Meeting a Rock Star

A few years ago Eddie Vedder threw me his tambourine during a concert. I like to fantasize that he picked me out of the crowd because my praying mantis-like dance movements caught his eye; in reality I just out-jumped the people around me to snag it spinning in the air above our heads. Still, I felt connected to my musical idol in a way I never had before. (Humor me here.)  Continue reading “Meeting a Rock Star”

What’s the Work During Modeling?

Having looked at conceptual modeling in science last spring, this might be a good time to consider some questions about instructional modeling in any content.

Instructional modeling of strong and weak work is a key practice for helping our students meet their learning targets. Sam Bennett emphasizes modeling during mini-lessons and catches in That Workshop Book as a way for students to develop as readers and writers.

So what are students expected to do during the time that teachers are modeling? Do students know what they are expected to do? How can we help them get the most out of these minutes? Perhaps we need to engage students in some meta-modeling: demonstrating the thinking and reflective practices that we want students using as they observe us modeling. Metacognition is critical to all phases of learning, including instructional modeling.

Modeling strong and weak work is included as the second strategy of Jan Chappuis’ Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning. While it is a common practice to show students positive examples of work that is proficient or exemplary, sometimes we forget the value of modeling weak work. Not wanting to point fingers at struggling students, we might avoid sharing examples of student work that needs improvement. But in order to help students notice and be able to articulate the differences between strong and weak work, we need them to observe, discuss, and make comparisons for themselves. The act of comparing and identifying areas to improve becomes the student work during modeling. Two ideas for making modeling weak work a safer activity for students:

  1. Using the teacher’s “work” as a weak example. This provides a safer opportunity for students to examine work critically as they provide feedback to the teacher instead of one another.
  2. Looking at weak work or incorrect responses and asking “Why might an intelligent person have thought ____?” This creates an opportunity for students to be critical and identify misconceptions, while still honoring the thinking of students who might hold those same ideas.

What strategies do you use to help students get the most out of instructional modeling? Please share in the comments below!

 

Dual Immersion: Carrying the torch for linguistic diversity!

I am so proud to work in Evergreen Public Schools where programs and people demonstrate the power of linguistic diversity that our students bring to our classrooms. The Columbian featured our Dual Immersion program that recently rolled up to Wyeast Middle School.  Our elementary Dual Immersion schools, Marrion and Pioneer, are the foundation. It is in these elementary schools where Dual Immersion students, English-learners and English-only, begin a lifelong journey in which both Spanish and English open doors to countless opportunities and pathways to success. Please take a minute to read about the fabulous work our schools are doing in carrying the torch for linguistic diversity!WYE-dual-language_08

Brand New One by One Sessions Involve Kids!

Watch Kids in Action as they Interact and Learn with Sphero, Seesaw, BeeBot Coding and Scratch!

K-2 Seesaw Classroom Observation & 3-5 Seesaw Classroom Observation
Come and see what Seesaw looks like in action!  See how students are able to use Seesaw when given choice in demonstrating their understanding.  

K-2 BeeBot Coding Classroom Observation
Bee-Bot is an exciting new robot designed for use by young children. This colorful, easy-to-operate, and friendly little robot is a perfect tool for teaching sequencing, estimation, problem-solving, and just having fun!  During this session, participants will be able to observe students learning to code and problem solve.  

3 – 5 Sphero Robotics Classroom Observation
Sphero Edu uses app-enabled robots to foster creativity through discovery and play, all while laying the foundation for computer science. Sphero goes beyond code with collaborative STEAM activities, nurturing students’ imaginations in innovative and engaging ways. During this session, we will be able to see students being introduced to the Sphero, and engage in programming to solve a problem using the Sphero.

K-2 Sphero Robotics Classroom Observation 
Sphero Edu uses app-enabled robots to foster creativity through discovery and play, all while laying the foundation for computer science. Sphero goes beyond code with collaborative STEAM activities, nurturing students’ imaginations in innovative and engaging ways. During this session, we will be able to see students being introduced to the Sphero, and engage in programming to solve a problem using the Sphero.

3-5 Ozobot Coding Classroom Observation
Ozobots are miniature smart robots that can follow lines or roam around freely, detect colors, and can also be programmed. During this session, we will be able to see students engage in programming to solve a problem using the Ozobots.  

K-2 Scratch Jr. Coding Classroom Observation & 3-5 Scratch Coding Classroom Observation
Watch kids create their own interactive stories, games and animations using Scratch.

Listen to Students’ Honest Stories of Their School Experiences
Uncovering Hidden Bias
During this session, a panel of high school students will share their stories and experiences living and learning as an EL in Evergreen Public Schools.

Fort Vancouver Regional Library Summer Reading Program

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Check out this opportunity for reading fun through the Fort Vancouver Regional Library!

Read, earn prizes, and visit the library for amazing performances and activities June 15 – August 15, 2017.

How it works:

  • Summer Reading is open to all ages.
  • Register online or at your library, then start logging time on June 15.
  • Make reading a daily habit. Set your own daily reading goal.
    • Log the days you meet your reading goal.
    • Log a day of reading if you attend a library program.
  • Youth aged 0-18 years, earn a prize when you reach 15, 30 and 45 days read — visit your library by August 15 to choose your prizes.
  • Everyone, when you reach 15, 30 and 45 days read you get an entry in the Grand Prize Drawing for one of these great prizes:
    • $200 Amazon gift card for each age group: 0-5 years old, 6-11 years old, and 12-18 years old
    • Two (2) nights at Skamania Lodge for adults

You can also:

  • Write and read reviews online.
  • Tell us a little about what you like to read and receive book recommendations via email.

Revoicing: A Tool to Engage All Learners in Academic Conversations

kids talk nissenAt a session at the Washington Association of Bilingual Educators conference I attended last month, the speaker, Sarah Ferris, is an ELL Coach in the Bellingham Public Schools, presented her teaching tip article called Revoicing A Tool to Engage All Learners in Academic Conversations. I found it very helpful in naming some of the work and research I’ve been trying with teachers this year to get ELLs talking in the classroom. I linked it above in hopes that you will find or be reminded of some helpful ways to increase talking in your classroom through teacher revoicing, paraphrasing and questioning strategies.

Remember, if students can hear it, read it, and say it, they can write it and that will translate into comprehension and application!

This school year I’ve been lucky enough to be in a position where I am able have time allotted in my day to research, plan, co-plan, collaborate and co-teach best  and next practice lessons with teachers to work toward getting students of differing levels of English language proficiency contributing to the classroom conversations. It has been a blessing to be able to set goals to actually get students talking in classrooms instead of trying to get them to be quiet enough to get anything done!

Now you might think I’ve completely lost my mind but I assure you, kids talking in class, and I mean talking about the things we want them to be talking about and using the language we want and they need to be using is actually really good! We know that in order to understand and communicate what we learn, we do that through the vehicle of language. To be able to understand what we read and learn, to communicate in oral or written word, to process, comprehend and communicate complex thinking, we need to have the language to do so.

Here is an example. ELL students do plenty of inferring all day, in all situations of their lives, not just school.boys talk nissen The newer they are to the English language, the more they have to infer about what is happening around them to function, fit in, navigate life and ultimately to survive, let alone learn. Yet until you explicitly teach students what inferring means, how, when and where we do it and name it, they have no idea that is what they are doing all day. We have to provide the language, the structure of how and when to use the language, and to then help them identify how using inferring gets to deeper levels of thinking and understanding.

Part of the process of language learning is the act of using the language in all domains of language acquisition. The domains are reading, listening, speaking and writing. Reading and listening are receptive language functions and speaking and writing are productive language functions. They all go together. If students are listening and reading and taking information in, that is good AND they also need to be producing language in the forms of speaking and writing to really understand and go deeper in their application.

Understanding all of the above leads me to this…We have to get our ELL students
involved in academic discussions in our classrooms all day in all content areas!
This year I have been working with teachers on ways to get ELL students engaged through sentence frames, sentence starters, and learning tasks that involve students posted framestalking to each other in whole group, small group, and partner work. We have been finding our ELL students making gains in their writing as a result of the explicit instruction, scaffolding, and increased talk time for all students. Sentence frames have provided access for academic language and how and when to use it and discussion frames have promoted real conversation and dialogue.

 

Happy talking!

Rhonda Walton

ELD Specialist, Marrion Elementary

Take the Challenge

reading-without-walls-logoExpand your reading horizons and take the Reading Without Walls challenge! National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang, calls us all to read without walls, exploring books promoting diverse understandings and opening readers’ eyes to new ideas and experiences.   To take the challenge:

  1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.
  2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.
  3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun.
  4. Invite  others to do the same!