Foster Parenting

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Celebrating Learning Communities and DIY Literacy

I am cross posting this post with Ruth Ayres Celebrate posts and CyberPD hosted by Cathy Mere, Laura Komos and Michelle Nero.  I celebrate all the different learning communities I am in, both virtual and face to face.  This summer has been filled with different ways to learn and people to learn with.  I appreciate all of the opportunities I'm being given.  My thinking is always stretched when I can learn with and from others, giving me new insights to ponder.

As I read the first two chapters (and the bonus), I began to wonder what this might look like with adult learners.  My days include two related jobs:   I work with small reading intervention groups for part of the day and coach teachers the other half.  Some of my coaching work will be done with vertical teams of grades 2 - 5 and K - 1.  In the past, our monthly data team meetings have been done in grade level groups, so working with vertical teams will be different for me.

My principal has suggested we look at the literacy framework more closely and hone in on planning instruction and using formative assessment to gauge how our students are doing. We are going to plan lessons together on our teams, go in and watch each other teach, and give each other feedback.  Our district focus is on assessment this year and how those assessments can inform our instruction.

Just as it is in my classroom with students, it's important that I build knowledge together with adult learners too.  I've taken suggestions from Kate and Maggie and adapted it for my coaching.  I'd love feedback from others on what you think works and what needs tweaked.

Making it Stick

I've tried to keep in mind the three qualities that make learning "stick."
  • They are visual.
  • They make the abstract concrete (love the word salad).
  • They encourage repeated practice
I used Clare and Tammy's Assessment in Perspective (if you haven't read this book, you must) and Fountas and Pinnell's The Continuum of Literacy Learning (provided to all K - 5 teachers in our district) to help me articulate my thinking.

My Topic:  How do we use our assessments to plan for meaningful instruction within the reading workshop?

Teaching Chart  

I used Piktochart to create this very simple infographic to help guide teachers' thinking.  I'd like to be able to create a chart with them after going through the process together.

Demonstration Notebook:

I'm thinking I would supply teachers with demonstration notebooks (or have them bring something they'd like to use) and we would build these together.  I envision using these to support teachers in collecting ideas for teaching different strategies, so they are a little different from those described in the book.  I imagine a section for each of the three ways of thinking about text:  Within the Text, Beyond the Text and About the Text, which would then be divided into strategies that fall under each category.    I also see a section about different instructional decisions teachers need to make when looking at their assessments.  I can see these notebooks being very individual to meet teachers' needs, and I also know it is important for me to begin to build my own demonstration notebook before school begins.  

Some ideas that I envision for these notebooks:
  • How to analyze running records
  • How to determine which part of the framework to use
  • How to differentiate learning in interactive read aloud/shared reading
  • How to talk about author's craft (about the text)
  • How to infer about a character

Micro-progressions of Skills

I would build this chart with teachers as we talked about different levels of using assessment to inform instruction.  I would give teachers a blank table and ask them to complete it together and we would share with the whole group.

Planning a Shared Reading Lesson at the Beginning of the Year


I can see building bookmarks with teachers around different skills and strategies.  Giving them (and me) the practice of deconstructing the strategy and then creating bookmarks, will enable all of us to create the necessary bookmarks with our students.  

I realize as I write this that I flip flop between making instructional decisions based on assessments and supporting teachers as they work to support their students.  Maybe it's too messy.  Once again, this is one of those things that I will need to figure out as I go.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sister Time

Growing up we didn't like each other very much.  Our mom said that someday we'd be friends.  We didn't believe her.

We had some horrendous pulling, scratching, screaming at the top of our lungs.  I remember the time we were grabbing at each other after school because one of us had something the other wanted and my glasses went flying off my face only to break as they hit the floor.  Mom had just started a new job to help make ends meet and I had just gotten those glasses.  We both knew there was going to be a price to pay when our parents got home and neither one of us was going to admit any guilt.  I'm pretty sure both of us had to empty out our scrawny bank accounts to put toward a new pair of glasses for me.

She taunted me.
I bossed her.
She complained about me.
I made up rules and made her follow them because that's what big sisters do.

I didn't think there was anyone I could like any less, unless it was my youngest sister who caused me as much angst as my middle sister did.

We grew up.
And we found that the other wasn't so bad after all.

Now that we live 1,000 miles apart, we don't get to see each other very often.  So when we do, it's time that cannot be wasted.  We laugh, we hang out, we read, we eat good food.   We talk about what it's like to have grown up kids.  We still feel like we're 30 ourselves.  We remember the times we had to stand up for each other or be there to hold on tight when the other one was falling apart.  We think about what the future holds for us as we are now considered middle aged by our younger, hipper children.   How did that happen?

She no longer taunts me,
And I try not to boss her, although sometimes I slip.
I like to think of it as good advice.  (If I didn't tell her to pinch off the basil so it would fill out again, who would?)

I'm pretty sure this basil can be saved if she only follows my directions.  :)

We no longer hate the sight of each other.  And is always the case, Mom was right.

We are sisters who are also friends.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  I invite you to go to their site to read other Slice of Life stories.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Gifts from CAWP

Our two and half week writing time with the Columbus Area Writing Project ended yesterday.  I'm left with mixed feelings.  I welcome more unstructured time for my summer days, and yet, I will miss the people and the structured time to write.  This is the test for me.  Can I keep up the habit of daily writing?

It is my goal.

CAWP (and other affiliates of NWP) provides a powerful experience where you learn not only about the art of teaching writing, but also about yourself as a writer.  And the formula is so simple.  You write, you write some more, you get feedback from others, talk about writing, and then you go and write again.  The community that is formed is phenomenal and is one of the keys to CAWP's success.
This week again, I celebrate CAWP.

At the end of each day, we jotted down our thinking...questions, ahas, new thinking...whatever came to us.  Robin then collected them together and created an Inkshed for each of us to have the next day.  I took those Inksheds and created a found poem to share my celebration today.

The Writing Life

Time to write
Time to work in different ways
Inspired me to
Lots of possibilities

Look in the mirror
Capture a thought or memory
Write, critique, think
Learn from the conversations of others’ writing
So many ideas


I appreciate the writing
Feeling valued
Time and Space
Conversations with others

Powerful and uniting

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space for our weekly celebrations.  I invite you to visit her site to read about other celebrations.