By Sunday the air is bittersweet. Farewells begin. Last conversations are passionate pleas to capture frantic final minutes. Choices are final. Options are few. Time races. No second chances to catch folks as flight departures begin before the sun is above the horizon.
And yet, gems . . .
“What is Authenticity?
Is it the same when viewed with a student lens?
How do we know?”
L. 30 Prioritizing Student Voice: Honoring Independence, Identity, and Advocacy as the Cornerstones of Learning
And from the #G2Great family:
- Samuel Fremin @The Sammer88
- Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson @kkht6912
- Susie Rolander @suzrolander
- Justin Dolcimascolo @jdolci
- Kara Pranikoff @pranikoff
Sam Fremin began with asking us to not constrain student’s creativity! He told us the story of having a two page limit to an assignment that meant he had to cut almost everything out of his original seven page response.
What is the purpose of a two page maximum assignment?
What is your response to a “page limit”?
Is that indicative of the teacher’s attention span?
Sam contrasted that with this year’s AP Lang course where they were to “Write about something important to us” as they compared and analyzed two essays. As a 15 year old, Sam, who likes The Onion wanted to write a satire about “Discrimination not really being that bad” and through multiple conversations with his teacher, worked out the details and “used a display of writing that I will never get to write again. I displayed my need to try that voice.” And the teacher, even though she wanted a tight rein on the expectations, did participate in a two-sided discussion that allowed Sam to write his satire!
And then Sam’s role (as a high school junior) was to continue to introduce each of the panel members. Such poise and great presence for a high school junior and one of the #BowTieBoys! (Sam blogs here.)
We also learned that advocacy for Native Americans is important because Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson shared a US map with reservations marked although only 22% of Native Americans live on reservations. Kathryn teaches at an Ojibwe school so she is very cognizant of appropriate language and respect for cultures. Awareness may be a great first step but Kathryn also encouraged us to be aware that work barely scratches the surface of working with folks who have different beliefs and values. How do Ojibwe students want to be named? When do we ask?
Susie Rolander shared that we need to let student input drive our work. This means we need to revise and renew our professional practice. (A plug for Coppola’s book – Renew!) It’s a Journey! But for students who are struggling there does need to be a Sense of Urgency! And that this meant as an interventionist, Susie wanted her students to be independent. “I don’t know what I would do without you!” from a student was not what she wanted so one big action in her productivity plan was to move to student goal-setting so the students themselves would know if they were meeting their goals. Their goals. Not teacher goals.
Justin had us begin by completing this statement: “I am _____”
I am a:
Am I real? Do my students know my many roles? Do other staff know our roles? Justin shared a “I am” board created in his school.
Justin’s parting challenge was to consider equity and how we build our identity every day of our school lives so that we are not just working on career education in high school. Instead of “What do you want to be?” in terms of a career, Justin said we need to shift to “What great problem do you want to solve?”
Kara Pranikoff, author of Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation, closed out the presentation with thoughts on how to use talk in the classroom to increase student engagement and agency. And also, “Deep thinking takes time, we’ll wait. Take your time.” Students set the pace. As an instructor at Bank Street College, Kara and Susie routinely invite their students to Twitter chats!
M. 24 Rekindling Our Teacher Hearts and Minds to Reclaim Our Sense of Agency and Purpose
(Ellin Oliver Keene, Vicki Vinton, Donna Santman)
What is the purpose of education? Which of the four statements matches your thinking?
What do you value?
” We overestimate children academically and underestimate them intellectually.” ~Lillian King
Shout out to Regie Routman:
Resources will often dictate practices. (from Read, Write, Lead)
“However, we NEED to begin with Beliefs first, then our Practices, and then choose Resources that align LAST!”
Beliefs and Practices – Donna Santman @dsantman
What made your current school a match for you?
When Trouble Starts:
What do you do?
What flexibility will be required of me here?
And how will I respond when trouble happens?
Our core beliefs about children;
Our core beliefs about ourselves.
We are humbled in the face of children;
We are humbled by our children.
There has been a huge language slide in our country.
How do we convert deficit language to asset language?
Check out the asset mapping resources on Ellin Keene’s website Mosaicliteracy.com
N.O8 Redefining Authenticity: Empowering Student Ownership
(Do you know their Twitter names? @acorgill @katiedicesare @ruth_ayres @coloreader)
I was expecting to be blown away by Ruth Ayres because I can’t stop talking about her new book just out, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. It’s an amazing personal heart-wrenching narrative about her children who struggled with life and then also a “how to” deal with teaching writing. And yet all three of the other panel members complemented that presentation.
Skills and dispositions for writing are the same for real work. We have to get the heart right. Students need to write. Yes, kids are afraid! Writing is where I can help kids see the different ways a story can go.
If we have authentic writing projects, teachers cannot make all these decisions. Students need some choice and voice. This is NOT a free-for-all! You don’t have to leave ALL open! But you must leave SOME open!
How do you ensure that students have an authentic voice?
How do you know that students REALLY believe that they have a voice and some choice?
What did you learn on Sunday at #NCTE17?
Not merely regurgitation
Not just analyzing
But moving on to . . . dare I risk it? . . . innovation?
By reassembling ideas
Through some thoughtful reflection
Should I attempt it?
If you read my found poem yesterday here, you know that I did not attend the 92nd Saturday Reunion sponsored by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. But I did follow along in the TwitterVerse and even collected my re-tweets here in storify. There are about 150 Tweets there if you want to see some of the quotes, ideas, and Tweets that caught my attention.
In the interest of accuracy, this is NOT my first reporting on LEARNING when I was NOT at the conference.
My Previous Learning Via Twitter instead of In Real Life
- May 2016 – New England Reading Association (#NERA2016) in Portland, Maine
- April 2015 – #TCRWP in Paris and #NCTE and Poetry
- and that doesn’t even include Ed Collaborative Gatherings here and here
- And yes, I had a Tweet Deck column following the PAWLP Spring Day today #PAWLPARTS17
Teachers need to have many layers of skills and knowledge. They need to be EXPERTS with their content skills and strategies (Knowledge Base – the what), pedagogy (how to teach in an interesting and engaging way), design (why and how certain aspects of environment, technology, and instruction overlap) and in student development (to understand the faces/bodies in front of them each day). Which of those gets precedence on any given day?
As a teacher, it’s important for you to know and understand the skills, strategies of the standards and curricula as well as your goals for your grade level so the learning targets are crystal clear. Communication skills must be honed so that students clearly understand the purposes of today’s work and the connections that build every day to meet those end goals. However all of these are totally influenced by teacher beliefs and expectations. The teacher has to believe that ALL students can learn and learn at high levels. And what is it that they must learn?
Learning and school CANNOT be about preparation for the next grade. Grade levels assigned by century old arbitrary calendar years are not working for students. The goal in every classroom must be to prepare the students to be productive and independent citizens of the world. So that means no more points taken off for papers turned in a day late (where does that REALLY happen in the real world?), and that students need more VOICE and CHOICE in the work that is done in classrooms on a regular basis. And they also need to be risk takers, entrepreneurs, brave, empathetic, and . . .
“Wow, Fran, I was at #TCRWP and I didn’t hear any of that?”
My Take Aways from #TCRWP by Twitter:
- What do you value? How do we know? Set clear expectations for your students. Share your expectations for the students with them and then share what they can expect from the teacher. Here is one example from a reading teacher. Source: photo and tweet by Jane Losinger
Why does this matter?
This is NOT the same as My Job/Your Job. These statements share/show what you, the teacher value as a promise to the students. When I see these statements in your classroom or on your class website, I know how you will make decisions about time, resources, and even daily instruction. I can also make predictions about what I think your classroom will look like based on what you say you value! Bonus: This maters because of this Hattie result:
2. Be excited, passionate, enthusiastic EVERY minute of EVERY day!
Who knows when or which connection will work for a student? If it’s boring for you, it may also be boring for your students. You don’t have to be an entertainer and an expert at “song and dance routines”. But you do need to be reflective and consider your impact on your students. Ask yourself, “Would I REALLY want to be a student in this class?” Source: Keynote Address – Tweet by Mike Ochs
“Come to work every day like it’s your first day”—Drew Dudley
Why does this matter?
The first day of a new job is filled with excitement and wonder. Share that wonder ALL the time with your students! The students deserve your very best every minute. There really is no time in the schedule for “do overs” so make every minute count the first time. But also focus on how each student can be a future leader. Leaders are kind. Leaders are caring. Leaders are compassionate. Teach for long-term transfer. Know your class well so you can make wise, well-informed decisions that fuel your students’ passions and excitement.
3. Make the learning work visible and therefore attainable for students.
Make sure that you have a depth of knowledge about your content so that you truly understand what students need to do for the next increment of learning. That deep understanding is your own scaffold that you can later remove when students are successful. Tools that can help students reach for the sky and all those lofty expectations are critical. Source: Katie Clements tweet
“@ shares an awesome progression to help Grade 3 mystery readers lift the level of their prediction work.#tcrwp”
Why does this matter?
Students need to have clear learning targets in order to meet them. They can’t be secrets. They can’t be moving targets. Clear. Attainable. Clearly defined for self assessment because then students can figure out exactly how to improve their work in order to meet the criteria. Predictions seem like a fairly easy skill but they don’t occur in isolation and need a cycle of predicting, reading/watching/viewing, considering the degree to which the prediction was met, re-predicting (rinse and repeat) with those elements based on both explicit text references and implicit or inferred responses to the text! And to top it off a student needs to be predicting while collecting evidence to help grow other theories. Reading is COMPLICATED and does not happen one individual skill at a time!
And this bonus from Hattie:
4. Readers and Writers must be thinkers.
In your adult life are you really expected to be a “fact regurgitator”? Or are you expected to be a problem solver? A creative thinker? Source: Tweets from Mary Ehrenworth’s presentation.
“We are not looking for your first thinking, we are looking for your best thinking.”
Create reading notebook pages that open up thinking and develop thinking not tell what you already know.”
Why does this matter?
Thinking in life is not optional. The twenty first century is leaving the adults in the dust and we REALLY have no clue what jobs will be available for our kiddos when they graduate from school and move into the work force. We need to stop pretending that we have any real ideas and instead support students to make choices now. Students need a lot of practice in making decisions and being successful as well as making decisions and FAILING. That really is part of life. How we respond in the face of adversity is a true sign of our character. Let’s support students to be more cognizant of their own need to self-advocate for time, resources, and choices to increase their own learning NOW!
5. Circling back around to values – How are you going to put them into action?
What is your plan? Where will you start? What will you do? “Talk is cheap.” Time is precious! How do you make your actions match your “Professed Values”? Source: Mr. Minor tweeted by Julie Jee
Why does it matter?
Without specific actions, what will change? Keep it simple and doable. Don’t make it another form to be filled out and submitted to the accountability committee for leadership committee for change. Make it a focus for face to face conversations. Build a plan with someone else to increase your own accountability!
Ultimately . . .
I am ending with my thoughts after reading many of the quotes from Lucy Calkin’s closing. I’ve been there. Inspired. Mesmerized. Prepped for action. Ready to conquer the world. Ready to slay dragons after a day at a Saturday Reunion. And yet I can also imagine the tears shed for our beloved friend, Kathleen Tolan.
Something you believe in.
Work for change.
The Democracy in your classroom and in the world still needs your voice and the voice of your students who will inhabit this earth for many years to come!
Where will you begin?
How will we know you are using your gift of learning?
Innovation = My application of doing new things as a result of what I thought/believed I heard today in my #tcrwp Twitter Feed.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
So what does the NYC skyline mean to me?
It’s home to the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. And for two weeks each of the last three summers, it has been home to incredible learning documented on this blog. Learning that has stretched me as a literate being, a reader and writer who learns alongside teachers and students. Yesterday was a beautiful learning day as it was my third Saturday Reunion at TCRWP. A day where attendees could hear Andrew Solomon, Lucy Calkins, Stephanie Harvey, Jennifer Serravallo, Carl Anderson, Kathy Collins, Kathleen Tolan, Colleen Cruz, Amanda Hartman, and a whole host of other amazing TC Staff Developers. ( Your assignment: As you read this post, think about what you believe I value based on what I share in this post.)
A day of learning.
A day of choices (pages and pages in the printed trail guide and/or scrolling for hours in the new app).
A gift of a day.
But this gift was not without a price.
If Lucy Calkins’ closing keynote did not move you to action, please keep reading. You missed the point!
Why are we here?
In Lucy’s own words, “We come here to feel less weird.”
We came to be a part of the tradition and the rituals of a process of continually learning. We are a community of learners who have gold membership. We are the traditions and habits of our lives. Sometimes we stand out in our own schools and communities because we are not seen as conformists, we always want more for our students, or we really don’t want to be told by a textbook how to teach, so we quietly (sometimes) do our own little teaching in our own little corner away from the prying eyes of other less supportive communities.
But that’s not enough!
Spring is the time of new beginnings. Lucy shared some characteristics of leaders: dominance, steadiness, influence, and compliance. We need to think about how we build leaders in our classrooms because leading only for the sake of compliance seems short-sighted at best.
What are the goals of our classrooms?
We want our students to be joyfully literate might be one answer.
So that means the teacher would set up the classroom so that students would have choices in their daily reading and writing work that would allow them to strengthen their own skills and knowledge as well as their own love of reading. Simply stated. Not so simply created. This relies heavily on a deep understanding of the values, traditions, rituals and habits that are going to be the load-bearing walls of the classroom and sustain everyone in times of trouble. Everyone’s learning curve will be off the charts.
Teachers College Reading and Writing Project staff model this belief when 80 of them study together every Thursday and commit themselves to teaching and using that learning. What a supportive community!
“No, we can’t come to your school on Thursday.”
“No, we can’t schedule on top of Thursday learning.”
Totally music to my ears. Learning and growing together as a community to move forward. Choice matters. We need to create these communities of respectful learning. Some of us will seek out friends from across the country to continue to study and learn with, but we the adults, MUST do the work that we are asking students to do.
Literacy instruction is not about telling someone else HOW to do it. It’s about the demonstrations and modeling that are steeped in the values, traditions and rituals of the classroom that support growth for all learners. It’s hard to demonstrate when you’ve not done the work yourself. You can’t anticipate the troubles. You can’t anticipate the successes. Your toolbox is empty if you haven’t done the work yourself.
Where can you start?
You can begin a habit of writing! Lucy shared with us that the action of writing about our experience helps us live a more wide-awake life! We pay more attention to what is going on around us! Make it a habit – and research says that five times of “doing” followed by “writing” can make it a habit.
Where will I start?
Another fact shared by Lucy was that the average person gets two minutes per year of positive feedback. I’m gong to make it a habit, by the end of this year, to make sure that I give positive valuable feedback! I’m long on the “will to get started” and short on the details, but I will have travel time to think about “how to implement.” I want to build that tradition or habit of being someone who provides positive feedback! (Currently, I’m not likely to say “That’s really pathetic” ALL the time; but I’m also not always as wide awake about small approximations as I should be.)
Why does this matter?
Habits constitute 40% of our lives on a daily basis. I want 40% of my life to be devoted to more positive and joyful actions! I want to help build MORE leaders! Our world is in dire need of great and empathetic leaders.
Are you a leader?
How do you lead?
“What tradition will you build in your classroom?”
With fellow “Slicers” yesterday, I discussed beginning two different posts and seeing how they went. My first actions were to scan all 19 pages of my notes – making sure that the titles for each session were firmly embedded (then goodbye paper copy) and then I just thought about over all themes for the day. I clearly heard that “we have to do the work” all day long in every session. Then I decided that my first work would be retelling the story of Lucy’s closing keynote in many of her words and some of mine. Friends – 5 more sessions to talk about YET to come!)
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 so be ready to read DAILY posts!
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!)