Sunday, July 28, 2019

It's Coming: August's Picture Book 10 for 10 Celebration #pb10for10

I'm not sure how we got to the end of July so quickly, but here we are.  You know what that means:  we are counting down the days until our annual picture book celebration.  That's right, it is almost time for Picture Book 10 for 10 - or #pb10for10 for short.  

This will be the 9th year for #pb10for10.  Picture Book 10 for 10 began from a conversation about must-have picture books for our classroom libraries.  Mandy Robek, Enjoy and Embrace Learning, and I were going back and forth about our favorite books for our classroom communities when we decided it would be interesting to be able to meander through the libraries of other educators to see what books were on their shelves.

Since then, educators, media specialists, parents, and book lovers in our PLN have been taking the time to create a list of their 10 favorite picture books to share with one another each year on August 10th.  Though it's my favorite event to kick off the new school year, it's not for the faint at heart.  Trust me, each year I spend a little more money than I wish on books after reading everyone's posts.  I've gotten a little smarter about keeping my library card out as I read, but that doesn't completely solve the problem.

In the past, we have collected posts at our community Google Picture Book 10 for 10 site.  However, with the closing of Google Plus, we are no longer able to collect them in this space.  We loved the resource the posts created for others so Mandy and I debated for some time about where to move the community.  If you've been with us for awhile you know sites come and go:  Jog the Web, Storify, Google Plus (don't get me started on this rant!).  For this reason, we've decided we are going old school and posting to our blogs.  This year's August #pb10for10 event will link here.

What to join the fun?

The Basics
Want to join the conversation?
  • What:  10 picture books you can't live without.
  • Hashtag:  #pb10for10
  • Hosts:  @mandyrobek (Enjoy and Embrace Learning), @cathymere (you're here)
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.  
  • When:  Saturday, August 10th
  • Where:  All posts for 2019 will be linked to this blog:  Reflect and Refine

Here's how you can participate:
  1. Grab a Badge (just copy the URL address of the one above or take a screenshot)
  2. Choose Your Favorites:  All you need to do is choose ten picture books you cannot live without for whatever reason.  In the first days of this event, everyone shared their ten very favorite titles.  This still works.  You will notice, however, that many past participants choose some type of theme or thread to connect their selections.  We'll leave this up to you.
  3. Narrow Your List to Ten:  It isn't easy, is it?  We've seen some crafty ways to get around that number.  
  4. Write Your August 10th Post:  Write a post about the ten books you cannot live without.  Share the link to your collection here, at Reflect and Refine, on August 10th.  
  5. No Blog?  No Problem:  If you don't have a blog, this might be the perfect time to start one --- or there are a million digital ways to join.  You could post from a Google page, create a S'more, share in Twitter (and copy the Tweet link), or any other creative idea you may be considering.  We will also be tweeting from the #pb10for10 hashtag.    
  6. Comment:  On August 10th (and maybe for a week --- there are a lot of posts) take some time to read posts from other participants.  Please comment on at least three. 
Let the countdown begin!!!!

Hope you can join us!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Learners at the Center of Our Workshop: week 3 #cyberPD

This week the #cyberPD community has been reading the final chapters  in Welcome to Writing Workshop by Stacey Shubitz and Lynne Dorfman.  (More information can be found here.)

  • Chapter 8 Small Group Instruction:  High Value, High Reward
  • Chapter 9  Share Sessions:  Engaging All Writers to Support a Thriving Community
  • Chapter 10  Strategic Instruction in Grammar, Conventions, and Spelling

Toward Student Ownership
The first time I was brave enough to throw the goal setting aspect of writing growth to my first graders, I was stunned by the results.  We had spent much time growing a writing identity, but really needed to dig in to develop our writing.  Having noticed that the greatest shifts came from conferences in which writers were able to articulate what they wanted to do next instead of my suggesting next steps, I decided to try to have each student set their own goal for writing. I wasn't sure how it would go, but I was pleasantly surprised as students selected their goals.  Nearly every student selected a goal I would have chosen as well, but now they owned it.  The biggest challenge seemed to be kids that were too hard on themselves, not reflections that were shallow.  

These chapters really moved us from establishing writing identities, past building strong writing communities, toward giving students ownership of their writing and next steps.  I appreciated the many ways Lynne and Stacey shared ideas for putting students in the driver's seat.  

Three Big Ideas
  1. Consider small groups to develop peer writing connections and learner agency.  There are a variety of ways to adjust support in small group instruction.  Small group instruction can often provide a link from whole group instruction to independence, support students who need to make gains, and as the authors remind provide opportunities for enrichment.  The authors discuss ways to let students have more ownership in writing by choosing small group support they need, creating interest groups, and providing opportunities for collaboration among other possibilities.  
  2. Learner agency can be grown through the end of workshop share.  While the mini lesson sets the tone for the work writers will do, the share helps to bring things together.  Dorfman and Shubitz remind, "Having a share session at the end of every writing workshop provides closure to writers and often gives them something to think about as they ponder the work they'll do the following day."  I love this image of the share as not only a way to look back, but also to help writers to see down the path toward new possibility.  The possibilities shared by the authors for different ways to share in our communities pushed me to think not only about the many types of shares we might lead, but also to consider ways the share can help writers to see the value in their work, dig a little deeper, and maintain ownership.  
  3. Revision and editing happen throughout the writing process.  The writing process isn't linear, yet we often think of revision and editing as something that happens at the end of this process.  In many ways, this makes it cumbersome for young writers.  I appreciated the idea to think more about ways to help writers make revision and editing decisions as they work through the process.  

Two Questions to Ponder
  1. Should editing conversations be part of peer conferences?  The authors share their belief that editing conversations should be between the teacher and the student.  They make some good points about the challenges that come from peer edits, yet I have known writing pairs who rely on each other for this work and do so with some success.  I want to think more about this.
  2. How do we help young writers to see their fingerprint and then push toward next steps?  Maybe fingerprint isn't the right word here as fingerprint never changes, but what I would hope is that writers learn their style.  In knowing their fingerprint they begin to see the strengths in their writing, but also push toward continual growth.  Once students have a strong sense of their writing identity, how do we help them to find (and own) their stretch as writers?  

One Next Step

  1. Think more about a writer's "fingerprint."  Stacey and Lynne used the word "fingerprint" often to describe what authors often rely on "to build content, speak with a unique voice, and organize their writing."  I think of it as the craft moves that are characteristic of a writer.  This would be a great way to talk with students about an author's style, look more closely at mentors, and transition to the varying styles within our writing community.  I'd like to spend some time with a few authors working this process.  

Want to read more reflections?  Please stop by our MeWe #cyberPD community.  Also, please join us for our Twitter chat with the authors of Welcome to Writing Workshop on Tuesday, July 23rd at 8:30 EST.  

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Weaving a Thread Through Our Workshop: Week 2 #cyberPD

This week the #cyberPD community has been reading and reflecting about chapters 5-7 in Welcome to Writing Workshop.  (It's not too late to join us.  More information can be found here.)

  • Chapter 5 Whole Class Instruction:  Setting a Positive Tone and Building Enthusiasm
  • Chapter 6  Independent Writing Time:  The Importance of Giving Students the Time to Write
  • Chapter 7  Conferring:  Individualize Instruction, Build Community and Set Goals

Connecting Our Teaching
When I began taking conferring notes with Evernote, I realized I finally found the best way to connect teaching for the writers I was sitting beside.  Thanks to Evernote's way of displaying snippets from past notes beside a new note, I discovered the perfect way to make sure I was connecting writing conversations for students.  Before that, it was easy to realize I was having "popcorn conversations" that likely focused more on the writing than the writer.  

These chapters from Lynne & Stacey really brought to mind the importance of connected teaching for young writers.  Whether connecting across the workshop from the mini-lesson to the share, connecting conferring conversations for writing, or connecting teaching across a unit of study, I was continually reminded of the importance of these intentional moves that support writers as they continue to grow.  

Three Big Ideas
  1. Mini-lessons connect conversations for writers.  The mini-lessons we teach reflect the curriculum writers need to grow, but also are responsive to what we notice about our students' writing.  Following "the basic architecture - connection, teaching, active engagement, and a link" can enhance the lessons for the writers in our learning community.  
  2. The workshop allows us to differentiate support for our writers.  Stacey and Lynne refer to the "I do, we do, you do" sequence that I first learned from Regie Routman.  This is a delicate balance as we want writers to find their own way and too much support can leave them trying to replicate our work instead of making applying the strategy in new ways and connecting it to their work.  I'm reminded of the work of Fountas & Pinnell which creates a framework that utilizes community writing (shared an interactive writing), small group guided writing opportunities, and conferring to support students toward independence.  Additionally, these ways to adjust support allow us to follow the lead of our students with greater ease and help move from differentiation to personalization.
  3. Writing workshop allows students to find their own path.  Speaking of personalization, giving students consistent opportunities to write allows them to shape their own learning.  I appreciated the many ways the authors shared we can support students in a conference.  

Two Questions to Ponder
  1. What are some of the ways we can help students to have more ownership in a writing conference?  We've all walked away from a conferring conversation we thought rocked only to find the writer not hang onto the move we were trying to teach.  The more ownership students have in this conversation the greater the impact on their writing.  
  2. How do we nurture stronger peer conferring?  I'm thinking this has to do with two important pieces students need.  They need to understand the language they can use to best support a partner, but also how to hear comments from peers.  For example, I know when I am in writing groups I listen to everything everyone says.  Some comments open my eyes to new other possibilities, yet others shed light on challenges the reader is having in understanding my message.  Personal preferences can also be a part of someone's conversation so students need to know how to listen and search for the information they need.  

One Next Step 
  1. Begin to collect (and organize) mentors that I might use across grade levels as I work with writers.  Particularly, I want to find mentors that show the varied ways writers make intentional craft moves to enhance their message.  

Next week we take a look at the final chapters in Welcome to Writing Workshop.  Please feel free to join us at anytime.  Here's our schedule: 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Building a Writing Community: #cyberPD Week 1

This week the #cyberPD community has been reading and reflecting about chapters 1-4 in Welcome to Writing Workshop.  (It's not too late to join us.  More information can be found here.)

  • Chapter 1 What is Workshop?
  • Chapter 2  The Write Environment:  Creating Our Classrooms
  • Chapter 3  A Community of Writers:  The Ingredients for Building and Sustaining Success
  • Chapter 4  Classroom Management:  Practical Procedures and Predictable Routines

Setting the Tone for Writing Works
As workshop teachers, we know that feeling when we look around the classroom and know that our community has become a community of writers.  Each year, there's that marvelous moment when we notice it has all come together.  Suddenly we look up to realize everyone is finding their way in their writing.  There's something about that quiet hum of a workshop, a predictable rhythm to the way we work, that is characteristic of a strong writing community.  

In truth, when I think about the many writing communities I've sat beside, I know that each year the goal was always the same, but the path is always different.  Every time the classroom fills with a new group of writers new stories percolate, new rhythms are discovered, new ways of working are determined as the writers come together in common understandings.  Yet there are essential pieces that are the bones of the workshop year after year.  There are building steps we take each year as we set about in the first days with a new writing community to allow us to grow forward.  

In these first chapters, Lynne and Stacey share key considerations in the first days of building our writing communities.  Summer is the perfect time to think about these first steps.  As I read, here are a few ideas that stuck out to me.  

Three Big Ideas 

  1. A workshop allows the space for a writer to grow their own identity.  "It is here [in writing workshop] that our students can concentrate on the act of writing and learn about their own writing process while establishing a writing identity," Shubitz and Dorfman remind (Chapter 1, loc 578).  This shifts our thinking from the types of writing writers will produce to a bigger picture of helping writers to learn to work flexibly with purpose to get their message across to their audience.  It acknowledges who they are as writers and pushes us past standardized methods of teaching writing.
  2. The intentional - and shared - decisions we make about our writing environment allow space for possibility.  From the physical spaces carved for writers to work alone or meet with peers to writing tools, mentor texts, and the way talk is leveraged in a workshop all open doors for our writers.  
  3. A workshop should provide opportunities for students to brush up against, and learn from, the thinking of other writers.  In chapter 2, Creating Our Classrooms, Dorfman and Shubitz write, "We want our writers to notice the ways in which different writers problem-solve, think aloud, and use strategies to improve their writing (loc 941)."  The idea of "Opening Our Minds to Let in Other People's Thinking" is full of possibility.  It speaks to learning from our peers and being open to new ways to craft our writing.  It pushes us to reach out to authors to move our work forward.  

Two Questions to Ponder 
  1. How can we help young writers to see the ways planning weaves across our writing process?  Reading the first chapters had me thinking more about planning.  For me, the first chapters shifted my thinking of planning in the prewriting stage of the writing process to the way we plan as we compose across days.  As a writer I plan before I begin, often jotting ideas and my plan for the composition.  Each time I sit down to work, however, I take the time to plan smaller steps.  I appreciated the ideas for using status of the class, plan boxes, peer conversations, end of workshop share, and conferring to learn more about the planning process.  I want to think more about this.  How do I help young writers to own this planning process each day?
  2. What are the mentor texts that help young writers envision new possibilities?  Whether setting up the environment, finding ways to lift student writing, or helping to build the mindset of writers, mentor texts can empower our writers.  

One Next Step 

  1. Create a small collection of writer snapshots to illustrate varied ways writers work.  I see these as a small set of informational snapshots that illustrate the way student writers, adult writers, and published authors go about composing.  What are their processes?  Favorite genres and topics for writing?  Favorite tools?  I'd like these to help to build conversations around finding our own writing process. 
Looking forward to next week's look into chapters 5-7.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It's July: Join Us for #cyberPD

For the last month, #cyberPD community members have been ordering their books, joining our MeWe community, and getting ready for the start of our July virtual book talk.  This week begins the discuss about Welcome to Writing Workshop by Lynne Dorfman and Stacey Shubitz.

Here's the schedule:

How to participate:
The great thing about #cyberPD is that everyone makes it what they want it to be.  Here are some ideas for joining the conversation:

  1. JOIN the MeWe #cyberPD community.
  2. FOLLOW the Twitter hashtag #cyberPD.
  3. READ and CONNECT.  As you read you can:
    • share quotes on Twitter
    • ask questions of the group
    • start conversations in the MeWe community
    • pin related articles, posts, quotes on our collaborative #cyberPD 2019 Pinterest Board
    • start a Voxer conversation
    • etc. etc. etc.
  4. SHARE.  After you read, choose the way you'd like to share your thinking.  Here are some ways people have shared in the past (but feel free to make up your own):
    • post a response on the MeWe community to the week's reading
    • write a blog post and share in MeWe and/or Twitter
    • create a sketch note response to share
    • use your favorite app to share your thinking and embed or link it to your post
  5. COMMENT on at least three other reflections.  
The power in this study each year has been the reflections of the community.  #cyberPD has participants from a variety of grade levels, positions, and experiences.  I've found each year that reading these varied perspectives truly enriches the learning I take away from the professional book.  No matter the professional book selected, these titles stay with me and impact the work I do because of the thoughtful reflections of the community. 

It's not too late to join the conversation.  Join the fun!