Life. Literacy. Learn. Lead.

Life. Literacy. Learn. Lead.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 #cyberPD - DIY Literacy Ch.3-4 (Reflection #2-week of July 11th)

This summer, I've joined #cyberPD, an online study group, with a wonderful community of educators! We are reading and discussing DIY Literacy Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. A big thank you goes out to Michelle Nero (@litlearningzone), Laura Komos (@LauraKomos), and Cathy Mere (@cathymere) for organizing this group. Information about this #cyberPD group can be found here

Chapter 3: Helping Students Recall Teaching

Tools can help students recall teaching:
p. 39-44 CHARTS
p. 45-46 BOOKMARKS

* Love the explicit conversations you have with students about WHY we are using the tool. For example, " I care that you try out some of the things I teach you, not just because I have spent time on my lesson, but because I really believe that if you do this work you will love reading even more than you do now."
* "Reader Chills" refer to that feeling you get when you have had a huge, awesome thought about a book
* Repertoire chart is like a "greatest hits" (strategies that are most helpful)

* something students make themselves
* bookmarks are personalized lists of things that will help students remember past teaching
* students will need to keep the bookmarks next to them during lessons and practice
* bookmarks can be a support for students who need a more personalized list {than charts}
* can stay by their side as long as they need the support

* helps students see which skills in a unit are most essential
* "Keep it simple. Get it right." p. 46
* can make it in front of the kids (more powerful)
* can support students who need an additional round of seeing HOW a lesson or strategy works before it becomes their own
* p. 48 gives an explicit example for teachers as to how the demo notebook lesson may look within a small group of students

Synthesizing Ch. 3: 
1.) Looking at student work (independent work). I love this reminder to always have the work front and center and not what we "think" we see/hear. 
2.) In addition, this chapter reminds us about the importance of scaffolding. The ultimate goal is to remove the tools and lead students to independence. We have to take note of:
-behavioral cues
3.) Don't fall into the trap of, "But I already taught you that!" Lehman and Cruz remind us, if we had really taught it, then the kids would be able to do it." Really students are telling us that they aren't there yet. They are communicating to us that work still needs to be done with that skill.

Chapter 4: Motivating Students to Work Hard

RIGOR: Love the conversation the authors had with us on this on the top of page 54!!!!!
Two forms of rigor: 
(1) the task - We can make the task more rigorous by elevating the text complexity, raising the standards, or increased the volume of writing). 

and (2) the behavior - description of the behavior rather than task. It is the persistence and dedication of the students working towards the task. When we focus on the work and effort that students put into tackling a task we create opportunities to really see what's difficult for the kids. 
"Becoming is better than being." ~Carol  Dweck p. 54
"Rigor without relevance is simply hard." ~ Kylene Beers p.55

It is all about the learning climate 
- intrinsic motivation [David Pink] 
- we have to admit that much of our teaching still leans on TELLING students what to do rather than fostering the idea that they can succeed on THEIR OWN. 

Tools can motivate students to work hard:
p. 64-65 CHARTS

- helps students see HOW to work harder
- gives a vision
- being explicit by saying, " might not know what it looks like to work really, really, hard on your nonfiction pieces of writing."
- each column represents a different level of work
- get students involved in process by having them take our their own notebooks and pens
- p57 shows the MP being made with the class
- Teacher's role as the coach to "get into a game of higher-level work"

- perfect tool to use when students need some assistance in learning the actual steps and strategies to work even harder
-helps students see the “before” and “after” which can be motivating
-create rigor by introducing students to the concrete steps, ways, or examples to begin challenging work.

-once students have an awareness of rigorous work, charts are powerful reminders
-nudge readers to use the chart to help them achieve their highest level of work
-helps students “see the way”

- empowers students with their own individual plan for how to work rigorously
-”Anytime we are working hard on ____, you can take our your bookmark to help you.”

Synthesizing Ch. 4: 
1.) Create opportunities to celebrate and talk to each other.
"I used to...but now I...." 
2.) Listen to student conversations to determine the area students are working less rigorously. 
3.) Students who have used their tools successfully will be able to point to areas of growth.
4.) Do a "far observation" [Allington] of your students and note their behaviors (ex- hunched over work, looking around for resources, pausing, talking to partners, etc.)

ULTIMATELY, students have to know...
1. what it means to work harder
2. what it looks like to work harder
3. how to reach a higher level of performance

We can take the mystery out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2016 #cyberPD - DIY Literacy Ch. 1,2, bonus (Reflection #1-week of July 5th)

This summer, I've joined #cyberPD, an online study group, with a wonderful community of educators! We are reading and discussing DIY Literacy Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. A big thank you goes out to Michelle Nero (@litlearningzone), Laura Komos (@LauraKomos), and Cathy Mere (@cathymere) for organizing this group. Information about this #cyberPD group can be found here

2016 #cyber PD REFLECTION #1, Week 1: Bringing Goal Setting and Clarity to Our Teaching

I love so many parts of this book, but what struck me the most came on page 19 close to the bottom of the page:
"Research also shows that people who write down their goals and share them with others are 33 percent more successful in accomplishing these goals." 

Over the last school year, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the idea of goal setting. Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book certainly helped me work on this as I sat side-by-side with teachers.  I saw the work we did with students this year dramatically change for the better. Goal setting with students helps them understand why we are meeting around the table-something that we need to be explicit with. It invites them to work in a much different way than putting OUR [the teacher's]  lesson plan front and center. Talking about goals with students, having students set their own goal(s), coaching students with the strategy and then watching students practice their goal(s) has been a game changer for me in teaching. So, when I first picked up DIY Literacy I thought it was a gold mine for helping me continue my work with goal setting. For me, this book helps put all the wonderful strategy work we do in a "home." We have a place to "rest" our strategy work and Kate and Maggie suggest we do it with four tools: demo notebooks, teaching charts, micro-progressions, and bookmarks.

On this same page (p5), Kate and Maggie also reference David Allen and how he "...argues that our brains can only hold so much without some organized assistance." Yes, yes and yes!! DIY literacy gives educators four solid ways in which to help students organize their work, their thinking, and their own progress. In thinking about Executive Function skills, our students continually need help and lots of modeling when it comes to organizing.

I love how each and every one of these tools help us to make our teaching clearer. Kate and Maggie talk more about this on page 5. Reading and writing can be abstract. Our teaching needs to be clear and focused on the how in order to demystify the reading and writing work we ask kids to do.

Speaking of the how, the Bonus Chapter after Ch.2 is a wonderful reminder to us educator-folk that we should:
1. Never teach alone. (Perhaps my most favorite reminder EVER. Seriously.) 
2. Hit the books. (It's all about professional text and perhaps why  my shelves overflow.)
3. Go online. (Twitter has been an amazing PD resource for me.)

And, finally, I love how Kate and Maggie remind us on page 28 that we, too, are capable of writing our own strategies. Over the years, I'm sure we all have a strategy that we actually designed in that 30 seconds where a student is just not picking up what you are laying down...and BAM!! We reach behind us, grab some random, blank sticky-note and (somehow) manage to have scribbled something visual that brought an A-HA moment for a child with some strategy we didn't even know existed 1 minute ago!! Now, Kate and Maggie obviously go on listing a much better, thought-induced way to produce a solid strategy. But, the point is, sometimes we forget that we really do great work within the four walls of our classrooms and I love how these authors acknowledge that.

I'm looking forward to reading more of everyone else's reflections in this #cyberPD community and can't wait to keep on reading and reflecting as the month of July progresses. Thanks for reading!!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Celebrate LU- 6/4/2016: Change

Ruth Ayers invites us to participate in a Celebrate Link-Up on Saturdays. Click here to see what others are celebrating and maybe join in yourself, too! 
                            Discover. Play. Build.

Our school is undergoing construction as we anticipate big district changes in 2017. 

As I look at this picture that I took yesterday I still envision the beautiful read aloud tree that I spent time under with my first and second graders for 13 years. That tree gave us shade on a hot and sunny day. That tree made us relax and take in a new story that we waited all day to hear. That tree allowed us a breath of fresh air when our classrooms were humid and unbearable in September and June. That tree was the Popsicle spot. It was where we had end of the year class parties and celebrations. 

I know change is good. Change teaches us things about ourselves. But, change can be hard. For now, I'll celebrate the memories we had under this amazing piece of nature. I choose to picture that it is still there. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sending Them Off...Notebook Style

June's arrival is very near.  Like tomorrow.

I've been doing some reflecting about how we can send our students off into summer vacation feeling inspired to continue to read and write. Of course, there's so many ideas out there to choose from. For some reason this year, I'm struck by the writer's notebook. 

A notebook. 
  To write. 
    To voice. 
      To record. 
        To try. 
          To risk. 
            To practice. 
              To enjoy. 
To share.

Like I've done all year, I reached for a book that has guided me like a lighthouse all year long; Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild. I've been able to take so much out of this beautiful book this school year. One of my "take-aways" from this book was that readers make plans. I love this and it stuck with me all year. I used it as I thought about how we can continue to inspire our kids to keep that pencil moving this summer. 

We have a glass case in our main hallway at school and I decided to put some artifacts and inspirational ideas in it to help catch the eye of our K-5 readers and writers.

And then I had a plan. 

I started You Tubing, Googling, reading, and writing. Then, I felt compelled to share these thoughts with our staff, hoping maybe this would catch on. It went a little something like this.

Over the next several weeks, it might be helpful to get students thinking about a summer plan for maintaining reading, writing, and math skills. Our challenge is to make this fun and authentic.  I think we can all agree that we just want fun ways for kids to keep that pencil moving this summer (and as a lifelong habit). 

The glass case in the main hallway will feature ideas to help students make a summer plan. One of the ideas for students (and grown-ups, too!) includes starting a writing notebookNext to the glass case, there are free bookmarks for students with the"Sharing Our Notebooks" website on it from children's author/writing teacher, Amy VanDerwater. That website has TONS of notebook ideas. On a side note, her entire website and blogs are like gold!

Also, feel free to share this AWESOME short video with your students featuring many, many wonderful ideas of how to get started with a writer's notebook. This video features a peek inside Ruth Ayres' notebook. Ruth is a wonderful blogger/teacher/writing coach for a school district in Northern Indiana. So many of the ideas in this video will help you integrate art, science, and everyday life. 

Video link: 

There's also a Padlet from Amy VanDerwater's website with book titles where the characters keep notebooks and live "writerly" lives!! 

One of our fabulous reading teachers, Mary Ann Lana (@maryannlana), took groups of her students by the glass case and one-by-one they began to get excited about their own writer's notebook. She writes: 

Just wanted to share that several of my groups have started working on writers' notebooks and the kids are really enthusiastic about them. I put up a Padlet with more videos and writing ideas on my website;  feel free to use it with your kids. I embedded it to my classroom webpage:​   I believe you can add to it too (I'm still new to "Padletting!")

I've got most of my kids grades 1-5 working on them, so if you have students that work with me ask them if they've started one. If you decide to incorporate them you can have them use the one they already started. I intend to keep them going through the summer with summer school students. We were all in an end-of-the-year slump until we broke out the writers notebooks, now that's all they want to do. Oh darn!  :) 

So here's hoping we have helped pave a "writerly" path for our students this summer.  Once again, I thank those who shape my thinking. My list of gratitude is infinite, but specific to what I write about today, I must include...
-My colleagues, co-workers, and students
-Donalyn Miller 
-Ruth Ayres
-Amy VanDerwater
-Mary Ann for carrying this to her students!!

I also bumped up Notebook Know-How: Strategies for the Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner on my "to-be-read" list and am currently on my porch reading it barely able to set it down. Thank goodness for all these great thinkers and their dedication.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers and the Slice of Life writing community for providing this opportunity to share our "slices."  Check out the other slices and join in the fun!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

CELEBRATE- It's All About That Joy, 'Bout That Joy! 7/4/15

Ruth Ayers invites us to participate in a Celebrate Link-Up on Saturdays. Click here to see what others are celebrating and maybe join in yourself, too! 
                            Discover. Play. Build.

So much to celebrate this 4th of July! First I'm happy to be back blogging. As the school year was winding down, I was finding it very difficult to stay connected to my technology! But, I'm happy to be here today. 

Second, I celebrate Twitter and being able to follow everyone at #BBlit15, #tcrwp, and #iste2015 this week. What a great week to connect with so many audiences that, without tech, wouldn't be possible. 

Third, I celebrate getting my boys signed up for the public library summer reading program this week. They have a basket of "new" books to read piled high. I'm equally as thrilled as I picked up Sharon Draper's "Out of my Mind" and I can't begin to explain how much I love this book. I knew it was amazing when I found a powerful and profound thought and I was only on page 8! 
"Thoughts need words. Words need a voice." 

This book makes you appreciate the "simple" task of writing and speaking that we *may* take for granted. However, the main character, Melody, struggles to do both. I just can't wait to finish this amazing book. 

Next, I celebrate exercise and the consistent opportunity summer vacation provides to do so!!

Last, I celebrate the amazing freedoms we have in the USA to do all of the above. I think of the books I've read, the people I've connected with, the reports on the news, and the stories I've yet to hear. All of these things have shaped my beliefs and my perspective to carefully balance what I'm lucky to experience with the harsh reality that still exists for some. I pray the harshness lessens and the opportunities flow for all those we share this place and time with on Earth. 

Wishing those who are celebrating the 4th of July with me a safe and JOYful time with friends and family. 


Saturday, May 9, 2015

CELEBRATE: It's All About That Joy, 'Bout That Joy- 5/9/15

Ruth Ayers invites us to participate in a Celebrate Link-Up on Saturdays. Click here to see what others are celebrating and maybe join in yourself, too! 
                            Discover. Play. Build.

A Taste of Summer

Last night we experienced spontaneity. There's nothing better than coming home from a long week of work and having the opportunity to...

be included.
catch up.

Our neighbors opened their pool the night before and cranked their heater in hopes they could use the pool Friday night. It was a generous invitation to invite several families over and we were thankful to be included. 

Sounds heavenly, right? Well, the scene right before this picture went a little like this:

Neighbors invite.
No dinner yet.
Hurry! Eat!
Dinner stopped.
Where are the boys' swim trunks?
Clothes flying.
Bins disheveled.
Rooms in disarray.
Run across the street.
Oh no...

Facing my frantic search of summer gear at 9pm?

The kids laughed, splashed, and soaked in their taste of summer. As for the grown-ups, we did almost the same from the sidelines. I feel so lucky to live on this street with these neighbors. I'm happy and thankful for spontaneous invites like this. 

So today I awake still celebrating our taste of summer and spontaneity. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

#SOL15 4/28/15 Ed Collab Gathering Notes

I find that the more PD I receive and seek out, the pickier I become! I've had some amazing PD opportunities lately through Teachers College, Twitter, and just recently this weekend's Educator Collaborative Gathering. I will share a little bit of my "take-away," however it will just be a small portion of the AMAZING PD that went on this weekend. I strongly encourage anyone who hasn't participated to go and check it out here. Too many folks to mention but Chris Lehman, Kristin Ziemke, Chad Everett, Katharine Hale completely inspired me and the list goes on! I'm so thankful for this type of PD--right at my fingertips and in the comfort of my PJ's at home.

The first session provided two workshops that I simultaneously wanted to participate in, so I chose one and then went back later to catch the second. The first workshop I chose was on Culturally Responsive Literacy Practices with Dana Stachowiak, Jeanette Alarcon, and Silvia Bettez.  They helped us stop to remember that some parts of culture are visible (food, crafts, clothes, etc.) while others are invisible (values, beliefs, feelings, perspectives, assumptions, etc.) We have to adjust our teaching based on cultures and values of the students in front of us. Later, while watching Kristin and Chad's workshop on Finding Empathy and Humanity Through Books and Beyond, they discussed the concept of using windows and mirrors. Windows represent our view of others while mirrors refer to how we view ourselves. My favorite part of their session was what Kristin mentioned in relation to the texts we have in our classrooms. She said that the "titles we bring into our classrooms tell a story" and I wonder what story we are presenting to our students? Does each child have access to text that represents their story? Do characters in the story remind them of their family? Culture? Are characters and events in stories perpetuating stereotypes?

Another great topic these two sessions discussed was how we can't confuse race/ethnicity with culture. Dana, Jeanette and Silvia did a fine job reminding us that being "culturally responsive" educators does NOT mean we expose our students to just holidays and celebrations from various cultures. These fine ladies also shared a wonderful chart that helped us see the progression from old school teaching, to multi-cultural teaching, to culturally responsive teaching.

In Kristin and Chad's workshop that I viewed later, they did an awesome job detailing the importance of building identity in students. They introduced identity webs, poetry, and other neat ideas such as "blog on a wall" to help students see themselves in their learning. 

I had so many take-aways from these workshops and they were free!! I hope you get a moment to check one (or more!!) of them out. 

I could go on and on, but I'm on my way out the door to finish up scoring ELA exams at our middle school :-)

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers and the Slice of Life writing community for providing this opportunity to share our "slices." Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work. Check out the other slices and join in the fun!