Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chalk-A-Bration December 2013: Chalk Three Ways

Chalk-A-Bration in December? Never thought I would see myself chalking in December, but here I am! I hope you will join me through chalk, whether it be real or drawn out on your iPad! Did you know there is an app for that? I wish I had created it. Linda Baie was the first to begin chalking for Chalk-A-Bration using an app and I finally got on board when I realized sometimes you just can't chalk on a driveway covered in snow and ice. But, occasionally you can!

I was recently asked for some advice on chalking a poem. The chalker felt like her poem was too short.

Short is fine. Often I just chalk a stanza or a line from a poem. Especially when I am limited to the app version. When I am outside there are fewer limits; there's more space. I have also chalked on a chalkboard easel that I commandeered from my children. Chalking a poem is a challenge but a fun one. I hope you will join.

Since this question was posed I thought I would do three versions of chalking with the same poem. This will show some ways to make it work and make it fun!

Here is the poem in its entirety on my driveway. It was inspired by a new hobby of my husband's, penny art. He is taking old pennies, pounding them out with a hammer and putting poetic lines on them with metal stamps (this one has a Neruda quote).  The only space I had that wasn't ice covered was under my car, which worked out pretty nicely for a chalk poem in December!

Penny Jar

a well of stories
a penny holds
each year a new
each year an old
a cent for candy
a cent for tea
a coin to capture
a story key

Here is my little easel chalkboard. I chose four lines that I felt made their own poem and chalked them here.

On the app I have very little space. So I just "chalked" the title and my favorite lines. 

Get your chalk, real or virtual, write up a poem and take a photo. Post it to your blog and link it here! If you use twitter, tweet your chalk using #chalkabration!

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

Let's Begin:

Linda joins us with a poem that is a shout-out to Chalk-A-Bration! She also offers a nice round-up of events in 2013! Be sure to go check her out at Teacherdance

Stacey from Raising a Literate Human is chalking for the first time today using her iPad! Take a peek at a poem for her daughter as we round the corner into 2014.

Margaret and her students are chalking out the old year with great offerings today. Find them at Reflections on the Teche.

My mother-in-law tried to brave the elements but realized once she got outside, things would change. I love this un-chalked poem!
Leigh Anne is joining in for some chalk fun with the app today for the first time! Go see her OLW and poem for #chalkabration over at A Day in the Life.

Robin at Teaching Tomorrow's Leaders wrote a poem and got some help from her kids this time around for Chalk-A-Bration. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Importance of Monitoring

I have not always been a teacher who monitors student work. I used to say things like, "I know my students." This was true, to some degree. However, I didn't know enough. What I have found is when I monitor not only do I know them, I know their next steps and I know what is sticking. I don't make assumptions about the learning. I see the learning. I keep track and have a system. If I didn't do this my lesson planning would be based on what I think is going on instead of what is truly going on with student learning.

What is monitoring?
When I monitor a piece of writing I am looking for characteristics of learning taking place. I may look for one specific thing or I may leave it general. For instance, this week I am looking for evidence of independent revision. Not necessarily whether it has been effective or not, but how many students are really trying to revise their piece. They may not be doing a great job but I want to see if I have to put more emphasis on the act of revision. Then I can get into the nitty gritty of it all. When I look for more general sources of learning I may jot down what I notice the student is doing and what I think should come next. When I go through this process it helps me to plan for small groups. Often the characteristics of student work fall into categories and I am better able to meet needs. I can look for trends in the work and decide what needs to be taught or re-taught in the whole group lesson.

I find that monitoring the work helps me to be more intentional. If you want to be clear on your expectations with students you need to know where they are in their process. Monitoring does this and will bring your teaching of writing to a new level.