It’s majestic even when under construction (yes, still) when the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project keynote begins at Riverside Church.
There was a “comfortable-ness” in the air in both the words and in Lucy’s delivery as she spoke of TCRWP days past, present and future.
“We’ve come from 48 countries and 43 states. Leaders of state-wide reform, scores of principals and literacy coaches. And teachers by the hundreds.”
We heard that the teaching of writing matters. Lucy said she was blown away by the sheer miracle of our presence. The teacher’s job is not to teach information but to teach how to access – writing is the best tool that we have for that work – doing something with that information at our fingertips! Writing comes from within us.
On day one of registration for this institute, 8,000 applied.
We, the 1600 seated in Riverside Church, heard stories of Donald Murray, Donald Graves, riding on the Patagonia interspersed with quotes and excerpts of writing.
And then, “Artistry in the Teaching of Writing”. Lucy spoke of teachers who know the Writing Units of Study forward and backwards and who can quote the bends – and the work therein. These same teachers, however, aren’t all writers and therefore don’t have the deep understanding of “the heart of writing”.
Writing has been written about, talked about and studied at great length! More time needs to be spent on the envisioning because our students will only be able to meet our expectations. Our expectations will truly be their ceiling of learning.
Lucy spent time talking about these three stages of the writing process:
” * Rehearse
* Revise and Edit”
The stories were many. Sometimes Lucy raced through quotes and parts. And yet at other times she lingered.
- Revision is not just prettying up the page, adding detail, a new beginning or ending. It’s all about growing insights or realizations! LC
- Units of Study: “I don’t know if they really highlight the depth that I know is necessary for rehearsal and revision. After you write a draft (in a WHOOSH), cycle back to rehearsal. That’s the cycle of life in the process. Is that the push in the UoS?” LC
- “If you need to rethink your teaching, how does that make you feel? To embrace the writing life and outgrow yourself over time – there’s more I could have done, you want to have a glad feeling of possibility of a place to outgrow yourself to.” LC
- “How can we see beyond our best work? If you embrace revision, if you embrace writerly life, you will need to learn from your writing! Grow an image of what is essential!” LC
- “If you want to support a person’s growth, treat them as if they are already the person you want them to be.” LC
Which idea do you want to consider to ponder?
Session 1. “Ratchet Up the Level of Your Students’ Writing by Teaching Them Revision: Tapping into the Power of Mentor Texts and Checklists (K-2)”
Revision needs to happen A LOT across the day. One place to add revision and allow practice at the primary grades is during Shared Writing. With the teacher holding the pen and children dictating the possibilities, students can have A LOT of practice that increases their understanding!
How do we revise? Revision comes after every step of the writing process. It may look different as in “Revise in the air – rehearsal all the time!!! EVERY part of workshop even in K, 1, 2. Get idea, revise, plan, revise. . . Revision is NOT one special day on the unit plan calendar! It’s every day!” CL
We had adult writer’s workshop in this session. More to come on that in later days. So nice to see and hear writing conferences as well. Second time to write on the first morning of #TCRWP June 2016 Writing Institute!
Celena talked about turning points in memoirs. “One little event, one little action that sets you up for change. Sketch those moments. Rehearse. Revise in the air. Tell the story in the air! Talk to and/with a partner about those moments. Iron out that turning point. It won’t sound like a story YET! It won’t sound like writing YET! It won’t sound like a memoir yet!”
- Revision is not a checklist. CL
- Revision occurs during and after each and every step of the writing process. CL
- As a writer, it is important to know HOW you define revision. How do you revise? Is it easy? Is it difficult? CL
- If your story is “my kids don’t like to revise or my kids don’t want to revise”, you have to change that story line as Don Graves said, “If writing is 100%, revision is 85%.” Your expectations as Lucy said do matter! CL
- In the beginning, you will want to see evidence of physical re-writing (flaps, post-its, revision pen), because those first revisions will develop volume, stamina, and risk-taking. Habits and behaviors will come from your philosophy of writing! CL
How have these takeaways and notes added to your K-2 writing knowledge base?
What do you want to remember?
Session 2: “Power Tools, Methods and Strategies: Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)”
When working with “Striving readers”, Colleen had us consider: personality, expertise, strengths, needs – not just problem areas! This positive, asset-building approach reminded us of the many things that a target student (one with an IEP, labeled EL, or both) could be viewed “as more than one way.” In order to teach students who are struggling, we must know them!
Colleen challenged us to observe students in many ways (and this is in her wonderful book, The Unstoppable Writing Teacher). Storytelling circles on the first day of school. Ask students to bring an object that the student can tell a story off of! English learning students can tell story in dominant language and then tell in English or with a partner as a scaffold. And then consider collecting knowledge in these areas:
- Social conversations
- Whole-class conversation
- Small-froup conversation
- Pen grip
- Feet placement
- Closeness of face to paper (vision)
- Legibility and size of writing
- Pressure on pen
- Eyes during workshop (on charts, on own work, on classmates’ work, wndering)
- Patterns of geting started in writing
- Patterns in topics
- Patterns in strategies
- Subject area of strength
- Subject areas of struggle
- When experiencing success . . .
- When experiencing frustration . . .
- Areas of expertise
- Telling stories about students changes us from thinking about them as case studies to more personalized humans. CC
- Observation data is important so take at least once a month to truly observe – “First Friday of the month – take time to watch your class.What is it that this child does?” CC
- “Only give feedback on one thing!!! Make it be a BIG Ticket Thought where other things can be “tucked underneath!” CC
- When reviewing a student on demand piece, name what students are doing – helps with teaching purpose – without jargon and buzz words. Keep your language simple. CC
- Go to understood.org – Look up a disability. How can this add to your repertoire? CC
What themes are you beginning to see emerge from across the day?
Closing session: “The TCRWP’s Latest and Best Thinking about Efficient, Powerful Small Group Work that Accelerates Students’ Progress in Dramatic Ways”
Small groups might be for:
Shared Writing & / or Interactive
Use small groups NOW!
PLAN for three small group sessions in a row – And not the same sequence/type each time. Not all students will need all three sessions! But some will when your goal is building independence and seeing evidence of transfer. Students will be sitting there. You need to have that specific learning target (AND YES, only one) that will move the writing across all kinds, all pieces.
- Crystal clear goals
- MOSTLY the kids (Pacing)
- NOT brand-new
- Practice – Repetitive – Transfer
- Create a series – use a mini-chart
What tools are you giving students?
- Writing in the air
- Lead in phrases or sentence starters
- Refer back to a tool (shouldn’t be a NEW one when working on practice)
- Use of Strategies to attain goals 80-85% of small group is practice. NOT NEW GOALS! AH
- A small group session of 10 minutes will have two minutes of teacher talk and eight minutes of student practice so that the teacher can check in with each student three times! AH
- If Ss struggle, how long do you wait? Who do you help? Help students who need quick nudge so that you then have 3 of 4 students working and can really spend more time with the one stuck student. AH
- Be prepared. What are my coaching moves? What are my scaffolds? Demonstration, lean directions, teaching tool? AH
- “How do I set up for two or three small group sessions in a row? How do I help Ss incorporate and use the strategies with more automaticity and independence?” AH
For me . . .
I have homework tasks yet to do, but writing this post helped me think about what I HEARD today.
Where/ how/ when will I use this information?
How is my learning helping me revise my thinking?
Which comes first – the learning, the revision of thinking, or the openness to new thinking?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Writing makes us all more human!
Until four years ago, this was what I expected to see and hear IF and WHEN I visited New York.
Did you check it out?
That’s what I knew about New York!
My world has shifted on its axis in the last five years and I now trust my good friends to keep me grounded.
Dayna Wells (@daywells) tweeted this out):
Dayna’s hometown is about 10-15 miles from our family farm. To me, the connections are obvious. My family roots are in the town of Riverside, Iowa. In fact, I feel that I can positively say that my family, the Schnoebelens, founded the town of Riverside, which is now infamous as the home of “Star Trek”. St. Mary’s in Riverside, is a majestic Catholic Church.
You can read about the church and the founding families here. In our family, one claim to fame is that all of my mom’s family attended the school at St. Mary’s. My grandmother was a teacher in a one-room country school. All ten of her children attended St. Mary’s School! That fact is celebrated in the pictures on the walls of the church hall. We have many fond memories of our local parish church, the school and the cemetary at St. Vincent’s whch is the resting place for many, many, many family members. A small town church for a small town Iowa girl!
And tomorrow is the 7th time that my learning day (or week in the case of summer institutes) will begin at Riverside Church in NYC. A majestic setting for a FREE day of learning. There is no cost for participating in the learning at #SaturdayReunions at Teachers College.
An eye-opening, mind-blowing learning extravaganza . . .
Slow Learner, Fran?
There are folks who have attended for more than 25 years!
Before the end of the day, my eyeballs will be rolled back up into my brain – trying to absorb just one more ounce of inspiration, passion and true belief that ALL OUR kids can read and write. AND read and write at high levels! AND that all our kids deserve the BEST teachers of readers and writers – THOSE that read and write themselves.
The agenda is seven pages long. Difficult choices for attendees as all sessions will be led by those who have been immersed in the reading and writing units of study by Lucy Calkins and the amazing Teachers College Staff Developers.
How and when do you follow your passions?
What are you learning?
How will we know?
(Thanks for the inspiration, Dayna!)