Thursday, August 24, 2017

Top “Start of the Year” Learning Targets & Resources to consider as you Build your Literate Community

Essential Understandings
Readers, writers, speakers and listeners grow through conversation and collaboration.
Collaboration Protocols (Fishbowl, 3-2-1, The Final Word, Think-Pair-Share, etc.)
Create a Class rubric
Junior Great Book stories and convo. rubric
Reading fluency is essential to comprehending text
Effective writers write for a variety of purposes, tasks, and audiences.
Ralph Fletcher -Writer’s Notebook
Lucy Calkins units-start of workshop
Invitations (Georgia Heard’s Heart Map, Decorating Notebooks with meaningful images, reading spark, etc.)
Language impacts writing and speaking.
Words their Way Spelling Inventory Assessment
Being a “Courteous Writer” What do readers expect a courteous writer to do?  (Jeff Anderson)
Effective readers and writers use metacognition to comprehend and learn.
Thinking Stems Posters
Digital citizens learn through technology.
What is it? Quick video and links to help you navigate teaching DC.
Classroom lesson (Teaching Channel video)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back on the Bike and Fly Fishing

Back on the Bike  
I know it, you know it, we can all relate... I am talking about the experience of riding a bike after a LONG hiatus. You know what your feet and body are supposed to do, but sometimes neither one will cooperate and you lean a bit to far one way or another and ...fall. Or maybe you get those feet going and suddenly your hands forgot how to brake and ...CRASH! Undaunted, you get back up and try again. Starting school again is a lot like getting back on the bike: exciting, frustrating, full of learning, and ultimately results in a joyful journey.
The journey of reading can also have it's bumps and bruises. Taking 2 1/2 months off in the summer can cause some tricky trial and tribulations for many of our readers. While some may have not picked up a book in months, others my have read, but not actually engaged in sharing their comprehension and thoughts about the text with others.  This is why easing them back into reading (and thinking about their reading) will be critical before assessing.
For the first 8 days, try some of the following strategies for scaffolding success:
  • Asking about predictions
  • Making connections & asking questions
  • Retelling & Summarizing (oral or written)
  • Determining MIP (Most Important Points, events, main idea, etc.)
  • Reflecting on their reading
All of these strategies can integrated in fun ways with collaborative partner/table talk and with read alouds you're already using to establish community!

One more strategy for success with DRA assessment includes
Avoiding the Fluency Fishing Expedition!
So that you can gain the student's independence with fluency, try the One Minute (2 really) Oral Reading Fluency. Once you have the Words Correct Per Minute (WCPM) and have looked at their Spring DRA assessment you can find the "just right" DRA and assess the reader at the likely independent level! YAY!   *All ORFs are on SharePoint.
Getting BIG fish the first time is a great time and energy saver for you and the child.
Start Assessing August 28th (strugglers first- due Sept. 15) Window closes on Sept. 29. Enter DRA levels into IC by Oct.2.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Universal Idea Connects K-5th

    Universal idea seems so...abstract. Well, it is. It's that unifying idea that connects students thinking throughout a piece of writing. Regardless of the subject/topic or content area, building a piece of writing around a Universal Idea (A.K.A BIG Universal Idea, Theme, thruline)  offers readers a true connection to the text.
Candy leads to a healthy life. (Thesis - first draft of an idea)

    Let's face it, not all readers care about your topic (insert: recess, Civil War, universal idea ;),homework, life cycles, human body system, etc.). Really, they don't. BUT... I have a hunch that the masses, the human race, does care about things such as: health, safety, benefits, injustice, leadership, better life, kindness, etc. Right? Right. Let's play this out through a look a familiar situation. You've been there before, you pick up something to read and see that it's about animals' structures and functions (insert eye roll), but then, all of a sudden you read a little further and see that the writer wants to connect it to survival. Well, I am pretty sure you care about survival.'re hooked. You then see that all of the paragraphs connect to this big idea of survival and you know you are moving toward understanding the writer's purpose. Ahhh, not just random facts about structures and functions, but facts using StopLight paragraphs that connect to SURVIVAL! It all makes sense and you leave the text with a better understanding of the topic and how to connects to something greater-something universal.

   So, while writing with a Universal Idea is still new to all of us, it's something that we hold in high value and work (through scaffolded experiences) to help our students grasp. From K to 5th, teachers are using the Gradual Release of Responsibility support students' understanding of writing with a Universal Idea. Check out some of the work of our own Buckner Bears whose work showcases an effort to make connections between topic and readers.

 Kindergarteners "cold write" : writing to support thinking about the UNIVERSAL IDEA: PATRIOISM.

Using a list of UIs to build schema. Kids work with partners to share thinking and determine words we  know and try out thesis statements with UIs. They also add some of their own universal ideas to the list!

Julie Brown leads a small group though creating a thesis statement with a UI that is connected  to "green" reasons and "yellow" support for those reasons. Writers begin to notice the connection between UIs and StopLight paragraphing as they prewrite. Next up: research and drafting with "reds" explanation and examples.  

Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS to Kristen Zwischenberger's writers who grew from 36% writing with thesis statements (Universal ideas and connected reasons) to 92%!! What amazing progress these writers made with intentional and scaffolded instruction.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Need some Next Steps for guiding strategic readers (and writers)?

Check out this AMAZING resource for designing instruction for your Guided Reading groups. It's truly one of the best resources I've come across.

Videos- Jan Richardson in action teaching specific (and varied) strategies to a variety of readers at varying levels from PreA/DRA1-Z/DRA 50. Just click on the video you want to watch for:
-phonological skills
-book introductions
-strategies prompting during the independent reading
-teaching points
-comprehension discussions
-word work
-guided writing

Sample Lessons- Looking for ideas for meeting kids' specific needs? Jan has some to share. From any of the reading components above, you can find lesson ideas and needed materials to teach those specific strategies and skills.

Verbal Prompts- What can I say when they___? Check out the graphic organizers that are categories by LEVEL (aka common reader's behaviors) and by READING & WRITING.


Assessments- No instruction is complete (or should even be designed) without information from assessments. This text offers a myriad of assessment ideas and forms.
Intervention & EL Resources- Students will additional needs might need a little something different than the others. At the end of each chapter, suggestions show up to support your planning and instructional needs.
So, if you are looking to add to your Reading Instruction repertoire, check out this book. We have 3 at BES: Emilee, Angelica, and I are happy to loan you a copy! 


Monday, December 5, 2016

How's it Going with Universal Idea at Buckner Elementary?

This new writing understanding that we are working hard to understand as teachers, and support students in doing successfully, is taking off here at Buckner Elementary. Currently, we have several grades where students are being intentionally guided toward transfer with this BIG (UNIVERSAL) IDEA so writing can unified. Already, in it's infantile stages, tying students' writing to a universal idea is leading to writing success.
What does it look like in instruction and in the work of kids, you wonder?

1st grade: In ELA unit 2, students in each class self-selected a topic to write about for a collaborative ABC book. In the past, the topic held the informative book together, but this year, Mrs. Morrison's students tied their writing together through the universal idea/abstract noun: FRIGHT. Here are some photos showcasing how they wrote with unity by always coming  back to the universal idea (fright) about the topic (Halloween).

Notice how the writer is learning more than just about the TOPIC of Halloween, they are really focusing on more than the topic. Readers are growing in their understanding about the topic based on the authors' thinking.

Scroll down more to find more examples of 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade writing with thesis statements making  claims about topics tied to Universal Ideas. (a.k.a. themes in literary texts)
You see, 5th graders are "Trying on Topics" by participating in "Warm Ups " where they respond to a prompt with reasons and a thesis that includes a claim +UI (and then apply a craft they've been noticing in model text to draft a paragraph).
3rd graders have been publishing short stories wrapped in themes about beloved family members. Both showcase the power of unity because the Universal Idea is the "thruline" that ties it all together!


This poster adds visual texts and meaning for kids in the intermediate grades to refer to when writing. Kristen Z. has a great list in LARGE font ready for her kids to lasso when they are ready to sew their ideas together with a Universal Idea. 

Please share how it's going with supporting your writers with this powerful practice of connecting ideas. If you are curious about how our 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades set up the instructional sequence for this writing practice, please ask them! They all had differing approaches to meet their learners' needs that ultimately reached the common outcome.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Celebrating Writing

Celebrating our Writers of the Month is a long-standing tradition for Buckner. For over a decade students have been entering their writing into the monthly contest. Teachers of every variety volunteer to read this great writing and winners are selected and showcased on the bulletin board, announced on Newscast, displayed on the Parent Website, and honored with a pencil.

Lately, several of our judges have taken their role of reading all of the grade level's great writing and choosing some models to a new level. Erin Marvin and Ann-Marie Elwell both contacted me separately to ask if they "could provide feedback to the students." My response, "OF COURSE! Wow! How powerful for the students to receive feedback -winners or not!"  And so they did. Each of these fine educators took the time to both read and reply to each and every student in their stack. Talk about honoring and propelling writers! Thank you to all* who took the time to read our young writers' stories, information, and opinions--you are making a difference in each of their lives by giving them an audience.
*Additional 2015-16 Judges: Jenny Graff, Rachel Martin, Ann-Marie Elwell, Stephanie Martin, Holly Dunigan, Kathy Robson, Heather McDonald, Emily Esarey, Stephanie Bailey, Jaime Ruhl, and Angelica Fotos