Will they survive? Will they flourish?
Three nights of freeze warnings and this view in the daytime.
It’s spring. A time of growth. A time for blooming. And yet, a time for snow and freezing temperatures.
Do we let Mother Nature take her course? Do we try to mitigate the results? Plants, flowers, pleasing to the eye. What’s our response?
In our schools, it’s the season of standardized tests. Tests in the midst of the pandemic that continues on. A year+ like no other. What are the options?
What’s the cost? Check out Tim Wheeler’s blog.
What are our goals? What are the habits that we want students to develop.
One of my favorite resources in this book is Chart 1.9. It speaks to me of reasons why I write daily. It speaks to me of why students need to write daily. And it speaks to me of things that are not so easily counted. Not so easily measured. But habits that I want all students to have. In their writerly lives. In their daily lives. In their student lives. In their adult lives.
To name just a few habits:
What habits in life are you willing to identify today? What habits will you nurture today? What habits do you actively support? How do you do that?
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.
Back to the beginning: Baltimore again. The crew. Face to Face connections. Twitter. Learning, Laughing. Sharing.
NCTE18 – 10 posts
NCTE17 – 4 posts
NCTE16 – 4 posts
NCTE15 – 2 posts
NCTE14 – 5 posts
Celebrating 25 posts already written about NCTE! Anticipating the posts and the learning from the next four days.
The program . . . link
on Twitter #NCTE19
where my ancestor was born, George Herman Ruth.
In 2014, it was a Friday presentation described here.
In 2019, it will be a Sunday presentation as listed below.
Katelynn Giordano, Betsy Hubbard, Melanie Meehan, and myself
Challenged! Intrigued! Sparking Inquiry Through Collaborative Research
9-10:15 AM, Sunday, November 24 in Room 304
What are you anticipating for #NCTE19?
What is your plan?
What do you plan to learn?
What will you celebrate?
This week you have been treated to a blog tour to introduce you to the big ideas in Melanie Meehan’s book, Every Child Can Write: Access Points, Bridges and Pathways for Striving Writers.
In case you have missed a post, here is the recap:
FYI: I reviewed an advance prepublication copy of “Every Child Can Write.”
This book is based on two beliefs:
“1. All children can learn to write.
2. It is a fundamental imperative that we do everything in our power to teach
the students in our care how to express themselves through words and through
writing.” – Meehan, M. Every Child Can Write. xviii.
Sometimes I am known as a “book devourer”. I pore over pages I love. I have conversations with the author as I read. And I often do NOT read a book, cover to cover . . . as in beginning with Chapter 1 and ending with the last chapter. I love to study a quality Table of Contents (and Melanie has the BEST ever). And the Introduction is superb. Colleen Cruz set the need and the goals of this book beautifully and Melanie delivers with encouragement, a bit of fun, and an honestly engaging text that has you nodding your head. The ideas and issues are real. This is a book that I did read cover to cover the first time. And the second time. Now I’m going back to my post its and selectively rereading the “good parts”! (and it’s a sizeable chunk)
The book delivers many entry points, bridges and pathways for striving writers as promised, but it is also about entry points, bridges and pathways for teachers. You will have many avenues to explore in this book. The “Pause for PD” section in each chapter is specifically designed to make the book interactive . . . to help you bring it to life.
Chapter 9 is truly a gift to teachers, coaches and PLC teams because it is ALL about problem solving. Melanie takes us all inside a third grade classroom, shares data, instructional planning, and both the questions and the thinking that guide the teachers’ writing instruction. Melanie is quick to point out that this is not a formula for success as you may not have that second person in your classroom. Remember that Melanie invited you to “tinker” with the ideas to make them work for you and your students. Instead this chapter is meant to reinforce all the learning in previous chapters and share a way that it “might go” in a classroom and how you in turn could use the learning to make sure every child is writing.
So how does this go? Writing is complex and there is no easy “one size” solution.
Keep in mind that this is just a brief summary of my perception of Chapter 9 where Melanie “shows” you how the information and tools in Chapters 1-8 can work together in order to help problem solve some very common writing problems that may exist in your classroom. (And some of the parts occur simultaneously and not in the abbreviated linear format that I have used for this summary!) These are five common writing concerns that teachers and I have had discussions about them past and present!
A. The teacher is concerned that several students just are not writing or are writing at a very minimal level. Note that this “concern” was bigger than numbers/scores!
- Course of Action: Check the environment. How does it look from the student view? Are their routines that will raise the level of student engagement?
B. What are the entry points for students? Is it content? Where to begin? How to prioritize?
- Course of Action: Increase writing volume through several entry points including reteaching routines and setting up clear expectations.
C. What are the bridges to increase student independence? How does the teacher ensure students are doing the work?
- Course of Action: Collect additional data on HOW students spend their writing time (engagement data). The teachers determine some very specific skills that with short term scaffolds would move the students forward. Those bridges help students grow their skills with shared writing and gradual release of responsibility to decrease teacher dependence.
D. What pathways will help students be more productive? How does the teacher encourage efficiency and effectiveness?
- Course of action: Explore specific paper and writing formats for planning to meet individual student needs. The teachers also look at a variety of ways to have students use charts including access on a bulletin board where students were expected to be responsible for getting mini-charts as needed, to use them, and then to return them to their place as originally presented in Lynne’s blog post yesterday. (Aha – not just gluing into a notebook very passively and then never being able to find the chart again!) And then also think about a way to encourage conventions (see Chapter 8 and Kathleen’s post) without stifling the production of ideas!
E. How does a teacher collect volume and engagement data as additional routes to provide enough practice for students to increase their skills and their own confidence and competence?
- Course of action: Change the color of Flair pens so the teacher can check writing volume each day. Develop individual plans for writing as necessary. Develop and/or strengthen writing partnerships. Focus on writing conferences that lead to a higher self-efficacy when using writing tools.
In Melanie’s example of a third grade case study where students were not performing at the level that the teacher expected, this plan was implemented for four weeks with a second teacher available to teach and coach three to four times a week. The results: the total number of students who were proficient in all district required traits of focus, organization, elaboration, fluency, voice, and conventions increased.
You will have to check out the data in the chapter to see exactly HOW MUCH and WHERE the greatest increases were. The data is solid. But beyond that, students began to view themselves as writers and were more willing to assume risks because they felt more confident and competent. (risk-takers!) In turn, they became more independent and successful in their writing. And based on student work, the teacher also incorporated some of the changes from the four weeks into the next unit BEFORE it even began! Win/Win, all around for students and teachers!
What do you need to study?
How could this case study inform your own study?
Where would you start?
Don’t forget the chat tonight with #G2Great at 8:30 ET and 7:30 CT!
Book Give Away
Go back up to the links at the top if you haven’t commented. Each blog will be giving away one free copy of Every Child Can Write. That could be YOU winning one of the five free books!!!
#G2Great Wakelet – Link
Not the first
Probably not the last
But a march for the books
Created by students
Enacted by students
Led by students
Encompassing the world
And demanding change.
What about the “Naysayers”?
They should have stayed in school March 14.
They walked OUT for 17 minutes of silence to honor the 17 dead.
They should “walk up” and make friends with the disenfranchised.
Respect for their peers, who are alone, should occur every day.
They should arm the teachers.
Teachers already provide instruction and in many cases, act as:
social workers, nurses, truant officers, coaches, curriculum writers,
test monitors, behavior management specialists,
cooks, transportation provider, time manager, hall monitor,
and every other role legislated/mandated in your state.
They should have spent the money from the march on education and services for the mentally ill.
When the President signed the Executive Order that allowed
easier access to guns for the mentally ill?
When Congress has reduced the funding for mentally ill individuals,
the students should supplant it with their funding?
The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were organized, articulate, and such exemplar products of our public schools.
Speaking (and publicly puking from fear) from the heart to explain that this has become the “new normal” with active shooter drills, in between test prep, and wondering about college acceptance letters, prom and graduation. Those events their 14 classmates cannot participate in because they are dead. Those seventeen lives lost in six minutes and twenty seconds.
They are fighting for their lives.
They are fighting for the lives of all the children that come after them.
They are fighting for the lives of ALL folks lost to gun violence.
They deserve to be heard.
They deserve our respect.
They deserve our praise.
They deserve our support.
They are our future.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
N wrote 2 paragraphs. (Approximately 11 lines)
I was there.
N wrote 6 paragraphs. (Included dialogue and was 15 lines)
I was there.
N wrote 4 paragraphs. (Approximately 10 lines)
I was not there but had left a video and a page of my writing.
So what’s my plan?
I’m a goal setter and a “UbD’er” (Understanding by Design – backwards planning).
Here’s my goal for next week. Use this paper and see if N can write at least one complete story of 3-4 pages with some conferencing each day.
Thank you, Melanie Meehan, for sharing your opinion and information scaffolded paper. The items in the box are from the third grade checklist. (link)
If he writes approximately 50 lines, that will be 333% increase over previous writing.
Two of these stories in a week. Then remove the checklists from the paper and see if the writing volume remains high and constant.(Previously his writing work ranged from 2-4 lines in a day.)
To recap our work (or you can read here)
Pseudo-Shared Writing via video
??? Student Choice
Scaffolded Checklist Paper – Narrative Story Writing – Repeat 5 days
Write Using “Regular” Writing Paper
What would you add to this plan?
What would your measure of success be?
How have you increased volume of writing for students?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Why I write:
To deepen my understanding
To check my understanding
To analyze my thinking
To share my learning
To be a model for teachers and students and
To experience the JOY of a community . . .
Those are some of the reasons I write.
(And as soon as I hit “publish” I will think of at least 10 other “better”reasons that I wish I had thought of during the three days that I worked on this draft!)
Do these steps look familiar?
But do they match your current reality in your writing?
Do they match your current reality in your writing instruction?
I’ve been spying on my writing for over a year . . . literally in search of patterns that I could identify in my own writing. Trying to decide on that next big goal for myself – ambitious or “doable”? . . . lofty or practical?
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as finding a pattern, setting up some demos and “off you go” because writing is complicated.
Steps are added or revised . . .
If I have to stop and research.
If I have to completely scrap my draft because it is really so pathetic.
If I have to continue my “search for a topic”.
If I have to . . .
So here are some resources,
Quite literally, some food for thought!
Because all of these relate to just one simple standard in writing and yet this standard (and its intent) are often overlooked in a search for a priority or a way to reduce/simplify the writing standards!
“CCR. W.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”
A previous blog post that connected to this standard is in the 2014 archives here!
Planning – Where does an idea come from? – my blog post
Celebrate Celebrating – a blog post from Julieanne Harmatz (grade 5)
Learn by Writing – Lynne Dorfman’s blog post
Helping Students Plan their Writing – a blog post by Melanie Meehan
Using Technology for a Kindergartner’s Writing Process – a blog post by Melanie Meehan
Introducing a Hierarchy of Writing Goals – a blog post by Jennifer Serravallo
Goal Setting – my blog post
Drafting: Beginnings (somewhere – trying more than just one beginning – trying a new approach
The Beginning – my blog post
Strong Leads – Jennifer Wagner (2nd grade)
Drafting – Endings
Behind the Books: The Perfect Ending – blog post by Melissa Stewart
The Ending – my blog post
Drafting – Telling a Story Bit by Bit
Celebrating Story – blog post by Julieanne Harmatz
Drafting – Organization, Elaboration, and Craft
Elaboration Strategies for Information Writing Dig- Two Writing Teachers
Text Structures – blog post by Melissa Stewart
Specific Examples of the Power of Three – Stacey Shubitz
First Graders Get Crafty – Dana Murphy
DigiLit Sunday: Craft – blog post by Margaret Simon
Revising as part of the Process – blog post by Melanie Meehan
No Monkeys, No Chocolate: 10 year Revision Timeline – blog post by Melissa Stewart
Editing as a part of publication
Editing Sticks – my blog post
Editing – my blog post
- Editing stations for upper grades – Shana Frazin informed
- Daily light editing – Shanna Schwartz informed
Revising or Editing? – my blog post
Fun tool – Eye Finger Puppets (Amazon or craft stores) – Make editing time special and reminds the reader and the writer to pay close attention to the work!
Reading Units of Study Mini-Lessons
MiniLessons are strong invitations to learning! (TCRWP_
Reading and Planning MiniLessons – Rachel Tassler
A Short and Sweet MiniLesson Format – Two Writing Teachers
How to Plan a MiniLesson from Scratch – Two Writing Teachers
There are More Ways than One to Plan a MiniLesson – Two Writing Teachers
How to Read a Unit of Study – Two Writing Teachers
Fundamentals of Writing Workshop – Two Writing Teachers Blog Series August 2017
Share Time in Writing Workshop – Lynne Dorfman’s blog
Choice in Writing Workshop – blog post by Tara Smith
(Almost) Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Partnerships I Learned in Kindergarten – blog post by Shana Frazin
Why I Write – Stenhouse Blog
Mentor Texts – Books that would be nice to have as Resources
Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts – Stacey Shubitz (Stenhouse)
Writers are Readers: Flipping Reading Instruction into Writing Opportunities – Lester Laminack (Heinemann)
Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature (2nd etition)- Dorfman & Cappelli (Stenhouse)
Learning from Classmates: Using Student Writing as Mentor Texts – Lisa Eicholdt (Heinemann)
What;s Your Plan?
What are you going to do NEXT?
Today’s best draft, (Kelly Gallager)
This post I wrote to organize!
Session # 3: Technology Tools, Tips and Apps to Make Your Writing Workshop Cutting Edge with Cornelius Minor
As we settled in to our seats In Milbank Chapel, Cornelius (AKA @MisterMinor) had these three questions on the screen for us to talk about with a person near us.
- What do you want to do in terms of workshop?
- What do you hope for in terms of “digital literacy”?
- What do you need to learn today to get you there?
We had not even begun and Cornelius had us thinking about our goals and purposes for the session as well as “TALKING” and “doing the work”! I was quite happy as I knew I was in the “right place”today!
Cornelius described himself as “a bit of a tinkerer” as he promised us cool techniques to blow up our writers workshop. That is an understatement as Cornelius has a great deal of knowledge about technology and always keeps his work practical!
As you read this post consider:
What are you already doing?
What could you add?
What could you do – more efficiently or effectively with technology?
Cornelius reminded us that the writing process is everything. Tech in the past has ranged from a hammer and a chisel to reed and papyrus. We have more options if we consider his definition of tech – “any device that helps me do my work better”. (As I sit here with four devices open, I’m wondering about the “do my work better” part as tech has again failed me this morning, but more about that later!) And to illustrate his point, Cornelius used the writing process as his organizing framework for his presentation!
Where do we begin?
- Prewriting or collection
Simple, begin with talk. We were to find someone who was not our partner. Ah, yes, the dreaded workshop facilitator move of, “Get up out of your seat and go talk to someone somewhere else in the room!” Then we were talk to that person about where we were from and how we traveled to TCRWP. We returned to our original seat mate partner and told the story that our “new friend” had shared.
a. Talk to someone outside your circle – Tell that story
b. Find a picture on your device (30 seconds) – Tell the story of that picture
What if students don’t have a picture? Send a device home so they students can take a picture and tell a story. Goal: Use technology to foster experiences, the source of narratives, so that talk can lead to writing!
Content Area Idea Collections: We watched “Climate Change with Bill Nye 101” and then used Today’s Meet to “collect ideas from all the participants in the room. When you need ideas in response to something, consider “Today’s Meet” or even a common google document to collect those ideas. Or for additional ideas, find an expert in your community and face time with them so you bring video into the classroom and expand the world of your students!
a. Today’s Meet – generate ideas in class
b. Face time – Bring in expert from outside
How can you increase production before drafting?
Choice . . .
Establish a personal help desk . . .
Students doing the work . . .
Increasing student agency because students are doing the work . . .
Cornelius called this the “hustle plan” . . . setting up students with their own personal help desk. Who are the three people who can help you when you are stuck? This list cannot include your teacher or your parents? Who would your three be?
A brother or sister of a friend?
- Having a list of three people to go to for support and then setting up those lines! (Using phone to call and ask if the person would be willing to help when stuck!) Just think about who will be doing the work here . . . who is already building their own PLN?
What about drafting?
Use the camera on your device, any device, to tell your story. That may have been your rehearsal, but now it can also be a part of your drafting process. Before you begin drafting, think about the structure of your piece. Use the structure to help you tell your story!
a. record your draft (audio or video)
b. consider the structure while drafting
This works for all ages. Melanie Meehan blogged about a kindergarten student in January of 2015 as she planned her writing. ANYONE can do this. No more “I don’t know what to say.”
How can technology support Revision?
Up until this stage, all of the participants had been using “tools” that came with their device: camera, audio record or video record. (Although some of us are less familiar with those features than our students!)
An app to help with revision is “Skitch”. You can take a picture and then write, type or draw on top of that digital picture. Partners working on revision could actually annotate the text together!
Use the app skitch to share text for revision and then consider multiple ways to revise – word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph levels. Where could a graphic be helpful?
And the most important part of the writing process?
Celebration is the most important part of the writing process! (according to Cornelius) We have data from year after year that tells us that if the teacher is the only audience, kids don’t always write well! “Put the writing where the people are! Laundromat, coffee shop! Not just class blog. Nickelodeon. Teen magazines.”
Find real audiences for students outside your classroom!
Our final To Think About from Cornelius:
“Analogue writing is monologue; digital writing is dialogue.”
What’s your purpose for student writing?
How would we know?
And what are you going to change, add or delete from your current writing process work?
(I didn’t forget about those questions at the top of of the blog post. How can you re-energize your writing workshop for the final months of the school year?)
I shared my notes (in word) with my pc so I could return to using it now that I am back in Iowa. Surprise! Surprise! No menu bar in WordPress so I could not add a new post. So odd! Therefore, I continue to work on my personal Mac. I copied my notes from Saturday into the draft. I considered my own purpose as I felt the writing process framework was the heart of this post and the part that I needed to process in order to explain it to colleagues. (Any errors in the retelling are all mine!) My goal was to make this as doable as possible and yet also add text features to make it EASIER to find the main points in a reread of the text! I was anxiousing – so much to do – time was running out – so all errors would definitely be mine!
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!
What are informational texts?
The Common Core State Standards include the following in their definition of informational texts:
biographies and autobiographies; “books about history, social studies, science, and the arts”; “technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps”; and “digital sources on a range of topics” (p. 31).
That’s a broad range so what does that really mean? Sources that can inform your work include:
Research and Policy: Informational Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway? by Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer
6 Reasons to Use Informational Text in the Primary Grades – Scholastic, Nell Duke
The Case for Informational Text – Educational Leadership, Nell Duke
Where can I find lists of Mentor Texts?
Award winning lists include:
Mentor Texts to Support the Writers’ Workshop (Literature and Informational Texts)
This list supports writers’ workshop. Others are readily available on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.
What about professional books to help me with Mentor Texts and Informational Writing?
Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing through Children’s Literature K-8 by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capeli (website)
The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham (Chapter 3)
Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (Chapters 3 and 5)
Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Essential Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard
and many grade level texts in the separate Units of Study of Writing by Lucy Calkins and friends at TCRWP.
What do I do with the books that I am considering as mentor texts?
Your number one task is to Read informational texts that you also like. And then your second task is to read these books from the lens of a writer. Identify techniques that the author uses very successfully. Third, talk with other teachers about the techniques and goals! To get started consider these helpful blog posts: A brilliantly written blog post on the use of a mentor text during a co-teaching instruction session by Melanie Meehan can be found in this post “Slice of Life Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text” on the Two Reflective Teachers blog. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris list “Our Top Eleven Nonfiction Books for Teaching . . . Everything!” here! Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers also have a post titled “Two Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts”. Tara Smith writes routinely about texts. “Mentor Texts” is a recent one. Two Writing Teachers: mentor text archive (You can also search any of the above blogs for additional posts about Mentor Texts!) And three from my blog archives: Reading and Writing Instruction – Paired Mentor Texts #TCRWP Day 3: Information Mentor Texts (based on Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing – and Ways to Use Them with Power”) #SOL14: Writing Techniques and Goals