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 milestones do you recognize?
There are many throughout a year: birthdays, anniversaries, and remembrances.
What about summative milestones? Which ones are important?
So a bit of Jeopardy here.
Answer under “Milestone” for $100: All 5 remaining children of Bob and Mary. (my parents)
Answer under “Milestone” for $200: 9 grandchildren of Bob and Mary
Answer under “Milestone” for $300: 1 great grandchild of Bob and Mary
Answer under “Milestone” for $400: Katarina Britane Rose last night
Answer under “Milestone” for $500: 3 “kids” with 4 degrees in two generations
Commercial Break: Do you know what the theme is? Even if you are not a family member, can you make a guess about what this milestone is?
And the Bonus Round: Link
It’s a common topic and as you can see above, there’s a high frequency in my family.
This post last year has links to six other posts with some topical story.
Did you get every question right? Let’s check . . .
$100: How many living children are college graduates? (5/5 or All – some multiple, multiple times and would probably involve higher math or algebra)!
$200: How many grandchildren are college graduates?
$300: How many great grandchildren are college graduates? (Keeping in mind that these 15 kids range from 22 to 3 months!)
$400: Who was the most recent graduate and when?
$500: How many doctors in the family? (3 have 4 doctorates. PhD, PhD and M.D., and PhD)
Bonus Round: What is “Pomp and Circumstance”?
Would it surprise you to know that this is one of my most favorite songs?
I wrote about it 5 years ago as a system of “reading” unlike words but filled with symbols and cymbals, figuratively and metaphorically. Link
What do I value? Education!
And what a celebration! But that also means on the road!
What summative milestones do you celebrate?
What traditions surround those celebrations?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
The well-deserved graduation bling:
(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 .
Wow! 31 consecutive days of writing is coming ot an end . . . What do I say? What am I thinking? What will I do with my free time?
My process: I set up a folder on my desk top where I saved pictures that I wanted to consider adding to blogs. I created a word document and listed “Topics that I can blog about.” I drafted some posts in Word and some directly in WordPress. I did some “flash drafting.” I watched “Be Inspired” and the Classroom SOLSC14 for writing tips/ideas. My routine included drafting my posts the evening before needed and then the morning of posting, I reviewed, revised and edited.
Some posts seemed to write themselves. Those were on topics that I had already spent some time thinking about. Newer topics meant that I nothing written ahead of time. Those posts took longer to construct unless the topic had been the focus of conversation previously. Days spent traveling meant that I planned ahead and wrote multiple posts in advance.
If you have been following this month, you may recall that I began March with a post about alphabet books and the fact that I like to collect them because they are so neat and tidy. I also like to collect or organize my work. Sometimes I organize by color, sometimes I organize by numbers, and sometimes I organize by charts. So for this finale, I have assembled a table in order to review the “current data.” (Just a little OCD!)
|Slice||Title||Content||Format (*idea from TWT)|
|1||March Challenge: Slice of Life||Alphabet as an Organizer||Narrative/ Info|
|2||ABC’s of Reading||Joys of Reading||ABC poem|
|3||Home||Defining Home||Narr. Quotes and info|
|4||“Change of Plans”||Waiting||Narr. Quote and poem|
|5||Coming Home||Celebration||Narr. Pictures/poem|
|6||Bucket List||List||*poem / Info|
|7||Exhaustion||A “To Do” list||poem|
|8||Studying Student Writing||Content – 3rd grade Ts||Narrative|
|9||#EdCampIowa and “Can Do” Prep for Writing||Talk Before Writing (Conversation Lines)||Info|
|10||Embrace Change||Quote & Dr. Seuss||Picture and words= pt.|
|11||Challenges||Typical responses to challenges||Info|
|12||Tenacity||Dad and turning point||Narrative|
|13||From Challenges to Turning Points||TCRWP and turning points||*AGC, Info|
|14||Road Trip with Dad||Moving Home from College||Narrative (cum. Poem)C &C|
|15||Two Truths and a Lie||Comparisons: Dad and Me||Reader interaction|
|16||The Truth and the Answers||Comparisons: Dad and Me||Answers / Explan.|
|17||Family||Family||Narr. Acrostic poem|
|18||Support Systems||Thanks (metaphor tree)||Info|
|19||Hunger Games||Books vs. Movies||Info w/ poll|
|20||Changing Seasons||Sports cycles||poem|
|21||6:15 on Friday||AM events||*Poem|
|22||Saturday||TCRWP and data (19)||Info|
|23||How much reading is enough?||Reflective questions||Quotes|
|24||Maximizing Instructional Time||Talk and small groups||Twitter quotes|
|25||Are you in the pool?||Writing your story||Quotes/blogs|
|26||Try it, You WILL LIKE it!||Memory (inner talk)||Narrative/inner dialogue|
|28||Revising or Editing||CCSS.Anchor.W.5||Info|
|29||:: right now ::||Status check||Narr. *Verb list/poem|
|31||Farewell Finale||Reflection on March Writing||Narr, Info|
Trying to “label posts” for the final column was difficult. Writing is not always just “one” form or format. Multiple forms can be compiled very easily in a blog post format. I had several goals with this challenge:
1. Write 31 posts Done
2. Write some stories / narratives 11 / 31
3. Write some poetry 11 / 31
4. Add pictures more frequently to my blog 11 / 31
5. Continue to grow my own knowledge in writing (tried something new * 5/31)
6. Continue to support teachers who teach reading/writing 8/3 1
Because I did not write any of my goals in a measurable, SMART format, my thoughts about whether I have “met” my goals is purely subjective. I do believe that just like a story arc, I have moved to a different point as I end March with more frequent and more proficient writing – a different place than where I began on March 1st.
Thanks again for being a part of my writing journey!
I would highly recommend that ALL “Slicers” consider having a twitter presence! One more communication tool!
How can we measure writing so students, parents, the community, and the teachers know that students are improving?
If this is our definition of assessment, we have many options for measurement.
If I am a student, I can use rubrics, checklists, my personal goals and feedback from peers, teachers, and those I communicate with through blogging, etc. to talk about what qualities are present in my writing now that were not there earlier in the year. This could be in the form of a summative reflection that is posted with two or three papers/writings that I believe demonstrate my growth and that I would have annotated with those specific qualities for a quarter or semester or across the entire year.
But what keeps a student writing on a daily basis? How does a student know that this week’s writing piece is better than the last piece? Or that this piece really was the perfect match for the audience and purpose? I believe that students need feedback to not only be able to “improve” their writing but also to have the language to explain what they are doing to others. Excitement about a topic can carry a student for several days, but at some point the enthusiasm may wane as the task of rewriting or revising becomes laborious.
John Hattie believes that feedback needs to include these factors:
“• focus on the learning intention of the task
• occur as the students are doing the learning
• provide information on how and why the student understands and misunderstands
• provides strategies to help the student to improve
• assist the student to understand the goals of the learning” Source
So a learner would need to know the task/goal, be able to explain what he or she is learning and have some strategies that enhance his/her understanding of the work. The checklists in the new Units of Study in Writing, from Lucy Calkins and the many, many talented folks at Teachers College Reading and Writing, would help meet those criteria especially if the students are involved in daily writing workshops that allow them to continually stretch and grow and there is a safety net provided by the teacher and peers.
Is this the only writing format that meets these criteria? No, other rubrics such as 6 Traits + 1 within a writing workshop model could also set up this learning and feedback environment for students. These environments would include clear writing targets, models and strategies for students to continually plan, reflect and self-assess. When working well, these classrooms are better than well-oiled machines; when not working well students might be saying, “I don’t know what to write.” or “What do YOU want me to write?”
How does that all fit in a writing workshop? Very, very carefully as a teacher combines both student-led and teacher-led activities to increase student independence! At the end of the mini-lesson, the teacher may ask the students to go ahead and begin an example of the task/work at hand before they even leave that comfort of the writing circle. A few students may stay for a quick conference and/or a more specific “check-in” with the teacher. A student may have put a post it up on a strategy chart to mark the specific work that is his/her goal for today that will improve the narrative (adding action, adding dialogue, or adding thoughts). The teacher will circulate and may have a “mid-workshop” interruption where student work that is “on target” is quickly celebrated and shared. Students may quickly meet with writing partners to see if they are “still on course to meet their goals.”
This is an example of “knowing specifically what a student needs to do” to meet the learning target in kindergarten – first grade writing.
The student will have a “collection” of writings in a folder that will be evidence of learning.
What will the parents and community members see? They will see examples of early writing in a unit and later writing. They will see “student revision” in work and evidence of student thinking. Parents and community members will not see traditional “percentages” for grades. They will see comments that delineate what the student CAN do. The students will be able to tell their families what they have been working on and how that has helped them be more powerful writers.
And the teachers . . . How will they know that “students are improving”? Teachers may have to take a step back because the “day to day work” may cloud their view when they think of overall growth for all students. But student growth, when students are writing every day in writing workship for 45 minutes to an hour, can be seen after three weeks (Lucy Calkins, June 2013 TCRWP Writing Institute). Will it be easy? Heck, no! But will easy provide results that will help your students meet the demands of opinion, informational and narrative writing?
What are you waiting for? February is the month to “Fire Up” student writing in your classroom. Your students will love writing with you!