My final post about #ILA15. A clever way to make the first International Literacy Association Conference last – start blogging before I arrive . . .with eager anticipation and continue blogging after I return home . . .reluctant to “end” the experience (This is my 9th post about ILA!).
Hmm. . . just like commencement.
Definition 1: a beginning? or
2: a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are conferred on graduating students?
It all depends upon your perspective or point of view.
If you attended #ILA15, you have probably also returned home by now. You have more bags of “stuff” than when you left. Probably also a new book or two to read. You check the calendar. Time is fleeting. Depending on your location, the end of summer could be near.
You decide . . .
How will you put your learning to use?
Will I be able to “name” your learning by your actions?
1. Do your students have voice and choice . . . and are they both inspired and empowered every day to be lifelong learners (the will and the skill)?
2. Do you look into the eyes of students, listen to their voices, and watch their actions (and not just on standardized tests) in your quest to find out what they know and what they need next?
3. Do you model what you “preach” as in, do you REALLY lead a readerly and writerly life? Do you communicate how reading and writing have transformed your own personal life with evidence of its authenticity?
4. Do you truly provide the necessary supports so that ALL children in your care THRIVE every day at school? (No inadvertent shame?)
5. Do you still have a list of things you MUST learn YET this summer in order to be the best possible teacher, coach or leader next year? Have you asked anyone for help so that you don’t have to take your learning journey alone?
If you answered “YES” to all five of those questions, then you can choose one fun book and then one professional book to alternately read until your TBR (To Be Read) stack is depleted.
If you answered “YES” to four out of five of those questions, then you need to prioritize your learnings YET for this summer and get busy “learning” about 30 hours each week.
If you were in neither of the two categories above, you need to think seriously about Why you teach? Who you serve? and Your beliefs about education? Only the brave at heart can truly teach ALL students. It’s not an EASY job. Continue at your own risk because the students do not get “Do overs”! Their lives are forever in YOUR hands!
Choose your adventure! It’s all up to YOU!
Which path are you on?
How will you know if your students are successful?
How will you know if you are successful?
What’s the next step on your learning journey?
(Didn’t attend ILA? Would you like a quick summary? Here’s the ILA view!)
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.
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?
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 Frazin – Using the Best, New Children’s Literature as Mentor Texts: Support Sky High Writing (3-8)
I continue to go back to this picture.
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?
How many notebooks can a person have? Readers notebook . . . writers notebook . . . conferring notebook . . . toolkit? The name is not the most important thing . . . but in the interest of full disclosure, this blog is about the “toolkit” that the teacher would consider using during writing conferences with students OR in small group instruction.
If you want to learn more about toolkits, check out Anna’s post this week – “A Writing Teacher’s Summer Project Building a Teaching Toolkit” or Stacey’s “A Master’s Writing Notebook in Evernote” for some great ideas about “Why?” and “Should I plan to use tech?”
I began a teacher’s toolkit last year and have many of my favorite charts from #tcrwp and #chartchums drawn on the pages. It has four sections: the writing process, argument/opinion, informational/explanatory, and narrative. The toolkit garnered some “oohs and aahs” from teachers and was a great first draft but it is now ready for an upgrade. I’m mulling over my process (paper as in artist sketchbook or 3-ring binder or to bravely and boldly go electronic) as well as purpose (demonstrations for teachers in PD as well as classrooms) and I am at a crossroads.
And then I attended Katie Clements’ (@clemenkat) session at #tcrwp entitled, “Don’t Teach Empty Handed: Toolkits that Can Help You Teach Explicitly, to Scaffold, and To Keep Track” and I knew that I would have even more questions before I could begin to assemble my toolkit.
Katie said . . . “we can create a writing toolkit to take into our classrooms that has one replicable process that will LIVE in our writing.” She quoted Brian Cambourne and how we need to make sure that learning from our demonstrations sticks. That means that we need to check for high levels of engagement. We often demonstrate writing as well as revision. But sometimes the demonstrations seem to live only in the mini-lesson of our workshop. Many writers would benefit from demonstrations on their own level so the purpose of a toolkit is to help students and provide additional demonstrations at their level. (Clements, 06.24.14, Teachers College Writing Instittute)
So how do we do this? Here was the process that Katie demonstrated.
Four Steps to Creating a Writing Toolkit
Step 1: Study Student Writing and Determine Predictable Needs
Step 2 Create a Demonstration Text by Mirroring Student Writing
Step 3: Name the strategy that will move the writer and design the page
Step 4: Use the toolkit to teach
Three predictable needs for narrative writing are:
- Draft is swamped with dialogue
- No tension (nothing changes between events)
- Telling instead of showing (reporting)
Where would this list of predictable needs come from? Conversation with your teaching peers, reviewing your conferencing data, and considering the needs of your students in previous years. And then the key is to develop the resources in your toolkit for these predictable needs. Consider setting up multiple demonstrations at different levels so that you have the just right example to move the student forward with the appropriate amount of scaffolding!
So what do you do with those predictable problems? Here are examples of Katie’s toolkit pages.
This page includes demonstration text, chart, and place to practice strategies to move from repetitious ping – pong dialogue!
Paragraphing – always someone who needs a bit more practice.
Again, demonstration text, chart, and paper for immediate repeated practice,
Are you considering a toolkit for teaching writing? How are you planning to use it?
(PS. Information writing predictable patterns were included in Monday’s post here. )
August 8, 2014 – A great new blog about teacher toolkits by Ericka Perry is available here. Check it out!
How are YOUR students doing in writing? How do you know?
A few years ago the National Writing Project commissioned a public opinion survey entitled “The 2007 Survey on Teaching Writing.” The results are reported here and one quote is also included directly below.
“Americans believe that good writing skills are more important than ever, but they fear that our schools and our children are falling behind. Two-thirds of the public would like to see more resources invested in helping teachers teach writing. And 74 percent think writing should be taught in all subjects and at all grade levels.”
The good news is that the Common Core State Standards do include writing standards that cover ALL subjects and ALL grade levels. Those College and Career Ready Writing Anchor standards are:
Text Types and Purposes
- CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
- CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
Production and Distribution of Writing
- CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
- CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
- CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
- CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
- CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
- CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Range of Writing
- CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Last year #TeacherWeek reported that “80% of the U.S. population surveyed think that writing well is more important than 20 yrs ago; 75% think schools should put more emphasis on writing.” Both of these percentages continue to climb steadily upward.
Do you know the answers to these questions?
- Are ALL teachers teaching writing in their content areas?
- Do teachers use the same common language when teaching writing?
- Do students know what the writing learning targets are?
- Do parents and community members know what the student writing learning targets are?
- Are the same rubrics used across multiple content areas and multiple grades?
- Do students write for a variety of purposes, across content areas, throughout the day?
- Are students making progress in meeting the writing anchor standards?
Who have you shared those answers with?
What would your community say about the progress that the students in your school are making in writing? How would they know?