Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Literacy Teacher's Playbook: Grades 3-6 by Jen Serravallo

I just got my copy of Jen's new book and LOVE it for so many reasons!!

Here are my 5 top reasons:
1. Her writing here, as in all her books and her assessment kits, is so clear and easy to follow.
2. She gets reading and assessing and using the data to drive instruction and she has a way of explaining these important teacher tasks for both the novice and the expert teacher.
3. She emphasizes how to best instruct students in literacy using a student's strengths to build on and then shows how to move a student so to deepen their literacy skills.
4. She knows this work is not easy so she includes in sidebars all the great books a teacher needs to read in order to do this important work.
5. The forward to the book is written by my favorite literacy leader, Ellin Keene!

I recommend this book for ALL teachers of literacy!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Carl Anderson visits VA!!

Carl Anderson spoke at a nearby school in my district and my principal arranged for our staff to attend his two hour afternoon presentation. About 150 educators sat in the cafeteria and learned tips on conferring in Writing Workshop from Carl on our Early Release Monday.

Here are some of the highlights:
1. WHY do we confer? Carl reminded us that we can't teach writing through whole-class instruction only. When we teach using the Writing Workshop structure, a teacher CAN confer because he or she is freed up to confer while all the students are working on their writing. Conferring allows for differentiation. The teacher can meet each student's needs through a conference.

2. TEACH just ONE thing only during a conference.

3. Start the conference with an open-ended question to get them to talk. Then the teacher should SHUT UP and WAIT. Let there be silence and WAIT.
The teacher may need to teach students what the conference should sound like or use a video to show them.
* What do you want the reader to understand when they read your story?
*What part feels important to you? (uses this with younger kids)

4. Look at their writing, listen and then decide what to teach. To help decide, look at:
* what the student named that they are working on - find where they did that work to compliment
* what the mini-lesson was - they may have used the strategy
* look back at what was said at the last notes
* after experience, you will see PATTERNS - look for them

EX: Zane video - it is an ALL ABOUT story. After naming the important part, Carl guides Zane to be brave and write a 2nd draft to focus on just the important part.

EX: a story with LOTS of action; the student is over relying on including action. Carl guided the writer to at setting, dialogue, and inner feeling, too.

EX: a nonfiction story that over relies on action facts. Carl guides the writer to include description details and definition facts.

5. We need to give writers a sense of how a text goes so they can envision their piece. The teacher does this by showing a mentor text.

6. Once you teach a writer something, coach them. "Let's try it." Talk it out. Show using a mentor text. Act it out. Guide them orally so they can try it out with you.

7. Be kind to yourself as a writing teacher. Try ONE thing, just ONE and work on that. Then gradually work into getting better and better as a writing teacher who confers well.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oct 19 - TCRWP Saturday Reunion

This inspiring day started with Kate DiCamillo and ended with Tim Rasinski and in between I learned so much about Reading Logs, Notebooks, and Reading during SS time. Here is my attempt to highlight what was shared so graciously on this free day of learning at Teachers College!!

To a packed audience (estimated at 2000+) in the awesome Riverside Church nave:

Kate DiCamillo shared how the story of Flora & Ulysses came to be. As she spoke, I kept thinking that it really is SO important to gather our stories, only the stories we can tell, in our Writers Notebook. Her mother and her mother's vacuum cleaner and that almost dead squirrel found on her front stoop were then used to create this new story. We must, as writers, be like Kate, and keep gathering our stories.Who knows when we might use them!! After hearing the backstory of this newest book of hers, I plan to buy it and read it to my class! You can read about it on her website:

Trent DeBerry, a 5th grade teacher in Scarsdale, shared how he is using a Google Doc form as a reading log. First he started kids with a paper log (that's where I am now) and then he told the kids to create their own form by adding a table. I loved that he empowered the students to create it themselves. Sometimes, as teachers, we do all the work. The kids created it and now at school and at home, they log. He also has them reflect monthly on their reading habits as shown on their log. And he uses a rubric to score the notebook.

My goal is to start student on-line logs in my room for 2nd quarter!! Thanks for the kick in the pants, Trent! As you said, this is an easy, efficient way of helping a student reflect on themselves as readers. I am ready for a valuable EASY tool!!

Jessica Stillman is a staff developer who returned to the classroom and is teaching 5th grade. She offered SO many practical ways to ensure that the Readers Notebook is a useful tool.
My major take-aways:
1. The teacher needs to have a Readers Notebook - duh! I have a Writing Notebook but why not a reading one?? NOW I will. She suggested for teaching purposes, to purchase an artist sketchbook. The bigger size will be good for showing during a mini-lesson.
2. Divide the notebook into 3 sections: Read-aloud, Independent Reading, and Goal Setting.
3. For Goal-setting, she suggested using the last 10 pages as a place to hold MONTHLY GOALS. They should state a BEHAVIOR GOAL and a COMPREHENSION goal. We are going to add this TOMORROW starting with Nov!!

Also, in the back, she suggested as a celebration at the end of a unit to ask the kids to MAKE a SKETCH of the one book that they read that changed them the most. "What book is sketched into your heart forever now?" Sketch it. They can also write about why this book is so important. "This book is important because...Reason 1, 2,3,."
4. The Independent Part of the Notebook is where they hold onto their thinking about the book they read. She suggested modeling that they should only hold onto their BEST THINKING! It is OK to "crumble up the crap"!

Kathleen Tolan - Bringing SS to Life with embedded Literacy Work
I am sold now on the power of using CENTER WORK during Social Studies!! I have had my students analyze one primary source. But Kathleen suggested adding 2 or 3 and get a group (much like a book club) to analyze each and then start to compare and contract! Hold the CENTER in a pocket file folder and add directions / questions / sentence stems / vocabulary word banks. The critical thinking will soar!! 

She also shared an idea of relating history to storytelling. She had 6 pictures related to Paul Revere's Ride and started telling us the story, pointing to each picture as she told her story. I can see modeling this for my students. Then, giving groups of students a topic and ask them to create a storyboard. Then we can take turned telling each other our stories!!

Mary Ehrenworth - Raising the Level of Reading Notebooks
We must remind students WHY we use a notebook. We can only hold onto something in our short-term memory when we listen, watch or read. However, we can transfer it to our long-term memory by writing, sketching, acting it out, or talking about it. By using a notebook, we can remember what we read and use what we put into our notebooks to deepen our relationships with books. (We do NOT use a RN to prove to the teacher we read something).

Mary pointed out that innovation is valued in the work force. We need to work at giving kids the chance to play and innovate to prepare them for the future. She modeled this with her students by sharing several ways she was adding ideas to her RN and telling the kids that at the end of the week, they must have 2 pages added to their RN. Then at the end of the week, all opened to their 2 pages and off they went to take a MUSEUM WALK. On the walk, they got ideas from others. She xeroxed the 15 best and hung these up as ideas. This pushed all to be even more innovated the next week! She was creating a culture of innovation and collaboration. She was helping them to independently think about how to best represent their thinking about a book in their RN and not to just obediently do an assignment given by a teacher to the whole class.

Some of the ideas she shared to get the kids' RN going were:
1. Make an emotional timeline and plot the ups and downs of a character
2. Give a poem to a character
3. Make a list of all the characters and what you want to hold onto about each
4. Add a map and clip art to show where the book is taking place

Tim Rasinski - Whatever Happened to the ART of Reading? 
First, Tim was introduced in such a clever way!! To the tune of Hey, Jude, a Staff Developer sang "Hey, TIm" and gave the audience a summary of his background through song. How fun that the church nave filled with "Na-na- na, na-ah-na-na, Hey Tim!"  This was the perfect intro for a speaker who continued to teach us using song!

Singing is FUN. Lyrics are getting read but it doesn't feel like hard work at all. He shared how he is working with kids to perform on Veteran's Day. They have been practicing the theme songs of each of the Armed Forces. (Lots of reading of lyrics!!) So Tim had us try this. We sang and honored each branch of our military, those standing when they had a personal or family connection. Along with being fun, it was so moving AND required loads of reading!!

He is also working with kids to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. Kids are preparing to perform read-alouds of his inaugural speeches and the Gettysburg Address. He found a song called Our Abe Lincoln. He found a Civil War letter and a poem. All these the students are reading and rereading which will improve their fluency as readers. And it's FUN!!

Thank, Tim for reminding me to add FUN songs, poems, readers theaters, etc to my classroom. Reading CAN be an art form, as well as the science related to reading score data.

Oct 18 - visit to PS59 - Kristi Marz's K class!!

I BIG thank you to my friend Grace who is interning with Kristi Marz in her K class at PS59! (Kristi is co-author of Better Charts and the chartchum blog: Grace arranged for me to tag along with her on Friday morning. In the one hour, I learned SO much about the importance of guiding the students to think about how they are going to act during workshop, as well as what they would do during workshop. It was Writing Workshop time and Kristi had each student already decide how they would act during this time and all day long on a Learning Plan. Here is one student's Learning Plan and her chart showing what each symbol represents:
Then in small groups, the students made a writing goal to follow during their Sign-Making Writing Unit of Study. They chose to either: to make clear letters, to make symbols or "no" symbols, to put spaces between words, or to add pictures with actions.

Grace guided a small group to circle their goal and tape it to their goal sheet in their writing tray. Then off they went to work on writing. I observed one friend make many "No Ghost" signs. He told me he needed lots because his house was big. Another friend was busy making a "No Spills" sign to hang in the cafeteria. 

As workshop was ending, I got to see the power of the habits of mind. One friend didn't want to stop. Kristi patiently reminded him to be flexible. Now he had to stop and put away his writing tray and then at Choice Time, he could return to his writing. Another friend wrote many signs during workshop and Kristi got him a "Persistence Hat" to wear! As Grace was fitting him for the hat, he told me the story of the worm on his hat. "The cat knocked the worm's blocks over. But he persisted and built it again. Then the rat knocked it down but he persisted..." I loved how the hat gave him a chance to retell a story, as well as place the spotlight on him for acting strong during writing workshop.  

Once all Writing Workshop materials were put away, the kindergarteners gathered back on the rug. Kristi told them that she was trying to work on being persistent in helping students. On her work plan she gave herself a check and then sketch herself helping a student. I watched a friend, who wanted to be safe, write that he was "being safe by not hitting."

I left PS 59 thinking if these Kindergarten students can be guided to think about their behavior, as well as, learning content, then so can my 4th graders!! I can't wait to introduce them to the habits of mind. They probably won't get excited to wear a hat so instead, I'll give out stickers!

Thank you Grace and Kristi for teaching me so much in an hour of Writing Workshop!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

1st Reading Notebook Check

I've been telling my 4th graders that the skill of reading is INVISIBLE. However, if we LOG, STOP&JOT, and IDENTIFY CHARACTER TRAITS, then they can make their reading VISIBLE to me. While reading-aloud My Name is Maria Isabel, I modeled how to log, jot, and name character traits that match Maria Isabel and her mom, dad, teacher, and brother. SO last weekend, I collected all 27 students' Reading Notebooks so I could look closely at the work they have done so far.

The rubric I used looked like this:
This is what one logged looked like:
This is what stop and jots looked like:
This is what Character Trait Work looked like (using these free paint samples from Home Depot, it seems to motivate the reader to push to name at least 4 character traits!)

Overall, 12 students received a 12/12 on this rubric!! This shows me they are reading independently, logging, and jotting about what they read! 12 received scored between 5-11, showing that something was missing but the score on the rubric also helped to make it more visible for them what the Reading Workshop expectation is. Only 3 scored under a 4 and these 3 I am working with closely as they aren't able, due to different factors, to work independently yet. 

I think we are off to a good start!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

1st Publishing Party in 4th grade

I stopped being a Reading Specialist this year and am a 4th grade teacher!! With one month down, I am loving it. However, I will admit that being a classroom teacher is HARD. All September, I have felt like I'm on a rollercoaster while juggling balls at the same time!!

On the last Friday of September, we had our first Writing Workshop Publishing Party. We are now authors of Personal Narratives!! Here's a few pictures:

First, I had all their writing folders so I called them over to specific places to sit. This strategic placement helped to keep all focused during our celebration. (I have a very chatty group of 4th graders - 27 kids, 15 boys and 12 girls.)

Our celebration started with a Cicle Greeting (Responsive Classroom move) where after shaking hands, we said: "I am an author who wrote a story about ___." It does take time for 28 in a circle to greet. But this calmed us, got us focused on our writing, and helped us to stop and listen.

Then I asked each to take out their published piece and find one or two lines that they are proudest of writing. "We are not going to share the whole story aloud, just one or two lines we like the most. When you have the line, point to it and I'll know you are ready." Then I walked around, pushing all to get ready.

Next I explained we would being doing a Symphony Share. "Just like in a Symphony, the instruments play when they are ready, we are going to SHARE when we are ready. When you feel like sharing your one line, please do in your loud, presenting voice. Just like during our Grand Conversations, if two voices start at the same time, one wait and then go next."

"Finally, let me teach you a cheer (that I learned from Kagan training). After a student shares, this is the cheer we will give them. With your finger, pretend to be pumping the spray nossle of the Fantastic Cleaner three times and say "ch-ch-ch" and then move your hand to look like it is wiping off the cleaner and say "FAN- TAST-IC". This will be the cheer we give each classmate after they read aloud their favorite line from their published piece."

And we began...AND IT WORKED!!! All happily shared a line or two. All listened respectfully. A few shy friends needed encouragement to share and 4 really shy friends allowed me or a visiting teacher to share their line for them. (This reminded me that sharing our writing is scary). Then I gave them free time to draw, read, or use their computer and I started hanging up their writing in the hallway to make it public.

Already in the hallway are paper-people we made to hold an I AM poem for Back to School Night. One student, Lotta, suggested that now the paper-person could hold our story! Great the personal narrative is on the paper-person, an illustration drawn by our talk buddy is hanging next to it (since our writing is so descriptive, it made a movie in our talk buddy's mind and THEY could draw the illustration!) and a reflection - I worked on _____ when writing this first personal narrative in 4th grade.

As I reflected on the way home, I realized that these kids are only 9 going on 10. The school they are in has not been running Writing Workshop with them since Kindergarten. As 4th graders, this may have been their FIRST publishing party. Happlily I celebrate!!

I can't wait to do an on-demand on Tuesday and start teaching Personal Narrative one more time in October. I know we can write even better. I know they are proud now of their work and ALL will be amazed at how much better they can write with more practice and guidance in October.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

TCRWP 2013 Summer Writing Institute Notes – Learning with Annie

I got to spend 5 days learning from Annie Taranto, a TCRWP Staff Developer who had also taught me during the January, 2012 Reading Coach Institute. Back in January, we were together at a school in Brooklyn and Annie taught us how to coach while being in Labsite classrooms all week long.

Now I had the honor to  be in a group of very smart Advanced Institute participants from all over the globe ready to hear more tips from Annie on how to teach teachers to teach writing by using the structure of Labsites and Meetings. 

Here are my notes taken while with Annie:
Recommended Book:    Literacy Coaching by Katherine Casey, Heinemann.

Two Structures to Use to Teach Other Teachers to Teach Writing?
Labsites – time to try it, practice it
As the coach, plan the lesson and plan the voice overs – YOU must talk to the teachers so they will value labsite time and understand why you are doing what you are doing.
Plan the lenses:
  Giving a lens for teachers to view the Labsite is very important. During the debrief, hold the teachers accountable and be sure to recall who had each lens and give each a chance to share.
  Possible lenses: explicitness, independence, transference,  student engagement, transitions…(see emailed list); a building walk-thru can help you decide on the lenses to use.
Lab Guides can be created to give teachers a place to take notes and can also be a chance to share content and list the debriefing agenda.

Meetings – time to discuss labsite work, time to learn together

Four Mini-Lesson Methods can be “taught” using a labsite structure
  1. Demonstration – watch me do it / now you try it
  2. Explanation/Example – One thing writers do is ____. For example, _____.
  3. Guided Inquiry – teacher names a question and students name what they notice.
  4. Guided Practice – you call out the steps while students try it (teach and AE is together)
The Guided Practice mini-lesson structure was created to get kids to write independently with more rigor. A pattern was seen where there was a big gap between strong writing on a published piece (a piece worked on with lots of time and teacher support) and a student’s on-demand writing piece. It seemed the parts were being taught slowly, 1 thing at a time but kids were not pushed to do the whole. This structure gives them rigorous practice led by the teacher.

Tennis Hopper Analogy: If the tennis coach threw all the balls at you at once, all you could do is duck and cover. Instead, the coach hits you one at a time with repeated practice to your forearm and then moves to your backhand. Then you play a game. This analogy can be shared with the teacher who is teaching MANY strategies within one mini-lesson.

To help teachers know the 4 kinds of mini-lessons:
  1. Show each of the 4 kinds in a lab through demonstration and voice over
  2. In the lab have the teachers practice
  3. Help T plan lessons during meeting time
Remember, the lesson plan template is just a scaffold. The goal is for it to become a part of us so we don’t need it anymore. Just like on buildings, a scaffold goes up, the problem gets fixed, and then it comes down.
To ensure that a gradual-release occurs, use JIGSAW and FREEZE-FRAME in labsite.
Jigsaw/Freeze-frame helps teachers to practice while working together.

EX: Conference (each teacher takes a part)
                research - Teacher A
                decide (freeze-frame and all pick compliment and teach)
                compliment - Teacher B
                teach     - Teacher C
                link - Teacher D

In the labsite, use WHISPERING IN.
This is a move toward independence. The teacher is teaching. The coach or another teacher sits next to her and whispers in, telling them what to say.
  Teachers need to be seen as learners so in a labsite, the kids are seeing this method and see that their teacher is learning.

EXAMPLES of What to Whisper In:
Say What are you working on?                   Say Show me where you did that.
Say Write this down                                        Say the teaching point again
Say This matters because…

·         be sure to sit by teacher and not by student and only talk to teacher.
·         Let the teacher teach and add in-the-moment coaching
·         Only lean feedback
·         Take notes so at the debrief, you can tell them WHY you whispered that to them. “I told you to ask them more in the research so you could learn more and then teach.”

  Make sure you are taking conference notes during a labsite so they see you modeling it
  Show them lots of different methods so they see choices
  Help teachers see the value in taking notes. When they see you in a labsite return to a student for a conference and using your notes to help you to say, “Last time you were working on ___. How’s it going? Show me where you tried ___.” the teachers can SEE the value of notetaking.
  Have teachers study notes in a meeting. All bring notes of one student and together we ask, “Are we helping this student grow as a writer? Bring the student’s writing. Look at last 5 conference notes and the writing . What do we notice?
  Have teachers look across ALL conference notes of her class and use it to form small groups to teach. 

Using On-demand Prompts
  When teachers say students won’t know what this means (the specific language of the on-demands), DON’T dumb it down . Instead teach S the vocabulary and teach what it means. ALL in school need to administer the on-demands in a standard fashion.
  Remember that the goal of the on-demand is not an evaluation. It is to find out what they know how to do and to decide what I need to teach.
  When 4th grade teachers in Sept say “This looks like 3rd grade work”’ celebrate this. It should. You haven’t taught them 4th grade skills yet!
  The on-demand at the end of the unit lets you see what stuck and what still needs to be taught.
  Ask “Have they grown as writers?” If not, why? The purpose is to see what is working in my teaching and what isn’t working. Use this as feedback.

Scoring On-demand Prompts at a Norming Meeting (described in Pathways book)
  1. ALL in grade get the prompt and discuss the importance of giving it by using the scripted directions
  2. ALL administer prompt in one class period
  3. ALL bring writing to the norming meeting
·         As a group all look at one piece of writing while looking at the learning progression charts. Using this stem, I would put it on this level because ___, discuss what level writing this piece is.
·         ALL read another piece and score it individually and then as a group, see if you agree. DO a few more if needed.
·         Score the rest in the class (optional: can switch piles with a colleague)
·         Discuss the writing and answer the question: Where are we going? Based on the answer, plan the unit to meet the needs of these students.
  1. If the NF unit is in Nov. give the on-demand in Oct so they can be leveled and discussed and then the unit can be planned based on what the kids can and cannot do.
How to “test” independence and transfer:
Place a student’s publish piece side-by-side with their on-demand. If the published piece score is higher than the on-demand, it is showing that a child can do it with teacher coaching. The goal, though, is for the student to do it independently on an on-demand.

Tips for Great Meetings
  1. Make the agenda known and clear
  2. Include how much time will be spent on each topic
  3. Think about what might need to be done prior to the meeting and clearly state these assignments (ex: we will read the continuum progressions prior to meeting)
  4. Be a “proficient partner”; do not dominiate the conversation, Do ask questions to get all to think it out as a group.
  5. Name the possible pitfalls ahead of time to set the tone of the meeting as being collaborative
  6. Be realistic and don’t overplan
  7. The meeting time needs to support the labsite time
    1. Write minilessons in meetings
    2. Practice minilessons in labsites
Annie also asked us to share scenarios we encounter as Literacy Leaders and she offered suggestions:
Scenario: “Teachers say they buy in and think they are doing it but they aren’t.”
  Staff Developer (SD) needs to talk to administration and make sure they are on the same page and are making the vision clear.
  Honesty and feedback w/ teachers is important. Compliment, then teach (don’t just tell).Tell WHY you are suggesting to do it this way.
  Suggest studying together around a lens, like independence. It will help them to see how the big idea is held through the whole workshop.
Scenario: “Test scores…they are fine so we don’t need to change”
  Discuss what we value. I don’t value a test. It is the age we live in but the greater moral purpose is missing. For kids, testing won’t really exist much beyond the SAT. Kids won’t always be living in the testing world so let’s teach them to be readers/writers. These are skills kids can transfer to live their lives.
  The new writing units have kids writing multiple pieces w/in a unit. Instead of one piece in a month, it is a piece a week. Fast-drafting in a day and then large-scale revisions are taught. This pacing will help kids when they have a test.
Scenario: “There is no sense of urgency by the staff to work with the staff developer.”
  Think about WHY they aren’t valuing it; are the pre/post meetings productive? Are they leaving with useful things to help them act. This is feedback to me, the SD. I need to reflect and act upon it.
  Do they not see the value in the lenses you are giving them? Does the group of teachers need to change? Does the “one bad apple” need to be removed?
  Can they sign-up for working in the labsite so they have buy-in?
  Talk to admin/literacy team and brainstorm how to help teachers get the most out of labsites.
Scenario: “A teacher starts out strong but fizzles. You aren’t seeing it transfer from unit to unit.”
  Ask was I explicit enough to show them how this can be done in another unit. “Anytime in a unit…”
  Do they possess the knowledge of the new content? A meeting can be a content dump to help them. Pick a mentor text for new unit and together read and mark it up)
  Are they working with colleagues or alone? It can go faster and better with a group so burn-out is avoided.
Scenario: “I don’t know what to teach them in a conference?”
  Show teachers how to use the  If…Then… Curriculum Book, Part 2 resource to make a cheat sheet to have on their clipboard.
  Think of the problems you expect kids to have in the unit and make a chart:
If                                                             Then
No ideas                                              * pick something you do every day
                                                                * think of places you go to regularly
                                                                * close your eyes and see the day
Bed to Bed story                              * box out 20 min of story
                                                                *stretch it with I said, I thought, I did
                                                                * box out the heart of the story

TCRWP August Writing Institute: A week with Colleen Cruz!!

Colleen Cruz taught me daily in an Advance Small Group during the 2013 August Writing Institute.
Our focus was on:
  1. How to teach kids to write informational writing
  2. How to design a curriculum unit
  3. You will write a professional article for teachers
Here are my notes:
How To Teach Teaching Nonfiction Writing:
The two most important aspects are structure and elaboration.
To move toward having strong structure and elaboration, we brainstormed a topic by:
  1. Listing kinds, parts, types
  2. Listing pros / cons
  3. Listing similarities / differences
  4. Listing cause/effect; if/then; problem/solution
  5. Now, using all these lists, we created the table of contents for our information writing piece!
Past Process:  pick any topic, take lots of notes, organize notes, draft, research some more to fill in holes.

Process NOW: Start from a grounding in a topic you already know, pick something related to that topic, draft a table of contents after brainstorming all angles of the subtopic, revise table of contents, write a flash draft, now research to fill in the holes, revise, edit and publish.

Note: This is a big shift in how to approach the teaching of nonfiction. It matches what real nonfiction authors do – they start with a topic they know and research into that container. Start from a place of knowledge, build your structure, draft quickly, then research to fill in the holes.

Nonfiction Writing Research Moves
  1. Teach what a reliable source is
  2. Make a research plan -  can use a T-Chart and list chapter topic and the plan for research
  3. Notetaking – provide lots of options for how to do it and let students choose
  4. Teach Students to follow these steps:
    1. Read text
    2. Think hard about it and make sure you truly understand it
    3. Now decide what to write and write it down
How the new 3rd grade NF Unit was Written
Bend 1 – Organization: five sessions written on organizing info
Bend 2 – Reaching to write well; now you are making something through your writing
Bend 3 – Moving toward Publishing; revising, editing, preparing piece for others
Bend 4 – Transferring the skills used to write a long piece to a writing a short piece; how to do it quickly, in a short amount of time. 

An Overview of How a NF Unit Might Go:
  Immersion to see an overview of possible structures
  S picks topic of interest that you want to teach others about
  S brainstorms all they know about topic (kinds, parts, reasons, pro/con, compare/contrast)
  S drafts a table of contents based on present knowledge
  S plans out what to research based on the holes in the table of contents
  T teaches how to take notes (3 steps)
  S Researches
  S drafts, starting with best part first (out of order is OK)
  T teaches to revise for structure, elaboration, craft (I think the writer is trying to ___. He does this by ___. He does this because ___.), purpose/meaning, and language
  S edit for readers
  T teaches ways to make it public
  S publishes
I’m looking forward to guiding my students to write nonfiction by following this unit structure during the 2013-14 school year.

When Writing Curriculum:
  Know your kids and write for them
  Decide what the goals of the unit are
  Decide on the bends of the unit
An awesome unit is like a story; it gets progressively more exciting. It should build and build and build.

How to Design Good Teaching Points (Because it is easy to do poorly!)
  Session #7 in 3rd NF Unit – Making Connections within and across chapters
       TP = Today I want to teach you that writing chapters is like making a paper chain. The order needs to make sense and transitional words are used to hold it together.
  This is a good TP because it is explicit, gives a concrete example, connects to things in real life, students can relate to it and it includes the content and the process.
  Try it: #16 In this session you will teach that when info writers are editing, they keep a close eye on the way they use paragraphs.
       TP = Today I want to teach you that writers edit their work by using paragraphs. We indent to show a new part is beginning just like how the department store hangs signs so you can find the part of the store you want to shop in.

Colleen made me realize how GREAT the new Writing Pathway book is that comes in the new Writing Units of Study kits.

History of Writing Pathways
  Years ago we laid out lots of narrative writing and it led to a continuum for personal narrative.
  When CC came out, we decided to make continuums for opinion and information.
  COOL STUFF in the book:
       Learning Progressions – we can SEE where a kid is. Rarely is a kid on grade level for all skills. This helps to see where they are.
       Rubrics with points can be used to show growth
       Helps a teacher teach the exact steps that the kid needs and not just grade-level skills

Colleen also encouraged US to write this week about a topic that we know lots about. What is it that people in your building go to YOU for help? Write about it!

Tips for My Own Nonfiction Writing:
  Think about weight and angle
       When something matters, it takes up more space. The most words should be on the parts important to you.
       It is not important to draft in order of the table of contents. Instead, start with the most important part.
  The mentor text you use should match the genre you are writing.
  Have a goal as a writer; ex: I will write a chapter a day.
  Audience – Who am I writing for?

Colleen’s Favorite Nonfiction Mentor Texts
  Structure – Deadliest Animals (least to most), Cats vs Dogs (compare/contrast), Amazing Journeys (3 animals on a journey) ALL National Geographic for Kids have great structure!
  Elaboration – Elephants by Bloom
  Craft – Oh, Rats!
  Language – The VIP Pass to Major League Baseball Game; Time for Kids Natural Defenses.