Tag Archives: Teachers College

From Riverside to Riverside . . . the learning continues


Until four years ago, this was what I expected to see and hear IF and WHEN I visited New York.

Did you check it out?

That’s what I knew about New York!

My world has shifted on its axis in the last five years and I now trust my good friends to keep me grounded.

Dayna Wells  (@daywells) tweeted this out):

Screenshot 2015-10-16 15.25.54

Dayna’s hometown is about 10-15 miles from our family farm.  To me, the connections are obvious.  My family roots are in the town of Riverside, Iowa.  In fact, I feel that I can positively say that my family, the Schnoebelens, founded the town of Riverside, which is now infamous as the home of “Star Trek”.  St. Mary’s in  Riverside, is a majestic Catholic Church.

Saint_Mary's_Church_and_Rectory_-_Riverside,_Iowa

You can read about the church and the founding families here. In our family, one claim to fame is that all of my mom’s family attended the school at St. Mary’s.  My grandmother was a teacher in a one-room country school.   All ten of her children attended St. Mary’s School! That fact is celebrated in the pictures on the walls of the church hall. We have many fond memories of our local parish church, the school and the cemetary at St. Vincent’s  whch is the resting place for many, many, many family members. A small town church for a small town Iowa girl!

And tomorrow is the 7th time that my learning day (or week in the case of summer institutes) will begin at Riverside Church in NYC.  A majestic setting for a FREE day of learning.  There is no cost for participating in the learning at #SaturdayReunions at Teachers College.

Riverside_Church_001

An eye-opening, mind-blowing learning extravaganza . . .  

Slow Learner, Fran?

There are folks who have attended for more than 25 years!

Before the end of the day, my eyeballs will be rolled back up into my brain – trying to absorb just one more ounce of inspiration, passion and true belief that ALL OUR kids can read and write.  AND read and write at high levels!  AND that all our kids deserve the BEST teachers of readers and writers – THOSE that read and write themselves.

The agenda is seven pages long. Difficult choices for attendees as all sessions will be led by those who have been immersed in the reading and writing units of study by Lucy Calkins and the amazing Teachers College Staff Developers.

How and when do you follow your passions?

What are you learning?

How will we know?

(Thanks for the inspiration, Dayna!)

#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?

#SOL15 March Challenge Day 30 – What do you believe?


Kylene Beers

Literacy.Education.Kids.Teachers.Schools.Hope.

If you are not familiar with Kylene please go to her own blog and read “About” her!

Kylene and Bob Probst are universally known for their 6 signposts for fiction from Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading. Their new book with nonfiction signposts will be out in October and those signposts are listed here.

signposts

As a speaker, Kylene is witty, charming, and down to earth.  Her closing at the Teachers College paralleled her beliefs posted on her blog in March here.  Kylene urged the thousands of teachers packed into the Nave at Riverside Church to examine their own belief systems.

Specifically:

“What do you believe?”

How would we know?

What do you stand for?

You need to have these conversations!

That question, coupled with this statement have been swirling in my brain for the last day and a half, and quite literally will not let go:

Literacy is the 21st century skill.

Literacy

not technology.

Literacy

Not reading separated out.

Literacy

Not writing separated out.

Literacy

because of its role in power and privilege.

Literacy

because of its role in history.

Literacy

because of its role in history for minorities.

Literacy

because of its role in history for women.

Literacy

because of its role in history for the poor and downtrodden.

What are your beliefs?

How do we know?

slice

Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

Slice of Life: TCRWP Bound


ImageTuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

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The last three months have seemed like a year.  Why?  I was waiting to hear about the status of my application for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s June Writing Institute and July Reading Institute.

It seemed like “forever” since I saw the first tweet that said “…accepted!”  Multiple friends received news of their status.  My reading application status was “wait list” so I tried to be patient and believe that “no news is good news!”  Finally I received notice that I was accepted for the Writing Institute. And last week my reading application was accepted!  Two weeks at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project!  Woohoo!

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After my application was accepted I realized the truth of this statement.  Institute paid.  Housing paid.  Flight booked.  Checking time frames. . . Planning to maximize time and learning opportunities.

 

Why is this blog worthy?

Simply,

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My two weeks at Teachers College last summer for the Reading and Writing Institutes was one of the most fabulous learning experiences of my life!  With the new writing Units of Study, my large group sessions every day were led by Lucy Calkins.  She can build confidence and inspire all teachers to “do more” to increase the reading and writing of students.  Anything and everything is possible with Lucy’s guidance!

 

And the many rock stars at #TCRWP. .  .  My daily choices included Mary Ehrenworth, Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts.  It was so fun to “know” many of the staff and presenters because of their “Twitter presence” and so easy to thank them for their accessibility!  Unbelievable learning.  And yet, I have to confess, I was ready to go home last year when the first night’s assignment was to write a narrative. I spent hours (some whining and complaining) writing, drafting, rewriting, drafting.  It was not pretty and basically fit the third grade rubric according to the #UoS rubric.  Frustrating, yes; empathy for students, YES!

I am so ready to learn more. Do more.  And I have been working on developing my own writing muscles this year – blogging, tweeting, and developing models.  June Writing Institute!  July Reading Institute!  Love Learning!

My NYC agenda contains:

June Writing

Advanced AM Section:  Reports, Nonfiction Books, Journals, Feature Articles: Information Writing and ELA Across the Day (3-8) Mary Ehrenworth

Advanced PM Section:  Seeing Patterns in Student Work, Then Teaching Small Groups (and More) to Build New Habits and Skills (3-8) Emily Smith

 

July Reading

Advanced AM Section:  Accelerating Students’ Progress Along Levels of Text Difficulty: Guided Reading, Assessment Based Teaching, and Scaffolds for Complex Texts (3-8) Brooke Geller

Advanced PM Section:  Social Studies Centers Can Lift the Level of Content Knowledge and Reading Instruction (3-8) Kathleen Tolan

 

 How will you continue to learn about reading and writing this summer?

Here are two writing opportunities for you to consider:

 Summer Writing for You, The Teacher (Two Writing Teachers blog post by Betsy Hubbard)

#TeachersWrite (Kate Messner)

 

Slice of Life 24: Maximizing Instructional Time


(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:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna 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.

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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.”

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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!

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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!

 

How do you use TALK after reading to improve comprehension?  How do you use small groups across the day?

Slice of Life 22: Saturday


(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:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

It’s Saturday.  Today is also the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Saturday Spring Reunion. (link to the brochure)

That means that today I will be following the #tcrwp Twitter Stream closely and keynotes are underway by rockstars Diane Ravitch, Colleen Cruz and Shanna Schwarz.

The Setting:  FREE workshops by fabulous #tcrwp Staff Developers

Who:  Teachers and Administrators spending their time on a Saturday to learn and to celebrate learning about literacy

Agenda (link to the day’s agenda)

Learning via twitter is truly the next best thing to being in NYC at Columbia University’s Teachers College. All of the presentations will help teachers and administrators deepen their understanding of student responses to literacy instruction!

Summarizing Results

Earlier this week, I used a Google Form to collect reader data about favorites in the Hunger Games book series and in the movies to date.  Here are the results.

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Favorite Book

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Favorite Movie

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What will you read or write this weekend for your own personal learning?

Is Our Writing Improving?


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.

writing assessment

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.

K end of unit one 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!

What questions do you have?  What do you need in order to get started?

Information about the K-5 Units of Study

In Love with “Close Reading”


Our Twitter chat celebrating Falling in Love with Close Reading on November 11, 2013 was fabulous, and I must thank co-moderators Allison Jackson and Laura Komos (@azajacks @laurakomos) for their question development, organization, tweeting in advance, and storifying the chat afterwords.  Of course, Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts (@ichrislehman  @teachkate) brought a crowd to the chat with their participation.  My sincerest thanks to ALL participants and readers because deep understanding is necessary in order to ensure that ALL of our students can read, do read and YES, love to read!

The last few months have been a personal quest for knowledge about close reading.  I read Tim Shanahan’s blog regularly (although I don’t always agree) and I began with his model for close reading with his “three step process” outlined here. However, I felt this process was stiff, clunky, and was confusing to students who began to say, “Do we really have to read this three times?  Just give me all the questions now!”

I had to admit that process was not working in my own reading.  Sometimes two reads were sufficient while at other times, it seemed like 10 reads was just beginning to scrape the surface for the “right meaning.”

I loved Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s view of close reading in  Text Complexity, Raising Rigor in Reading when they shared that close reading should come in texts of varying lengths and was not a daily diet requirement as referenced here.  And then the signposts from Notice and Note (Kylene Beers and Bob Probst) were next to receive my scrutiny as a book chat and facebook page sprang up!  The language of the signposts made so much sense to students and teachers across the country, and one more entry point into “close reading” was revealed!

In June/July 2013, I attended both the Writing Institute and the Reading Institute at Teachers College in New York City. I learned what I had feared – that I really had not yet understood the impact and the grade level standards for the Common Core State Standards (and, yes, I was a “hick from the sticks”).  The demonstrations at #tcrwp convinced me that I had not yet begun to grasp the possibilities for depth and scope in “close reading.”  Each demonstration was different as the definition of text broadened.  Mary Ehrenworth  brilliantly provided a “mini-PD format” for Close Reading, for use in our own buildings, that included a poem and two song videos.  Kate Roberts passionately used video and text to illustrate the necessity of close reading for point of view in nonfiction text and I was captivated.  When the pending publication of Falling in Love with Close Reading was announced at the June Writing Institute, I immediately pre-ordered it.

And then September arrived and Chris and Kate began the Close Reading Blog-a-thon where Chris unveiled this definition which again stretched my understanding:

“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.”   Sept. 2, 2013

My learning journey continued as I read brilliant posts that added to the collective blog-a-thon and my understanding and I did sigh in relief a couple of times when I discovered that I was not “way off base” in my thinking.  What was so monumental?  That one word – “independently” was a showstopper!  Up until that point, I had wrestled with how to move to deeper understanding with wisdom from Vicki Vinton and my mates at #WRRDchat (What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton).  The simplicity of “Know / Wonder” charts and looking for patterns has stayed with me as I work with students and teachers to build independence in understanding what readers and writers really do.

And then the book arrived.  From Donalyn Miller’s first words about The Velveteen Rabbit in the Foreword to the closing pages of the Resources, this book is dedicated to “falling in love.” It is not just about “reading at school” but is truly a ritual for reading life.

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I immediately began to tweet out some of my favorite quotes as I quickly discovered that the three part ritual described by Kate in June was at the heart of the entire book.  Close Reading is not about interrogating students with text dependent questions although it is about the “Five Corners of Text.”  That ritual is simply and elegantly:

      1. Read through lenses
      2. Use lenses to find patterns
      3. Use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text

In love with the book, twitter conversations began.  @laurakomos proposed a chat and we were asking the authors to set a date to chat with their readers. Documents were created and blog posts announced the chat.

Our Twitter Chat was a fun hour + with laughs (jinxed comments), gnashing of teeth (at some policies) and a whole lot of love, passion, respect and celebration of the close reading rituals that Chris and Kate propose in Falling in Love with Close Reading – Lessons for Analyzing Texts –  and Life.  You can check out the archive here.

Nurturing this love of close reading is going to be important if it really is going to be built on student independence.  Teachers will need to consider and balance:  types of texts read by the teacher, types of texts read by the students, complexity of student thinking, complexity of texts students are reading independently, balancing genres, balancing levels of challenge and length of texts.  Careful thought and planning will be required in order to meet this goal from the book:

“Equally, move freely between analyzing texts, media and life.”  (p. 124)  The dream is for student independence and where you lead (especially by modeling), the students will follow for the rest of their lives!

Thanks, Chris and Kate, for such powerful learning and for sharing your ritual with your readers so students may grow in independence as they close read their minutes, hours, days, and lives!

How are you close reading your life?  
How are you nurturing “independence” in student close reading?  
How will you know that students are independently close reading their lives?  
Let’s continue the conversation!

Planning to Meet CCSS Grade Level Literacy Standards


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Do any of those questions sound familiar?

I spent this week with some fabulous teachers working on the Iowa Core Writing Standards.  Did we work on all of them?  No!  Did we talk about all of them?  Not by number!  But we did spend a lot of time talking about what good writing should look like, how writing will be assessed in the future, and the whole reciprocal nature of reading and writing.

So what’s my best advice for planning those “first writing lessons for the new year?”

Here is my thinking based on what I learned at Teachers College Reading and Writing Institutes this summer:

  1. At least 50 % of reading workshop time (or more) has to be spent on students reading books of their choice every day (CCR Anchor Reading 1 and 10).
  2. At least 50 % of writing workshop time (or more) has to be spent on students writing every day. (That writing has to be aligned to one of the first three CCR Anchor Writing Standards, Argument, Explanatory, or Narrative and 10).

(To summarize 1 and 2 above, every day the student will be working on a minimum of 2 reading and 2 writing anchor standards.)

If I have planned my instructional sequences well, I will have also managed to “bundle in” some Speaking and Listening and Language Anchor Standards or some Foundational grades K-5 standards to support the gradual release of responsibility.

How will I decide which ones go together?  One of my new tools is this graphic, A Periodic Table of the Common Core Standards,  from Burkins and Yaris.  During planning, this table will remind me of the wide range of standards available and I will choose the standards that best meet the needs of my students as I also consider what I have learned about “letting the students guide my instruction” from Vicki Vinton and our #wrrdchat as we studied the book, What Readers Really Do.

How will I know if I have been successful?

  • I will check the amount of time students spend reading and writing every day and shorten the “teacher talk” time to ensure that students are getting as much time possible for reading and writing.
  • I will listen to students in reading and writing conferences to hear what they are saying about reading and writing.
  • I will talk to students about my own reading and writing histories.
  • I will model reading and writing with and for my students.
  • And I will ask my Twitter mates for help, encouragement and assistance when things run amuck as they are prone to do!

(Dr. Shanahan has already said that “there are no power standards in ELA” here so that is a non-issue.)  And yes, you do have to teach all the standards!

How will you know that you are meeting the CCSS Grade Level Literacy Standards?  What is your plan for this school year?

Readers’ Notebooks: Assessing, Goal-Setting, and Planning Instruction


What are the most effective uses of Readers’ Notebooks?  

One of my pleasurable tasks this school year will be to work with a veteran group of teachers who will be  implementing the new Units of Study in Writing.  A secondary goal with that group will be to explore the use of Readers’ Notebooks as a tool that can:

  1. Assess the students’ ever-increasing levels  of comprehension;
  2. Assist in student and teacher goal setting during individual reading conferences; and
  3. Provide structure for planning instruction.

I am excited about the possibilities for Readers’ Notebooks that I am hearing this week at the  Teachers College Reading Institute, Columbia University, New York City(#tcrwp).  (You all definitely should plan to attend next year!)  This post contains several possibilities that I am considering.  Please consider whether these match or extend your current thinking!

Setting the context:

In Readers’ Workshop, students will be reading for at least 30 minutes each day out of the ideal 60 minute block.  There will also be an expectation that students will write for approximately 5 minutes (this is not writing workshop and does not replace that designated writing time) in order to show their level of understanding of the text that was read. This opportunity for writing will allow the students to develop their own thinking as well as provide evidence of application or transfer of a skill taught during a whole group mini-lesson.

1. How can teachers use Readers’ Notebooks as a Performance Assessment for Comprehension?

Example – Character Development in Book Being Read:

Just a quick reminder that I am making an assumption here that previous literacy work has included a Read Aloud where the teacher modeled some thinking about the character development in a text,  a mini-lesson with explicit instruction in character development (or multiple mini-lessons depending on the grade level), and now conferencing and goal-setting with an individual student.

Expectations:

All students are jotting down evidence from the texts they are reading about character development on post-its in their reading notebooks.  They have practiced jotting multiple times in whole and small group settings.  The teacher may have already pulled the post-its and placed them into categories along a continuum of expected features for character development to create a rubric (or the teacher may be using information from #tcrwp as I am).

The teacher has then developed a chart for the classroom using examples from student post-its to fill in the third column in the chart below that uses student friendly language/phrasing.  Students may also have a smaller version of this checklist  (the same chart below minus the example column) in their notebook that they can refer to while jotting notes.

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2. How can Readers’ Notebooks assist in student and teacher goal setting during individual reading conferences?

A Quick Peek into a Reading Conference in Progress:

For this example, I am having a conference with Joey (a fictitious student). I will look at the post-its on character development in Joey’s notebook during our reading conference.  Joey will explain what “star rating” he believes his post-it is and “WHY” he believes so.  We will use the examples on the chart to talk about the accuracy of  Joey’s rating.  Joey puts  the corresponding number of stars on his notebook entry so he can literally “see” the rating. Then Joey and I set a goal.

How does this happen?   If Joey’s post-it reflected a “1 star,” I will use a teaching point and teach Joey (using the chart with example) what he needs to do in order to have a “2 star” response the next time (goal).  Similarly if Joey has a “3 star” response, I will use a teaching point and teach Joey what he needs to do in order to have a “4 star” response the next time (goal).  Joey now has a clear learning target and is much more likely to meet his goal because he knows his current status and what he has to do to move on the continuum.

Expected Results:

Joey knows what his target is and specifically what he needs to do to move up to gain another star.  He will be able to meet that goal because he has seen and heard what that goal looks like from peer examples, and Joey can also consult the chart hanging in the classroom.

3. How can Readers’ Notebooks provide structure for planning instruction?

After a round of conferences I, the teacher, will have class data, (see example below),  that I can use for small group instruction.  Note that alphabet letters in the third column are codes for individual students.  I could also decide to set up “partner groups” for accountable talk around character development by deliberately pairing two students with differing star levels in this skill area.

class status of rising stars character development

Performance Assessment:  Star ratings based on student jottings on post-its on a continuum for a comprehension skill;  character development is the skill in this blog post.

Student Self Assessment: Use of checklist to determine “star level” and explanation of “WHY” that rating

Goal Setting:  Use of checklist to determine the next step to meeting the goal of higher comprehension in this skill

Informing Instruction:  Class Status record allows teacher to see the current levels of understanding of all students in the class and make decisions about next steps in instruction.

College and Career Ready Anchor Standard RL.3

Is this new thinking for you?  Are you using Readers’ Notebooks in these ways?

Thanks, in advance, for your comments!

(Sources of information:   Reflection on large and small group sessions at July #TCRWP Reading Institute 2013 with Kathleen Tolan and Bianca Lavey  and closing session with Mary Ehrenworth.)

Part 2  What else can you do with Readers’ Notebooks?  Fostering Self-Assessment and Revising Post – Its

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