Thursday Line Up: George Couros, Matt Glover, Colleen Cruz, Kelly Burns, and Stan Yan were presenters on my schedule for Thursday at CCIRA20. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the fact that I learned from other participants – during turn and talks, standing in line for restrooms, and over dinner!
Here are some key take aways from my Thursday sessions!
George Couros: The Core of Innovative Teaching and Learning
Two questions to ask at the end of a professional learning day:
- What did you learn today?
- How will your students know and benefit?
What questions do you ask at the end of a professional learning day?
What questions might you begin asking?
Matt Glover: Increasing Engagement in Writing Through Choice
Matt had us thinking about three different types of units: genre, craft and process! Often the genre studies are more specifically tied to writing standard. The key is that you will need some of all three types managed in a planful way so that a student does not have the exact same units year after year after year after year after year. There are too many choices to have that repetition. And yet, there needs to be some repetition in order for students to have enough practice to both increase engagement, competence, and confidence! Matt provided lists and tips as he reinforced the need to address choice of topic for students the majority of their writerly lives. More about the three types here.
What do we think about to make writing units Easier?
- Have a stack of text (know what it looks like)
- How to organize text in process or craft study? Is your text too narrow? Showed personal narratives and told them they could write any genre. Showing is more important than “telling”. Was MORE than one genre represented? The text does not have to be the genre students are writing. Teachers need to teach into the goals of unit NOT the genre. It’s a perfect time to choose units from earlier in year or later in the year.
- Caution: Do not confer into the genre. Have transferable skills in your conferring.
How many units of writing do you teach per year?
How many of each of the three types: genre, craft or process?
Colleen Cruz – From Clever Writers to Critical Readers: By Teaching Powerful Writing Skills First, We Can Equip Students with Robust Tools for Today’s Reading Landscape
Colleen Cruz’s presentation was different than her keynote. Yes, it was about writing but it was not about mistakes. It was about how “Writers Make Better Readers.” When we need a craft piece for our writing, we can go find it in our reading in order to strengthen our writing.
One area that is neglected and that needs to be taught is Media Criticism. Instruction needs to include these elements.:
Master narrative – Reluctant hero – struggling in life (Did they work hard enough?)
Counter narrative – Paperback princess, Frozen (writers in Brooklyn in Colleen’s neighborhood) sister love
Weight – more space on page or minutes of film; what we see most (repeat, repeat. repeat)
Source and perspective – Who wrote this and what do they want?
Manipulation – (dogs) always actively present
Power – who has / has not
Voices heard (or not) – Frozen 2 (Indigenous Scandinavian song that came back in 2.)
What parts of media criticism do you teach?
What parts of media criticism do you need to add into your instruction?
Kelly Burns – Wild Wonder: Reconnecting to Lead
Our connections matter. I immediately thought of Jody Carrington and her work with “attention-seeking” or “connection-seeking” children. Julie presented a framework of connection-building based on four Ws.
- Sitting down with our fear
- Reclaimiming our hijacked consciousnes
- Present moment
- Stillness (an invitation to slow down)
- When we are selfing (ego)
- Nervous system and our somatic response
- Tendencies and propensities
- Cognitive distortions
- Socio-political identity
- Radical self acceptance
- Re-evaluation. (Trash or meaningful)
- Respect (systematically)
Which of the four would you begin with?
What small steps could provide more balance in your life?
Stan Yan – Cartooning for Writers (stanyan.me)
This session was totally out of my comfort zone. Drawing?
I had an awful year in first grade where I was repeatedly told what to draw and what not to draw with many pages ripped up in front of me when I used colors differently than peers or the teacher. In this session we drew and drew and drew! Five minutes on a quick sketch with a marker seemed possible. Drawing as a way to connect to writing and to better understand graphic novels and cartoons seems a very natural expectation.
- Multi-aspect learning tool
- Character development
- Story structure and writing
What we saw:
- Interactive monster drawing demo
- Exquisite corpses
- Improv Comic Strips
I have to admit that the Daredoodles were fun even though the idea that I would draw around a shape, number, series of numbers, letter, or word given to me by my neighbor was a leap of faith at that moment. It was a fun challenge!
But my actual learning about cartoons came from the structure explanation. Structure? Yes. Better than the secret location of a pot of gold!
What do you know about cartooning?
How do you help readers better understand cartoons and/or graphic novels?
If you were to pick just one idea from above, what would it be?
How, when, and where will your plan be implemented?
How do you celebrate a day of learning?
Bookended by our Thursday and Friday evening dinners . . .
are over 16 pages of notes, hundreds of storified tweets, pictures galore and thousands of words. Words Matter. Words matter whether spoken or written. Words in the heart matter as well. As a #TCRWP aficionado stunned by the passing of Deputy Director Kathleen Tolan this weekend, I celebrate my learning about small group reading instruction last summer with Kathleen even though I still yearn for more. That gritty, passionate, talented, brilliant and sometimes “pushy” Deputy Director would want us to carry on . . . Make the students in front of you YOUR PRIORITY! FOCUS on students!
FRIDAY at #NCTE16
The Heinemann Breakfast on Friday honoring the Legacy of Don Graves was a star-studded celebration. I felt like the red carpet was rolled out to recognize the literacy superstars in the room who all had stories to tell that encouraged us to roll up our sleeves, pay attention to students and get to work. From Penny Kittle’s, “When Don asked me to do something, I did it!” to her credo “NCTE is a place to settle your soul” we were entranced! Katherine Bomer reminded us that “Writing to discover what we care about is brave and that writing is a way a student’s voice comes into power and reminds us that we are all human.” Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell shared that their “mentor text drop box – a way to organize and access mentor text – represents the generosity of Don Graves.” This breakfast was a family breakfast that reminded us of who we are and where we are going together. ( Heinemann Podcast Link)
Charts as Tools for Conversation, Advocacy and Action (Martinelli, Schwartz, & Luick)
The focus of this presentation was on the purpose of charts, ownership and environment, reflection and action. The two words that I heard over and over were “purposeful planning”! This is embodied in sketching out the steps to check clarity, the vocabulary used, and the ability of the chart to act as the teleprompter for the teacher. Of course, a crystal clear teaching point helps!
One caution was to make sure that students’ voices were included in discovering learning together . . .students could contribute definitions, examples, and even make their own tools to use. Tools that begin in the minds of teachers become ideas that can eventually be handed over to the students. (Isn’t that what transfer is REALLY all about?) I’ve heard many, many, many TCRWP staff members say that when we introduce a tool, coach and provide support for a tool, we MUST have a plan for the tool to go away. Graphics in a chart are really meant to be replaced by pictures or names of your own students. Or even better, by students who make their own charts because they know the purpose and that’s good for teachers, students, and LEARNING!
Vocabulary Matters! – Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow and Char Shylock
How do students ever learn enough words to improve their vocabulary? How do students become invested in their OWN learning? Who’s really doing the work in vocabulary learning?
Step 1. Listen carefully.
Step 2. Wait.
Too often when students say things that are untrue or unbiased, teachers jump in. Instead of the teacher teaching 24/7, maybe students should teach us so that they have the skills that they need for the rest of their lives!
Step 3. Think. What do we know ( or What do we think we know) about …”
Step 4. Audition what you know. Try it on. Is this idea never true? Sometimes true? Always true? (or True for me? True for us? True for you?) Set up a place or way for students to go do this!!!
Step 5. Revise and rename. What assumptions changed?
Step 6. Spread the word.
This presentation included opportunities for us to think about shifting our beliefs, taking note of vocabulary words, increasing our word curiosity and consciousness and “settling our souls in teacher church”. Shana Frazin told us that “English is her superpower and Hebrew is her kryptonite.” If we think of a word in another language, how does that add to our repertoire? How does working with “categories” help students access MORE words. And then Katy illuminated some FUN, JOYOUS ways to find a few minutes to incorporate vocabulary work. . . in a closure – share, in a mid-class tip, in spare 5 minutes before the bell rings or even a simple conversation like . . .
“Wow guys, you are doing such fascinating work with characters… let’s talk about…. which would you rather be, character A or character B and why?”
Some activities take time:
- Sentence game
- Grid game – person and question
- Play with words – Beck’s Bringing Words to Life (Would you rather? How much would you like to ? Which is more important to ? When/ how should you?)
- Word sorts – content words for open or closed sorts
- Other work – paintings or artwork.
Vocabulary work that has student learning and ownership as the goal WILL stick with students. Vocabulary work that has “correct answers on the quiz” as an end goal . . . NOT so much!
The Power of Low Stakes Writing with Ralph Fletcher
Advice from students
“Use top shelf adjectives and verbs”
Like a big balloon…
Audience (beyond the teacher)
A sense of fun and adventure
Teachers who value
Invention, originality and voice
So what happened to the big beautiful balloon?
Student Choice increases energy and excitement to make the balloon soar.
Test prep brings the balloon back to the ground.
There is a battle between freedom and discipline
But teachers do have choice and must be
BRAVE to bring choice back with any of these . . . (and also low-stakes)
- Free Choice Fridays
- The Writer’s Notebook
- Class Writer’s notebook- Students inspired by what others write
- Classroom blogs
- Slice of Life Challenge
- Open Cycles – where students chose the topic and genre
- Need writing green belts – tap into the writing Ss are doing
- FERAL writing
- Study Driven Writing (Source Katie Wood Ray)
Recklessly wonderful writing.
Students choose to work on writing because
The ideas of writing give them energy.
Multiple Layers of Literacy Learning –
(Amy Brennan, Dani Burtsfield, Jill DeRosa, Kim Gosselin, Jennifer Hayhurst, Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson, Marissa Moss, Stefani Nolde, Erica Picarole, David Schultz, and Kari Yates)
What do you think of when you hear professional development? Who is it for? This session included conversations about learning for teachers, parents, and students. Learning, fun, and choice are necessary ingredients for multi-dimensional opportunities for all to grow! Summer school included learning for teachers and the students!
Advocating for Revision in Reading: Meaning Making as a Journey, Not a Destination – Ellin Keene, Matt Glover, Dan Feigelson and Kathy Collins
Students who are reading and writing A LOT know a lot. Ellin had an example of a six year old who understood the use of metaphor. Students who read and write have the tools to share their thinking at deeper levels than we may have considered. How do we help them revise their thinking? Sometimes it means the adult must close his/her mouth in order for the student to take the lead! Students need to learn to be comprehension decision makers! Students have to be flexible thinkers and not seekers of “right” answers. Building a “Reader’s Identity” is a desired outcome, not a letter of a level! What are the characteristics of a reader that you admire? That’s a different question than those that are typically part of a story inquisition! Product and process do matter so
“Privilege all texts”
” Our attention shows what we value!”
“Show reading identities.”
“Elevate the book.”
“Elevate the readers of the book.”
Dear Reader, Are you still here with me?
At this point we were off to the #HeinemannPub reception for the #TCRWP Reading Units of Study Libraries, the #StenhousePub reception for authors, and then dinner with #G2Great Voxer cousins! Many miles of words and ideas heard, considered and studied!
So what caught your attention on this overview of Friday’s learning at #NCTE16?
When were you nodding your head and saying, “YES”!
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
And a “Paul Harvey – the Rest of the Story” video here . . . How Friday ended!
This weekend the Twitter stream provided many insights about Literacy, Literacy Instruction, and “Intent”. A powerhouse line up was present at the New England Reading Association conference (#NERA2016) in Portland, Maine. You can see the speakers and topics here. This post celebrates the Twitterverse that allowed me to curate these ideas from afar.
What is reading?
At #NERA2016 Saturday, Matt Glover and Kathy Collins proposed this expansive definition. Many questions immediately came to mind.
Who does the work of reading?
What is the intent of reading?
What does this require of a teacher?
This quote from @chrisclinewcps says so much about some of the characteristics of “INTENT”!
At the opening session of #NERA2016, Ralph Fletcher fired an early shot across the bow with this slide. Think about these three questions as you read the content on his slide.
What was his intent?
What is the message for teachers?
What is the message for students?
As a reader, what was Ralph Fletcher’s message?
How important is choice?
Is choice just for students?
Is choice also for teachers?
And that connected to Paula’s tweet:
And during the panel for The Teacher You Want to Be, Vicki Vinton also said,
What does this mean in writing?
Paula also tweeted out this learning from Jeff Anderson (@writeguyjeff) about the role of grammar in writing.
Is the intent to have students do the work?
Are students doing the thinking?
Dan Feigelsen is crystal clear in his intent.
Pernille Ripp asks this question:
Her May blog post here addressed specific steps to create writing communities.
How do your students know the intent of your writing instruction?
Empowering students to do the work is the basis of Jan and Kim’s book. If you have not yet checked out this book, you need to do so!
According to the #NERA2016 program, Vicki Vinton’s session was
Vicki Vinton: Beyond Book Choice: What Student-Center Reading Instruction Can Look Like
According to the educator John Holt, “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” And in this interactive session, Vicki Vinton will share ways of ensuring that the activity of students and their thinking—versus curriculum and standards—are at the center of your reading instruction, whether you’re working with a whole class, a small group or one-on-one conference. You’ll see how to become a creator of learning opportunities, rather than a teacher of strategies and skills, which in turn will help students become powerful and insightful meaning makers, thinkers and readers.
The intent of “student-centered reading instruction” is for learning to be at the center of student work. How do you work towards this every day?
What do you notice as a reader?
What do you DO with / or make of what you noticed?
Because the intent is reading deeply, thoughtfully, and authentically!
What are your beliefs?
What is your intent?
Check out other thoughts about “intent” on #DigiLit Sunday with Margaret Simon here.
And special thanks to all who tweeted from #NERA2016 and especially to their Twitter Ambassadors: @LitCoachLady, @literacydocent and @guerrette79.