Friday Focus

January 15, 2016

Asking "Why?" can lead to understanding. Asking "Why not?" can lead to breakthroughs. Daniel Pink


Thank you all for your efforts throughout our benchmarking period.

Special thanks to Erin V. and Lisa T. for hosting our School Wide coach, Michelle Stone, in their classrooms this week.

Congratulations to Stacy on the birth of her TWO granddaughters!

Big shout out goes to Melody and Christine for smoothly running the office this week in Stacy's absence.

Anchor Chart Reminders

Anchor charts are a tool created in front of and/or with students in order to describe procedures, processes, or strategies students are learning. Posted anchor charts are effective in promoting student success because they offer a source of visual reference for students as they move forward in their learning.

A great deal of reading and writing mini lessons require anchor charts that should be created with/for students. These charts should be posted for all students to reference as they are reading/writing each day. This visual trail of what you’ve been teaching can propel readers/writers forward as they independently implement the strategies you teach. Therefore, instead of using a SMART Board to create the anchor charts, use chart paper and leave the charts up so that students can refer to them on a daily basis. If you need chart paper, please let me know. I'd be happy to have it ordered for you.

Teach the Writer, Not the Writing

According to Lucy Calkins...

"One of the cardinal rules of any responsible approach to teaching writing is that instruction must teach students in ways that affect not just today, but every day. If you simply tell a writer what to do to improve his piece of writing, saying something like, “Your piece about the afternoon you spent walking in Hudson River Park would be stronger if you described the park and if you added a visual detail when you arrive at the park. Here, when you stop to take a picture of the seagull that lands on the railing, show yourself making eye contact with the bird,” then the piece of writing gets better- but the student probably has learned nothing that he can transfer to another piece, another day.

A more effective way to help build your students’ skills is to focus on teaching transferable skills and strategies. This means that instead of telling the writer how to revise a story about the park, you teach a principle or strategy to rely on often. For example, you might say, “I’m noticing that in this piece, although you name the setting- the park- you don’t describe the setting. It is a good idea to scatter little descriptions of the setting throughout a piece- not just adding one big description at the beginning- and to show your main character interacting with the setting. In a personal narrative, that means you can find places in the story where you show yourself being aware of the setting. For example, when you say that you watched the seagull before taking a picture of it, you might show yourself taking in the setting, pointing out some of what you saw at that moment so that your reader can see it, too.”

The first approach- telling the student to add details into a specific paragraph- improves the writing more than the writer. That interaction is not apt to transfer to another day and another piece. The second approach aims to teacher the writer; the distinction is essential to effective writing instruction.

Knowing that your writers will be assessed for what they do with independence, you and your colleagues will work with fervor to help students learn skills that transfer to any new work. When this assessment system is in place, it means that you and your colleagues are less likely to obsess over helping a student make one particular piece of writing “perfect” Instead, the emphasis shifts to helping students grow demonstrably as independent writers. These on-demand assessments become students’ chance to show off what they know how to do and your chance to measure the stickiness of your teaching.

Teachers- Grab a couple writing notebooks after school and pre-plan what your feedback might be to improve the writer, rather than the writing. This will be easier to do if you pre-plan what you will say rather than feeling pressured to come up with something on the spot while conferring. As you gain more practice with it, you will begin to naturally do this as you confer."

Reminder Regarding School Wide End-of-Unit Summatives

As you begin to wrap up reading units before the end of the quarter, please remember to have students read the assessment themselves. This is the score that will be reported on the report card. The report card is reporting on students ability to read and comprehend grade level text.

If you then have students who are reading significantly below grade level, you should pull them aside and read the assessment to them to determine their listening comprehension. This listening comprehension score can be recorded in the comment box for Q2.

It is important to be consistent with reporting across the district.

Notes and Reminders

  • Winter benchmarking continues throughout next week. Please do not offer Star re-takes without my PRIOR approval.
  • As a reminder, the SWAT team will continue to assess all students using the three, one-minute probes to collect the median score. Classroom teachers will also administer one fluency probe, score it, and place the score on the report card. Liz provided you with the probe.
  • Please update our data spreadsheet as you get scores in for reading and math. The more help with this, the better! :)
  • We will continue to run TAT meetings as necessary in Liz's absence. If you need to bring anyone to the TAT team, please let me know or bring them up at data reviews.
  • Please ensure you are committing 60 minutes to writing per day. 10-15 minutes (at most) should be spent on the mini lesson and the bulk of the time should be spent conferring with students that are writing. Checklists need to be out on desks so students can self-assess as they move through the writing process. Anchor charts, word walls, etc. are necessary resources (ESPECIALLY necessary for our English Language Learners).
  • As our School Wide coach mentioned in many of the sessions this week, please ensure you have a gathering spot to share out at the end of each reader's workshop session. This gathering spot needs to be distinctly different than where they sit in their desks.
  • If you attended the Kagan training over the summer, please continue to implement the structures. Their suggestion was to really refine three structures throughout the year.
  • Thank you for being on time for door duty. It is very much appreciated.

S'more Smores

Coming Up...

For collaboration purposes, it's an A week.

Monday, January 18th

No School - MLK JR. Day

Parent/Teacher Conference Forms Go Home

Tuesday, January 19th

Follow a Monday Schedule

Access Testing

Winter Benchmarking Continues

EL Achieve PD, Reg out in AM (Janet and Linda out all day)

After School Clubs Begin

Wednesday, January 20th

Access Testing

Winter Benchmarking Continues

ISBE Audit Interview - Reg will be meeting with a compliance audit representative from about 2:30-4:30pm (PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB)

Thursday, January 21st

Access Testing

Winter Benchmarking Continues

Science Committee Meeting, PM (Reg, Melissa L, Rebekah)

Friday, January 22nd

Access Testing

Winter Benchmarking Continues

End of 2nd Quarter (Grades Due Feb. 3rd)

PTO Winter Dance, 6:30-8:30pm (DJ Jazzy Khan will be making the music!)

Mark Your Calendar...

Monday, January 25th - Monday Meeting, 3-4pm (certified staff)

Tuesday, January 26th - Grading Taskforce Meeting (Reg, Jen, and Katie out in PM)

Tuesday, January 26th - District Spelling Bee, 6:30pm, JJH

Thursday, January 28th - Data Reviews

Friday, January 29th - Jitterbugs Assembly (9am for 4-6 and 10am for PreK-3)

Friday, January 29th - Data Reviews

Inspiring Education and Innovation

In partnership with family and community, Woodridge School District 68 provides a comprehensive educational foundation for all children in a safe, caring environment, preparing them to be productive, responsible, and successful members of society.

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