“Oh, you were going down,” the maid commented. She pushed the button for a higher floor.
I remained silent. “Should I use my typical Iowa spiel? ‘Well, I live in a town that doesn’t have any buildings taller than two stories.'”
Nah. Silence. No excuse. Too early!
The elevator dinged to announce its arrival. I moved to the elevator bank that was lit. I didn’t remember if it was a
W P arrow.
N arrow or an U
Simply too late to matter.
By the time all my thinking was done, the elevator was going down, down to my destination. Trivia. Let it go!
Tell Your Story . . .
Shanna Schwartz is a master storyteller and she delivered a powerful keynote when she used stories to offer tips to help teachers, coaches, and administrators in Cowin Auditorium understand what will make TEACHING STICK.
Old School . . .
I noted and appreciated the delivery of the keynote. . . Stories, a document camera, and anchor charts created in front of us. No powerpoint, google slides or Prezi. These were the presentations I remember from the first sessions I attended at #TCRWP Institutes. (Lucy Calkins also addresses the atmosphere and delivery of mini-lessons in Leading Well.)
Three memorable quotes . . .
“Children like all humans do not just learn things whole and then do it perfectly. They do it partially, making approximations, and gradually showing more learning.” (Shanna B Schwartz, 3.16.19. TCRWP) (Check out her book for the exact wording.)
“Have to be planned enough so I can watch students, to know what to do, and be flexible enough to change to meet kids needs!” (Shanna B Schwartz, 3.16.19. TCRWP)
“Sometimes teaching feels like a performance. Teaching should be a relationship, a warmth, and closeness that you are building together.” (Shanna B Schwartz, 3.16.19. TCRWP)
Timeless . . .
One of Two Keynotes at the #TCRWP 96th Saturday Reunion was “Making Your Teaching Stick” by Shanna Schwartz.
Shanna referred to this book (as did Sarah Picard Taylor in her introduction of Shanna) that she wrote 11 years ago as a base for her keynote. It might be a quick book to pull out and review with your staff. Every single book from the Help Desk series has tips worth revisiting and the price is right.
So when something isn’t right in life, do you choose silence as I did on the elevator or do you study the situation in order to figure out alternatives? If it’s a short interval, time may solve the issue. But what if it isn’t? Then what do you choose to do? What is your default? Your knowledge? Your skill set? What stories do you lean on?
What are the principles that you hold onto dearly?
How do you deliver your instruction (and your PD)?
What are the areas you continually return to for problem solving because they don’t seem “to stick”?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
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?
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!
(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!) Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge: Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna and Beth. More Slice of Life posts can be found at Two Writing Teachers .
How do teachers maximize time for student benefits?
Tip One: Increase talk time of students in order for them to solidify their learning. A very specific tip was shared by Lucy Calkins at the Spring Saturday Reunion at Teachers College.
Five minutes. Find five minutes for students to talk after they have been reading. No cost. No text dependent questions. No quiz.
“TALK!” – Lucy Calkins
Chapter 1 “Why Talk is Important in Classrooms” from Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s Content Area Conversations will give you additional ideas about the value of talk including “Reading and writing float on a sea of talk.”
Tip Two: Maximize your use of small groups across the day from Shanna B Schwartz. “Weave small groups across the day, through reading workshop, writing workshop and word study periods.” Use small groups to help students meet targets and accelerate learning!
Another source of information about “small group” instruction is Debbie Diller’s Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All. In this book Diller also explains the difference between guided reading groups and small groups working on such skills as comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, etc. The goals of the group are determined by the data upon which they are formed!