Monthly Archives: October 2016

Part 3: Working with Mark (Year 10) to Be a Better Writer

Unpacking the Year 10 and now Year 11 English curriculum in Australia is challenging and something I wish I’d done earlier in my career. Yes, we must know our primary curriculum and early secondary (to a point) but pulling apart these higher levels is interesting.

Angela Stockman has given me some excellent advice and even though I’ve been unpacking curriculum for many years, these standards are complex. Her advice is breaking the standards into learning targets that can be taught in one lesson and can be understood by teacher and student. This is essential to develop Learner Agency. Each standard has multiple targets and as my time with Mark is short, I need to maximise learning.  

be-a-better-writer-2Whilst putting this continuum together, I’ve been working with Mark on punctuation. Steve Peha recommended we do the Punctuation Inquiry activity in Be a Better Writer.

Punctuation Inquiry helps you learn how marks are used. Once you’ve read through a passage and figured out the punctuation, figure out why it’s there.’ Steve Peha

Steve uses a simple chart with three headings:

Example- Why It’s Used- Questions & Comments.

Mark and I focussed on capitalisation. We read through the example and discussed the use of capitals. He describes looking closely at a text as close reading. This is a quick activity and can be done daily on 75-100 words a day. What an excellent launch activity.

Next we looked at Punctuation Reading. The background Steve gives for this is that ‘most of us aren’t fully aware of punctuation when we read.’

We read the passage in Be a Better Writer and then we read the passage again with the punctuation noted in words e.g. new paragraph, indent, capital on a dark capital December night in 1776 comma…

This short paragraph contained 48 marks of punctuation, ten different types of punctuation and fifteen uses of punctuation which are explained in the book.

Steve states that this activity helps you ‘learn the names of the marks’ and ‘helps you develop a sense for how they’re used in published writing.’ Another great launch activity for the classroom.

Mark is reading Triage by Scott Anderson for English. He decided that writing a chapter summary would help him to analyse the text. Summarising the first chapter was excellent, because the first chapter sets the scene, introduces the characters and emotions and plot.

Mark wrote a well thought out paragraph. It was clearly presented, double line spaced and did not require rewriting! The punctuation was in place, placed for meaning and his spelling has greatly improved. I’ve called this his ‘awareness phase’.

I also love the dedication page in Be a Better Writer.

‘Use it to talk to your students about what matters most in writing. Use it to show them the writer you are so they’ll have a model for the writers they’ll become.’ Steve Peha

We break standards into learning targets that are kid friendly and teachable in a single lesson. They use kid language, and we put them on the board or on our anchor charts.We break standards into learning targets that are kid friendly and teachable in a single lesson. They use kid language, and we put them on the board or on our anchor charts.

Each standard has multiple targets, typically. We share them with kids.

It makes things far more meaningful.

 Cheers Nina

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Powerful video & text: How one action prevented a youth suicide – Why the IB- Learner Profile should be lived and breathed by students, teachers and the community!

Probably one of my most important posts! Education & the success of our education systems is far more than ‘As’ on a page… ‘just saying’

Nina Davis -Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom

A psychiatrist friend shared this video with a message on Facebook…

‘It is something everyone should read – especially school kids.’

I always watch or read anything Angela shares because I know her work. The video is confronting, but so is youth suicide.

The IB -PYP clearly mandates that the Learner Profile is embedded into the curriculum. It is unpacked from the very first day of school.

All schools have values they embrace but I wonder how well the values are embedded across the curriculum. It takes time to unpack the Learner Profile with students in a real and meaningful way. The Learner Profile has to be lived and ‘breathed’ by students. It’s not a wish list, its part of what embodies an IB teacher, student and IB school community.

An IB school also has to meet the standards of the IB to be endorsed as an IB school. There are…

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Part 2: Working with Mark (Year 10) ‘to be a better writer’ using Be a Better Writer by Steve Peha – documenting Mark’s learning.

516aatihrgl-_sx348_bo1204203200_Mark and I decided  we would complete the activity  Take an Edit Pass Approach to Correcting Your Own Work following Steve’s steps.

N.B. These sessions are targeted to Mark’s instructional needs and are directly related to his writing samples.

Working with Mark session 2 016.jpg

Task 1: Mark wrote an introductory paragraph for a book he had read. He chose To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is his first draft (below) and although he’s still scribbling through his edits, overall, there are notable improvements evident when comparing this sample to his first reference piece in Post 1.

Mark’s first draft followed by his edited draft after completing Steve’s Take an Edit Pass Approach activity. Our conversations were interesting as he completed each step. Mark was constantly referring to prior learning and making connections.

mark-2-050-2

Task 2: Mark completed the following passes…

1. Checked his writing for missing words/repeated words

2. Checked his sentences to see if they made sense.

3. Checked his use of capital letters

4. Checked to see if he had used commas correctly

5. Dialog-none in paragraph

6. Checked for mid-sentence punctuation marks

Each time Mark completed an edit pass we referred to Steve’s book to correct  misconceptions. For example, we read the 6 Things Commas Do In Our Writing looking closely at the examples given. Our discussions, and review of commas and their use clarified Mark’s misconceptions.

N.B. Its important to remember that Steve’s book is written for teachers and students. The way explanations are presented is engaging, informative and can be easily implemented!

BIG TICK!

Mark and I unpacked-The 6 Things Commas Do In Our Writing working-with-mark-session-2-023

  1. Separate parts of sentences
  2. Separate items in a list
  3. Separate multiple modifiers
  4. Separate things that might be confusing
  5. Separate speaking from speakers
  6. Separate information to make it easier to read

Mark followed Steve’s recommendation and completed  2 passes for spelling

  1. Underline misspelled words
  2. Correct misspelled words

How best will we/I learn?

Mark likes rules, so we are revisiting common spelling rules and using these rules to make corrections. The rules Mark is revisiting, are directly related to the errors made within his texts.

IMPORTANT!

Two Rules Reviewed

i before e except after a long c but not when c is a “sh” sound and not when sounded like ‘a’ as in neighbour

When the word ends in a vowel + y just add ‘s’. If the word has a consonant before the ‘y’: take off the ‘y’ and add ‘ies’

After completing the above, Mark wrote a second draft of his paragraph (see below).

Mark 2 060 (2).jpg

Learner CycleI asked Mark to reflect on his learning, and reflecting is something we’ll explore further.

A reflection book is a great asset for learners to record new understandings and refer to when needed.

After reflecting, I asked Mark what he felt he needed to learn next and record this on a yellow sticky note.

What do we/I want to learn?

Using the Kunyung Primary Learner Cycle questions promotes Learner Agency.

On the yellow sticky note in the picture (above) Mark has clearly stated ‘Punctuate Dialog’… So that’s what Mark and I will be doing!

How will we know what we/I have learned?

  1. Evidence of learning – Mark’s writing
  2. Continuum: Based on Year 10 Australian Curriculum (being developed)

Cheers Nina

 

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When you know you’ve met an inspirational education leader! Vale Dr. Elizabeth Mellor

What is leadership? This post is being read often!

Nina Davis -Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom

Last week Australia lost a true advocate for early childhood education. Doctor Elizabeth Mellor was a passionate driver for improved early learning for children and much of her recent work was in this area.

Having completed many professional development courses, there is still one standout for me: The Leadership for Community Engagement Program. Elizabeth was a co-presenter and one of those educators you meet and sense instantly that you are in the presence of a leader!

What did I learn from Elizabeth and the course about leadership?

I’m calling it YOU!

You, as a leader, will be different to a manager, you will be finding solutions, you will use your courage and confidence to influence others, you will speak a common language and find that common language so you can move forward. You will empower others and be an enabler so you can shift barriers. You will encourage others to…

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Working with Mark (Year 10) to ‘be a better writer’ using Be a Better Writer by Steve Peha – documenting Mark’s learning.

Mark is in Year 10 in Victoria, Australia. I’m working with him to ‘be a better writer’. I’ve asked Mark if he’s happy for me to share his journey here and he is! We’re using Steve Peha’s book to guide us. Mark is an extremely bright, articulate young man.

Documenting Mark’s learning: Initial sample and observations

I asked Mark to write something he had to do for school and I discovered Mark is left handed. He suffers hand cramps and doesn’t have keyboard skills either. However, Mark is very computer literate, but had chosen to use his iPad or phone for everything. His subject content knowledge is high and he knew what the question was asking, but he has to be able to record his thoughts in an essay.

mark-2

Above is Mark’s starting piece and my reference sample.

516aatihrgl-_sx348_bo1204203200_Where to start: The Basics

I immediately asked Mark to change his posture and I checked his pen grip. I also asked him to write on every second line from now on and not scribble through changes. Dotting every second line gave the visual cue he needed. Mark’s incredibly receptive to advice. Just these few simple changes would enable Mark and his teacher to read back his writing and for Mark to correct his spelling and grammar whilst writing.

What do we/I want/need to learn? Kunyung P.S Learning Cycle

learner-cycle

After observing Mark write and talking with Mark, he decided that punctuation is where we need to start first. Mark is invested!

The pen must be always in the hand of the writer. The writing belongs to the student! The student needs to be able to articulate their understanding of each question in the learning cycle

Below: After focusing on two punctuation and spelling rules you can already see a difference in the quality of Mark’s writing.

Nina phone 773.jpg

Whilst reading Steve’s book, I’ve tabbed certain reference points for myself. Unpacking Chapter 8: Better Punctuation has been interesting for me as a teacher.

Each chapter starts with ‘the stuff that matters most!, 10 things you need to know.’  This is followed by background information about rules and the bsteve-page-272-2est ways to learn about punctuation rules.

The beauty of this book is that its not written just for teachers, its written for students too.

Next is ‘Your Checklist for Better Punctuation.’ Steve explains the key things that effective punctuation involves using. He uses the phrase ‘Ask yourself’ after questions, which is an invitation to inquire.

On the side of the page are tips, each with an icon. These are terrific!

magnify-2Light bulb: Think About This

Clip board: Three Great Things To Do OR Learn

Question Mark: Ask Yourself

A Key: Key Ideas

Magnifying Glass: Look Closely

Steve explains that the checklist doesn’t cover everything, but it covers the ‘most important five groups of punctuation’.

1. End of sentence punctuation

2. Mid-sentence punctuation

3. Capitalization

4. Paragraphing

5. Dialog

The chapter includes examples, explanations, tips and tasks for :

Punctuation Changes Almost Everything

Punctuation Reading

Punctuation Inquiry

When Sentences Go Wrong

The Muddle in the Middle

Example: The Muddle in the middle: I love the way Steve explains the Cantankerous Comma, the Dashing Dash, Polite or Impolite Parentheses, the Commanding Colon, the Superfluous Semicolon and the Ethereal Ellipsis.

What will Mark be focussing on this week?

At the end of each chapter there are activities to complete and Mark and I will be doing these. One activity we’ll do this week is: Take an Edit Pass Approach to Correcting Your Own Work following Steve’s steps. I’ll write about this in my next post!

Cheers Nina

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Powerful video & text: How one action prevented a youth suicide – Why the IB- Learner Profile should be lived and breathed by students, teachers and the community!

A psychiatrist friend shared this video with a message on Facebook…

‘It is something everyone should read – especially school kids.’

I always watch or read anything Angela shares because I know her work. The video is confronting, but so is youth suicide.

The IB -PYP clearly mandates that the Learner Profile is embedded into the curriculum. It is unpacked from the very first day of school.

All schools have values they embrace but I wonder how well the values are embedded across the curriculum. It takes time to unpack the Learner Profile with students in a real and meaningful way. The Learner Profile has to be lived and ‘breathed’ by students. It’s not a wish list, its part of what embodies an IB teacher, student and IB school community.

An IB school also has to meet the standards of the IB to be endorsed as an IB school. There are many checks and balances!

Learner profile.jpg

2015 FebMarchand ANZAC 086

This is an example of how I unpacked the Learner Profile in my classroom over a year. When a student really understands and lives the Learner Profile, they understand the impact of their ‘footstep’.

never

‘Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life.

Thank you for sharing this video and text Angela!

Cheers Nina

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Practical PD for teachers leads to instructional change: Sue, her writing, her story, her future!

Professional development comes in many forms. Some of the best PD is practical and that’s what I’ve been doing this week. I’ve been teaching my friend Sue, just like I was taught by Jenny Luca the following: 516aatihrgl-_sx348_bo1204203200_

  • How to start a blog
  • How to manage your dashboard
  • How to create and use a Twitter account
  • How to create and manage an Instagram page
  • Start a new Facebook page
  • Linking your blog to these ‘social’ pages
  • How to own your site

Sue is an outstanding teacher and passionate writer and everything she is learning is transferable to the classroom. Her blog is now receiving actual reviews from readers and Bendy and Tash can be googled!!!

Ali, a teacher colleague responded: I’m loving it!! These are great!! I always said to Sue she should write a book!!

capture-3

As a gift, I gave Sue her own copy of Be a Better Writer by Steve Peha. Sue, equally has been using Steve’s work for many years and now has his book. And yes, she has been referring to it while writing her spoof crime fiction. sue-steve-pehaFor example, we discussed capitalization and had a few things we weren’t totally sure about, so we opened Steve’s book Be a Better Writer and read up on capitalization.

‘Chapter 8. Better Punctuation.

The Importance of capitalization. Capitalization has a confusing history. So let’s agree not to confuse ourselves as we look at the one capitalization rule upon which all others are based and take a practical approach to common problems.’ Steve Peha

Steve’s book is written for teachers… and writer’s aged 10 to 16 years but we think it should say any age.

Bendy and Tash: Best Friends, Problem Solvers & Crime Fighters is now bendyandtash.com

capture-2

Sue is not really a ‘newbie’ writer because she has been teaching writing for years and writing herself. However, now she is a published writer! As I said in my last post, sometimes you have to get to a certain age or level of confidence to share your writing with others. The more you write the better writer you become.

If you need a laugh in your day read some of Bendy and Tash’s adventures. There is a co-author who contributes too. Sally from Tassie, Australia!

NB: My son, a 22 year old uni journalist student read Bendy and Tash too. His passing remarks to Sue were, ‘Well, I know your target audience’. But, let it be said, he was laughing while he was reading! 🙂

Cheers Nina

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