Monday, June 26, 2017

Assignment Two: Written Reflection- Section One

ASSIGNMENT TWO: WRITTEN REFLECTION–Section One- The Essential Writing Life Chapters 1-3
BRIEFLY reflect on the following comments written below from Chapters 1-3 and any additional thoughts that you have after reading these chapters.

Chapter 1: Simplify the Teaching of Writing• Simplify our teaching
• Becoming more knowledgeable about teaching writing
• Examine your beliefs

Regie gets to the heart of her book Writing Essentials with this quote on the final page of Chapter One: “By reducing the clutter in our teaching lives-the over-planning, the unnecessary activities, the paper load, all the ‘stuff’ that takes our time and energy and does little to improve teaching and learning-we bring joy back into our work and the world of our students.” Many of us work very hard and spend many hours complicating our teaching lives. In this book Regie will help you simplify your teaching life for your benefit and that of your students.

One of the frustrations that teachers encounter regularly is the ever changing “latest and best” writing programs that districts or states force on them and their students. With this revolving cycle of programs, teachers are spending too much time learning how to use the program rather than becoming better writing teachers. Regie explains that in the districts where students are the best writers, they are writing for real purposes and audiences and publishing their writing; teachers are not using prescribed writing programs.

Look at Appendix A (page A-2.) Examine your beliefs about writing by reading the statements about the writing process and marking true or false in your book. (Go ahead and write in your book, it’s OK! You can even use a pencil and mark very lightly if you want to.) We found this activity very enlightening. Let us know what you think after you complete the activity.

In your reflection for Section One, please include your thoughts about the following questions or statements:

• Regie demonstrates how to use the Optimal Learning Model (shown on the front cover and page 11) throughout the book. Consider how the Optimal Learning Model fits into your own instruction.
• As you think about how to teach writing so that all students can become successful, effective and joyful writers, reflect on how you presently teach the “12 Writing Essentials” (as described on pages 13-14 in the text) during your daily writing instruction. As we continue to read through Regie’s book, hopefully you will begin to see how you might make changes in your instruction to better incorporate these “12 Writing Essentials.”

Chapter 2: Start With Celebration
• Make sure writing is meaningful not just correct
• Use stories as springboards and ensure that ALL students hear stories
• Write in front of your students and connect home and school

The title of Chapter Two simply states, “Start with Celebration,” and that’s exactly what we need to do for our students. The celebration of all students’ writing needs to be put into the forefront and be made our first teaching goal. Celebrations should happen school-wide, within our classrooms and with students individually. As children begin to see themselves as successful writers, they will take more risks in their writing and in turn will become better writers who enjoy the writing process.
Another key point that Regie highlights in this chapter is to “make sure writing is meaningful, not just correct!” Students need to understand that writing is “enjoyable and for a real purpose and audience.” She also reminds us “that teaching skills in isolation does not make student writers; neither does teaching to the test. And breaking writing into bits and pieces robs children of the joy of writing.”

Regie suggests using stories as a springboard for teaching and learning. Hearing and telling stories builds our students’ oral language skills and these stories are “an entryway into reading and writing.” Only when students are reading and writing real stories can they connect the “skills” based learning to their reading and writing!

Please include your thoughts about the following questions or statements in your written reflection of Section One:

• Regie explains how important celebrating student writing is. How do you celebrate student writing in your classroom? How might you add more celebration of student writing to your day/year?
• Consider what changes you could make in your writing instruction to make writing more meaningful and purposeful for your students.

Assignment One: Introduction

Welcome to Essentials of Writing! We look forward to working and learning with you. In order for everyone to get the most out of the course, please be sure to read and respond to each others comments.Please try to keep your responses within one allotted "comment" space to ensure that the blog remains manageable for all participants.

Also, you may want to type your comments in a Word Document and either copy from Word and paste onto the blog or save it in a folder on your computer and then post it to the blog. I have written a couple of lengthy comments that I lost before I was able to post it to the blog. This extra step may save you some frustration later on this term.

Last of all, we will write our comments to your posts on the blog, so you will need to check back to the corresponding week for feedback (and to make additional comments if you wish.)

Let us know if you have any questions. You can email us, but please put the words "Question for Essentials of Writing" in the subject line so that we can respond in a timely fashion.

ASSIGNMENT ONE: Post your Introduction to the course Blog.

Introduction Post- Tell us about yourself. Where do you teach? What grade do you teach? How long have you been teaching? How many students are there in your class? Do you have instructional support? What does your current literacy program look like? (If you aren’t currently teaching let us know.) What is your knowledge/training in the area of literacy (be specific about your experiences teaching writing?) Does your district provide training in literacy –especially writing? If so, what exactly have they offered? Has your district been bogged down with getting students to perform well on state writing assessments – prompts? How do you feel about teaching? Are you happy at work? Also, let us know a little about you outside of the classroom: Interests/ Hobbies/Family Life? What do you hope to get out of this course? Post your reflection to the blog.

WELCOME Summer 2017 Students!

Hello and Welcome to our Course.

One of the benefits of the blog format for online courses is the discourse between students. We post only one or two assignments at a time in order to foster communication between the course participants.

If you do work ahead you will need to post your reflection on the blog when the corresponding assignment is posted.

If you have a question please email us and put "Question" or "REPLY NEEDED" in the subject line so we can get back to you in a timely fashion. We frequently scan our inbox for questions but wait to reply to assignments for when we have a good chunk of time. If there is no notation in the subject line of the email, we assume it is just an assignment.

A couple of notes:

We suggest you save your work in a word processing document before posting to the blog. There have been times where something happens and a post may disappear. (Having this saved makes it easier to repost.)

Some students have experienced problems posting using Firefox. There are work-arounds, but the easiest is just to use a different browser.

In order to make the blog easier to read, and more likely that other students will read and respond to your posts, we ask that you keep your assignment to the one allotted post.
You are free to work ahead on the assignments and save them on your computer until we post on the blog.

All work due 8/25
Grades available online 9/6


Here is the address to TINT's FAQ page which may have some useful information for you:
http://www.tint-edu.com/crbst_5.html

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Assignment Nine: Final Course Reflection

Assignment Nine: Final Course Reflection



Take a look at the last section in Regie's text, Writing Essentials, it's chock full of great resources!!!



Teaching in Action: Lesson Essentials 5 Day Lesson Plans & Appendices

• Secrets of Second Graders• Heart Poems• Procedural writing• Hero writing• Persuasive writing• Appendix survey 


Be sure to look through this section. If you haven’t already done so, look at Appendix A (page A-2.) Re-examine your beliefs about writing by re-reading the statements about the writing process and marking true or false in your book. Did you change any of your previous answers? Would you consider bringing this page to your team or even to your entire school to jump-start discussions about writing? Take some time to look through the appendices. There are several useful examples included. One we’d like to point out to you is Appendix L- The Genre Characteristics Excerpt on page A-13. Look to the Writing Essentials companion website at www.heinemann.com/writingessentials for the entire chart as well as directions to assist you playing the DVD.

ASSIGNMENT NINE: Final Course Reflection - Critically examine your current literacy program and develop realistic goals to improve your instruction. Also reflect on the balance between your home and school life. If our students are to become happy, literate people, they need happy, balanced teachers. BRIEFLY, share several of your goals with the class by posting them to the blog for this final assignment.

Thanks for taking our course!!!! Mary & Jackie!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Assignment Eight- Written Reflection- Sections 4&5

Sections Four and Five- Advocacy Is Also Essential and Teaching In Action: Lesson Essentials


Assignment Eight: Read Writing Essentials Chapters 11-12 and Section Five. Reflect on the comments below and any additional reactions you have after reading these chapters. Post your thoughts to the course blog.


Chapter 11: Build on Best Practice and Research • What are some of the key research findings most relevant to writing instruction?

• What are the practices of highly effective teachers?

• How can you be part of the ongoing professional development discussions in your building?

• What about test scores? What are the characteristics of high performing schools?

• Think twice before adopting a “program”


Regie begins this chapter sharing her experiences doing residencies in schools and the surprising (and delightful) discovery that whole school cultures changed during the course of their work improving literacy instruction. As she said, “This is what education should be about…whole schools working together so that all students (can) succeed.” How is the climate/culture in your school? On your team? One reason we continue to look to Regie for inspiration is that we feel she is so practical. There is not one right way or method to teach writing. “That is why formulas, programs and recipes don’t work. Every context, school and person is different and has different needs. Literacy is not a set of acquired or learned skills.”


Chapter 12: Make Every Minute Count• You need to “REDUCE THE PAPER LOAD!!!”

• What can we do that will save us time and allow us to focus more on meaningful instruction?

• Regie states, “Take more time to see the light!” Don’t get bogged down with daily worksheets and isolated exercises.


Though this chapter is short it is full of valuable ideas and reminders! Regie reminds us in this chapter to stop and reflect about what we are doing in the classroom. Ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time? Is what I’m about to do going to help my students become more joyful and accomplished readers, writers and thinkers?


“It might be that the best use of your time is to read a professional book, see a movie, visit with a friend. Sharing your experiences with your students may be a more useful way to get them to think about their writing than marks and comments on a paper.” “It’s hard to come to school all excited about teaching if you’ve spent hours the night before pouring over papers.” It is a disservice to our students and ourselves “if our out-of-school time is all about paperwork.” In fact, “Teachers’ comments on students’ papers do little to improve writing, even if the comments are positive ones. It is far more effective to conference with students and focus on specific writing issues with the student at your side.”


Also “(b)e sure that most of your writing time is devoted to writing, not preparing for writing or doing activities about writing. Safeguard sustained writing time; it’s critical for becoming a writer. Limit take-home work for students too, and place more emphasis on free-choice reading. Having more reading experiences positively impacts growth in writing skills.”


Regie closes this chapter by reminding us to breathe, relax and enjoy writing- and your life! “One way to reduce stress and have more energy for teaching and advocacy is to have a life outside of school. I worry about teachers and principals who work twelve-hour days. I have seen no research that shows educators who work the longest hours get the best results or that longer reading and writing projects teach more about reading and writing. Keep evaluating whether what you’re staying late for-or the hours of work you take home-will help your students  become more effective readers and writers."

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Assignment Seven: Student Conference

ASSIGNMENT SEVEN: Student Writing Conference - Choose one or two children (classroom students, relatives, neighbors...) to conduct an informal conference with. You may choose to use one of Regie’s formats, your own or the one below, which I use in a conferring notebook. You need to find a system that will work for you. Example 1 (and below) is the format I use for each writing conference that I hold with students. Keep in mind that while you are conferring with students, the majority of other students should be writing!

(Note: If you aren’t currently teaching please find a school-age child to do a conference with. We believe you will find it is worth the effort.) 


Student Name:                                                     Date:

? (Question- Teacher asks)- “What are you
working on today in your writing?”

C (Compliment)- Compliment the student on one
strategy they are using well.

TP (Teaching Point)- What is one
strategy/point/goal you can teach this student to
move them forward?

FNT (For Next Time)- What needs to be a focus
during the next conference/what were set goals?


ASSIGNMENT SEVEN: After completing your one or two conferences, please reflect on how well they went and how they will impact your whole group, small group and independent instruction in your classroom. Post your reflective response to the blog.

Assignment Six: DVD Reflection

ASSIGNMENT SIX: DVD Reflection- Included in your text is a DVD containing video clips of Regie’s conferences with writers in the classroom. There is a detailed commentary accompanying the DVD on page 336 of her text. Please watch the DVD and then look at her teaching notes beginning on page 336 (Regie suggests just watching without notes first so that you don’t miss what she and the students are doing.) After both watching and reading her notes, write your reflection and please post a copy of your DVD Reflection to the blog.

*NOTE: If you experience problems playing the DVD please refer to the Writing Essentials companion website at www.heinemann.com/writingessentials for directions for playing the DVD. Look in the upper right hand corner for the link.