Tag Archives: Kelly Gallagher

#SOL18: Planning


planning

Do you love to plan? 

Do you hate to plan? 

Planning can take many forms.  Planning to write in the form of creating an outline and then following it point by point . . . just the thought of it, makes me nauseous.  In the vernacular of “slicers”, then am I a “pantser” meaning I plan by the seat of my pants . . . in the moment?  Actually not.  I’m somewhere in between.

It all depends . . .

What’s your process for planning in your personal life? 

It’s time for a weekend get away or a family vacation.  Do you investigate possibilities on line via “The Google”? When and where do you plan?  As you are packing? Or in advance so you can make sure that everything fits?  That might necessitate packing that “carry on” bag in advance to make sure everything fits.  That might mean “lists” depending on the length of the stay.  That might mean a careful assessment of “technology needs” in order to be prepared.

What’s your process for planning in your work life?

As the school year winds down are you preserving those notes?  More of “x”. Less of “y”.  Scrap a, b, and c. How do you make those decisions?  That might mean lists of “If . . . , then . . .”, T charts of pros and cons that precede the inner debate, or even basic boxes and bullets.

Lists of lists???

Again, it all depends . . .

If you are a secondary teacher (grades 6-12), then you need to immediately order this book and join one of the many book studies that are planned for this summer. (Note that I did not say, if you are a secondary ELA teacher, because I believe there is merit in the principles and ideas in this book for social studies teachers, instructional coaches, principals, and curriculum directors.)

180 days book

The hashtag for this book is #180Days.  But I want to draw your attention to the subtitle:  “Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents.”

And in case you missed it, the full title is 180 Days:  Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. 

Let’s face it.

A “How to” book with QUEST, ENGAGE, and EMPOWER in the title.

There are probably days when you scratch your head and wonder, “WHY?  Why am I doing this to myself?”  Other days in moments of honestly, your first period class really sucked, second period was better, and third period rocked.  WHY?

That opportunity to practice.

That opportunity to tweak the lesson.

A different beginning.

A different ending.

That opportunity to re-vision the lesson.

Some teachers have the opportunity to adjust and discuss situations as they occur with collaborative teaching partners.  But in this book you have the collective wisdom of Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle as they share how they planned, the basis for their decisions, their varied class periods (each day, Kelly and every other day – block schedule, Penny) as they taught and collaborated across the country, NH and CA.

Not sure if this is the book for you?  Resources that may help you decide are:

Book

Sample Chapter

Heinemann podcast 1

Heinemann podcast 2

Facebook page

Travis Crowder’s Review

Podcast part 1 – ReadAloud

And if that’s not enough, please join the #G2Great Twitter Chat this Thursday night.

180 days chat.PNG

Added – Literacy Lenses post about 180 Days #G2Great Chat  5.20.18

Do you “engage and empower” your adolescents on a regular basis? 

Do you worry about being responsive to life and also “fitting it all in”?

This book will show you how to make better decisions about your students  – based on the needs of your students – so that you can and do ENGAGE and EMPOWER them!

WHY does it matter?

180 quote.PNG

How will you be planning for next year?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

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#SOL16: Chatting about Mentor Texts


#TWTBlog  had these questions for their #Twitter Chat about “Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts”. Were you there?  Which questions/answers really helped you grow in your thinking about mentor texts?

Twtblog 5.9.16 chat mentor texts

This chat was a culmination of a week long series about Mentor Texts and in case you missed it, here are the links:

“Tuesday, May 3: Reading Like a Writer, Step-By-Step by Elizabeth Moore (that’s me!)

Wednesday, May 4: Student-Written Mentor Texts by Deb Frazier

Thursday, May 5: How to Choose and Mine Mentor Texts for Craft Moves by Stacey Shubitz

Friday, May 6: Digital Mentor Texts for Blogs by Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski

Saturday, May 7: Create Your Own Text by Dana Murphy

Sunday, May 8: When to Use Mentor Texts by Betsy Hubbard” (5/9/16 link)

 

Previously I’ve written about mentor texts here, here, here, here, and here.

So why on earth am I writing about Mentor Texts again?  

Well, there are whole books about Mentor Texts that include ten of my favorites below and Stacey Shubitz’s Craft Moves:  Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts that will ship from Stenhouse in June of 2016! (You can preview it here.) And I was just lucky enough, with my friend, Melanie Meehan, to win a FREE copy last night as a participant in the chat!

So, if I have 10 of these 11 books (soon to be 11 of 11) about Mentor Texts, why am I writing about them again?

I know that it’s a total shock to some of my readers, but I must admit that I am a bibliophile. There are very few books that I’ve met that are NOT my immediate friends (except for the fantasy, scifi, vampire type books that I often just AVOID)!

Collecting samples of mentor texts has been helpful in my study of the craft of writing. Each of these books leads me to other authors, books, and even publishers that allow me to deepen my knowledge of author’s craft.  I’ve been a writer, off and on, for decades.  But during that writing time, I have NOT always studied writing.  Instead I was playing at writing and sometimes only “practicing” writing.  I trusted the authors above to choose texts that would surely be magical mentors for either myself or my students.

Recently my study of writing has been more reflective and my goal has been to define the elements that work (as well as WHY) and YET sometimes I STILL totally miss the mark! The books above provided a safety net because I did NOT trust my own judgement of mentor texts. I knew there was no “magic list” and YET I still thought there was often something magical about these books that FAMOUS AUTHORS had placed on their lists of Mentor Texts. Reading through their choices was like Intro to Mentor Texts 101. I could see what they chose and why and try to imitate that.

What did I learn from tonight’s chat?

The chat was just like “Field of Dreams” . . . “Build it and they will come!”

Stars on the Twitter Red Carpet #TWTBlog included:

  • Ralph Fletcher
  • Lynne Dorfman
  • Rose Cappelli
  • Ruth Culham
  • Kim Yaris
  • Jan Miller Burkins
  • Lisa Eickholdt
  • Shana Frazin
  • Cornelius Minor
  • Emily Butler Smith
  • Dr. Mary Howard
  • Tara Smith
  • Catherine Flynn
  • Melanie Meehan
  • Jessie Miller
  • Leigh Anne Eck
  • Lisa Keeler
  • Margaret Simon
  • TWT Team – Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey

The storified chat is available here.

But here are a couple of my favorite tweets that I am still thinking about in response to Q5) “Why are teacher-written mentor texts important? How do you use them?” . . .

power of mentor text

power of mentor text two

and this all important one from Dana on Q1 about reading mentor texts:

tweet

The conversations last night were rich. I will be reviewing the storify as I know I missed some. And like any great texts, some tweets will need to be revisited!

Who are your writing mentors?

What are your favorite mentor texts?

How would we know?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

 

 

Collecting Snippets from #NCTE15


skyline-540-2.jpg

From Twitter and Kelly Gallagher’s “Top Ten Takeaways” (and he said – in no particular order):

kelly one

kelly two

kelly three

kelly four

 

 

Blog Posts:

Julieanne Harmatz  NCTE15  A Necessity

Mary Lee Hahn  My NCTE Top Tens

Joellen McCarthy  The Literacy Super Bowl NCTE15

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan (Assessment in Perspective) Slice of Life:  Some Slices from #NCTE15

Jennifer Sniadecki   Slice of Life Tuesday:  NCTE Lives On

Carol Varsalona   Celebrating Professional Growth

Middle English   #NCTE15:  Disney For English Teachers

Donna Friend  Dear #NCTE15

Sarah Zerwin  My Top Takeaways from #NCTE15

Dana Huff  NCTE 2015 Reflections

Audrey Fisch and Susan Chenelle Day 2 at NCTE: Critical Encounters with Non-Fiction

My Faves:

Visiting with old and new friends

Our volunteer guide the first morning in the skywalk

Learning with a co-worker and friend

The skywalk and the inside path to the convention center

IKEA  (first timer)

Crave

Hell’s Kitchen

Sessions

Sharing #NCTE15 love with @Tara_Smith5 and @Azajacks

Thousands of attendees and thousands of views of #NCTE15 . . . What will you remember?

 

 

 

#SOL15: Beginning with Quotes


Writing quotes I’m holding onto and thinking about as I construct this post:

“I read like a teacher of writing even when I’m reading the morning paper, and I see rich text possibilities all around me.”

-Katie Wood Ray @katiewoodray

katie wood ray

AND

Steps to Using Mentor Texts

Select a text to emulate and reread – one that inspires an idea, models a structure, or demonstrates an author’s craft worth trying.

·         Read it (Read like a reader)

·         Analyze it (Read like a writer)

·         Emulate it (Write like the writer)

– adapted from Kelly Gallagher @KellyGtoGo

kelly gallagher

When I read like a writer, it feels different.  There’s a bit of anticipation and excitement because I know that I am going to be writing soon.  There’s also a bit of trepidation and anxiety.

“What if it’s not good enough?”  

“What if no one wants to read it?”

make things happen

The point of writing and especially writing like the writer is that one writes a LOT.  It’s not about the audience YET.  It’s about the words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and yes, even the poems appearing on the paper in DRAFT form!  The print version is a pre-cursor to being ready for a “reader”.

Writing . . . Writing from the heart of a writing teacher! You will be a better teacher because you can model and share exactly “how” you begin . . . or get unstuck . . . or try a new craft example.

What writers are you emulating?

What quotes are you holding?

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

Slice of Life 23: How much reading is enough?


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

I LOVE to read.  I LOVE reading.  I typically READ just about anything. Reading is my preferred activity over cooking, cleaning, or crafting. I could be considered a voracious reader by some.  I read quickly when I am reading for fun.  I will read almost anything but I do not like vampires, fantasy or science fiction very much.  When I find an author that I like, I devour ALL their texts.  When I find something I really like, I may reread it.  There are times during the year when my reading life seems to suffer.  While writing blog posts every day, I do have less reading time. Is it “okay” that my reading seems to have an ebb and flow?  How much should I be reading? What should I be reading?

I believe that I need to be familiar with authors and texts in the field of literacy.  I have my favorite authors and this year they all deal with loving literacy:  Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Kylene Beers, Dorothy Barnhouse and Vickie Vinton, Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, and all the authors of the fabulous Units of Study in Writing from Teachers College. My reading of YA varies according to the favorites of students in the buildings where I work.

How does reading play out for our students?  How much should they be reading?

In Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller challenges her middle school students to read 40 books per year.  That is basically one book per week, including reading over holidays and school breaks.  A student who has developed those “reading habits” is likely to be successful as they move through life.  In Reading in the Wild, Donalyn is more specific about the “habits” that students need in order to be life-long readers.  Those numbers seem to make sense because a student will “be in the story” and stay connected to the text in those time frames.

For our struggling Middle School and High School students in Second Chance for Reading, I have suggested teachers set 30 books per year as the goal for students.  If teachers have expectations and are carefully monitoring student work, 30 books is ambitious for students who have been less than successful in reading for years. It’s doable, a stretch but yet highly possible if the habit of reading becomes a part of a daily routine.

But is that “good enough” for our children? How long to read a book?

I was following the Twitter stream from the Saturday reunion at Columbia’s Teachers College and several tweets caught my eye. Exactly what books should students be reading and for how long?

Image

So taking Hatchet and spending a week and a half on it would fit with Donalyn Miller’s goal of 40 books per year. Is this happening?  Are students allowed to read a book like Hatchet in a week and a half?  I believe this also fits with the belief behind CCSS Reading Anchor #10:  “Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently. Yet, it seems like I should be doing more in order to have teachers and students consider the “sheer volume” of what they are reading.

Are there books that should be “whole class” books in grades 3-6?  If yes, what would be the characteristics of such a book? And how “many” of these would a child read during any given year?

I remember working on Language arts curriculum 20 years ago when teachers wanted certain books to be on a “protected list” so teachers in grade 3 would not use a book reserved for grade 4 because then it could not be used for prediction.  But what is the real goal of a “class book”?  If it truly is to have all students explore specific texts, will the class read at the same pace? Is it about the “activities” that accompany the book and its reading? What about a book club approach?

This tweet of a quote from Kelly Gallagher caught my eye:

Image

So Kelly would agree with Donalyn Miller that students should not be spending forever on a class book.  Dragging a novel out into 9 weeks’ worth of work turns it into a “9 week worksheet”!  That belief has also been espoused by Richard Allington who has said that students need to read “more” in order to be better readers!

Are there some books that every fourth grade student should read?  That would be a great source of conversation for a team of fourth grade teachers.  What literature is that important and that interesting for the students?  The same question would apply for informational text, poetry and drama.  Those decisions can and should be made at a local level.  The caution would be in “not allowing” a whole class text to be the only reading at the time and also not to be drug out as Gallagher’s quote reminds us.

How much should a student read every day?

Image

The original source of this quote is not listed but think about this for a minute.  To stay on the same level (maintenance), a student needs to read just right books for an hour each day and a common expectation in about 3/4 of a page per minute. So a quick check by a teacher 5 minutes into a silent sustained reading time would suggest that all students had read at least 3 pages.  If a reading log/goal setting page includes the page started, a teacher could quickly move about the room conducting a visual scan.  This would be data that could allow the teacher to form groups to discuss goals and purposes for reading.

The goal would not be public humiliation.  I have used “bribes” for reading – pizzas, food, parties, etc. in order to encourage students to read more.  Sometimes the food begins as the “reason/purpose” for reading until a student becomes “hooked” on reading and then begins to ask for books for gifts!  Students do not need to take quizes to show their understanding of books.  Carefully remove barriers or practices that are “counter-productive” to reading MORE!  Consider how you can help your students be daily readers who will carry that habit over into the summer even when you, the teacher, are not around!

How much are your students reading?  How do you encourage them to set HIGH expectations for their own reading?

“Do I HAVE to teach writing?”


“Teachers Don’t Have Time to Teach Writing” was a provocative post that caught my eye yesterday (01.26.14) on Twitter.  I urge you to read the post in its entirety.  The author, Ashley Hurley, claims to have heard teachers say that they just don’t have time to teach writing more times than she can count.  (It is shocking but I have also heard that statement. Her impassioned post includes numerous quotes from the National Commission on Writing, National Writing Project Newsletter, and Writing Next. However, beyond those quotes is a universal need for students to become literate citizens who can fully participate in a democratic society.  Evidence of this would be found in letters to the editor for a local paper, blog posts, or even conversations in the local coffee shop.

The College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of every grade in each of the ten writing standards.  Further support for writing is found in the sidebar:

  ” . . . students need to use writing as a tool for learning and communicating to offer and support opinions, demonstrate understanding of the subjects they are studying, and convey real and imagined experiences and events.” . . . “To meet these goals, students must devote significant time and effort to writing, producing numerous pieces over short and extended time frames throughout the year.” (p. 16, CCSS, English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects)

Is teaching writing optional?  

No!  Beyond the Iowa Core/Common Core, consider your own state’s definition of “language arts” as it relates to state code and educational requirements.  A quick google search combining “state name” “educational code” and “writing” will provide a look at current and previous expectations for writing. I quickly searched Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri to collect information for four states that border Iowa.  I was intrigued by the fact that Nebraska does have a state writing test (I wonder what kind of orchestration is necessary for a state-wide writing test?) and that all five states (including Iowa) have long had writing expectations in state educational code.  What may be new for teachers and students is the fact that writing is important in all content areas K-12.

What does writing instruction look like?

It was difficult to use the information garnered from searches to get a clear picture of writing instruction from the five states I was reviewing.  Due to the state writing assessment, Nebraska had more information than the other four. Current beliefs and pedagogy would certainly predict that instruction might include some measure of gradual release or “I Do, We Do, You Do” that is prevalent in the literature and widely supported by the likes of Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, Kelly Gallagher and Jim Burke.

Many teachers, at a variety of grade levels and content areas, provide free-writing or “journaling” writing time where students are permitted to write on a topic of their own to show what they know.  George Hillocks, Jr. reported on the results of six types of writing instruction in 1987.  He summarized the free writing research as:

“Free writing.  This approach asks students to write freely about whatever concerns them.  As a major instructional technique, free writing is more effective than teaching grammar in raising the quality of student writing. (Effect size = .16) However, it is less effective than focuses of other instruction examined.”

If free writing is an opportunity for students to write while the teacher does “other work” and is not connected to writing instruction, modeling or practice, then it may not be the best use of the available instructional time.  Furthermore, if “free writing” is the ONLY writing time allocated daily, students will probably not make much growth in writing because of the low effect size.

What  writing instruction is needed?

Writing instruction must include clear models of the criteria and expectations for writing.  Sources for student writing include #tcrwp, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, National Writing Project and Appendix C of the Common Core.  Writing also needs to include choices for students.  Students should NOT always be handed a topic to write about; nor would students necessarily be allowed to ALWAYS write on a topic of their own choice.  Sometimes, especially with an on-demand prompt, the student may be required to write on a topic that the teacher has specified.  Students who have not had a lot of writing practice or who do perceive themselves as successful writers will struggle with choosing topics and staying with a topic when writing.  Teachers will need to explicitly teach the steps of the writing process as students engage in drafting, conferencing, revising, and editing their work.

But one constant for writing instruction is that there will be INSTRUCTION!  Merely writing “more” will not help create better, stronger and longer writers!  In fact, it may be possible that students could write “more” without ever improving the “quality” of their own work!  Improvement would result from writing that incorporated the thinking from a demonstration or mini-lesson coupled with collaborative “we try it” work that provides students with a safety net as they practice new learning / skills!

How do we provide enough writing opportunities for writing across the day?

First, we begin with writing in all content areas every day.  We add writing to reading as a measure of student understanding, not as a worksheet to be filled out.  “Two Writing Teachers” is hosting “Writing About Reading Blog Series” this week.  A new blog will be posted every day with possible options for writing about thinking while reading.  Today’s blog (linked above) by Dana Murphy features three different approaches:  

  1. Lifting a Line
  2. Character Web
  3. Visual Note Taking

Check them out.  All three approaches include a picture of student work as another model. A twitter chat is planned for Monday, February 3rd using the hashtag #TWTBlog and more information is available in the link in this sentence.  While you are reading about those approaches, consider whether some of them would be appropriate across a wide range of content reading across the day. (Summarizing is not the only skill that students need to work on!).

Second, there must be common language about writing in all content areas (K-12).  A focus on common language is present in the Common Core and it may be a unifying factor for students, parents, and teachers. Teachers need to work collaboratively across all content areas and grades to increase their comfort level and knowledge through the use of peer to peer conversations focused on improving the quality of student writing and writing instruction.

Third, there must be models of the expected level of writing at the end of the grade level.   Annotated models with specific feedback about the use of writing techniques is very beneficial to students and writing models are on the list of research-based practices in Writing Next. Also plan to include scaffolds where needed to connect speaking and listening, reading, and writing skills.  Some students may need more auditory models prior to working to accelerate their writing skills.  Begin collecting student examples to use as models. Garner permission from the student authors to use them in demonstrations.  These models need to be collected across all content areas as writing expectations should not be different by content areas.

Fourth, teachers must write as well.  Teachers need to know and understand the struggle embraced by our students on a regular basis.  That knowledge and understanding comes from writing alongside the students.  Teachers cannot continue to “tell” students to write or to write like “Author X.”  Teachers must also provide models of high-quality writing.  Students need to see quality science writing from the science teachers and historically accurate writing from the social sciences teachers as just a few examples.

What is one thing that you can change about your writing instruction TOMORROW?  How can you provide the instruction that will help students meet the demands of the Common Core and prepare them to be reading, writing, thinking citizens?  Where will you start?
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