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Global Project: Visualize Poetry Around the World

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted to Langwitches Blog

visualize poetry around the world

Description of Project:

Based on Taylor Mali’s visit to The American School of Sao Paulo, Meryl Zeidenberg and I were inspired to amplify students’ poetry writing by adding a visual and audio layer as well as connect them globally to other students’ poems.

We are launching the Visualize Poetry Around The World project and are looking forward to connecting teachers and students, bringing global awareness and encouraging them to look beyond their own backyard and their own perspective.

global-awarenessObjective:

  • Encourage students’ global awareness and their ability to share their traditions and experiences based on their cultural heritage or geographic locations
  • Support Third Culture Kids and expats to express their unique experiences through poetry and make the advantages and challenges of International living accessible to geographically rooted children and vice-versa

TCKs.jpg

rooted.jpg

Process:

  1. Become a member of the project by joining the wiki. Questions? Contact me
  2. Become familiar with or already have familiarity with Taylor Mali’s lessons/poems/workshops.
  3. Become familiar with project objectives, expectations, timeline & mini-lessons
  4. Complete task

[ There is no specific beginning or ending date for this project. Each teacher contributes his/her students video poems on their own time to the wiki platform. All we ask is that part of the commitment is to share, connect and give quality feedback to other students' contributions ]

Task Breakdown:

  1. create poem
  2. find/create images & record voice
  3. publish on project wiki
  4. connect and give feedback

Expectations:

  • expect quality student work using poetic devices
  • students create poem based on one or more of the provided prompts
  • students visualize poem with quality images and overlaying poem text with author’s voice
  • strict observance of copyright conventions and citations.
  • contribution of final student work to collaborative platform
  • participate in feedback of student work.

Time Commitment:

  • up to 80 minutes- write poem
  • 80 minute class: Students present their poems to class (teacher and peer feedback). Students re-edit after feedback.
  • up to 2 -80 minutes class periods digital production

Third Culture Kid Poem Example

TCKs.jpg

I am from…

I am from Germany, Argentina, USA and Brazil

I am from Germany. From the warm Bretzel with melted butter and the sound my shoes make when going for a walk in the dense forest.

I am from Argentina. From the crowds on Florida and Lavalle and the smell of a Bife de Chorizo at a friend’s asado. I am from the smell of Jasmine as I step off the colectivo on a warm Spring day in early December.

I am from the United States. From the smell of salty and buttery popcorn at the movie theaters. The wide streets and gigantic parking lots that fill up to capacity after Thanksgiving.

I am from Brazil. From the language that is almost understandable, but different as if listening under water or with glasses of the wrong prescription strength. I am from feeling almost close, but through the fog so far away.

I am also from lighting Hanukkah candles as I am smelling Christmas in the air and buying Charlie Brown Christmas trees on the 24th day of December.

I speak German, Spanish and English. Ich bin from Argentina y el vos. I am from speaking in all the 3 languages in one sentence without having to be held hostage by staying in one alone.

I am from leaving on a gray, cold and rainy day in October in autumn. Racing along the runway, up up into the sky towards spring air and towards a country far away and forever closer to me.

I am from arriving after a 24 hour journey to a tiny village, at the foot of the Katzenbuckel- The Cat’s Arched Back” where my grandmother anxiously awaits at the door, welcoming the return of the world travelers.

I am from changes, the differences, the friends made along the way. I am from the opportunities to see wonders of the world, tasting, smelling different ways of life. I am from the different faces of the world and history.

I am neither from here nor there or even there. I am destined to be torn forever between Fernweh and Heimweh, from always being far from.

Geographically Rooted Poem Sample

rooted.jpg

I am from the United States – New Haven, CT- where the imposing, old, stone, university architecture validated my fairy tale-laden child mind.

I am from the warm, loving scent of Aunt Martha’s cookies baking in the flat below.

I am from the one mile, all weather walk, to and from elementary school, where urban flora stubbornly persisted through sidewalk cracks.

I am from the grassy field of the local schoolyards where the kids from my street gathered and grew up, after school, until the street lights flicked on.

I am from the marvel and curiosity of tales from the old country spun out in a mixture of Yiddish and English around my grandmother’s kitchen table with the men drinking schnapps, the women tea.

I am from learning French because it is a “romance” language.

I am from learning Portuguese because of a Brazilian romance.

I am from the security of knowing my way around and where everything is.

I am from the frustration of not knowing the the colors, smells and sounds of everywhere else except from books and movies.

Ready to participate? Head over to the project wiki to sign up.

Building an Online Professional Development Hub for your School

By Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

Teachers and administrators struggle to find time to work together in a meaningful way. There are plenty of meetings scheduled. Many teachers leave these meetings though with the feeling of “could have spent my time doing more important things”. How do we squeeze in one more meeting to help teachers grow as professionals? How do we add one more opportunity for teachers to learn important new skills, listen to one more educational consultant, one more expert on a new initiative? How do we give teachers the time to learn with and from their own colleagues? How can teachers learn from what is going on in the classroom next door? I am a strong advocate for educators experiencing the type of learning they want to expose, inspire, support in their students’ learning. If education for the “now” and for the future demands that schools and educators prepare our citizens

  • to be avid (digital) readers or writers, they should be modeling being a (digital) reader and writer
  • to learn to collaborate and work on a (global) team, their teachers should have the skills to work on a (global) team
  • to be online learners, their teachers need to be comfortable learning online
  • to share their learning with peers, their teachers should be openly sharing their own learning with colleagues
  • to become network literate , teachers need experiences with “a basic understanding of network technology, crafting a network identity, understanding of network intelligence and network capabilities”
  • to leverage the power of a learning network to solve problems and answer beyond “googleable” questions, then their teachers should be connected to a learning network
  • to own their own learning by actively participating and contributing, then their teachers need to be doing the same and modeling life long learning

Building an online professional development hub/community for your school  will give your faculty the opportunity to experience exactly this type of learning.

  Building_a_PD_community_at_your_schoolAn online PD Hub moves teacher learning into the “Now”, away from one-size-fits all professional development, away from Tuesday’s faculty meeting at 3 pm, away from sitting through professional development workshops that are not relevant to one’s students or subject areas. Building_a_PD_hub-whyWhy would you want to invest time and resources into building an online professional development hub for your school?

  • Anytime Professional development can happen in your pajamas on a Sunday morning or (if you are a night person) at 10 pm at night. Teachers can learn in small chunks of time… 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there… without having to sit through an extended period of time at the end of a long day of work or on a scheduled workshop at 8 am on a weekend.
  • Anywhere Learning happens not only in the faculty lounge, media center, at a workshop venue or in a conference room. It can happen at home, in your car (listening to a podcast), waiting at a doctor’s office or at your children’s swim practice or dance lessons. Professional development also does not only happen locally, but teachers can connect to colleagues and learning opportunities around the world.
  • Sharing Ewan McIntosh said ” Sharing and sharing online specifically is not in addition to the work of an educator, it is THE work”. Educators are inherently people who share their knowledge. Technology enables us to share at a larger scale, beyond students who are physically in the same place at the same time. Web 2.0 tools give us the ability to create, publish and disseminate what we want to share with a world wide audience. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are built on the fact that educators will share and contribute to the network as much as they are “taking” from it.
  • Curating The word “curation” was taken from the context of a museum curator, who selects, organizes, and presents artifacts to the public using his/her professional knowledge. The school’s PD hub becomes the place (“museum”) for curated information, especially selected, organized and presented by professional educators for each other.
  • Crowdsource Crowdsourcing is defined as obtaining information or input into a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people. David Weinberger said: “The smartest person in the room is…. the room”. Harvesting the collective experience of teaching and learning in your school community is worth enlisting all members of your school. It is about taking advantage of a platform that supports and encourages contributions and collaboration through experiences, perspectives and educational data.
  • Engage in conversation Many teachers are completely isolated in their classrooms. There is seldom time to chat with colleagues, conversations are cut short by the bell ringing, the next meeting, car pool duty or students needing additional help after class. Meetings are taken up with administrative issues and endless paperwork to be completed. A hub, designed to foster and support conversation among administration and faculty, allows educators to engage in a conversation in their own time, their own space, their interests and at their own level. It also fosters an important modern skill of being able to ” engage colleagues through the use of technology. It’s vital that we educators explore the use of digital PLC’s and the learning that can come from the connections”.
  • Making learning visible A PD hub, is a platform to house a myriad of media (text, images, slide decks, videos, audio files, etc.) that showcases and makes the learning taking place at the school visible. Teachers share student learning as well as their own learning by making it visible for others to read, view or listen to.

Building_a_PD_hub-characteristics Characteristics of an Online PD Hub for Schools. A hub is:

  • shared Sharing of resources is the beginning, sharing of successes and failures in our professional practices to receive feedback is the next.
  • documented By documenting (taking the time to writing down reflecting on teaching and learning) and sharing the documentation provides evidence of a process and created artifacts.
  • searchable The documentation is not scattered, nor available to just a few members of the school community, but is collected in one place that is searchable for all for future evidence and connections.
  • archived Resources, artifacts and reflection of learning do not disappear after a project, a book study, a webinar or a workshop is over, but are being archived for later retrieval to be searched, built upon and connected to future professional development learning.
  • open for feedback Sharing openly and transparently online (even on a closed school PD hub) adds the component of being able to receive feedback for your contributions from other members of the hub. The feedback cycle becomes an important component in the school PD hub for motivation, continuously extending your thinking and work.
  • an aid in the process of writing and reflection Every teacher is a writing teacher. Every teacher strives to help their students reflect on their learning. John Dewey said: “We don’t learn from experiences, but from reflecting on the experience”. Teachers have little opportunity or take the time to continue to write and reflect on their own. A PD hub gives teachers the platform and the “excuse” to practice and hone their writing and reflection skills to then be able to take these skills and translate them into their classroom and teaching.

Building_a_PD_hub-challenges

  • Time There is never enough time in the life of an educator. Building a Professional Development Hub for your school will raise hairs on the backs (and resistance) of many just by thinking that it is one more thing to add to their plate. It is imperative to make it clear to members of your school community, that the time invested is of importance and will replace time spent on a different task. It is also important to clarify that in the beginning, a learning curve when reading, sharing, reflecting on the the hub is to be expected. The time invested now will pay off later.
  • Basic Tech Skills Building an online Professional Development hub for your school is challenging if the majority of your faculty lacks basic technology skills. With basic skills, such as password and login management, typing skills, a certain fluency in reading and writing on a digital platform, etc. The lack of these skills seem to make the transition to a digital environment for learning filled with high obstacles and too far to reach. I have been wrestling with the issue “It is NOT about technology“/ It IS about Technology for a while ( Never Was About Technology?- Time to Focus on Learning?, Take the Technology out of the Equation) and of course, it is not about the technology (it is about learning), but I am observing more and more educators , who are not comfortable with nor technology literate, are being left out of/ behind LEARNING opportunities. It is a subtle change, one that can be masked by surrounding yourself with colleagues and administrators who do not value nor take advantage of the transformational opportunities in teaching and learning through technology.
  • Embed Culture of Reflection If a school does not value reflection as part of the learning process or educators are not used to sharing their reflection, embedding reflection in your online PD hub will be a challenge. Teachers and administrators need to see the value and benefits for their own learning and growth. This does not happen overnight, nor by writing 1 reflective post. Learning about the value of a reflection over time to demonstrate growth TAKES time. According to Carol Rodgers in Defining Reflection :Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking, four criteria emerge from Dewey’s work that characterize reflection: Reflection is a meaning making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and its connections to other experiences and ideas. Reflection is a systematic, rigorous way of thinking, with its roots in scientific inquiry. Reflection needs to happen in community, in interaction with others Reflection requires attitudes that value the personal and intellectual growth of oneself and others.(further reading: Reflection in the learning process, not as a an add-on, Reflect…Reflecting… Reflection, The Reflective School by Peter Pappas)
  • Not comfortable with sharing While sharing has always come natural to me, this might not be the case for all your teachers at your school. Some educators are not comfortable in sharing their success or failures. Reasons behind these feelings have been “I don’t want to brag”, “There is nothing I could share that has not been shared before”, “There is noting I can think of”, or ” I am a perfectionist, I could not possibly write down what I do”, “I am worried/afraid people will judge me/my writing/my spelling/my opinions/my teaching/etc.” The fact of potentially receiving feedback, embeds a different mindset when authoring and sharing material and documentation. Many are not used to that kind of open and transparent feedback.
  • Building a Culture of Sharing How do we move from “never having thought about sharing my work, my reflections, my successes and failures, to a culture where sharing is deeply embedded how we work, learn and teach together. Not an easy task to build that culture, to make the act of sharing part of the fabric of our school? (further reading: Sharing and Amplification Ripple Effect, The Power and Amplified Reach of Sharing, Sharing in Education- Is it Changing?, There is a responsibility of sharing among Educators, It’s All About Sharing & Collaborating)
  • Self- Directed Learning Schools, universities and continued education opportunities of pre-internet days as students have groomed us to sign up, show up, listen and receive credit as proof that we were present. With the growth of the Internet, social media platforms, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), personal learning networks (PLN) blogs, wikis, etc, the learner is in charge WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW to learn. Materials are not pre-chosen, resoures are not stagnant or quickly outdated, a myriad of media is available to match one’s learning style. It is a challenge and struggle for educators and schools to transition to a new mind shift, where professional development is NOT chosen for them, but self-directed. Self-directed also requires the increasingly important skill of staying focused and the capability to select and filter an increasingly overwhelming information landscape.
  • Self-Motivated Learning Closely related to self-directed learning is being self-motivated. The opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere and anyhow brings with it the challenge of intrinsic motivation. What happens when there is no roll-call, not physical presence required and a certain anonymity of what has been read, how much time was spent in working through resources and conversation threads? How much participation of the individual contributed to the overall connected learning of the group?
  • Quality Contributions Having a professional development hub for your school and having your teachers contribute to the hub with resources, blog posts, images and videos does not necessarily equal quality contributions. It is imperative to clarify for teachers what is considered “quality” for your school community. Does a comment ” I like what you shared” constitute “quality”? Does it contribute to the value of the original post? Does complaining about students or parents enrich learning for your school community? What contributions enrich the school’s learning community and what might teachers add that distract from learning, are unprofessional in nature or contribute to a culture of bullying, passive aggressiveness and negativism?
  • Clear Expectations Taking all the above mentioned challenges in consideration, it becomes important for administrators to set clear expectations for their faculty, if an online PD hub is to be successful. Will it be mandatory to participate? How much participation is expected? What happens, if a teacher chooses to not participate? What are consequences? Will there be consequences? What basic technology skills are expected/ required of faculty to be able to participate as a full member of the online community? What is the expectation of professionalism? Who will moderate, re-enforce these expectations? How will you set and communicate expectations of quality contributions?

Building_a_PD_hub-steps

  1. Choose a Platform There are many platforms to choose from for your online PD hub for your school. There is no right or wrong decision which one you will choose. I would suggest you choosing the same platform, that you are or will be using for your students. It makes all the sense in the world to have your teachers experiences and work with the same platform your students will be working with. Questions to ask when choosing the platform (to make sure the platform has the capability to accommodate your requirements): Will it be an open to the world or a closed to only members of a specific (school) community platform? Does the platform have potential for future growth? How much technology know-how do you need to set up and maintain the platform? How much will it cost? (Examples of PD platforms: WordPress Multi-user site (self hosted), Edmodo, edublogs, Eduplanet21, Ning,Google Plus)
  2. Build Content It is essential, especially in the beginning, to start building content on your community. It is hard for beginners, with little or no experience in online learning to envision the potential of the hub when nothing has been shared, no conversation has taken place and no visible evidence of a return investment to the time you are asking them to spend on the platform. It is worth the effort to invest in starting to populate resource areas, share downloadable and demonstrate how quality contributions might look like. You might also want to strategically ask specific members (more experienced ones with online learning) of your community to contribute in order to make “how it could look like “visible for others.
  3. Set Expectations Expectations can represent a challenge (see above). The clearer the expectations are for your school’s online professional development hub, the more successful the hub might become. Without set and communicated expectations, many hubs have fizzled out and did not fulfill the learning needs of the community. Once these expectations are communicated to members, revisit them often, embed them in conversations, in faculty meetings and faculty communications. If a pedagogical success, not only the mere existence of such online hub has become a priority and is to be part of the fabric of professional development at your school, expectations cannot disappear as yet another momentary initiative allowing members to fly under a radar.
  4. Model Use Administrators, especially a principal or head of school, are lead learners of a school community. In order to model good practices, their presence, participation and involvement is crucial on your online PD hub. Administrators model quality contribution, feedback and sharing, important characteristics of a flourishing online community. The mere presence and involvement of administrators, not only models, but also communicates clearly the shift of self-directed and motivated learning in digital places. Outside the digital learning platform, every opportunity should be taken to “demonstrate the value found with your digital [learning hub]” and strategically identify learning taking place as a result of connections made through the PD hub.
  5. Support Basic Tech Skills Different levels of comfort and fluency in regards to basic technology skills will be among your faculty. Make sure you have a system in place to support various levels. Walk in tech support, available step-by-step tutorials in paper form or for download, video tutorials of basic support involved in consuming, producing and contributing via the online hub. There is also the possibility of establishing a buddy system to connect less savvy teachers with mentors/coaches to support and guide the in becoming participating and active members of the school PD hub.
  6. Make Learning Visible What could you share on your online professional development hub? Resources, links to articles, book reviews, etc.? What makes YOUR SCHOOL’S hub unique, if members start sharing the learning that is taking place in their classroom with their students and in their own learning as educators. It is natural step to start Documenting FOR Learning and to share that learning in a visible way in a variety of media platforms (text, images, audio, video, etc.)

Designing New Literacies

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

designing-new-literacies-tolisanoIn Mike FIsher and my keynote/workshop last week at the Wildly Excited Conference at the Grand Rapids State University in Michigan, I shared the following blended sketchnote (blended= self-drawn doodles/sketches combined with a photograph). Participants were asked to take a look at the image and use the Visible Thinking Routine I see, I think, I wonder from Project Zero. They shared their thinking in a backchannel in a Today’s Meet room.

Before looking at my image annotations and reading the examples/ excerpt of the backchannel below with teachers’ responses, consider going through the exercise yourself. Take a few minutes to intensely look at the image above and follow the thinking routine: I see…, I think…, I wonder… Share your responses in the comment section below, adding your thoughts…sharing and making your thinking visible to others.

annotated-sketchnote

How could you use these techniques shown or demonstrated in your own classroom?

  • sketchnoting
  • visual prompts
  • I see, I think, I wonder routine
  • Backchanneling
  • annotated sketchnoting (or other visuals?)

Teacher Visible Thinking Routine responses

  • One of the difficulties of education our students learn differently than we do,
  • I see an interest in connecting internationally.
  • I wonder what amazing things could happen in classrooms if we all started being more techie and digital in our classrooms?
  • I think it is about the new age of learners
  • I see people handing boxes up to a person standing on them. To me this means building a learning network.
  • I think this is where the digital learning age is headed. I wonder if I’m ready for it
  • Artwork: its Silva. Her family, life. Moving, lectures, author, etc.
  • Are books of no value anymore?
  • how do I use this when I can only get computers once every two weeks
  • Fast paced graphic learning like they are used to. Keep things moving!
  • I think today’s kids brains are wired differently than most teachers over the age of 30.
  • The drawing is busy a lot going on and represents changes in technology and many options of technology
  • I see various ways of gaining/sharing knowledge. I think it represents the current work. I wonder how available for kids in poverty.
  • I think my processing speed needs to incease!
  • I see what students are bombarded with on a daily basis
  • I know this is a worldwide reality and it is exciting, but no wonder our kids are ADHD.
  • I see lots of possibilities!!!!
  • collaboration
  • We need to change our way of teaching. We need to teach more about accessing information.
  • I wonder: when do we allow our brains to have a break from all of those distractions
  • I think this is an accurate picture of our society today- lots of different ways to interact and connect with a variety of people
  • students now have the ability to visit other places and interact with others virtually, without leaving their bedroom or the classroom
  • Global learning and global appreciation is more easily obtainable.
  • Students can use various ways to present their thoughts.
  • We can connect with everyone across the world. We no longer need to be in our own classroom.
  • new literacies: apps, threads, global literacy, digital collaboration, graphics, imagery and film, multiple languages, software and programs
  • I see a variety of media.
  • I see the ink connecting with classes across the district or within our building could be a small start
  • A bunch of disconnected images
  • The power of learning in different ways.
  • Having the luxury of so many ways/strategies to help students in their learning. Looking at learning as evolving.
  • Open a book to learn new things!
  • I wonder how I can use these strategies with classroom with young ones who have special needs.
  • I see a selfie being taken.
  • There are a variety of items that are connected, but if I don’t have a way to connect them they float out in space.
  • I see connections between teacher facilitation and individual work.
  • #world wild learning!
  • when I look at the movie projector I think that many young kids don’t even know what it is!
  • Holy overwhelmed Batman…
  • The tough part is when the students start text talking. I see that a lot in our chats in the online classroom.
  • So many ways available for us to teach and learn.
  • I see flags and think I know those countries and I wonder why are those there, is that where she has been?
  • It’s like going on vacation to other places without leaving your room.
  • Global learning can take place when using technology and connects students with much more information than ever before!
  • Students have so much in their minds!
  • Constant scrolling messages distract ability to sort out my own thoughts!
  • Globalization–speaking multiple languages is important to connect–by plane and/or virtually!
  • Students are learning so much each day through so many mediums. How do we help them prioritize so it changes them?
  • Students learning in the classroom is constantly changing to the digital world.
  • Represents the many ways people are connected.
  • I don’t get the rain clouds in the middle
  • Students can communicate all around the world
  • I see what someone brings to the classroom
  • I see a lot of experiences. I think this looks like a great way to describes oneself through visuals. I wonder who drew this
  • Connecting the world through digital learning and accessing new ideas. A bit overwhelming
  • I think technology can pave a path toward global awareness.
  • Learning is global and there are infinite ways to share
  • I think the drawing is overwhelming
  • It’s the brain of most of our students
  • That image looks like the information overload that most of our kids are living with on a daily basis. ;)
  • Many options!
  • Reminds me of the book the Lexus and the olive tree
  • It helps us link or connect our learning to others
  • This is a lot to take in, but this is the way our kids learn now. Very different from what I am use to
  • Great for discussion! Visuals can say so much
  • I think: multitasking and information overload
  • I see literacy becoming more technology based and global. I wonder how it will impact students’ ability to communicate in person.
  • I see learning 2.0
  • Our small learning community is focusing on global cultural and we could reach out to other countries
  • I see interaction in person and remotely
  • Linking ideas together globally
  • There r endless ways to teach and communicate w students
  • The image seems busy to my list-making mind. I’d love the pictures to be in a row.
  • I Think about educational chances
  • to me it represents learning and the different possible ways to learn
  • This picture reminds me of my brain right now! And many of my students!
  • I see interesting artwork that is very symbolic
  • Links to what is already known in the students’ lives, multiple ways of learning and multiple ways of achieving literacy.
  • I see students connected to the whole world. I think I want to do this! I wonder how I can adapt it for my third graders.
  • World traveler who is equipped with technology, family and friends
  • I think this represents our ability to gather knowledge from all over the world using technology
  • Helps all types of learners
  • I see the ways the world is connected
  • Sensory/information overload
  • the power of tapping expertise worldwide
  • Connecting multiculturally.
  • merging the old with the new in innovative ways
  • Digital media brings it all together
  • Very global…learning around the world
  • I see lots of ways to communicate

Against Technology (the word)

by Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Heidi-3-c-croppedUbiquitous in every sphere of education; the word “technology” is splattered loosely. No subliminal messaging here, the term is to mean that schools with wifi, tablets, one to one laptop programs, and smart boards are preparing students for the future. Simply having a computer doesn’t mean that the curriculum and instruction are contemporary and relevant. Students can be using the internet to research irrelevant and dated content. A word processor does not ensure quality writing competence. When a group of middle school students runs around campus with flip cameras, it is unlikely they will produce a first rate documentary. Perhaps there is some kind of magical thinking, that digital tools will prompt innovative outcomes.I share this concern as a firmly committed advocate for the modernization of learning opportunities.

laptopsMost telling is our current obsession with dated assessment forms. Teachers are not encouraged to innovate when their institutions are pushing time traveling to the past. Although mission statements are packed with phrases like “tomorrow’s school” and “careers of the future” and “global preparedness”, the truth is that all fifty states in my country value assessments that are basically identical in format to those used thirty years ago.Multiple choice, short answer essay prompts to de-contextualized paragraphs are the raison de vivre. Some national publishers are creating on-line testing, but the items are still the same type as those used when standardized testing first was developed. Certainly our learners need ACCESS to the global portals and dynamic applications available through digital media in order to become literate and connected, but access is insufficient.

We should pay attention to school faculties, leaders, and individual teachers who are actively and boldly upgrading curriculum content to reflect timely issues and problems and crafting modern assessments such as digital-media-global project based learning opportunities. Website curation, app design, global network research, and video/audio production are indicative of modern learning environments not only for students but for their teachers as well. What might happen if in our discourse we replace the loose use of the word technology with the phrase contemporary learning environments?

Cross-Posted to ASCD edge.

Documenting FOR Learning

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to Langwitches Blog

I am a documenter, I have always been… maybe it is in my blood…

…from keeping diaries from an early age on, being the family letter writer, to taking pictures to document our lives, vacations, family and friends… even when it was tedious… (taking 24 or 36 exposures at a time, then taking it to a photo store to develop them and waiting a week to being able to pick them up).

family-historian

I am the family historian, creating family albums, chasing and writing down family tree connections….I am the storyteller… repeating family stories… so my children and grandchild(ren) will know where they came from…to not let voices of the past quiet down and disappear…

…so maybe it is in MY blood…but… even if it is not in YOUR blood… as an educator… take another look at the purpose and effect of documenting FOR learning…in my opinion, documenting serves a larger…big picture purpose in education…

Documenting FOR Learning is:

  • a supporting piece for the study of self-determined learning–> Heutagogy
  • a strategy, approach and technique to facilitate learning–> Pedagogy

documenting for learningI see documenting as:

  • a process of intentional documenting serves a metacognitive purpose
  • a creative multimedia expression (oral, visual, textual)
  • a component of reflective practice
  • taking ownership of one’s learning
  • a memory aid
  • curation
  • professional development
  • being open for feedback

While I have, until now, primarily seen and used documentation for my own and other’s professional learning by documenting student learning and learning/teaching strategies, one of the take-aways from a workshop I attended recently with Ben Mardell, Making Learning Visible, was that documenting student learning in the classroom is an integral component to inform the direction further instruction and content is to take.

Intentional educational documenting is multi-layered and can serve teachers, students and schools/districts:

  • Teachers
    • to share best practices with colleagues
    • to make teaching available for students outside of classroom hours
    • to inform further instructions
    • to reflect on their own lesson plans, delivery and teaching pedagogy
    • to gather and showcase their teaching portfolio over time
    • to evaluate student progress, growth and for assessment
  • Students
    • to articulate (via different forms of media) and showcase their learning
    • to become aware of their own learning growth
    • to gather and archive their digital work via E- portfolios
    • to build their footprint in a digital world
  • Schools/ District
    • to a certain degree in their marketing efforts
    • in parent / community communication
    • to attract like minded potential employees
    • to provide Professional Development
    • provide documentation and examples to linked curriculum maps

I use the following types of tools for documenting:

  • Video
  • Photos
  • Sketchnotes
  • Notes (traditional/annotated)
  • Tweets
  • Backchannel
  • Blogs
  • Slide deck
  • Screenshooting and – casting
  • Mindmaps

A very interesting article, titled Pedagogical Documentation (pdf) from the Ontario’s Capacity Building Series by The Student Achievement Division supports the notion that pedagogical documentation helps students take ownership of their learning, challenges teachers to

“see children differently. Different kinds of demonstrations of learning moved us all beyond what we had come to expect, and led us to a place of valuing each child’s contribution. What was made visible was the learning process of children , their multiple languages, and the strategies used by each child.”

When googling “pedagogical documentation“, many hits are returned regarding the Reggio Emilia teaching approach in early childhood.

In Reggio Emilia, teachers make records of events in the life of the school as a tool for research. This has come to be known as ‘pedagogical documentation’ because of the important role it has in supporting reflective practice. (Dahlberg et all. 1999: 144). Pedagogical documentation consists of records that are made for the purpose of pedagogical research.

Pedagogical documentation could be described as visible records (written notes, photos, videos, audio recordings, children’s work) that enable teachers, parents and children to discuss, interpret and reflect upon what is happening from their various points of view, and to make choices about the best way to proceed, believing that rather than being an unquestionable truth, there are many possibilities.

Beyond the benefits in early childhood, I did not find much in regards to Documenting for Learning with older students (K-16) and adult learners as part of their professional development.

What are your thoughts? What type of research have you come across? Have you conducted action research in your own classroom? With your PD? What are the benefits/disadvantages? Should documenting have an “official place” in our overall learning toolbox? Should documenting be part of every work-and learnflow?

Minecraft: Research Product

Earlier this week, a member of my digital network, Brent Coley ( @brentcoley ), shared the following tweet where a student created a Minecraft video that represented a virtual tour of Mission San Diego de Alcala (Wikipedia link):

 

 

Link to video outside of tweet.

 

I was absolutely blown away by what this 4th grader created and I thought it was a good representation of what a research project product that wasn’t a paper looked like.  I’ve previously blogged about Infographics as a research product and I advocate vociferously for digital product replacement thinking when I work with teachers. If the outcome is building knowledge and demonstrating that students can both investigate a topic and learn from it, whoever said that research had to result in a paper?

 

The research standards in the Common Core are usually just the three writing standards associated with Research to Build and Present Knowledge. However, I always lump writing standard six in there as well, as it deals with how writing can be presented in a digital format/presentation. I want to share the fourth-grade-specific Common Core writing standards here, standard seven from the Research Standards, and standard six from the Production and Distribution of Writing section:

 

W.4.7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

 

W.4.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

 

As you read through the rest of this blog post (and hopefully after you’ve viewed the video), read with these standards as lenses. Ask yourself, “did this student meet the standard?” “Did this student provide evidence of what they know and are able to do within the confines of this standard?”

 

In my book, Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work?, I describe several questions to ask when assigning digital student work:

  1. What is the learning objective?
  2. Is the instructional task worthy of a digital upgrade? Will using digital tools enhance the learning? If so, in what ways?
  3. Will the digital tools increase or decrease the cognitive rigor of the task? What additional skills might have to be considered in order to engage this upgrade?
  4. Does the digital upgrade involve collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and/or creative thinking?
  5. Are sufficient digital tools available and do all students have access to them?
  6. Are the students involved in some of the decision-making? How much are the students contributing to the design, process, or product?

 

I wanted to blog about this student’s Minecraft project through the lens of these six considerations, annotating what this fourth grader was able to accomplish.

 

 

  • What is the learning objective?

 

      • The learning objective here was to learn about the Mission San Diego de Alcala. This student had to learn the layout, information about the different areas, and be able to speculate about the people that lived there.
      • This student also had to learn specific information about the founder of the Mission, Father Junipero Serra, as he both introduces the video and then explains several of the artifacts contained within the video.

 

  • Is the instructional task worthy of a digital upgrade? Will using digital tools enhance the learning? If so, in what ways?

 

      • In this case, I believe the learning was enhanced exponentially. Besides the research to build knowledge about the mission, this student had to do a brick by brick recreation to create the video.
      • In the comments section of the video, the student’s father includes information about the student having to develop his own system for creating the texture of the tiles on the roof.
      • This obviously had to be tightly scripted for both production and the narration, so the writing definitely occurred at some point. Everything in the video though is beyond the writing…beyond the end point of the traditional research product.
      • In terms of worth? You tell me. Was this digital upgrade a worthy replacement?

 

  • Will the digital tools increase or decrease the cognitive rigor of the task?

 

      • The traditional version of this research would have resulted in a paper, most likely, perhaps a diorama or detailed schematic drawing. In this case, using Minecraft, the detail involved demanded a time-intensive process that resulted in a very professional product. The decisions this student made to develop the detailed depiction all involved discernment and critical thinking in some way. Big time rigor here.
      • Additionally, the student used multiple digital tools to get to the final product: Minecraft to create the representation, an audio tool to record the narration, and a screen-capturing tool to record the video. All of these individually would raise the thinking level of the task because they all represent learning that is above and beyond the expectation of the standard and the traditional version of the research. Together, they represent problem solving nirvana.
    • Does the digital upgrade involve collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, and/or creative thinking?
      • I get the sense from the comments on the Youtube page that the student engaged in some conversation with his dad to create the video, though I don’t see specific evidence of collaboration or communication.
      • As for creative problem solving, the student’s father references an issue with the roof tiles that the student had to discover a solution too, but the entire video also represents a finished product that is the end product of trial and error thinking. If you’ve ever been in Minecraft, you know that you have to try stuff out and see if it works. Once you discover what works, you build, literally, on it.
      • In terms of creative thinking, there’s so much here. From decisions about the design and interactive elements, to details about Father Serra’s artifacts, to the layout and navigation of the Mission for the viewer of the video, this student had a lot on his plate to think about. The finished product demonstrates extremely high levels of thinking and decision making.

 

  • Are sufficient digital tools available and do all students have access to them?

 

    • This I don’t know. I’m not privy to the project’s parameters or to the population of students that were assigned this project and their access to / equity within digital tools or connected access points.
    • I do know that this student seems to be fairly comfortable creating within the digital realm, which suggests an early affinity / comfort with digital tools at a young age that allows him to demonstrate learning at this level even in the fourth grade.
    • Based on the comments from dad, I’m speculating that this student has no issues with computer / internet access and that it is just a part of his world.
  • Are the students involved in some of the decision-making? How much are the students contributing to the design, process, or product?
    • Again, since I don’t know anything about what was assigned, I don’t know how much the students contributed to the design of the project.
    • Even if the design of the Mission and its subsequent creation within the Minecraft system was with the help of his father, note that the standard (#6) advocates for “guidance and support from adults.”

 

In the book, I also recommend some questions to ask when assessing student work, two of which revolve around how students are reflecting on what they are creating and how they are attributing their source material, both of which are important components of research.

 

In this case, there is little evidence of either. I was hoping to learn from where the student found his information. (And I was secretly hoping to discover that he used multiple verified sources.) I was also hoping to learn why he chose to use Minecraft to create his product versus other available web tools. Perhaps eventually this could be added to the Youtube comments. If I were the teacher, I might ask for this as a separate component of the task.

 

All in all, though, I must say, that this effort is serendipitous. I’m struck by both the level of quality and the apparent level of learning of this student. I hope that those reading this are understanding that this is what a 21st Century demonstration of learning looks like. This is what is possible when we relinquish the limits of traditional practice. This is what is possible when we begin orbiting the boxes that we’ve asked students to think outside of for decades. This is 21st Century Learning.

 

Kudos to this kid and his dad. What they created was future-forward and just plain awesome. I subscribed to their Youtube channel. I can’t wait to see what they will do next!

Follow Mike On Twitter: @fisher1000

Mike’s Website: Digigogy.com

Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign and Assess 21st Century Work?

Copyright Flowchart: Can I Use It? Yes? No? If This… Then…

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

It is the responsibility of all educators to model good digital citizenship for their students. Especially when it comes to copyright, plagiarism and intellectual property. The waters are murky. Not being familiar with online digital rights and responsibilities (hey, teachers did not grow up with the Internet being around), educators are wading through uncharted waters (hey, I did not know that I could not just google an image to use. If someone puts it up online it is free for the taking). That does not mean they can close their eyes and pretend life is the same or that the same rules apply to online versus offline use of copyrighted material with their students.

It is every educator’s responsibility to become familiar , observe and model for their students! It is also every educator’s responsibility to not lump in all educational use of copyrighted material under the claim of Fair Use (hey, I am using it in school, I am not making money off of it…) . It is not that simple…

flowchart2

I have written about copyright on this blog many time. Some highlighted posts are:

The waters are murky, it is not an easy topic. While there are some clear cut rules about copyrighted material, Creative Commons and Public Domain content, Fair Use in Education are supported by GUIDELINES, not clear cut rules!

flowchart3

Together with the Academic Technology Team at Graded- The American School of São Paulo, the importance of developing a school policy in regards to copyright was discussed. It was not just about developing a policy, but also about:

  • raising awareness of copyright issues in a digital world
  • bringing relevance to classroom teacher at all levels and subject areas in understanding copyright in digital education spaces and seeing it not just as part of the domain of a ‘technology person”
  • helping teachers shift from previous practices regarding copyrighted material in an analog world
  • internalize ethical behavior regarding intellectual property available in an online environment

We did our due diligence in researching and gain a better understanding of how other educational organizations were dealing with copyright policy creation, teacher education and support.

Meryl Zeidenberg, the school’s library coordinator, and I started working on taking the gathered research to inform the development, articulation and design of an “If this… Then that…”type flowchart to better support teachers in making decision when using different types of media in teaching, blogging, presentations or projects.

flowchart4

We have ubiquitous digital access, ease of duplication and distribution of information. We encourage students and faculty alike to write, record, and film for global audiences, thus ushering in a new era of copyright consciousness.

The following infographic chart was developed with an introduction of a New Era of Copyright Consciousness and a suggested simplified flow to follow:

  • create your own media (then you don’t have to worry about infringing on someone else’s copyright)
  • search for public domain media (then you don’t have to worry about copyright, since it has been voluntarily released or has expired. No worries about giving proper attribution or citing the source either)
  • search within the Creative Commons domain (make sure you double check requirements under the license: attribution?, non-derivative? non-commercial? etc.)
  • determine if your use of the copyrighted material can fall under Fair Use?

flow

[The flowchart is an attempt in creating a clear route to follow to something that is not as clear cut in nature. If you choose to use it, please do so in the spirit of such disclaimer.]

Copyright Flowchart

Telling a Story with Data

Cross posted to Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

 

6th graders, under the facilitation of their Math teacher, Laurel Janewicz, have learned to take data, analyze the data and tell a story with it. They are demonstrating their understanding of Math concepts, data graphs, misleading graphs and communication skills.

Laurel chose to give authentic, relevant and meaningful data (not invented data) to her students to analyze from the results of a Challenge Success survey taken the previous school year at the school. The survey compiled data about the school’s extra curricular activities, homework habits, parent involvement, student engagement, sleep patterns etc.

Graded-Homework

Laurel’s plan was to have students analyze the data and then create different types of graphs to be able to communicate their findings in a presentation. Students were to tell a story of the data. The rubric below showed students Laurel’s expectations in terms of content, communication/presentation and a blog post.

Laurel also made connections to standards clear:

The bottom of my rubric has the content standards for statistics and data, but Common Core also has 8 Mathematical Process standards and this project hits on a lot of them:
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Make conjectures, justify conclusions, communicate them to others
4. Model with mathematics
Identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using diagrams, graphs,etc.
Analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions
5. Use appropriate tools strategically
Be sufficiently familiar with tools appropriate to make sound decisions about whether these tools might be helpful, recognizing both the insight to be gained and their limitations.
Identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems.
Use technological tools to explore and deepen understanding of concepts.

math-rubric-challenge-sucess-janewicz

Laurel, in her own words, lists some of the observations and comparison from teaching the same unit in previous years.

What is different this year?
I used real data that is relevant to them because I created a survey which they responded to and shared the results with the students and assigned each student a question/results to analyze.
I pulled all the parts of this unit into one project. Instead of making and analyzing graphs for one set of data (real or fake), finding and analyzing measures of central tendency for another (real or fake), creating and analyzing misleading graphs for another (real or fake), they do all of it for one real, relevant set of data.
I added the element of making the data tell a story- using it to communicate or persuade. Data and a narrative go best together.
I incorporated use of technology so they could share this on their blog not just with their classmates and the Graded community, but with a global community.
I dedicated a lot of class time for working on this and shared student work along the way so students could see exemplars and offer and receive feedback.
I designed specific questions for students to offer feedback on the projects on the blog posts.

graphing graphing2 graphing3 graphing4 graphing5

From the perspective of modern skills and literacies upgrades:

Good teaching is good teaching. Adding technology to bad teaching still will not increase student learning. Adding technology to good teaching can add new layers and open up new dimensions of connections and learning. Laurel’s lesson on data analysis and graphing (including misleading graphs) was well planned, developed and executed to begin with. The lesson could have stood on its own and would have addressed the Math standards.

By tweaking the lesson, as Laurel described above, so many more instructional methods, skills, literacies and standards were addressed:

  • making thinking visible
  • being able to visually tell a story with data
  • communicating that story via an electronic media for a larger audience (potential global connections)
  • communicating math concepts
  • going through creation cycle: data analysis, creation, sharing, publishing, feedback, revision
  • differentiated
  • personalized
  • student choice
  • media literacy: choose appropriate media, possibly “media/app smashing”, by mixing several tools/media to create one project
  • network literacy: writing for an audience, receiving feedback, responding to feedback
  • information literacy: analyzing data, recognizing misleading data, visualizing data, interpreting data from multiple perspectives
  • digital citizenship: be aware of copyright of digital images (Creative Commons, proper citation)

Natasha, one of the sixth grade students summed up her experience in her blog post:

In math, we have been working on a project with data from the responses we got from the Challenge Success Survey. I thought that this project was extremely interesting because we got to incorporate our knowledge of most of the things we had learned about in that math unit. I really liked taking on my project from a different perspective. I also got to experiment with different websites that were really cool. I got to learn all about misleading graphs, graphs and so many other things that I hope you find as cool as I did.

Student examples (created in Wideo, Google Presentation, PowToon, Piktochart, Prezi) of presentations:

How Much Time are Graded 6th Graders Spending on Homework? by Maya W.

Come to Graded by Jack

Is it Fake or just Misleading? By Yael

Let’s Get into This by Rens

You Can Never Get Too Deep When it Comes to Data! by Tashi

Homework? Time? What’s Going on? by Laura

Do you do as much Homework as I do? by Alyssa

The Challenge is Complete by Felipe

math-felipe-infographic math-felipe-infographic2 math-felipe-infographic3

 

Interested how this story continued to unfold? Watch for an upcoming blog post of Blogging in Math class, with student samples and model lesson video of Laurel introducing her expectations for quality blog commenting in Math.

Upgrading Blogs Through Lens of SAMR

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
blogging-stairs-sm-3

The step from using a static website or emails as a mean to share announcements or calendar items to sharing the same type of items on a blogging platform is not far nor a steep step. My ultimate goal for using a classroom blog or student blogfolios though, is that of creating transformative teaching and learning opportunities, not to have a platform that substitutes a composition book or paper journal. To make the difference visible and clearer, I am looking through the lens of the SAMR model.

SAMR-thumb

First, a Classroom Blog seen through the lens of SAMRblogging_through-SAMR_lens1_111913_105226_AM blogging_through-SAMR_lens2_111913_105258_AM

What about Student Blogs?

Substitution- technology acts as a direct substitute for the task

  • A student uses the blog as a tool to substitute a handwritten/typed and printed assignment. The student copies and pastes a Google Doc or other file from a word processing program into a blog post. The comments on the blog are closed or not being utilized. Students might upload a scanned image of an analog test score, worksheet or other analog artifact. Students might answer a prompt or question posed by teacher to the entire class. There is no added value to the learning process versus the analog task.

Augmentation- technology acts as a direct tool substitution with functional improvement

  • Students use their blog as a platform to publish assignments (research papers, essays, responses) for their teacher to see. The blog is a place to push out information, possibly for Student Led Conferences or a showcase/process portfolio. They insert or embed images, videos, presentations or audio to support their written text. They possibly insert hyperlinks to additional resources. Students tag and categorize their posts with searchable labels. The blog platform becomes a digital organization of students’ online learning records, which is centralized, archived and searchable. Teachers use the comment section to give feedback to their students about their performance. Classmates read each other’s papers and leave comments.

Modification- technology allows for significant task redesign

  • Students use hyperlinked writing as part of digital writing process to show and connect their thinking to topics, influences, relationships and process between previously published content and external resources. Students communicate beyond the written word, in multimedia and transmedia ways. It is evident in their work that they are writing with a global audience in mind and their work encourages conversation, invites multiple perspectives to add and influence their work. Students receive constructive feedback from peers as part of the writing process. Comments inform students’ writing and original task of “paper” extends and “spills over” into the comment section, altering form of writing piece as well notion of “completion” of paper.Students are demonstrating writing skills for digital spaces, by observing digital citizenship, hyperlinked, networked, peer- connected and non- linear writing.

Redefinition- technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable

  • The student blog becomes an embedded part of the process and a natural extension of communication and learning cycle by documenting evidence of learning, reflecting, sharing and receiving feedback in order to consider revision. Teachers and students actively and strategically disseminate and connect the blogs to a learning network for feedback and resources. The blog archives artifacts, reflections and connects learning over time. The blog becomes a natural extension beyond assigned academic work and is being used as a hub to document students’ learning, demonstrating self-directed and self-motivated lifelong learning habits as they are organizing, building and maintaining their own online learning records, a growing academic digital footprint and develop their personal brand as well as personal learning networks.

Student Blogs -SAMR2Student Blogs -SAMR

 

The Heart of the Close Reading Standard

Collaborative blog post by Mike Fisher and Janet Hale.

 

Despite the amount of publishing and vendor products that employ a contrary interpretation, close reading is really about HOW we engage reading skills. It is not WHAT we engage. Developing “close reading” as a skill is not an essential part of this standard. Instead, it is a methodology, a strategy that is a way in which to reach the heart of the reading standards and the heart of improving comprehension.

 

The Hows and The Whats

 

Let’s look at the Common Core anchor standard number one for Reading-Literacy:

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

 

The WHATs are clear:

  • Determine what the text(s) says explicitly
  • Make logical inferences from the text(s)
  • Cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking
  • What you write or say must incorporate evidence drawn from text(s) to support conclusions

 

The HOWs are muddier:

  • While “read closely” is explicitly stated, what literally should be read is left to interpretation as well as HOW one records his or her notations based on defined task, purpose, and audience. For example, one interpretation could be creating an opportunity for students to deeply analyze a speech transcript for its rhetoric and annotate (or annotext) to capture evidence. Another interpretation could be re-reading a section or sections of a narrative focused on characterization and have students using a semantic mind-map to make evidence-based notations.
  • HOW students will be assessed–both the actual assessments and evaluation tools (Who will be the assessor? Teacher…Peers…Authentic audience? What will be the judgement criteria? Rubric…Oral Feedback…Jury Panel?) are not included explicitly in the anchor standard; therefore, open to interpretation.
  • “When writing or speaking” is explicitly stated, which means that students must be able to not only meet the criteria of this anchor standard (R.CCR.1), they must also demonstrate their abilities in conjunction with relational anchor standards, such as SL.CCR.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

 

By no means are the above the only considerations regarding interpretation of the HOWs involved in the close reading of texts. As a matter of fact, it is important to note that while this anchor standard used the term “text”, when reading grade-level specific standards associated with a related anchor standard for both Reading Literature and Reading Informational, R.CCR.7:

 

Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).

 

students must provide evidence by closely viewing media. This opens up Pandora’s box (RL.4.4) in that many teachers have not personally experienced this form of rigor regarding finding evidence in a media format, which involves its own set of terminology and understanding (e.g., how a specific type of shot–extreme long shot, long shot, full shot, mid-shot, close-up, extreme close-up–affects mood and tone).

 

Therefore, it is up to a teacher, or a teacher team, to interpret this (and other related) anchor standards. Students could determine what a text says explicitly through a digital-product assessment. Perhaps they could visually represent, through an infographic, logical inferences from two related texts. Another option could be to have students collaboratively (SL.CCR.1)  prepare a multi-media presentation that engages multiple HOWs to support the close-reading task.

The Hierarchy

 

As Mike blogged before, the words READ CLOSELY do not appear in ANY of the grade specific standards for R.CCR.1, further evidence that it is not the intended focal point. This anchor standard has more to do with building an increasing sophistication of how students deal with details in text (as well as media).

 

Let’s take a peek at the hierarchy through the use of Janet’s CCSS ELA Progressive Continuum App, which helps visualize new learning from one grade level to another.

 

(Note that bold print indicates new learning for a particular grade level.)

 

RL.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

 

RL.3.1Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

 

RL.5.1 Quote accurately froma text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

 

RL.6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysisof what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

 

RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text,including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

 

In the lower grade levels students are expected, with prompting and support, to ask and answer questions about details in text. In subsequent grade levels (grade three), students have to begin referring explicitly to specific details within text to answer posed questions. By the time students have reached grade five, they must be able to quote details accurately from the text in their speaking, writing, or multimedia products or presentations. In grade six the verb shifts from “quote” to “cite”, which alone creates interesting conversation with teachers on the interpretation of what this term truly means, and therefore, demands of students regarding evidence. Through grade 12 students are expected to continue to cite evidence using specific details from the text, but sophistication increases including the need to examine multiple pieces of “strong and thorough” evidence. In grades 11 and 12 , students must start discerning textual details, collecting and curating evidence to aid in determining which pieces of evidence (both explicitly and inferred) that most strongly support the analysis of the text, including “determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.”

The HEART of the Close Reading Standard

 

When close reading the previous paragraph, what would the key idea be? If you had to boil that paragraph down to a single-word emphasis, what would the word be? How about details? The heart of R.CCR.1 is that–it’s all about the details–questions about the details, referring to the details, quoting the details, citing the details, determining if the details leave matters uncertain.

 

The heart’s “pulse” is the rhythm students create that starts with answering and asking questions to ultimately discover how to best analyze texts. Students need a strong foundation (including quality modeling) in asking and answering questions in order to ready themselves to independently refer to texts to support their reasoning, including the abilities to quote accurately and cite evidence properly.

The HEART of the Close Reading Standard

Final Thoughts

 

It is extremely important that teachers collaboratively (both across grade levels as well as within a grade level) understand the heart of each Anchor Standard in Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking, and Language rather than accept interpretations by someone else. Teachers, administrators, and curriculum specialists should be discussing their personal interpretations with one another and coming to agreement on what the anchor standards require and designing curriculum and instruction based on the mutual interpretations.

 

The implications are that locally-designed units of study or lesson plans, vendor products or state-adopted curricula may not be a perfect fit, which means there will be a need to closely read the resource’s details to determine where the text leaves matters uncertain. Based on your agreed-upon WHATs and HOWs regarding each anchor standard, what do these resources provide that meet your established criteria? Where are the products lacking or appear to be incorrect? Can those involved in the product or resource close-reading experience support their reading using evidence-based conclusions?

 

The heart of the close reading standard matters. It has a place and purpose, not only in Grades K-12, but for college and careers. Scaffolded skills that live in the “close reading” standard are necessary to ensure students are able to identify details and ultimately lead to greater comprehension of text in a sophisticated manner. But an array of close-reading skills are not meant to be THE only skill sets that matter. Close reading should take place occasionally, when appropriate for task, purpose, and audience. Any methodology used with too much regularity is doomed. Skill sets and their supportive strategies are meant to be strategic…targeted…focused. If teachers read closely with students every single day, it’s not a strategy, it’s a roadblock.

 

Post-Script

 

This blog post focused on the analysis (or close read) of only ONE anchor standard. There are 10 reading anchor standards, and collectively there are 32 English/Language Arts anchor standards. What opportunities for empowering educators regarding curriculum design and instructional practice can be manifested by asking them to participate in collegial discussions and deep understandings concerning all of the anchor standards?

 

Follow Mike on Twitter

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Mike and Janet are the co-authors of Upgrade Your Curriculum: Practical Ways to Transform Units and Engage Students