Tag Archives: literacy

#SOL15 March Challenge Day 30 – What do you believe?


Kylene Beers

Literacy.Education.Kids.Teachers.Schools.Hope.

If you are not familiar with Kylene please go to her own blog and read “About” her!

Kylene and Bob Probst are universally known for their 6 signposts for fiction from Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading. Their new book with nonfiction signposts will be out in October and those signposts are listed here.

signposts

As a speaker, Kylene is witty, charming, and down to earth.  Her closing at the Teachers College paralleled her beliefs posted on her blog in March here.  Kylene urged the thousands of teachers packed into the Nave at Riverside Church to examine their own belief systems.

Specifically:

“What do you believe?”

How would we know?

What do you stand for?

You need to have these conversations!

That question, coupled with this statement have been swirling in my brain for the last day and a half, and quite literally will not let go:

Literacy is the 21st century skill.

Literacy

not technology.

Literacy

Not reading separated out.

Literacy

Not writing separated out.

Literacy

because of its role in power and privilege.

Literacy

because of its role in history.

Literacy

because of its role in history for minorities.

Literacy

because of its role in history for women.

Literacy

because of its role in history for the poor and downtrodden.

What are your beliefs?

How do we know?

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 for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

Reflecting on 2013


After a very, very family-filled holiday break and ten days without using my laptop, it’s back to “thinking” about professional development for the next two work days.  But I would be remiss in moving straight to the list of upcoming events, if I did not slow down and consider the data from last year.

Top 10 posts on my blog (by number of readers):

1. Close Reading in Kindergarten? Is it Possible?
2. Close Reading: “The Ultimate Goal”
3. Common Core: Are you allowed to make “connections” in a close reading?
4. Readers’ Notebooks: Assessing, Goal-Setting, and Planning Instruction
5. How do I choose text for Close Reading?
6. Close Reading Informational Text? Absolutely!
7. Lexile Level Is NOT Text Complexity CCSS.R.10
8. Fitting the Puzzle Pieces of Close Reading Together
9. TCRWP: Performance Assessments in Reading
10. CCSS and Writing: The Path to Accelerating Achievement

In rereading those entries, I found that eight of the ten were posted in late June – September with only #3 and #5 before that time frame.  Interesting for me to note that all of the top 10 were about reading and writing and not necessarily about “resources” which was my original thought for this blog!

Book chats on twitter or in blogs during 2013:

  • Units of Study in Writing (Lucy Calkins and friends – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project) #tcrwp
  • Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts – and Life! (Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts) #filwclosereading
  • What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making (Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse) #wrrdchat
  • Notice and Note (Kylene Beers and Robert Probst) #NNN
  • Teach Like a Pirate (Dave Burgess) #educoach
  • Visible Learning for Teachers:  Maximizing Learning (John Hattie) #educoach
  • Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction (Jim Knight) #educoach

My Twitter Video from 2013 (Have you tried this at #visify? https://www.vizify.com/twitter-video):

https://www.vizify.com/fran-mcveigh/twitter-video?s=twitter&u=504984&f=1414&t=share_follow_me_video

Goals for 2014?

Still pondering where my focus will be!  As a teacher/learner I found that 2013 was a year of growth in deeper understanding of reading and writing and the reciprocal nature of both. Continuing to write and “practice” author’s craft while I listen more to the learners (students and teachers) will also remain on my radar!  Stay tuned for more specific 2014 goals!

Welcome, 2014!

What are your goals?

Smarter Balanced Item Quality Review


Questions continue to be voiced in the media and academic realms about the assessments that will determine whether students are “proficient” on the new Common Core Standards.  

Do you recognize the experts listed below?

Do you trust their input? 

 

“Item Quality Review Panel convened on May 20–21—The Item Quality Review Panel convened in Las Vegas to discuss three critical aspects of the item development process: quality criteria, item specifications, and archetypes. The panel members (listed below) who represent content expertise and expertise in services to underrepresented students met as a whole group to discuss the design of the Smarter Balanced assessment and the goals of the Field Test item development. Then, in content-specific groups, the panel members, Smarter Balanced staff and work group representatives, and contractor staff discussed key areas of focus and made recommendations to improve item development.

Dr. P. David Pearson
Dr. Donald Deshler
Dr. Douglas Hartman
Edward Bosso
Dr. Elfrieda Hiebert
Dr. Guadalupe Valdes
Dr. Sandra Murphy
Dr. Alan Schoenfeld
Dr. Bill McCallum
Estelle Woodbury
Dr. Francis (Skip) Fennell
Dr. Guillermo Solano-Flores
Dr. Jason Zimba
Dr. Karen Fuson
Dr. Patrick Callahan
Steve Leinwand”

 

This information was released in the Smarter Balanced Weekly Update #118, 2013-06-07.

Not all “Close Reads” are Equal!


I am fascinated by the discussion level that continues around “Close Reading” which is just a “part” of the text in Reading Anchor Standard 1.  (Specifically two words out of 31 that actually say, “Read closely.”)   You can read what Grant Wiggins posted about Close Reads here.

Tim Shanahan has several posts about close reads.  This one, “A Time for Humility,” posted after the IRA  conference on April 23, 2013, is particularly enlightening as Shanahan shares that there is no “one perfect model” for close reads.

Who are the experts?  Is there a “formula” or a plan that works for every story?  No, NO, NO! Close reads are dependent on the complexity of the texts, the skills of the students and the goal of the specific lessons.

When a reader begins with the text, the meaning has to be aligned with the author’s words and craft.  How do students understand that?  Some students may get all that in the “first read” and therefore not need a second or a close read.  But if the second grade students can only provide a “topic” when questioned about a page they have read, a “second read” may be necessary for instruction/modeling of main idea whether explicitly shared by the author or implicit in the text.

Will a single close read work for all students?  Probably not!  That is the “ART” of teaching,  a teacher that can propose a learning target, provide a model and the resources and then begin to check for understanding to specifically meet the needs of all students.

In the waning days or weeks of the 2013 school year, I would encourage teachers to continue to challenge students.  Ask your classes when they felt that they were “stretched” in their learning this year. Likewise, ask them when they felt like they were “coasting” and they didn’t need to put out a great deal of effort.  Consider students’ input and “Try something different” in your implementation of the Core.  A lot of other bloggers and authors have written about the value of  high expectations.  With scaffolding and some collaborative practice, many student CAN be successful!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *    *      *      *     *     *

What is close reading?

To begin at the beginning, this began with Reading Anchor Standard #1.

Then when considering text for use in close reading demonstrations or for student practice, two posts that cover this ground are:

What should be the content or purpose of “close reads?”

Based on what you now “KNOW” about “Close Reading,” what will you do differently BEFORE this school year ends?

Please add your responses below!

How do I choose text for Close Reading?


I have heard this question multiple times in the last month.  I do not remember being asked, “What text should I use for a Read Aloud?”  or “What text should I use for a Think Aloud?”   Maybe it happened and my memory is faulty, but I just don’t remember those questions in the past.

Suddenly, text seems to matter.  And many teachers are very concerned about using the “right text” for instruction.

Image

From the World of Common Sense:

1. Consider what your students are currently reading and what they need to be reading to meet R.CCR.10 Text Complexity and Range of Reading

2. Aim for text that  is complex and will be a “stretch” for the students

3. Check your class data – What is a procedure, skill, or strategy that students need to be using more consistently?

4. What are your writing goals?  What mentor texts are you using?

5. How can you combine reading, writing, speaking and listening and language standards so the students can “practice” using a variety of language arts skills on a very rich and relevant task that is worthy of class time?

Doug Fisher (2012) reminds us that we do want to choose “short, worthy texts” (p. 108) when planning for close reading.  The use of a short piece of text allows the teacher to have time for modeling the skill, strategy or procedure before turning it over to students to practice in a gradual release of responsibility framework.  That modeling is going to include rereading with a specific purpose in mind.  The focus lesson needs to be explicit and include the actions that students will eventually be expected to use.  One goal is to have the students use the skill, strategy, or procedure as soon as possible  in the context of their own reading.  Doug  is crystal clear in explaining that close reading does not happen to every page in any book nor only with short pieces of text.  Balance of text (genre, length, and complexity)  is always a consideration in selection for instruction because close reading is about really “understanding what the author is saying and then comparing that with our own experiences and beliefs” (p.108).

The key points to remember for close reading according to Doug Fisher (2012) are:   “rereading, reading with a pencil, noticing things that are confusing, discussing the text with others, and responding to text-dependent questions” (p. 108).

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Lapp, D.(2012). Text complexity: Raising rigor in reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

However, do keep your eye on the “prize.” If the goal is that students will independently “close read” text, then the teacher cannot always be providing the “short” text, the directions and the text-dependent questions.  In the world of “gradual release of responsibility” and “common sense” another goal would be for students to be “close reading” their independent reading texts and texts for other courses outside the realm of ELA.  Consider how you would scaffold instruction to build towards multiple goals for close reading.  What can and should that instruction look like?

What text have you used?  Did it work as you expected?  What text will you plan to use next?

Teacher? Coach? Both?


What is the role of a teacher?  Is it solely to be a teacher?  A coach?  Or both?

I believe that a responsive student-centered learning classroom requires the teacher to be part coach and part teacher in the role of lead learner in the classroom.  That combination of roles is necessary for students to meet the requirements of the Common Core!

Where can I find evidence to support this?

 

1) Reading Recovery

When a child doesn’t know a word, the Reading Recovery teacher does NOT tell the student the word.  She/he works with the student to figure out what the student knows and can try.  The quote that I remember hearing when I observed a “behind the glass session” was something like:  “A word told today is a word told tomorrow, is a word told the next day, and the next day!”

Why is this important?  Telling doesn’t work because the student isn’t engaged in the cognitive work!   (Saying the same thing over and over or louder and louder is often NOT effective!)

 

2) John HattieVisible Learning for Teachers:  Maximizing Impact on Learning

According to researcher John Hattie, the average effect size of feedback is 0.79.  That is twice the average effect of all the school effects and is also in the top ten influences on student achievement so it is very important. However, Hattie’s synthesis of over 900 studies also pointed out that “not all feedback is equal.”

What does that mean?  Effective coaches spend a lot of time “showing” how to do something and then getting out of the way to watch for application of the “something” that was taught.  Classrooms with more coaching and work done by the students may be the best indicator of success for classrooms implementing the Common Core.

 

Where can you find out more?

Last week’s posts by @burkinsandyaris on their blog “Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy” bring a laser focus to those teacher roles. They were also the source of inspiration for this post.  You can read all five yourself  on their Friday Weekend Round Up posted December 8th.  It included the different skills that a coach/teacher needs to employ for improved literacy for ALL students!

“Monday – The Coach and the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Part 1)

Tuesday – The Coach and the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Part 2): Coach as Demonstrator

Wednesday – The Coach and the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Part 3): Teacher as Spotter

Thursday – The Coach and the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Part 4): Coach as Consultant

Friday – Friday Favorite: Mindbending”

 

Check out all five posts.  As you reflect, consider where  your expertise lies .   .   .  

Are you a Coach?  

Are you a Demonstrator?  

Are you a Spotter?  

Are you a Consultant? 

Let me know how you weave those roles together!

 

Disciplinary Literacy


Educators that live and work in a state that has adopted the Common Core may have state-mandated English Language Arts (ELA) standards that cover History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects (grades 6-12).

That “content section” in Iowa also says:

“Note on range and content of student reading

 Content area literacy is critical to students’ post secondary success in higher education and the workplace. To prepare students for these challenges, literacy skills must to be developed across all content areas. Students expand their range when applying literacy skills to a variety of content areas because the academic discourses and disciplinary concepts in those require different approaches to reading, writing, speaking, viewing, and listening. It is through applying literacy skills in a number of content areas that students learn to integrate these skills and strategies into life experience. Teachers in all content areas who make literacy a priority understand that learning involves making meaning.

Although the authors of the Common Core Standards chose to articulate standards for literacy in the areas of history/social studies, science, and technical subjects, the Iowa Core extends that definition to include all secondary content areas.” ( Retrieved from http://iowacore.educateiowa.gov.  9/07/11, p.76)

 

 

  • Do you know the status of those standards in your state?  Are you looking for resources?

@Principalj (Jessica Johnson) shared this link last week on Twitter and I am in awe of the amount of work that I realize this effort has taken to be publicly available as “clickable links” attached to google sites.

After you click on the link below, you need to look for “Resources to Support Each Discipline.” There are MANY, MANY resources available!  Thank you @Principalj and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

http://standards.dpi.wi.gov/stn_disciplinaryliteracy

 

PARCC – Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers


My last post was about Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC) because my home state of Iowa will be using these in the future.  That post  included a link to some sample assessment items as they will look online and additional released SBAC test items.  Today’s post  provides a brief glimpse into the sample assessments currently available from Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Item and Task prototypes can be found  for both English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics at http://www.parcconline.org/samples/item-task-prototypes

Representative Samples

Summative assessments for ELA are available at the following grade-level links.  Do click on the pdf’s below the task for additional information about teacher directions and the intent of the task.

Permissions are still pending so the entire task is NOT yet posted for any grade level. The link does describe the “type of assessment” that is included.

Grade 3  http://www.parcconline.org/samples/english-language-artsliteracy/grade-3-tecr-end-year-assessment

Grade 6  http://www.parcconline.org/samples/english-language-artsliteracy/grade-6-prose-constructed-response-narrative-writing-task

Grade 7  http://www.parcconline.org/samples/english-language-artsliteracy/grade-7-prose-constructed-response-research-simulation-task-0

Grade 10 http://www.parcconline.org/samples/english-language-artsliteracy/grade-10-prose-constructed-response%E2%80%94sample-1-literary-analysis

How could you use this information?

Discussions at your grade level could center around these questions:

Is this the text that your students are reading? Do you have common formative assessments at your grade level?

These samples could help you frame common tasks and instruction for reading, writing, and speaking!  Should you assess your students using these tasks?  ONLY, if you have provided instruction that would be aligned with the tasks! 🙂

Reading and Thinking Like a Historian


My job is “Literacy Specialist.”  That usually means that I am working in the areas of Reading, Writing and Thinking.  I am always looking for evidence of student thinking in what students do, say and write on their learning journey.

Today’s incredible resource was shared by my fabulous coworker @lynnselking, a math specialist. She finds the most amazing resources because she is a voracious learner!  Thanks, Lynn!

The Stanford History Education Group sponsors the Reading like a Historian site.  This site  has 75 social studies lessons arranged in 12 units that begin with an Introduction and continue through the Cold War Culture/Civil Rights.  They are free and advertised this way:  The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry.

A quick review of two units (2 and 4) met evidence of learning that would support College and Career Readiness Anchor Reading Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 as well as Writing Standards 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10.  That was 17 out of 20.

As a professional development provider, I would be remiss if I did not caution you to consider the instruction and modeling that the teacher should provide in order to increase the likelihood of success for ALL  students as they read, write and think like historians.  (Passing out the tasks as independent assignments would not be the best use of this resource!) For those who have worked with Fisher and Frey’s Gradual Release of Responsibility, these lessons would easily fit into the basic GRR framework with a few adaptations for productive group work.   Caution:   this will be hard work for students who prefer the low-risk, low-thinking tasks of  skimming through the textbook to answer the “right-there” questions in the book.

Looking for a way to incorporate the Reading and Writing Standards into History?  Work with social studies teachers?  Know a social studies teacher who is looking for resources to help teach the Common Core Standards?  Check out the units for yourself and then pass on the link!

And the ultimate in history assessments?  Beyond the Bubble , A New Generation of Assessments, also from Stanford!

MUST FOLLOW Blogs


(As I write this post, I am going to practice CCR Anchor Writing Standard 1, “Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.” )

As I reviewed the blogs listed here on my page as well as the ones on my google reader, I thought about the power of technology.  I eagerly look forward to catching up on my “online blog reading” in order to see what is happening with many friends that I know in the virtual world. I have found that a “support system” exists that helps me increase my own understanding of literacy and the bigger educational world. This post takes a look inside some of those blogs that are a part of my own support system that range from a Twitter chat group and some of its specific members to a blog from work that greatly influences my literacy specialist work to a blog that makes me think about how students should be using blogs for real world writing. The topics and content may vary but blogs are powerful sources of learning as well as reflections of learning; just check these out!

1) #educoach  The #educoach Twitter chat takes place at 9 pm CST each Wednesday night. The chats are co-moderated by @KathyPerret @PrincipalJ and @shiraleibowitz. Because all three are very talented leaders, I am including all of their blogs under number one #educoach . The reasons for reading them are uniquely different and important! (Yep, cheating already!)

A) Kathy Perret’s “Learning Is Growing “ blog is a place where she records her reflections and new learnings. In the “About” section, Kathy explains that the name was inspired by the book Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Kathy is an aspiring elementary principal who currently serves as a Reading Consultant for NWAEA in Sioux City, Iowa. As I reviewed Kathy’s blog for specific posts to recommend I noted that the archives extend to August 2010 with 70,829 hits recorded. This seems to be a blog with a great following! Favorite posts that extended my thinking included: “Discover Writing” posted on July 14, 2012,  “Angry Birds” – A Lesson in Assessment FOR Learning posted on February 15, 2011  and “ Think-Pair-Share Variations” posted on March 21, 2012.  These three posts represent thoughtfully written articles for teachers that include the background theory, actual implementation steps, and resources that would benefit a teacher implementing the strategies in a classroom.

B) @PrincipalJ’s blog is “Reflections from an Elementary Principal.  Jessica Johnson reflects on her practice, her learning and connects with other school administrators as an elementary principal in Wisconsin. Favorites of mine include:  “Ready for the First Day of Bucket Filling!”(Sept. 2012),    October 3, 2012,  “Do my teachers know how amazing they are?” that was about nominating a teacher for a state award who didn’t feel she was a viable candidate, and  “The decision to go school-wide with Daily 5” posted on February 9, 2011  that details how Daily 5 began with one second grade teacher the previous year. With blogs dating back to 2009 a reader could find many topics that would build upon his/her own understanding of life as an administrator or lead teacher in any building.

C) “Sharing Our Blessings” is Shira Leibowitz’s blog shared in her own words “because for Educators and Parents, Counting Our Blessings Just Isn’t Enough.” Shira is a lower elementary principal in New Jersey. A special favorite of mine is the post “Who’s Afraid of Principals?” posted 10.09.12 that so aptly conveys a student vision of adults and reminds adults to stop and think about the perceptions of our students!  Posted on 04.22.12 is “The Learning Walk Shuffle” which details an evolution of learning walks to the current foci of differentiation and student engagement.  That is one post that I have reread multiple times! “A Team of Coaches” posted on 02.13.12 provides information about the specific roles of the math, Hebrew, science, educational tech, enrichment, media and literacy, and literacy and learning strategies coaches found in her building. All of these coaches work together as a coaching team to support meaningful professional learning.  Shira talks frankly about professional learning required to design and support all students and teachers.

2)  Quick Reviews and Ideas is a blog by @ksteingr (Kristin Steingreaber) who is the media director at Great Prairie AEA (Ottumwa and Burlington) where I work. The purpose of this blog is to connect students with new media resources. Teachers and/or students will be interested in the reviews. The October 24th post is a review of the book, The giant and how he humbugged America by Jim Murphy. Publisher information is included as well as why this may appeal to students in Iowa:  “Hull claimed that he got the idea to create the giant while on a business trip to Ackley, Iowa” (page 47). Curriculum connections to books from the National Council of Social Studies are also included in the book reviews found in the October 21st post as way to increase reading within curricular areas. The blog archives list 53 posts for 2012, 56 for 2011, 67 for 2010 and 78 for 2009 as further evidence of the long standing tradition of book reviews. Busy teachers will appreciate that the reviews are succinct.  Looking for a specific title?  There is a “search” available on this blog that allows one to focus on specific titles and/or topics.

3) This last specific post “Ideas for Integrating a Student Blog into Your Curriculum” by @penilleripp is on the “Blogging through the Fourth Dimension” site and is a “Must Read/Follow” because it includes education musings, technology and lessons as well as Pernille Ripp’s Life as a Teacher.  Need ideas on how to incorporate student blogging in order to make writing as authentic and as meaningful as possible without it becoming another homework burden?  If yes, then this is the post  you need to read.  Thinking about student blogging?  Then this is the blog for you to follow.  Mrs. Ripp has 150 posts archived for this year alone which could greatly inform any reader looking to add to their own knowledge of technology and writing. Any teacher who is considering student blogging will find additional resources and food for thought on this blog!

So this was quite lengthy. Did I support my claims that these were great “must follow/read” blogs? Was the reasoning valid? Was there sufficient and valid evidence? Where could I have improved my argument?

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