Tag Archives: Writing

Using Arts to Improve Student Learning in Reading, Math, and Science

Imagine 2nd grade students marching, swinging, and twirling to show how movement adds fun and effect to theatre performance!

Imagine 5th graders creating stories that emerge from symbols discovered on images of ancient urns – showing understanding of visual arts!

Imagine high school students getting attention for their vocal talent when performances are recorded and assessed by both teachers and students as evidence for quality!

“When early elementary teachers integrate music and theater, student learning improves in reading, math, and science as they become better critical thinkers and problem solvers.” Edutopia, “Rainstorms and Symphonies: Performing Arts Bring Abstract Concepts to Life.” Mary Grescok, Lisette Steinwald, 10/5/2016.

The New Mexico School for Arts teaches its high school students to take risks, make mistakes and learn from critical feedback to learn and grow.  This school has outperformed the state in reading, math, and science every year since 2013. Continue reading Using Arts to Improve Student Learning in Reading, Math, and Science

Opportunity for Curriculum Networking and Resources

There are nearly 15,000 English Learners in Kent County schools.  Nationally, 1 in 4 students is an English Learner.

How are you supporting English Learners (EL) at your school in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts?

EL Coaching Network (ELCN)

Last year participants from 20 districts came together to learn, discuss, and devise action plans to increase the achievement of their EL students. The 2016/2017 EL Coaching Network will focus on support for ELs in the K-12 content areas. EL teachers, EL staff, and content teachers are welcome to join.

Did you know that Kent ISD has other Curriculum focused networks?

Not only can your district participate in our EL Coaching Network, the Teaching and Learning department at Kent ISD has created the opportunity for all Kent County districts to network and obtain resources related to each specific content area. Continue reading Opportunity for Curriculum Networking and Resources

Kids Who Read Beat the Summer Slide

In 2009, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described summer learning loss as “devastating”. Educators often refer to summer loss as “summer slide”.

It is estimated that the amount of loss a child might experience could equal one month of instruction, and the effect has a greater impact on disadvantaged children (Cooper, 1996). Researchers conclude that two-thirds of 9th grade reading achievement gaps can be explained by the accumulated summer loss they have experienced since early elementary, with nearly one-third of the gap already present when children enter Kindergarten (Alexander, Entwistle & Olsen, 2007). Continue reading Kids Who Read Beat the Summer Slide

The Secret Ingredient for Developing Lifelong Writers

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

ELA Students Become Project Managers

Something amazing is happening at Kent Innovation High this semester.

Volunteer project managers from all over west Michigan are coming into the classroom to share insights into their craft. In cooperation with the Western Michigan Project Management Institute (WMPMI), Future Leaders in Project Management (FLiPM), and the Kent ISD Career Readiness Department, an English Language Arts class at Kent Innovation High School is learning how to think and write critically with a business mindset, all while earning a business certification. Continue reading ELA Students Become Project Managers

Deep Thinking about Character: A Starting Point for Writing Fiction

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

Make Your Thinking Visible

sketchnotes godfrey lee sarah wood

“Wow!  That is so cool!  I wish I could do that!  Too bad I am a terrible artist and I can barely draw a stick figure…”

This was just part of my thoughts this summer when I was introduced to the concept of sketchnotes.  Super cool, very interesting, BUT…I could never do anything of the sorts as I am not an artist and DEFINITELY can’t draw.  I was drawn to the concept and the potential it had for supporting student learning though, so I loaded up on books from the library and scoured the internet for ideas, tutorials, and any examples I could find.

What I discovered is that I definitely CAN sketchnote, despite my lack of experience with drawing.  The big idea that I came to realize is Continue reading Make Your Thinking Visible

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

Gallagher Builds a Lifelong Desire to Read and Write

What is in the best interest of our students? Is it teaching to the newest standards movement, like the Common Core? Teaching that prepares students to take a test? Or is it something more meaningful and authentic? Something more enduring?

Kelly Gallagher will be at Kent ISD on March 23rd  to present Core Values to secondary educators. He invites fellow educators to pause in the midst of the standards commotion and remind themselves to do right by their students – to ensure that Continue reading Gallagher Builds a Lifelong Desire to Read and Write