Saturday, March 15, 2014

Craft and Structure, Deeper Thinking, and Tech Integration

What type of thinking does the Common Core ask of students when it comes to Craft and Structure? Analysis.

Analyzing the author's craft and structure is a shift for students to do, and a shift for teachers to design tasks and questions that require analysis.  This is the critical thinking we want students to engage in.


The big shift in this is the analysis. What does that look like at the elementary level?

How do you teach Craft and Structure?

There are many ways to teach craft and structure. Make sure students are analyzing the text, not just identifying the answers.

Every spring, our school district uses Title IIa funds to pay teachers to attend training. This year, our Spring Academy focuses on various aspects of Common Core... and teaching Craft and Structure is one of the sessions. I was charged with creating a training module for the K-6 sessions.

Training Document: Click here to view document.

DOK 3 Tasks and Activities for Craft and Structure

There's a plethora of activities that can be done with craft and structure, but here's just a few easy ideas:
  • Share evidence of craft and structure: While students are reading text, they can record evidence of word choice (including unknown words, determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings -- to analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone); text features (and the impact it makes on the text); author's purpose or point of view. Use Today's Meet for a backchannel discussion, or Padlet to record evidence on sticky notes.

Final thoughts

It's exciting for me to think about an author's labor of love to select the perfect words and phrases to communicate the message. It's even more rewarding to think of students appreciating that labor of love, to the point of their applying it in their own written or digital stories.
  • If students should analyze craft and structure, then what types of questions and tasks do they need to engage in?
  • How do you engage students in craft and structure?
  • How else did this post connect with you?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

21st Century Learning, Literacy 2.0 and Common Core

One of the things that I love about AJUSD is how technology integration and 21st century learning is part of every layer of our district, from the students, to the teachers, to the site administrators, to the District Office, through a supportive School Board.

Furthermore, one of the pieces that make us successful is the ongoing professional learning with the Superintendent, Principals, and the Education Services Team. Technology integration, PBL, and 21st Century Learning is not an afterthought, but rather it's planned into our conversations. Dr. Wilson makes sure we have discussions about how all the pieces and initiatives connect.

Connecting PBL, the Common Core, and Teacher Evaluation Tool

Below is a presentation from one of the Leadership Meetings earlier in the year. In a nutshell, here's what that training looked like:
  • Think through a series of questions about what 21st century learning skills look like in the context of PBL, and as described in the Common Core.
  • After the series of questions, they deduced that the skills needed to be successful in the Common Core are the same skills needed in PBL.
  • Create a picture of what a thriving Common Core classroom and PBL classroom looked like. Focus on the engagement piece of the Teacher Evaluation Tool.
  • Dive into a classroom example from Shauna Hamman's third grade classroom. This example, described in more detail below, is a living and breathing example of a classroom rich in PBL and thriving in the Common Core.
  • Tie those pieces back together.

Turning inquiry into PBL

Through Shauna's PLN, she heard of a webcast with scientists at the South Pole, so she dropped everything to give her class an opportunity to partake in. They were the only class, while the rest of the audience consisted of scientists. At one point a scientist held up a photo of a penguin and stated that obviously it wasn't taken at the South Pole, and the audience chuckled.

After the video conference, her students asked her, "How come the penguin wasn't at the South Pole? And why were they laughing about it?"

She simply could have answered their question by telling them that penguins need the water, and the South Pole is landlocked. However, knowing her students had posed a genuine question, she monopolized on their inquiry and had them excited to research. During this research process, some students stumbled upon other sites and blogs, and ended up doing another collaborative project.

Students wrote about it on the class blog... which made new connections with others around the world.

Slides from the September training

Click here to view the slides.

Our March training -- Literacy 2.0

It's important to connect the ideas one layer at a time, building on the prior discussions. In this next layer, I'm sharing some of the big ideas I heard from Nancy Frey in a training about Literacy 2.0, brought to Arizona by the K12 Center and the ADE.

Overview of the training:
  • The focus is information literacy and curration.
  • Do a mini lesson on an Internet search.
  • Dig into Common Core for evidence of information literacy being built into the standards.
  • Introduce them to a Socratic Seminar format -- to discuss the evidence they found about information literacy built into the Common Core.
  • The tools will change over time, but the function will remain -- so teach the function.
  • Tie the big points back together.

Click here to view the slides.

Final thoughts

We need to equip our students for year 13, and information literacy, is part of that equipping -- it's a necessity in today's classrooms.
  • How do you equip your students for year 13 and build information fluency?
  • If you were an administrator involved in this type of professional learning, what big ideas do you see? What do you think the impact is?
  • How else does this post connect with you?