Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mindset on My Mind: Chapter 6 Disco

Barb Novak contributed this post. She is reading Mindset by Carol Dweck and sharing her thinking about every chapter. Click here to read more of Barb's posts about mindset.

Chapter 4, applying mindset to sports, got me thinking about the differing ways mindset applies to my own life. As I already confessed, I have a very, very fixed mindset about sports and fitness. This chapter made me ask myself hard questions about whether I also have a fixed mindset about relationships and whether events in my life have led to that mindset. That, though, is a discussion better had over drinks or, perhaps, with a therapist.

The part of this chapter most applicable to education discussed the connection between mindset and bullying. 

Dweck suggested a bully most likely has a fixed mindset. The bully's actions are a way for the bully to exert power. He/she judges people to continue feeling good about him/herself. A "victim" of bullying who responds with a fixed mindset sees him/herself as a victim and may accept what the bully is saying as truth. In contrast, a "victim" with a growth mindset may want to help the bully change and works at forgiving the bully. Dweck suggests fostering growth mindset within the culture of a school will reduce bullying and develop how individuals respond to bullies.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What do you want to know about?

What do you want to know more about?
What should we write about on The Literacy Booth?

Use the comments to give us some suggestions.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Productive Disequilibrium

Beside my teammates, I participated Beyond Diversity I sponsored by The Network. Beyond Diversity I is a two-day immersive experience in which participants experiment with tools for having "courageous conversations" about the impact of race on student learning.

Applying the learning from Beyond Diversity I is part of my larger goal of developing an understanding of and applying culturally sustaining practice. This journey has pushed my thinking in ways I never anticipated. I continue to look carefully at myself and my actions and words. I hear new things in what my colleagues are saying that, frankly, terrify me. I question whether "the system" - both schools and the larger society they fit within - will address equity issues quickly enough. 

Basically, I quickly spiral from feeling energized about this work and feeling a great sense of urgency to feeling powerless and overwhelmed. Beyond Diversity I gave me words to talk about this spiraling - I'm working through an adaptive change process and moving in and out of my zone of productive disequilibrium.

We improve through both technical and adaptive change. Technical change asks us to change our practice - what we do. Adaptive change ask us to think about our fundamental beliefs and values as individuals, groups, and organizations. 

While engaged in each type of change, individuals experience some level of disequilibrium, and this disequilibrium is productive as long as it remains within a certain zone - the zone of productive disequilibrium. Below this zone, individuals might not feel a sense of urgency about change or be motivated to participate in change. Above this zone, individuals might feel too stressed or at risk to participate fully in change.

An extended time within the productive zone of disequilibrium is an expected part of adaptive change. It explains my fluctuating stress and emotional levels in my journey to be culturally responsive.

I'm noticing that I'm not at my best when I'm at the top of my zone of productive disequilibrium. It becomes increasingly difficult for me to really think before I speak or act. I'm likely to speak or act from a place of emotion rather than logic. I feel powerless. I'm critical of myself and my colleagues. To keep engaging in this work, I need to better monitor myself. I need to watch myself and my emotions to understand when I'm close to my disequilibrium limits.

However, this also has implications for me as a facilitator and a coach. Each person's productive zone of disequilibrium is different. I need to be mindful of others' equilibrium and anticipate and react to it in order to fully engage my colleagues.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Conferencing with Students: An Update on My Goal

Heather Zimmerman contributed today's post. Click here for more of Heather's thinking.

Earlier in the school year I wrote about my Professional Practice Goal (PPG) for the school year.  My goal was to work on a conferencing structure within my intervention groups that could also carry into coaching.  I just finished reflecting through my mid-year review for my PPG and wanted to share my progress with all of you.

One part of my goal was to utilize some resources.  I have heard from a lot of people the gist of How’s It Going? by Carl Anderson and hope to explore his book more on my own. My other resource I wanted to investigate was the Two Writing Teachers Blog where they talked about conferring toolkits.  I looked through all the resources on the blog and put together a system from some of their ideas.  I love that blog!

What’s Going Well-

The Format
I like the idea of giving a compliment on student work, a teaching point, and a goal for our next conference.  This keeps the conference focused on all the points I want to highlight during a conference.

Using Google Forms
As I said I was going to use Google forms to track my progress.  I really like the flexibility with Google Forms.  I have all my information in a spreadsheet, which also shares into a separate Google Doc for each student.  (Thanks to my tech coach’s help!)  

What I am Still Working On

Using My Chromebook
I find it difficult to bring my Chromebook with me and try to find a comfortable place to have the Chromebook and type into the Google form.  It is so much easier to conference with my small groups and follow the structure I have in place for a conference and then jot down notes on areas we need to work on in my lesson plan book.  But I know that is not practical for my teachers who have 130 students.  I have tried to use my iPad but it was not working out well with my Google forms. (Also my teachers do not have iPads, but all of them have Chromebooks.)  I will keep working at this- I still feel confident this format is the answer.

Anyone have any tips or thoughts on how to help me out with this?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Simple or Complex? Art and School Improvement

Barb Novak contributed this thinking. Click here to read more of Barb's thinking.

I'm still thinking about the transition that I saw in Stella's work. His earlier work - featured at the beginning of the exhibit - (such as Star of Persia II, 1967) was geometric and clean. His later work - featured at the end of the exhibit (such as Extracts from Moby Dick Deckle Edges (1993) - had evidence of his earlier geometric style but incorporated many abstract elements, utilized more complex printing technologies, and reflected literary and/or world events. 

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Stella's later works. Something about the complexity in technique and combination of elements on top of a highly geometric and predictable background resonated with me. It took longer to notice the beauty and thought in these works, but the time spent studying helped me see dimension and intentionality. However, the same works of art and the process to appreciate them were probably not pleasurable for everyone at the exhibit.

The transition in Stella's style and how I reacted to it got me thinking about the ways in which we represent and approach the complexity of education.

Educators and schools are, increasingly, being pushed to think about education in highly systematized ways. If we implement an evidence-based practice, kit, or script with a high-degree of fidelity throughout our system, we will see improved learning for students. I see this predictability and systemic thinking in Stella's Star of Persia II. 

What if education really is something far more complex, though? Learners, families, and educators bring background and expertise and passion and knowledge (and a little messiness) to this place we call school. Order, structure, predictability, and evidence are, undoubtedly, part of how schools serve students and their families, but the order of learning happens in concert with and response to what students, families, and educators bring. For me, this interaction and harmony (and messiness) are evident in Stella's Extracts from Moby Dick Deckle Edges.

Stella's way of representing the world through art changed as he learned, gained experience, and developed new techniques. That's what I believe learning is - growing knowledge, practicing, experimenting, blending new with known, and creating - for both students and educators. I want school, assessment, and professional learning to foster and reflect this complexity.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Engaging the Many Facets of Literacy

Maggie Schumacher contributed this post. Click here to read more of Maggie's thinking.

This February I had the privilege of attending the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA) reading convention in Milwaukee. Every year I look forward to attending this conference and I have so many take-aways that I can bring back to my district and share with others. This conference offers an annual opportunity for me to learn from others and re-energize. 

This year’s convention focus was “Engaging the Many Facets of Literacy”, and I was lucky enough to attend presentations by some inspiring presenters including Sharon Draper, Jacqueline Woodson, Michael Fullan, Samantha Bennett, Jeff Zwiers, and Chris Lehman. For this month’s blog post, I will highlight two of these inspiring speakers’ presentations in my attempt to “pay it forward”.

Michael Fullan - “Critical Issues in Education”

This was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to hear Michael Fullan present and he had some important information to convey regarding critical issues in education. Fullan recently published the book Coherence: The Right Drivers In Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems. He had a lot to share throughout his presentation related to systems change and how to shift school culture. He stressed the importance of good leadership, and also the importance of positive collaboration. According to Fullan, “If you want to change the group, you need to use the group to change the group.” He urged the importance of building the capacity of teachers to learn from each other. As literacy coaches, it’s essential that we empower teachers to learn from each other and deepen understanding collaboratively so we are not teaching and working in isolation. In his presentation, Fullan also reminded that judgmentalism doesn’t work as a motivator. As literacy coaches, it’s essential that we support and empower without judgment. For systems change, it’s essential that leaders be transparent, specific, and non-judgmental. I’m hoping to pick up a copy of Fullan’s new book soon.

Chris Lehman - “Celebrating the Absolute Awfulness of Writing”

This was the second time that I have had the pleasure of hearing Chris Lehman present, and the same as last time, he did not disappoint! Lehman spoke about the awfulness of writing in a way that was entertaining and left me inspired. Lehman reminded us that it’s not what we say and do when we’re in front of students, but it’s also what we DON’T say and do. If we’re not living our beliefs and modeling this in front of our students, our students may default to producing work that doesn’t match with our ultimate goals.

Lehman urged teachers to set measurable goals for students when it comes to writing. He also delivered the powerful message that we need to be more than writing editors for our students. We shouldn’t just be “correcting stuff”; if we limit our focus to errors with grammar and spelling, we won’t be cultivating writers. Lehman instead empowers teachers to teach writing strategies as a teacher of writing, or even better yet, to be writing “personal trainers” encouraging and motivating students to reach their writing goals. He reminded that in real life we tend to write about things we are interested in and passionate about, so we should ask our students to do the same. We need to create the right conditions for our students so that they want to write. This includes demonstrating and modeling our own writing in front of our students. If we expect our students to write for us, we should be writing for them. Another of Lehman’s conditions allows for choice. It’s important to let your students feel connected to the writing process. It’s also important that students receive frequent feedback related to their writing; this feedback should be coming from both the teacher and from peers. And ultimately, and probably most importantly, students need time to write. If you are worried about the writing skill of your students, they need to write more. Period.

Friday, March 11, 2016

I See You, I Hear You (Part 3): Being Culturally Responsive = Seeing and Hearing Each Other

Meghan Retallick contributed this post. Click here to read the first post in this series. Click here to read the second post in this series. Click here to read all of Meghan's thinking.

Another blog post and a CBS News Resource inspired my thinking this month:

Last month, in Part 2 of this series on seeing and hearing each other, I reflected on what it means to see and hear students as readers and writers.  I shared my approach for an opening student conference, and this idea continues to grow as reading and viewing the resources above caused me to reflect on how we ask questions of each other and what this means in regards to culturally responsive practices.  For me, it seems that if we are being culturally responsive in our practice then we are truly seeing and hearing each other.  It is such a simple idea, and yet, so complex...I believe Michael Fullan would call this simplexity.  
First, I owe credit to what I know about culturally responsive practices to the work done by the DPI Literacy Consultants (shout out to you Barb, Laura, and Marci!) and the RtI Center of Wisconsin.  I still have a lot more to learn about how to apply this in our practices, but the following graphic inspired powerful reflection and new learning for me.
G:\CCSSI\Internal - Literacy\Literacy Live 14 - 15\Episode 7 Culturally Responsive\Diversity Wheel 2.12.jpg
It comes from the Speaking and Listening Resources found on the Wisconsin DPI website and really opened my mind to what it means to be culturally responsive.  It is about so much more than I first realized.  I began to reflect on where I fell within this wheel and realized even though my life experience and existence can seem simple, it is actually more complex according to this.  I have had a variety of experiences that others have not that impact how I view the world.  When I stop to take the time to understand this about myself, I am more ready to ask a question such as Scott Pelley asked in the CBS News story, “The Slave Ship” (shared above):  “What does a black man see that I don’t?”  After really listening to the answer, I am in the right mindframe to follow with, “How can I connect to that in some way and empathize based on my own experiences?”  I am a yoga practitioner and immediately thought of the meaning of Namaste--the light within me honors the light within you (there are a few variations, but this is my favorite).  I may not have had the experiences you have had and cannot completely and fully understand what your experiences are like, but I honor your light and truth and it does connect me to you.  Injustice, pain, suffering, fear, joy, hope, and peace--these are universal human truths and even though my injustice is not as deep or all encompassing as yours, I can take my small experience to connect and honor you and then use my voice to work with you towards justice for all.
And so, what does this all mean for education and for us to grow into the best versions of ourselves?  I think we must listen first, really hearing and trying to visualize what is said.  And even if we don’t agree with it, we honor it and the person it comes from because it is their truth.  We find a connection, even small, to try to empathize and understand, and it is from that bridge that we begin to build new understandings together.  What do you see that I don’t?  If we all--students, teachers, administrators, parents, community members, educational leaders, politicians--continued to ask this question as we engaged in courageous conversations and then REALLY listened and worked to honor the answers shared, then I believe we would accelerate our growth and transformations in life as well as in school systems.  

It is my new mindset that every time I am stuck in a relationship, starting to feel frustrated, or feel lost and unsure, I stop, breathe, and ask myself, “What does _____ see that I don’t see?”  I haven’t asked it aloud to a person yet, but I hope being mindful of this practice during my own reflections will prepare me to embrace really having that conversation when the time comes.  I encourage you to take time to reflect on your own experiences that impact how you view the world, how those experiences may be different from those around you, and then imagine and visualize what others see that you don’t--or better yet, ask them and truly listen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Music and Literacy (Part 2)

Sharon Seely contributed this post. Click here to read more of Sharon's thinking.

This past fall one of our district music teachers, Kathy Wacker, attended the American Orff Schulwerk Association National Conference.   When I saw her on her first day back, as I asked, “Hey! how was the conference?” she smiled and excitedly answered, “We need to talk.  I have so much to share with you.” She was so fired up about what she had heard/learned about the correlation between Music and Literacy.  This was the beginning of a learning opportunity.

We have now presented at two district-wide training opportunities for K-8 teachers.  It has been an amazing partnership. I have learned so much from her and she tells me that it goes both ways. 

So, what are we sharing about Music and Literacy…. (Part 2)

Putting new information to music helps students retain the information for years to come through repetition…songs get stuck in our head and those new synapses extend into long-term memory…imprinting the information.  Adding body percussion or other kinesthetic action further cements the new information. 

Sound Stories are a great way to introduce new vocabulary, improve fluency and engage students. Sound Stories contain highlighted vocabulary words represented by sound options, chosen and created by student volunteers. The object is that the sound in some way represents the meaning of the highlighted vocabulary word.

Sequenced sound effects can be retold in story format; written, shared and story-line variations discussed.

Songs are for everything:  rules, motivation, informational facts, reading strategies, plus so much more.

Songs can be re-worded and melodies reused:

Comprehension Songs (from Capo Unified School District):
Visualize…to the tune of “Jingle Bells”
Visualize, Visualize
I can visualize!
Words make pictures in my head, of all that I’ve just read!

Visualize, Visualize
I can visualize!
People, places come alive when I visualize!

Questioning….to the tune of “Are You Sleeping”
I ask questions,
I ask questions,
As I read –
As I read –

Who… what, where, when and why
Who… what, where, when and why
I’ll find answers.

I’ll find answers.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Music and Literacy (Part 1)

Sharon Seely contributed this post. Click here to read more of Sharon's thinking. 

This past fall one of our district music teachers, Kathy Wacker, attended the American Orff Schulwerk Association National Conference.   When I saw her on her first day back, as I asked, “Hey! how was the conference?” she smiled and excitedly answered, “We need to talk.  I have so much to share with you.” She was so fired up about what she had heard/learned about the correlation between music and literacy.  This was the beginning of a learning opportunity.

We have now presented at two district-wide training opportunities for K-8 teachers.  It has been an amazing partnership. I have learned so much from her and she tells me that it goes both ways. 

So, what are we sharing about music and literacy….

Music and Reading Comparison Chart

Reading Skills
Music Skills
Example Songs
Letter Recognition
Note Recognition
Sound/Symbol Association
Sound/Symbol Association
Decoding YouTube
Performing Rhythm Patterns
Vocabulary Development
Dr. Seuss (color coding rhyming words)
Rhyming Lyrics
Down By the Bay
The Ants Go Marching
Nursery Rhymes
Parts of Speech
Elements of Music
Schoolhouse Rock-Grammar
Sentence Structure
Phrase Structure
Schoolhouse Rock
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Story Writing
Song Lyrics
Aural Analysis
Song Lyrics
Silent Reading
Song Lyrics
Over the River and Through the Woods
Phoneme Awareness
Pitch Awareness
Apples and Bananas
Letters, Words and Sentences
Shoo Fly
Visual Focus
Visual Focus
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Expressive Skills

Speech Signals
Listening Skills
Auditory Signals
Pop Goes the Weasel
Witch Doctor
Choral Presentation
Chants (word wall)
Thinking  - higher level questioning
Thinking – higher level questioning
Adding/changing lyrics
Writing new song/story
Fifty Nifty – states song

By Linda Brown, May 21, 2008 National Association of Music Education
Kelsey Tarbert 2012 Oneota Reading Journal Learning Literacy Through Music
Jean McIntire, Developing Literacy through Music