Monthly Archives: December 2016

Australia Writes with Steve Peha: All welcome to learn with Steve. This is an wonderful opportunity! How to join the group-read on…

Steve Peha.jpgA Message from Steve Peha

Hi, Friends! Thanks for coming on board. We’re going to do some fantastic work together. Start posting about the kids you teach, the writing challenges you have, what you want help with, etc. I will start loading up resources. We can start talking about Skype visits to your schools, our Be A Better Writer book and Classroom Program and other books and resources we can help you acquire. Big thanks to Nina for bringing us all together. Kind regards, Steve

What an incredible opportunity for Aussie teachers of all year levels, Foundation – Year 12 to work with Steve. Steve has had such strong support from Australia that he decided he wanted to do more. Teachers from other countries may certainly join and I’m sure you’ll find it valuable.

Steve will be working with the Australian and IB-PYP curriculum.

I’ve been working with Steve this year, but have been using his material for roughly ten years. This is my opportunity to give back to Steve and to work with Steve and teachers across Australia and other places.

Here’s the link to join the group. Visit and join us for a year of learning how to teach our students of any year level to BE A Better Writer.

LINK to join Australia Writes (with Steve Peha)

Cheers Nina

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Conferencing a piece of writing: What I do…

12439093_10153689901384132_8793394185808958194_nI’ve been asked to explain how I review a piece of writing with a student. This is an interesting question. When conferencing a piece of writing,  I’m not giving the writing a mark against standards. I’m looking for how to help the student be a better writer. I like to call it taking a global close look at the writing with the student. There is a risk of becoming too micro driven when teaching writing. This is one reason why I love Steve Peha’s book Be a Better Writer because Steve talks about the things which matter most.

And yes, I took those words from Steve Peha’s book Be a Better Writer.

be-a-better-writer-2Secondly, when a student gives me a piece of writing to review the first thing I like the student to do is read their writing to me. This often prompts the student to make initial corrections and pose questions about their own writing. This is where I start asking the student simple questions. Why did you write about…? What structure did you use?

I never write on a student’s piece of writing. I will either write the whole text out if really needed or ask the student to make corrections using notes we have made. Ownership is very important!

My purpose is to collect information around what the student knows, understands and can do.

What does the student’s writing tell be about their understanding of:

The Text:

Have they written for a particular audience? Do they know the purpose for their writing? Does the student have an understanding of structure and organisation? Has the student used a taught genre structure? What language choices has the student made?

Text Features:

Has the student used paragraphs? What knowledge of sentence structure does the student have? Is there a consistent tense throughout their writing? Are they aware of pronouns and conjunctions even if they cannot articulate why?

Sentences:

Is the student using correct sentence punctuation? Is the student using articles, plurals, prepositions, subject-verb agreement even if they cannot articulate why?

Words:

Has the student used correct grammar at the word choice level? Is the student using verbs within their text? Is the spelling reasonable?

When working with a student, I am looking at how to improve their writing at their point of need. At this stage, the student and I will look at their personal learning goals and set new goals. Goals are set for text, text features, sentence structure and word choice.

A formal assessment of a piece of writing is a different process and I will share how I do this in a future post.

Cheers Nina

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Part 1: Student Agency? Teacher Agency? School Agency? Customization-Motivation-Equalization: School Culture

Why is student agency, teacher agency and school agency and the customization of learning crucial to motivation and equalization? We need to talk about agency on many levels.

Tom Vander Ark in his video talks about key attributes required to develop school agency and student agency.

Agency and Technology – Tom Vander Ark

Article: Elements of High School Agency Environments by Marie Bjerede Dec 17th, 2015

According to Tom Vander Ark Student agency has three key features:

Customization-individualized learning path

Motivation-student motivation is key

Equalization-all students-all ability levels

In a school with high agency Tom Vander Ark states that students with agency will be able to answer the following questions.

  • What are you learning?
  • Why are you learning this?
  • What do you need to do to move to the next level?
  • How they will learn.
  • How they will demonstrate.

Tom Vander Ark calls this: VOICE & CHOICE

High agency students:

  • Customize their learning
  • Have intrinsic motivation
  • Co-curator of their pathway
  • Have efficacy

The relationship between agency and learning:

Students with high agency are able to transfer knowledge. These students have deeper skills.

  • Think critically
  • Collaborate
  • Think Creatively

What does a school look like that supports agency?

Culture:

  • Relationship between students and teachers.
  • Respected as learners
  • Responsibility as learners

Advisory:

  • Pairing of a group of students with a teacher possibly for their whole education at a particular school (critical in secondary schools)
  • Meet 2/3 times a week
  • Build relationship with students
  • Advocate for that group of students

Learning:

  • Voice & Choice
  • Some path flexibility
  • Publishing to a broader audience
  • A portfolio

Next post:  So how does a teacher develop agency?

Cheers Nina

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