Literacy Links – Volume 46

book list, graphic novels, literacy links, nonfiction, professional resources, reading

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At last October’s Saturday Reunion at Teachers College, Janet Steinberg, TCRWP’s data queen, talked about embedding academic language in our everyday discussions, instructions, and conversations with students. Academic language is Tier 2 words that students often encounter in directions, lectures, and other places of sophisticated talk. Instead of saying, “What is the theme in our read aloud?” try “Determine the theme in this selection.” By lifting the level of discourse, students would already be familiar with these words before encountering high-stakes situations and, more significantly, be more likely to use these Tier 2 words in their own output. I changed the topic of my Alphaboxes outside the Reading Lounge to showcase some of these words; stop by to see them up close. What other academic language would you add?

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Writing Clinic #1: Conferring and Small Groups

literacy, professional resources, test prep, writing

Once a month, LPS teachers have a “teacher-led” staff meeting. Teachers must be in the building from 3 to 4 working on anything of their choice. After going to the Saturday Reunion at Teachers College and Literacy for All, I was desperate to share all of the new ideas I’d learned. I’d been considering lots of different sharing options, and I realized I could offer it during these teacher-led Monday afternoons! So on Sunday morning, after getting permission from my principal, I started brainstorming my first Writing Clinics. The first task was to brainstorm the sessions and create an advertisement to share with staff. Thanks to Mr. Shu, I used Canva, and the graphic design was a piece of cake! 

In general, I use the Workshop Model to plan my PD, so I created my agenda on conferring/small group work using the same workshop components that I use with students: book talk, minilesson, work, and share.

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Book Talk and Minilesson

After a quick book talk on Carl Anderson’s, A Teacher’s Guide to Writing Conferences, I launched my minilesson. I decided a flow chart would be the simplest way to break down the conferring process.

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For each part of the Conferring Cycle, I asked myself, “Is there a meaningful tool that could support teachers’ work with this step?” Although I considered possibilities for each step, I decided to focus on the latter half of the Conferring Cycle because I thought they’d have the most impact on students and teachers. So I created a tool for the following steps of the Conferring Cycle: Assess, Craft a Teaching Point, and Create a Tool. By the end of the minilesson, I’d taped all of the possible tools teachers could make to the board as models of what they could create during the WORK portion of the WORKshop.

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Work Options

Here’s a close-up of all of the tools that teachers had the chance to make at the first Writing Clinic along with how to use each one:

IMG_4342 2“Assess” Tool: Formative Assessment using Checklists from the Units of Study

How the Assess Tool, Formative Assessment Using Checklists from the Units of Study, Works: Teachers cut up an illustrated checklist from the online resources for the Units of Study on Heinemann for the unit’s genre of writing and paste the criteria on the left hand side of an opened file folder. The three white blank labels at the top are for different categories: ✓+, ✓, ✓- or Meeting, Progressing, Emerging or Yes!, Starting To, Not Yet. The green sticky notes are for writing students’ names according to the level of the work they’re sharing during conferences. Tip: Laminate!

IMG_4341 2“Craft a Teaching Point” Tool: What/How/Why Planning Template

How the Craft a Teaching Point Tool, What/How/Why Planning Template Works: I’ve noticed that many of the anchor charts from the TCRWP Units of Study lay out rigorous goals of what students should do, but they don’t tell HOW to do it or WHY it should be done. The same goes for the teaching point, so I created this scaffold to get teachers in the habit of planning the what, how, and why of the lesson, whether it’s for the whole class or small group. Of course, like all good scaffolds, this tool would become obsolete once the teacher develops this frame of mind for lesson planning. Tip: Laminate!

 

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Create a Tool” Tool: Checklist Sorting Mat (inside)

Screen Shot 2019-11-05 at 2.16.17 PMCreate a Tool” Tool: Checklist Sorting Mat (front)

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Create a Tool” Tool: Checklist Sorting Mat (back)

How the Create a Tool, Checklist Sorting Mat Works: This tool, again, uses the checklists. This is a tool that encourages student self-reflection. They take strips of the checklist and decide if they are showing evidence of that work or not. Anything that lands on the “Not Yet” side turn into writing goals and can even be stored in a handy pocket in the student’s writer’s notebook. Tip: Laminate!

Every teacher left with a tool to use with students or to plan with right away.

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After the Clinic, I decided to display all of the materials in the teachers’ workroom so that all teachers had access to the information and materials in case they wanted to DIY the tools.

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There’s also a Google Classroom for this work; email me if you want to join.

I can’t wait to hear how the tools work in teachers’ classrooms!

Literacy Links – Volume 44

book list, literacy links, professional resources, technology

 

Inspired by all the amazing PD I’ve done recently at Teachers College and Literacy for All, I’m hosting Writing Clinics on all of Center’s teacher-led staff meetings. Each session will have a different focus, and no registration required. The first session is this coming Monday, and I can’t wait!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 40

creating, Harry Potter, professional resources, writing

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I have been obsessed with Dr. Rudine Bishop Sims’s quote about books as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors ever since I first heard it. So true. So powerful. When I saw Grant Snider’s print inspired by the quote, I knew I had to get it. After the reading specialist at my school transformed a long hallway into a magical, Disney-like space, I jumped into transforming some of the new, diverse texts I’d gotten for the book room into my own hallway display. It’s hard to have a favorite metaphor from the display, but I love this last part:

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I overheard some students saying that “Books are music!” I hope they submit it for the display!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

Literacy Links – Volume 39

book list, professional resources

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I love Open House! When I was a classroom teacher, I documented “A Day in the Life of a Student in Ms. Vigna’s Class” with pictures, student work, and resources. Since I don’t have a classroom anymore (sniff, sniff!), I’m preparing the Connector, the underground tunnel connecting the two wings of our school, to be a land of literacy resources. The first addition to the hallway is a “Books are mirrors, windows, and doors” display inspired by Dr. Rudine Bishop Sims and graphic artist Grant Snider. If you’re a Center School family member, PLEASE visit me in the Connector. I’d LOVE to talk with your about supporting your cardinal’s reading and writing!

Here is this week’s roundup of literacy links for some quick inspiration, tips, and refreshment:

HQTS: Making Literacy Toolkits

announcements, creating, literacy, professional resources, reading, writing

Background

At the last PD day a couple weeks ago, the literacy coaches organized a variety of stations focusing on writing about reading. Teachers spent the majority of the morning exploring resources like the Literacy Continuum and Learning Progressions, analyzing student work, and calibrating assessment. They collected tons of ideas about what students need to be able to do as writers about reading and data about what their students were showing them. So what next? Here is where a toolkit will be a lifesaver.

If you’re a member of the Units of Study Facebook groups (if you haven’t joined them yet, DO IT!), I’m sure you’ve noticed people sharing ideas, asking questions about, and creating meetups for these toolkits. It’s a notebook, binder, or any kind of collection of tools you can use to support students’ literacy skills and strategies.

Based on your students’ demonstrations and understandings and your knowledge of what gets tricky for your unit/topic, you create a set of tools to support small group or one-on-one instruction. These tools are your teaching focuses, often a skill or strategy from a whole group minilesson with more scaffolds in place. The tools might get used during a small group lesson for which you’ve planned or you might pull one specific tool out to support an individual student that you noticed needing additional support during a conference. They are flexible and adaptable, which makes them incredibly useful.

Our HQTS Work

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During our HQTS, we’ll explore resources, materials, and ideas to inspire us before getting into toolkit creation. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options, so I’ll be sharing the best of the best so you don’t have to weed through a bunch of Teachers Pay Teachers nonsense.

There will be so many things to consider: the focus of your toolkit (Reading fiction? Writing nonfiction? Theme? So many options.), the best tool for the job (Mini anchor chart? Microprogression? Leave-behind for students? Demonstration text?)  A toolkit that covered all of reading would be an inefficient beast. Instead, consider making a toolkit for nonfiction and fiction or even each unit. Whatever focus you choose, I’ll have sample toolkit pages for you to adapt, and as you create more, we’ll add to our Padlet to continue inspiring us.

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The thing I love most about starting a literacy toolkit is that it inspires you in so many new ways. When our HQTS is over, you’ll have at least one toolkit ready to use with students. However, I know it will also change and grow over time, and you may even leave with ideas for so many more toolkits.

Interested? Sign up here.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with. 🙂

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Toolkit Ideas for Writing About Reading

literacy, professional resources, reading, test prep, writing

Made with Padlet

A quick search for “toolkits” in the Units of Study Facebook groups will yield dozens of posts with requests for and pictures of various toolkits. They are certainly a hot topic. However, I haven’t seen many that focus on writing about reading, a component of balanced literacy that students are expected to do throughout the year in a variety of contexts. As a result, we’ve begun gathering and creating some sample toolkit pages on this Padlet. Browse for inspiration, and post your writing about reading toolkit pages, too!

On Becoming a Teacher Who Writes

professional resources, writing

IMG_8139My current writer’s notebook

I’ve always loved writing. In fact, there was a time in late middle school and early high school that I wanted to make writing my career, thanks to an impressionable year with an amazing teacher. I researched colleges and universities with strong creative writing programs and started wearing quirky clothes to increase my author mystique.

Then AP classes, college, grad school, marriage, and babies struck, and I lost my mojo. When I finally became a teacher, I used the Workshop Model and the Six Traits to implement my favorite teacher’s creative writing project. I also co-produced a literary magazine for my elementary schools. Clearly, I was a teacher who loved teaching writing and coaching writers. But beyond writing occasional blog posts, I wasn’t a writer. So when I saw Jennifer Serravallo’s announcement that she’d be hosting a Summer Writing Camp, I thought about all of the packing we’d be doing while minding a toddler for our we-love-it-here-so-let’s-buy-a-house move and how terribly I miss my older son while he spends the summer with his dad, and in typical overachieving Ms. Vigna fashion, I signed up right away!

According to the announcement, each week would focus on a different genre of writing, starting with fiction. All of the lessons were delivered via Facebook Live and were easy to find even though I never watched or did the lessons the day they were released. I eagerly filled my writer’s notebook when I had an extra twenty minutes–ten minutes for the lesson and ten minutes to write–to disappear, which was usually during naptime or around bedtime. At the end of the first week, I had a draft of a story that I could continue to develop. My first piece of fiction in nearly thirty years.

It was clear to me how I could easily repeat the process for any of my other seeds to craft another story. Additionally, it was obvious how easily I could stray from the lessons to follow my own lead. By using Ms. Serravallo’s strategies, I uncovered all sorts of hidden pathways to my own writing conclusions. It was inevitable to make the connections between my role in this process and my students’ roles. Teaching these strategies and craft moves is a way to pay it forward for our student writers. What a gift.

Before the end of the first week, I knew that I wanted to replicate this process with teachers. A weekly writing club that meets before school. Perhaps even an opportunity to earn PDPs or SACs or SIS? I will explore all of the options because this work is that important for ourselves *and* our students.

Happy reading and writing.

A Guided Reading Glog

literacy, professional resources, reading

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I’ve gone and glogged again! My latest glog is all about Fountas and Pinnell’s framework for guided reading for teachers from kindergarten to second grade, though the information is certainly transferrable to all the grades. I love making glogs because you can see all of the information and synthesize everything at once. The video that’s included isn’t my favorite exemplar of guided reading, but it’s enough to focus our discussion. My goal is to film a guided reading lesson at my school with which to replace it soon!

SMP #3

math workshop, professional resources, technology

I created my very first glog (I created a trial week-long Glogster account), and it’s about Standard of Mathematical Practice #3: Construct a viable argument and critique the reasoning of others. This SMP is my favorite because I believe it has the greatest impact on students’ learning across ALL subjects. When students have to discuss their reasoning, they all benefit. See what these students shared in their exit slips after a whole-class share of work on a low floor high ceiling problem from youcubed:

I love that they used words/phrases like: “get more ideas for later” and “yet.” This implies that not only were they engaged with the task, but they also benefitted from the discussion because it “gave me an idea.”

Students can share in a variety of ways:

  • whole class after a week of working on the problem during Math Workshop
  • small group work – this way a teacher can hear the math talk and encourage students to share with the whole class later
  • fish bowl discussion – all students can benefit from reflecting on what went well and what could be better

How do you get students to share their reasoning or the critique reasoning of others?