Alignment. When we think about this word we probably most often connect it to what a mechanic does to the front end of our cars or what we might need for our backs after a few too many twists and turns on the dance floor at a friend’s wedding reception. Yet, alignment plays a very important role in education and is crucial for student learning.
The idea is simple, really. Curriculum, instruction, and assessment need to be aligned. In other words, what we are supposed to teach (curriculum), what we actually teach (instruction), and what our students are tested on (assessment) need to be connected. Continue reading Educational Chiropractic Care: Getting Our Work in Alignment
Recently I spent some time looking at new programs on the market to teach literacy. They all came from large, reputable companies and were designed to teach The Common Core State Standards.
While I saw a lot of good, current thinking in these programs, when I glanced at the writing sections within each, I sighed—deeply. In a nutshell, the writing in these programs calls for a lot of teacher-directed writing, emphasizing product over process, and steeped in the idea that the most important aspect of student writing, by far, is the ability to write with evidence from sources.
Now don’t get me wrong. I understand the importance of writing with evidence in our standards and love the challenge of helping young writers develop this skill. I embrace the three types of writing in The Common Core and Continue reading The Secret Ingredient for Developing Lifelong Writers
Fiction. Certainly this is one of the most popular genres to read for students and adults. Realistic fiction, fantasy, mystery, and legends, among others, are popular with readers of all ages. Yet, while this type of writing is fun to read, it can be very challenging to write, particularly for young writers.
In the past, many of us have used planning sheets for fiction writing that are, quite frankly, ineffective. These sheets Continue reading Deep Thinking about Character: A Starting Point for Writing Fiction
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
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