Category Archives: Common Core

Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 2

Last week, Tim Hargis wrote about four areas of focus to help students become active thinkers and independent writers. He described purpose and craft in detail.  In part 2, he will go over the final two focus areas: genre and text structure and content.  To learn more about this subject, register for The Writing Diner 2: Creating Active Thinkers for Common Core Success (Elementary & Middle School) on August 6th at Kent ISD.

A Focus on Genre and Text Structures

Teaching the three different types of writing through genre and text structure units is another way to up the level of thinking for student writers. If students have to grapple with Continue reading Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 2

Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 1

The ultimate goal of all writing instruction has to be to help students become active thinkers while they are independently writing. This is the foundation of my writing beliefs. We need to teach writing in a way that will allow students, when they are sitting alone with a blank paper or computer screen in front of them, to have writing knowledge and skills inside of them that they can apply, on their own, in any situation.

If this is our goal for our writing instruction and we achieve it, then students will not only be successful in our classrooms, but they will be successful in grades, on standardized tests, writing in the content areas, and beyond.

The Common Core State Standards demand this of our student writers. The authors of The Standards outline seven characteristics of students who are “college and career ready.” At the top of the list is that students “demonstrate independence.” As teachers, we need to Continue reading Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 1

Feeling Overwhelmed? Consider the 80/20 Rule

(Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan, used under CC attribution license.) The peas will make sense in a minute.

Teaching is this hugely complex, challenging calling, and that’s why I’m glad it’s mine. I don’t foresee getting to a place where I’m like, “You know what? I’ve got this all figured out. Done. Turn on the cruise control.”

To be honest, I think few of us will get there, and if we do, it will be after about 30 years and 100,000 hours of intensive, deliberate practice.

But we don’t need to wait until we have it all figured out before we can start being master teachers who make a huge impact with our careers. I think that all of us, if we train ourselves to focus in, can fairly quickly become adept at the 20% of things that yield 80% of the results. Continue reading Feeling Overwhelmed? Consider the 80/20 Rule