He moves his arms.
He kicks some more.
He sputters as he swallows some water.
Arms are present to lightly hold . . . a scaffold . . . for safety’s purpose!
Not every swimming stroke is perfect.
He is two and a half years old.
Does he need floaties?
Will those make him more dependent or independent?
When it comes to the spoken word
Not every word is perfect.
He is two and a half years old.
I have to listen closely to decipher some words.
And yet other words are crystal clear . . .
“Missippi River” and “quesadilla”!
Five and six sentence words are the average.
He is two and a half years old.
Why do we encourage approximation in
many physical actions
but reject them in reading and writing?
Let me offer two scenarios:
A student is reading and says “kitten” for cat.
The teacher stops the child by tapping on the table, the error cue, and the child is to have another go, correct the error and continue on. Kitten is more specific than “cat” so the child is positive that the utterance matches the picture of a small cat as a “kitten.” And the child repeats “kitten” and continues on.
If we were to focus on what the child can do, we might celebrate:
“He knows more than one name for cat.”
“He knows that a baby cat is a kitten.”
“He knows that he can check the picture for clues.”
“He has some knowledge of cats.”
“He is not changing his mind easily.”
“He is persistent.”
And most importantly, he REALLY is not saying this as a personal attack against the teacher who has been working on words like cat and dog for awhile.
The opportunity to find out what the child knows and why he is calling it a kitten instead of a cat exists. The child just told us what he knows. Now we need to explore his thinking instead of immediately moving to a “correcting” mentality. Responding with a simple, “How do you know?” puts the student in the driver’s seat to explain their thinking and let the adults in on the big secrets of life. (It’s not really about US!) It’s really about what the child is showing us they are using. Will someone really stand next to a reader correcting reading errors as they orally read? What does that teach a child? What is the role of self-correction?
Celebrate that the child was in the right animal family. Precision in word use is often celebrated in writing but berated in reading. Why is that so? Over correction on the part of the listener, may lead to a student who patiently waits for someone to TELL them that word. Is that the reader that we want?
A student is writing.
The teacher says, “Where are your sentences? Your capital letters? Your beginnings? Your end punctuation? This is all one sentence. Please use everything you know about sentences in your writing.”
If we were to focus on what the child can do, we might celebrate:
“The child wrote without prompting.”
“The child had something to say.”
“The child wrote a lot.”
“The child told a story,”
“The child had a great beginning and middle to her story.”
“The child used mostly lower case letters.”
“The child had spaces between all words.”
“The child had a lot of details.”
“The child wrote most of the story that she had orally recounted.”
Instead of a belief that the child is out to torture you by leaving out all punctuation marks, what happens when you ask her to read it to you? Does the child pause and or stop in the appropriate places? That is more information for the teacher that doesn’t require a teacher led inquisition in a totally exasperated voice. Less questioning and more listening seems to be one way for a teacher to “hack into” a child’s thinking. A lack of punctuation by the child doesn’t mean that she knows absolutely nothing about punctuation. On this day, it was probably less important to the author than it is to the teacher. Considering when this child has previously used punctuation and capital letters in writing may lead to some important discoveries. Is that a teacher process? A student process? Or should it be a shared process? Maybe the expectation of perfect punctuation stops some students from writing. What a sad unintended consequence that may be for children!
As we consider the quickly advancing winter break, do think about your own learning. What’s new? What’s still uncomfortable? What are all the things you can do? What are you still working on? How much practice do you need in order to be confident? What’s one area that you might study about your own learning? What wonders will you explore?
When do we celebrate the “can do” part of life at school?
When do we celebrate approximations?
When do we celebrate the habits of mind that keep a student working through struggles?
When do we celebrate the MANY, MANY daily successes?
What happens if the focus is truly on MANY “can do” moments and only one or two goals at a time?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
This was the story.
See this post from this morning to learn how the story developed as I practiced multiple opening leads. When I hit publish it looked like this:
“How weird that the wind has completely stopped,” I thought. I raced for the house and safety as I whistled for Mya to join me. Barking enthusiastically, she quickly passed me. Were we playing her favorite game of “Chase”?
Just before arriving home, the weather report confirmed that fifty mile per hour winds were in our county. The sudden absence of wind caused goosebumps and a drum began to pound in my head. The sky was greenish-gray and the clouds were quickly rolling by. Some clouds seemed to be attempting to touch the ground.
“Tornado? Straight-line winds?” I wondered. At the very least, it looked like trouble was headed our way! In comparison with other states, Iowa ranks 6th in tornado occurrences with an average of 37 tornadoes each year. The old-timers in our area tell tales of houses being lifted off the foundation or, my favorite, the trailer that was reduced to rubble except for the toilet that remained, isolated and alone, like a throne. Oddly enough, the toilet paper was ready and waiting on the roll and still in the holder.
My house, my fortress of foot thick walls, was the perfect refuge. Branches fell in the timber. Trees danced as the wind began to swirl and twirl. Mya cowered under my chair anxious for my calming touch.
What seemed like forever in the world of slow-motion-what-if-and-disaster-is-looming thinking was less than five minutes as the sky lightened, the wind slowed yet again and the storm passed us by. A near miss? A typical summer storm . . . could be rain, could be hail, could be wind!
How should this short, short story end?
The story begged for a revised ending, so here are some possiblities:
“It was no longer a dark and stormy night.”
2.”Mom, you are never going to believe how close that storm was. I could feel it in the air one minute and then suddenly it was gone.”
3. Have you ever thought you were in the middle of a tornado that ended up as a near miss?
4. Storms are tricky. One minute this way. Another minute this way. Clouds and wind and trees all moving so quickly that they enveloped me in a frenzy of motion.
5. I stepped out the front door looking for a glimmer of sunlight in the sky. I was searching for just a hint of blue somewhere on the horizon to let me know that the weather had truly passed by.
6. Tornados typically last from a few seconds to about ten minutes. Some appear to last longer but they are believed to be a series of tornados strung together rather than a single incident.
7. Bathtub: Best place to seek shelter in the middle of a tornado, mostly because after you’re covered with debris, you can quickly wash off and come out looking great.
8. Not a branch was on the ground in front of the house but as I turned the corner I could see that every square inch of the back yard was covered with leaves and branches, green and brown, small and big to give the appearance of real treebark camouflage covering the grass.
Revision and ending for today:
(new paragraph – before the last one)
We had taken refuge in the bathroom – a room with no windows where the back wall was dug into the clay bank and was not going anywhere. I sat on the floor with Mya as she trembled. She didn’t make a sound but I was sure that she was able to hear a whole different layer of sound that was not accessible to my ears. “Mya, would you like to hear a story?” I began to read out loud to her from my Kindle. Nothing like a good story to calm my nerves. We were fortunate that I wasn’t worried enough to crawl into the tub for shelter where I could be both safe and clean!
What seemed like forever in the world of slow-motion-what-if-and-disaster-is-looming thinking was less than five minutes as the sky lightened, the wind slowed yet again and the storm passed us by. Storms typically range from a few seconds to about ten minutes. This would not have been the shortest storm on record. But it also wasn’t the longest. Each fearful second had seemed like a minute. Was it a near miss? Or was it just a typical summer storm? . . . sometimes rain? sometimes hail? sometimes wind? The storm disappeared almost as quickly as it had formed. We left the bathroom, looked outside, and decided that it was safe enough to venture out. I was barely able to open the door before Mya raced past me out into the evening. I stepped out the front door looking for a glimmer of sunlight in the sky. I was searching for just a hint of blue somewhere on the horizon to let me know that the weather had truly passed by.
How and when do you “rehearse” and “practice” the skills that you ask your students to use in their writing?
What does your evidence look like?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Did you name the endings?
(alpha order) Action, description, dialogue, humor, interesting fact, quotation, question, and unusual image.
And how did I REALLY end my story? With a combination of actions that resulted from drafting the possible endings!
Did you notice that some of the other “possible endings” did make it into my short, short story? Accident? Design? You be the judge.
Both the first version and the revised second draft are available in a google doc here.
And for more information about tornados, check out this link.
Margaret Simon has invited us to blog about planning for the new school year today for DigiLit Sunday. You can read more posts here at Reflections on the Teche.
Where to begin?
With my #OLW – JOYFUL!
What’s my end goal? (Backward Design)
Joyful Learning for all!
How will I achieve my end goal?
Careful appraisal of my current status,
Develop a plan to integrate my learning from this summer,
Plan, plan, plan
Short term targets and
Long range goals!
Bricks = Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening
Mortar = Mindset, “YET”, Brave, JOYFUL
Filling the inside with all that I know . . .
Determining Priorities Based on Data . . .
and then continuing to collaboratively increase my knowledge with my colleagues who blog, tweet and vox about literacy, learning, passion, joy, leadership and fun for students!
Sounds simple? “The proof will be in the pudding . . .
I will be planning on monthly check ins with my plan.
Approximately 200 days to fruition.
How will you know if your plan is working?
I’m borrowing this MLK quote from a PD session led by Justin (@jdolci). . .
Teacher Appreciation is every day, every week but a special mention is definitely appropriate as the school year winds down!
What characteristics of a teacher are most important for you?
What do you want to “hold onto” this week?
(And for an added bonus, can you name some of the authors / texts that influenced the words and descriptors above?)
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
My #OneLittleWord15 was focus. It’s reckoning time as 2015 nears the end.
How did I do?
Focus on Family:
now seven months old
with just the cutest grin!
The center of our Christmas Celebrations!
Who is the center of YOUR conversations?
Focus on Friends:
Near and far
At TCRWP Spring Saturday Reunion
At TCRWP Writing Institute
At TCRWP Reading Institute
At Iowa ASCD with Lester Laminack
At TCRWP Fall Saturday Reunion
On Twitter with #TCRWP, #G2Great, and #WRRD
And on Slicers, Too!
Can you find yourself?
Focus on Reading:
- New Units of Study in Reading
- Mindset for Learning: Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth
- Reading Nonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies
- Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom
- The Construction Zone: Building Scaffolds for Readers and Writers
- The Common Core Companion: Booster Lessons, Grades 3-5: Elevating Instruction Day by Day
- Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters
- Read Write Teach: Choice and Challenge in the Reading-Writing Workshop
- The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching
- In Defense of Read-Aloud: Sustaining Best Practice
- Readers Front and Center: Helping All Students Engage with Complex Text
- The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers
- What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making
- The Unstoppable Writing Teacher: Real Strategies for Real Teachers
Which of these have you read?
Which of these are on your holiday TBR stack?
Focus on Writing:
About TCRWP Spring Saturday Reunion
About TCRWP Writing Institute
About TCRWP Reading Institute
About Iowa ASCD with Lester Laminack
About TCRWP Fall Saturday Reunion
Tweets about #TCRWP, #G2Great, and #WRRD (and all the above!)
And Slices with #TWT!
What have you written about?
A Focus on Focus:
Ever on my mind
Often changing to meet my purpose
To complete my tasks
Sometimes a nagging worry
Other times a constant fear
. . . . Ever forward
Difficult to pin down
What is your FOCUS?
How would we KNOW?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna,Betsy,Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers andteachers here.
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):
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.
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.
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!)
It’s Tuesday, time to write, and a topic is eluding me.
I’ve read this quote from Tara three times:
“The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”
― Anne Lamott
What’s my strategy to get unstuck?
This is today’s strategy:
- Read my blog posts from last October.
- Read some other slicer posts.
- And then start writing.
- Write quickly.
- Don’t pause.
What do I wish for students for 2015 – 2016?
- Sense of Urgency – There are no “do overs” so each day needs some strategic planning with specific targets in mind. What is the end goal? Where do we need to end up? And then backward planning . . . Ready, Set, Go!
- Focus on Students – Students First, Students Second, Students Third . . . Get the idea? Students are at the center of every decision. In every classroom. In every school. Every.Decision! (and even knowing when to abandon the plan from sense of urgency because it does NOT work out for students!)
- Focus on Volume – Increase Teacher and Students’ Volume of Reading and Volume of Writing – Everyone needs to read and write more. This will require a focus on literacy, as well as speaking and listening and thinking. Teachers will model reading and writing daily. There will be evidence of living both a readerly and writerly life! And the reading and writing will be like Gold – not like a curmudgeon!
- Joyful Learning – Not reading like a robot or due to assigned drudgery! Creating an energized hub of activity – Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening and Thinking Joyfully! Happiness will ooze out of the corners of EVERY room! How do you celebrate meeting goals? How do you celebrate writing? How do students become the leaders in your classroom?
- And Lastly, Choice – Students will have choice in what they read and write daily. Being engaged in joyful literacy workshops daily means that teachers aren’t assigning chapters and questions or daily prompts. In real life, where are end of chapter questions or daily writing to prompts? When is the last time that a teacher completed end of chapter questions or daily writing to prompts? Readers and writers resent “made-up” busy work activities that are counter-productive to the items previously listed such as joyful learning, focus on volume, focus on students! Students know when the work is a waste of time!
As mid-terms, October, and/or the end of the first month of school approach,
What do you wish for your students?
What are you planning for?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
IRA now ILA = International Literacy Association
I’ve skipped over this paragraph in the ILA materials (probably 100 times now), but please slow down and read it . . .
“Illiteracy is a solvable problem, and together, we can make a difference! Amplify your efforts by joining forces with us at ILA 2015 in St. Louis, where you’ll get information and inspiration to transform your students’ lives. Register now for this can’t-miss event, where you’ll experience endless opportunities to network and learn—and leave feeling part of a meaningful movement, resolved to end illiteracy.”
And this . . .
“Literacy—across all sectors, mediums, and channels—is increasingly critical. In order to effectively prepare children and adults for the future, teachers must be well prepared to help diverse students improve their literacy skills.”
Whether illiteracy or aliteracy is a concern for you, follow the twitter stream on #ILA15 to LEARN from July 17 pre-conferences to the sessions on July 18-20 in St. Louis! Who defines well-prepared? Are your current efforts REALLY working for ALL your students?
What are you learning this summer that will improve student literacy?
How will you use your learning?
How will you share your learning?
Routine: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
Routines: Sometimes the very essence of our lives
Routines: a blessing? a curse? How do you know your routines are effective?
What is your routine for writing?
How did you develop your routine?
Writing with friends?
Writing with students?
Developed over time?
In search of a writing routine?
Here is a link to the routines of 12 famous writers. Does your “routine” parallel any of those? Have you maximized your potential and your mindset to truly be “All that you can be?” Are there some personal, professional or fun routines that need a bit of sprucing up, spring cleaning, or rejuvenation?
How much do “routines” influence your life?
What is your morning routine?
Do you need coffee or tea in the morning?
Cold caffeinated drink?
What gets you up and moving?
What are your daily routines?
Are you a creature of habit at work?
What about family routines?
For back to school days? (dinner out after that first day of school!)
Birthdays? (surprise / not a surprise party?)
Holidays? (pie at 10 am for breakfast; dinner at 2 pm)
Anniversaries? (Who plans?)
Vacations? (Location determined by – ?)
Which ones do you value?
Which ones are REALLY working for you?
How do YOU decide?
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 to share our work. So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!
Thank you, readers, for your reading, your likes and your comments throughout this month of slicing. There is a real sense of community among slicers especially when you consider this definition
a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
The good news is that all the “slicers” are winners even though Dana will anounce the “one” commenting winner later today. Those that read 60 posts this last weekend are richer for their reading and those that have written 24, heading to 31, consective days of posts are richer for their writing. We have shared laughter, tears, fear, joys and had FUN this month.
Some of us will extend this fun this weekend as slicers, courtesy of Tara, gather after the TCRWP Saturday reunion.
Will you be there at TC? See Tara’s slice here for more info!
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!