Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A New Way to Share

Research has shown the importance of bringing closure to a lesson. In Reading and Writing Workshop the common practice is the "sharing" portion at the end of the lesson. During this time, students speak about what they did during their independent work time, either in small group, with a peer or the whole group. The share provides students the opportunity to learn from one another, problem solve and articulate their thinking.

Recently, I was able to attend Boston Public School's K2 Focus Curriculum training. They take the idea of the sharing time, and shift it in a creative and effective way, which makes learning, problem  and revision a whole group process, packaged into what they refer to as Thinking and Feedback.   BPS describes Thinking and Feedback as a "time for children to learn from and with one another, discussing and reflecting on the activities just explored in Centers. The conversations during this time help build a supportive, intellectually engaged and dynamic classroom community." Even though this curriculum is geared toward a kindergarten classroom, the protocol could be used in classrooms of students of all ages.

Here is a quick description of the process:

During independent working time as the teacher is conferring and working around the room they should be on the lookout for students who have discovered something that might be inspiring to others, a struggle a student is working on who would benefit from feedback of the group, a piece of exemplar work to highlight curriculum, a discovery or invented process that could benefit other students in completing their work. When the group is assembled back as a group, one student or group of students will present their work using the following protocol:

o   Looking : The whole group looks at the work together.

o   Noticing: Students identify what they notice about the work.
                         "I notice...."  "I see..."

o   Listening: Student(s) describe their problem, their work and or their thinking.

o    Wondering: Students ask questions of the presenting student.
                         "How did you…."  "I wonder why…."

o   Suggesting and Inspiration: Students give presenting students ideas or think about how they can be inspired by presenting students work.

o   Summary: The teacher sums up the ideas and provides closure for the day's lesson

This Feedback and Thinking protocol could be implemented across content curriculum at certain times throughout the year.  To explore the BPS F2 curriculum further, click here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Teaching the Core

Just when you thought you were getting a handle on the different online resources out there to support implementation of the common core standards, another new website pops up! Teachingthecore.org launched just this past week, and is reminiscent of the AchievetheCore.org website.

This resource contains a collection of classroom videos, associated lesson materials AND samples of student work geared to help K-12 educators "implement the instructional shifts required by the Common Core State Standards." As teachers peruse this resource they will find video taped lessons (the full lesson, not just a snippit), with annotations that showcase lesson elements, teacher instructional techniques and thinking to help support the Common Core Standards based classroom.  In addition to the videos and instructional resources, each video/lesson includes samples of student work for teachers to reference.

Similar to Achievethecore.org, this resource requires educators to create a free account. Once in, educators can filter through the sorting tool by grade, content and focus. This would be a great resource to bring to a PLC or to support teachers in implementing the 2011 ELA Frameworks. To browse this website, click here.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Bringing Technology Into the Classroom

Last week I attended the MRA Board Meeting. I always look forward to sitting in a room filled with passion and expertise of literacy development and education from across the state. That evening, I learned about two new aps to be used by students, which I wanted to share.

 The first app, Socrative Student, allows teachers to interact, engage and asses their students with different activities using tablets, laptops and smartphones. Teachers can log into their account and create questions based on classroom content - anything from multiple choice, true/false or short answer questions. Once they have developed their educational activity, students can log in and interact with the activity created. As they are working, instant aggregation of data is compiled and accessible for teachers to access in a variety of ways. To create your free account, learn more information and watch a video tutorial of this app, click here.

Lori DiGisi introduced the MRA Board to the second  app, Aurasma. This app is currently featured on the ILA (formally IRA) webpage. Aurasma is a reality platform that allows its users to snap a picture of a book, or object and can then add a video of themselves speaking about the object. Lori shared that this app offers an interactive way for students to record "book talks". To find learn how to navigate this app, click here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Writing Across the Curriculum

"Writing is a complex process. To learn how to do it well takes skill, practice and courage. Determining which skills to teach young writers and when to teach them is a challenge”

I think Ruth Culham's quote speaks to the current challenges facing many educators today. With the implementation of the 2011 ELA Frameworks and with PARCC just around the corner educators have been speaking about ways to address the increased demands of routine writing and writing across curriculum. This week I wanted to highlight some resources recently discussed at the Urban Literacy Leaders meeting which could be brought back to your districts and schools.

At the Urban Literacy Meeting, urban leaders spent time reviewing a student prompt and different research based rubrics. Rubrics are a wonderful teaching and assessment tool to help teachers evaluate their student work. In addition, they offer a professional conversation piece for educators to review student work discuss implications for instruction. PARCC has released draft rubrics for analytic and narrative writing. To view the 3rd Grade, 4th-5th Grade and 6th-11th grade rubrics, click on the grade level you would like to see. Additionally, the Delaware Department of Education has developed an extensive compilation of rubrics available on their website. Teachers can go in and access a rubric by grade level and type of writing. To access this database click here.

Finally, I want to remind teachers of the website Achievethecore.org. This website houses writing prompts aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Additionally, achievethecore.org allows teachers access to samples of student writing with teacher annotations to reference and inform their own instruction and assessment in the classroom.

Friday, March 6, 2015

5DP Spring Offering

Spring is right around the corner..... or at least we hope so! The 5DP is ready for spring and has announced a spring professional development offerings.
 5 DP has teamed up with Teach Plus to offer the 5 District Partnerships Core Collaboration (C2) course. This offering is open to teachers looking to empower experienced teachers in a collaborative cohort of like-minded individuals. If selected, cohort members will collaborate together to align curriculum to the Common Core and share best practices. The cohort will meet for five, three hour sessions throughout the spring (dinner is provided!). If you are interested in working with other content/grade level specific teachers to develop units, lesson plans and grow as a teacher leader, than this opportunity may be just what you are looking for. In addition, to increasing your knowledge, there is a small stipend involved. To learn more about this opportunity and to apply, click here. Applications are due by March 22nd.