Saturday, January 30, 2016

How do you find time to do all that?

We had been talking about the value - to teachers- of ongoing formative assessments (conference notes, Marie-Clay-style-running-records, observation checklists) and gearing up for some sample Curriculum Based Assessment practice before our half-way-through-the-night-break. As I shoved some dried fruit and nuts into my mouth and washed it down with some caffeine to get me through the rest of the class, one of my students asked me, "How do you find time to do all that?"

I thought of that question all the way home....and pondered that question the next morning when I was "called upon" to be "an-emergency-third-grade-substitute" all day...and smiled when I realized that Beth Moore over at Two Writing Teachers was pondering the same question!  

To be sure, I've heard the lament, "I don't have time," before, many times.  Yet, it seems like I've heard it more frequently lately, along with it's corollaries, "There is no time left for student-choice-free-time-recess."

This certainly is a conversation we need to have on the building level and on the grade level because either we need to make every minute in our current school day matter or our school days need to be longer!

I don't usually teach in a "classroom," but this week I did - for 2 whole days.  Partially, because I was the "sub" following "sub plans" but also by design, I noticed the day was filled with "down" moments.  The students were eager to read (yeah) or to do origami as they awaited the next whole group activity; however, I wondered if that time could have been spent more effectively working independently on their "country reports" or if the day could be reconstructed to allow for more small group guided practice?  I noticed how the students eyes opened wide when I took a "bird walk" on a short video clip about Balto (their read aloud) and smiled as I listened to them use accountable talk to decide the risk of a traveling dog sled during a blizzard; however, I wondered if I could have had students do those "bird walks" on their own during those down moments?

My own instructional periods are most effective and most efficient when using the "backwards design" mentality, I have a clear vision of my long term, short term, and "that period" goals for my students. There is little, if any, down time during my "reading club" periods because everyone, even my youngest students, know the goal for each class.  If you know what you have to do, you get it done!

Beth Moore's post this morning, is full of suggestions.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 6.36.37 PM
Alison's is also filled with suggstions.
This is one example of a first grade schedule with a balanced literacy block! Read the full post for other sample schedules and ideas.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#sol16 Change, Change, Change

Embracing and Sometimes Challenging Change

When I was a newbie teacher,
When I was a mid-career teacher,
As a "long-in-the-tooth" teacher,
I have tried to be "open-minded" to the
Many waves of change
Sweeping endlessly through our profession.

"There is no one way to teach everyone,"
I've assured myself as I've embraced
Whole Word, Experience-Based,Phonics,
Whole Language, Basal, Student Driven,
Teacher Directed, "Balanced" Literacy
among other approaches to reading.

I've used many an assessment:
Standardized, Normed, Formative, Summative,
Curriculum Based, Curriculum Driven, Turn-and-Talks,
Student Centered, Note-taking, Stop and Jots Exit-tickets
Running Records, Portfolio-Based,
among other approaches to assessment.

This year,
I'm trying to embrace
CBM-R and Aims-Web, 
Even though I have concerns,
Approaching change with an open mind.
Looking beyond my comfort-zone,
Looking beyond student-centered
Running Records, Conference Notes  

Then, my ol' mentor Peter Johnston writes this:
It pops up on Twitter,
I smile.
"Don't forget to look critically at all you do,"
I remind myself with a smile.
"Approach change with an Action-Research-Frame-of-Mind,"
I remind myself. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Faux Fur

Those with Faux Fur 
Are Fantastic Listeners!

Researching Online Museums

We used our Chromebooks the other day
To be researchers of online museums.
Traveling, virtually, to the Smithsonian
As well as to England and India
In 30 minutes. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

CBM: An interesting perspective from Peter Johnston


Curriculum-Based Measurement, RTI, and Reading Assessment

 | Jan 21, 2016
ThinkstockPhotos-83404373_x300“Curriculum-based measurement” (CBM) has become “the most likely procedure to be used for Response to Intervention (RTI) evaluations of academic performance” (Christ & Hintze, 2007, p. 95). The questions that underlie RTI are, How do you decide whether a child is learning optimally? And what do you do, instructionally, if he or she is not? Proponents argue that the best way to answer the first question for reading is, one to five times per week, to count how many correct words from a standardized grade-level text a child can read in one minute. This is referred to as CBM-R (it also appears in testing systems such as DIBELS and AIMSweb). The rationale is that CBM-R is a brief test of reading fluency, and that fluency approximates (is a proxy measure for) overall reading competence.
Because regular instruction is commonly considered Tier 1 of an RTI system, and because CBM-R provides an apparently simple technical solution to assessment in reading, CBM-R has colonized regular education as well as RTI. We must consider the appropriateness of this logic.
Arguments against CBM include the following:
  1. CBM-R is not a valid measure of reading comprehension or even of fluency(Cramer & Rosenfield, 2008; Pressley, Hilden, & Shankland, 2005; Samuels, 2007). It tells us only how fast a child reads “grade-level” text. It does not tell us whether the materials used for instruction are appropriate or whether the child is building a meaning-directed system, and it doesn’t document the strategies the child is using—the kind of information necessary to adapt instruction.
  2. CBM-R used to evaluate growth in reading speed is time-consuming. Reliably estimating whether a student is becoming a sufficiently faster reader requires generating a hypothetical expected growth rate and measuring reading speed five times a week for over six weeks, or once a week for 3–4 months to see whether the actual growth rate meets the expected rate (Ardoin, Christ, Morena, Cormier, & Klingbeil, 2013; Thornblad & Christ, 2014). In other words, even testing children every day, reliably deciding that instruction needs to be changed takes over six weeks and gives no information on what might improve instruction.
  3. CBM-R can misdirect instruction. CBM-R is merely a proxy for reading and, under pressure, it changes the goal of teaching and the way teacher and child make sense of errors. For example, suppose a child misreads a word and returns to correct the error because it doesn’t make sense. From a CBM perspective, this is significant only because it reduces reading speed, making it a negative indicator of development. By contrast, if we are interested in building independence and self-regulation rather than speed, the nature of the error and its correction become significant because of what they indicate about processing, the development of self-monitoring and an executive system (Clay, 1991; Vellutino & Scanlon, 2002). Focusing instruction on speed and accuracy does not build problem-solving, self-correcting, and independence. We have to weigh the consequences for instructional decisions of a constant focus on reading speed (a relatively minor dimension of reading).
  4. CBM-R requires some students to have frequent negative reading experiences. Because CBM-R uses standardized grade-level texts, it regularly requires many children, under time pressure, to routinely read text that is too difficult for them, undermining their sense of competence and disrupting productive reading strategies.
  5. CBM-R is not based on curriculum. “Curriculum-based” sounds like a good idea, but counting the number of words a child reads correctly on a standardized text is not curriculum based any more than any other test. (The same is true of standardized CBM spelling lists and so forth, which are used regardless of the curriculum.) There are many other more productive assessment practices that can be used to monitor children’s literate development without additional assessments that do not inform instruction and which are genuinely curriculum based. These will be the focus of a subsequent blog.
Peter Johnston, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Albany-SUNY. He is a member of the ILA Literacy Research Panel.
The ILA Literacy Research Panel uses this blog to connect educators around the world with research relevant to policy and practice. Reader response is welcomed via e-mail.

Ardoin, S.P., Christ, T.J., Morena, L.S., Cormier, D.C., & Klingbeil, D.A. (2013). A systematic review and summarization of the recommendations and research surrounding Curriculum-Based Measurement of oral reading fluency (CBM-R) decision rules. Journal of School Psychology, 51(1), 1–18. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2012.09.004
Christ, T.J., & Hintze, J.M. (2007). Psychometric considerations when evaluating Response to Intervention. In S.R. Jimerson, M.K. Burns, & A.M. VanDerHeyden (Eds.),Handbook of Response to Intervention: The science and practice of assessment and intervention (pp. 93–105). New York, NY: Springer.
Clay, M.M. (1991). Becoming literate: The construction of inner control. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Cramer, K., & Rosenfield, S. (2008). Effect of degree of challenge on reading performance. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 24(1), 119–137. 
Pressley, M., Hilden, K., & Shankland, R. (2005). An evaluation of end-grade-3 Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS): Speed reading without comprehension, predicting little.
Samuels, S. J. (2007). The DIBELS tests: Is speed of barking at print what we mean by reading fluency? Reading Research Quarterly, 42(4), 563–566.
Thornblad, S.C., & Christ, T.J. (2014). Curriculum-based measurement of reading: Is 6 weeks of daily progress monitoring enough? School Psychology Review, 43(1), 19–29.
Vellutino, F.R., & Scanlon, D.M. (2002). The Interactive Strategies approach to reading intervention. Contemporary Educational Psychology27(4), 573–635.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

SOL#16 It's easier to write about small moments

I've been quiet, of late,
Yet, busy.

There have been days
Filled with some of life's 
Most wonderful moments,
Over-the-top-full-of joy days,
All-your-dreams-come true days.

Interspersed with days
Filled with some of life's
Saddest moments,
Break your-heart-into-pieces days,
Sad-to-the-core-painful days.

New lives, untold potential, 
Magnificent newborn snuggles,
Moments where my heart
Beat outside my chest
Watching those I once held
Nurture the future. 

Interspersed with
Losses of life and love,
Moments when my heart

I've learned
It's easier to write
It's harder to write
About life-altering-events.