Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dec. 20th - I'm on Winter Break!!!

What a busy last week before winter break!! But now I have changed my alarm to NOT go off at 5:30am and I just sent my last email to my parents sharing highlights of the week and after posting my Back in the Classroom thoughts, I will turn off the computer and unplug for ALL of break. (My youngest daughter is in Europe and my husband, other daughter and I fly tomorrow to meet her and spend 10 days in Venice!!)

Monday I followed the suggestions of Lucy and Annie in the 5th grade Unit of Study for Teaching Opinion Writing on how to have a Publishing Party. It was suggested to have parents listen as opinion writers share as if on a panel. The students talk and then ask for questions and comments.

SO Friday I match pairs of students up and had them PLAN out sharing their reasons for their Big Idea. The students all wrote about the airport being a good or not good place to live (after reading Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting), about whether chocolate milk should or should not return to the Janney lunch menu, and then a topic of their choice. I was able to match pairs that took the same position and gave them an organizer - Partner 1 started with an intro, Partner 2 shared the first reason, Partner 1 shared the 2nd reason and Partner 2 shared the 3rd reason, Partner 1 stated the conclusion, and Partner 2 asked if their are any questions or comments.

About 8 adults came for each of the celebrations (I teach 4 classes and invited the parents from each homeroom to attend the celebration when their child has Writing Class). On the same day, the 4th grade teacher wanted to showcase his writers, so I send half the class for 15 minutes to his room, leaving just 5 pairs of students. I had them sit and adults join so all pairs had at least 2 adults to talk to. Then I set the timer for 10 minutes. To help the parents, I gave them a handout:

Today’s agenda is to sit and listen to a pair of students who wrote an essay about the same topic. After listening, please ask them questions and encourage a dialogue.

Possible questions are:
A question I have after hearing you speak is ______.
Can you explain this more?

I heard you say ______.
I don’t agree with that. I think …..

You said ____.
This reminds me of …

What other essays have you written?  Can I see your essays?

Then the students will switch and you will listen to another pair of students. Again, after listening, please ask them questions encouraging a dialogue.

Then the magic happened!! The students talked about their topic. Questions and comments were exchanged. After both groups shared, I had all reflect on what surprised them about celebrating their writing in this way, through a discussion. In all four classes, the students remarked on how the adults knew lots about their topic and that the questions they asked, got them to think deeper about their topic and come to name many more questions. I love that I celebrated in this fashion (thank you Lucy and Annie)!! Rarely do we write an essay and have it printed. Instead, we think about an issue and TALK about it to get others to understand the issue and especially our side of the issue. I love that Monday was a day of talking about BIG IDEAS!!

Tuesday the class reflected on all 3 essays they wrote. I used the new checklists with picture support on the new Pathways book and created a page that listed the Opinion skills related to structure, development and conventions for a 5th grade Opinion writer. Then I made 3 columns of Not yet, working in it and YES! I asked the kids to use this checklist sheet as they reread all three of their essays. 

Wednesday we took a break and wrote a friendly letter to a student in France. My daughter, Anne is working as a teaching assistant and native English speaker in France and she set us up with pen pals.

Thursday I had my co-teacher teach a fun lesson by reading Mo Willem's newest book - Waiting is Hard! and they did a quick write about a time that they had to wait. And what did I do?? I spend Wed night reading 25 students' essays and writing a GLOW and GROW on each of the checklist worksheets. Then Thursday I worked from 7am - 3pm reading 40 more students'. Then on Thur night I read the last dozen. I was determined to have all the reading and feedback completed!! I'm traveling ALL of winter break and need ALL my school work done. 

NOTE: as I took a break from reading essays on Thursday, I saw this tweet: "If you can read all your students' writing, they aren't writing enough." I laughed to myself...I took a day off from work so I could read ALL their writing!!

Friday was a wonderful day of reflection!! I share my final 2014 email to my parents here as it sums it up well:
Dear 5th grade Families,
We had another wonderful week in 5th grade at Janney. 

Monday started with a day of sharing our opinions during our Writing Workshop Publishing Party Celebration. Thank you to those who could come and even those who brought along their parent or in-law. Having adults to discuss big ideas with really helped the students to see WHY their ideas matter and WHY taking notes on both sides of an issue matters. As we reflected, the students commented on how taking a longer time to discuss a topic had their discussion go deeper. I know my own mom enjoyed her afternoon discussions! If you couldn't come, do ask your child who their partner was and what was discussed. Opinion essay feedback sheets will come home in the January 6th Take-home Tuesday envelop.

Friday ended with a day of reflection. I experienced my first Janney Sing-Along!! I loved sitting in the gym with every single Janney student and teacher. Our class got to be the last song - Winter Wonderland! It was a joyful and peaceful hour of songs highlighting all the cultural celebrations occurring at this time of year. My very favorite part was listening to Avey from our class, along with Annette, play their recorders. I recorded it and was able to attach some of it to this email. Enjoy their peaceful song!!

Also on Friday, we took time to reflect back on the 2014 calendar. We joined Ms Fernandez' class and looked at a calendar of the whole 2014 year and circled dates we recall fondly. I circled May 18 - the day Anne graduated from UVA, July 31st - the first day I met Ms Fernandez and August 11 -  my first day of work at Janney! Dates shared by the students were the last day of 4th grade, first day of 5th, a summer trip and Super Bowl Sunday! Then we watched this video of Google's year in review based on searches:   (I share the link as you might also enjoy it)
Then we looked at the 2015 calendar and thought ahead to the New Year and jotted down our thoughts.

As I reflect, I love that I still get six more months to work with your child!
Thank you for entrusting your child to me as their homeroom and writing teacher.
I am confident that 2015 will be an amazing year and I'm so grateful I get to spend it as a teacher of your child for most of the year!!

Now I am taking off my teacher hat for the winter break. I am grateful that my youngest daughter, Anne, requires a visit by her dad, her sister and me in Europe so we must comply! Have a peaceful winter break and I look forward to seeing you at Jamboree on January 5, 2015.


And now I end my last blog post of 2014. More reflections to come by a teacher who is happily back in the classroom teaching writing workshop in 2015!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

12/13/14 (and now 5 days until break time!)

It is one thing to read inspiration and feel empowered in the quiet moment of reflection, as I did last Sunday. It is another thing to live it when back at school on a Monday-Friday work week. There's the 20 kids always staring at you. It's the to-do list lengthening and then a fieldtrip is thrown into the week. Then colleagues are too busy to notice you might need help. However, now that it is Saturday, I can say I survived the week and can even say it ended on an upbeat.

But, yes, this job is hard. So much in the classroom is coming at you fast, so many professional demands on top of that, and then in December, there's the additional personal to-do things associated with Christmas. So glad that the school system builds in a break and this year, it is a nice, long break - 16 days!!

Best Part of this Week:
* My writing team gave me flowers, saying they appreciate me on a day I was trying hard to just tread water; teachers need friends! It is the best when they are teammates!
* I created a checklist and reflection sheet for the kids to use to reflect on their essay work; I could do it so quickly thanks to the new spiral Pathway Writing book. I love the pictures that they added to the checklist words. It is much more user-friendly.
* I taught with my co-teacher to model how to plan and practice for the Monday Publishing Party. So great to have another adult to do this work with. And I think the kids are ready. Monday is going to be fun!!

Things I could have done without:
* I didn't realize I accidentally left my wallet at school until I was at the Post Office trying to mail letters that were time-sensitive 40 minutes before closing.
* A fieldtrip and change in schedule during December...we are creatures of habit and it adds a bit of stress to have the schedule change.
* A document needing to be completed by yesterday at midnight for the administration. Then realizing that much more than an hour after school on Friday was needed to complete it.  And now on Saturday, realizing the draft I started yesterday isn't even in my dropbox. Guess I better start and finish it now.

So again, a week of ups and downs. I am reminded that when unfortunate things occurs, it is my  chance to practice humility.

Humility (adjectival formhumble) is variously seen as the act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others, or conversely, having a clear perspective and respect for one's place in context.

C.S. Lewis writes: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."

I do hope I can be less annoyed by little annoyances and instead, think about how to help students, my friends, and especially my family. I have a great model of this in my mom. When I didn't have my wallet with me at the Post Office, I called her and she gladly met me at the Post Office and spotted me a $20 so I could get the task done. It really is OK to ask for and receive help. It really is OK to try to be humble. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 7th - 10 more teaching days and then 16 vacation days (not that I'm counting!)

Looking back, I would say I had a week of reflection. Looking back it was filled with both up and down times. For example, on Tuesday I told students who were done their essay on whether chocolate milk should or should not be offered at our school, that they could start to gather research for and against their next essay topic. During the first period, students had an idea of their own but didn't know how to get an article on the topic to take notes. I had suggested 3 topics and had a list of links to articles on these to read (thanks to TCRPW) but some had another idea and then spend (wasted) time not reading and taking notes. I was frustrated by not anticipating this. I tried to "sell" the topics more with my 2nd class. But then during lunch I still felt deflated. The links for the 3 topics I was "selling" - recycling, green energy, and censorship - was a list from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (just search for 5th grade text sets). So an article was listed with the URL and then the students had to meticulously type in the correct URL address. I clearly was not setting these kids up for successful notetaking during my WW time as I saw them wasting too much time just trying to get their laptop to show an article.

During lunch, I blamed a bit of my depressed feeling on that I was just hungry. As I sat and ate, I kept thinking. Then I returned to my classroom, opened the website page my 5th grade team has where we post homework and figured out how to add a page. I called it Writing Workshop Links and I cut and pasted all the links I got from TCRWP to this page. I crossed my fingers and submitted the page. It worked! NOW the students in the 2 classes I teach after lunch could get to an article faster and have time to read and take notes. However, only if they pick one of the 4 topics (I added Competitive Sports, too). I still saw kids interested in homework and pets and homelessness struggling to find places to go to read an article. And then I got observed by the Principal during my 4th and final group on Tuesday. I am still awaiting my meeting to get feedback. But her presence in my room, I think, had me reflect even more. Mostly on Tuesday, I felt tired and depressed. I am a good teacher. I have so many things in place to allow for 5th graders to arrive in my WW and grow as writers while they work for 50 minutes 5 days a week. But on Tuesday I clearly saw how much more I still need to do. This is my first time teaching Researched-Based Argument Essay and I know I can do it better next time. I haven't harmed these kids but some of their precious writing time was wasted by not anticipating the resources they would need.

Then today Mark Barnes started following me on twitter (he must have liked something that I retweeked?!) so I clicked to see who he is and found out he is: Education speaker. Author: Role Reversal, 5-Minute Teacher, Teaching the iStudent, the Global Learner, Assessment 3.0. . Publisher,

So I clicked on his blog (I like the title - Brilliant or Insane) and clicked the menu and clicked inspiration and went to this link:

and read this:

If you’re a teacher and you’re not questioning your methods daily, you might want to consider another profession. Great teachers always think they can do more for students. Outstanding teachers feel like they can be better. The best teachers ask themselves questions every day that begin with, “What if?”
Great teachers doubt their methods and question research. The best teachers in the world refuse to do something just because someone said, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Great teachers care more about their students than they do about ill-conceived principal mandates.
Great teachers don’t think about being great. They make sure that their students are.

After reading this, I decided I need to change my feelings when I reflect. It isn't about me being a deficit. It needs to be about me and how I can try to make something better. And actually maybe it is about how I can help my students to be more independent so together we solve the problems that come up. It helps when I make good things happen quickly but if I don't show my problems and how I solve them, my students will think life is easy and not hard. (So much to think about!!)

According to Mark, I am doing what great teachers do. I also need to not think about a lesson as AM I BEING GREAT...Instead, it needs to stay focused on the students...what ELSE can I do to make sure they are doing great things. Being observed threw me. Being tired this week threw me. However, I get 10 more days with these kids in 2014. I really want to make the most to help them write their next essay (on Wed/Thur) and to help them reflect on themselves as writer (Thur/Fri), and help them celebrate their writing with a Publishing Party (Mon) and then time to introduce our next unit of study - nonfiction writing (Tue/Wed) and then some fun free writing (Thur and Fri).

This profession of teaching is hard. I know that. Reading Mark Barnes' words helped me remember WHY I do the hard work. Not to impress a principal during an evaluation. Not to teach the way I always have. But to watch, listen and respond to the writers in front of me. When I do that, it WILL be messy. It WILL be tiring. It WILL bring tears to my eyes. But so what. I isn't about me. It IS about helping 10 and 11 year olds find their voice and share it in writing!!

I'm thankful that, despite being a human who feels up and down and never quite satisfied, I can keep asking questions and searching for answers and thanks to twitter today, I got the inspiration I needed from Mark Barnes.

I typed that this profession is hard...well, life itself is hard and so I need to admit that, accept it and keep at it. I am a great teacher who questions. And those questions will lead to 10 more great days in WW in 2104.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Looking back to Thanksgiving week and forward to December!

I am so grateful that I work in a school that takes time to celebrate all we can be thankful for. At Jamboree this week, kids could come to the microphone and say what they are thankful for..."school, family, the chickens, the playground, their teachers." At Tuesdays staff meeting, we spent over 30 minutes sharing anything we are thankful for. Our principal said, "This will be much like a Quaker Meeting. Feel free to stand and say what you are thankful for." Despite the fact that it was Tuesday, 3:30pm, she just let it go and for over 30 minutes people shared. I loved being able to say how much I appreciate the co-teaching model and my co-teacher especially. What a wonderful way to build and honor a community! Then Wednesday was just too much fun!! We had a PAW PRINT celebration - kids get "paw prints" as we are the Janney Jaguars and once the school earns a good amount (and more honestly, once it is a day we can take 2 hours to celebrate), we hold a celebration. Wed was my first!! I loved it. First, we went to the gym and could choose one of these activities - dance party in Art room, quiet reading in library, small games in atrium or ball game in gym. Then we went to our classrooms and my students created out of paper a turkey costume for me to wear during the turkey derby. Such great collaboration and creativity! Then we went to the cafeteria to have hot chocolate and play Heads-Up 7-Up. So fun and simple!! After the 3 activities, we returned to the classroom to "dress me"!! (I will have to add pictures!)

The culmination of the day was The Turkey Derby!! I was on a team with my 2nd grade Book Buddy and the ESL teacher. I ran the length of the gym, then Lucy hopped the length back and then our anchor was Brianne on a scooter. We did not win our heat but boy, did we look SWAG! (the name given to us by the kids was Swaggest Turkeys!!) In the end we won the award for being the Most Caffeinated Turkeys!!

So fun. So thankful to be a teacher at Janney ES!

In Writing Workshop, all printed their draft essays stating that chocolate milk should / should not be served at school on Tuesday at the end of class. It's Saturday and I've read 2 classes so far and will finished the rest tonight. I now have a good conference plan (my first, really!) and I was able to add comments to each essay so independently, the kids can revise and edit.

Then I read more of the Unit of Study for Research Based Argument Essay and I have a fun celebration planned!!! I got the movie The Great Debaters as suggested and after they write a final essay of their choice, we will reflect and celebrate with that movie.

Then I have the week before Winter Break to introduce and help the kids decide on a nonfiction topic to write about that is related to their Social Studies learning. How crazy that I am planned until Winter Break!!!

So fun. So thankful to JUST teach 5th Grade Writing Workshop!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 23 - 3 days until Thanksgiving Break!!

My goal for writing this blog is to post EVERY Saturday about the week I just finished teaching. Well, last Friday, I stayed at school until 8pm to completely add all the online report card grades into the computer system. Then, in my haste to finally leave school after being there for more than 12 hours, I forgot to pack my no post last week.

However, if I hadn't forgotten, I would have posted these pictures:

Using the Opinion Checklist in the new Pathways book by Lucy Calkins, all 78 fifth graders successfully set a WRITING GOAL to focus on as we go forward to write our next essay!!!!! As the teacher, this book gave me the language to help my students be self-reflective in order to pick a skill to work on under the 3 overarching parts of writing - structure, development and convention. SO FUN!!

I would have also commented on how wonderful my school is. Monday I was given the time to plan from 12:30-3:30pm with the coach and my co-writing teacher. First we tightened up the planning of the Opinion writing unit I had started. I brought the flash drafts the kids wrote after our debate work around Fly Away Home. All took a pile and noted what we noticed the students could do and could not do. Then we planned. DUH! I can honestly say that I know this is how I suppose to plan, using student work to drive my next steps but somehow it never worked this well before. Quickly, I knew exactly what THESE students needed me to guide them to do next as essay writers. Having three hours to do this work and plan the next unit, nonfiction writing (where again we looked at the kids' NF On-Demands), was a brilliant use of my Monday afternoon. Yes, as the teacher, I had to write sub plans so I could be away from the classroom but how great that I was given a sub and time during my school day to plan with two other very smart educators. SO FUN!!

Now I am caught up and can report on the rest of the week. Researched-based essay writing took us to researching the benefits of chocolate milk. I discovered that my school did serve chocolate milk when these 5th graders were in Kindergarten but after that, only white milk has been a choice. FOllowing the lessons in the Units of Study for teaching opinion writing, I taught notetaking while reading an article in favor of chocolate milk and another not in favor. Then the next day we viewed 2 videos and took more notes (all resources can be found by searching for 5th grade text sets on the TCRWP's website).

With our goal in mind, we planned out our essay in our notebook and then flash-typed it on Thursday and Friday. I was so excited as I walked around seeing:
  • the tab button being used because we are drafting in paragraphs
  • the introduction stating a claim and reason but no evidence
  • researched evidence being included in the 2nd-4th paragraphs
  • researched evidence in sentences that began like this: According to the article....
  • the spelling of chocolate correct from the start
  • the stamina to get an essay typed in one class period 
I'm excited to go to school on Monday and teach the revision of intro and conclusion and editing so our essay can be printed soon. SO FUN!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nov 8 - Conferences all over!

What a week!
I worked a regular week of five days of teaching fifth grade Writing Workshop. It was fun to introduce DEBATE around a picture book, Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting, with these kids. Over 3 days we took notes and planned our debate with the claim: The airport is a good place to live OR The airport is not a good place to live. Then caucused to plan our counter-argument. On Thursday the students flash-drafted an essay using all their notes. All the oral practice allowed ALL to successfully write an essay!!

Before and after this work, I had the pleasure of meeting the parent of each student in my homeroom. It really was a pleasure! All these kids are so great and it was fun to tell the parents that. I could hear what their concerns were. I ending Thursday night thinking at 7:15pm (as the last conference ended) how great it is to be a part of these kids lives for this brief year!

Then while ALL that was going on, I had an amazing hour meeting on Monday to discuss student work in regards to my personal teacher goal of the year. Such a strong discussion. Such a smart group of people. My big ah-ha was that as I was given suggestions on how to help one student after two colleagues read his most recent narrative on-demand, I heard what they said as narrative writing suggestions. When I questioned how I address this now that I am teaching opinion writing, they very kindly reminded me that goals go across genres. If the goal is to work on lead in narrative, it can still be the goal in opinion writing. As I type this now, it sounds so simple but personally and humbly I admit that I really was seeing the writing skills as "genre specific" and my colleagues opened my eyes to seeing the bigger picture!! SO grateful for the hour conversation!!

Then while ALL that was happening, I was asked if I would participate in a school "Walk-Thru" with the leadership team (P, AP, and 2 coaches) and school PD consultant and 2 other teachers. I of course said yes and quickly hand wrote out a lesson plan for the sub to follow while I was out of the room. WOW! What a great experience.

The lens of the walk was PURPOSE. How are the teachers planning for purpose and how are the students receiving purpose? I was taught to jot down in a t-chart what I notice on one side and what I thought on the other side. And I was taught that even though I am a human-judgmental person, I was to share non-judgmental statements aloud (a hard task! but the consultant was really good at helping us to rephrase our statements).

Here are some of the wonderings stated by the group in our debriefs after walking through a total of 8 classrooms for about 5 minutes each.
* What purpose do students see during the Morning Meeting share?
* How do students connect the purpose of one lesson to something bigger?
* How do teachers see purpose in ALL parts of the day?
* How is purpose presented to students?
* Does student purpose match teacher purpose?
* When can students set the purpose?
* How can we find and name purpose in all parts of the day?

* What is the role/connection of feedback and purpose?
* How does purpose help us plan for feedback?
* How do tools students use affect their sense of purpose?
* How do students self-assess around purpose?
* How do teachers plan for tools?
* Setting / content - does it change the students' purpose?
* How do teachers live their purpose outside of the moment?
* When is purpose whole group vs differentiated?
* How do teachers know what the students understand to be the purpose?

* How do we provide opportunities for kids to develop a purpose?

We discuss when students tell us the goal of the lesson/unit, are they just mimicking what they expect we want to hear OR do they get it and it is their purpose? We pondered the balance between giving kids the language and allowing them to own it. It seemed that when we asked them WHY...why are you using that tool? Why are you following that strategy? Why are you writing that? their answer allows us to know what the student knows.
We further pondered:
* Is the WHY talked about by the teacher?
* Do kids know WHY the why is important?
* Is the WHY connected to something bigger? Is this shared?
*Are we creating spaces to allow kids to create their why and then using what kids created from then on, AS THE CONTINUED PURPOSE?

The goal of the walk-thru process was explained to collect trends across a building, to drive PD, and to sustain a strong school by including more teachers and more diverse perspectives.

Personally, I feel the walk-thru experience WAS a PD. I learned so much by seeing a 2nd grade Writing Workshop. I learned so much by just having time to think in a room of REALLY smart people. I learned so much by not being judgmental and instead, having time to WONDER!

When I arrived home on Friday, ready for a 4-day weekend (The gift of having conferences all week long is that now Monday is not a conference day and Tue is Veteran's Day - a school holiday!), the new Writing Pathways book by Lucy Calkins arrived!!

The first paragraph of chapter one says:
" It feels audacious to be writing a book about assessment at this time when the world has gone so data-crazy that many teachers flinch at just the mention of assessment. But the truth is that we cannot let assessment be regarded as part of the Dark Side. There is good reason for the emphasis on assessment. For example, John Hattie, in his seminal text, Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement (2008), reviewed studies of more than twenty million learners to understand the factors that maximize achievement - and found that it is important for a learner to have crystal clear, ambitious goals, to be given feedback that highlights progress the learner has made toward those goals, and finally, to know of next steps that are within reach. The checklists, rubrics, and benchmark texts, within this resource will help you to provide students with that sort of potent assistance so that they aren't just writing, writing, writing, but they are instead working with deliberateness toward specific goals."

Is this the perfect resource for me to receive as this week, a week focused on goals across genres and on PURPOSE, comes to an end!

So excited to ponder more over my 4-day weekend.
So excited to plan my Opinion unit with writing goals in mind.
So excited to plan with PURPOSE!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Nov 2nd - 12:03pm

I have been at Starbucks since 8am - that's 4 hours today added to the 8 hours spent yesterday. Now all 78 5th graders that I teach writing to have a personalized writing comment to be added to their DCPS Advisory 1 Report Card. Now when I meet with each parent before or after school for a conference this week, I have information to share. Needless to say, I am a bit tired of writing for 12 hours in one weekend. Next year I'll "get" this process and will space it out and manage it better. The pitfalls of being a newbie!

Here's an example of one comment:

___is a kind and thoughtful member of our classroom community. She participates actively and respectfully in our homeroom discussions and activities.

In Writing Workshop, your child grew as a narrative writer by completing the entire writing process (generate ideas, plan, draft, revise, and edit) to publish one small moment personal narrative story and one realistic fiction story. During the process, specific narrative techniques were incorporated into the writing so the reader of each story could see and feel what the character saw and felt.  ____ is a strong storyteller who attentively listens to the daily mini-lesson and willing tries to incorporate the techniques demonstrated into her own writing. ____ writing volume is so strong – her fiction story was told across 13 typed pages! She also is a very descriptive writer, Here is an example from her last personal narrative written about a visit with cousins: I showed her a fake phone which she loved and a light-up ball that when I turned it on, her eyes shown and she put on an adorable grin. I showed her a few more things and each time, her eyes shown in amazement. I knew this was going to be a good visit and I was absolutely right. 

and another:
_____ is a kind and thoughtful member of our classroom community. He participates actively in our homeroom discussions and activities. He is working on controlling the impulse to speak out loud at any time. He struggles most during transitions from one class to another. We will continue to help him understand how his actions affect the entire the class community which he is a member and to help him to make stronger choices.

In Writing Workshop, your child grew as a narrative writer by completing the entire writing process (generate ideas, plan, draft, revise, and edit) to publish one small moment personal narrative story and one realistic fiction story. During the process, specific narrative techniques were incorporated into the writing so the reader of each story could see and feel what the character saw and felt. We continue to work with ____ to build his confidence as a writer. In all his writing pieces, he has shown us strong writing techniques; yet, we see ____ not believing this or not wanting to work at his writing.  To help _____ sort out his story ideas and tell it step-by-step, we have him orally share his ideas during conferences. This time to talk it out helps him to organize his thoughts and then get them on the paper. Your support at home to have him orally practice his writing ideas helps. An example of his writing from his last personal narrative about playing baseball is: If I hit the runner on 3rd/David in, we win. The first pitch comes in. Strike. 0-1. I step out of the box with so much pressure on my shoulders and take a practice swing and step back in. As the reader, I definitely want to read on to find out what happens!

Now I am going to enjoy what is left of this weekend. Tomorrow we will debate if the airport is a good or a not good place to live while reading Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting. Luckily, I have that all planned out!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26 - the 1st quarter ends in 5 days!

Why was the last time I blogged about the week of Oct 6? Because I attended the very valuable, maybe priceless is a better word, Reunion Saturday hosted by TCRWP last weekend. So I blogged about that on my other blog -

Looking back to my last post I wrote:
Now I need to get busy. I need to:
* reading the 80 printed out fiction stories and quickly giving feedback.
Done and now I spent 8 hours yesterday reading the published piece of all 80 students and scoring it on a rubric to return to them this week. 
* plan out this coming week's lessons
I did this, incorporating revision, editing, a great museum walk publishing party, a day to reflect, and then a final narrative on-demand. SUCH a great way to complete our unit of study on fiction!!!
* plan out the new unit of study - Argument Essay - starting Oct. 23rd
Still working on this but last week at TC's Reunion Saturday allowed me to attend 4 hour long workshops all related to teaching argument essay!! Perfect timing!!
* start thinking about report cards
Today I will start to write comments for each student specific to their writing work during their first Advisory (what DCPS calls the first quarter). It is the practice at my school that a written, specific comment is provided along with the report card grades so I plan to get busy on this task today as it needs to be shared with my fellow teammates by Halloween which is Friday because Parent-Teacher Conferences begin the Monday after Halloween.
When I see a list like this, I know there is NOT enough hours in the day to do it all.
But I'll start and do the best I can.

When I see a list like this, I know there is NOT enough hours in the day to do it all.
But I'll start and do the best I can....I repeat because it is SO true...

One idea that Lucy and Carl Anderson point out about teaching writing is that we teach using a workshop model where the goal is to teach the writer and not the writing. As I used the rubric and today plan to use the grade level Narrative Checklists given in Pathways to score both the 2nd day of writing on-demand and this past Friday's On-Demand, I see that this tool is perfect to show how the WRITER grows. 

My only didn't take so much time to read and check 80 students. This is why I am up and at it already on a Sunday. I guess I'll catch up on sleep on Veteran's Day!