Literacy Planning for Winter Break
School breaks can be times of anxiety when routines change, excitement for those who have planned travel or activities, and time for relaxation and rest after the frantic build up to the break. This post is deliberately planned to give you a few days to consider how you want to frame goals for the time in between school attendance in 2019 and 2020.
Last week during a Zoom meeting with some teachers, I asked what folks were planning to encourage literacy over the winter break. This had come up as a question in some buildings recently. So here are some of the ideas that we brainstormed!
Thanks, Elementary Book Love friends!
What this is not:
- An encouragement for packets
- Assigned reading tasks
- A calendar of activities to do over break every day
- A requirement for a grade or for extra credit
Instead consider the literacy habits of your students:
- What are their current reading habits?
- What are their current writing habits?
- What encouragement would give them some practice time?
- Where might this practice occur?
- What might get in the way of this practice?
- What are their current literacy goals?
What might be your focus?
- Access How many books or texts do your students need on average? How can you put that number in their hands? How can you increase access to meet the needs of the families represented in your classroom?
- Choice How can students choose some books from the classroom library to read over break? How can you provide some ideas about writing over the break? Is there a book or an activity you would do with siblings? Cousins? Neighbors?
- Agency What if you give the students a calendar to look at and then ask if there are days that might more naturally fit into some reading or writing time? (Travel time? Days when family members are working? Days with relatives?) Students can identify some days and or times that might work.
- Student Goals Based on the time they see available, knowing that weather, etc. can change plans, what might be a reasonable goal?
- Fun What about choosing a book or genre that is fresh/new? Joke book? Poetry? Or even reread an old favorite? Or rewrite a piece from a different view?
Approximately 10 – 15 minutes each day during the next week might just provide the time that your students will need in order to make sure they have access, choice, agency, their own goals, and some fun planned for their winter break.
This may need a bit of planning on your part if you need to organize a quick book tasting or a gallery walk to show “possibilities” for writing. Chat with a friend and generate ideas that meet the needs of your students! Please remember to share your own plan for the break!
However, if this is totally different from past practices you may want to send a quick note home so families have a heads up before the break begins!
What if . . .?
How will your students benefit?
What do you have to lose?
What a joyful sharing of literacy activities when school resumes in 2020!
#SOL18: Access & Equity
Labor Day weekend has come and gone. All schools are in session. Some have been for a week or so. Others have over a month in. It’s that time of transitions. No more “wearing white”. Getting out the college football colors and fall clothes. Trying to prep fo hot weather in un-airconditioned buildings.
I remember kindergarten in a country school. It was less than four miles from our house. Easy access. A true neighborhood school. The old “be careful what you wish for” as it was a small building and classes were combined. I loved that I was allowed to read. I hated that we wasted our time on silly worksheets and coloring pages and so much Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff. Their lives didn’t match our rural farm lives.
And then first grade was in town. In an addition to the school. First grade with other first grade classes. First grade where I could only read books off the first grade shelf in the library. First grade where I read all the books by the end of the first quarter. First grade where my teacher tore up my page with a red sun, a purple sky and green flowers. That wasn’t her picture. First grade where it didn’t matter what I needed or wanted to learn. First grade where I was going to conform. First grade where I was sick. A lot. first grade where I can still remember the number of tiles on the bathroom walls, the floor, and even the ceiling.
First grade when I hated school.
Hated the Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff stories that I already read the year before. They were awful the first time. They were an even bigger waste of time the second time around. I didn’t excel at coloring inside the lines. I wanted the task to be done. I wanted to be able to read, write and draw. Creativity was not prized. My pictures never made the wall. I know exactly how Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik felt when her teacher gave her an F for her free verse poem and this poem by Robert Gianni was praised.
“I have a dog whose name is Spot.He likes to eat and drink a lot.When I put water in his dish,He laps it up just like a fish.” *(Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry)
Which school better met my needs?
Access and Equity matter. All students need access to quality education. Equity is huge. The books that I was mining this holiday weekend are here. There are many others I could have consulted, but these were at the top of my stack!
What’s our goal?
If it truly is to “grow readers and writers” – students who want to read, who do read, and who love to read – kids need access to books. That’s an equity issue whether the school doesn’t even have books – due to their zip code! Or because the students have a new teacher and of course there is NO classroom library set up magically waiting for new teachers!
And then time to read glorious books. Self-selected books. Books that match their interests! Books that make sense to them!
Literacy for ALL . . . What does that mean?
Communicating as a priority. Classrooms not existing as rooms of silence!
Books that reflect the composition of the classroom and the communities around the world. No more “Boy Books” or “Girl Books”! Has you thinking been challenged?
A focus on learning NOT assessing.
The real tangible goal. Are ALL students progressing? Are all students learning self-assessment? Are students developing their own goals and agency? Are students transferring their literacy work to other content areas? What are your students telling you? Do they love learning? Are they curious?
Here are a few of the quotes I’m still holding onto . . .
How did you grow your knowledge and skills this summer?
What are you still wondering about?
What questions do your need answered?
What quotes would you add?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
#SOL15 March Challenge Day 30 – What do you believe?
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.
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.
“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.
Not reading separated out.
Not writing separated out.
because of its role in power and privilege.
because of its role in history.
because of its role in history for minorities.
because of its role in history for women.
because of its role in history for the poor and downtrodden.
What are your beliefs?
How do we know?
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):
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):
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!
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
Dr. Elfrieda Hiebert
Dr. Guadalupe Valdes
Dr. Sandra Murphy
Dr. Alan Schoenfeld
Dr. Bill McCallum
Dr. Francis (Skip) Fennell
Dr. Guillermo Solano-Flores
Dr. Jason Zimba
Dr. Karen Fuson
Dr. Patrick Callahan
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.
- “Close Reads” are not the Final Goal (March 19, 2013 post)
- How Often Do I Use a Close Reading? (March 9, 2013 post)
Then when considering text for use in close reading demonstrations or for student practice, two posts that cover this ground are:
- Close Reading: Not for Every Text (February 28, 2013 post)
- How Do I Choose Text for Close Reading? (March 2, 2013 post)
What should be the content or purpose of “close reads?”
- Are you allowed to make “connections” in close reading? (February 22, 2013 post)
- and just as a reminder: “Common Sense” and the Common Core (February 21, 2013 post)
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.
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 Hattie – Visible 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!
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
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! 🙂