Thursday, August 28, 2014

Learning by Doing

The idea behind the Readers and Writers Workshop model of learning is that students learn best by actually DOING what they are learning.  Readers need to READ.  Writers need to WRITE.  Artists, need to sculpt or paint or draw.  So what does the teacher do while her students are READING or WRITING or SCULPTING?  The teacher is moving around the room, observing, encouraging, helping, giving hints and tips, in a word...TEACHING!

For more information on how to CONFER with READERS take a look at Jennifer Serravallo's book, Conferring With Readers.

For information on how to CONFER with WRITERS take a look at Carl Anderson's book,
Assessing Writers.

Happy Teaching 2014-2015!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Writing Conferences

Dear Writing Teachers,
Are you aware that almost all of your writing instruction
happens during your one-on-one writing conferences?
Sure, your mini-lesson is important and reaches a
larger audience.  But the real "MEAT" of your teaching
will come during your individual conferences with students.
This is when you are face-to-face speaking writer-to-writer!
In the Calkins/Hartman/White book, One to One, you can
read about 4 suggested steps to include in a writing conference.
As I coach teachers I give them a pink card with the 4 parts
written (below) to take around the room with them as they

Research: This part is when you observe and analyze what the student is doing as a writer. It is also important at this point to compliment your student on what they've done well.
Decide: Decide what you want to teach your student during this conference and how you will teach it.
Teach: You will teach what you've decided will get this student to the next step in their writing.
Link: Remind student what they have done well as a writer and remind them to do this in the future.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cause and Effect

Running through almost every text your students read, there are examples of cause and effect relationships.  We often think of them as a text structure.  But I also see cause and effect when looking at a sequence of events. I see cause and effect when looking at a problem and solution.  And I see cause and effect when inferring, "why did this happen?" Is it just me? Causes and Effects seem to be everywhere!

Notice how this chart illustrates how there need not be only one cause and effect.  There could be several causes for a given effect...My good grades, my good attitude AND my helpfulness in the classroom might have all CAUSED me to get the Good Citizen Award. On the flip side, one "event" or cause such as a tornado might produce multiple EFFECTS such as building damage, torn up landscapes and bodily damage.

 The author writes about one or more causes or events and what happens because of it, the effect/or effects. The PURPOSE is to explain why or how something happened, exists, or works.

Sometimes authors use words that signal when a cause or effect will be shown. 
Here are some signal words to watch for:

because     therefore     due to     accordingly      for this reason     so that     consequently   nevertheless         in order to      if...then

Here is a poster which illustrates it all: