me! Please!”
It was just one week after school was out for the summer. I was 9. My older sister and I were in beds in the same hospital room after having our tonsils out. She wasn’t too thrilled about the apparent 2 for 1 discount.
Are all the events above equally important? After a #TalkPower Twitter discussion of Chapter 4 last night I decided to practice using one of the tools from Shana Frazin and Katy Wischow’s new book from Heinemann.
The Tool: The Event-O-Meter
The plan is to use this tool with events in a story or nonfiction book as students talk about the events and the category that they belong in. In order to get a feel for this, I decided to try it with a story that I was drafting for my slice. The goal of this “game” is to discuss the thinking for the placement in a category.
Here’s how I thought about my story above. First Draft Thinking. (I wouldn’t use every sentence as I did in this first practice.)
Is every detail or event in a story equally important?
Who determines the importance?
The author by its inclusion?
The reader by their response?
(And sorry dear readers, I am still working on this story . . . )
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.
One goal of writing workshop may be to have independent and confident writers who can and do share their writing with the world.
Any one in the “reader-sphere” gulping just a little at that? Big, Bold, Audacious Goal! Dream Big!
So how do we REALLY set students (or even adults) up to be Independent? Some might argue that this means that a teacher needs MORE control over a student’s writing so that the path is quick, controlled and successful. But how does that student learn to handle trouble? Work through adversity? Persevere? Does that student ONLY turn to outside sources for validation?
This is a draft. I repeat, “This is only a draft!” But I’ve seriously been considering this since Monday. A LOT!
I wanted to write about it yesterday, but I was still thinking! And so last night with the extra hour BEFORE the #TCRWP Twitter chat LIVE from the dorm across the street from TC, I initiated a simultaneous phone conference google doc with a writing colleague.
Testing the waters.
And yes, only a draft for the third time.
Many of us love partners for student work. And we have our own partners. Partners in life. Partners in marriage. Work partners. Writing partners. Reading partners. Thinking partners.
How do we set those up . . . in the beginning.
This idea . . . I heard it, we tried it out in our section and it “felt good”, I read some more about it. Open notes conferring could be a path to greater independence, more engagement, and stronger connections between us and our thoughtful, fascinating readers, and then I tried it FOR REAL again!
Courtesy of Shana Frazin and Katy Wischow: Open Conferring Notes
“Open notes conferring could be a path to greater independence, more engagement, and stronger connections between us and our thoughtful, fascinating readers.” – Katy Wischow, June 12, 2015, ‘Turn and Talk About”.
Don’t panic! Open Conferring Notes are not notes left with the student. They are notes the teacher takes (his/her accountability) and shares with the student so that the student can SEE that his/her voice is heard. Students participate in conferences differently with Open Conferring Notes because it is more of a partnership than just a turn-taking typical conference.
The notes are simple 2 columns. “I noticed” heads the first column and “Tips” heads the second column. Writing notes as an adult to share with a student DOES feel clunky at first but the notes shouldn’t be a secret. After all, the words were real words out of the student’s mouth. What felt “clunky” was:
- How many notes?
- Which notes to record?
- Can he read my notes?
- Did I capture that thought accurately?
I know over-thinking. Over the top. But that delicate balance between what is said and what is written and am I OVER recording? YES!
Why does this matter?
Do you have student partnerships confer? Do you expect them to tackle this work?
Wouldn’t Open Conferring Notes be the “perfect” scaffold to begin to teach students to “share the conferring note recording pen”?
As the conferee last night for about an hour, I loved this. It felt good to be simultaneously, yet respectfully turn-taking in our excitement as we practiced “Open Conferring Notes”.
Open Conferring Notes
What have you learned, tried out, practiced and investigated further?
Open Conferring Notes – soon to be used with teachers learning to confer as well!
Thanks for teaching me about Open Conferring Notes, Shana and Katy!
Additional DigiLit posts can be found at Margaret Simon’s blog, Reflections on the Teche. Check them out here!
I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing “feral” posted in a variety of tweets and blogs over the last year. I know what I thought it meant but before writing this morning, I decided to “see” what a definition really looked like! Here’s what I found!
What if our students were encouraged to have feral vocabulary experiences?
Would that be too extreme?
What if students were thinking users of vocabulary?
That was the premise of a session led by Katy Wischow (@kw625) at the 89th #TCRWP Saturday Reunion that was summarized in this post. Vocabulary is complicated. It cannot all be taught through context. But when do we KNOW that a student really knows a word?
I believe that it’s when a student owns the word and uses it in his/her writing and quietly sit and wait for the teacher response after the word is found. It’s also when the student says, “Ms. M, I tried out “plethora”. I think it works; please check it out for me!”
I gained an even deeper understanding of vocabulary at #NCTE16 with a presentation by Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow, and Char Shylock summarized here.
What do you believe about vocabulary instruction?
Does it “WORK” for all students to “study” the same words on a list?
When it comes to Vocabulary, I have more questions than answers. If I am a “wide reader”, I have exposure to more words. I can still remember my first exposure to “supercalifragilisticexpealidocious”! Such a fun word that over shadowed the plot in “Mary Poppins” for days! And words like “loquacious”, “accolade”, “capricious”, and “ubiquitous” add fun and joy to my life! None of those words were ever on a vocabulary list for me to memorize or write in a sentence! (Just sayin’.)
What words do you like to USE?
How do you collect and use new words?
For those of you who coach others or provide PD, here’s an example of a Vocabulary Hyperdoc created by members of our literacy team for our local coaches designed to help teachers reflect on their vocabulary instruction and assessment practices. (Content + Technology)
Bookended by our Thursday and Friday evening dinners . . .
are over 16 pages of notes, hundreds of storified tweets, pictures galore and thousands of words. Words Matter. Words matter whether spoken or written. Words in the heart matter as well. As a #TCRWP aficionado stunned by the passing of Deputy Director Kathleen Tolan this weekend, I celebrate my learning about small group reading instruction last summer with Kathleen even though I still yearn for more. That gritty, passionate, talented, brilliant and sometimes “pushy” Deputy Director would want us to carry on . . . Make the students in front of you YOUR PRIORITY! FOCUS on students!
FRIDAY at #NCTE16
The Heinemann Breakfast on Friday honoring the Legacy of Don Graves was a star-studded celebration. I felt like the red carpet was rolled out to recognize the literacy superstars in the room who all had stories to tell that encouraged us to roll up our sleeves, pay attention to students and get to work. From Penny Kittle’s, “When Don asked me to do something, I did it!” to her credo “NCTE is a place to settle your soul” we were entranced! Katherine Bomer reminded us that “Writing to discover what we care about is brave and that writing is a way a student’s voice comes into power and reminds us that we are all human.” Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell shared that their “mentor text drop box – a way to organize and access mentor text – represents the generosity of Don Graves.” This breakfast was a family breakfast that reminded us of who we are and where we are going together. ( Heinemann Podcast Link)
Charts as Tools for Conversation, Advocacy and Action (Martinelli, Schwartz, & Luick)
The focus of this presentation was on the purpose of charts, ownership and environment, reflection and action. The two words that I heard over and over were “purposeful planning”! This is embodied in sketching out the steps to check clarity, the vocabulary used, and the ability of the chart to act as the teleprompter for the teacher. Of course, a crystal clear teaching point helps!
One caution was to make sure that students’ voices were included in discovering learning together . . .students could contribute definitions, examples, and even make their own tools to use. Tools that begin in the minds of teachers become ideas that can eventually be handed over to the students. (Isn’t that what transfer is REALLY all about?) I’ve heard many, many, many TCRWP staff members say that when we introduce a tool, coach and provide support for a tool, we MUST have a plan for the tool to go away. Graphics in a chart are really meant to be replaced by pictures or names of your own students. Or even better, by students who make their own charts because they know the purpose and that’s good for teachers, students, and LEARNING!
Vocabulary Matters! – Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow and Char Shylock
How do students ever learn enough words to improve their vocabulary? How do students become invested in their OWN learning? Who’s really doing the work in vocabulary learning?
Step 1. Listen carefully.
Step 2. Wait.
Too often when students say things that are untrue or unbiased, teachers jump in. Instead of the teacher teaching 24/7, maybe students should teach us so that they have the skills that they need for the rest of their lives!
Step 3. Think. What do we know ( or What do we think we know) about …”
Step 4. Audition what you know. Try it on. Is this idea never true? Sometimes true? Always true? (or True for me? True for us? True for you?) Set up a place or way for students to go do this!!!
Step 5. Revise and rename. What assumptions changed?
Step 6. Spread the word.
This presentation included opportunities for us to think about shifting our beliefs, taking note of vocabulary words, increasing our word curiosity and consciousness and “settling our souls in teacher church”. Shana Frazin told us that “English is her superpower and Hebrew is her kryptonite.” If we think of a word in another language, how does that add to our repertoire? How does working with “categories” help students access MORE words. And then Katy illuminated some FUN, JOYOUS ways to find a few minutes to incorporate vocabulary work. . . in a closure – share, in a mid-class tip, in spare 5 minutes before the bell rings or even a simple conversation like . . .
“Wow guys, you are doing such fascinating work with characters… let’s talk about…. which would you rather be, character A or character B and why?”
Some activities take time:
- Sentence game
- Grid game – person and question
- Play with words – Beck’s Bringing Words to Life (Would you rather? How much would you like to ? Which is more important to ? When/ how should you?)
- Word sorts – content words for open or closed sorts
- Other work – paintings or artwork.
Vocabulary work that has student learning and ownership as the goal WILL stick with students. Vocabulary work that has “correct answers on the quiz” as an end goal . . . NOT so much!
The Power of Low Stakes Writing with Ralph Fletcher
Advice from students
“Use top shelf adjectives and verbs”
Like a big balloon…
Audience (beyond the teacher)
A sense of fun and adventure
Teachers who value
Invention, originality and voice
So what happened to the big beautiful balloon?
Student Choice increases energy and excitement to make the balloon soar.
Test prep brings the balloon back to the ground.
There is a battle between freedom and discipline
But teachers do have choice and must be
BRAVE to bring choice back with any of these . . . (and also low-stakes)
- Free Choice Fridays
- The Writer’s Notebook
- Class Writer’s notebook- Students inspired by what others write
- Classroom blogs
- Slice of Life Challenge
- Open Cycles – where students chose the topic and genre
- Need writing green belts – tap into the writing Ss are doing
- FERAL writing
- Study Driven Writing (Source Katie Wood Ray)
Recklessly wonderful writing.
Students choose to work on writing because
The ideas of writing give them energy.
Multiple Layers of Literacy Learning –
(Amy Brennan, Dani Burtsfield, Jill DeRosa, Kim Gosselin, Jennifer Hayhurst, Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson, Marissa Moss, Stefani Nolde, Erica Picarole, David Schultz, and Kari Yates)
What do you think of when you hear professional development? Who is it for? This session included conversations about learning for teachers, parents, and students. Learning, fun, and choice are necessary ingredients for multi-dimensional opportunities for all to grow! Summer school included learning for teachers and the students!
Advocating for Revision in Reading: Meaning Making as a Journey, Not a Destination – Ellin Keene, Matt Glover, Dan Feigelson and Kathy Collins
Students who are reading and writing A LOT know a lot. Ellin had an example of a six year old who understood the use of metaphor. Students who read and write have the tools to share their thinking at deeper levels than we may have considered. How do we help them revise their thinking? Sometimes it means the adult must close his/her mouth in order for the student to take the lead! Students need to learn to be comprehension decision makers! Students have to be flexible thinkers and not seekers of “right” answers. Building a “Reader’s Identity” is a desired outcome, not a letter of a level! What are the characteristics of a reader that you admire? That’s a different question than those that are typically part of a story inquisition! Product and process do matter so
“Privilege all texts”
” Our attention shows what we value!”
“Show reading identities.”
“Elevate the book.”
“Elevate the readers of the book.”
Dear Reader, Are you still here with me?
At this point we were off to the #HeinemannPub reception for the #TCRWP Reading Units of Study Libraries, the #StenhousePub reception for authors, and then dinner with #G2Great Voxer cousins! Many miles of words and ideas heard, considered and studied!
So what caught your attention on this overview of Friday’s learning at #NCTE16?
When were you nodding your head and saying, “YES”!
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
And a “Paul Harvey – the Rest of the Story” video here . . . How Friday ended!
It’s DigiLitSunday. Head over to Margaret Simon’s Reflections on the Teche for additional posts on this topic.
Saturday was the 91st #SaturdayReunion at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. A FREE day of professionald development as a gift to thousands of teachers and administrators. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there. My fall schedule has been challenging. But I am going to borrow from Tweets from the day to illustrate my thinking about the 3 P’s.
Why is “Patience” important?
As teachers it is important that students “do the work” and often that means that teachers need to step back, close their mouths, and listen to students as they share what they can and cannot do. These were some tweets that spoke to me about patience in order to slow down, let the students work, and not solve all the problems of the world in one day! (Yes, there is a need for urgency but solutions aren’t required every day!)
Why is “Practice” important?
My favorite quote for this fall has been one from Brooke Geller about our students being “over taught and under practiced”. I believe that this means that we need to make sure again, that students are doing the work and that we make sure that they practice the “work” multiple times. Sometimes that practice can come in discussion prior to writing and other times that practice will require trying out five or six different introductions to a piece. Are you familiar with this video? Austin’s Butterfly from Expeditionary Learning Students do get the value of practice after seeing this video. (Even if they would rather NOT practice that many times!)
These tweets spoke to me about practice.
And what about those regular practices of teachers? How we allocate time is a reflection of our values. Are we facilitators? Are we leaders? What is our role?
Why is “Persistence”important?
If I had attended, I would have been in the front row for Katy Wischow’s opening keynote, “The Intersection of Passion and Expertise: Fangirling Over Alexander Hamilton”. I watched “Hamilton’s America” on PBS Friday night and was again awed by the magnificence of the show, the historical implications, and the access to documents that led to the authenticity of this Broadway musical.
Why this keynote? Because I believe that “passion” is the KEY resource for teachers when we have to be “PERSISTENT” as we work with striving adolescents who do not want to be lured into literacy lives. These students are resistant to reading and writing even when choice is offered. “It’s boring.” “I can’t do it.” “Why do I have to do this?” All of these statements are now even coming out of the mouths of our babes – our second and third graders. Students who don’t know the passion and joy that comes from learning. Students who don’t know the power that comes from learning. Students who don’t know that the focus of learning is finding and following a passion of the heart. We can and must do better at igniting and fueling that passion in our students.
Persistence by building Passion for Learning in Students:
(Thank you, Mike Ochs, for the tweets!)
If students are passionate about their learning, won’t your job as a teacher be done?
Thanks to all the tweets on Twitter that allowed me to curate these tweets from afar. Thanks to Lucy Calkins and Colleagues at #TCRWP for the learning that generated the tweets so I could both RT and collect them from 1101 miles away in Iowa! Without a digital world, this learning wouldn’t have been possible!
How do patience, practice, and persistence fit into your life?
Developing a Narrative Writing Toolkit (K-2) Celena Larkey
Goal: Writing drafts using all we know about powerful narrative.
- Read through the examples in my notebook.
- Mark one to explore again.
- Reread that one.
- Box out a line or phrase to use.
Begin with that phrase or line. Close my notebook and then draft. (YES, close the notebook, begin with that small moment and draft AGAIN!) Focusing on this idea of revision will keep students from “recopying when they are in the revision step” of the writing process. Students CANNOT copy when the notebook is closed.
While Writing – Tell a little, draft a little (rinse and repeat) . . . and then find a spot to stop and reread your own writing. Ask yourself, “Am I including conflicting emotions (happy and yet bittersweet moment) that fit my plan for writing?” (If check while writing, development of both flows more evenly.) IF yes, continue on; IF not, go back and add in to your writing NOW.
TIPS FOR DRAFTS:
- Write on one side of the paper.
- Write on every other line.
- Use colored drafting paper (Very visible – feels important and very special!).
Tips for Narrative Endings (Choose one):
- End it quickly (most narratives last two pages too long)
- End it with a strong emotion
- Leave the reader wondering
- Set the reader up for a surprise ending
- Circular ending – weave back to the first line of the story
Stop / Pause / Think
What are you going to do differently in writing workshop?
How will you know if it’s working?
Using the Best, New Children’s Literature as Mentor Texts: Support Sky High Writing (3-8) Shana Frazin
Today’s Big Learning Points centered around Crafting Teaching Points and Mini-Lesson Tips
Crafting Teaching Points
Further Development and Planning
Consider the question that precedes the prompt that was listed in the chart above:
- What – What is the skill, habit or quality of good writing? “Today I want to teach you that . . .”
- How – What is the step by step process? – “We can do this by . . .”
- When / Where – Students may be doing this but not at the right time so you may use “Writers usually do this when . . .”
- Trouble – What is the predictable trouble that I envision for my class? ”Remember . . .” or “One thing to pay attention to . . .” “When I do this . . .”
- Why – What is the purpose for this mini-lesson? – “This matters because . . .”
It’s summer time and it’s time to re-examine your mini-lessons. How effective are they? How do you know? Consider the use of a “Demonstration Sandwich”!
Quick mini lesson tips
Engage …in the work!
Connect – this year, previous years, life
Name the TP
Demonstration Sandwich (Before the demo“you need to watch me do …”(bread), demo – really do it (meat/protein), and then “Did you notice how I . . .?”(bread))
Set-Up – How students will practice the skill from instruction
Monitor and Coach – “A teacher on her feet is worth a hundred teachers in their seats.” @drmaryhoward
Assignment, Repertoire, Managed Choice – The three most important words are “Off you go!” It’s the practice that students need. Remember “under – practiced” from last year!
Stop / Pause / Think
How does this match up to your teaching points?
How does this match up to your mini-lessons?
What might you consider doing differently?
Raising the Level of Literary Essays by Raising the Level of Interpretation (6-8) Katy Wischow @kw625
I had a hard time choosing a closing workshop as there were several that I REALLY needed to attend. But last week during a class, we really struggled with defining a thesis so I thought this might be a good place to grow my knowledge. GUESS what? Literary Essays and Raising the Level of Interpretation does NOT have to be BORING!!! So helpful to have some easy and energizing ways to get middle school students (and their teachers) INTO the work.
To a Daughter Leaving Home
When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
for your life, screaming
the hair flapping
behind you like a
Has the trajectory for literary essay flattened at grade 6 or 7?
Are kids phoning in their essays? (on autopilot?)
Do you get a 10 page retell of Harry Potter?
Then you will need strong reading work in order to get strong writing work. “Three big problems kids tend to have with literary interpretation…That drastically impact their literary essay work
- Kids have nothing to say about the text.
- Kids have cliches to say about the text.
- Kids don’t have enough to say about the text.”
Use a common text that is accessible for the students. All of our work was done with the above poem. Here are some possible solutions for those three big problems:
1. If nothing to say:
- take away the requirement for paragraph responses
- show students other visual representations – let them “choose” another way to show understanding
- use a write – around focusing on a quote or picture that represents the poem
- dramatize with frozen scene – act it out
2. Kids have clichés to say about the text
- create metaphors from pictures the teacher has collected from google images
- use pictures to create new images
- lift a line and connect the line to your big idea
3. Kids don’t have enough to say about the text
- Choose cards from the writing craft techniques
- Choose goals cards
- Use the language from the cards to annotate the text
- Explain how the author used a technique to support a goal
Stop / Pause / Think
What fun, easy, and effective way will you use to raise the level of literary essays?
Thank you for reading #TCRWP: Day 3 Writing Institute 2015!