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Hand over the control! PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing: June 2012 – (5&6 Year Olds)

This post has been read many times recently. This is a wonderful strategy and can be used by any age. All contribute, it’s student led and encourages all writers to have a go.

Nina's Arena-Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom

PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing sessions enable me to roam, listen to conversations and question my student’s understanding of concepts and skills. I’m able to question individuals and groups about the strategies they are using to compose their text. Their feedback is enlightening and I’m always surprised by how well they articulate what they are doing, the strategies they are using and their collective knowledge of punctuation and composition is evident. I’m always looking for the transfer of explicit teaching foci.

Recently my students took their parents on a Student Led Tour of their learning and we decided to write about the tour.

I’ve written about this strategy numerous times in my blog. To read more simply type PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing in the search box. I firmly believe this strategy scaffolds, supports and accelerates my student’s writing.

Cheers Nina

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Week 8 – PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing: The strategy which supports and accelerates the writing development of young writers!

Sometimes a post gets read more than others. This is an oldie about a fantastic strategy which I would start week one of Prep/Foundation. Student Led Interactive Writing for all ages and stages.

Nina's Arena-Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom

The key is students working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using skills and language used by teachers. Each student is engaged in the activity and committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children if needed or to extend children.

The Process:

Each child is identified by a color and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and colored markers. All students record their name down the side of the paper in their chosen color. This enables the teacher to assess the writing development of individual students.

I use PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci. It’s interesting to note that my students’ independent writing improves rapidly.  As with independent writing I’m looking for…

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Working with Mark to Be A Better Writer – Year 12 Essay Writing

Working with Mark is an absolute pleasure.  Mark is doing Year 12 Philosophy within his Year 11 program. He’s a very able student who has struggled to get his thoughts on paper. Last year he made great progress with his writing using Steve Peha’s Be A Better Writer.

One of Mark’s big issues is ORGANISATION! Today we got organised. Mark printed off a calendar and we put it up on the wall and started recording important dates e.g. tests, due dates and  Common Assessment Tasks. When asking Mark when something is due, a couple of weeks is probably not the best answer. The beauty of this wall is he can’t miss it. My advice is place it near the kitchen or better still, the fridge!

Calendar .jpg

Mark needs a visual timetable/calendar clearly displaying key dates and we’re using different coloured highlighters for each subject. We use these in primary classrooms but they just look different. Next week we’ll put all assessments on the calendar for this term and then it will his responsibility to keep it up to date.

Today we revisited the structure of a philosophy essay and looked at a possible essay topic around what he has been learning. We pulled a topic apart and placed each part of the topic on sticky notes using the prescribed structure.

essay structure

Possible essay based on classroom learning:

essay .jpg

be-a-better-writer-2Teaching genre is crucial for all ages. Structure helps the writer keep on track. We also revised Steve’s chapter on better sentences or what we have covered so far and listed three key points to keep in mind while writing.

organisation .jpg

Mark’s task was to independently write an introduction paragraph on the topic Mark chose. Next week we will build on this. Mark will be working on his handwriting with me but I can see enormous growth in his writing. He wrote quickly because we are looking at timing in preparation for exams. Structure has given Mark the confidence to start immediately. We will also be looking at a narrative letter response for Year 11 English.

essay start

This is a snippet but I’m very pleased with this.

Cheers Nina

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Communication & Leadership-Revisited

LeadershipRecently I’ve noticed that one of my posts is receiving many views. The post is about communication and leadership which I wrote after attending the Leadership for Community Engagement program. One of the program leaders was Dr Elizabeth Mellor and I wrote a summary of her ideas in a previous post which I have reposted below.

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 ‘think big’ and work towards delivering transformational change. You will coach others on how to measure change, be respectful and a listener so you understand and collaborate.

You will not shy from anything and you will get in and learn. You will empower others to solve problems because you can’t fix it all. You will take risks and from taking risks you will gain experience to put into other aspects of your role. You will give others a voice and act on what they want and work side by side with them to achieve your common goals. You will be capable of ‘unlearning’ and not be judgmental. You will build a ‘treasury’ of good practice to help you evaluate actions and capture what has been learnt so you can measure the impact of changes and improvements.

And finally, you will deliver to every child and family. Your flexibility will be key to you being a leader, as without flexibility you will impede innovation. You, as a leader, must leave the profession in a better state and by building the capacity of others you should do yourself out of a job!

Cheers Nina

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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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