Monday, July 25, 2016

How to Grade for Learning

My district has been spending a great deal of time revamping, rethinking, and adjusting our current reporting system to parents.  I had the opportunity to work on work this with other second grade teachers across the district and am excited with the changes we are rolling out this fall.  We have made changes for teachers and we've made changes for parents.  These changes will help us all understand what students are learning and how students are progressing towards learning second grade content.  While at one of these district meetings I noticed a pile of professional books outside the door and got giddy when I learned these are up for grabs.  As I stood there, I learned How to Grade for Learning by Ken O'Connor was a book that guided much of the report card revamping, rethinking, and adjusting that had occurred before I joined the project.  I knew I wanted to read this book to help me understand the changes more to help my students but to also help my parents this coming school year. 

These are the nudges I found for the upcoming school year.

-write more things down, I can't remember everything

-be more intentional with linking assessments to learning standards

-do and keep track of informal communications

-do more informal communications, bring back the sending home a postcard to families

-use questions for student responses for summative assessments p79

These are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in reading this book more.

-"Students - and parents - have been taught to overvalue grades.  Although it will not be easy, if teachers grade better, both may learn to value grades more appropriately."

-"it is extremely complicated."

-"use grading as an exercise in professional judgement to enhance learning."

-"Teachers use a wide variety of assessment methods, not all sources of information need to be included in grades.  They decide which sources of information to include based on the reliability and validity of the data nada the purpose of the assessment."

-"...the prime purpose of grades is recognized as communication, not competition, and determine students grades is based on a pedagogy that views the teacher's role as supporting learning and encouraging student success."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Building Teamwork with - UP THE CREEK by Nicholas Oldland

UP THE CREEK by Nicholas Oldland was a book I discovered this week at the pubic library and is perfect for community building.  I was drawn to it by the front cover.  Its summer and three characters a beaver, a moose, and a bear are in a canoe together.  This seems to be quite the unlikely combination to be canoeing together and I had to know more.  

Come to find out this canoe trip wasn't so peaceful looking at the beginning.  Each character had their own ideas which led to the canoe over turning, tipping up, and completely capsizing.  If you've ever canoed yourself with someone else you can appreciate the struggles for finding a paddling rhythm and sharing of the workload.  They have a few obstacles and each time there are further disagreements.  

Finally, there's an agreement. They agree to TEAMWORK and take each animal's strength to ride the rapids and return to shore.  This review does not do the humor justice. The humor is achieved by the wonderful pairing of words and illustrations by Nicholas Oldland.  I found myself smiling along the way a bit more and I can see younger students especially giggling with delight.  I also think this would be a great piece to discuss showing action via illustrations.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Mindset for Learning

As I was reading, A Mindset for Learning by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz I found myself wanting to take two actions before I was even half way through the book.  The first thing I wanted to do was to have W for another year.  He needs this book.  I needed this book to help him grow further.  We had a great year together, we worked a lot on persistence but I could of gone further with many of the suggestions offered in this book.  Another action I wanted to take and may still do before school starts, is to share this book with W's parents and his teacher next year.  I think this book should be in the hands of parents also.  It's not just a book for educators.  This is a book for anyone, young or old navigating life.

These are the nudges I found for the upcoming school year.

-Don't feel hurried to start school and miss getting to know my students.

-Write knowing tidbits about my new students down, I can't remember everything.

-Focus on the stances for learning early has a whole class and not just when needed for those in need.

-Value self-talk and listen more intently to self-talk.

-Make reminder charts/tools for individuals to foster independence.

These are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

- Talking about getting to know your students.  "Rather, it must extend throughout the year and drive our planning, our teaching, and our very interaction with each child."

-"Resilience is important in our day-to-day lives, but it is essential to learning.  Resilience is what allows one to be persistent."

-"To help children build these stances, you may first want to ask them to apply them in areas of the day that are somewhat familiar to and "easy" for children in order to avoid draining their "willpower tank" too quickly."

-"When we harness the power of that voice, our life becomes more intentional and more under our own control."

-"Finding the positive spin does not mean that everything becomes the best ever; rather, it means we acknowledge negative feelings and help children move past them into productive actions."

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Redesigned and a New Blog - {Celebrate This Week}

Phew!  It's been quite the week thinking about goals, purpose, design, space, and writing.  I've wrestled, yes literally with Blogger about layout and images.  I've played around, made mistakes, called in some support, and preserved.  I've studied mentor blogs and thought a lot about less is more and white space.  You will find current lists for Places I Go for Guidance and Places I Go for Inspiration.  Today I'm celebrating redesigning this space and creating a new writing space!

I started this blog, Enjoy and Embrace Learning in 2008 when I switched grade levels from third to kindergarten.  Franki Sibberson and I were together during a Literacy Connection workshop where I was predicting this grade level switch was coming.  In Franki's usual encouraging way, she suggested a blog to document and share my transition.  That is how Enjoy and Embrace Learning began where I enjoy sharing books and things related to my classroom.

Recently, I started to feel a nudge to create a space where I could organize my thoughts and blogposts focused more on being a writer.  I try to participate in the slice of life weekly posts and for a few years have done the Slice of Life Challenge for a whole month several times.  I love the feel of these posts for a whole month together and often don't post anything else because I feel it would break up the rhythm of how the blog is viewed and read.  I've also enjoyed reading blogs with a slice of life or poetry or celebration focus.  My previous post in these three areas have been moved to Enjoy and Embrace Writing for consistency and possibilities.  

I hope you will visit both blogs physically and just say ohhh and ahhh.  I'll feel the vibes through the rays of sunshine today.  I have the blogs linked to each other via a tab at the top.  Also, if you have Enjoy and Embrace Learning showing up in your blog reader or inbox, please consider adding Enjoy and Embrace Writing, there are links to do that in the sidebar on the right.  

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, Family Life.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Picture Book 10 for 10 is Coming!


Soaking it up
Skipping along 

There's a new Voxer
Cathy checking in
Predicting my summer projects
Sharing her pd experiences

She shares the zinger
Sunday is July 10th
Picture book 10 for 10 is coming!

I knew it was coming earlier in the week but then I easily went back to savoring, soaking it up, skipping along, and my current summer plans.  Too be quite honest, even after agreeing to do a launch post today, I woke up and went - Oh, no!  - I didn't get that done and I was out the door to two of the most exciting softball games of the season.  While I was on the field, I read Cathy's post and decided it would be better if I shared mine tonight for our evening readers and twitter friends.  

I hope you will consider joining us.  We started this project because I was reading all of her fabulous suggestions in her book, More Than Guided Reading and wrote my reflections, which connected us.  I thought I had struck gold when she left a comment on my blog and today I still think I struck gold.  We love to brainstorm ideas, listen to each other, and then push each other for various little projects and presentations.  Sometimes I laugh and chuckle at her suggestions because she always has many but in the end, we come up with some good ideas like this one.  

We are thrilled so many people join us.  It increases the positive energy of a new school year.  It brings educators together around something positive and encourages sharing.  

Here's some tidbits for joining us.

  1. Grab a Badge (I like to select the image and save image as...)
  2. Join the #pb10for10 Google Community
  3. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme to determine their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  4. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number, but really ten is plenty. 
  5. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share your post on August 10th and link it to the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.  
  6. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or there are a million digital ways to join (see post below).  Of course, now with the Google Community it is quite easy to just post your favorites directly into the community without a blog.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.
  7. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three.

Please share our event with all of your friends and encourage them to join us.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Who's Doing the Work?

I finished reading Who's Doing the Work? - How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris.  I think this is a must have book for new teachers and student teachers.  It really anchors and describes reading workshop through the tools of read aloud, shared reading, guided reading and independent reading.  I think this is the perfect book for anyone looking to change their practice.  If you need nudges, descriptions, encouragement and guidance then this book is for you.  As a reader, you will also feel prepared by understanding what makes each tool special for your classroom.  Sections about implementation, misconceptions and what might be tricky when trying these tools is full of guidance.  I found myself feeling blessed for when I began my journey in teaching.  My studies were anchored in these tools and have remained integral in my reading workshop.  So, as I read this book I found myself agreeing with many ideas and breathing a bit easier that these ideas remain important for our students to be successful readers.  However,  any good reader and learner finds things to take away from their reading.  

These are the nudges I found to ponder for the upcoming school year.

- increase read aloud text levels as the year progresses for our chapter book reads

- bring more shared reading into my classroom, how does it look different from my K classroom

- think about library choices and the decisions behind them

- how can I help foster those decisions when I'm not there

- align teaching points more between read aloud, shared reading, and guided reading

These are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

-"It's important that students have plenty of opportunity to practice processing their ideas about text and to make their productive effort public."

-"Shared reading primes students with upcoming vocabulary and text features while also helping them formulate visions of their reading futures."

-"Throughout the guided reading session, the teacher makes anecdotal notes about students' reading processes and looks for patterns of difficulty to address in shared reading."

-"Well intentioned, strict definitions of "just right" (and right adherence to them) can seriously limit student choice and ultimately rob students of reading energy."

Right now there is a great opportunity to converse with the authors on the next to Thursdays via twitter.  @DrMaryHoward is hosting and the hashtag is #G2Great.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Data Set - March of the Mini Beasts

While on vacation, I found a brand new series for transitional readers but I was a hesitant to pick it up because I found the front cover a bit dark and spooky.  The blurb did peak my interest and I remembered I need more books with guy characters, plus it fit my discover a new book while on vacation goal so I picked up, The Data Set - March of the Mini Beasts by Ada Hopper.  I have to be honest, I couldn't put it down when I read it this weekend.  

Gabriel, Laura, and Cesar are friends who love to gather random facts/information/data and share their knowledge with others.  The story begins with these friends trying to raise money for a school science field trip by selling chocolate bars door to door.  They have two boxes to go and an old run down mansion, the only house left to sell to.  Their interactions with the owner of this house, Mad Dr. Bunsen are entertaining.  The friends are so excited to discover all of his science experiment gear and then he shares his growth ray machine.  He wants to try it on the children but they convince him to try it on Gabe's lucky plastic Stego toy.  As you might predict the growth ray didn't work and the children go home.

A few days later Dr. Bunsen finds the children in  Gabe's backyard in the treehouse Laura designed.  Dr. Bunsen is super excited to share he got the growth ray machine to work and they try it on more plastic animals.  It appears once again it isn't working.  However, with some time they discover the animals may not be growing but they have come to life.  This is a problem and the solution that follows is entertaining.  I have to warn you, it's not a happy ending and takes the reader immediately to wanting to read the second book in the series which I ordered last night.  

I think this book is the right mix of every day life with a twist of fantasy for transitional readers to enjoy and want to read more of.  The print is a bit larger on each page with black and white illustrations to help support comprehension.  There is more white space which I always enjoy as a reader and think it supports the readers in my classroom.  However, the characters are a fun loving group.  They create, they collect things and knowing facts is super important.  A teacher's dream.