The music and slideshow ended with a flourish, the curtain slowly rose, the house lights dimmed, and the director appeared. Show time.
The anticipation was over.
The audience quiets as we are welcomed and encouraged to share our appreciation with applause, whistling, and noise of our choice. Encouraged. Perhaps even challenged by her, “Let the performers know what you like!”
And so it began. 64 acts. Music that I sometimes sang the words to. Music that I cried to. And music that I’m still not sure of the words. Music, motion, and costuming designed for specific effects. An orchestration of performances, directors, stage hands and groups of children on a Sunday afternoon.
A dance recital. The second performance in as many days. Short glimpses of student work spaced out over 2 hours and 40 minutes for 320 minutes of performance. I wondered how they kept the attention of the adorable little “lions” in between their dances.
I applauded for the students when they were older and completely in sync; yet I also applauded for the children who were so excited to dance that they “did their own thing.” I chuckled at the friend who guided another into the right spot. I commiserated with the child who just stood there the entire first routine but managed to “dance” during her next appearance. I heard one counting “five, six, seven, eight” for her group as the music ended abruptly. Appearances mattered. Matching outfits, accessorized with bows and jewelry. Variations quickly stood out. Those who “lip synced”. Those who were a step too fast. Those who were a step too slow. A slip. A fall. A gap in the staging. And yet, it was POETRY in colorful motion.
A splashy intro with a large group. Varying sizes of groups. Partners. Solos.
Hmmhmm. You know where I am going with this. What did it resemble?
An environment . . . an auditorium – not where they practiced.
A spotlight and dimmed auditorium . . . stage fright anyone?
Special outfits . . . not what they wore for practice.
And I have it on good authority (great niece) that some outfits “itched.”
Performing alone . . . an off-stage assist, but no one on stage except the performers side by side.
Immediate feedback . . . applause and yelling (and some that was not heard over the music).
At least 3 separate distinct measures . . . distributed over time (total of 6 over the two days)
No one single “gotcha” moment for anyone on stage!
Progress? What to measure? How to measure?
Could be measured from the FIRST time they attended dance class (summative), or from the first dance class this year (summative), or from the first performance to the 6th, 10th, 12th, etc. Video performances are easy to review in order to notice and name a few specific behaviors.
Symmetry from the audience view? There were times when the line straight down the center of the stage was perfectly in sync. Beautiful moments.
What is most important?
Same measure for all?
Cut points? Averages? Growth? A portfolio of video examples?
NOT high stakes . . .
What qualities of instruction readied them for this performance?
What qualities of assessment could perhaps better serve education?
When do we “applaud” all students for their learning?
When does the pleasure and enjoyment of the participants matter?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.
What are the most effective uses of Readers’ Notebooks?
One of my pleasurable tasks this school year will be to work with a veteran group of teachers who will be implementing the new Units of Study in Writing. A secondary goal with that group will be to explore the use of Readers’ Notebooks as a tool that can:
- Assess the students’ ever-increasing levels of comprehension;
- Assist in student and teacher goal setting during individual reading conferences; and
- Provide structure for planning instruction.
I am excited about the possibilities for Readers’ Notebooks that I am hearing this week at the Teachers College Reading Institute, Columbia University, New York City(#tcrwp). (You all definitely should plan to attend next year!) This post contains several possibilities that I am considering. Please consider whether these match or extend your current thinking!
Setting the context:
In Readers’ Workshop, students will be reading for at least 30 minutes each day out of the ideal 60 minute block. There will also be an expectation that students will write for approximately 5 minutes (this is not writing workshop and does not replace that designated writing time) in order to show their level of understanding of the text that was read. This opportunity for writing will allow the students to develop their own thinking as well as provide evidence of application or transfer of a skill taught during a whole group mini-lesson.
1. How can teachers use Readers’ Notebooks as a Performance Assessment for Comprehension?
Example – Character Development in Book Being Read:
Just a quick reminder that I am making an assumption here that previous literacy work has included a Read Aloud where the teacher modeled some thinking about the character development in a text, a mini-lesson with explicit instruction in character development (or multiple mini-lessons depending on the grade level), and now conferencing and goal-setting with an individual student.
All students are jotting down evidence from the texts they are reading about character development on post-its in their reading notebooks. They have practiced jotting multiple times in whole and small group settings. The teacher may have already pulled the post-its and placed them into categories along a continuum of expected features for character development to create a rubric (or the teacher may be using information from #tcrwp as I am).
The teacher has then developed a chart for the classroom using examples from student post-its to fill in the third column in the chart below that uses student friendly language/phrasing. Students may also have a smaller version of this checklist (the same chart below minus the example column) in their notebook that they can refer to while jotting notes.
2. How can Readers’ Notebooks assist in student and teacher goal setting during individual reading conferences?
A Quick Peek into a Reading Conference in Progress:
For this example, I am having a conference with Joey (a fictitious student). I will look at the post-its on character development in Joey’s notebook during our reading conference. Joey will explain what “star rating” he believes his post-it is and “WHY” he believes so. We will use the examples on the chart to talk about the accuracy of Joey’s rating. Joey puts the corresponding number of stars on his notebook entry so he can literally “see” the rating. Then Joey and I set a goal.
How does this happen? If Joey’s post-it reflected a “1 star,” I will use a teaching point and teach Joey (using the chart with example) what he needs to do in order to have a “2 star” response the next time (goal). Similarly if Joey has a “3 star” response, I will use a teaching point and teach Joey what he needs to do in order to have a “4 star” response the next time (goal). Joey now has a clear learning target and is much more likely to meet his goal because he knows his current status and what he has to do to move on the continuum.
Joey knows what his target is and specifically what he needs to do to move up to gain another star. He will be able to meet that goal because he has seen and heard what that goal looks like from peer examples, and Joey can also consult the chart hanging in the classroom.
3. How can Readers’ Notebooks provide structure for planning instruction?
After a round of conferences I, the teacher, will have class data, (see example below), that I can use for small group instruction. Note that alphabet letters in the third column are codes for individual students. I could also decide to set up “partner groups” for accountable talk around character development by deliberately pairing two students with differing star levels in this skill area.
Performance Assessment: Star ratings based on student jottings on post-its on a continuum for a comprehension skill; character development is the skill in this blog post.
Student Self Assessment: Use of checklist to determine “star level” and explanation of “WHY” that rating
Goal Setting: Use of checklist to determine the next step to meeting the goal of higher comprehension in this skill
Informing Instruction: Class Status record allows teacher to see the current levels of understanding of all students in the class and make decisions about next steps in instruction.
College and Career Ready Anchor Standard RL.3
Is this new thinking for you? Are you using Readers’ Notebooks in these ways?
Thanks, in advance, for your comments!
(Sources of information: Reflection on large and small group sessions at July #TCRWP Reading Institute 2013 with Kathleen Tolan and Bianca Lavey and closing session with Mary Ehrenworth.)