CES Weekly Buzz January 18, 2016
From the Desk of Mrs. Proskey
- MAKE-UP DAY in Monday, January 18th. ( JEANS DAY if you had paid for them!!)
- EVALUATIONS have begun. Please remember to fill out your evidence sheet.
- LUNCH SUPERVISION - If I am unable to be in the lunchroom for supervision due to a pre-scheduled meeting, supervising Gabby in Kay's absence, or a discipline issue, I would ask that you please supervise all grade levels while you are in the cafeteria. Thank you!
- SUGGESTIONS FOR GRADE LEVEL INTERVENTION- Please email me TODAY, with your grade level idea that you have come up with and the time that works best for you.
Special Meetings & Activities
- 9:20 J.L. (ACR)- Proskey, Thompson, Temme, Berndt, Craft
- 7:00pm Board Meeting
- 11:55 D.G. Staffing- Young, Proskey, Smith, Dorrel, Maxson, Kinney, Schwenk
- 1:40 B.H. (ACR)- Proskey, VanDePutte, Kinney
- 3:15 ASSIST/PL221 Meeting afterschool
- 7:30 STAT Team
- 10:00 Study Council Meeting Plymouth- Proskey
- 2:35 P.Z. (ACR)- Proskey, Kinney, Jefferies
- 9:45 J.V. (ACR)- Proskey, Young, Tharp
- 12:35 B.T. (ACR)- Proskey, Jefferies, Kinney, Trent, Maxson
How Teacher Talk Affects Student Vocabulary Growth
Rather than focusing on text reading this month, let’s turn our attention to one of the critical components of language necessary for comprehension: vocabulary.
Educators often point to the importance of expanding students’ vocabularies, but how is verbal learning acquired? A new line of research has confirmed, not surprisingly, that the way the teacher talks and how the teacher uses language directly affect student vocabulary growth.
The word “vocabulary” can refer variously to (a) words that we have heard spoken, (b) words that we can identify the meanings of if we are given a multiple choice or recognition task, and (c) words that we can accurately use in speaking and/or writing. Our mental dictionaries (lexicons) may store a word at any of these levels.
If we have only heard a word, but don’t know its meaning, we still have an advantage when we first encounter the word in print, because we have a pronunciation in memory to which we can attach the letters. This aspect of word memory is called the phonological lexicon, and it is enriched every time we listen to people speaking who use words that are new to us. Younger people who cannot yet read words themselves enrich their phonological lexicons by hearing well-written children’s books read aloud or listening to adults—such as their teachers—use unusual words.
If we recognize a word’s meaning on a multiple-choice test, or get the gist from encountering the word in context, we have stored single meanings or partial meanings in our mental dictionaries (semantic lexicons). We may not know a word well enough to use it ourselves, but it is part of our receptive vocabularies. In most people, receptive or recognition vocabularies are much larger than expressive vocabularies.
Words in our expressive vocabulary are (ideally) ones that we know a lot about and can use selectively to convey precise meanings when we speak or write. Knowing a word well means knowing its synonyms, antonyms, connotations, multiple meanings and uses, appropriate contexts, and structure. The well-known word is stored in our minds in relation to knowledge of conceptual content. Thus, we tend to know and use words in relation to other words and ideas that we have already learned.
So, how do kids learn the 50,000–60,000 words that an average adult should know in order to comprehend language at a college level? Much attention has been paid to the influence of parental language on language development of toddlers, before age 3, and rightly so. But is all lost if those early experiences did not stimulate vocabulary growth as expected?
Listening to the Language of the Classroom
Enter Associate Professor Nonie Lesaux and her team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A specialist in the education of English learners and students with language deficits, Lesaux argues that the language of the classroom—not just the language of the text that students read—is a critical variable in how much and how fast students grow their own mastery of word meanings. Unfortunately, observational studies suggest that teachers, unless coached, are not likely to spend the requisite time teaching academic vocabulary explicitly, in depth, and with the amount of modeling and practice necessary to establish words in students’ expressive vocabularies. Many teachers in the lower grades understand that reading aloud is important, but familiarizing students with the spoken form of words is only part of what needs to be done to foster in-depth word learning.
On the positive side, according to Lesaux, teachers’ routine use of academic vocabulary in their classroom talk—words that are precise, less common, but content-related—is directly related to middle school students’ vocabulary growth. Students who hear teachers using sophisticated terms during classroom instruction are much more likely to learn them and use them.
While the evidence obtained from Lesaux that a teacher’s speaking vocabulary directly affects students’ language learning is not really surprising, too little attention is paid to this fact in teacher selection, teacher training, and teacher evaluation. Is teacher language a taboo subject? It shouldn’t be if we are concerned about students’ academic growth. It is impossible for students to adopt language patterns and use words if they never hear them spoken at home—or at school.
Raising the Bar in Classroom Communication
There are several ways to elevate the level of teacher talk in our classrooms. One is to prioritize teacher candidates’ verbal abilities when they apply for entry into teacher licensing programs. Why would we ever admit a person into teaching whose vocabulary and verbal scores are below average for the college population?
Second, we can strive to improve the quality of classroom talk by equipping teachers with vocabulary instruction routines that extend through a whole unit of study. We do this in LANGUAGE!® Live. Every reading begins with deliberate introduction of selected words from the text. The introductory routine includes a student-friendly definition, examples of the word in context, and opportunities for students to judge their own familiarity with the word. Every lesson that follows provides multiple opportunities for students to refine their knowledge of the vocabulary and use it in speaking and writing.Finally, we should emphasize the importance of teacher talk in professional development, as we do in LETRS®. Once they know how important it is to shower students with interesting words, teachers will become much more conscious of their own verbal behavior. Downstream, students’ reading comprehension, writing, and academic language mastery will improve.
Click the button below to watch a Leadership Webinar from Dr. Louisa Moats titled "Teaching Comprehension through Text-Driven Instruction." In this webinar, Dr. Moats explores how educators can identify challenging language in text that may keep students with limited language proficiency from becoming successful readers. Download is complimentary.
Louisa Moats, Ed.D., is the lead author of LANGUAGE! Live, a blended program for adolescent students reading below grade level. She is also the lead author of LETRS professional development for literacy educators. Dr. Moats has authored many books, journal articles, policy papers, and materials for professional development in the areas of reading, writing, and language. She received her M.A. from Peabody College of Vanderbilt and her Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
This Month's CES Sport Info/ Practice Schedule
6th grade girls basketball will be starting January 20th. All girls who participate will need a physical on file with the school before practicing. Physical forms are available in the office. Information packets will be sent home when we return to school in January. Girls need to get a physical before the first practice on January 20th if they plan to play basketball. If you played 6th grade volleyball, that physical will work for basketball. If you have any questions call Chris Stevens at 574-216-5007.
K-5 Girls Basketball Coach: Andrea Berndt 574-842-3389
- 3:15-4:15 K-3 Girls BBall
- 4:15-5:15 4-5 Girls BBall
- 5:30-7:00 6th Girls BBall
- 3:15-4:45 6th Girls BBall
- 3:15-4:45 6th Girls BBall (First Practice Jan. 20th)
- 3:15-4:15 K-3 Girls BBall
- 4:15-5:15 4-5 Girls BBall
- 5:30-7:00 6th Girls BBall
- 3:00-4:30 6th Girls BBall
- 9:00-9:45am K-1 Girls BBall
- 10:00-11:00 2-3 Girls BBall
- 11:00-12:00 4-5 Girls BBall
Rutter: State politicians played expensive ISTEP joke on schools
We have found another craterous, public policy pothole into which Indiana government inevitably has fallen headfirst.
Public education. Sorry. We apparently can't do that in Indiana. It's too hard. And it's even worse. Not only might Hoosiers parents fret if their public schools are any good, even basic student competence can't be tested because Indiana can't figure out a useful academic test.
It's all too hard.
The yearlong embarrassing battle over ISTEP is not merely recreational political fisticuffs. It cost the state $65 million to produce an off-the-cuff test that measures nothing verifiable. Public school teachers who put their 400,000 students through the 12-hour torture are not even sure what the test was supposed to measure.
Teachers tell stories that some of their students wept during the ordeal.
The reborn, reforged ISTEP apparently is such an inept measuring tool of new tougher standards that even those who demanded both acknowledge the ordeal was futile.
The original ISTEP measured answers to the wrong questions with intricate precision. Now it's worse.
The current polar plunge was replayed everywhere in Northwest Indiana. If your kid's class once met state standards 70 percent of the time, the new tests says it's actually 50 percent. Test scores in struggling school systems — Gary, for example — suggest those students could just as well have stayed home last year.
If the test were accurate, the state's entire student body went from marginally intelligent to totally dumb in one year.
Don't worry, though. The state now acknowledges this test was pointless. It's not even apparent what the point was supposed to be.
The idea that any one test can measure 400,000 unique, distinct young human minds seems preposterous on its face.
Meanwhile, a state administration dominated by GOP ideologues constantly ascends the nearest soapbox to proclaim fiscal achievements manages to waste millions, and torture children and teachers with never-ending test prep.
Indiana drudges have managed officially to wring the last drop of childhood joy out of school.
It's also produced another result. Listen closely and you can hear the sound of the nation's educators laughing at Indiana.
Is Indiana public education competent and how can it be more successful? Indiana schools probably are somewhere in the vast national middle of competency. On some days, you'd settle for hopeful proof that you are mediocre.
Why those questions can't be answered is, in itself, another paradox of Indiana policy. At some moment no one announced, public education in Indiana became less about childhood advancement than punishing schools and teachers who can't get students to master bad tests.
Indiana misplaced the point of public education. It's about children.
When schools are transformed into partisan political war zones, predictable devolution always damages the higher good.
The Indiana Legislature has decided its function is to punish bad schools and bad teachers by taking money and resources away from the spendthrift offenders. Of course, holding resources hostage hardly ever makes a school better.
As occurred this week when 2015 ISTEP results were revealed tardily, the effect is a statewide battery of badly designed tests mandated by amateurs whose only knowledge of public education is the instinct to impose "accountability."
Political hostility does not seem the best management tool to decide educational policy. The most recent mess has little to do with professional educators and almost everything to do with Republican state leaders who bridle when their orders are questioned.
Here's a short chronology on how we reached this particular disaster:
1: First, Gov. Mike Pence ditches the reviled Common Core standards and orders "Indiana-specific" standards that are remarkably similar. And do it now.
2: Then he does not give state educators enough lead-time to write the standards and pilot-study the resulting test. ISAT is not a pop quiz. The state has constructed a test that students must study for weeks to take.
3: Then he fails to realize until it's too late that changing tests on the fly blows up the testing process and create a large, ugly ripple in every state classroom. It's the sort of misjudgment that amateurs make.
4: Then, finally, he grasps his favorite political excuse by blaming Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz for a botch that mostly is beyond her control but clearly within Pence's realm. She warned him. He ignored her.
At its intellectual heart, Statehouse denizens just played a $65 million joke on Indiana taxpayers, parents, teachers and students.
It's an expensive arrogance. And it's a humiliating failure for the state.
If you don't feel like laughing, we'll understand.