Thursday, August 21, 2008

Getting Started in Reading and Writing

It is the first week of school, we made it through Day 1 and Day 2 of 180 with ease. However, Day 3, 4, and 5 came with the disruption of Tropical Storm Fay. So after three looonnnggg wind howling weather days full of ground saturating rain and tornadic activity and our two day weekend, we'll start anew on Monday.

Next week--which we may as well call the first week--will bring with it the review of rituals and routines, establishment of the workshop, and diagnostic assessment.

In Writing, teachers' lessons will focus on helping students learn to generate and tell stories, launch sourcebooks, observe their world, organize their work, confer, think as writers, improve writing through reflecting on their work, and studying published authors' work.

In Reading, teachers' lessons will focus on student behaviors during read aloud and shared reading, establishing good reading habits, selecting books in various genres, effective use of individual book bags, understanding and using reading logs for the Million Word Campaign, using Readers' Response Journals, talking about books productively with a partner, establishing independence during work time, and habits of good listeners.

There are 12 anchor lessons in Writing and in Reading that will collectively establish the Writers' and Readers' Workshop over the coming weeks. These are not one time lessons to be taught and then forgotten, rather lessons which establish rituals and routines that will be carried throughout the year. These important anchor lessons build the foundation for the implementation of a successful workshop structure.

In addition, while teaching the 12 anchor lessons in Reading and Writing, teachers will be administering Reading diagnostics. There is a reading assessment written at each grade level which assesses the end of year standards for that respective grade level. The assessment is given three times a year--in the beginning, at mid-year, and at the end of the year. This is the same assessment each time and is meant to track student progress on their mastery of the standards. Students' results are organized by the teacher on individual student profiles and on class EXCEL Spreadsheets. Teachers can sort and report the data to plan prescriptively for whole group, small group, and individualized instruction. Diagnostic assessment and prescriptive instruction is the cornerstone of our work at Chets Creek.

Furthermore, teachers collect a writing sample and assess the students' work using rubrics from Using Rubrics to Improve Student Writing. Collecting student writing samples throughout the year, assessing the work based on the elements of each standard, and creating a portfolio (soon to be electronic, I hope) allows us to beautifully track students' progress. In the end, it is absolutely astonishing to compare beginning of the year and end of the year work because a student's writing gets so much more elaborate.

So, while Tropical Storm Fay has postponed the establishment of ritual and routines, the teaching of the 12 anchor lessons, and diagnostic testing--(I'm sure to the delight of some students who I know found a delightful way to pass their time)--never fear, for as Monday draws closer, we will once again roll up our sleeves and get back to work. And, I trust that although they might not be the exact 180 days we planned on, there will definitely still be 180 of them!

1 comment:

dayle timmons said...

LOVE the video of the storm. Somehow the video captures the storm in a way that pictures just can't! What I remember about hurricanes and kids is my son boogy boarding through the flooded streets and having the time of his life! hard to believe that the heavy waters of a storm can have so many different results!