Sunday, September 27, 2015

StopLight Paragraphing Refresh with VIDEOS!

After our 3rd grade teachers analyzed students' "on demand" paragraphing writing during a recent PLC, they noticed some interesting things as you can see below.
  • Students verbally shared schema for Stoplight (Step Up to Writing) paragraphing by saying things such as:
    • "You need a GREEN- a topic sentence that tells your reader your purpose and (thesis)"
    • "You need yellows to SLOW DOWN and tell your reader more about your topic- a fact, reason, or detail." 
    • "You need REDs, these help your reader to get examples or explain your yellow. "They have to connect."
    • "Readers need punctuation. 
    • "Readers need to create mental images
    • "You have to support your topic."
    • "It can start with prewriting and you need to have a beginning, middle and end."
While you may notice that your kids also bring schema with them from last year, you may crave a little refresher for the strategy as you being to really focus in on supporting your writers in all of your workshops. Here are some sites that offer videos- quick "looks" at teachers modeling for and moving students from the ALL IMPORTANT PREWRITING STAGE to the PUBLISHED PARAGRAPH. As you watch consider these questions:
  • What do you notice about the importance of prewriting?
  • How can you scaffold learning- with the acquisition, moving to meaning making (when they do their own) and later transfer (when they are totally independently and trying it on their own with their own topics)?  (overall overview for any grade level)
Grades 3-5 Step Up to Writing
Breakdown of daily lessons for intermediate students using Step Up to Writing   (This video is someone using the outline to move into a paper folding option for expanding the paragraph. )
StepUp to Writing Basics
This is "StepUp to Writing Basics" by Jason Pedersen on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them. (Check out intermediate videos that take the first video I sent you and shows a "mockup" of each day- clearly your mini lesson would not be as "dry" as what I think hers is, but it at least offers you additional schema for the method.)
Sopris Learning - Videos from Schools
Listen to Educators Who Implement Step Up! The videos below capture the experiences of teachers and administrators who implement Step Up to Writing in their schools.
** They say (occasion/position) for their first sentence. We will always use THESIS and CLAIM.

Hope these help. Let me know what else you might need/want. 

Were you curious about the analysis of the 3rd graders writing? Check it out below.
  • Writing Analysis- Bring 3 writing pieces (high/medium/low) to analyze. What steps do we need to take in regard to stoplight paragraphing and writing
    • Our Noticings:
      * About half of our students are using a topic sentence and staying focused on one topic
      * Most are including some supporting details and examples
      * Many students are using transitions
      * Most students were able to explain the components of a strong paragraph
      * Most included some type of concluding sentence
      * Many students struggled to write complete sentences and use punctuation and capitalization correctly.(if at all)
      * Many simple sentences
      * Spelling of common words (ex. things, were, then) is often incorrect
      * Some students used some type of prewriting- but few
      * Often paragraphs seemed to include unnecessary information
      Impact on Student Learning
      * We plan to review stoplight paragraphing….but not in a lengthy way
      * We plan to spend time discussing “What is a sentence?” and use model sentences to embed punctuation and capitalization lessons.
      * We plan to do some sentence combining lessons, to promote more complex sentences
      * We will be working on spelling word more conventionally though our word work and word wall activities.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I'm So Glad You Asked! DRA Questions Answered

Lots of questions arise when administering and assessing the DRA. From the "Where do I start?" question, to "What do I do if they are one point off of fluency?" When it comes to this diagnostic tool, no question is too small, too big, too challenging to try to tackle, or too "dumb" to investigate. As I have mentioned, my pals at Pearson have been  great about responding to my many, many questions on behalf of Buckner staff over the last (nearly) decade. All in all, every time I hear one of your questions, and we think through it together, I leave thinking, "I'm so glad you asked that!"

Now it's time to share the info. with the masses. So, what kinds of things are teachers curious about?

What do I do after I give the One Minute Reading Fluency screener?
  1. Compute the Words Correct Per Minute (WCPM). 
  2. Use the grid on the last page of the DRA teacher guide (lower #s use K-3, higher #s go to 4-8 booklet) to see where the child would likely pass the fluency portion. 
  3. LOOK at and analyze the scoring guide of the past DRA assessments. What do you notice? Are they typically a HIGH fluency, LOW comprehension kind of reader?
  4. Check to see if their folder offers you insights about Summer Learing Loss. Do he typially drop between Spring and Fall assessments? 
  5. See what texts and genres they student has read. Has she ever read a NF text? What books did she just do fluency on, and which ones did she finish all parts of the assessment? 

     How do I know a child's past if I don't have the DRA folder from a different Oldham County School with past DRAs in it? (they are coming...eventually)
  1. Go on Infinite Campus to find out ALL of the child past DRA independent levels.
  2. Search student (last, first name)
  3. Click "Custom Tab"
  4. Click DRA Benchmark tab
  5. Look at the previous levels, rate of growth, fall to spring (summer slide), engagement, fluency, and comprehension levels, Word Analysis task range given. 

What if the child passes rate and accuracy, BUT with prosody (phrasing and expression) they are not in the independent range? Do I have to go back a level?  
Yes. Per the DRA administration guide, that is the protocol to make the assessment valid. What great information do you now have, however? What can already determine teaching points for the instructional level! 

What if she misses comprehension by 1 point? 
You still have to reassess at a lower level. What instructional points can you use when you provide instruction? Is the information a waste? NO!! 

What if a child has read ALL of the books on the level he/she needs to use for checking the FALL (or other timeframe) level of independence?
IF they have read all the levels in the main pack, AND the leveled text  in the 4-8 booster pack (back of the 4-8 box), you CAN use a middle Progress Monitoring DRA assessment. Come see Sarah if you are not sure what this means. 

Can I write for a student who is struggling on the level 28 or above?  I just know they can comprehend it! 
NO. Changing the assessment in a way such as this,  is a modification of the assessment. The level of rigor asked of ALL students 28+ must include the student writing component. See the teacher's guide for further information. 
What if the child has an IEP?
Honor the IEP for the comprehension part only. Extended time-per an IEP- is ONLY given for the comprehension section. Scribes can only be used if the child has that accommodation on her IEP.

Where do I start the Word Analysis for a below grade level reader?
Follow the graphic on p. 15 of the Word Analysis teacher guide, OR check out this photo which is the cover of each packet. Assess the entire range *unless the child does not gets 3 "strikes" (little/no control  or some) on any 3 tasks in that range. 

What if a child has done the Word Analysis tasks?
Use teacher discretion on this. Do you think she needs to redo those same tasks? If they scored  control, what info would you be looking to find out? If a child had gaining or some, which words did they struggle with and how could you assess them? Do you need to find and fill the holes?

When are the Word Analysis Tasks due?
 Friday, September 18. 

Where do I get the Word Analysis packets for my new students?
Sarah's space. On the marker board. Run only the tasks you'll need. (They are already copied 2-sided and you can easily run a set.

Where do I record the data I get?
  1. On the DRA folder, put an X (dot for PM) on the graph showing the final FALL text assessment DRA level. 
  2. Fill in the grey card stock Snapshot of Assessment  for all students with all of the DRA info requested.
What do I do when I am finished assessing?
Use the data to plan instruction! Is it a fluency issue? What part of fluency (rate, accuracy, expression, phrasing)?
Is it comprehension? What part? Literal? Interpretation? Predicting? Summarizing with details? etc.
Is it an issue with communicating in written words rather than oral retelling?
Once you figure out the most critical component for that child, you will want to set your goals and teach to them for a period of time.
Let them know the goal. Ask them how they think they can get there. Inform them as to how you will help them grow when you work together.
Let the kids track their data (or track it for them if they are not ready) and SHOW them their improvements/growth/progress. MOTIVATION MATTERS.

Direction sheet below.
Student Snapshot 2015.docx

Monday, September 7, 2015

Moving From Quantity to Quality

You are just getting started with your Writers Workshop and your students are finally gaining some stamina. They are using their seed ideas, Best/Worst Days lists, and Maps of their Hearts to generate some QUANTITY of writing. So, it's about this time that you begin to consider supporting these newly confident writers with understanding QUALITY writing.

Over the years at Buckner this Teaching about Quality Writing has occurred in several ways.

For some it's showing students a variety of writing that spans 3-4 levels of "greatness."

  1. Teachers offer a texts that span the 3 modes, a variety of engaging topics, and demonstrate the levels of novice to exceptional with the 6+1 Traits and clear evidence of Stoplight (Step Up to Writing-type) paragraphs
  2. They ask writers to read, make meaning, appreciate  and analyze with others the quality of the writing. 
  3. Great dialogue occurs in the form of healthy debate (finding evidence within each text to prove points) and decisions are eventually made as the writers place the texts into categories. 
  4. The bar is set. The quality the class is striving for is visible. 
  5. Rubrics may be made and students begin to pursue personal goals.

For others, the analysis of mentor texts that sets the bar. Makes the quality visible.

Just a quick example of
a primary anchor chart.
Clearly your students will
additional noticings, and
intermediate grades will have
more in-depth descriptors.
  1. When students engage in this type of work, they first hear or read the texts offered and make sense of them as readers. They appreciate these mentors for the "greats" that they are and meaning they hold for the reader.
  2. Then, the partners or groups dig into them through the lens of the 6+1 Traits. They read like writers and notice word choice, writer's voice, organization, unity, sentence fluency, correctness, developed ideas, and more! Evidence is essential and statements about why it makes writing great or powerful are non-negotiables. 
  3. Finally, "great writing" lists are generated and displayed for all to see (and even housed in student folders or notebooks!
  4. The bar is set. The quality the class is striving for is visible. 
  5. And students begin to pursue personal goals.

I would be willing to bet that there a number of other ways that teachers have moved from the focus on quantity to an intentional focus on quality. As your writers become fluent, once again, please consider how you and your team will support your young writers so they discover the big picture of what writing can be- the goals they strive for throughout the year (and years to come).

What strategies have you used that have had a direct impact on student writing? Please share!