Tag Archives: Mary Ehrenworth

#TCRWP Reading: Takeaways Day 2


The joy of Advanced Sessions is that you choose the topics you are interested in and then hope and pray that you get your first choice. I’m in my first choice sessions and they are exactly what I need for myself and for the teachers/buildings I work with.

However, my learning curve has been straight up this week.  And that intensity and upward knowledge increase has caused some mental confusion and had me thinking deeply about what I know, what I think I know and what I actually can DO myself!  Perfect learning . . . sometimes painful learning.

Amanda Hartman

What are the methods that we can use to teach our mini-lessons?

  • Demonstration
  • Guided Practice
  • Inquiry

And what details are most important?  It depends upon the purpose!  Inquiry can be the most engaging for the Teacher and also provide high engagement for students.  Guided practice works best when students need the practice and aren’t learning a “new – new” skill.

 

In two days, we have been reading, writing and teaching mini-lessons.  Some lessons we have read four times under Amanda’s directions.  We have, more than have half of us, taught our own mini-lesson to another table group in the room.  Our prep time has been minimal.  That’s been a good thing – we can’t obsess over perfection.

But we can quickly review our work through the lenses of Powerful Whole Group Instruction:

  1. Clarity and Concise Language
  2. Engaging and Engaged
  3. Assess and Give Feedback
  4. Links and Skills (Strategies) to Independent and Partner/Club Work
  5.  Opportunities for Oral Language Development

In two days, our teaching points are more explicit.  Our coaching is more specific.  On the spot feedback keeps us on track. Our mini-lessons are improving because of our partner work and our large group work!

Takeaways:

  1. A mini-lesson does not need to be fully scripted but it is helpful to have a plan that includes anticipating approximations.
  2. Why do my students need this lesson?  When I can list multiple reasons both the connections and the links are stronger.
  3. ONE, ONE, ONE teaching point.  Keep it simple silly!  ONE!
  4. What coaching can you plan for?
  5. Practice, practice, practice.  I loved that Molly’s lesson was like 5,000 times better than mine – such a great demonstration!   I need to see, hear, and teach MORE lessons!

 

 

Kathleen Tolan 

Kathleen began today with a story about playing cards in her family and then compared it to our small group work.

“Down and dirty”

Serious.

Take a risk.

Get in the game.

Do it!

Great words of advice for me!

We spent time on pacing.  Small groups often become bogged down when it’s about the teacher (which it isn’t)!  Teachers feel compelled to impart great wisdom and sometimes forget to listen and follow the lead of the students.  Again in this session, I had the privilege of coaching a demonstration lesson in a small group after four minutes of planning with a wonderful partner.  More than 4 minutes wouldn’t have made it better; I needed to teach it!  I envy friends who do teach more than one class in a day because, with practice, the lesson/coaching improves each time.  But sometimes you do just have to jump in and do it!

Kathleen challenged us to work smarter. If we meet in a grade level group or vertical groups with all the Units and a copier, we can create resources that will help us be prepared for small groups.

Example:

Perspective  – Where and what does this look like in first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade?  Copy the charts, any prompts onto resource pages.  Add a text to practice – Voila!

Practice turning a chart into a cheat sheet for students.  How would this look?

Study a mini-lesson on vocabulary.  How does this go in all the other grades?  Copy those charts – shrink them down so charts from three or four grades can be on the same page.

Practice, practice, practice.  You will be better at “responding to students” by responding to students.

Takeaways:

  1. Practice teaching in a small group is like going to weekly Toastmasters meetings.  Frequent practice will increase your confidence.
  2.  There is no ONE right method for small group instruction. Focus on what your students need.  Follow up with partner work and a second or third group meeting on the same content to ensure more practice.
  3. Sometimes we notice something else and go off a tangent.  Use the cheat sheet / resources to stay focused.
  4. Check your prompts. Are they transferable?  Or are they too specific?  (borrow them from the progressions)
  5. Practice time means the students are doing the work. Set the conditions. Let them work!  They, too, must do the work in order to become better, stronger, and more confident readers.

Mary Ehrenworth – What Readers Need

May began by asking us several questions to have us think about what defines our strongest readers. Then she said to consider that, “Potential avid readers are EVERYWHERE.  Think of those who could become AVID readers. Not just the readers who are already reading at the highest levels in our classrooms.  It’s all about expectations.  Some kids are just waiting to be recognized.  What if we don’t see them?

Alligton’s “What Readers Need” supports this work by providing the conditions:

  1. Access to books they find fascinating 
  1. Protected time to read
  1. Expert instruction.

 

And then thinking about the structures that will help more readers be extraordinary readers:

  • Choose books more purposefully
  • Series, series, series
  • Strong reader partnerships and club
  • Start informal social clubs around reading

Takeaways:

  1. 400 million kids read 4,000 pages in the Harry Potter series. Those students may have worked on their synthesis skills – How did Harry Potter change?  How did others’ perceptions of him change? Have you studied a series?
  2. We need to study our classroom libraries.  If my 5th grade library looks almost identical to the fourth grade collections there may not be many choices for students.
  3. We need MUST teach students how to find books everywhere so that they can always be reading because extraordinary readers DON’T just read for 30 minutes each day in class.
  4. Our classrooms need to be where our students flourish!  They can’t flourish in spite of us – after our assigned readings, after a book that takes 3-4 weeks to read as a whole class novel . . .
  5. Of the three conditions, which one do you need to work on?   Access to books they find fascinating? Protected time to read?  Expert instruction?   When will you start?

Matt de La Pena – Keynote

To have an autographed and stickered book;  yes, it is worth having more than one copy of this book.  Especially now.  Matt closed his speech Tuesday to the rapt attention of hundreds of teachers, administrators and even authors in Cowan Auditorium, by reading this book to us.

last stop

Matt inspired us with his story and his humility. He talked about his beginnings in National City (even asking who was from that area) and sharing that his Mexican-American heritage is not reflected in books.  Matt connected his growing up with two completely different sets of families was like “code switching” and also the impetus for this book.

mexican whiteboy

His ticket out of his neighborhood was basketball.  His message of needing more books that reflect our students’ culture is critical.  But his story of hope and aspiration is also important.  I, too, know what it was like to be the first graduate from a four year university in my family.  Education is powerful and sometimes we get there through totally unexpected paths.

What book did Matt read 12 times during his public school career? (If it’s good, why not reread rather than starting a new book?)

The House on Mango Street

What book did he read in two days while on a basketball out of town trip,  upon invitation by a college instructor, before he graduated?

The Color Purple

More on his books and his background can be found on his website here. While autographing my copy of Market Street, Matt mentioned that he was headed to Iowa for appearances in Ames and Cedar Rapids so I was especially pleased to read about a previous trip (2014) to Cedar Falls, Iowa here.  If you have not yet read his Newbery acceptance speech, it is here.

Takeaways:

  1. “Teachers and authors don’t often immediately see the results of their work.  Patience  . . . you will!”
  2. “Books do not include the diversity that reflects our kids!” Help kids find themselves in books!
  3. “You need to consider the possibilities in your self-definition.”  Don’t let your background limit you.
  4. “Some of the best books you will read will start out uncomfortable!”  Readers need to know this!
  5. “Books make me feel emotional.”  Books need to connect.  Books can be a lifesaver.  Find the books that connect.

What book(s) have been the inspiration or possibilities for you?  

How do you help students find those books/stories?  

How do you continue to “outgrow yourself” as a reader, thinker, or writer?

 

 

 

 

#TCRWP Writing: Takeaways Day 2


 

Celena Larkey

Ratchet up the level of your students’ writing by teaching them revision: Tapping into the power of mentor texts and checklists (K-2)

Our 30 minute writing workshop felt like heaven. Time to write, time to think, time to talk with our partners!

“When we revise for meaning, we ask, “What’s this piece for?”  Do I want the reader to feel a certain way? What do I want them to do?  After I figure out that meaning, I scan my writing piece quickly. Any part that doesn’t match, I cross it out with one line. Any part that matches the meaning, BLOW it up ad I make sure that I tell it bit by bit.”

With that, Celena demonstrated in her text, had us read our own pieces and we were off revising. And it felt very comfortable and very doable.

Meaning – Development / Elaboration Strategies

  • Jump into the moment & tuck into details later
  • Make time matter
  • Find heart of mater and add details, thoughts!
  • End in the moment
  • Stretch the moment across the pages!
  • Show don’t tell – use describing words.
  • Make characters talk.
  • Make the characters move – add action words
  • Add feelings
  • Add thinking
  • Find the important part – say more

SHARES

  1. Symphony share.

   Find one revision.

   Put your finger on it.

   Read just that revision for a single share.

 

  1. Museum share.

   Physical revision.

   Walk around and look at the revisions.

   Don’t take work to carpet. Quick.

   Works in primary.

   Can quickly see a variety of types of revisions.

Choosing a Mentor Text

choosing a mentor text

We are using this format to study our mentor text.

Title and Author of Mentor Text

What do we see?

What do we call it?

Why would we use it?

Takeaways:

  1. The standards (CCSS.W.5) can be a guide for revision with vertical teacher conversations about the expectations for each grade level. CL
  2. Revision is not like moving day where the big truck backs up to the door and EVERYTHING is loaded at one time. Choose one lens – meaning and revise. It will take practice. CL
  3. Use teacher written mentor texts to model how to “revise” so students can see the marked up copy. CL
  4. “A tool is only as good as the tinker’s hand in which it is!” CL
  5. Two ways of quickly sharing revisions are symphony or museum shares. CL

Consider: How do we make revision a part of every day’s work?

How and when do teachers study mentor text in order to really KNOW it?

Colleen Cruz

Power Tools, Methods and Strategies:  Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)

Tools:   What should students write with?

Is this teacher preference?  Student preference or both?

Write with Pencils Write with Marker / Gel Pen
First problem with volume

Hard to “push” a pencil – slows writer down

Great for sketching

“Are you writing volumes with #2 pencil?

Cannot erase

Edit/ Revise with one line through previous text

Cannot lose data

Flows when writing

What most adults use in real world

(Skills list – draft by genre – not all inclusive)

Narrative Skills (fiction, historical account, personal, etc.)

  • Generate story ideas
  • Structure plot (sequence)
  • Dramatize action
  • Summarize
  • Make meaning evident
  • Develop characters
  • Imbue voice

Information Skills (all about, lecture, article, etc.)

  • Generate topics
  • Structure content
  • Elaborate on information
  • Summarize
  • Develop central idea
  • Imbue voice

Persuasive/Opinion/Argument Skills (essay, lit. essay, speech, editorial, etc.)

  • Generate ideas/opinions/arguments
  • Structure piece
  • Support with evidence and reasons
  • Summarize
  • Prove thesis/idea/opinion
  • Imbue voice

Takeaways:

  1. A skill is cooking; a strategy is the way you do it (boil, bake, fry, sear, broil, etc.) CC
  2. Skill? Strategy? Leads could be both – just like a square can be a rectangle! CC
  3. “I have to write a novel.  Where is my #2 pencil?” says NO published author ever!  CC
  4. Consider the physical demands on writing when a student uses pencil vs. pen. CC
  5. Make decisions about organization of notebook based on what students need and less on what is neat and tidy for the teacher. (If the organization  of the notebook is a constant battle to get students to do it, are there more options / possibilities?) CC

To consider:  Is the big question – Is this a skill or a strategy? Or is the big question – What can the student do over time in multiple pieces and with multiple genres?

How do we teach for transfer?

Closing Session

Mary Ehrenworth – Studying Mentor Texts for Possible Small Group Lessons – Read like a teacher of writing, considering:

Structure

Craft

Conventions

What is the rationale for using mentor texts?

  1. Even in the Units of Study in 18-20 days, you can only teach about 6 new things.
  2. Mentor Texts – so you aren’t the only source of information about narrative writing.
  3. Mentor Text – opens up to 3-12 other things kids can be exposed to.
  4. Don’t wait until they are GOOD at it – not waiting for this work to be perfect!
  5. Mentor Text is important. Study.  Incubation period may be long. You may not get the benefit of student learning this year.

Mary began with a demonstration text, “Brave Irene” and showed us how to look at Structure  in terms of a movement of time. If it starts right away in one moment, when does time change? And then we did the same work in “Fly Away Home”.

Strong writers in small groups:

  • Find things.
  • Name them.
  • Are they repeated?
  • How would that work in our text?

Process that we used:

  1. Come to any text that we have and ask any questions by looking for most accessible text.
  2. Visual cues and language for a tool to help students. . . academic discourse.
  3. Sometimes I will do this work in video – engaging
  4. I try to demonstrate in my own writing – in the air.

 

Takeaways:

  1. Teacher “shows” mentor text but doesn’t try it out is often the biggest problem with mentor texts.
  2. The teacher must know the mentor text very well.
  3. Students can make decisions about what to look for in mentor texts when the author’s repetition of structure, craft, or conventions is used.
  4. Mentor texts are the best way to study grammar “like an author”.
  5. Use of mentor texts should be engaging – and that might be why you consider video.

To consider: What if students were in charge of more “noticing” and determining what can be found in mentor text?

Is this the reciprocity that you would get from reading workshop?

 

Closing Keynote

Ralph Fletcher

Rethinking Mentor Text

Ralph Fletcher began with sharing letters from students, quotes from authors and many “craft” moves in the mentor texts. He also had us write during his keynote speech.

Using Ralph Fletcher’s mentor text, “The Good Old Days”, (keeping first and last stanzas), here is what I wrote:

The Good Old Days

Sometimes I remember

the good old days

 

Riding bikes on Sundays

Playing baseball games in the evenings

 

A carefree family life

Living on the farm

 

I can’t imagine

Anything better than that.

10 Tips for Using Mentor Texts to Teach Writing

  1. Read what we love ourselves
  2. Take advantage of “micro-texts” that can be read in one sitting (Picture Books, Poems, Paragraphs)
  3. Talk about the author behind the book. What itch made them write that story?
  4. Don’t interrupt the first reading of a text
  5. Leave time for natural holistic responses
  6. Reread for craft
  7. Design a spiral of Mini-Lessons that cycle back to teach craft
  8. Use the Share to reinforce the craft lesson from the Teaching Point – showing students in the class who did the craft move in their writing
  9. Invite (don’t assign) students to experiment with craft element
  10. Be patient – The student may not be able to do the craft this year but instruction was not in vain.

Bonus Tip – Don’t kill the book!

Take Aways:

  1. Understand Means “To stand under”
  2. A writer MUST read!
  3. Mentor texts are available everywhere!
  4. There are many places to start but these institutes grow you personally and mentor texts will grow your classroom.
  5. Collect a lot of writing, including student writing, for mentor text use.

To consider:  What if more teachers were writing?  What supports do readers need in order to be better writers?

THANKS, Readers!

 

#TCRWP 89th Saturday Reunion Closing and Recap


treasurecurmudgeon

Gold or Curmudgeon?

What is your mindset for a full day of professional development?

When the day is a FREE day at Teachers College with the most brilliant minds in the field of literacy, it’s so easy to look for the GOLD!  Lucy Calkins’ Closing was titled:  Straight Talk where do we go from here? and it was PURE GOLD!

As always, Lucy was passionate about her topic!

The future of our students is in our hands – the teachers.  What we believe about our students is what they will accomplish.  If we think, “oh, that’s too hard for them!”, it will be too hard.  Our expectations set the ceiling for students! We MUST dream impossible dreams.  We must work towards challenging goals.  If not, our students will continue to be stuck in their current reality.

 Is that what we really want? 

As a writer, I appreciated hearing that a younger Lucy writer was asked to try 25 different beginnings for a piece.  When we are challenged to do better, we can and do accomplish bigger and better things!

Takeaways:

Study student work.

Give ambitious feedback.

Teach, teach, teach – and yes, this is not the way we were taught.

Work collaboratively – find/make a group that can and does work together!

To review the learning, the chapters in my blog posts for #TCRWP 89th Saturday Reunion (in order):

NYC Bound . . . Anticipation
From Riverside to Riverside . . . The Learning Continues
Begin at the Beginning: #TCRWP 89th Saturday Reunion and Mo Willems
#TCRWP 89th Reunion: Mo Willem’s Keynote
#TCRWP 89th Saturday Reunion: Laughter and Learning Session #1
#TCRWP 89th Reunion: A Reprise
#89th TCRWP Saturday Reunion and a Bit of Grammar
#TCRWP 89th Saturday Reunion and FUN Vocabulary Learning!

Additional Posts about the 89th Saturday Reunion include:

Learning Never Ends with the Sessions; Learning Continues in the Conversations . . .

How and what are YOU learning?

#89th TCRWP Saturday Reunion and a Bit of Grammar


grammar one

Yes! You Can Teach Grammar In Workshop – Three Essential Methods to Tuck In Grammar Effectively

Session #3 = Mary Ehrenworth

Mary began this session, packed to the gills, with folks sitting on the floor EVERYWHERE, with the following two questions for participants to discuss:

  • What do you think of when you think of grammar?
  • What is the “it” – you are trying to fit in!

What exactly are we talking about?

  • Spelling – when?
  • Spelling – In writing?
  • Spelling – Magically on students’ own time?
  • Subject / verb agreement?
  • Academic English?
  • Editing – how do I help students “fix up” their writing?

Keep in mind, dear readers, that English has its own particular challenges.  Our irregular verbs are harder than Spanish or Chinese. For those learning English, they will need a long period of approximation and growth.  For some natives, they will also need a long period of approximation and growth.

What should we do in our schools?

Just know that random small groups will not do cure the issue with weak grammar.  You will need a systemic approach. One isolated teacher in one year will not get growth.  You need to become the “Grammar Ambassador” for your building.  Pilot some methods. Encourage others to pilot some more methods.  Ask questions.  “What will we teach across each unit of study? Each year?”

The answer is not in teaching an isolated unit on “apostrophes” but instead in considering how punctuation changes the meaning in written work.

Check this out. What’s the difference between the first and second example?

grammar two

Quality grammar instruction includes the “art” not just the “skill and drill methods”.

How do we teach the art?

  • Demonstration regular lesson – art and craft
  • Inquiry – punctuation or dialogue –  What are the rules?  Malcolm Gladwell researched the stickiness factor with Blues Clues and inquiry.  We have to make sure students see different levels of dialogue so they experience a wide variety. This is not a task to be done in writing workshop. Instead, do a two day grammar study after the end of a unit that doesn’t fit into writing workshop. (Days before Thanksgiving!)
  • Interludes and Extravaganzas – Not pretending it’s writing workshop!

Some thoughts about Decoding/Encoding –

  • Natural spellers – brain has a graphic – you literally see the word
  • You will use spell check.
  • You will ask others to check your work.
  • IF you are a teacher who is not a natural speller, you will be more sympathetic!
  • 5th graders now write more than they have ever written in the past.
  • But for our young writers using digital spelling, they won’t spell words accurately.

What are the Stages of Acquisition?

  • Recognition
  • Approximation
  • Mastery
  • Slippage
  • Code Switching

Consider where you are on this list of stages?  Where are your students?  Are there a few students who are still stuck back in those earlier stages?  How can you get them to move on to higher levels?  The best answer would be MORE reading and MORE writing!

  • Most kids learn 80% of words they will use from lap reading – the way they have been speaking and been read to!!!
  • When you see students do something – run on sentences is not all bad. Some would consider those students “lucky” because they have a lot to write about. Then they need to work on writing long for internal punctuation. The more they read, the more control they will get over it.
  • Mastery – ending punctuation 1st grade
  • Ending punctuation is often still an issue  – 8th grade teachers!
  • Students drop control when get to something hard. Spend cognitive energy on completing task not spelling. Need more practice – more scrimmage time for students.
  • Just know that as fast as we teach, students are still in slippage stage!
  • Code Switching – switching from formal to digital – many students don’t notice when this happens
  • Coping strategies – proof reading – Students need to know when this is necessary
  • Intellectually and professionally difficult to proofread and edit own writing – don’t see the errors! How do you compensate for this?

Lynne Truss’s book, Eats Shoots & Leaves (Profile Books 2003), has a wonderful Dear Jack letter.

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?
Jill

How could changing the punctuation change the meaning of this letter?

Without moving ANY words around!

You try it!

punctuation

Here was Lynne Truss’s version with the exact same words but different punctuation.

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Yours,
Jill

What if?

What if students created these?

What if students “played” with punctuation?

What if teachers REALLY quit correcting and fixing?

What if students were asked to think deeply about changing the meaning?

What are the components of quality grammar lessons?

Connection – Why?

Teaching Demo – How do we do this?

Active Engagement – We try it!

Link – When?

Would it maybe sound like . . . “Writers are considerate to their readers. When there is a new character, new setting,  or a time change, a writer begins a new paragraph.  The reader needs the white spaces.  (Read aloud with demo.) Let’s go to the story I’m writing here. Where do I need a paragraph?  Work with a partner and be prepared to explain both “where” a paragraph should begin and why. . . Now choose one page in your notebook and think about how paragraphs (white spaces) could help your reader.”

Would a lesson like this be more likely to transfer to student writing?

The old way of “doing grammar” has not succeeded in transferring to writing, so maybe this is worth a shot!

Conversation with a partner could possibly result in a more powerful lesson  and return some power to the students!  The teacher could share that England actually has a position known as the “Defender of the English Language”.  Who (and not the teacher) could be that person in our classroom?

If you decide to use an inquiry method, here are a few tips!

  • Have 1 question – not 10
  • Plan strategically.  The Inquiry activity should be no longer than 20 minutes.
  • Then give students 10 minutes to figure out one or two things to try.
  • The final 10 minutes of class provide time for the students to go try the skill in their own writing – ACTUALLY doing it!
  • Immediate application makes the skill more likely to STICK!

What are qualities of mentor texts to use for grammar?

Engaging and does a few things really well!

What else could you use for grammar instruction?

We exited to the Schoolhouse Rock Video:Schoolhouse Rock Xavier Sarsaparilla.  Hmm. .  .   multi-media to build up knowledge, power, and a bit of fun.

How do you think grammar fits into writing workshop?

For another view of Mary’s workshop, please go to Jenn’s blog post here.

#TCRWP: Day 2 Reading Institute 2015


AMAZING LEARNING continues at TCRWP!

Session 1

Liz Dunford Franco – State of the Art Curriculum to Support First Grade Readers

We began with a study of mini-lessons in the first grade Book 1 of the new Reading Units of Study. With a partner, we read a sample, role played it and then debriefed with table groups with these questions in mind:

How are students engaged across these lessons?

What does the teacher do?

What does the student do?

Liz shared some tips for reading the lessons with our group. They included:

Use a highlighter to mark the language so you are clear and consistent.

Teaching Point – echo the language in the plan

Connection- This is where you can add your own personal touch and make it relevant but keep it short and sweet.

Make notes to yourself – ( My thinking – Consider a different color of post it for what you as teacher need to do or say in advance so everyone has “materials” needed.)

What does kid watching look like at the beginning of the year in first grade?

The teacher might be looking for evidence that a student is able to

Self – start

Refocus with a teacher gesture

Work with table group

Work with partner

Generate question

We talked about keeping the mini-lesson short and staying under the 10 minute guideline length for a true “mini-lesson”. Liz pushed us to think beyond just the “10 minute time limit” in order to determine where the lessons broke down. By studying “where the trouble was” in the lessons, we could see where we were losing time and avoid those behaviors.

What patterns did we see?

In active engagement, was too much time spent going back over the strategy for an extra mini-mini-lesson?

Did the Link involve reteaching instead of just a nod to the chart?

Were students being kept in the group and not sent off for additional work?

How could the teacher check in with students later (without losing time)?

Hand student a post it and then after all students are off reading,, say, “1, 2, 3 eyes on me! If I gave you a post-it, come back to the table!”

“Taking a sneak peek could be taught as an Inquiry Lesson”

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.05.39 PM

We jigsawed sections from the 2nd book – Unit 3 Learning about World – Reading Nonfiction with the following bends:

Bend 1: Getting Smart on Nonfiction Topics

Bend 2: Tackling Super Hard Words in Order to Keep Learning

Bend 3: Reading Aloud Like Experts

A feature that I loved and tweeted out was that in grade 1, Book 2 Nonfiction, students are put in the role of teacher to do their own read alouds! (This was always the goal with Every Child Reads in Iowa: students would be able to do their own Read Alouds, Talk Alouds, Think Alouds, and Composing Think Alouds.) I also loved to hear that kids need 10-12 informational books in personal baskets or common group baskets. At this stage I am waiting to hear more about both the Read Aloud 5 day plan nd Shared Reading Plan .

Possible assessments for Grade 1 students include:

Running Records – (msv)

Letter sound ID

Sight words

Spelling inventories

Comprehension to be assessed through Read Alouds, talk, conference and the use of a pre-assessment to determine whether students need another bend to build up habits or a unit from If/Then before beginning the nonfiction unit?

What are you thinking right now?

What “AHAs” did you have?

Any specific connections/questions that came to mind for the non-first grade teachers?

Session 2:

Katie Clements – Embracing Complexity: Teaching Kids to Tackle and Love More Complex Nonfiction (Grades 3-6)

How can we support students in tackling and loving more complex texts?

We began with four minutes to teach about our non-fiction book with a partner (after a few tips about how to do this well). This was a great energizer for the group, as well as validating our homework assignment.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.57.17 PM

  1. DRAFTING main idea

We began with nontraditional texts: Main idea from text and pictures combined that Katie modeled and then main idea from a video that we practiced with a partner.

Tips:

Don’t just name a topic.

As you read on, hold the main idea loosely tosee if it STILL fits.

Revise main idea as more information is added.

We watched a very short PSA video clip. First viewing: “As you are listening and watching – watch for the chunks, we will see how the chunks fit together!” We discussed.  Katie posted the three big ideas she heard and then put bullets under them. Before we watched the video again we were told to sort and rank details for a mini-debate.

As we worked on this, I tweeted out:

“Use of non-traditional texts. . . do our students know how to process/understand text that they will live with all their lives?”

Key Takeaways

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.58.10 PM

1. Revision will be necessary in complex text.

2.  I believe we have a moral obligation to teach students how to do this complex work with the texts that they are using in their lives. This means students will need to learn how to do this work independently!

New Tool:

challenges

Katie shared some ways that this tool was used in a fifth grade classroom and we brainstormed some additional ways that it can be used. As I read my homework assignment, I watched to see if these areas were also “complexity issues” in my book.   Much potential here!

How do you teach main idea in nonfiction text?

What makes it complex for kids?

Does it get “messy”? 

Kathleen Tolan – Closing Workshop

Groups and Maximizing Student Growth

Key Takeaway:  Small groups for all – not just struggling readers!

How can we get a routine for ourselves so we “know how it is going to go?

 We need to take interventions to mastery instead of introduction so students get reading practice and their work can be lifted. Because growth takes time, we need realistic strategies. Anything that is hard takes practice. Name it for yourself. Put the work into your daily schedule so the students can do it again and again and grow.

Kathleen share some of the frustrations of planning for small groups.

  • Sometimes it takes 45 minutes to plan for one session.
  • And then the leesson doesn’t go the way we want it to.
  • The students aren’t doing well.
  • There is no magic fairy dust to sprinkle on the students!

What would it be like to plan for the increments along the way?

Small Group Session 1:  Small groups should NOT be using new material. You will need to go back to the exact space in lesson plans. RETEACH! Don’t do a big demo or Think Aloud!  Instead invite the small group to “co-create the original lesson!” This allows you to turn the work over to the students quickly and also see which parts of the original lesson stuck with the kids!  This way withi minute two of a small group, students are at the. “Open your book and now you do it!” stage.

Coach! Coach! Coach!   Coach!

All of us do it together quick and then to transference.

Link – add in when we will meet them again! Put on schedule to make sure it is included. Check in is short – 10 sec.

Small Group Session 2:  Reread from Read Aloud

Redo what you did last time or shared writing from last work. Take this into your own book. Read – your 5-7 min. are up. But they are still there “DOING” the work!

WALK AWAY!

Students don’t need us there for repeated practice. Leaning happens when you are not there! Set them up and give them tools!

Small Group Session 3:  We are working on envisionment. Go work.

Our goal is not to talk all the time. Use progression on enviosionment and write around the post it, naming the work.  When we use the progression, make sure you teach down all the way through that level and then teach one thing that leans into the next level.  Be realistic.  If a student is at level 2, don’t expect them to immediately jump to level 4.

Give one tip.

Students doing the work!!!

Repeat coaching one more time!

  • Small Groups – set 2 groups up. Move faster! Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t sit as Teacher! You will move faster! After 5 min. move on!
  • Need internal sense – Need to reset our clock!
  • Tangible tools. What can you leave behind?  What’s important?
  • If we introduce tools that go across content areas, look at the amount of practice students will have!

What is your routine for small group work?

Who do you work with in your small groups?

 

Mary Ehrenworth – Keynote

Remembering Grant Wiggins: Innovating “Teaching for Transference”

Mary shared that this session was the result of collaborative work from the TCRWP staff. Students in school need less drill and more scrimmage because feedback varies. Feedback in skills and strategies are “can you do them?”  In scrimmage feedback is likely to be, “How are you doing with them on your own?”

  1. book to book – Piggybook – Work you can do in any book

(characters in books are more than one way (strengths and flawa) Your opinion is more valuable when allow for nuance and acknowledge there are some troublesome parts!

  1. Book to book – (Characters with strengths and flaws)  Maddie and Tae – “Girl in a Country Son”

“What’s the most important thing?” Sorting and ranking made discussions stronger.

“What’s the next important thing?”

“What makes you say that?”  Don’t just nod your head.  Ask “Why is that important?”

3. Transference to another text – history text – Schoolhouse Rock – Elbow Room

(Stengths and flaws, Power and disempowerment)  Stems you might use are

“While it’s true…”  “Neverless…”

4.  Inside / outside school Transfer

Mary shared that she and Cornelius Minor will have a JAL article next week that included close reading of sports event that allowed students to “read their lives”.  Our goal should be to nurture transference form one book to another, from one reading experience to another, and from one reader to another.  How often do we feel like we are around the campfire having fun? Don’t want to leave the story?

How do you teach for transference?

#TCRWP: Information Writing


Well, the June 2014 week of Writing Institute ended one month ago.  The finale included a “flash mob”, laughing and crying, and singing.  Memorable.  Unforgettable.  How do we have evidence of our growth?

We wrote.  We wrote some more.  And even more.  We wrote again and again using the lessons that we were practicing orally and in writing during our sessions.  Here’s just a view of my drafts.

What patterns do you notice in the drafts?

 # Draft 1

DRAFT 1  Monday, June 23

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or don’t even bother asking students to write.”  Mary E quote to begin June Writing Institute 2014.

But students have to write at school.  There are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing.  Under reading, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Writing is important.

Writing –  what do authors use for beginnings?  A title – promise of the author to the reader.  Provocative beginning– engage, pull them in so they want to write, yet also fit within the context .  Delicate balance between student choice and teacher need for compliance – do what must be  done!

 

Notes and questions:

  • How did looking at how authors began help us as writers?  How could that be used by students in order to begin writing?  How could that also be used by teachers at PD
  • Look again at the titles that Mary chose.  How did she arrive at those?

When we write:

  • How do we begin?  Introductions? Prologue?
  • What language about writing would be inviting and engaging for teachers and students?

Some ideas. Not a lot of content – YET!

Draft Day # 2 

DRAFT 2  For MS and HS Teachers in Districts    What writing is important?

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or you shouldn’t even bother asking students to write,” according to Mary Ehrenworth (TCRWP Writing Institute.  June, 2014).But students do have to write at school.

Is “not writing” a viable option?  Not really, because there are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing in all content areas grades 6-12 as well as in the primary grades.  To underscore the importance of writing, CCSS ELA  Reading Anchor Standards, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Therefore, writing is necessary and important at school in order to address the standards.The CCSS propose that the three types of writing covered by CCSS.W. 1 opinion / argument; 2. Informational/explanatory; and 3. Narrative  are to receive approximately equal attention in the elementary grades.  As a student progresses through the grades, narrative writing is de-emphasized and more attention is paid to Standards 1 and 2.

 

What does this mean for Teachers?

Teachers in all content areas are expected to be able to assist students to be better writers within their content expertise.  Will they be “teaching” writing?  Let’s examine this question a bit farther.  Will the science teacher be teaching writing?  Yes and No.  The science teacher will be expected to read, write and speak like a scientist.  The student will use science vocabulary in oral and written work.  Lab reports might be one example of expected science writing. The science teacher has the knowledge and expertise to guide the student in reading and writing as an apprentice scientist.  The business education teacher will assist the students in reading and writing tasks that would be found within the world of business.  Does this mean that every content area class has to now write a term paper?  The CCRR Anchor Standards do not say that every class should be writing a term paper but there should be an expectation for daily reading and writing in each classroom, even in small doses.

 

(What changed in this draft?

  • Explicitly stated purpose
  • Bold headings stated as questions so text includes the answers)

 

Day 3 Draft

 

DRAFT 3 For MS and HS Teachers in Districts   

Writing

Draft: Well-rounded student – information and all –  parenting – everyone has a role . ELA will not be mastering science content but yet having some uniform expectations  (at least having conversations about how individual roles contribute to the greater good !)

 

Chapter 1  Begin at the Beginning

What writing is important?

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or you shouldn’t even bother asking students to write,” according to Mary Ehrenworth (TCRWP Writing Institute.  June, 2014).

But students do have to write at school.  Is “not writing” a viable option?  Not really, because there are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing in all content areas grades 6-12 as well as in the primary grades.  To underscore the importance of writing, CCSS ELA  Reading Anchor Standards, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Therefore, writing is necessary and important at school in order to address the standards.

The CCSS propose that the three types of writing covered by CCSS.W. 1 opinion / argument; 2. Informational/explanatory; and 3. Narrative  are to receive approximately equal attention in the elementary grades.  As a student progresses through the grades, narrative writing is de-emphasized and more attention is paid to Standards 1 and 2.

What does this mean for Teachers?

Teachers in all content areas are expected to be able to assist students to be better writers within their content expertise.  Will they be “teaching” writing?  Let’s examine this question a bit farther.  Will the science teacher be teaching writing?  Yes and No.  The science teacher will be expected to read, write and speak like a scientist.  The student will use science vocabulary in oral and written work.  Lab reports might be one example of expected science writing. The science teacher has the knowledge and expertise to guide the student in reading and writing as an apprentice scientist.  The business education teacher will assist the students in reading and writing tasks that would be found within the world of business.  Does this mean that every content area class has to now write a term paper?  The CCRR Anchor Standards do not say that every class should be writing a term paper but there should be an expectation for daily reading and writing in each classroom, even in small doses.

So what will ELA teachers teach about writing if content area teachers have to teach writing? 

Picture this:  Suzie Q is an ELA teacher who LOVES, LOVES, LOVES narrative writing.  She has her students write narratives at the beginning of the year, then she adds in some response to reading, some argument and informational writing.  But a review of her lesson plans and her curriculum map show that Suzie’s students spend 23 out of 36 weeks on Narrative Writing.

Or picture this:  Janie Smith is an ELA teacher who prides herself on giving students choices in what to write.  She begins the year with a unit on each of the following writing genre:  narrative, response to reading, argument, and informational writing.  Each of these four units are approximately four weeks long and are typically completed by the end of the first semester.  During second semester, students can choose their own content to write based on their other course assignments and needs, yet they know that each student will be asked to add at least one more piece of each writing genre to their portfolio collection with a reflection about how it is different from their first semester writing.

 

Which ELA teacher is not only following the spirit of the curriculum but is also focusing on the curriculum of the students?  Correct, Jani Smith, because she has taught the basics and then provides some student choices that allow for increased writing opportunities with fewer “fake” writing assignments just for teachers (OK, snarky – have not included this idea before that writing only for the teacher is a waste of time!)

 

Chapter 2   Predictable Scenarios in Students’ Informational Writing

Katie Clements, TCRWP staff developer, shared these three common predictable patterns of difficulty in Informational Writing for students in grades 3 – 8.  By being aware that other students have had these problems, you yourself can be prepared to plan for a mini-lesson or at the very least to have conference around these issues.  What and how you teach will be built on previous writing instruction in your classroom, but see if any of these ideas spark your thinking!

 

Possible Scenario for Informational Writing:

Disorganized
Only a tiny bit about each part
Jumps right in without setting up expectations

What changes did you note in Draft # 3?

What remains the same?  

What questions remain unanswered for the reader?

 

And then the final four page draft after comments from classmates and my writing partner. (I really struggled with how to “access this format” because I still don’t understand what a Mac can do!)

Still a draft – but formatted 

Over the course of a week, what did you see change?

Only fitting to share this as my Slice of Life this week:  Evidence of Learning at the June Writing Institute 2014!

 Do you save your drafts?  How do you know your writing is improving?

ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

 

 

#TCRWP: Informational Writing Goals


The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Units of Study have been in K-5 classrooms for over a year and the grades 6-8 units were published about six weeks ago.  The range of resources for each grade level has more than enough content to help both teachers and students be better writers of all three text types in the Common Core while significantly upping the ante for informational text and therefore meeting CCSS Anchor Standard 2. “Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.”

What are some goals for information writing?

Here’s a look at just 3 of the goal areas that we explored during the June TCRWP Writing Institute.  If you are fortunate to be attending an advanced institute in August, you will have an opportunity to see these materials up close and personal.  If you have the new middle school units, you already have these materials in your hands.

First of all, understand that we were a group of educators representing grades 3-8.  Some of these ideas were familiar in texts that we read.  But many of them were unfamiliar when thinking about “using them” in our own writing.  Identifying how  and why “authors” used these goals was an important first step for “Reading like an author” before we practiced these in our own writing!

Our reading study was around wolves.  Here is  one text that we used and the first three of the goals that we talked about.

wolves goals overview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first task:  Look to see how this author met Goal #1 Hook the Reader.

We turned to the double page spread of the text (pages 1 and 2).

wolves goals one hook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read these pages.

What hooks you the reader?

Which technique(s) help the writer meet his goal?

  • Is it the question?
  • Is it the picture?
  • The actual “stance” of the wolf?
  • Is it the description that includes the “lonely howl”, “more voices”, and “chorus of howls”?

Is this dull, boring information writing?

 

Goal # 2 Introduce new topic/subtopic/person

wolves goals two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is “Wolves All Around” a new subtopic?

Does this page meet that goal?

What techniques help meet the goal?

  • Is it the heading?
  • Is it the fact that the “print format” of the heading is now predictable?
  • Is it the placement at the top left of the double page spread?

Again, is this dull, boring information writing?

 

Goal # 3  Give background information

Read this double page spread.

wolves goals three background info

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the information qualify as background information?

As readers we find out where wolves live (all over the world), what the most common wolf is (gray wolf), and the fact that there are many kinds of gray wolves that are “not just gray.”

What technique (s) does the author use”

  • Factual statements
  • Pictures
  • Labels
  • Comparisons in pictures

 

Was this dull, boring information writing?

In all of these examples, multiple techniques were used to ensure that the reader understood what the writer was saying.  These combinations included words, phrases, sentences, illustrations, headings, titles and additional print features.  As expert readers, are we paying attention to the cumulative effect of ALL of those techniques?  How do we share that expertise with our students?

How does reading like an author and writing like a reader produce riveting informational text across all content areas?
How do you teach students to “effectively select, organize and analyze content”?

#TCRWP: Reading Institute Day 2


I can’t say enough about how nice the weather has been the last ten days in New York City.  I am saying it quietly as I know it is going to change, but it has been such a contrast to last year’s triple digit, steaming hot days!  Why does the temperature outside matter?  Well sometimes, in buildings gently aging, the temperature really varies and boiling temperatures do make it more difficult to stay focused and continue learning.  But enough with the weather and on with the show, . . . er the review!

 

What is Social Studies?

Do you view social studies through this lens?

SS 1

Or does this lens match your view of Social Studies?

SS

 

Are you now thinking Social Studies is “kinda, sorta” both of those?

 

The minute I heard about the content area work done around centers last year at TCRWP (Teachers College Reading and Writing Project), I was interested.  The use of Social Studies content to increase reading and writing has always been intriguing to me.  I love social studies.  Stories in the past?  Who doesn’t like stories?  And what a fun way to learn about the past – from stories.  And I am not just talking about school-aged children here either.  Now that pediatricians are recommending parents read to infants, I will also be consciously connecting more early literature contexts when available like this NAEYC list of recommended social studies books for youngsters age three and above.

 

This week I have daily sessions with Kathleen Tolan (@KathleenMTolan) during the Advanced Reading sessions at the July Reading Institute.  Today was day two at the institute and we spent more than half our time working at centers.  We are the students.  We are doing the work.  We are not teaching (YET).  We are learning by being the students.

I am at the Compare and Contrast Center with 4 other adults.  Our task card says,

“Welcome to the compare and contrast center!

In this center you will be reading, talking, note taking, and comparing and contrasting the colonies.  Talk with your group about what you are learning: use text evidence.

After reading and taking notes, look back at your notes to develop idea.  You can go back and add on to your notes or start a new page of wonderings and ideas.”

 

If you were to restate that task, or turn and tell the gist to your partner, what would you say?

Does this task feel like an assignment?

Does it feel like there is only one answer?

How do we know what to do?

 

We have had some instruction in the form of lessons and demonstrations.  We have a page of thinking prompts for making comparisons and explaining differences that was included in the center packet. But we do not have  a suggested “product” for this “reading” task.

We know that we need evidence so we are jotting notes and using quotes as a part of our evidence.  We have five books about different colonies.  Not all books are from the same publisher so not all have the same exact Table of Contents.  The good news is that when we “perused” the books, one of our group members noted the similarity of four of the books and asked everyone else if the Table of Contents was similar.  We were happy to find that common ground to begin our compare/contrast work.

Do you have content area centers for reading (input of information)?  If yes, do the task cards sound open-ended like these?  If not, why don’t you have centers?  What are you waiting for?

Day 2 was Monday!

Advanced AM session with Brooke Geller

Show and Teach:  We walked around the room and played / shared our video, song, poem, or text.  These included:  Finding Nemo, Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchel and also by Counting Crows, Adidas ad for world soccer, McDonald’s ad for World Soccer, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go for starters!

Then we did a close reading of “Mr. Entwhistle” where there is a lot of envisioning to do because the characters actions and words are contradictory.  This was also part of a longer discussion explanation of how to use Read Aloud Jots to raise the level of jots for reading response about theories of characters.

We worked with strands of nonfiction in terms of:

  • size of text chunks
  • explicitness of main ideas
  • new vocabulary  and
  • scaffolding provided by the text features.

 

Closing Workshop

Stacey Fell   8th grade

Using Readers’ Notebooks to Drive Your Middle School Reading Instruction

This session repeats on Tuesday afternoon – consider attending!

Does your reader’s notebook need some serious attention.  Are you wondering what you should really be having the students “do” with their readers’ notebooks.  Then you should definitely attend Stacey’s session on Tuesday.  It will be packed full of ideas that you can use in your classroom and for your readers’ notebooks!

You will see examples of:

  • reading histories
  • publishable reading entries
  • signposts from ‘Notice and Note”
  • Best of Jots
  • long writes from book clubs
  • emotional time lines
  • pressure charts and above all,
  • the care taken with written pages by 8th grade students!

 

Closing Keynote with Mary Ehrenworth

There is this aura of effortless beauty that surrounds Mary Ehrenworth’s presentation style and today’s closing in Cowin Auditorium was not an exception.  She presented information about reading workshop efforts that have been transformative and have grown out of Think Tank work.

 

Goals for Evidence-based Argument and Reading Workshop:
  • Supporting ideas with evidence
  • Depening logic
  • Using the technical language of argument
  • Constructing and defending positions with fluency and grace
  • Acknowledge counterarguments

You really needed to be there to hear about possible implications, conscious decisions in schools, and to develop the skill and passion for both.  It boils down to, “Do you want students to be obedient or be capable of “holding their own in an argument?”  Eve Bunting’s “Fly Away Home” was the read aloud that we mined for evidence for three mini-flash debates with a neighbor that focused on:

character / setting – A. The airport is not a good place for this boy to live.
B. Actually, the airport is a good place to live

theme – A.  Overall the most important thing to remember, when times are tough, is that all you need is love!
B.  Overall the most important thing to remember, when times are rough, is that all you need is hope!

author’s craft –  A. Overall, in developing the airport setting in this story, images are more important.
B. Overall, in developing the airport  setting in this story, words are more important.

 

Could you defend either viewpoints in one minute, organizing your thoughts, AND including claim, evidence and reasons?  Which of those things do you want to do in your classroom

This keynote FLEW and yet we had come so far!  The point was/ is not about winning the argument.  Instead the point is to be able to think, sort and sift through information quickly.  More information about debate and Mary’s Closing Workshop during reading last week is here.

 

A second amazing day of learning . . .

What did you learn today?

 

ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

#TCRWP and Day 4 – Role of Debate


Mary Ehrenworth’s (@MaryEhrenworth) Closing Workshop on Day 4 of June 2014 Writing Institute was named, “Role of Debate  in Your School and Across the Curriculum” in the Trail Guide and it totally lived up to its name!  From the opening, Mary encouraged participants to stagger the study of debate across the curriculum so that students would have enough opportunities for repeated oral practice to be successful later in writing.

What is the Progression of a Debate?

What should this look like?

  • Argue to prove a point
  • Argue to come to a richer, more nuanced understanding
  • Arguing to increase coalition and advocacy on ethical issues
What are Some Different Kinds of Debate Topics?
  • Social topics
  • Literary argument
  • Science disputes – implications not just following a procedure
  • Social Studies critical moments
  • Current events

Application:  Which of these are you currently using?  Which ones would you consider adding next?

 

What is the Role of Debate?
  • Strengthen kids’ logic
  • Increase transference across the curriculum
  • Develop critical thinking
  • Broaden perspectives
  • Support opinion and argument writing
  • Introduce ethical stances   (Should we take care of our water?  Choices in Life?)

 Application:  Of all of these, which will you take back to your colleagues?

 

What Debate Tips Will Help You?

Introduce protocol and use it often

  • State a clear claim
  • Support with evidence
  • Consider counterclaim
  • Acknowledge points of counterclaim
  • Rebut with conditions, nuance or shift in thinking

“Flash debate” for short chunks of time

Coach into kids logic and language – in talk before in writing (less to fix)

Be alert for authentic issues/topics/arguments

 

How does this vision of the role of debate match your reality?
Where will you begin?

June 24: Day 1 of #TCRWP Writing Institute


ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

 

In the old days, some folks working with movies would say that Day 1 is in the can, but I don’t know the correct terminology for digital videography.  I do know that Day 1 of the 2014 June Writing Institute is complete – as far as sessions go.  Is the homework complete?  I doubt it.  Many tasks are facing me:  organizing my materials for tomorrow, assignment for the morning session with Mary, choosing closing sessions tomorrow, assignment for the small group session with Emily.  HOLY COW, that’s a lot of work!  (Not to be confused with this morning’s mention of  a chicken in a post here.)

 In the beginning . . .  Chapter 1

Today began with a one hour keynote by Lucy Calkins in Riverside Church.  Articulate, passionate, and enthusiastic about the role of writing in thousands of years dating back to the cavemen, Lucy’s speech was titled “Achieving a Re-set”.  If you are on Twitter, you can scroll through the tweets from #TCRWP for any that mention “Lucy, LC, or LCalkins” to see the quotes that were most often retweeted!  In typical Lucy fashion, she exhorted the 1200 strong participants  from 34 countries and 44 states to remember their own life themes as they shape the future of schools across the world.  Student writing and conversation dominated the keynote as both written words and video from student conferences were shared.  Writing, Students, Instruction – Who should have a voice?  A speech that began with ” I am blown away by the sheer miracle of your presence.  You are willing to give your life to it!” provided much to think about!  What a wonderful world it is!

Chapter 2 . . .

My Advanced session with Mary Ehrenworth is entitled “Reports, Nonfiction Books, Journals, Feature Articles, Information Writing and ELA Across The Day” and has already exceeded my expectations for the week.  We will be crafting our own progression in information writing this week.

Why do we write informational text?

  • Makes meaning of the world and deepens your own knowledge – really learn stuff & hold on to it forever!
  • Being a producer/creator/co-creator of text
  • Making a topic clear, and being able to make it understandable and authentic/engaging
  • Being able to teach something you know to others!
  • Being able to explain research / content
  • You might discover you’re good at it!

And then in the spirit of inquiry, Mary read openings from the following books so we could consider how they began.  What are moves that writers make, that we’d love to try? was the question that we were trying to answer.

Text Set

The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and turbulent Future of Water – Charles Fishman
The Unthinkable: Who Survives when Disaster Strikes and Why – Amanda Ripley
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why – Laurence Gonzales
Outliers : The Story of Success– Malcolm Gladwell
Smartest Kids in the World and How they Got that Way – Amanda Ripley

What would you say those texts have in common?  How are they different?

Chapter 3 . . . 

Social Butterfly Media Cafe 

Rebecca Cronin hosted an optional lunchtime workshop for Tweeters and Bloggers.  Meeting face to face is always a pleasure and showing “columned” tweeting aids like “Tweetdeck” were useful to the crowd gathered to eat lunch and tweet a bit.

Chapter 4 . . .

My small group session session with Emily Smith is “Seeing Patterns in Student Work, Then Teaching Small Groups (and More) to Build New Habits and Skills.”  We have already begun to improve our coaching skills as we use a “Research, Decide, Teach” model to respond to our partner’s writing from our writing sessions.

Not only should we be noticing patterns in writing, but we should also be looking for disruptions in writing.  Where does the writing fall apart?  Being able to generate questions and possibilities will help our students make growth!

Two key questions for conferencing are:

What are you doing?
What are you going to do next?

 Chapter 5 . . .

And then the choices for closing sessions were daunting.  Limiting oneself to one presentation was difficult but I ended up going to Katie Clements’ “Don’t Teach Empty Handed:  Toolkits that Can Help You Teach Explicitly, to Scaffold and to Keep Track.”  Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, organized and so talented, Katie led us through a discussion of WHY we needed a toolkit, HOW to create one, and how BEST to use one.  Citing a personal favorite of mine, Brian Cambourne, Katie shared that often in writing, demonstrations live in mini-lessons, so  students only see them on on one level.  Many writers would benefit from demonstations on their own level. The solution is to create a writing toolkit to help students!

What are some predictable writing problems or needs for students?

Information Writing often seems:

  • Disorganized
  • Only a tiny bit about each part
  • Jumps right in without setting up expectations

What are some other common writing difficulties for your students?  What conference is repeated the most?  Having your toolkit ready now (not waiting for it to be PERFECT is the key according to Katie!) will help you get the year off to a good start!  Practical, doable, and so engaging for working on writing revision for students!

 

What were your “Take Aways” from Day 1 of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Writing Institute?

 

P.S. (And is your homework all done?)

 

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