What a blast! So much learning! So many new friends! So much talent! AAAAAAMMMMMAAAAZZZZIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG!!!!!!!!
I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of having a “split” schedule during the 2017 August Writing Institute so I was learning from Shana Frazin (grades 3-8 emphasis) in the mornings and Shanna Schwartz (K-2 emphasis) in the afternoons. The content aligned a lot but the stars were in perfect alignment on Friday when a chunk of time in both sections was focused on editing!
Editing can become a “hot button” topic pretty quickly as many teachers have strong beliefs around the fact that “kids need to write in complete sentences” AKA “Kids need to write in complete sentences with capital letters at the beginning and terminal punctuation.” Capital letters (K) and ending punctuation (1) are in the learning progressions and are a part of instruction. This post is not going to hypothesize about why those skills/strategies/habits don’t appear to transfer across genres or grades and why students in MS and beyond don’t seem to “use” what they have been taught. That’s a great conversation to pair with adult beverages face-to-face!
Editing: What’s Working? What’s Not Working?
There are so many components to “editing”: spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization that blanket statements about the effectiveness of instruction are difficult to accurately tease out. In general the research has been clear that the effects of isolated drill in traditional grammar instruction has had negative effects on improving the quality of writing. (Steve Graham)
So what can we use? Try? Test out in our own classrooms?
One FUN method used by this author is editing sticks and you can read more about those clear sticks here. Students can work on the MEANING, or purpose for punctuation, as well as explore how the meaning changes with these editing sticks.
Shana Frazin proposed editing stations and even demonstrated small group instruction to work on editing skills around commas. The students in the group used “checklist strips” straight from the WUoS to determine whether they had commas in their current piece of writing, and then they checked their comma use against the purposes for using commas in the information writing unit. If they didn’t use commas, they were then adding commas into their continued writing during that small group work.
Because “run-on sentences” are listed for fifth grade in the progressions, I chose to use 5th grade as a target grade level to tackle the “I can fix run-on sentences” from the editing checklist.
Here’s the task card I drafted:
Some practice sentences:
Here’s one tool (idea from Shana Frazin):
Here’s a second student tool ( 3 x 5 post-it matching the task card):
This still feels “Drafty-Drafty” as it shows two types of run-on sentences from student work. Run-on sentences with zero conjunctions. Run-on sentences with too many conjunctions or “Scotch Tape Words”. The easiest way to develop a task card or tool would be to check the full range of WUoS and see what work is already built into the units around run-on sentences. That “go to” response could save hours of angst and searching for solutions outside the resources!
(Unfortunately I did NOT have the entire set of books in my dorm room in NYC to peruse!)
Here’s what I heard Shanna Schwartz say in our K-2 session:
“Light editing could occur during every writing workshop session in second grade.”
This is not about being mean and telling students they have to “FIX” their writing every day before they can write anything else. This is not about REQUIRING students to EDIT every session.
This is one idea. This is one way that editing might go in order to build up habits that lead to being a stronger, more confident writer.
PLAN: “Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and look for ‘x”. I am going to set the timer for one minute. Read back over your writing for one minute and then you may continue writing.”
Parsing / Processing (What did I see and hear?):
- Light editing – 1 minute required
- It’s a short break with a minimal disruption to the writing flow but yet it underscores the importance of YOU, the author, rereading your work in order to fix this one thing.”
- Respectful – “second grade writers”
- Time limited – 1 minute. Could extend a bit longer if the student is really “fixing something. But if it interferes with writing production, that will create a different issue during writing workshop sessions.
What might these skills be?
- Something that has previously been taught.
- Something that has previously been assessed.
- Something from earlier grade level progressions.
- Something that is a necessary foundation skill.
- Something that is not sticking for the majority of the class so the first use of editing minutes will be whole class.
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check for capital letters at the beginning of every sentence . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.) (K)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check that you have put punctuation ( . ! ? ) at the end of your sentences. Reread and check . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.) (1st)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Choose three words from the word wall. Look at the writing that you have done today. I want you to read back over it and check your writing to make sure that you have spelled those three words correctly . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.)
“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today. We have been working with word endings in word study. Read back over your writing and check your words for the endings “er”, “ed”, and/or “ing and make sure those endings are spelled correctly . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.)
How many editing goals?
I would hope and Shanna suggested that students would have ONE editing goal at a time. The student needs to work on this targeted goal until he/she is able to complete it independently. Practice is definitely required before strategies will become a habit. That’s why this skill needs to be practiced multiple times in order for the student to be able to complete it!
The more visible you can make the editing goal the better! You will be watching for this goal during conferences, small group instruction and in the student’s independent work. Once you see a “body of evidence” you will move this goal to the Accomplishment Board where the post it / goal card goes in the pocket by student name like the one posted below.
How are you currently “teaching” editing in the Writing Units of Study?
What might you strengthen?
What might you add?
One goal of writing workshop may be to have independent and confident writers who can and do share their writing with the world.
Any one in the “reader-sphere” gulping just a little at that? Big, Bold, Audacious Goal! Dream Big!
So how do we REALLY set students (or even adults) up to be Independent? Some might argue that this means that a teacher needs MORE control over a student’s writing so that the path is quick, controlled and successful. But how does that student learn to handle trouble? Work through adversity? Persevere? Does that student ONLY turn to outside sources for validation?
This is a draft. I repeat, “This is only a draft!” But I’ve seriously been considering this since Monday. A LOT!
I wanted to write about it yesterday, but I was still thinking! And so last night with the extra hour BEFORE the #TCRWP Twitter chat LIVE from the dorm across the street from TC, I initiated a simultaneous phone conference google doc with a writing colleague.
Testing the waters.
And yes, only a draft for the third time.
Many of us love partners for student work. And we have our own partners. Partners in life. Partners in marriage. Work partners. Writing partners. Reading partners. Thinking partners.
How do we set those up . . . in the beginning.
This idea . . . I heard it, we tried it out in our section and it “felt good”, I read some more about it here, and then I tried it FOR REAL again!
Courtesy of Shana Frazin and Katy Wischow: Open Conferring Notes
“Open notes conferring could be a path to greater independence, more engagement, and stronger connections between us and our thoughtful, fascinating readers.” – Katy Wischow, June 12, 2015, ‘Turn and Talk About”.
Don’t panic! Open Conferring Notes are not notes left with the student. They are notes the teacher takes (his/her accountability) and shares with the student so that the student can SEE that his/her voice is heard. Students participate in conferences differently with Open Conferring Notes because it is more of a partnership than just a turn-taking typical conference.
The notes are simple 2 columns. “I noticed” heads the first column and “Tips” heads the second column. Writing notes as an adult to share with a student DOES feel clunky at first but the notes shouldn’t be a secret. After all, the words were real words out of the student’s mouth. What felt “clunky” was:
- How many notes?
- Which notes to record?
- Can he read my notes?
- Did I capture that thought accurately?
I know over-thinking. Over the top. But that delicate balance between what is said and what is written and am I OVER recording? YES!
Why does this matter?
Do you have student partnerships confer? Do you expect them to tackle this work?
Wouldn’t Open Conferring Notes be the “perfect” scaffold to begin to teach students to “share the conferring note recording pen”?
As the conferee last night for about an hour, I loved this. It felt good to be simultaneously, yet respectfully turn-taking in our excitement as we practiced “Open Conferring Notes”.
Open Conferring Notes
What have you learned, tried out, practiced and investigated further?
Open Conferring Notes – soon to be used with teachers learning to confer as well!
Thanks for teaching me about Open Conferring Notes, Shana and Katy!
Impossible that two days have literally buzzed past in the lightning round of learning. Time . . . that enemy of teachers everywhere.
What have I learned?
The learning curve is high.
There is always more to learn.
My blog posts this summer are going to be a bit different than previous years. “Different how?” you might ask. “Well, more of a focus on application and less focus on ‘reporting’!”
I am completely blown away by the new “Up the Ladder” units available from Heinemann that look like this because I haven’t just read them or watched the videos. I’ve actually “mucked around” with them and tried out some new work as well as experienced the sequence in the Information book in Shana Frazin’s session.
For the record, there is one set of 3 books available that could be used for students in grades 3-8. (And yes, the cover says 3-6 so keep reading please!) In my five years of attendance at #TCRWP, I have had the great privilege of learning from six of the seven listed authors.
(Any errors in this post will be re-posted in another color with accompanying tweets or highly visible corrections. Unfortunately it would be the fault of the operator of this Chromebook, NOT the technology itself.)
August Writing Institute attendees received a copy of the Information “Up the Ladder” spiral bound book. All participants have had an opportunity to review the hard copy.
What follows is an opportunity for you to learn more about WHY these units were written, the responses to the “Aha’s” that have been built into these units. the special features that are included, and how you might consider using these units.
Why did the folks at Teachers College write these units?
- To give students who had never had writing workshop an opportunity to “grow into” this work. For example, fifth graders new to writing workshop were struggling with writing an argument-based essay when they had not written essays before.
- To support teachers who have not done writing workshop before. Using the unit in professional development would provide common language for teachers unfamiliar with writing workshop and the Units of Study in Writing. A new to the district third grade teacher could learn a bit about paper choices and “Small Moments” from the learning opportunities in primary grades.
- So students who are struggling writers who have had difficulty accessing writing can accelerate their writing. This can include English Learners or students with IEPs when provided with explicit instruction.
What has been built into these units?
Staff Developer and one of the authors, Alicia Luick shared these “Ahas” in a closing workshop on Monday, Day 1, of the August 2017 Writing Institute.
The “Up the Ladder” units provide additional support because:
- The writing process matters.
- Organization must be specifically “taught” (and no, completing a graphic organizer is NOT teaching! – my emphasis)
- Teaching into Revision and Student Set Goals is critical.
- Writing volume matters. The use of writing booklets pumped up the volume exponentially for students in grades 3-8!
What are some special features that a teacher will find in the “Up the Ladder” Units?
- In each session “Teacher Goals and then Student Goals” are side-by-side.
- QR Code with video models exist for each session. An author models the lesson (minus students) in 6 -10 minutes.
- Language is clear, concise and easy to follow with a 6 page maximum length.
- The end of every unit has ENL’s – English Language Learner suggestions
- (and added by this author – The post its for the charts are included.)
How might teachers use this new resource? Some Possibilities Include . . .
There are several options. For a district that is new to the Writing Units of Study for grades 3-8, teachers may decide to start the year with all three “Up the Ladder” units before cycling back to grade level units.
Another option might be for a new third grade teacher (for example), to teach the “Up the Ladder” Narrative and then the grade three narrative. The instructional cycle might continue with “Up the Ladder” Information and then grade 3 information and “Up the Ladder” Opinion and then grade 3 Opinion.
A third option might be more of a “Choose Your Own Adventure”. A teacher might decide to use the data from the class “pre-on-demands” to determine WHICH (if any) units or bends to teach based on information gathered directly from the students at the beginning of the year.
Are there other possibilities?
However, a few words of caution.
“Danger, Will Robinson!”
Go back and reread the section about WHY Teachers College (AKA Lucy and Colleagues) wrote these units.
High Expectations lead to High Results.
Students don’t hit targets that they have never seen. Simply slowing down the writing instruction so that all students are progressing at a “slower pace” because the units are “too hard” in a district that has been using the Writing Units of Study for multiple years is NOT a viable goal nor the purpose of this resource. Providing additional support for students or teachers who need INSTRUCTION or PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT is appropriate.
This week there is a great series at Two Writing Teachers about “Writing Workshop Fundamentals“. Check out your beliefs and knowledge there!
Thank you #TCRWP, Shana, and Alicia! So helpful for students and teachers!
It began with a DM:
Coaching institute or writing institute?
And of course, there was no easy answer.
Knowledge, background, willingness and ability to THINK
Such a pleasure to meet that coach this week at the #TCRWP August Writing Institute and to sit in the front row together,
listening to Lucy Calkins together,
nourishing our social media connections and
our face to face interactions.
NOT on Twitter?
Then you are missing out on PD opportunities from your home like:
And I don’t say that lightly! What a great morning! More in another post! (Shana Frazin)
What was your story of Monday? What did you read or write?
I know 140 characters doesn’t cut it for some folks. Being concise is an art. But check out this blog post by my friend Sally Donnelly who I also met via Twitter and TWT for a beautiful summary of Lucy’s keynote with some staggeringly wonderful organization! I just have a glorious collection of stories!
Keynote – “Fun with Reading and Writing Blog”
Homework caused this post to be quick and light. More later!
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
AND YES, My Craft Moves is now autographed by the Author! Thanks, Stacey!
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!
And so it begins . . . this week I am attending the #TCRWP June Reading Institute and it’s off to an amazing start! This is what my brain felt like about 2 pm on Monday . . . with an hour and a half YET to go.
Just plug that CAT 6 cable directly into my brain and let me power on all the assistance I can. It’s going to be an exhilarating experience!
Lucy Calkins Keynote
Why do we read? How does reading benefit us as a community? How does the community benefit when we are readers? These questions weren’t posed by Lucy but so many questions ran through my mind today during her “Call to Action.”
“We come from 38 countries and 41 states . . . 1300 of you to learn about teaching reading . . . to learn about yourselves . . . to learn from each other . . . From places in the heart . . .To say no . . . To say yes”
TCRWP isn’t just an event. It’s not about attending for a week, soaking up knowledge, returning home, and regurgitating that knowledge to a welcome (or unwelcome) audience. TCRWP is about the community – face to face this week – on Facebook and Twitter in the future and even on blogs like this between institutes and Saturday reunions. If you take risks, are vulnerable this week, you will never be the same reader or teacher of reading in the future. You will grow. You will stretch. You will fly. Empathy is built day by day. We can and we must learn and understand by thinking ourselves into other’s places.
- How will you support your reading community?
- Maybe we need a new educational story. To reach, to dream, to grow strong . . What do you need in order to grow yourself?
- How can you grow your own version of #TCRWP? Your own nest?
- There’s important work to be done. It will be hard work. We as educators are asked to outgrow our own work. How will you outgrow your own work?
- It’s not just about naming the strategies, but inducting kids into the identities and values of READERS! How will you create a safe community for your readers?
Rev Up Your Teaching Muscles to Make Your Whole Group Instruction as Potent as Possible (Mini lessons, Shared Reading, Read Aloud) (K-2)
Explanation and Demonstration.
“Powerful Whole Class Instruction for K-2 Students
- Clarity and Concise Language
- Engaging and Engaged
- Assess and Give Feedback
- Links and Skills (Strategies) to Independent and Partner/Club Work
- Opportunities for Oral Language Development “
Read and Study Mini-lesson individually. (1st grade, lesson 10 – Readers learn new words as they read.) Mini-lesson Practice with Partners. Mini-lesson planning table group. Mini-lesson Delivery. Debrief. Discuss Goals. Video of Mini-lesson. Discussion of how that was the same and how that was different. Mini-lesson Delivery. Discussion of Goals.
. . . and in all that “What were we studying in the Mini-lesson?”
Pacing – Vitality, Having students think alongside us, Student talk/listen/feedback
- Whole class teaching – staying focused is critical! Don’t let student responses lead you down the rabbit hole!
- Knowing the Teaching Point is critical. Forward, backward, what comes next? What came before? What it looks and sounds like when a reader REALLY does this.
- Focus on one Teaching Point. Not a “Never ending Teaching Point”
- Growing students means lots of practice. That lesson won’t have teacher demonstration but will instead have tons of student practice – PLAN.FOR.IT.
- Study lessons together. Discuss the work together. Build your own community to support your learning about the teaching of reading!
Beyond Guided Reading: Expanding Your Repertoire of Small Group Work in Nonfiction (3-8)
“Small group work is hard. Our goal this week is to open up our repertoire about different methodologies to deliver small group instruction.”
What is your vision of small group work? I’m most familiar with guided reading groups but also like literature circles and book club work.
What’s preventing small group work?
Management – What are the rest of the kids doing?
Fear – I’m not good at it! (not enough practice)
Results – It doesn’t really work for my kids. Or took 40 minutes to “drag that group through the lesson.” There’s no time to do that every day!
Today, I saw, heard and was a part of . . .
- Demonstration Small Group
- Read Aloud Small Group
We watched Kathleen in action and then “copycatted that exact same lesson” into our small groups with two different members as the teacher (not me, not me!)
Remember that brain on fire at the top of this blog . . . this was the first time I’d ever seen a Read Aloud Small Group. So new. So much to absorb and process. My mind was swirling. . . Where would this happen? When? With which students? Why?
I had to take a deep breath. And then another one. The engagement of the students in the Read Aloud Small Group was intense. No student could hide. Everyone had to do the work – in order to contribute to the learning. What a way to know exactly what kids are thinking and to “get them unstuck” and moving!
- On any given skill I could be the top, middle, or bottom. The goal of small groups is to grow and move ALL readers – not just the “struggling readers”.
- TC – Kathleen – said that they have been studying small group work for the last year and a half. It’s okay that I don’t know this!
- Increase your accountability for small groups with a public, visible schedule. That will push you as the teacher as well as the students.
- Teachers over plan small group work. The small group work should be a continuation of the mini-lesson. It’s not about going out and finding new, wonderful text to use. It’s about more practice – more student practice and way less “teacher talk”.
- Feedback is hard. It is about tone. It is about the length of the message. It’s also about giving and receiving feedback. So very complicated!
What new skill/strategy are you practicing?
Have you found / created a safe community to practice?
How does what you are learning from your own learning impact your planning for instruction for your students?
This is my story of learning.
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!
#TWTBlog had these questions for their #Twitter Chat about “Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts”. Were you there? Which questions/answers really helped you grow in your thinking about mentor texts?
This chat was a culmination of a week long series about Mentor Texts and in case you missed it, here are the links:
“Tuesday, May 3: Reading Like a Writer, Step-By-Step by Elizabeth Moore (that’s me!)
Wednesday, May 4: Student-Written Mentor Texts by Deb Frazier
Thursday, May 5: How to Choose and Mine Mentor Texts for Craft Moves by Stacey Shubitz
Friday, May 6: Digital Mentor Texts for Blogs by Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski
Saturday, May 7: Create Your Own Text by Dana Murphy
So why on earth am I writing about Mentor Texts again?
Well, there are whole books about Mentor Texts that include ten of my favorites below and Stacey Shubitz’s Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts that will ship from Stenhouse in June of 2016! (You can preview it here.) And I was just lucky enough, with my friend, Melanie Meehan, to win a FREE copy last night as a participant in the chat!
So, if I have 10 of these 11 books (soon to be 11 of 11) about Mentor Texts, why am I writing about them again?
I know that it’s a total shock to some of my readers, but I must admit that I am a bibliophile. There are very few books that I’ve met that are NOT my immediate friends (except for the fantasy, scifi, vampire type books that I often just AVOID)!
Collecting samples of mentor texts has been helpful in my study of the craft of writing. Each of these books leads me to other authors, books, and even publishers that allow me to deepen my knowledge of author’s craft. I’ve been a writer, off and on, for decades. But during that writing time, I have NOT always studied writing. Instead I was playing at writing and sometimes only “practicing” writing. I trusted the authors above to choose texts that would surely be magical mentors for either myself or my students.
Recently my study of writing has been more reflective and my goal has been to define the elements that work (as well as WHY) and YET sometimes I STILL totally miss the mark! The books above provided a safety net because I did NOT trust my own judgement of mentor texts. I knew there was no “magic list” and YET I still thought there was often something magical about these books that FAMOUS AUTHORS had placed on their lists of Mentor Texts. Reading through their choices was like Intro to Mentor Texts 101. I could see what they chose and why and try to imitate that.
What did I learn from tonight’s chat?
The chat was just like “Field of Dreams” . . . “Build it and they will come!”
Stars on the Twitter Red Carpet #TWTBlog included:
- Ralph Fletcher
- Lynne Dorfman
- Rose Cappelli
- Ruth Culham
- Kim Yaris
- Jan Miller Burkins
- Lisa Eickholdt
- Shana Frazin
- Cornelius Minor
- Emily Butler Smith
- Dr. Mary Howard
- Tara Smith
- Catherine Flynn
- Melanie Meehan
- Jessie Miller
- Leigh Anne Eck
- Lisa Keeler
- Margaret Simon
- TWT Team – Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey
The storified chat is available here.
But here are a couple of my favorite tweets that I am still thinking about in response to Q5) “Why are teacher-written mentor texts important? How do you use them?” . . .
and this all important one from Dana on Q1 about reading mentor texts:
The conversations last night were rich. I will be reviewing the storify as I know I missed some. And like any great texts, some tweets will need to be revisited!
Who are your writing mentors?
What are your favorite mentor texts?
How would we know?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
I have this problem.
This one teeny-tiny little problem.
I like books.
I like books a lot.
I have had summer jobs for over
10 20 30 years just to pay for my book habit.
In fact, I would not be stepping out on a limb here if I said,
“I LOVE BOOKS.”
So when I heard that TCRWP was going to develop lists of books for classroom libraries,
one side of me said,
“YAY, now I will know what the top of the line BEST books are!”
while the more frugal side of me said,
“Darn, I’ll need another job because this is really going to hurt my book budget!”
90th Saturday FREE Reunion – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project
So here is what I think I heard in Session 4. Get the Latest Scoop on Books and on the To-Die-For-Classroom Library Project
Lucy Calkins, Shana Frazin, Norah Mallaney. Molly Picardi and Heather Michael were all gathered in 136 Thompson to explain progress with the #TCRWP Classroom Library Project. (If you have not heard about the classroom project, you can read about it here on the TCRWP website. Read it now and then come back!)
Goals / Process:
- Develop a state of the art classroom library that students will want to and will be able to read.
- Make sure every word of every book is read so no surprise language exists anywhere.
- Represent the diverse culture we see in our current world.
Lists were solicited from teachers and other TCRWP literacy aficionados. However, approximately 50% of the books on the lists were picture books. The review team has searched for chapter books, when appropriate by level, to increase the volume of print as well as continued to monitor a balance of fiction and nonfiction. Book levels were also a concern as Lucy said, “Levels need to be accurate. We want the right books in kids’ hands; books they can and do read!”
Here are pictures of book covers of some of the books recommended for the libraries of students in grades 3 – 5.
And then for students in grades K 2:
- Rigby’s Where does Food Come From?
- Hammerray – Mrs. Wishy Washy
The group shared some of the things they had learned before a quick guided tour of the book review work.
- Titles for book bins do matter so the labels will be preprinted.
- Curating a collection of books that will sustain students’ interest is hard.
- High-low books are not all equal for middle school readers and finding age-appropriate and conceptually appropriate leveled books for MS students is tough.
Lucy reiterated that these would NOT just be your favorite books and few picture books would be included in classroom libraries. Why? Because 4 student chapter books could be bought for the price of one picture book. The few that are included will be in the brief “Read Aloud” section of the shelf!
What books do you know?
What books look interesting to you?
I ordered (10 books) and saved copies of those book covers during the session (to my “blog pictures” folder on my desktop). Ten was my limit! I read through my notes on Sunday and pulled the pictures of the remaining book covers and spent time perusing Hameray and other book publisher sites. A.lot.of.time! (Remember I said I had a book problem. Did you really think I could click without stopping to read? I had to look up Joy Cowley and then I was interested in her woodworking and then back to just how many Mrs. Wishy Washy books are there? Wonder . . . I created the opening, defined my categories, added the tags and then pasted in my notes from my Word Document. I did have to reload all the pictures into WordPress, but I had put the names into my doc so it went quickly.
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!
I’m a newbie.
Still figuring this out . . .
This “grandma” thing . . .
It’s the little things,
With the so many possibilities!
Our list of recent celebrations:
5 months old
rolling over independently
reading (and eating books)
Mama’s red hair
that baby smell
those gorgeous red cheeks
the chunky, squishy muscles
the first trip to a pumpkin patch
the first tooth!
Although the miles separate us, I have pictures galore that celebrate every bit of cuteness and every single accomplishment!
How and what do we celebrate in our classrooms?
Our favorite authors?
A read aloud by the author? (with Julieanne)
A new accomplishment?
Drafting a new piece?
Reflecting on our work?
Considering our small group work? (Kari’s Small groups: So much more than a level and a kidney table)
Tara’s slicing . . . Slice of Life year round with our students?
focused learning . . .Keep it Simple, Get it Right from Kate and Maggie’s “Indent”
the magic and the newness . . . The Back to School Honeymoon is Waning from Shana
and a true treasure from Vicki . . . celebrating The Beliefs Behind the Shoulds
There are many, many, many wonderful blog posts but each of the five above included celebrations of learning and teaching and the oh, so right work!
Have you stopped to celebrate lately?
Are you celebrating often?
How would we know?
And more importantly, what WILL you celebrate next?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
What is a Mentor Text?
Are all books mentor texts?
Should all books be in the pool of mentor texts?
1. All books that are read aloud to students are NOT, especially for this blog post, considered mentor texts. For this post, I am defining mentor text as that ONE, yes, ONE text that matches the writing genre that I am teaching and that is completly covered in post-its because it is my “Marked – Up Mentor Text”. Source: Celena Larkey, June 2015 TCRWP Writing Institute.
2. I am not choosing my most favorite book for my mentor text because I am going to read it OVER and OVER and OVER as we study and write. It has to be a high quality book, but that may not be the newest book. Instead, I am opting for the book that has clear instructional points that works for the writers.
3. I am considering the interests of my students. I am NOT choosing a mentor text because I LOVE it. Instead, I am choosing a book that has content that the students will relate to – be a part of their lives – to increase their own belief in their ability to “write just like this author in this book”.
* * * *
I am going to ask you to pause for a few minutes and go read Shana Frazin’s Blog post titled ‘“Have You Read . . .?” The Art of Recommending Books’
Please, GO read it now! Click on that blue link above. You can always come back by using the “back arrow”!
And did you subscribe to the blog so you can continue to read about talk and its power for literacy?
Shana’s post was about the qualities that you would discuss when choosing texts and how you might teach this to students.
I’ve been asked at least three times to post “lists” of books that we worked with at TCRWP this week. A list does follow. But here’s the “instructional piece” (and yes, I know you HATE when I do that!)!
- You need to know your students. They may not love a book you recommend and ever worse, may not love a book that I love.
- I work with teachers K- 12. Not all books will be appropriate for all grade levels.
- I may have left titles off the list because I already own those books. This list began as my “wish list” and is therefore my “wish to purchase” list!
- All of the trade books that came with the grade level Writing Units of Study. Here is the link at Heinemann to the K pack and you can find the others by grade level as well.
- Shana’s 10 Books of the Month for 2015-16 slideshare
- My Spring Robin – Rockwell
- Charley’s First Night – Hest
- Owl Moon – Yolen
- Kiss Good Night – Hess
- Short Cut – Crews
- Goal! – Javaherbin
- “Let’s Get a Pup!” said Kate. – Gordan
- Z is for Moose – Bingham/Zelinski
- One Green Apple – Bunting
- Salt in His Shoes – Deloris Jordan
- Lunch – Naomi Nye
- Yard Sale – Bunting
- Neighborhood Sharks – Roy