Unit of Study Conference – Klansek

Units of Study Conference – May 1, 2017

Attended with Lori Billman and Aileen Hower

Key take-aways

  1. Workshop should be about growing writers, not fixing pieces
  2. Crystal-clear vision for building
  3. Kids only get one chance at each grade – success should not depend on luck of draw on which teacher they get. Gaps make the instruction that much harder the next year.
  4. Important to build teacher-confidence with writing
  5. Units of Study allow teachers to start planning at a higher level because of resources
  6. Importance of Goal-oriented Collaborative planning – What are the non-negotiables?
  7. Our kids need to write more to become better writers
  8. If we value reflection and growth with our kids, shouldn’t we be willing to expect the same or ourselves?

Valuing writing

  • Writing should be visible in all areas of building
  • Writing Culture within the school
    • Need crystal clear vision
    • Must study student work
  • Democratize teacher knowledge

Peer Walk-throughs

  • Not evaluative
  • Creates community and collaboration
  • Lens of reflection
  • Next steps to move school forward
  • Follow “I Notice/I wonder” format

Workshop Structure

  1. 10-12 minute mini-lesson
    • Connection (Why?)
    • Teaching (Demonstrate, Apply skill to teacher’s writing, Name steps)
    • Active engagement (Students try it or they Analyze and Name steps)
    • Link (When)
    • Must leave mini-lesson with a writing plan
  2. 20-25 minutes independent work (conference and small group instruction)
  3. Should have a couple pieces going at once
  4. Partner share last 10 minutes
  5. Sentence starters can help with structure
  6. Be explicit “Today, I want to teach you . . .” Want to impart skill, not just talk
  7. Working for approximation, not mastery when students try skill – coaching comes in conferring
  8. Avoid calling on students during mini-lesson

Mini-lesson Structure – Should be primary focus at first

  • Clear, explicit teaching point (4-5 repetitions)
  • Keep it “mini”
  • Plan for 5-6 minutes and will end up being 8-10

On-Demand writings beginning and end of units

  • Checklists for student self-assessment (Normed and work to grow student who can be successful at AP/SAT/Collegiate level)
  • Limit use of rubrics – “Light touch” – more about driving instruction than assessing
  • Feedback more important than scores – Don’t make it “high stakes”
  • Increase teacher ability to give specific feedback
  • Minimize grading time and maximize feedback time
  • Put control in kids’ hands – need to be able to assess/improve writing independently
  • Can’t be optional
  • “Moral imperative” to determine how kids are growing and where they need help
  • “Thin-slicing” (group writings into 3 categories and closely examine a couple from each group to see overall trends)

Lenses to examine student writing

  • In the genre
  • Focus
  • Structure
  • Elaboration
  • Conventions
  • Volume

Add comment  Tagged:  , June 6, 2017

Shooting Kabul by N.H.Senzai

Although I booktalked this title during the school year, I just finished re-reading it so that I can prepare lessons when we teach it next year in 7th grade. I liked the book even more the second time through and think it is definitely worth picking up and reading. Fadi is a young boy who flees his home country of Afghanistan after his father is pressured to join the Taliban. The book is set in 2001, just before the attacks on the World Trade Center, and shows how hard life was for people of other cultures living in America. He is bullied by kids at school and struggles to overcome feeling of guilt about his younger sister Mariam, who was accidentlly left behind when the family left Afghanistan. Readers gain a sense of just how difficult life is for people of other cultures living in America. I highly recommend this book.

Add comment June 18, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Any fantasy lover should pick up this book. It is the story of Elisa, an overweight, underachieving princess who is destined for great things. As the bearer of the godstone (think a permanently inserted sapphire belly button ring) she ispledged to be married to a prince she has never met. There is magic, secret plots, kidnappings, romance, and betrayal. At first I was annoyed with Elisa’s lack of confidence and self-doubt, but I loved seeing her transformation into a self-assured, take charge young woman who made things happen. The ending definitely left open the possibility of a sequel. If you like romance and fanstasy, then check out this book for some summer reading.

Add comment June 18, 2012

The Enemy

After Mr. Lawhead’s zombie obsession and a recommendation from a certain “ginger” in my 2nd period class, I reluctantly picked up this book as part of my summer reading. Set in London, some “situation” has wiped out all people over the age of 16 or turned them into child-eating zombies. Gruesome descriptions of the remaining Mothers and Fathers drew me into the story, but I will admit that I was tired of the gory pus-filled details by about half-way through the book. Bands of children fight to survive and bring some sense of order to their lives. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, which can make it a bit confusing, and the ending was confusing as well, setting up the strong possibility for a sequel or even a trilogy. If you like death, decay, and dying, then this book is one for you. Although I grew tired of all of the gruesomeness, I did appreciate the strong writing and even noticed several vocabulary words in my reading.

Add comment June 18, 2012

Stop that summer slide!

I am so proud of all of the amazing reading you have done this year. However, you can’t stop now! You need to keep up those reading skills over the summer break. I hope this sight will help you with that. Be sure to check back here throughout the summer for book recommendations from me. My goal is to read 30 young adult books over the summer. Keep tabs on my progress and see if I can make that goal. To join in the journey, tell me how many books you hope to read this summer.

2 comments June 5, 2012