Overall, how do you think the lesson went and why?

I think the lesson which aimed to show students how to read an image (and a short story) for details and then generate ideas and details to use in writing worked well. The short story and image captured students’ attention and got them thinking about details but also creatively—they saw a lot in the pieces that they wanted to talk (and write) about. When one student felt stuck, I was able to step in and offer her a solution by showing her how to use the summarizing strategy (somebody-wanted-but-so) to generate ideas. That quick lesson one-on-one also helped me review how to draft a blog post and save it as a draft. Whenever I can hit a triple (introduce something new, review and solve a problem) I consider the lesson a success. The pacing of the lesson is something that I might reconsider should I teach it again. We were a bit rushed when it came time to write—students were talking about the pictures and generating ideas and I think they needed more talking time, so I let them. A few, but not many got a blog post drafted and saved. Some have published them on their blogs on Bear English already, but I think most needed more time for idea generation and writing. Attachment: Picture of the common board configuration (agenda) In what ways did students meet or not meet the learning goals you established for this lesson? How did your assessments inform your understanding of student learning? Looking at students’ exit slips, I noticed that more wrote about blogging than they did about reading images (or stories) for detail. Because our learning goal is two-fold and includes the use of technology to publish and share writing, I expected some to focus on it, six of thirteen students. In response to the sentence starter that reads “for the first time I …” students wrote: “did a blog,” “I’ve been happy about writing,” “I blogged about my family,” “have publicly shared my poetry,” “learned how to find something to write about on the fly,” learned how to connect imagery,” “analyzed a picture and created a story.” Students also commented on their learning on the exit slips by completed the “I learned…” starter. Examples of their responses include: “how to properly blog,” “that my story was not fully published,” “to analyze photos,” and “that perspective is important.” I will continue to assess students’ ability to use details in their writing as I read their blog posts this evening and throughout the month. As of this writing a few students have begun to publish their blog posts for today. Their use of detail varies. One students includes ample detail, such as this based on “The House on Maple Street” image: “Branches smack across the windows. Stars filled the dark October sky. Crickets chirp throughout the freshly cut grass. “ Another student summarizes instead of using detail, so this particular student has not demonstrated his knowledge of the learning goal yet. Here is what this student wrote on his blog: “Today in English Class, we read a weird short story. The short story was “A Strange Day in July”. It was about these two little children who believe that they are magicians. They are holding a dress that fly’s out of their hands and into a lake.” Attachments: pictures of exit slips screen capture of two students blog posts for today (one uses detail the other summarizes) To what extent did the organization of your classroom (room arrangement, materials) and your rules and procedures maximize student learning? My classroom organized with intention. Students are grouped by need. During today’s lesson, students moved to new groups according to who needs more support for blogging. I matched up high-needs students with students who have demonstrated mastery of the process, so that students who understand and can blog with ease can support students who are still having difficulties. In addition, I can easily access students that need the most help because I seat them in the aisle that runs down the middle of the room. Students who need the most support are assigned seats on the ends of the table, so that as I walk the room, theirs are the papers or theirs are the questions, I see and hear first. Materials also maximize student

learning. Instead of keeping student computers in one row along a wall or in a sectioned off portion of the classroom, I put one computer in each student group. Students sit in pairs or groups of three and each group has a school computer (and access to their own mobile devices). Putting computers with the students and leaving them there allows for informal and incidental use of the computer (tracking pages read on a shared document, looking up a word) as well as more formal tasks (such as blogging or researching an answer to a question.). Enabling “any time” access means that students who may not have access to technology at home can maximize their class time and use the computer if they have finished something we are working on or use it during our lesson (to take note or clarifying information). Attachment: picture showing computer and student’s group assignment How did the strategies you used to introduce new content to students support student learning? I used several strategies to introduce (and review) new content: a graphic organizer, a frame for summarizing (somebody-wanted-but-so), a short instructional video and a nonverbal representation to name most. Each supports learning. Graphic organizers such as the four quadrant note-taking page and the text to text connection list enable student to organize information in a way that will help them see connections and remember content (in this case the content being the details in the image and the short story). The nonlinguistic representation, the image, helped students visualize what happened in the short story and enabled students to see how details work not only in written text but also in visual text. The instructional video that I created showed a particular student how to solve a brainstorming problem and because I video-tape the short one-on-one session and published the screen cast (video) to YouTube other students can access the support as well. Attachment: picture of graphic organizer and image How did the strategies you used to help students deepen and practice their understanding of new knowledge support student learning? One strategy I used to help students deepen and practice their understanding of new knowledge (reading for details or using details in writing) was to ask students to connect details they noticed in the story to details they noticed in the image. To do this we created a text to text connection organizer in our academic journals. I modeled a detail from the story “Timmy and Tina” and connected it to the two children pictured in the image. Then I gave students time to discuss details they noticed in the story and the image with their table groups. I wrapped up that segment of the lesson by asking groups or pairs to share out and I jotted additional connections on a display copy of the organizer. Finally, I asked students to apply what they learned about details to their own writing. I asked students to generate ideas and details they could use about one of the images for a story or blog post and I encouraged them to use and publish these written details in their slice of life blog posts for the day. Attachment: Picture of text to text connection organizer from teacher’s academic journal How did the strategies you used to help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge support student learning? The lesson began with a review strategy (somebody-wanted-but-so) that supports students creating summaries about literature they read. Dr. Robert Marzano names summarizing as one of nine essential instructional strategies. Additional strategies that also make Marzano’s essential list that I used include: the graphic organizer students created in their academic journals which supports students as they generate and test hypothesis about details used in texts; the questions and cues I stated verbally as I uncovered each quadrant of the image; the nonlinguistic representation (the image itself); identifying similarities and differences (when students shared the details they noted in conversation) and ultimately

homework and practice (students will practice writing details in their blog posts today). To elaborate, one strategy I used, showing students how to read an image quadrant by quadrant, helps students form hypothesis or predictions in their minds and then confirm or revise said predictions as more of the image is revealed. In addition, working in a small group allows students to verbally share and test out ideas for their own writing before they use technology to publish and share them. Which techniques for engaging students were most successful? Which techniques were not successful? One of the most successful techniques during this lesson was the use of the short story and the visual image both titled, “A Strange Day in July” Personally, I do not care for Sherman Alexie’s short story. The story involves twins, Timmy and Tina, who invent a triplet (an empty dress). I knew though that my ninth graders would find the “dress” interesting and symbolic. That is exactly what happened. A. said she thought the dress stood for the children’s’ dreams, another student thought it was actually a ghost. Others just wondered and asked a lot of questions about the action and the characters. The story generated authentic interest, as did the image drawn by Chris Van Allsburg. The image and its subtitle: “He threw with all his might but the third stone came skipping back.” got students thinking and wondering. Both were accessible, so reading for details in either was not a cognitive task, but practice. Students were able to read for details in both pieces, so their use successfully met my goal. Another engaging aspect of the lesson involves technology. Allowing students to write, publish and share their writing on blogs they can access from computers or cell phones engages students so much that they are ready and anxious to get to the writing (or reading of each other’s writing or commenting on each other’s writing) in class—that “I can’t wait!” attitude is a marker of successful engagement. How did the use of positive and negative consequences impact student adherence or lack of adherence to rules and procedures? We set classroom rules together at the beginning of the year and we review a variety of procedures: how to ask for a pass to the bathroom, how to post questions to the parking lot, how to look at the lesson plans in the room or online after an absence, etc. Today I made use of our quiet sign (a llama hand signal). That signal, on the positive side, pays off every time I use its power. Students take less than 10 seconds to quiet down and give me their attention and it happens all without me saying anything. Another positive that might not be obvious was the talk students had about how many views or comments they were getting on their blogs (from me, each other and outside visitors)—that is a positive natural consequence to using technology to share and publish writing. On the discipline side, I used my presence to redirect students who were wandering from the task. E. is quite imaginative; he enjoys thinking creatively and talking with his peers. This joy can sometimes spill over and distract students—even E. himself—from the work at hand. This happened today too. E. could easily identify details, so having nothing to dig deeper into he started making up outlandish stories for the image(s). That is exactly what I wanted him to do in writing (and he probably will), but he was a step ahead of me in class and two of his classmates were along for the ride. I redirected them and they seemed to get back to what we were doing. What specific actions did you take during this lesson to build student relationships with your students? What impact did these actions have on your relationships with students? What specific actions did you take to communicate high expectations for students? How did these impact students learning? Actions I took prior to and during this lesson to build relationships with students include: talking to students one-on-one and in their table groups, listening to students as they talked about ideas connected to the pictures, praising students for their imaginations, smiling and giving students my attention. When I answer a question and pause what I might want to do for the class to do so, that shows that I value students and care to help them work through their confusion. I did just that with S. who said she was stuck and couldn’t figure out what to write. I paused in my walk of the room and invited her to my laptop so that I could show her how I would brainstorm in an actual blog post and save said post as a draft. It

gave S. a concrete example and since I screen casted (created a video from the computer screen) the quick fix and published it to YouTube in the midst of my teaching, other students will be able to access it from home too. I also build relationships with students by commenting on their blog posts and appreciation the efforts they are making to use technology to publish and share their written work. I do quite a bit to communicate high expectations for students, but two specifics bear mentioning. One, I write with students. My students know that I am looking for details in what we read and trying to use said details in my own blog writing for the Slice of Life Challenge—students have seen and have read posts the teaching blog I keep. They also see the round up slice I create for them each day. I walk the talk when it comes to learning with and alongside students. That learning and writing beside them also translates into the technology aspect of the lesson. I model problem solving instead of lowering my expectations. When I realized that several students are struggling to keep up with blogging each day, I shifted their seating chart so that students who do it easily can work with students who are still having difficulties. I too made my first attempt at talking to the students who are struggling, so they know that I am not going to lower what I expect. Instead I will lift them, support them as they aim to meet and exceed my expectations. These, especially taking time to listen and work with students, have a huge impact on student learning. Students come to know from my example, that I am on the road with them—I will help them—and because they realize this they are willing, willing to try and willing to step up to sometimes unfamiliar work (like blogging) in order learn. How will this lesson inform changes to your instructional plan? This lesson will inform changes to my instructional plan in a variety of ways. The short story, “A Strange Day in July” by Sherman Alexie engaged students (as I suspected it would) and it makes me believe that students would enjoy reading other mysteries—novels or short stories. I plan to incorporate more mysteries into my book talks this week to capitalize on students’ interests. I may tell them about Edgar Allen Poe’s story from the text book or highlight a collect of “Short and Shivery” stories. Students were able to see detail plainly within the text and the image. Today’s lesson made me think that students may be ready to transfer that skill to a more complex text—their writing will help me determine their readiness and I should be able to see details in their written and published blog posts by Wednesday. Additionally, a change I will make to our week concerns examining their writing for detail. I believe it would be helpful to review detail by reading students’ writings (blog posts from the week) and identify posts that are rich in detail. I should also post another help video to show students how to access and edit their previously published posts. I’ve created and shared one already, but two students in this class asked how to edit their posts, so I think I need to do another lesson on just that.

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