Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Writer's Workshop - Student Work


The examples in this post are from my son's writing notebooks in 4th grade; he's currently a freshman. Although I wasn't his fourth grade teacher, his teacher and I collaborated and followed the same general format for lessons/student work/conferring. This is still my favorite way to organize student work during writer's workshop.

You'll notice that Kyle had two writing notebooks. One was for mini-lessons and the other was for free writing. I know it's hard to read his writing, but you can scroll through these pages to see the anecdotal records written by his teacher during his writing conferences AND the scope-and-sequence of lessons taught throughout the year.

Two things I would change (remember these examples are FIVE years old) include adding mini-lessons integrating each of the Six-Traits (continuing to sprinkle conventions lessons throughout) and scoring some of the students' work in their mini-lesson notebooks with a scoring rubric similar to the one posted below.

Kyle had an amazing teacher in 4th grade! Thanks, Mrs. Sallee, for having Kyle keep these two documents so I can share them with other teachers. :o)

Writing Mini-Lesson Rubric

Writing Rubric

Guided Reading Rubric

Guided Reading Rubric

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Collection of Quotes

Partner Read - Summarize Research

We know that reading/paraphrasing is effective. Sometimes we skip this strategy in Guided Reading because it takes so long to read a passage. Ponder this question: Is it more important to FINISH the passage or to use the passage to teach students to deepen their understanding of the text? If you're coupling Guided Reading with Self-Selected Reading, students should be reading silently for a sustained period each day and finishing books on their reading level. These two blocks work hand-in-hand.

Check out the research I came across today while reading Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey published in 2007 by ASCD.
  • Inviting student to retell what they have just heard or read is a powerful way of checking for understanding (Hansen, 2004; Shaw, 2005).
  • Gambrell, Koskinen and Kapinus (1991) examined the use of retellings with 4th grade proficient and less-proficient readers. They found that students who employed this technique made SIGNIFICANT INCREASES in the number of propositions and story structure elements recalled as well as the overall number of comprehension questions answered correctly. These authors noted that students needed at least FOUR practice sessions with retelling to become comfortable with the strategy.

I also found some disturbing research related to conversations and poverty in the classroom.

  • In classrooms where there are increased numbers of students living in poverty, teachers talk more and students talk less (Lingard, Hayes & Mills, 2003).
  • In addition, there is an increased focus on basic skills in these classrooms and less attention to critical and creative thinking (Stipek, 2004).
  • Teachers of struggling student groups or tracks usually offer students "less exciting instruction, and more rote drill and practice activities" than do teachers of high-performing or heterogeneous groups and classes (Cotton, 1989).

People will talk and listen - that's a given. The ways in which this talking and listening are used are the real keys (Fisher, Frey, 2007).

Math Problem Solving Strategies