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Monday, November 21, 2011

Conferring Resources

*****Wanting more from your conferring? Check out these resources from Choice Literacy:
A basic primer of Conferring Principles to use as a cheat sheet.

When we were first learning to confer with students of all ages, we devoured books written by Nancie Atwell, Donald Graves, and Lucy Calkins. Each of these teachers had their own twists on the essential elements for high quality student-teacher conferences. Over time, we integrated and distilled their ideas into a few core principles. For the core principles click on this link.

http://www.choiceliteracy.com/public/89.cfm



Gail Boushey and Joan Moser ("The Sisters") explain their conferring routines during reading conferences: an excerpt from Conferring with Children: Principals and Procedures
 We are also teaching children to look more closely at where they are now as readers, and where they might go tomorrow, or over the next week, in working on skills and strategies to become better readers. So many of the conference protocols we've seen and used in the past look at what children are reading at the moment, or ask them to talk about their whole life as a reader. There doesn't seem to be much in-between those two extremes, but the "in-between" is where we all live as teachers, trying to get students and ourselves to look beyond the moment to the concrete, practical steps we can take today, tomorrow and this week to move forward as readers. With conferring now, we're looking at days and weeks, rather than moments and years, to help children become more independent in tracking their progress and taking responsibility for it.




One of the strengths of setting goals with children that they work on over a period of time is that it saves time in conferences. Instead of taking time during each conference with a child to come up with a new goal or goals, the child begins with knowing he or she is working on developing fluency, or on expanding vocabulary. Starting with a focus, instead of always having to establish a focus at the beginning of the conference, saves us an enormous amount of time. We can spend far more of the limited time we have with each child observing and listening to them read, and then teaching, rather than wasting much of the first part of the conference trying to figure out what we need to concentrate on that day.
We have a focus for our next conference before we even meet with the child again. When children see us walking up to them for a conference, they mentally begin to sort through what progress they have made toward their goal, and what topics around the goal we might discuss when we meet.
This essay has been published in a different form in The CAFE Book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.



http://www.choiceliteracy.com/public/89.cfm

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Common Core and Content Learning

From Choice Literacy:

A new podcast with Georgia Heard, who discusses the surprising connections between nonfiction, poetry, and the Common Core:
Persuasive writing is a key focus in the Common Core, and Heather Wolpert-Gawron has suggestions for minilessons to home in on persuasion skills:
  
Franki Sibberson has suggestions for previewing nonfiction with students:
Happy Clicking and Learning!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thinking About Your Thinking & Locating Lexile Levels

Intentional Naming = Vicarious Learning

A colleague of ours recently shared with me her awe of a first grader who used the word “infer” in context. Take a minute to create a mental image of the scene below.




She was helping another child read a book in front of the class, and she stopped her to ask the class if they could infer what would happen next in the book. She said, "Would anyone like to infer what might happen next?" and she called on lots of kids to share their schema.
While this teacher had not yet formally introduced inferring during her lengthy strategy studies, it was pretty clear that she had heard the word used multiple times in context. During her think alouds while reading, solving math problems, and engaging in science experiments, voiced how her schema and mental images helped her to infer. Real thinking. Said out loud. In context. Because of her teacher’s clear explanations about how the thinking tools helped her understand, the student obviously made meaning of when and how to infer—in order to use the word appropriately in a novel situation (i.e. transfer).


If you work under the assumption that children cannot “handle” hearing about a thinking strategy before you formally introduce it, research encourages you to reconsider. Bandura, a social theorist who studied how people learn proposed, “People learn not only from their own experience but by observing the behaviors of others. This vicarious learning permits individuals to learn a novel behavior without undergoing the trial and error process of performing it.” With that said, if you are looking to increase your students’ vicarious learning about our thinking strategy tools so that they can make meaning and possibly transfer prior to explicit instruction…


Try this strategy- Every time you say the word “thinking” in your classroom (when modeling, thinking aloud, in conversation, when conferring with students, etc.) try to follow-up by intentionally naming the specific thinking strategy you are using (i.e. using schema, inferring, visualizing, determining importance, synthesizing). See what happens. I bet you’ll be amazed at the vicarious learning and deeper understanding your students gain related to the thinking strategy tools.

Extra, Extra- Lexile Levels Made Easy!
Looking for a way to find the Lexile levels of those texts you want to get into the hands of your RTI, small groups, and individual readers? Just go to http://www.lexile.com/ and set up a free account. You can use this site to type in titles, passages, or simply find the appropriate Lexile levels for your readers.


Here is a very quick peek into what might be the most helpful Lexile website.


Lexile Analyzer-The Lexile® measure of text is determined using the Lexile Analyzer®, a software program that evaluates the reading demand—or readability—of books, articles and other materials. The Lexile Analyzer measures the complexity of the text by breaking down the entire piece and studying its characteristics, such as sentence length and word frequency, which represent the syntactic and semantic challenges that the text presents to a reader. The outcome is the text complexity, expressed as a Lexile measure, along with information on the word count, mean sentence length and mean log frequency.


Request a Lexile Measure for a Book-You can use this form to request that books be added to our list of Lexile measures. Please fill out the form with as much information as you can. You must supply the Title, Author, and Publisher. Submitting a book is no guarantee that it will be added to our list of Lexile measures. A publisher must ultimately add the book to their request, but submissions from this form can help get a book included.

Find a Book- Allows you to type in grade or Lexile level to generate a list of texts.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

HOT new books for your professional library

Check out the latest from your favorite expert authors.




The PERFECT book to start the year off on the right foot" (Angela Maiers). In Teaching with Intention, best-selling author Debbie Miller helps you define your core teaching beliefs and put them into practice through classroom organization, lesson design, teacher language, assessment, conferring, and more. Click here for details!





Move beyond the "how to write" and get students thinking about the "why"—by focusing on the reader. Building on the best-sellingReading PowerWriting Power gives you dozens of lessons based on five thinking strategies—Connect, Question, Visualize, Infer, and Transform—to help students engage readers' thinking. Preview the entire book!



10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know by Jeff Anderson distills what makes writing work in any genre or form. You get a rich collection of mentor texts, tips, and launching points for a variety of writing. Filled with classroom dialogue. Click here to preview Chapter 1 online!


See how to make formative assessments a powerful part of your everyday instruction. In So What Do They Really Know?, best-selling author and English teacher Cris Tovani shares successful lessons and strategies for getting to know your students well, differentiating instruction, giving feedback, grading, and more. Preview the entire book online!

How can you make the most of small-group math instruction?
Math Exchanges shows K-3 teachers how to foster rich discussions within a math workshop setting and help students construct new meaning and understanding as they establish themselves as mathematicians. Preview the entire book online!

In their first book, Mentor Texts, Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli demonstrated how teachers can use children’s literature to guide and inspire student writers of narrative fiction and poetry. Now, they have turned their focus to nonfiction, identifying a wide range of mentor texts and showing how these models illustrate the key features of good writing.
 
Lynne and Rose guide teachers through a variety of projects, samples, and classroom anecdotes that demonstrate how teachers can help students become more effective writers of good nonfiction. The Your Turn lessons at the end of each chapter use the gradual release of responsibility model to guide and empower student writers. Teachers will find especially helpful the information on how to select appropriate mentor texts from among the sometimes overwhelming offerings of children’s literature. Each Your Turn lesson encourages reflection and motivates students to think about what they’ve learned, the purpose of learning and practicing a skill or strategy, and how they might use this technique in the future. Additionally, An Author’s Voice provides encouragement and advice from published authors of children’s nonfiction. 

Happy Reading!!!



What other new professional books do you know about and want to share???

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Amy Buckner Weighs In on Writer's Notebooks and NonFiction text




The way out of a slump for some young writers begins with trying different genres. In a new podcastAimee Buckner talks about the value of integrating more nonfiction reading and writing into student notebooks:
http://www.choiceliteracy.com/public/1668.cfm


Aimee Buckner chats with Franki Sibberson about her new work on integrating nonfiction into reading and writing notebooks with students. Aimee's latest book is Notebook Connections: Strategies for the Reader's Notebook. A full transcript is available below the player.


Check out the podcast and then talk with your colleagues about how your your students are using their writer's notebooks to grow as writer.
Be sure to add your comments below. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Family Journals- Setting the Expectation

K in May
 Family Journals provide one of the the most authentic ways for our students to reflect on their learning and deepening understandings and from the past week. They can put to practice all of the purpose and audience, word choice, and organizational patterns they know about. In this very real venue, even our youngest writers can transfer their learning about conventions (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.) so that their message is clear to their reader.

While we must set our expectations high for our students, it's equally important to set expectations for our parents. How do we do this? Simply inform them. Send home an example letter and some guidance about how you want them to respond to their child. Let families know that these journals are a conversation on paper with their child and model of real world writing.

Looking to set the bar a little higher? Consider writing a new model letter for parents to use as their model this year. If you find yourself stumped in this area, simply search the /S/ drive under my folder and check out the model I would have written in Keaton's this week (had he brought it home.) It's not too long, not too short, but just right for responding to a child's week of learning and sharing.        Good Luck!!

5th - Notice Paragraphing
5th


Examples, Examples, Examples

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Podcast Clip about Reading Like a Writer with Lester Laminack


In this podcast, Franki Sibberson chats with Lester Laminack about how he reads as a writer, and what teachers might do to develop this skill in their students. Lester is the author of beloved books for children and teachers, including Saturdays and Teacakes and Unwrapping the Read Aloud.*
http://www.choiceliteracy.com/public/1545.cfm
Just push the play arrow on the bar before the transcript.


Whether you're just starting out, or have been teaching for many moons, it's worth your time and  you can even segment parts to share with students (after they have heard a book and establish a relationship with/context for him.) 


Lester talks about:
  • connecting to text
  • themes and messages
  • the importance of setting
  • detail diarrhea :) (the sister sickness of what I call "dialog-arrhea")
  • reading like a writer
*I've got both books (and one more!) in my room for you to check out! Great memoir and teaching texts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What's a Workshop?


It’s that time of year again! The time when we ask our students to think about the very important question, “So, what is a workshop?” We know most of them have experienced it and have plenty of schema to share with their classmates, so why don’t we find a new avenue for tapping into their background knowledge? Skip the 3 column “How does it feel, look and sound like?” chart this year and let them author their own book- The Important Workshop Book.


This year, as you read Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book, pose the question, “What do you think is important about a workshop? And WHY do you think that? By partaking in this meaning making experience, your students will be:


• engaging their brains a thinkers


• participating in a shared reading experience


• sharing their schema


• building community


• determining importance (key ideas)


• inferring readers’ needs


• connecting previous understandings with new understandings (making meaning)


• participating in the writing process


       o writing descriptively (vocabulary & details)


       o crafting complete sentences


       o considering words, conventions, and print features


       o practicing punctuation


       o publishing a class book


• illustrating to match pictures to written text


• exercising comprehension and collaboration through teamwork and presenting


• integrating the curriculum


• unleashing their creativity for a purposeful product


• …and the list goes on.


So this year, when you’re looking for a new way to tap into your students’ schema and set the expectations for your workshops, consider crafting a class book. You can refer to this text throughout the year when things are “not quite what they used to be”, or send mini-copies home to parents to inform them about how their child learns at school. Rest assured this is learning event is more than “cute”—it “counts” by getting at the understanding and meets our building code. * What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, it will be fun. ;)

Please let me know if you are interested in me modeling this lesson or coteaching it with you!



*ELA standards- RL.1, RL.2, RL.3, RL.4, RL.5, RL.6, RL.7, RL.9; W.1, W.4, W.5, SL.1, SL.2, SL.3, SL.6; L.1, L.2, L.3, (L.4, L.5) L.6

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Secrets to Successful Student Writing

Working hard on an Early Release… Last of school Early Release, that is



This afternoon our UP and 4th PLCs met to analyze their District On-Demand results for the 2010-2011 school year. After scoring and analyzing the data collected on their class and their grade levels, teachers spent some time reflecting on what contributed to their students' successes for the year. Here is what they had to say about their Secrets to Successful Student Writing.


Conferring in small groups: I take kids with similar needs and meet with them in small groups. “I’d be talking with one child and the others would be listening and even sharing their ideas. Then I’d address the next child’s need and the others would benefit. It was a win/win!“


Using the “Sandwich Approach” to teaching writing: This means we talk about different situations, audiences, forms, and purposes for writing right from the start. We then write like the models, confer with students, and end our unit with an independent try-it (on-demand) for both the child and for me to see how they do writing in this way independently.


Whole Group Discussions about Writing (Conferences): We end our writing time with a student offering to put their writing under the document camera and we all have an opportunity to confer with that writer through questions, suggestions, and compliments. It builds community. They really take their peers thoughts and ideas to heart, and become better writers in the end. To finish it off, we let the writers go back into their writing to add/ delete/ tweak their work as they seek to improve their message and further their purpose from the whole groups’ feedback.


Using SFAP(T) throughout the writing process: It really benefits our kids to have them SFAP during their genre writing so that when it comes time to show their writing skills independently (on-demand) it’s part of what they do—not just a “thing” they do only on on-demand.


Writing in Family Journals: Students have much more schema and practice writing effective letters and paragraphs. They are continually writing with a focus and working to organize their writing to develop it to meet their audiences’ needs.


Emphasizing Audience Awareness throughout the day/year: We talk about audience all the time- when speaking, listening, viewing, writing, etc. They know it’s important and they understand that different audiences have different needs.


A Context Approach to Conventions: I use my read aloud to draw their attention to particular a word an author uses instead of a boring word or one that didn’t match their message or the intended audience. We also pull our striking sentences and chop them up, talk about the punctuation- it’s effect on the meaning, and work with the grammatical aspects of words.


Writing Partners: We had both in class partners to offer one another feedback and we had 5th grade writing partners. The 5th graders read their buddy’s work and conferred with them as they have had their teachers confer with them. Talk about a Win/Win!


As you can see, the student writers at BES are making great strides due to their teachers’ efforts to set them up for success. Take a moment to congratulate yourself for your efforts to grow our young writers and share your greatest success snippet below.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Questions 2 & 3 (Writing to Learn and Demonstrate Learing/ Collaborating)

How does writing help you to learn?

 Writing it down helps you think about it.(K)
 It helps me learn about different things like science and math (K)
 Next time you look at it, you can remember. (K)

 It helps to keep it in your brain and you can go back and look at it (1st)


NOTICE THE VALUE THEY PLACE ON WRITING TO LEARN AND DEMONSTRATE LEARNING. THEY “GET IT” AT THIS YOUNG AGE. THEY UNDERSTAND THAT IT SERVES A GREATER PURPOSE.


How does talking about your writing help you be a better writer?

 It gives you ideas. (K)

 It helps me describe more. (K)

 When you talk before you write, it helps you think about it. (K)

 When I read my writing to other people I can see mistakes and fix them. (K)

 When you talk about your writing, you can ask questions and give comments about it. (K)

 Talking about it gives you more ideas and it keeps you from missing up and wasting your time. (1st)

 If you get a little wrong you can fix it, so keep a pencil with you when you’re talking. (1st)

 Other people can tell you things that you didn’t think about before. (1st)

 It gives me better ideas and helps me to think of more ideas and details. (1St)


WOW! LOOK AT THE VALUE OF COLLABORATING! IF OUR EARLY PRIMARY KIDS CAN UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF TALKING ABOUT WRITING… WOW!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Showcase Portfolio- K/1s respond to "What do good writers do?"

Check out some of the comments our K’s and 1st graders are saying about



What do good writers do?


• Leave spaces between their words and don’t keep saying “and” over and over. They put periods at the end of sentences. (K)


• Use “juicy words”, describe and read over. (K)


• Reread things before they write more.(K)


• Sound out words or find the words in the room. (K)


• Have to practice a lot and check what they’re doing. (K)


• Think before they write and use picture clues. (K)


• They reread, ask questions, and add a title. (1st)


• They think first before they write. They have good pictures and details. (1st)


• Writers need to be polite and choose good words. They need to reread and check for mistakes. (1st)


• Good writers ask questions. They think about what they are doing to write about and stretch out words. (1st)


• Use juicy words, reread and persevere. (1st)






DID YOU NOTICE THE AMAZING CRAFTS, STRATEGIES, AND GOOD HABITS OUR YOUNGEST WRITERS ALREADY UNDERSTAND AND VALUE!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Showcase Portfolio- A Valuable Tool for BOTH Teachers and Students

Teachers are taking time, in this last month of school, to interview their students regarding their growth as writers. Gone are the days of “Letter to the Reviewer”. Gone are the days of the “dreaded 4th grade portfolio” that is scored, filed, and never seen again. Gone are the days of student’s working a piece of writing to death.


Now, with our Showcase Portfolio, we welcome STUDENT Reflection in the form of a conversation or interview. It is there that students can share how they’ve grown—based on our OCS beliefs about writing. The boxes are small, but the information is powerful. It is in our Showcase Portfolios that students have CHOICE in selecting their entries that showcase them as writers. It is in this folder that new teachers gain insight about the students they will welcome into their classes in August. It is in this new Showcase Portfolio that we show (once again) how much we value our young writers’ thoughts, ideas, and products.


Deb Sullivan and Vicki Greenlee spoke about the reflective interview process (and Showcase Portfolio) this year. They commented that it’s going much easier because:


• We’ve become more comfortable and understand the purpose and process better


• We’ve used the language all year long with the kids (i.e. “This is writing to demonstrate your learning. Now, let’s reflect…Let’s take time to talk about…Good writers…”


• We’ve “interviewed” the kids and made it fun. They are not concerned about fishing for the “right” answer, but know we just want their reflective response.


• I’ve taken the time to really think about my notes because I know I’ll use them next year to relearn about each child. They will be a great reminder to me and good information for their new teacher.


• It’s going much faster- the kids are ready to respond to the questions.


Next Post: K/1 student reflections on What makes a good writer? You won't want to miss it!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Writing Program Review @ BES

We've written, reflected, walked-through, and reflected some more... and then some more. Here is what you all have said about our year of writing and progress over time.
Our PLC Celebrations
&

Next Steps
As Teachers of Writing 2010-2011
"WE LOVE WRITING!!! "
Celebrations!
Students seem to:
• enjoy writing
• have developed a love for writing
• have an understanding of the writing process and the different reasons for writing
• write in all content areas
• have a basic understanding of genres when entering 4th grade and build upon this throughout the year
• have a better understanding of writing to an audience and how writing to a different audience can affect their  
     piece• are more aware of the correct use of grammar and conventions
• have more schema when asked to write to a prompt
• have stamina when it comes to their writing pieces
• show growth as writers in their progress from picture writers’ to sentence writers
• use of model text before starting a unit (their noticings),
• show their awareness level of audience
• use of family journals

As teachers we feel:

we've created a culture where students love to write
• we are using more graphic organizers to help support our students in writing.
• we have started to help students determine importance in writing and not writing everything
• are all having our students reflect and explain more of their thinking in all subject areas.
• that a lot of our students’ demonstrate to learn and reflective writing is done on note cards/paper and collected, so they wouldn’t be in a notebook to look at. Is there a standard for our notebooks?

And yet, we are also committed to improving writing at BES and know the indirect and direct impact meeting those goals will have on student learning. So we have Next Steps.

We will...
continue to model effective writing to learn strategies and hold kids accountable for organization SO THAT students will have effective organized practices for recording and accessing information for future use.

• incorporate more common texts for students to read in content areas SO THAT students will have an opportunity to write about their thinking and new learning and how their thinking has changed throughout the unit of study.


• look for more authentic opportunities (e.g., contests, magazines, newspapers), for student to publish their writing SO THAT students are writing for a real world purpose.


• intentionally incorporate more technology into the writing process (e.g. PhotoStory, PPT, Wordle, Glogster, etc.) in various content areas SO THAT students have multiple opportunities and outlets to demonstrate their learning using 21st century technologies.


• include more cross grade-level experiences for our students and opportunities for them to collaborate outside of the writer's workshop SO THAT they learn to grow from one another and we further foster collegial student relationships for the purpose of growing.


• continue to meet in PLCs to share new ideas and strategies for collaborating. Share WPSs SO THAT we continue to learn and grow from one another and our instruction will improve.


• offer more feedback to students SO THAT they will have more specific and descriptive information with which to grow as learners


• include reflection opportunities that are more integrated across content areas SO THAT students can synthesize their new learning and make meaning in other disciplines and real world contexts.


We're on our way. We've got a plan. Yes, we are the B.E.S.T.!!!!!





Sunday, March 13, 2011

Podcast Clip about Conferring with Patrick Allen

As we begin to read our newest professional book club book- Conferring: They Keystone of Reader's Workshop by Patrick Allen I am quite sure you're coding the text with your thoughts- including your questions. I just bet you wish you could pick up the phone and just pick his brain for a few minutes. Well, you can't but F
ranki Sibberson of Choice LIteracy can... and did!
In this podcast, she chats with Patrick Allen about how teachers can develop conferring skills. 

Check it out at  http://www.choiceliteracy.com/public/1449.cfm



Also, you can follow Patrick's blog, All-en-A-Day's Work, at:

Monday, February 28, 2011

What makes a Great Share Square by BES students

video
We are always looking to improve our students' understanding and know the power of the Share Square. At BES, we understand that this time when we gather, as a whole class, in a circle to do more than "share their learning. It's that, for sure, but some days it's also a forum for exchanging ideas and discussing issues, making connections from our reading (and other subject areas) lives to the world, and constructing meaning for ourselves and each other, one idea at a time." "It's about tone, it's about respect, and it's part of the language we use as we live and learn together..."  (Miller)

As thoughtful educators, we know that "providing children with opportunities to articulate their thinking honors their voices and strengthens the reciprocity between oral and written communication. In addition, the share lets children model literacy as teachers while it empowers them as learners." (Kempton)  We know that this conversation allows for students to explore a topic in depth. "Because the leader [teacher] does not provide answers, participants are challenged to think for themselves. By trying out their ideas and exchanging and examining opinions, students build their answers  and develop their own ways of understanding the selection (concept)."  (GBF)
Watch this video to see what our own students have already internalized about The Share Square.

What do your students think makes a great Share Square?

Miller, Debbie. 2002. Reading with Meaning
Kempton, Sue. 2007. The Literate Kindergarten.
The Junior Great Books Foundation. 1999. An Introduction to Shared Inquiry

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How did we get here? Where do we go next?


Thanks so much to all of the teachers who so eloquently represented BES and OCS for the soon to be published article by the Public Education and Business Coalition. It was a pleasure to be "a fly on the wall" for the conversations during the interview by Paula Miller, Staff Developer for the PEBC, as she worked to learn more about: How did we do it? How did we learn how to teach like this? How do we get our kids to think deeply and use the strategies? and the ever important question: Are you there? "Uh, NO!" Ok, so what's next?
For everyone's viewing pleasure, here are some of your peer's thoughts on:
HOW DID WE DO IT?
  • Superintendents' Support- Mr. Upchurch's leadership, "We're in the business of helping kids." and the other superintendents' support. -AND WE CERTAINLY ARE HERE AT BES!
  • A focused vision- that we go in-depth to understand, and it's sustained over time through PDs, instructional faculty meetings, and PLC group meetings. We share this vision with the other OCS.
  • A collegial community from TOP to bottom- The culture developed because we have a principal who told us, "I don't know all the answer's either, but we'll work though this together." We struggle together here. As E.Keene said, we know the understanding is in the struggle.
  • An iinstructional leader-  a principal who knows good instruction and shares in our new learning.
  • Reading research- optional (but encouraged) book clubs to foster our understanding and to encourage us to dig-in and work/wrestle with the strategies and concepts we are/were learning. We have learned the benefits of GRR, using the workshop approach, and teaching through the thinking strategies.
  • Permission to practice. "There is no failure here.- ONLY SUPPORT. We believe it's a way of teaching reading... an all over approach that Lisa has given us permission to try... and to fail. "But it's not like we really fail, because we are always offered support and encouraged to try, try again."
  • Supportive (not competitive) Colleagues we can go to, lean on, talk ideas and questions through, and even go into their rooms and observe them in action.
  • Everyone is on board-The extent of the collegial support here permeates through our Special Education teachers, Related Arts, Instructional Assistants, Media Specialist, e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e is on board. Kid don't just learn about, talk about, and apply  the thinking strategies and writing expectations in their own classrooms, but in all classrooms.
  • A model The first year we got to see kids really talking about their reading and engaging in a Share Square. Now, we can have a literacy coach in our own room, or to other teachers' classrooms (in and out of BES) and see for ourselves how to do it, or how to go deeper and how to figure out our next steps. Sometimes we even take our classes on "field trips" to learn how others are successfully doing what we're trying to do.
  • Reflective practitioners- we constantly analyze and reflect our practices to make decision for the next DAY, WEEK, UNIT, etc.
  • Literacy Coaches- support us in planning, modeling, co-teaching, and the sharing of ideas and resources from both inside and outside of our building- they have a global view that we don't always have in our classrooms- they have a network in the district to draw from
  • We listen- We ask our kids, "How's it Going?"  and really listen so we can focus on their needs, not our next lesson in our "plan books".
  • We read, and read, and read- We always read up on the best practices we want to use in our classroom.  Book study or not, we're always looking for something to read and grow us professionally (so we can positively impact student learning)
  • Evidence of effectiveness-  Since our journey began, our classroom observations and test data show the improvement in our students' learning. (e.g. Reading scores in 2004  before we began our intensive work with thinking strategies were 97.02. In 2010 103.9. Our writing scores 2004 = 79.57. In 2010= 103) the list could continue!
Are we there yet? NO. NO. NO.

SO, WHAT'S NEXT FOR US?
To go deeper- to move our, and our students', understandings to a deeper level. The
thinking strategy language can be heard, but the depth is still not where it needs to be. We've got to continue on this journey to understanding and thoughtful teaching... and we will.
Yes, BES, we will. Because we strive to grow in our craftsmanship, consciousness, efficacy, interdependence, and flexibility. Yes, we will.
Thanks again to everyone. You and your students were amazing. How fortunate we are here at BES. How wonderful it is to be on this journey with you. As the song goes, "We're all in this together!" and together we'll go far!