Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Practical Benchmarking

Some tips for making the benchmarking more practical:

– With students previously reading at levels A-K, start benchmarking at two levels higher.

– With students previously reading at levels L-M, start benchmarking at one level higher.

– If possible, try to find the student’s Hard level and the Instructional level right below it.

– Assess one child each day

     – When you send guided reading groups back, keep one student behind to assess
     – Conduct a benchmark assessment first thing in the morning when kids are marking lunch, attendance, morning work

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Questions to Ask Everyday

“There are many ways to help students learn to craft quality constructed responses. It’s important to remember that the key is that students MUST demonstrate comprehension of the text through their responses. That means that their responses do not have to be grammatically sound, nor especially well written. They simply need to answer all parts of the question correctly.” – (Constructed Response Page).
Things we Can Do to Prepare Students for Constructed Response testing:
  • During Guided Reading, Read Alouds, Reader’s Workshop, Daily 5, etc., be sure to ask questions/model thinking each day. (see below)
  • Give students at least one opportunity each day to “construct a response”. (“C.R. is, quite simply, a written response to a question.” – Kristi Pettingill). Students should be able to answer a question and defend/explain/support it in 2-3 sentences. This will be an essential skill in CR testing. Start practicing now!
  • Give students at least one opportunity each day to use a graphic organizer.
Literary Analysis
  • Why do you think the author refers to ______ throughout the story?
  • What does he want you to think about when he does this?
  • The author’s purpose for writing this is to _______.
  • Let’s find the part that tells us this.
  • Talk about the genre of this book ___ and its characteristics.
Main Idea
  • What is the author’s point of view?
  • What is the perspective of this author?
  • What is the author trying to tell us in this story?
  • What is the author’s message?
  • What is the story mostly about?
  • What is the gist of this par to the story?
Word Meanings
  • What emotion does the author describe with the phrases ___?
  • What does this word mean in this story?
  • What does this word mostly mean?
  • This word is like __ .
  • Can you think of another word like this?
  • How is this word like___?
  • Questions: What do you think the author is trying to tell us in this story?
  • Comments: I noticed that the author was trying to tell us that…
  • Modeling: I’m thinking the author’s message in this story is __ because __.

Monday, November 7, 2011

23 Easy Artifacts for an Instructional Portfolio

Domain I: Lesson/unit plans in which students create in response of or to demonstrate theirlearning. Examples:

  • students will create a model of a cell
  • students will work in groups to create posters of mathematical concepts
  • students will select a teacher-prepared content topic and prepare a five-minute multi-media presentation
  • students will think and respond to their reading by creating a variety of graphic organizers in their reader’s notebooks
  • students will write letters to me regarding their connections to and questions of the text they are reading independently
  • students will publish original writing that emulates strategies used by published authors

Domain II: Classroom Management plan/logs of strategies used to foster positive classroom climate. Examples:

  • a description of how writer’s workshop (which is a structure/routine that allows for independent work) as described in the framework and how you implement it
  • a description of reader’s workshop/Daily 5 and how you implement it
  • a discipline plan

Domain III: Evidence of Instructional Delivery

  • take a photo of your essential questions
  • rubrics you use
  • samples of exemplary student work: read-response letter, reader’s notebook, published writing
  • take a photo of students working in groups
  • writer’s workshop, guided reading, and reader’s workshop/Daily 5 are differentiated by definition (if implemented as described in the framework). Briefly describe how you allow students choice in these strucutres (choosing writing topics, choosing texts, choosing response methods), how you differentiate instruction (writing conferences, reading conferences, guided reading with leveled texts), and how students grow individually (writing samples across time, guided reading progress monitoring chart).

Domain IV: Evidence of monitoring, assessment, and follow-up

  • Progress monitoring chart (guided reading)
  • A copy of a student’s RtI folder
  • HCDE assessment forms (the ones we turn in)
  • A Fountas & Pinnell benchmarking assessment and a note of how you used it to form instruction
  • Student work with a rubric attached
  • Exemplary student work (published writing, reader’s workshop responses)

Domain VI: Professional responsibilities

  • Any time you work with a coach or a lead teacher, write up a reflection on it for your portfolio.
  • Teacher attendance, a list of extra duties served (bus duty, clubs, etc.)
  • A copy of any instructional thing you share with colleagues

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Word Study Communication

Word study is new for most families. It looks different than what they are used to, and after years of studying for The Friday Spelling Test, parents may be unsure of how to work with their child in a way to support the classroom instruction. Below are some main concepts to share with parents about word study.

“I heard that you’re not teaching spelling anymore.”

  • We teach word study so that students learn how words work. This way, when they are attempting to write a word they are not familiar with, they have some fundamental rules to work with in attempting the spelling. Also, as they are reading and come across a word they are not familiar with, they can apply their knowledge of how words work to more effectively make sense of its meaning.

“Why are we doing this?”

  • The goal of word study is application in writing and understanding in reading. It is the study of how words work. Rote memorization of a word list does not always apply to application in writing, comprehension in reading, or even retention of spelling knowledge.

“These words are too easy for my child.”

  • It may seem easy right now…
    • while we are learning the routines of word study, but it will get more challenging soon.
    • because some features of how words work are easier to learn than others.
    • but I need to make sure the students understand ____ deeply because students will be applying this to more complex, multisyllabic words eventually.

“These words are eays, but understanding this spelling pattern is confusing.”

  • It may seem difficult right now; some features are more complex than others. This is why we are focusing on just one feature at a time.

“Why aren’t you giving spelling tests anymore?”

  •  We are still taking assessments. Once I have taught a specific feature of how words work and students have had sufficient time to practiceand explore the feature, then I will be looking for application of that feature in each student’s writing and assessing students’ understanding/ability to transfer the understanding to other words with the same feature. These are not tests that can be studied for; these are tests that assess a student’s current understanding of how words work.

“I thought you weren’t giving spelling tests. Why does my child have a list to study?”

  • Sight words are generally words that don’t fit into regular categories or rules of word knowledge, and they appear frequently in the books we are reading. (is, again, thought, etc.) For words like this, we may still give students a list to study and memorize.

“Are all the schools doing this?”

  • Although we started our implementing word study a few years ago, it is now a HCDE initiative; word study is one of the seven dimensions on the HCDE K-5 Strategic Literacy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Literacy Notebook

A literacy notebook is really your field journal in the classroom. It’s a collection of assessing and planning. It’s where you write quick anecdotal observations, update a student’s reading level, and plan group and individual work.
There’s no right or wrong way to set up your literacy notebook. As an example, the following is how I set up mine. I used a three-ring binder.
  • HCDE Class Record Form – This is the form on which we record our benchmarking data. On the form that Grades 3-5 use, we also record our writing assessments. Give a copy to your literacy leader so that she can turn in the school set to Central Office. Keep a copy in your literacy notebook.
Divider 1: Reading
  • Planning Sheet for Guided Reading – This is the paper that lists all your students. For each student, you can mark at which level he or she is reading. It also has room for you to detail each student’s strengths and needs in various reading skills (self-monitoring, fluency, etc.) This makes planning small group instruction manageable.
  • Guided Reading lesson plans – The nice thing about guided reading lesson plans is: one sheet is usually sufficient per week. As you meet with your guided reading groups and you open your literacy notebook, you can glance down at your lesson, write annotations regarding what students are saying/thinking/doing, and adjust upcoming lessons for the week.
  • Running Records – from the Benchmarking.
  • You may want to have individual tabs for your students as you add more running records, other formative assessments, or other evidences of learning. It’s nice to have the running records here when you see a student is struggling more than expected. You can refer back to the running record and decide if you want to decode those MSV errors.
  • You may want to have individual summaries of student learning. Forms like this make parent-teacher conferences focused on student learning. (See the Assessment Guide in the F&P Kit.)
  • Graphic organizers you want to keep on hand.
  • Any Writing About Reading work that you give to or collect from students — See your CLL!
Divider 2: Word Study
  • If you administer a pre-assessment in word study (i.e., Word Journeys has an assessment that categorizes each student’s word knowledge along a continuum), you can keep the Class Record here. This will help in planning word study lessons.
  • Individual summaries of word knowledge (again, these help parent-teacher conferences stay focused on the learning.)
  • Word sorts, discovery logs, frayers, vocabulary work – graphic organizers that you want to keep handy.
Divider 3: Writing
  • Calendar — In the writing section, I keep a calendar of the current unit of study. I like to see the whole unit in front of me: when I’m teaching how to generate ideas for this genre of writing, when I’m teaching how to draft it out, what mentor texts I’m using, when students have to commit to a piece of writing, when we’ll edit, when we’ll revise, and when we’ll publish/celebrate.
  • Mini-lesson teaching points – what I will teach and when.
  • A running log of conferences that I have with each writer. With each conference, I jot down what the writer is working on, what he was doing well, and how I coached him in his writing.
  • Student Work — I also keep published copies of student writing. This is helpful in planning, grade level meetings, parent-teacher conferences, etc.
  • Rubrics for different genres of writing.