October 25, 2014 · 3:55 pm
Exciting! Here is a copy of a post I’ve put on my school’s blog…
This week our Writers Workshop lunchtime program held its first Writer in Residence lunchtime program. This was open for Years 3-6 students. Our Writer in Residence program has been established to engage our serious young writers.
Writer in Residence: Rowena Wiseman- Published Author
Rowena has offered her support and will be attending and making suggestions on how we can grow this program to benefit our young writers and illustrators. The students who attended our first Writer in Residence were a pleasure to listen to. Their ability compose rich questions reflected the talent of these students.
Rowena brought her notebook, drafts of published works and explained how she collected ideas, honed her skills as a writer and the resilience required to become a published author.
It was interesting to hear how a writer asks others to read their work, comment and make suggestions, as well as the editing process a published piece of writing is subjected to as part of the publishing process.
Rowena is a parent member of our school community. We are also seeking other community members (grandparents etc.) involved in a writing based profession i.e. illustrating, advertising, journalist to name a few to become involved in this program.
Our aim is to have a Writer in Residence each month. We would love to hear from you and invite you to become a part our Writer in Residence program. This is the beginning of a wonderful school initiative which we hope will engage more of our students as word spreads.
I’ll keep you posted. Cheers Nina
October 19, 2014 · 6:20 pm
This year we introduced Writers Notebook across my school. My students and I absolutely love our notebooks. We have a tool/skill workbook where student’s record / practice grammar, word-work and genre study. Their notebooks have a collection of their writing, thinking tools, planning and ideas. Some pieces are finished, others are not. There are plans, drawings, ideas, narratives, reports etc.
I chose a scrapbook and lined paper because the smaller exercise books didn’t allow for the drawings etc. Upon reflection the lined paper has meant quite a bit of sticking pages into a book but my students have managed this well. For next year our team has looked at a range of books more suitable for a notebook. I also stick books together so the children can look back and reflect on their journey as a writer. And they do!
This week I read a book by Terry Denton. The text in the book is made to look like the meaning. What was interesting was that a number of my students decided to ‘have a go’ at this in their own writing. They always have choice in their notebook. I’ve uploaded some photos of their attempt to make the words look like their meaning. These children are 6,7 & 8 year olds.
These notebooks are powerful as documentation of learning as they show the transfer from a taught skill/ genre to a student’s writing where they draw upon what they know. I’m hoping this makes sense. The scaffolds are around the room but the students need to direct themselves and their use. The notebooks clearly show me where learning has been embedded into conscious use.
If you have writers notebooks or something similar, I’d love to know how your students use theirs and if you use their notebooks for assessment purposes.
October 1, 2014 · 10:49 am
Fellowship Project: Angela Stockman WYN Education Associates
I have to choose my words carefully here because assessment is vital, but not when the assessment overrides teaching. I’m seeing teachers sitting at tables individually assessing students for long periods of time during what I think should be ‘on the feet’, small group and whole class instruction time. The assessment looks impressive, but is it really? Is the assessment driving learning or is it all about where the student is?
Assessment drives teaching (absolutely) but is everything we are assessing necessary? I know it’s not! However, having said this, what are the crucial ‘clicks’ which move a student from one stage to the next? I have ideas and hunches but I need to validate these using the grounded research methodology which I’m learning about now.
I do feel that when we educators discover something new we can overuse it and in doing so take away the power of the tool and overwhelm ourselves in the classroom.
As you would understand current research on the Six Shifts in Teaching and Learning recognises there are key shifts (clicks) in student learning are directly influenced by the curriculum. These shifts are vital for teaching and need to be transparent to all stakeholders. This is where my thinking began.
We know a strong focus on improving instruction has a direct impact upon student achievement. Yes!
Professional development and quality teaching and learning will lift whole school data at all levels and individual student achievement. Yes!
Reflective teacher practices include the need for me to be aware of weaknesses in my teaching and I need to reflect and work with others to target specific areas which will improve instruction. Yes!
My reflective practices have made me aware of my current practice and areas for improvement. I know what I don’t know! Therefore, I need to plan opportunities to gain understanding of specific best practices and the ‘clicks’ which drive are ‘for learning’ and ‘as learning’. We know that teachers who intervene at the level of the individual student and develop processes and structures to enhance learning opportunities will improve student learning. Yes!
- builds knowledge through content
- will be grounded in evidence
- provides regular practice
- will focus where the Standards focus
- has coherence
- has rigor
Having said all this are continuums:-
- for learning – providing feedback to inform the next stage of learning?
- of learning – providing information about what students have learnt?
- as learning – providing opportunities to support future learning?
How can I improve the continuums I am using so their use has a direct and improved impact on student learning?