Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tackling the Expository ELA Writing Standards






One of our gifted literacy coaches in our district, Leah O’Donnell, provided a PD last summer in which we examined the progression of the ELA standards through the grade levels in character study. Leah has expanded this experience for teachers and recently posted on that work on her blog. http://responsiveliteracy.blogspot.com/2014/11/what-is-purpose-of-grading.html As we move to standards based grading and work towards improving our feedback to students, it’s apparent that we need to provide opportunities to talk about the standards and what they look like in student work.

Our Pershing School K-5 teachers and reading specialists met together this morning as they begin the expository writing units with their students.


K-5 grade level leaders read the standards for expository writing for their grade level in order from kindergarten – fifth grade.

Teachers sat together in grade level teams and used colored markers to code the verbiage in the standard with the example in the grade level sample.



As teachers worked together, they made some discoveries. The 4th grade sample did not include any evidence of W4.8 or W4.9. That gave us all an opportunity to remember that curriculum materials should not dictate what we teach. They are only resources. The standards need to guide our work and our feedback to students.

As teachers worked together, they made some discoveries. The 4th grade sample did not include any evidence of W4.8 or W4.9. That gave us all an opportunity to remember that curriculum materials should not dictate what we teach. They are only resources. The standards need to guide our work and our feedback to students.






Our next steps:

1.     Grade level teams examining some samples of work that students are producing and talking about the feedback that could be provided to move students forward.
2.     We will use finished products and the standards to reach grade level consensus on  “exceeding,” “meeting,” “approaching,” the standard for purposes of grading.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Chatting it up on Twitter

Anyone I’ve talked to about Twitter as a source for personal learning, didn’t quite get it when they first got started. Neither did I! I set up an account and followed a couple of people that I was told to follow. Each week, I diligently checked my Twitter account to see what they posted. After a while, I caught on to the idea that one person led to another. Before long, I was following a couple of hundred people and had an account for the district PD and one for my school. Now, a few years later, I check Twitter several times a day and post frequently.

As happens in summer, I slowed down a bit and noticed that people were participating in what I came to learn are “Twitter Chats.” As most addicts do, I started with one and that led to many more. I’m trying to limit myself to a few a week.  I learned that it’s helpful to follow all the regulars on the chat as we share a common interest.  I set up Tweet Deck as it is a platform that simplifies viewing the activity under the hashtag (i.e.#sblchat). I can read what’s being posted throughout the session and respond to questions posted by a moderator, or I can just read and learn.

Here’s some tips to get started after you’ve found a chat you’d like to participate.

  1. Follow the moderator. Search by the # and find the person who sent out the questions. He/she may have a co-host. One of them will send out reminders under the hashtag on the day of the chat with the topic.       

        2.   Looking at the previous chat, follow people who have interesting responses or posts.

  3. At the start of the chat, be prepared to introduce yourself so that the moderators know who’s participating.  

       4. Reply to posts that you want to comment on.

       5. The moderator will number the questions. (i.e. Q3). If you are responding to one of the questions, you’ll write “A3.” This will help keep questions and answers organized.

       6.  If you particularly like what someone posts, favorite their Tweet so that you can view it again in your “favorites.”

 Here is a screencast showing you how to get set up to participate in a Twitter Chat. I hope that you’re able to find a chat that really stretches your thinking and helps connect you to other educators. That’s what it’s all about!