Tag Archives: Tara Smith

#NCTE16: Incredible Learning


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When learning is in the very air that you breathe, it’s totally exhilarating. And that’s just a small piece of #NCTE16!

Session G12: Writing for a Better World:  Poetry Responses to World Events

I laughed.

I cried.

I read.

I wrote.

I learned.

This session should have been live streamed for educators around the world. Poetry is such an important part of the “meaning making” that we must construct of our daily lives.

if poetry is not a typical part of your repertoire, why not? Humor can add fun. Serious topics can add empathy. And above all, poetry can add truth to your life.

Check out this storify that introduces the folks at this session. In no way does it capture the essence of the conversations. That richness lies in the poetry of their talk.

Storify

Poetry – Do you need to add some to your life?

Do you need to add some to your teaching life?

 


Additional Poetry links from/about NCTE poetry presentations:

Poetry is Truth – Irene Latham

Risking Writing – Heidi and Mary Lee Hahn

Kate Messner – Collaborative Poetry Writing 

From our view together again at #NCTE

poetry

(Still practicing on “selfies”)

#DigiLit Sunday: Curves


digilit

Today, Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche proposed changing perspective and thinking about “Curves” as they occur in nature and that the curves of roses can even remind us of our communities of friends, co-workers and co-writers in her post here.

And then Tara wrote this post titled, “Digilit Sunday:  Curving towards social justice through song” and I was really stuck in thinking about how “curves” applies to my life.

And then an old quote came to mind:

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” Archimedes

But should you live your life in a straight line?

““Straight lines go too quickly to appreciate the pleasures of thejourney. They rush straight to their target and then die in thevery moment of their triumph without having thought, loved,suffered or enjoyed themselves.” Rene Crevel

Do you know this book?

The-Straight-Line-Wonder

It’s a favorite of mine that unfortunately is sitting on an office shelf.  but here’s why it fits in this post.

“To jump in humps” . . .

“Twirl in whirls” . . . 

“Creep in heaps” . . .

“Point his joints” . . . 

Just as the world needs all kinds of people, it also needs more than straight lines.

” It’s about being able to be different without being punished for it. Has the world changed since then? I doubt it, sadly. We are still made uncomfortable by those who refuse to live within our prescribed ‘straight’ lines.” Mem Fox

When must one’s life deal with “curves”?

When must one stand for personal beliefs?

When must one deviate from the straight line?

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 24 – Teacher Work


Recruiting Engagement and Establishing Expectations so That Kids Actually Read –  Even when Classrooms Brim with Reluctant Readers  with Cornelius Minor

After the keynote last Saturday, my first session was with @Mister Minor, Cornelius Minor, in a packed Everett Lounge.  It was so packed that Cornelius moved a table so Tara and I would have a place to sit!  Great facilitator, learning with a friend for turn and talks,  and a room full of brilliant people.  ALL SET!

Cornelius shared with us that the three main portions of his work would be around:

  1. Skillwork
  2. Text selection
  3. What methods am I going to use to teach?

And then we, the audience, prioritized where we wanted to spend most of our time.  So clever, “engaging” the audience with choice! As well as making sure that we walked away with our own expectations met! (And how cleverly already connected to the session title)

Gems of wisdom that I want to hold onto from his opening . . .

“Not all things work for all kids.”

“Resist paralysis when something doesn’t work. Continue to ‘do’.”

“Try a lot of things.”

“Embrace teacher tenacity.”

“Attitudes are important.”

“Think about compliance / obedience to a philosophy of agency vs. a deeply held value.”

“Consider when a student has problems and they are pulled out – remediation.”

“What if the teacher used ‘pre-teaching’ prior to classroom instruction . . . pre-teaching empowers students?”

What do you think of those quotes?

How do they apply to teachers?

How do they also apply to students?

Back to the session.

Cornelius asked us, “What are big skills that are scary?”  After sharing with a partner, the ones that were quickly shared with the whole group were:  analysis, synthesis, craft,  inference, reading identity, and vocabulary.

And then we were told that we would see a process that we could take back to our PLNs and use. By answering the question, “What do I do as a reader that makes me proficient (invisible thoughts and actions) and explaining that to kids so they could understand in kid-friendly language, we will have kids growing as readers.

Skill:  How to make an inference in nonfiction

The key was in how to introduce this to students and how to find text of interest to them. “What do kids care the most about?” While recently in LA, it was near the Valentine’s Day Dance so the idea was to find nonfiction that would help students get a date or dealing with love and relationships.  Finding something of interest for middle schoolers is critical but students can help with that.  The text we worked with was by David Wygant, “Put the Smartphone Down.”

Teacher Work

  1. Find text
  2. Choose skill
  3. Ask teachers to do it – Take our invisible work and make it visible for kids.
    1. Read it
    2. Stop and ask myself “How did I do that?”
    3. Discuss with group
    4. List the possible strategies – “Strategy gives skill legs and tells you how toperform the skill

Key:  There is no magic list.  The work is to increase teacher proficiency first before you can increase student proficiency.  

*** See also Tara Smith’s post (from Two Writing Teachers) about #DoTheWork.. . this same session here.

Just as Kate Roberts (DIY Toolkit) made a toolkit page look easy (yesterday’s post), Cornelius made this look and sound easy as well. Here’s what the first one looked like:

Inference

A. One way to infer in NF is to pay attention to specific words – name it (best teaching       when use what we do)

How do we do this?

1. Read and stop when get to cool word.

2. Places you notices – Ask yourself : Why did the author say that?

3. Informed Guess

Then run through as mini lesson. Tips:  Drop the teacher jargon. Don’t say, “close read”.

How could you and a team of teachers follow this process?

When would you all meet to do that?

One of my big takeaways from this sesion was how Cornelius literally modeled his life and his teaching by showing us how he lives his life out loud.  It was an invitation to watch him work. And he said, “We can’t help striving readers with ‘Telling’!  We have to model.”

Teaching reading is not easy. Teaching reading to/with/ for stiving students is not easy day after day.  However these are the kiddos that need our “A” game EVERY minute.

How do we rise to the challenge?

How do we make sure the work is engaging?

How do we share our expectations?

Where and when do we #DoTheWork?


Process / Goals:

Drive time yesterday had me thinking about how I approached Kate Roberts’ work yesterday and what Tara had already written about Cornelius’ session.  I loved the #DoTheWork hashtag and thought about how that would be part of the focus.  I deliberately chose the portions of the session that dealt with teachers doing the work, how teachers could do the work, and what the results would be from one skill lesson to share. But then I also wondered about some of those quotes from Cornelius and how to include those as “think abouts” for the reader.  With the advance thinking/planning time, the post was quickly written, revised, edited, previewed and tagged. My biggest issue  was in trying to come up with a one or two word descriptor in the title for this session . . . it was a struggle!

slice of life 2016

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; posts are DAILY!

 

 

#SOL15: Celebrating the Little Things


I’m a newbie.

Still figuring this out . . .

This “grandma” thing . . .

It’s the little things,

With the so many possibilities!

grandson

Our list of recent celebrations:

5 months old

rolling over independently

reading (and eating books)

Mama’s red hair

Daddy’s dimple

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!

celebrate

How and what do we celebrate in our classrooms?

Our favorite authors?

Reading a new book? 

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?

slice

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. 

#TCRWP: Summary and Day 5 Writing Institute 2015


summary

For a lovely recap of the June 2015 TCRWP Writing Institute, please read Tara Smith’s post here because she explains why the images and tweets matter.  That intentionality grounded in the question “WHY?” has been a theme reiterated through all the sections, closing workshops and keynotes this week at Teachers College.  In other words, if you don’t know “why” you are doing this or “why” you are asking the students to do “x” in workshop, you may need to consider the need for additional reading and / or writing on your own part.

Another source of information about the writing institute is always to follow @TCRWP and #TCRWP.  You can review the thread for additional charts, photos, and tweets that share out learning from all the masters at TCRWP.

In Summary:

WHAT a week!

We began the week with wise words from Lucy Calkins at Riverside Church and we ended with a celebration that included both wisdom and humor from Sarah Weeks, powerful reading of personal writing from our peers, and closing comments again from Lucy Calkins.  As educators, we must continue to be the voice for and of our students.  We must also be the readers and writers that we expect our students to be.  We must also be the public vision for literacy.

It will NOT be easy.

But when has life or teaching been about taking the “easy” route?

08 May 2001 --- Exploding head --- Image by © John Lund/CORBIS

08 May 2001 — Exploding head — Image by © John Lund/CORBIS

 Day 5

Celena Larkey – Toolkit for Narrative Writing K-2

Possible statements for a checklist for Fairy Tales:

  • I tried to bring my character to life by using names, details, talking, actions, and inner thinking.
  • I used show not tell to add details.
  • I gave my character a quest or adventure.
  • i gave my character a problem to solve or overcome.
  • i used elements of magic in my story.
  • I chose strong words that would help the reader picture my sotry.
  • I have elements of three in my story.

And then we worked with Exemplar Texts.  We created our own for our toolkit and we talked about the perameters of student Exemplar texts that may not be error-free but would also be great additions to our toolkit.

Kindergarten:   3-4 page story with 3-4 lines of print on each page.

First Grade:      5-6 page story with 8-10 lines of print on each page.

Second Grade: 5-6 page story with 10-12 lines of print on each page.

Which takes me full circle back to questions from Monday:

Are our students writing enough?  What does the daily writing volume look like?

Shana FrazinUsing the Best, New Children’s Literature as Mentor Texts:  Support Sky High Writing (3-8)

I continue to go back to this picture.

architecture of a small group

Many folks are adept at small group work and already understand the connection, teach, coach, and link process.  But if one returns to the title, the word “ARCHITECTURE” is a deliberate choice.  We, in Iowa, love it as we are most known, movie-wise, for “Build it and they will come” in reference to “Field of Dreams”.  But architecture conveys that deliberate, planned work that sustains and even lifts up students so they can do the neccessary work.  I love that this framework does not say the number of minutes that should be spent; yet I fear the number of minutes spent in group work is not the best use of time for students.

Any ten minutes of group work could be ruled productive if students leave writing or better yet, have even already begun the writing demonstrated in the group work.  Group work is not all about the teacher talking during the entire session either.  Group work is not about the scheculed 30 minutes time on the lesson plan.

Why does it matter?

The time that a teacher uses for “talking” takes away from student writing time.

The time that a teacher uses for “management” takes aways from student writing time.

The time that a teacher does not use for “writing” takes away from student writing time.

Small group time could be a waste of time if it does not lead to additional writing volume by the students.

Students will not achieve “sky-high” writing without writing TONS!

I believe that “writerly” teachers know and understand this.  I believe that “writerly’ teachers need to continue to model the many iterations that could show how group work is a short, focused work time for students!

After a week of narrative K-2 toolkits and 3-8 Mentor Texts for “Sky-High” Writing, what are your big Ahas?  And your continuing questions?

#TCRWP: Sunday Learning in NYC


What did I learn on Sunday in New York City?

Retrieved from wikipedia

Retrieved from wikipedia

Who Knew?  This is a map that lists the neighborhoods in Manhattan (sorry, Brooklyn friends).  They are literally also divided into “uptown”, “midtown”, and “downtown”, as well as “east side” and “west side”.

Not this “farm girl” from Iowa!

What sparked this interest in the “make-up” of Manhattan?

The Tenement Museum

“We tell the stories of 97 Orchard Street. Built on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1863, this tenement apartment building was home to nearly 7000 working class immigrants.”

Do check out the linked museum title above because the “Education” tab includes lesson plans and primary sources that history aficionados will love.  The whole premise of learning about the “lives” of these families from the historical documents of the times as well as the personal stories is spellbinding!  Goosebumps!

The “sweatshop” tour was our goal and Janeen was an amazing tour guide.  She enabled us to time travel back to the 1890s to imagine what life what like in a 3 room 352 square foot apartment occupied by the Levine family – no running water, no electricity, privies in the back yard, . . .

When I hear the word “sweatshop” this is an example of the image that comes to my mind.

Sweatshop-1890

Sweatshop – 1890 from wikipedia

But the original sweatshops, before electricity and the “factory” model, existed in the tenement apartments where individuals would run their own business, hire workers, and work incredibly long hours in their own living quarters.  Here is a photo of a postcard purchased at the museum (no pictures allowed on the tour) of an example of a dress made in this apartment rented by the Rogarshevky family.

dress

Sewing the dress pictured above (sold for $15 retail) netted this business $0.25.  How many dresses would they need to complete during their six-day work week to make $10.00?  The virtual tour is linked here so you can see and hear this information yourself.

What do you know about the history of immigrants in your own family?  

Where did they come from?

Where did they live and work once they arrived in the US?

How did they have to adapt in order to survive?

What is the role of “oral histories”?

We ended our day at Isabella’s with a different bit of learning.  Fellow slicers, TWT bloggers, #tcrwp attendees gathered for fun and fellowship.

isabella

Vicki Vinton, Sandy Brumbaum, Julianne Harmatz, Allison Jackson, and Tara Smith and myself.  What a great beginning to our “TCRWP” learning week!

TCRWP Writing Institute begins today!

Where and what will you be learning this week?

#SOL15: March Challenge 12 – “Currently” in the Classroom


The Beginning

Day 10 (or Tuesday’s) post was “Currently” based on Beverley Baird’s post here from Stacey’s call for slices. That conversation continued from my readers and these two pieces stuck with me.

currently convo

The Plan

So I headed off to a 5th grade classroom to borrow some students because I was thinking of the “strong verbs” and “present tense” for a writing mini-lesson.

I began with a copy of my version of “Currently” as I read it and then just highlighted the first word of every line.  Students then worked on their own thinking / interpretation of those first words to answer “What is the pattern? What drives each line?  Why do you think it was written this way?”

my teaching currently

Students then tested their thinking / hypothesis against a part of Bev’s “Currently” to see if it was true in a second situation.

bev currently

So then based on a model, a bit of inductive work by the students, a second check against a model, here’s what the students were asked to do.

“Your task:   Write your own version of “Currently”

Write 10 statements

Begin each statement with a verb

Read it to a partner

Revise with option to change one verb to a really “strong verb”

Gallery walk to view “Currently” from everyone

Collect 16 verbs from your peers (no more than 2 from any one person – be selective)

Remember that you will always have your 10!”

The Results

Here were a few words that I collected from the gallery walk.

currently chart

All students completed “Currently” writing

Many students want to consider “revising their own ‘Currently’” (How often do multiple students ask for time to revise?)

All students have a list of 16 verbs they chose – to pull out and use in other work

(No student copied all my verbs – original ones were used on every page)

Have you used “Currently” with students?

What’s your plan?  

What words are you expecting?

Slice of Life

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work

Focus: Informational Mentor Texts


Mystery_clip_art

What are informational texts?

The Common Core State Standards include the following in their definition of informational texts:

biographies and autobiographies; “books about history, social studies, science, and the arts”; “technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps”; and “digital sources on a range of topics” (p. 31).

That’s a broad range so what does that really mean? Sources that can inform your work include:

Research and Policy:  Informational Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway? by Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer

6 Reasons to Use Informational Text in the Primary Grades – Scholastic, Nell Duke

The Case for Informational Text – Educational Leadership, Nell Duke

Where can I find lists of Mentor Texts?

Award winning lists include:

Robert F. Sibert Medal and Honor Books

Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12

Notable Social Studies Trade Books For Young People

Mentor Texts to Support the Writers’ Workshop (Literature and Informational Texts)

This list supports writers’ workshop.  Others are readily available on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.

What about professional books to help me with Mentor Texts and Informational Writing?

There are many books that you can easily access.  Some of my favorite “go to” books are here. nonfiction mentor texts the writing thiefWrite Like This mentor author mentor textsFinding the Heart of Nonfiction

Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing through Children’s Literature K-8 by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capeli (website)

The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham (Chapter 3)

Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (Chapters 3 and 5)

Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher

Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Essential Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard

and many grade level texts in the separate Units of Study of Writing by Lucy Calkins and friends at TCRWP.

What do I do with the books that I am considering as mentor texts?

Your number one task is to Read informational texts that you also like.  And then your second task is to  read these books from the lens of a writer.  Identify techniques that the author uses very successfully.  Third, talk with other teachers about the techniques and goals! To get started consider these helpful blog posts: A brilliantly written blog post on the use of a mentor text during a co-teaching instruction session by Melanie Meehan can be found in this post “Slice of Life Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text” on the Two Reflective Teachers blog. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris list “Our Top Eleven Nonfiction Books for Teaching . . . Everything!” here! Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers also have a post titled “Two Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts”. Tara Smith writes routinely about texts.  “Mentor Texts” is a recent one. Two Writing Teachers:   mentor text archive (You can also search any of the above blogs for additional posts about Mentor Texts!) And three from my blog archives: Reading and Writing Instruction – Paired Mentor Texts #TCRWP Day 3:  Information Mentor Texts (based on Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing  – and Ways to Use Them with Power”) #SOL14:  Writing Techniques and Goals

This was a Topic Focus:  Informational Texts; Not a Compendium of all available resources . . .  Do you have a better idea of the “types of writing” included in the informational category? Did you find some new ideas?  Or revisit some old ideas with a new purpose in mind?

Top Ten Quotes I have used from #NCTE14!


I can’t really believe that I’ve been back from #NCTE14 for two WHOLE weeks!  Wow!  Turkey Day and back to work with a vengeance.  What to do before the holidays hit?

I found some time to work on another view of my first time attendance at NCTE.   It involved a new use of Zoom.  Still in draft/learning mode, but I wanted to share what this could look like!

So what have I used? My Top 10 Quotes in the order of frequency of use! This video should give you an idea about the topics I have been working on / using during the last two weeks! (It was also in response to a challenge from @davestuartjr – another virtual and now face to face friend!)

 

What are you doing differently since #NCTE14?  

How are you sharing your learning?

 

 

 

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