This year I’ve started a Fellowship program organized by the Western New York (WNY) Education Associates (Angela Stockman) using grounded theory methodology. I’ve been playing around with a number of ideas and have now come up with my study. It’s not articulated well but what I’m doing is broadly outlined below.
We’re big on continuums for everything and this is great, but the challenge is to make these continuums child friendly and all learning visible to teachers, parents and most importantly the students. The problem is (my opinion) that the continuums we have are huge and perhaps contain benchmark statements which have become padding rather than essential. At my school our continuums are built on Fountas and Pinnell which is a great resource.
What I’m looking at through my students’ writing is the ‘WHAT’. What has actually moved their writing forward? I’m thinking of a hurdles race here where each hurdle or challenge is essential while other factors are not. This analogy sounds a bit different but I know from my students’ writing that there are core learning outcomes, but you don’t know what you don’t know!
My challenge is to develop criterion to assess and ask my students what the ‘click’ was and from this create and trial a streamlined continuum which is fully understood by all stakeholders. The answer is embedded in their writing and I think I’ll use how I teach writing genres to scaffold the process. My students write well and I’ve been asked how I teach writing, and given that we plan in teams and I use our team planning documents I must be doing something differently. So, if I am doing something differently, what is it? I need to discover what it is and make this visible to all.
This year I discovered that one of my student’s parents is a published author. As any writer knows getting published isn’t easy but the love of writing comes first. This is what we want to inspire in young writers.
This post introduces Rowena Wiseman and I’m excited to share our conversations here.
Rowena Wiseman:- I’ve been writing pretty seriously for 10 years now, so I’m so excited to have had these 6 books picked up, as well as a novel coming out later in the year ‘Exit Stage Left’ by Merge Publishing in the US, as well as my novelette ‘Bequest’ that’s just come out with Tenebris Books. I’m proud to have been able to show my kids not to give up – to keep trying at things and eventually it may pay off! My daughter said to me last year that she wanted to become a publisher, so that she could publish my books! How sweet is that?!
Aunty Arty is a series of chapter books for junior readers. Frieda’s Aunty Arty has a sheet of magical round red stickers that can transport them into a famous work of art. Their adventures take them to Italy, where they meet live statues with strange heads, China, where they laugh along with seven smiling men all named Yue and to a dance studio, where they encounter a troupe of old, angry women who never want to give up dancing. Along the way, Frieda’s siblings learn about jealousy, bravery and not wanting to grow up too fast.
Astro Circus Kids is a series for early readers that traces the exciting world of four kids growing up in the circus. Estrella performs on the aerial hoop, twins Buster and Lexi have an act with twelve dancing dogs and Mia is just starting out as a performer in the Astro Circus Show. Will they be able to save the circus when all the props disappear one day? Sausage the Clown is feeling miserable and doesn’t want to perform, will they be able to cheer him up? And will Mia be able to find the right circus act for her?
Jet Black Publishing is a new children’s ebook publisher based in Melbourne. Their mission is to publish inspirational and creative stories for children and young adults and they are donating 20% of the sales to children’s literacy charities, such as the Australian Children’s Literacy & Numeracy Foundation.
(Above) Draft Illustrations: Ray Eckermann
I work at an art gallery as an editor, so a lot of my inspiration comes from working there – especially for the Aunty Arty series. I’m absolutely loving working with the two illustrators on these books – as it merges my two great loves, art and literature!! Narelda Joy is illustrating Aunty Arty and Ray Eckermann is illustrating the Astro Circus Kids.
A final word from me…
Teaching writing is my passion! My students see themselves as writers and know the importance of reading. They love to read too! Having a published writer as a parent is wonderful and something I’ll be sharing with my students.
I’ve listened to Steve Jobs’ address many times, so what have I learnt? Reflect to ‘connect the dots’, reflect to learn, leave a footprint you will be proud of, reflect to set goals, except your past, learn from life’s experiences, but most importantly move forward to achieve your dreams.
The principal of Beechboro Primary School Len Christie adapted a letter written to students in the US and UK and gave it to his students with their NAPLAN testing results.
A Letter to all students who sat NAPLAN this year
This week you would have received your NAPLAN test results. We are pleased that you tried your very best in these challenging tests and during the weeks and months leading up to them.I’d like you, your family, friends and teachers to remember that these tests are unable to measure all of what it is that makes you the valued person who you are. The people who have created these tests and those that mark them don’t know you as well as your teachers know you, to the extent to which I know you and certainly not the way your family and friends know you.They don’t know that many children at Beechboro Primary School speak one or more languages other than English. They also don’t know that you may be a great singer and dancer or that you can play a musical instrument really well. They also don’t know how well you can draw beautiful pictures.They don’t know that you have a sense of humour which can bring a smile to your friend’s faces and make them laugh or that they can rely upon you to support them when they need a kind and encouraging word. They wouldn’t know that you can write poetry and stories, play all types of different sports and have interesting and enjoyable hobbies.They also don’t know that you probably accept responsibility for taking care of your brothers or sisters from time to time. They don’t know that you have travelled to or come from fascinating places and had amazing experiences.They don’t know how much you love spending time with your family and your close friends and they won’t know how much you are appreciated and loved by them.You are trustworthy, kind and thoughtful and you try to do your best every day. Do they know that?The NAPLAN test results give you some very specific information about yourself but it can’t say everything about who you are and what you have achieved.I hope you are happy with your results and that they inspire you to do even better in literacy and numeracy. Just remember that there is so much more to describe who you are that can’t be shown in these scores.