Tag Archives: Writing Institute

#SOL16: Anticipation


“My bags are packed,

I’m ready to go.

I’m standing here outside my door”;

SCREEEECH! (needle on record player scratches the vinyl record)

BECAUSE my phone says, “3 days until my trip to New York City”.

What a bummer!

Does this look like a summer rerun?

On Friday, I’m off to my fourth #TCRWP June Writing Institute and the #June Reading Institute and I am ready to go.

I’ve checked my list at least three times . . .

1 trip to the bank

2 packed carry on bags

3 pairs of black shoes

4 notebooks to separate the week long sessions

5 colors of Pilot erasable highlighters

6 colors of Flair markers

7 th series of flights to #TCRWP ( 4 Institutes and 3 Saturday Reunions)

8 the midpoint day of this round of travel

9 th trip to NYC in my lifetime

10 google docs already created and labeled for each day of note-taking

11 electrical devices and power cords

12 hours to grade graduate work

13 chapters to read and I can finish three professional books before I go

14 days of learner – ready apparel to plan for

15 days of fun, learning, and hanging out with some Twitter, Voxer, blogging, reading and writing friends!!!

Priceless ~

Necessary learning in order to grow as a professional . . .

countdown.jpg

I will

survive

In fact, I will flourish because this is my FIRST agenda for learning!

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reading sections.JPG

Rock Star Facilitators Celena, Colleen, Amanda, and Kathleen!

And also . . .

“Fun Home” on Broadway,

Dinner with friends,

Twitter Book Club Chats,

Google Book Club Chats,

Conversations on Voxer

because Iowans in NYC are always on the go . . .

and Iowans at #TCRWP soak up every minute of learning!

Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Thinking . . .

and oh, so JOYFUL (#OLW) to have this opportunity to grow, learn, live and laugh!

How will you grow this summer?

How will you increase your knowledge and skills in order to be a “better you” next year?

 

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

 

 

#TCRWP and Mentor Texts


books

What is a Mentor Text?

Are all books mentor texts?

Should all books be in the pool of mentor texts?

1. All books that are read aloud to students are NOT, especially for this blog post, considered mentor texts.  For this post, I am defining mentor text as that ONE, yes, ONE text that matches the writing genre that I am teaching and that is completly covered in post-its because it is my “Marked – Up Mentor Text”.  Source: Celena Larkey, June 2015 TCRWP Writing Institute.

2.  I am not choosing my most favorite book for my mentor text because I am going to read it OVER and OVER and OVER as we study and write. It has to be a high quality book, but that may not be the newest book.  Instead, I am opting for the book that has clear instructional points that works for the writers.

3. I am considering the interests of my students.  I am NOT choosing a mentor text because I LOVE it.  Instead, I am choosing a book that has content that the students will relate to – be a part of their lives – to increase their own belief in their ability to “write just like this author in this book”.

*    *    *    *

I am going to ask you to pause for a few minutes and go read Shana Frazin’s Blog post titled ‘“Have You Read . . .?” The Art of Recommending Books’

Please, GO read it now!  Click on that blue link above.  You can always come back by using the “back arrow”!

And did you subscribe to the blog so you can continue to read about talk and its power for literacy?

Shana’s post was about the qualities that you would discuss when choosing texts and how you might teach this to students.

I’ve been asked at least three times to post “lists” of books that we worked with at TCRWP this week.  A list does follow.  But here’s the “instructional piece” (and yes, I know you HATE when I do that!)!

  • You need to know your students.  They may not love a book you recommend and ever worse, may not love a book that I love.
  • I work with teachers K- 12. Not all books will be appropriate for all grade levels.
  • I may have left titles off the list because I already own those books.  This list began as my “wish list” and is therefore my “wish to purchase” list!

Books:

  • All of the trade books that came with the grade level Writing Units of Study.  Here is the link at Heinemann to the K pack and you can find the others by grade level as well.
  • Shana’s 10 Books of the Month for 2015-16 slideshare
  • My Spring Robin – Rockwell
  • Charley’s First Night – Hest
  • Owl Moon – Yolen
  • Kiss Good Night – Hess
  • Short Cut – Crews
  • Goal! – Javaherbin
  • “Let’s Get a Pup!” said Kate. – Gordan
  • Z is for Moose – Bingham/Zelinski
  • One Green Apple – Bunting
  • Salt in His Shoes – Deloris Jordan
  • Lunch – Naomi Nye
  • Yard Sale – Bunting
  • Neighborhood Sharks – Roy

Happy Reading!

What book do you believe should also be on this list?

#TCRWP: Day 3 Writing Institute 2015


writing workshop

This is the third in a series of posts about my learning at the Teachers College June Writing Institute.  Day 1 is available here.  Day 2 is available here.

DAY 3

Developing a Narrative Writing Toolkit (K-2) Celena Larkey

Writing Workshop

Goal:  Writing drafts using all we know about powerful narrative.

Process

  • Read through the examples in my notebook.
  • Mark one to explore again.
  • Reread that one.
  • Box out a line or phrase to use.

Begin with that phrase or line.  Close my notebook and then draft. (YES, close the notebook, begin with that small moment and draft AGAIN!)  Focusing on this idea of revision will keep students from “recopying when they are in the revision step” of the writing process. Students CANNOT copy when the notebook is closed.

While Writing – Tell a little, draft a little (rinse and repeat) . . . and then find a spot to stop and reread your own writing. Ask yourself, “Am I including conflicting emotions (happy and yet bittersweet moment) that fit my plan for writing?” (If check while writing, development of both flows more evenly.)  IF yes, continue on; IF not, go back and add in to your writing NOW.

TIPS FOR DRAFTS:

  • Write on one side of the paper.
  • Write on every other line.
  • Use colored drafting paper (Very visible – feels important and very special!).

Tips for Narrative Endings (Choose one):

  • End it quickly (most narratives last two pages too long)
  • End it with a strong emotion
  • Leave the reader wondering
  • Set the reader up for a surprise ending
  • Circular ending – weave back to the first line of the story

Stop / Pause / Think

What are you going to do differently in writing workshop?

How will you know if it’s working?

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

Today’s Big Learning Points centered around Crafting Teaching Points and Mini-Lesson Tips

Crafting Teaching Points 

crafting a teaching point

Further Development and Planning

Consider the question that precedes the prompt that was listed in the chart above:

  • What – What is the skill, habit or quality of good writing? “Today I want to teach you that . . .”
  • How – What is the step by step process? – “We can do this by . . .”
  • When / Where – Students may be doing this but not at the right time so you may use “Writers usually do this when . . .”
  • Trouble – What is the predictable trouble that I envision for my class? ”Remember . . .”  or “One thing to pay attention to . . .” “When I do this . . .”
  • Why – What is the purpose for this mini-lesson? – “This matters because . . .”

It’s summer time and it’s time to re-examine your mini-lessons.  How effective are they?  How do you know?  Consider the use of a “Demonstration Sandwich”!

Quick mini lesson tips

Connection

Engage …in the work!

Connect – this year, previous years, life

Name the TP

Teach

Demonstration Sandwich (Before the demo“you need to watch me do …”(bread), demo – really do it (meat/protein), and then “Did you notice how I . . .?”(bread))

Active Engagement

Set-Up – How students will practice the skill from instruction

Monitor and Coach – “A teacher on her feet is worth a hundred teachers in their seats.” @drmaryhoward

Link

Assignment, Repertoire, Managed Choice – The three most important words are “Off you go!” It’s the practice that students need. Remember “under – practiced” from last year!

Stop / Pause / Think

How does this  match up to your teaching points?

How does this match up to your mini-lessons?

What might you consider doing differently?

clock1

Closing Workshop:

Raising the Level of Literary Essays by Raising the Level of Interpretation (6-8) Katy Wischow     @kw625  

I had a hard time choosing a closing workshop as there were several that I REALLY needed to attend.  But last week during a class, we really struggled with defining a thesis so I thought this might be a good place to grow my knowledge.  GUESS what?  Literary Essays and Raising the Level of Interpretation does NOT have to be BORING!!! So helpful to have some easy and energizing ways to get middle school students (and their teachers) INTO the work.

Poem Used:

To a Daughter Leaving Home

Linda Pastan

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving
goodbye.

  • Has the trajectory for literary essay flattened at grade 6 or 7?

  • Are kids phoning in their essays?  (on autopilot?)

  • Do you get a 10 page retell of Harry Potter?

Then you will need strong reading work in order to get strong writing work.  “Three big problems kids tend to have with literary interpretation…That drastically impact their literary essay work

  1. Kids have nothing to say about the text.
  2. Kids have cliches to say about the text.
  3. Kids don’t have enough to say about the text.”

Use a common text that is accessible for the students.  All of our work was done with the above poem.  Here are some possible solutions for those three big problems:

1. If nothing to say:

  • take away the requirement for paragraph responses
  • show students other visual representations – let them “choose” another way to show understanding
  • use a write – around focusing on a quote or picture that represents the poem
  • dramatize with frozen scene – act it out

2. Kids have clichés to say about the text

  • create metaphors from pictures the teacher has collected from google images
  • use pictures to create new images
  • lift a line and connect the line to your big idea

3. Kids don’t have enough to say about the text

  • Choose cards from the writing craft techniques
  • Choose goals cards
  • Use the language from the cards to annotate the text
  • Explain how the author used a technique to support a goal

Stop / Pause / Think

What fun, easy, and effective way will you use to raise the level of literary essays?

tcrwp three

Thank you for reading #TCRWP:  Day 3 Writing Institute 2015!

#TCRWP – Day 2 Writing Institute 2015


TCRWP Highlights from Day 1 and 2 with Celena Larkey (Develop Toolkits to Support Narrative Writing – Advanced K-2)

Quotes:

“In five days, you will get a good start. You will not be able to say, ‘It’s done!’”

“During this week, we will make and use tools to lift writers’ process, qualities, and behaviors daily.”

Share – “Pay it forward” – share with partner so you can have the idea as well.

Teacher writing folder is not conferring toolkit.

Toolkit is my “wingman” so I can have it if I need it.

A memoir is not just person, place or time because it also includes either:

  • Conflicting emotion time
  • Turning point times

Planning – blank page – try them on and discard (“don’t have to be married to the page”)

Even when planning in 2nd grade: Say, sketch, and then Picture, picture, picture.

Planning – Make it quick; don’t make it good!

Scaffold – only if needed. Don’t have to have something to “leave behind every time.”

Check to see if “it’s sticking first”… If yes, good to go. If not, use scaffold.”

Our schedule for the week:

Monday – narrative

Tuesday – Launching/ Small Moment

Wednesday – Authors as Mentors/ Lessons from the Masters

Thursday – Realistic Fiction

Friday – Fairy Tale and other (adaptations)

If you choose to continue on, you will learn more about:

A. Primary Writing Process (K-2) and Volume of Writing

B. Tiny Topic Journal

C. Marking up a Model Text

Thank you for continuing on .  .  . 

A. Primary Writing Process

k-2 writing process

  1. Gather ideas
  2. Plan your ideas
  3. Write your ideas

Teach how to do the first three steps with ease and automaticity but be mindful of these three parts so students can practice all them! These go very quickly as students will blink and say, “I am done!“

Written pieces are the beginning of the process. You do NOT designate a day for gathering ideas, a second day for planning or a third day for writing. And you also don’t learn how to do this in one day and then you are done and you don’t ever do it again. Think about learning something new like “how to shoot a basket.” You, the learner will NEED lots of practice in order to shoot baskets well. Similarly, pieces by beginning writers will not be sophisticated.

What is the expected volume of writing for primary students?

This should be a focus for primary teachers!

Grade Level Number of Pieces /Each Week
Kindergarten 5 new pieces
First 3-5 new pieces
Second 2-4 new pieces
  1. Revise a lot (Exception in K, if child cannot read back to you – no point in revision)

Revision (re- vision) want to see it with fresh eyes (or new perspective) so it sometimes means the child is starting over. A student needs to revise on many drafts before moving on in the process.

What do K-2 students revise for?

Readability (Language / conventions)

Structure

Development

When writing has additional pages, cross outs, revisions start tipping to the side of quality! At this stage behaviors would include: “I can go back, get a revision pen and revise” or “when I start a new book, I would apply my revision in the air.”

Revision can happen on the first day by adding to the picture, a page, or adding on to the ending. At the primary level ADD is synonymous to revision. Students are not really “taking out” much.

AFTER MANY, MANY revised pieces, THEN

  1. Choose 1 piece to “fancy up”! (this is not visible in the picture/it was at the bottom of the chart)
  2. Further Revise
  3. Publish

Stop / Pause / Think

How does this process match up to the process that your K-2 students use?

What is different?

Where might you begin your study of the writing process?

B. What is a “Tiny Topic Journal”?

  • Tiny topic notebook
  • “There is narrative in anything (not the Pulitzer), but yes a story!”
  • Tools for oral verbal work
  • “I tell a part, you tell a part”
  • Small Moment writing ideas will be recorded here.

When might you consider using a “Tiny Topic Journal”?

  • Are your kids writing a summary of their actions?
  • Are your kids just recording information?
  • Are your kids just making a list?

You will need to model how you observe life around you and how you pull ideas from “everyday life” to record in your “Tiny Topic Journal”? This could also be to jot down “current” topics for those of us who are older and tend to revert back to “when I was a child” for our small moments. We need to show students how we find ideas as we live our lives.

Stop / Pause / Think

Do you have students who need to work on “observing” life around them for ideas?

How would a “Tiny Topic Journal” or “Seed Journal” be helpful?

C. Toolkit Text

For the purpose of this work this week a Toolkit Text is that one text, “one book that I use”, that I can pull everything from for conferring. It’s not my “model and teach” stack of books. It’s one book that I have marked up with EVERY single thing that I can teach on the page! The stickies stay on the pages!

The toolkit Text that Celena shared was Goal!

Mentor Text Tips

  • Paperback
  • Put in toolkit

Make mentors

  • Read like a reader
  • Read like a writer
  • Mark it up and keep in toolkit
  • Don’t use your best literature!

The table that we are using looks like this and we used Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat for our mentor text markup.

 Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat – Mentor Text for K-2
What do we see? What do we call it? Why would we use it? Who else tried it?
p. 5 title question Create interest
p.5 “and” Repeated word structure
p. 5 “Henry” Repeated word S – and to show relationship to Henry
p. 5 ‘ apostrophe Possessive – show relationship/connections
p. 5 Henry, father, Mudge Characters Introduce characters
p. 5 “one night” “watching TV” setting Jump into story

I would have all these items marked in my book. They would be color coded by: structure, development, and conventions. And because I work with teachers of many grades I would also have those ideas in mind that I would consider using for an author study of Cynthia Rylant with upper elementary students that MIGHT have these additional boxes for this page.

Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat – Mentor Text for UPPER ELEMENTARY
What do we see? What do we call it? Why would we use it? Who else tried it?
p. 5 Chapter title Hook Create suspense, as a form of foreshadowing, if we haven’t seen the title
p. 5- 3 characters Build relationship between the 3 characters Develop theory of characters – how they will interact
p. 4 picture of family Text/picture match As a part of “show, don’t tell”

The way this looks in my mentor text . . .

Henry and Mudge one

Seventeen words

Seventeen words and we found six things for K-2

Seventeen words and we found three additional things for grades 3-6+

Seventeen words from Cynthia Rylant

Structure – green; Development – pink; and Conventions – blue

Seventeen words

Rich and powerful!

Stop / Pause / Think

Do you have ONE mentor text marked up for your conferring toolkit?

How do you organize your “annotations” in your mentor text?

Thanks to Celena Larkey for this awesome learning at the 33rd Writing Institute at TCRWP!  Errors in this blog are due to “old ears” and “lack of understanding” – not the fine, fine, fine quality of instruction!

#TCRWP: Day 1 Writing Institute 2015


Expectations?

You might have seen my line up of events on Friday . . .

Keynote – Lucy Calkins

Advanced K-2 Session – Celena Larkey

Advanced 3-8 Session – Shana Frazin

Closing Workshop Choice  (toss -up as two were to be repeated Monday and Tuesday)  – Maggie B. Roberts

I was expecting

a LOT! 

And my expectations were exceeded!

This picture is how my head felt at 4:00 pm when I was thinking about my learning for the day.

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

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

The fire was fully ablaze by the time Lucy finished her keynote in the glorious Riverside Church.  Her stories, examples, and carefully chosen videos all told us that we must “have faith.  Faith that the student has something to say and faith that the student has the language to ‘say it'”.  (You can check the #TCRWP hashtag for additional “Lucy-isms” often identified as “LC”, “Lucy C” or “Lucy Calkins” .)

It continued to flame on all day long.  For this post, I am focusing on my upper grades Advanced Section

Using the Best, New Children’s Literature as Mentor Texts:

Support Sky High Writing (3-8)  with Shana Frazin to count as a very public “self-assignment”.

New Vocabulary and Processing: 

“ouevre” – collection of works Eve Bunting (tackling tough topics) and using Yard Sale as our demo!

(New processing angle:    Partner A – if name comes first in alphabet and Partner B – next alphabetically as it was possible to be in triads)

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 2.35.05 AM

Reading Mentor Texts as Readers (3 types)

1. Classic Interactive Read Aloud

The teacher chooses text, places, action and the kind of action we want the students to DO in the text.

2. Shared Interactive Read Aloud

“So you guys know how usually I choose the place we will stop and the work we will do. If you think we should stop – ‘stop in the name of reading’ (hold up hand) and we will stop and you will tell us what to DO with that text.”

 Advantages of Shared Interactive Read Aloud:

  • As a tool it reveals to you when the students think it is worth stopping and sets the stage to work with secondary characters and their relationships!
  • Students can use any prompt to “talk/discuss”.
  • Students are listening differently for the “shared interactive read aloud”. 

3. Read Aloud Roles

The teacher looks at data to determine what does particular reader, club, or partner need to work on (could be Turn and Talk) and the teacher assigns the role for multiple practices.

Process:  The student receives a card with the role.  Student focuses on the card as the teacher is reading.

(Data changes as do the needs of kids change, so read alouds should change across the year.)

Our group role card said:  “Change – characters and their feelings, traits, lessons learned or not learned, setting, and tone”  Our task was to talk about the part of change we could see in the text that had been read.

Delightful new learning . . . I was thinking about how and when to use these three types (and whether I would be able to explain the differences upon returning home) when the next sequence was introduced as

“Reading Mentor Texts Like a Writer”! 

1.  Classic interactive with mentor text

Our mentor texts was a teacher demonstration text, “Moving Thoughts”

and we were using ideas from a chart based on Ralph Fletcher’s thinking.

(Words are easier than subject so they are often a beginning level.)

2. Shared interactive with mentor text

“Stop in the name of reading like a writer” – Students choose places to stop and name writing craft.

(“You have read already read this once as reader. Now you are rereading as a writer, with a different lens.”)

3.  Shared Interactive Read Aloud roles with mentor text

Again, specific assigned roles on cards for partners/tables to respond to.

Example:  “Word or Phrase –  What words or phrases did the author

use that… Surprised you? Puzzled you? Inspired you?”

And finally,

Writing under the influence!

“For 5 min. – write under the influence of reading; What stories did ‘Reading Like an Author’ lead you to?”

writing

After collecting my notes, discussing this at dinner, and then writing this blog post, I am wondering:

What data will I use to determine whether I am “Reading Like a Reader” or “Reading Like a Writer”?

Will I use the set of 3 “Reading Like a Reader” before the 3 “Reading Like a Writer” each time?

Will this be “Black and White”?

What other considerations should guide my thinking?

Obviously, I am still at the “new learning stage” but I love the whole concept of “Writing Under the Influence” as well as “Thank you for coming to class today!”  I feel totally blessed, as an educator to be at Teachers College learning from and with so many talented teachers!

slice of life

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

#TCRWP June Writing Institute (22-26)


Where’s some inspiring learning about writing this summer?

TC

At Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (Columbia University)

Opening Keynote Monday, June 22nd, with Lucy Calkins

(More information as soon as the Trail Guide is available!)

tcrwp

What will be this summer’s highlight?

IMAG0450

Follow #tcrwp for inspiring tweets all week long!

#TCRWP: Information Writing


Well, the June 2014 week of Writing Institute ended one month ago.  The finale included a “flash mob”, laughing and crying, and singing.  Memorable.  Unforgettable.  How do we have evidence of our growth?

We wrote.  We wrote some more.  And even more.  We wrote again and again using the lessons that we were practicing orally and in writing during our sessions.  Here’s just a view of my drafts.

What patterns do you notice in the drafts?

 # Draft 1

DRAFT 1  Monday, June 23

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or don’t even bother asking students to write.”  Mary E quote to begin June Writing Institute 2014.

But students have to write at school.  There are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing.  Under reading, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Writing is important.

Writing –  what do authors use for beginnings?  A title – promise of the author to the reader.  Provocative beginning– engage, pull them in so they want to write, yet also fit within the context .  Delicate balance between student choice and teacher need for compliance – do what must be  done!

 

Notes and questions:

  • How did looking at how authors began help us as writers?  How could that be used by students in order to begin writing?  How could that also be used by teachers at PD
  • Look again at the titles that Mary chose.  How did she arrive at those?

When we write:

  • How do we begin?  Introductions? Prologue?
  • What language about writing would be inviting and engaging for teachers and students?

Some ideas. Not a lot of content – YET!

Draft Day # 2 

DRAFT 2  For MS and HS Teachers in Districts    What writing is important?

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or you shouldn’t even bother asking students to write,” according to Mary Ehrenworth (TCRWP Writing Institute.  June, 2014).But students do have to write at school.

Is “not writing” a viable option?  Not really, because there are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing in all content areas grades 6-12 as well as in the primary grades.  To underscore the importance of writing, CCSS ELA  Reading Anchor Standards, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Therefore, writing is necessary and important at school in order to address the standards.The CCSS propose that the three types of writing covered by CCSS.W. 1 opinion / argument; 2. Informational/explanatory; and 3. Narrative  are to receive approximately equal attention in the elementary grades.  As a student progresses through the grades, narrative writing is de-emphasized and more attention is paid to Standards 1 and 2.

 

What does this mean for Teachers?

Teachers in all content areas are expected to be able to assist students to be better writers within their content expertise.  Will they be “teaching” writing?  Let’s examine this question a bit farther.  Will the science teacher be teaching writing?  Yes and No.  The science teacher will be expected to read, write and speak like a scientist.  The student will use science vocabulary in oral and written work.  Lab reports might be one example of expected science writing. The science teacher has the knowledge and expertise to guide the student in reading and writing as an apprentice scientist.  The business education teacher will assist the students in reading and writing tasks that would be found within the world of business.  Does this mean that every content area class has to now write a term paper?  The CCRR Anchor Standards do not say that every class should be writing a term paper but there should be an expectation for daily reading and writing in each classroom, even in small doses.

 

(What changed in this draft?

  • Explicitly stated purpose
  • Bold headings stated as questions so text includes the answers)

 

Day 3 Draft

 

DRAFT 3 For MS and HS Teachers in Districts   

Writing

Draft: Well-rounded student – information and all –  parenting – everyone has a role . ELA will not be mastering science content but yet having some uniform expectations  (at least having conversations about how individual roles contribute to the greater good !)

 

Chapter 1  Begin at the Beginning

What writing is important?

“Writing isn’t really important if it’s okay to write poorly.  Writing should be high quality or you shouldn’t even bother asking students to write,” according to Mary Ehrenworth (TCRWP Writing Institute.  June, 2014).

But students do have to write at school.  Is “not writing” a viable option?  Not really, because there are 10 writing CCSS ELA Anchor Standards that specifically address writing in all content areas grades 6-12 as well as in the primary grades.  To underscore the importance of writing, CCSS ELA  Reading Anchor Standards, 4-6 also address the craft of writing.  Therefore, writing is necessary and important at school in order to address the standards.

The CCSS propose that the three types of writing covered by CCSS.W. 1 opinion / argument; 2. Informational/explanatory; and 3. Narrative  are to receive approximately equal attention in the elementary grades.  As a student progresses through the grades, narrative writing is de-emphasized and more attention is paid to Standards 1 and 2.

What does this mean for Teachers?

Teachers in all content areas are expected to be able to assist students to be better writers within their content expertise.  Will they be “teaching” writing?  Let’s examine this question a bit farther.  Will the science teacher be teaching writing?  Yes and No.  The science teacher will be expected to read, write and speak like a scientist.  The student will use science vocabulary in oral and written work.  Lab reports might be one example of expected science writing. The science teacher has the knowledge and expertise to guide the student in reading and writing as an apprentice scientist.  The business education teacher will assist the students in reading and writing tasks that would be found within the world of business.  Does this mean that every content area class has to now write a term paper?  The CCRR Anchor Standards do not say that every class should be writing a term paper but there should be an expectation for daily reading and writing in each classroom, even in small doses.

So what will ELA teachers teach about writing if content area teachers have to teach writing? 

Picture this:  Suzie Q is an ELA teacher who LOVES, LOVES, LOVES narrative writing.  She has her students write narratives at the beginning of the year, then she adds in some response to reading, some argument and informational writing.  But a review of her lesson plans and her curriculum map show that Suzie’s students spend 23 out of 36 weeks on Narrative Writing.

Or picture this:  Janie Smith is an ELA teacher who prides herself on giving students choices in what to write.  She begins the year with a unit on each of the following writing genre:  narrative, response to reading, argument, and informational writing.  Each of these four units are approximately four weeks long and are typically completed by the end of the first semester.  During second semester, students can choose their own content to write based on their other course assignments and needs, yet they know that each student will be asked to add at least one more piece of each writing genre to their portfolio collection with a reflection about how it is different from their first semester writing.

 

Which ELA teacher is not only following the spirit of the curriculum but is also focusing on the curriculum of the students?  Correct, Jani Smith, because she has taught the basics and then provides some student choices that allow for increased writing opportunities with fewer “fake” writing assignments just for teachers (OK, snarky – have not included this idea before that writing only for the teacher is a waste of time!)

 

Chapter 2   Predictable Scenarios in Students’ Informational Writing

Katie Clements, TCRWP staff developer, shared these three common predictable patterns of difficulty in Informational Writing for students in grades 3 – 8.  By being aware that other students have had these problems, you yourself can be prepared to plan for a mini-lesson or at the very least to have conference around these issues.  What and how you teach will be built on previous writing instruction in your classroom, but see if any of these ideas spark your thinking!

 

Possible Scenario for Informational Writing:

Disorganized
Only a tiny bit about each part
Jumps right in without setting up expectations

What changes did you note in Draft # 3?

What remains the same?  

What questions remain unanswered for the reader?

 

And then the final four page draft after comments from classmates and my writing partner. (I really struggled with how to “access this format” because I still don’t understand what a Mac can do!)

Still a draft – but formatted 

Over the course of a week, what did you see change?

Only fitting to share this as my Slice of Life this week:  Evidence of Learning at the June Writing Institute 2014!

 Do you save your drafts?  How do you know your writing is improving?

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

 

 

#TCRWP: Informational Writing Goals


The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Units of Study have been in K-5 classrooms for over a year and the grades 6-8 units were published about six weeks ago.  The range of resources for each grade level has more than enough content to help both teachers and students be better writers of all three text types in the Common Core while significantly upping the ante for informational text and therefore meeting CCSS Anchor Standard 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.”

What are some goals for information writing?

Here’s a look at just 3 of the goal areas that we explored during the June TCRWP Writing Institute.  If you are fortunate to be attending an advanced institute in August, you will have an opportunity to see these materials up close and personal.  If you have the new middle school units, you already have these materials in your hands.

First of all, understand that we were a group of educators representing grades 3-8.  Some of these ideas were familiar in texts that we read.  But many of them were unfamiliar when thinking about “using them” in our own writing.  Identifying how  and why “authors” used these goals was an important first step for “Reading like an author” before we practiced these in our own writing!

Our reading study was around wolves.  Here is  one text that we used and the first three of the goals that we talked about.

wolves goals overview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first task:  Look to see how this author met Goal #1 Hook the Reader.

We turned to the double page spread of the text (pages 1 and 2).

wolves goals one hook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read these pages.

What hooks you the reader?

Which technique(s) help the writer meet his goal?

  • Is it the question?
  • Is it the picture?
  • The actual “stance” of the wolf?
  • Is it the description that includes the “lonely howl”, “more voices”, and “chorus of howls”?

Is this dull, boring information writing?

 

Goal # 2 Introduce new topic/subtopic/person

wolves goals two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is “Wolves All Around” a new subtopic?

Does this page meet that goal?

What techniques help meet the goal?

  • Is it the heading?
  • Is it the fact that the “print format” of the heading is now predictable?
  • Is it the placement at the top left of the double page spread?

Again, is this dull, boring information writing?

 

Goal # 3  Give background information

Read this double page spread.

wolves goals three background info

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the information qualify as background information?

As readers we find out where wolves live (all over the world), what the most common wolf is (gray wolf), and the fact that there are many kinds of gray wolves that are “not just gray.”

What technique (s) does the author use”

  • Factual statements
  • Pictures
  • Labels
  • Comparisons in pictures

 

Was this dull, boring information writing?

In all of these examples, multiple techniques were used to ensure that the reader understood what the writer was saying.  These combinations included words, phrases, sentences, illustrations, headings, titles and additional print features.  As expert readers, are we paying attention to the cumulative effect of ALL of those techniques?  How do we share that expertise with our students?

How does reading like an author and writing like a reader produce riveting informational text across all content areas?
How do you teach students to “effectively select, organize and analyze content”?

#TCRWP and Day 4 – Role of Debate


Mary Ehrenworth’s (@MaryEhrenworth) Closing Workshop on Day 4 of June 2014 Writing Institute was named, “Role of Debate  in Your School and Across the Curriculum” in the Trail Guide and it totally lived up to its name!  From the opening, Mary encouraged participants to stagger the study of debate across the curriculum so that students would have enough opportunities for repeated oral practice to be successful later in writing.

What is the Progression of a Debate?

What should this look like?

  • Argue to prove a point
  • Argue to come to a richer, more nuanced understanding
  • Arguing to increase coalition and advocacy on ethical issues
What are Some Different Kinds of Debate Topics?
  • Social topics
  • Literary argument
  • Science disputes – implications not just following a procedure
  • Social Studies critical moments
  • Current events

Application:  Which of these are you currently using?  Which ones would you consider adding next?

 

What is the Role of Debate?
  • Strengthen kids’ logic
  • Increase transference across the curriculum
  • Develop critical thinking
  • Broaden perspectives
  • Support opinion and argument writing
  • Introduce ethical stances   (Should we take care of our water?  Choices in Life?)

 Application:  Of all of these, which will you take back to your colleagues?

 

What Debate Tips Will Help You?

Introduce protocol and use it often

  • State a clear claim
  • Support with evidence
  • Consider counterclaim
  • Acknowledge points of counterclaim
  • Rebut with conditions, nuance or shift in thinking

“Flash debate” for short chunks of time

Coach into kids logic and language – in talk before in writing (less to fix)

Be alert for authentic issues/topics/arguments

 

How does this vision of the role of debate match your reality?
Where will you begin?

June 24: Day 1 of #TCRWP Writing Institute


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

 

In the old days, some folks working with movies would say that Day 1 is in the can, but I don’t know the correct terminology for digital videography.  I do know that Day 1 of the 2014 June Writing Institute is complete – as far as sessions go.  Is the homework complete?  I doubt it.  Many tasks are facing me:  organizing my materials for tomorrow, assignment for the morning session with Mary, choosing closing sessions tomorrow, assignment for the small group session with Emily.  HOLY COW, that’s a lot of work!  (Not to be confused with this morning’s mention of  a chicken in a post here.)

 In the beginning . . .  Chapter 1

Today began with a one hour keynote by Lucy Calkins in Riverside Church.  Articulate, passionate, and enthusiastic about the role of writing in thousands of years dating back to the cavemen, Lucy’s speech was titled “Achieving a Re-set”.  If you are on Twitter, you can scroll through the tweets from #TCRWP for any that mention “Lucy, LC, or LCalkins” to see the quotes that were most often retweeted!  In typical Lucy fashion, she exhorted the 1200 strong participants  from 34 countries and 44 states to remember their own life themes as they shape the future of schools across the world.  Student writing and conversation dominated the keynote as both written words and video from student conferences were shared.  Writing, Students, Instruction – Who should have a voice?  A speech that began with ” I am blown away by the sheer miracle of your presence.  You are willing to give your life to it!” provided much to think about!  What a wonderful world it is!

Chapter 2 . . .

My Advanced session with Mary Ehrenworth is entitled “Reports, Nonfiction Books, Journals, Feature Articles, Information Writing and ELA Across The Day” and has already exceeded my expectations for the week.  We will be crafting our own progression in information writing this week.

Why do we write informational text?

  • Makes meaning of the world and deepens your own knowledge – really learn stuff & hold on to it forever!
  • Being a producer/creator/co-creator of text
  • Making a topic clear, and being able to make it understandable and authentic/engaging
  • Being able to teach something you know to others!
  • Being able to explain research / content
  • You might discover you’re good at it!

And then in the spirit of inquiry, Mary read openings from the following books so we could consider how they began.  What are moves that writers make, that we’d love to try? was the question that we were trying to answer.

Text Set

The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and turbulent Future of Water – Charles Fishman
The Unthinkable: Who Survives when Disaster Strikes and Why – Amanda Ripley
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why – Laurence Gonzales
Outliers : The Story of Success– Malcolm Gladwell
Smartest Kids in the World and How they Got that Way – Amanda Ripley

What would you say those texts have in common?  How are they different?

Chapter 3 . . . 

Social Butterfly Media Cafe 

Rebecca Cronin hosted an optional lunchtime workshop for Tweeters and Bloggers.  Meeting face to face is always a pleasure and showing “columned” tweeting aids like “Tweetdeck” were useful to the crowd gathered to eat lunch and tweet a bit.

Chapter 4 . . .

My small group session session with Emily Smith is “Seeing Patterns in Student Work, Then Teaching Small Groups (and More) to Build New Habits and Skills.”  We have already begun to improve our coaching skills as we use a “Research, Decide, Teach” model to respond to our partner’s writing from our writing sessions.

Not only should we be noticing patterns in writing, but we should also be looking for disruptions in writing.  Where does the writing fall apart?  Being able to generate questions and possibilities will help our students make growth!

Two key questions for conferencing are:

What are you doing?
What are you going to do next?

 Chapter 5 . . .

And then the choices for closing sessions were daunting.  Limiting oneself to one presentation was difficult but I ended up going to Katie Clements’ “Don’t Teach Empty Handed:  Toolkits that Can Help You Teach Explicitly, to Scaffold and to Keep Track.”  Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, organized and so talented, Katie led us through a discussion of WHY we needed a toolkit, HOW to create one, and how BEST to use one.  Citing a personal favorite of mine, Brian Cambourne, Katie shared that often in writing, demonstrations live in mini-lessons, so  students only see them on on one level.  Many writers would benefit from demonstations on their own level. The solution is to create a writing toolkit to help students!

What are some predictable writing problems or needs for students?

Information Writing often seems:

  • Disorganized
  • Only a tiny bit about each part
  • Jumps right in without setting up expectations

What are some other common writing difficulties for your students?  What conference is repeated the most?  Having your toolkit ready now (not waiting for it to be PERFECT is the key according to Katie!) will help you get the year off to a good start!  Practical, doable, and so engaging for working on writing revision for students!

 

What were your “Take Aways” from Day 1 of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Writing Institute?

 

P.S. (And is your homework all done?)

 

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