Thursday, September 29, 2016

Teacher Model Journals, Feedback and Frequency of Entries...

Teacher Model Journals are a part of our district and campus focus in all areas. The power of models has already proven to be profoundly powerful. One part of the intentional practice of using Teacher Model Journals in our instruction is "think aloud" as we share our "model."
Children mimic,internalize and make their own the learning practiced in front of them. It is the way they learn... in everything they do. Even today, as I walked through Tom Thumb, I saw a mother with a baby in a carrier inside a cart and her young preschooler with her own "just my size" cart. They were standing together at the deli counter waiting on their deli meat to be sliced. The baby was crying with little sign of quieting down. Mom, rolling the grocery cart, with baby inside, back and forth. And the little girl? Doing the same exact thing with her pre-school sized grocery cart. She was following her model with expectancy and precision. The "think aloud" is one way our model becomes powerful.

In the online article "Think Aloud Strategy" from TeacherVision the importance of journaling along with using the "Think Aloud" in all content areas was shared:

"How Can You Stretch Students' Thinking?

Reflective journals and learning logs are a natural extension of thinking out loud. By jotting down what you say, you can model the journaling process as you model thinking out loud. As students start to keep journals or learning logs, review them on an ongoing basis to monitor the students' metacognition and use of essential strategies.

When Can You Use It?

The process of thinking out loud can be used in K-12 classes during all phases of the reading process. Before reading you may think out loud to demonstrate accessing prior knowledge or to make predictions about the text. During reading, model reading comprehension using fix-up strategies or examining text structure to maintain meaning. After reading, model using the text to support an opinion, or analyze the text from the author's point of view.
Thinking out loud can be used to model all phases of the writing process. In pre-writing, model the strategies writers use to get the process started; during the drafting process, model creating "sloppy copies"; during revision, model how to ask questions and think about readers' needs; and during the editing process, model how to use conventions to help readers understand the message. As students engage in reciprocal think-alouds, they dialogue about their texts. This dialoguing helps students to internalize their sense of audience and fine-tune their craftsmanship as writers.
When teaching a new math process or strategy, think aloud to model its use. Ask students to work with a partner to practice thinking aloud to describe how they use the new process or strategy. Listen to students as they think aloud to assess their understanding.
Social Studies
In classroom discussions of difficult social studies topics, such as capital punishment or affirmative action, ask that students not only give their opinions but explain their reasoning by thinking out loud. Model thinking out loud yourself as you read a difficult text or express your own opinion on a complex issue.
Think-alouds can be used to model the inquiry process in science. During instruction, have students continue the inquiry process using reciprocal think-alouds and then reflect upon the process in their journals or learning logs."

With the power of Teacher Model Journals comes the importance of feedback. Frequent, specific feedback is essential. However, feedback is only as powerful as the opportunity to respond/reflect to the feedback. A second grade team at a campus in NISD has done away with morning work and has purposefully structured the first 20 minutes of every day for students to respond to feedback in any content area. These teachers have constructed feedback so that students reflect, revise and improve their journal works. Again, the teachers review and give more feedback, and the cycle continues. The learning goes deeper. The learning becomes not about the destination of "complete" but continuous improvement and growth.

With modeling and feedback there is power, but how do the students consistently move forward?
That is where the frequency comes into play. An analogy was shared with our Southwest Learning Team that helped us all understand why frequency of entries in journals was an essential look for in our journal walks. The analogy was about training for a marathon. When one trains for a marathon, one doesn't go run a couple of weeks before the marathon a few miles every day. It is a lengthy, purposefully planned training process. Training runs consist of multiple weekly runs with planned longer runs to build stamina and endurance. In much the same way students need to respond frequently in their journals. In readers workshop it is an expectation K-5 that students are responding to their reading every day, having 3-4 completed responses per week to build that stamina and endurance, while maintaining quality in their responses.

As we move forward as a campus in our POP with literacy rich student work, journals are a perfect place to start. How are you and your team utilizing frequent entries, Teacher Model Journal, and the cycle of Feedback to encourage growth and depth of learning with students? Where is time provided for students to self-assess and respond to feedback? Does their work mirror the work of the Teacher Model Journal with expectancy and precision?  How do students know when their entries are showing deeper thinking? How often are they building those muscles of metacognition through responding to their learning through their journals (in any content area)?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Talking about Journaling...

As we move into the final week of the first six weeks, we have secured our rituals and routines in the
classroom. We have moved beyond the first 30 days, completed our DRAs and BOY of math assessments. We are now bringing into focus the day to day instructional practices with rigor and relevance. In particular we are honing the practice of capturing learning through our journals. A literacy rich best practice.

Becoming transparent in our practice in regards to journals is two fold... it is, on one hand, examining teacher model journals and how we utilize them to guide student work; on the other hand, it is examining student journal work/responses.
With teacher models, we consider what are we wanting to focus on, sharing what work meets expectations (utilizing rubrics to guide our responses), syncing with our grade level/content in regards to aligned task/model entries and demonstrating reflection/depth in the responses. Additionally, ongoing action research supports that quality teacher models encourage longer student responses.

With student journals we want to consider number of opportunities to respond (3 to 4 times per week), the responses of students in journals vs. anchor charts/resource items, depth of responses, teacher/peer feedback provided in student journals, and student's opportunity to respond to/ reflect on feedback.

Journaling both for student and teacher models requires specific, purposeful and intentional planning to ensure time for journaling. Time must be taken to pre-plan/create the teacher model for journal responses. Furthermore, finding effective ways to leave feedback in a timely manner both for individual student growth and to inform instruction must also be a consideration.

As we close our first chapter in the 2016-17 year and move into our next six weeks, what are ways we can continue to grow in this area? How can we strive for best practices? What are ways we are being purposeful, intentional and sharing/collaborating on this practice?

Friday, September 16, 2016

In Student-friendly Terms...

Before the kids walked through our doors to begin the 2016-17 school year, we, as a campus, had a vision for what this year would look like for all learners. Our Problem of Practice, while heavy with content and intent, needed to be in kid-friendly language if it would be meaningful for students. As teams we wrote kid-friendly POPs that could become part of the everyday foundational focus for learning.

As we reflect, consider:

  • How are we bringing those kid-friendly POPs into our everyday learning focus? 
  • Is it read, reviewed and reflected upon with the students? 
  • Is the kid-friendly POP accessible for reference by students at any time? 
  • Do the students see themselves as part of the vision to move forward as learners?
Here are the student-friendly POPs that were written before the start of the school year:

“Longhorns encourage one another to give our best effort and hold each other accountable by communicating our learning.”
 -created by GLAMP plus Intervention Specialist Team

 As Longhorns, we will be responsible for challenging and helping each other to grow in our learning.
2nd  and 3rd grade
Mrs. Webster and Mrs. Aslin will work together, and with your classroom teachers, to create lessons and activities that will challenge you and encourage you to grow in your learning.  You will work with your friends and challenge each other to create your own thoughtful work in Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science.

Teachers check in with each other to help each other reach goals. Students work together and challenge each other in a positive way.
Teachers will provide opportunities to read, write, and communicate in all classes. Students will actively participate to develop quality work in all classes.
Teachers and students will be partners in learning.
4th and 5th grade

Longhorn Learning Goal…Kinder and 1st
We will…
1      Work together as a team
2       Help others
         Work hard to do our best
4.     Make connections and share ideas

   Share in the comments how you and/or your team are being intentional in fostering student ownership of our campus Problem of Practice (kid friendly version)?
    Sendera Elementary 2016-17 Problem of Practice

    "Longhorn Master Builder News September 19, 2016"

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Purposeful Planning...

Planning is integral to student success in the classroom. No longer is it a quickly written page number from a teacher's edition or a title to a blackline master activity sheet. Today, lesson plans include many components including, but not limited to, the standard(s), learning target(s), guiding questions, anticipated misconceptions, breakdown of the lesson cycle (opening, work period, closing), differentiation, and targeted small group instruction. Additionally, this year factors to consider are the dimensions in T-TESS and Rigor/Relevance through the Curriculum Instructional Review Process.
Collaboration and Reflection while planning and as instruction is delivered is key. Todd Finley, in the recently online article "9 Ways to Plan Transformational Lessons..." concisely shares the layers of thought and action that goes into planning. How, as a campus, can we grow in our practice with purposeful planning? What are tools or practices we can streamline/develop to foster best practices?

Longhorn Master Builder News 9-12-2016