Session 7 of Core Task implementation Project (The End)

The last session of the Core Task implementation Project concluded with a focus on writing and the instructional move, “Painted Essay.” The strategy, which fits well with Session 3 of CTiP and the In Common resources, gives practitioners a way to guide students through informative and argumentative writing. The session also included a chance to reflect on the instructional move “Questions, Reason, Example” and to review on an incredible year of learning. Some of that learning was captured through the following video filmed by Thomas Lay.

This year 200 educators attended the monthly CTiP meetings from 21 different schools. Their experiences helped inform the K-6 ELA implementation efforts and resulted in hundreds of students working with complex text, academic vocabulary, text-dependent questions, evidenced-based writing and content-rich nonfiction.

Session 7 PowerPoint

Painted Essay Directions and Examples

Teacher Reflection Form

Kahoot Link for CTiP Quiz (a little blended learning)

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My Running Diary of an Anita Archer Presentation—Part 2 (Writing)

Beginning at minute 5:52, Dr. Anita Archer frames her presentation on Providing Explicit Instruction on Writing Arguments by outlining her “principles.” They include 1) breaking down complex skills into obtainable skills; 2) providing explicit instruction that involves modeling and guided practice; 3) providing immediate, quality feedback; providing judicious practice; and carefully considering motivation. With respect to breaking down complex skills, Dr. Archer suggests first having students write the body of an argumentative essay before writing the introduction (minute 12:57). With the introduction written, students would go back to the body and then write a conclusion. Dr. Archer does qualify that this “breaking” down technique is more likely to be used with Tier 3 student then Tier 2 students; and more often with Tier 2 students then Tier 1. In other words, you may not have to or want to do this with all students.

At minute 18:45, Dr. Archer outlines the research supporting the use of feedback to promote good writing. She continues with an example in which students take only a small part of a rubric to engage in peer editing. In turn, all student are able to gain access to quality feedback instead of always waiting to hear something from a teacher. The key is “highly focused” peer feedback. The slide, linked here, outlines some of that research.

Dr. Archer addresses the issue of motivation at minute 30:02. It is Dr. Archer’s assertion that compared to reading, solving math equations, and speaking in class, writing is the most difficult to get kids motivated for. She continues that to get students motivated they need to a have a perceived probability of success, an interest in the topic, and “narrow” choice.

Minutes 35:00 through 44:50 focus on the use of rubrics. Dr. Archer draws from checklists and Trait Scoring during this time. Oddly, she suggests that student’s do “close readings” of rubrics, which hardly consistent with what close reading is.

Dr. Archer continues with several strategies to use with decontextualized prompts.

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Running Diary of an Anita Archer Presentation—Part 1

Anita Archer will be in Washoe County on May 15th to speak to our adminstrators and supervisors and then on May 16th to work with classroom teachers and instructional coaches. Many of us, however, will be unable to attend these events. The good news is that Dr. Archer is one of those rare educational consultants willing to have herself filmed and have her content posted to the Internet. Consequently, you can opt into Dr. Archer’s presentations, free of charge, including this one filmed by Utah State University.

The first part of the presentation focuses on handwriting. Archer makes a compelling case for why automaticity and fluency with forming letters and words leads to better writing. She stops short, however, of endorsing cursive instruction and sticks to the outcomes within the Common Core Reading and Language Standards. At minute 13:00, Archer outlines the research supporting the cognitive benefits of students being able to print their upper and lower case letters and at minute 23:13, Dr. Archer forwards two strategies for students who are disfluent writers. That is, she shares research that supports having student write frequently and having children practice “repeated writings.”

At minute 25:14, Dr. Archer transitions to spelling and shares the reciprocal nature between spelling and reading. At minute 30:55 she criticizes several common approaches to spelling practice including crosswords, word searches, writing words in sentences, and looking up words in dictionaries. What she suggests does work includes dictation, peer tutoring, and copy-cover-write-check. Dr. Archer puts theory into action by showing a lesson demonstration with 2nd graders (35:00). Following the demonstration, Dr. Archer lists the routine she used with the students—pictured below.

Archer Spelling Routine

Dr. Archer transitions to sentences at minute 45:02. Archer promotes the following instructional approaches to increase proficiency with this skill. This includes sentence expansion (minute 46:16), meaningful sentences (48:45) and sentence combing at 54:45.

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The Arts and the Common Core State Standards

By serendipitous luck, I found the following blog that focuses on art outcomes in the elementary grades. Author Meg Riley, apart from having students engage in the production of art works, annotates how she connects a lesson to history, aesthetics, and criticism. It is worth a visit if you are looking to bring these important outcomes into your classroom.

Riley’s blog also serves as a reminder that “text” should not be limited to just words on a page. You can get to a number of Common Core standards by understanding that the artistic disposition of careful observation attends to important literary habits. That is, by asking text-dependent questions about a masterpiece, you can have students focusing on what a sculpture, painting, photograph, (aka text) says, how the artists says it and what it means.

Forgotten in all the sturm und drang of the Common Core State Standards is how the CCSS have proven to be an avenue to restore science, history, social studies and the arts in the elementary grades. Too often, in favor of chasing higher test scores, these disciplines were ignored or neglected in elementary schools. The authors of the CCSS clearly understand that teaching content is teaching reading and that student achievement will only increase with a lot of opportunities to work in the content areas. In fact, this is exactly the point CCSS author David Coleman makes in the video here. Coleman encourages us to ask (minute 5:19), “what do the arts do that literacy teachers could learn from?”

photo-28

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Session Materials–Denver Core Advocate Event

Listed below are the session materials that Nevada educators shared at the national “Taking the Next Step” Core Advocate Conference in Denver, Colorado. Chris Hayes, Angela Motter and I did a session on Core Knowledge and how Washoe teachers are using this resource to reach Common Core outcomes. Later, my colleague Torrey Palmer and I did an overview of the teacher-led effort, the Core Task Project.

All of the presentation materials are linked below.

Core Task Project PowerPoint

Core Task Project Session Notetaker

ACT Slides Handout

Anatomy of Core Knowledge PowerPoint

Animals and Habitats Anthology

Anatomy of Core Knowledge Notatker

War of 1812 Document Based Questions

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Introduction to Core Knowledge Course Materials

Staff from Caughlin Ranch, Roy Gomm and Hunter Lake Elementary gathered for the district’s “Introduction to Core Knowledge—Short Course.” Professional learning, domain and lesson exploration, video of lesson demonstrations, and time for planning around the Core Knowledge scope and sequence framed the day. You can find all of the training materials in the links below.

Core Knowledge Short Course PowerPoint

WCSD CK Recommended Sequence

CK Foundation Recommended Sequence

Domain Planning Tool

Instructions for Downloading Core Knowledge

K-2 Instructional Practice Guides Daily

K-2 Instructional Practice Guides Yearly

Washoe currently has 21 schools using the Core Knowledge materials that are all available for free through the Foundation or through www.63000resources.com. Next academic year, as many as 30 elementary schools will be using the resource in Washoe County.

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Primary Document Based Questions

I have finally created a section with our primary Document Base Questions on www.63000resources.com. In February I wrote about Angela Orr and Chris Hayes’ first efforts and shared their first drafts (here). That was then and Washoe teachers have expanded the effort to include work on Colonial Workers for kindergarten, Westward Expansion in 2nd, and Roman Civilizations in 3rd. These, as well as several others, can be accessed here.

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