Here’s what I’ve been receiving: life-improving, useful resources for 1) finding complex texts for our students to read, and 2) teaching them how to read, write, and talk about them . . . more.
10 Teacher-Tested Strategies to Engage Reluctant Writers
By John Spencer
A few years ago, my son opened a Google Document and started typing. I asked him about it and his eyes lit up as he described the shared story he was writing with classmates. This was the first day of summer break but he was choosing to write for fun. It might not sound like much but it’s an example of the tiny miracles that happen in classrooms all the time. My son fell in love with writing in Ms. Reddiger’s class. He spent a whole year getting up early and finishing his chores fast so that he could write a blog post or do a story on Storybird. He viewed himself as an author because of his teacher. more
During PD this week we explored our own reading processes in order to uncover ways that we might better apprentice our students in becoming expert readers of the content we are teaching. Based on the analysis of our own reading processes, I’ve updated the reading strategies list. Remember, this is not exhaustive. Share with us your expert ways of reading!
Common Lit is a resource of which some may not be aware. However, they offer a plethora of resources many with SAT-like questions aligned to the standards. Today, I received an email reminding me of this powerful resource so I wanted to pass it along to all of you. Resources are free! It evens tracks student data! Teachers can choose standards to assess and even level text.
The link below will take you to examples of texts that feature people who have changed the world; there’s much power in that!
Struggling with how to structure conversations for your students? Here is a handy bookmark that can be laminated and taped to the desks as a support for students. Thank you Zeinab Chami for sending this!
We truly have the best job in the world! I want to thank you all for another amazing year at FHS and wish you a safe, relaxing summer! I leave you with this thought . . .
What are teachers saying about teaching infographic – http://wileyactual.com/k12/pdf/for-the-love-of-teaching.pdf
Like anything, the more you practice, the better you’ll be. This summer, grab a lemonade a good book and find some shade, a swimming pool or even a beach and read two good books! Below are the summer reading expectations for next year. SSR+ is part of our school culture so get a head start on next year!
It’s often difficult to find text that pairs well with what we are teaching. Read Works comes through again with some excellent resources. It appears that the reading levels only go through 8th grade, but don’t be fooled. Many of the texts within the set go far beyond that, so be aware of the Lexile levels. There’s a great text set called “Profiles of People with Different Careers!”
Here is a tool to consider when having student analyze ideas across text sets.
Read the entire article, by Smekens, here: http://www.smekenseducation.com/Track-Multiple-Ideas-Across-a-Text.html?utm_source=2018+Literacy+Retreat+Session+Drip+4&utm_campaign=2018+Literacy+Retreat+Session+Drip+4&utm_medium=email
Did you hear the news? ReadWorks “Article of the Day” is providing supports for struggling readers including ELL and Special Education. They now have audio versions of the articles so students can “hear” the reading fluently as they follow along. There are also translated versions, but nothing in Arabic yet. Regardless of your students’ needs, ReadWorks provides us with more, leveled resources to support their needs.
Here is an idea that brings the real world into the classroom to engage and excite students. Needless to say . . . I love it!
Teaching Lord of the Flies in a Completely Different Way
In this Education Week article, brothers Chip Heath (Stanford Graduate School of Business) and Dan Heath (Duke University CASE Center) say that “peak moments” in life that we remember forever – a wedding day, a successful public presentation, an award for exceptional accomplishment – share certain characteristics with peak moments in school – a swim meet, prom, senior musical performance, science fair, football game, debate tournament, choir concert. What are the common factors? “They’re all social,” say the Heaths, “often performed in front of an audience, and involve an element of competition or pressure. There’s a sense of pomp and circumstance about them – notice how often we actually wear distinctive clothes to them.” And with the school moments, almost none of them take place in classrooms, even though that’s where students spend virtually all of their time in school.
How can schools create more peak moments in classrooms? Here’s an example. In 1989, social studies teacher Greg Jouriles and English teacher Susan Bedford decided to teach Lord of the Flies a little differently at their California high school. One day during a routine discussion of the novel, a visitor strode into the classroom and distributed an official-looking document announcing that the book’s author, William Golding, had been charged with “libeling human nature.” Students were told that they would put Golding on the stand in a “Trial of Human Nature,” taking on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, and the judge. The trial would address fundamental questions of literature and history, including: Are people good or evil? Is civilization just a thin veneer over violent instincts?
For several months, students prepared for the trial, and when the day came, they dressed up in suits and costumes (Stalin, Gandhi, Atticus Finch, Harry Potter) and took a bus to an actual courtroom where a jury of administrators and alumni sat to render a verdict. The trial idea was so successful that it’s still being implemented in this high school every year, three decades later (in some years Golding is found guilty, in other years not guilty). “The day of the trial is a powerful peak moment,” say the Heaths: “a culmination of preparation and practice, delivered in front of an audience, with real stakes and immediate feedback. Every year, the student speaker at graduation mentions the trial. The prom? It’s mentioned sometimes.”
Could this kind of exhibition or performance task replace traditional final exams? That sounds crazy, but consider, say the Heaths, which “more closely resembles work in the real world: the intense collaboration of an exhibition requiring students to frame and deliver a project under deadline pressure so that an audience can view and critique it? Or an exam with 10 multiple-choice and three short-answer questions?” Worse still, consider the finding of a study at an elite private school showing that when students were asked to retake their June final exams three months later, their average grades fell from B+ to F. All the exam preparation these students had done simply evaporated over the summer. And consider an American Institutes of Research study showing that students who engaged in deeper learning reaped a number of benefits, including better collaboration skills, motivation, self-efficacy, and on-time graduation rates. This was true of all student subgroups.
“So how can we feel satisfied,” conclude the Heaths, “delivering the usual academic experience – one that students, on the whole, can barely remember?”
“Student Motivation” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath in Education Week 10 Big Ideas, January 10, 2018 (Vol. 37, #16, p. 4-5), https://www.edweek.org/ew/
articles/2018/01/10/the- secret-to-student-engagement. html
As part of developing a growth mindset with students, it’s important that they understand that mistakes are essential. This article talks about the fact that all mistakes are not equal and the necessity in understanding the different types of mistakes we make as learners. I personally never thought about mistakes in this way.
The benefits of Khan are tremendous. Besides just an increase in scores, it helps to boost confidence!
“College Board President David Coleman told reporters in an online conference Monday that he was particularly pleased that the gains seemed not to vary much by students’ gender, race, income level or high school GPA. “It is good news that practice is an equal opportunity employer,” he said. “And the great news is that it is free.”
Infographics convey information in fewer words, pictures and other visual representations. For some students these are more easily accessible than an article. Think about using these for your next AOW or adding them to your next text set or better yet, have students design their own. Here are a few websites to get you started.
It’s time for SSR+ in your classroom. Are your students really reading or are they really faking it? Here are some tips to help make this very necessary time authentic.
What would it be like to get rid of the reading logs and make the accountability piece of SSR+ more fun? Follow the link below for some amazing ideas to “ditch” the reading logs. If we make if more fun, they are going to be more willing to engage!
From the author, “. . . the key in all of this is to make reading public celebration, and to vary the ways in which you think, talk about, share and respond to text. When the method that you use to keep students accountable for their reading is fun and engaging they are less likely to view reading as a chore and more likely to enjoy it. Is the goal to collect a stack of papers in which students log their minutes of reading or is it to inspire a love of reading that leads students to inspire others to pick up a book?”
This is an interesting article. Things to consider . . . Are you doing enough of these things? Are they consistent?
Education may be the passport to the future, but for all the good teaching out there, it would seem that schools are failing to impart some of the most important life skills, according to one educational expert.
Dr. Tony Wagner, co-director of Harvard’s Change Leadership Group, argues that today’s school children are facing a “global achievement gap”, which is the gap between what even the best schools are teaching and the skills young people need to learn.
This has been exacerbated by two colliding trends: firstly, the global shift from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy, and secondly, the way in which today’s school children – brought up with the internet – are motivated to learn.
To read entire article – https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/09/skills-children-need-work-future
Creating strong writers doesn’t just happen, it takes practice . . . lot’s of it!! To create strong writers, we need to be sure to embed writing into our daily instruction. As Smekens indicates, there are different types of writing for different purposes. However, after asking students to write, we usually hear “Miss, how long does it have to be? How many sentences?” We must move students away from this. One way is by providing mentor texts that serve as models of good writing. Another way . . . create the model yourself by writing in front of your students! This is quite possibly the most powerful model because students get to actually see and hear the process as you think aloud; apprenticeship at its finest! Not comfortable with this practice? Reach out to your literacy coordinator who loves doing this with kids!
Check out Smeken’s ideas about writing for different purposes – http://www.smekenseducation.com/Build-Strong-Writing-Paragraph-.html
Writer’s Workshop is incredibly important because it helps students learn to process their thinking as they put their ideas into writing. I’ve decided to blog about this because I frequently find myself having discussions with teachers about the difference between revision and editing. They are NOT the same. Revision is the process of making the writing itself better! Editing is a completely separate process that looks at the writing conventions: spelling, capitalization and punctuation – some include grammar here. I personally have students look for grammar mistakes during revision.
Please reach out if you want to workshop writing and I can support.I have resources that I am happy to share. I’ve been pushing into classrooms frequently and working through revision with students. I love being able to dig in with students!
Want more about the difference between revision and editing? http://slc.berkeley.edu/editing-vs-revision