M-STEP Prep Webinars: Test Literacy & ELA Curricular Connections

Grade Level(s): 3-5 & 6-8M-Step-Logo_474451_7

Description: Get your students ready! These hour-long, interactive webinars presented by teacher leaders will provide ready to use strategies for addressing test literacy, item directions and format, and MSTEP navigation with students. In addition, presenters will address how to integrate the content of M-STEP preparation organically into MAISA unit instruction.

SCECHs: no

Who Should Attend?: Elementary teachers and middle school ELA teachers interested in contrete ideas for addressing test directions, item formats, and test navigations as well as strategies for integrating M-STEP test prep into the MAISA units.

Dates & Times: 

Elementary Session – January 28, 2015  7-8pm

Middle School Session – January 26, 2015  7-8pm

Location: virtual, participants receive room link once registered

Event Contact : delia.decourcy@oakland.k12.mi.us

Presenter(s):
Beth Rogers, Clarkston Community Schools (elementary) & Jianna Taylor West Bloomfield Schools, (middle school)

beth cropped

Beth Rogers is a fifth grade teacher for Clarkston Community Schools, where she has been teaching full time since 2006.  She is  blessed to teach Language Arts and Social Studies for her class and her teaching partner’s class, while her partner  teaches all of their math and science. This enables them  to focus on their passions and do the best they can for kids. Beth was chosen as Teacher of the Year for 2013-2014 in her district. She earned a B.S. in Education at Kent State University and a Master’s in Educational Technology at Michigan State University.

 

Screenshot 2014-09-26 at 12.44.07 PMJianna Taylor (@JiannaTaylor) is an ELA and Title 1 teacher at Orchard Lake Middle School in West Bloomfield.  She is a member of the AVID Site Team and Continuous School Improvement Team at her school, among other things.  She is also a MiELA Network Summer Institute facilitator and member of the OWP Core Leadership Team.  Jianna earned her bachelor’s degree from Oakland University and her master’s degree from the University of Michigan.  She also writes reviews of children’s books and young adult novels for the magazine Library Media Connection.

 

Foundations of Teaching Argument

shutterstock_90951101REGISTER – click here for instructions
Audience: teachers in all content areas grades 6-12

Format: five hours of self-paced online modules; to be used individually or with PLCs, departments or teams.

Description:
If you are interested in

  • familiarizing yourself–or maybe re-familiarizing yourself–with some of the basic ideas and elements of argumentation and argument writing and
  • learning about effective ways to introduce your students to argument-focused thinking and writing,

this virtual learning experience is for you! This “Foundations” course is designed to introduce key ideas, terms, and habits of mind that are essential to understanding how arguments work, as well as how constructing and analyzing arguments can benefit your students’ learning.

In the course’s four modules you will

  • watch presentations,
  • read texts,
  • take short quizzes,
  • analyze and discuss example arguments,
  • adapt activities and materials for your own students, and
  • give feedback.

Our goal is for you to complete the course feeling inspired and energized to make greater use of argumentation and argument writing in your classroom–and for you to feel equipped and prepared to do that.

You will learn about:

  • diverse types of arguments;
  • the key elements of well-formed arguments;
  • habits of mind that generate high-quality arguments and argument writing;
  • the benefits of nurturing a “culture of argumentation” in your classroom;
  • activity ideas to introduce your students to basic concepts and moves of argumentation;
  • education research that supports the view that, across the school day, practice making and analyzing arguments can help students deepen their understanding of content we want them to learn.

SCECHs: available – 5 hours

Consultant Contact: delia.decourcy@oakland.k12.mi.us

Literacy & Technology Design Studio

REGISTER

Grade Level(s): 3-12

shutterstock_200694248Description:

Maybe you’re a tech savvy teacher who needs time to explore and plan new ways of infusing technology into your literacy-based instruction. Or maybe you’re just embarking on the tech integration journey to make it part of your literacy instruction. Either way, you’re welcome at the Lit & Tech Design Studio. During each three-hour session, educators will spend the first hour learning about integrating technology into a specific area of literacy-focused instruction (see specifics below). The final two hours of the session are an opportunity for educators to explore tools and plan their own literacy-focused projects and lessons with the support of Oakland Schools consultants and teacher leaders. These projects and lessons may or may not connect to the workshop’s instructional focus for that day. The goal of the Design Studio is to support literacy educators in the tech-related teaching and learning they want to do.

 SCECHs: pending

Who Should Attend?: ELA, Social Studies and Science teachers interested in how technology can facilitate effective student literacy practices. Grade level teams and departments are encouraged to attend together.

Topics, Dates & Time: 

There are four sessions offered.  You may register for one, some, or all of the sessions.

shutterstock_51940792All sessions are 1:00pm – 4:15 pm

Session 1 (Tuesday, October 6): Instructional Focus: Formative Assessment Tools for Literacy Instruction

Session 2 (Tuesday, December 1):  Instructional Focus: Digital Writing Workshop

Session 3 (Tuesday, February 2):  Instructional Focus: Digital Reading Practices & Tools

Session 4 (Tuesday, March 29) : Instructional Focus: Research – Online Student Inquiry & Production


Presenter(s):
Delia DeCourcy

Location: Oakland Schools

Event Contact : Kim Adragna, kim.adragna@oakland.k12.mi.us, 248.209.2195

 

 

Podcast Power: Listening Skills & Curriculum, part 2

Common Core Consultants' Corner Literacy & Technology

In my first post on the power of podcasts, I talked about their place in the ELA classroom.  Not only do they meet important standards, but they develop crucial listening skills.  And I talked at some length about Serial, a must listen to podcast.  So if you’re sold on bringing this medium into your classroom, what podcast do you choose and how do you effectively integrate it effectively from a curricular and skill standpoint?  Below are some ideas for how to think about choosing a podcast to work with what you’re already teaching.

Combine Nonfiction Podcasts with Narrative Reading to Study Theme

this-american-lifeThis American Life episodes are ideal to couple with fiction, especially if you’re focused on theme. The show is structured around a single theme each week.  So it’s quite easy to scroll through the archives and find a theme you might be looking for, especially because of the nice thumbnail descriptions TAL provides. For example:

Most of us go from day to day just coasting on the status quo. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? But when routines just get too mundane or systems stop making sense, sometimes you just have to hold your breath…and jump. This week, stories of people who leap from their lives, their comfort zones…even through time.  

from Episode 539: The Leap, This American Life

This episode pairs well with texts about risk-taking, the consequences of risk-taking, a desire to leave reality, and escape. I can imagine having students listen to it in conjunction with Into the Wild, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and even Romeo & Juliet.

Or perhaps you’re doing a character study on the morality of characters in a text like Hamlet, Atonement by Ian McEwan, or To Kill a Mockingbird.  Students could list to segments of TAL‘s episode called “Good Guys” and compare these real life stories to the choices made by characters in the fiction text they’re reading.

Lots of men think of themselves as “good guys.” But what does it actually take to be one? To be a truly good guy. Stories of valiant men attempting to do good in challenging circumstances: in war zones, department stores, public buses, and at the bottom of a cave 900 feet underground.

from Episode 515: Good Guys, This American Life

The other beautiful thing is that each episode of This American Life is divided into smaller acts. So you can select one act to have students listen to or several acts.  Regardless of how many acts they listen to, when pairing narrative texts and podcasts, you’re having students read across texts, a key Common Core Standard:

Reading Anchor Standard 9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Use Podcasts as Texts for Argument Analysis

themothWhen you use podcasts in this way in your classroom, students identify and analyze the implicit and explicit arguments being made in each “act” of a TAL podcast or other podcast, comparing the arguments within an episode.  They can then respond with their own written or recorded narrative argument about the topic. This American Life episodes provide listeners with a series of narrative arguments around a single theme.

What do I mean by narrative argument?  Each act delivers a compelling story, and that story and the producer’s reflection on the events in the story, create an argument.  The creation of an implicit argument via narrative and reflection is incredibly difficult to do, as students discover when they try to write a personal essay.  But that difficulty is all the more reason to listen to TAL episodes and to even have your students create mini-podcasts, which I’ll talk about in my next post.

Suggested Podcasts: 

  • Is This Thing Working?, This American Life – Stories of schools struggling with what to do with misbehaving kids. There’s no general agreement about what teachers should do to discipline kids. And there’s evidence that some of the most popular punishments actually may harm kids. (tags: school, discipline, inequality, education system)
  • “Partners in Struggle” by Grace Lee Boggs, The Moth – This Detroit native and nationally known activist is inspired to begin activist work in the 1940s and meets her future husband. (tags: Detroit, activism, love, diversity)
  • “Who Put the ‘Pistol’ in ‘Epistolary’?” from “My Pen Pal,” This American Life – The story of a ten-year-old girl from small town Michigan named Sarah York, and how she became pen pals with a man who was considered an enemy of the United States, a dictator, a drug trafficker, and a murderer: Manuel Noriega. (tags: unlikely friends, propaganda, international relations, Michigan)
  • “Prom,” by Hasan Minhaj The Moth – A high schooler encounters racism when he tries to go to prom. (tags: teenage experience, racism, cultural diversity, big events)
  • “Scene from a Mall” – This American Life spends several days in a mall in suburban Tennessee, to document life in the mall during the run-up to Christmas. Also, a rift in a national association of professional Santas—the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (yes, there is such a group). (tags: holidays, working teenagers, suburbia, place/environment, subcultures, competition)
  • “Allure of the Mean Friend, “ This American Life – What is it about them, our mean friends? They treat us badly, they don’t call us back, they cancel plans at the last minute, and yet we come back for more. Popular bullies exist in business, politics, everywhere. How do they stay so popular? (tags: friendship, teenage life, contradictions, bullying)

Developing Close Listening Skills

So you’ve decided what podcast to use and how it works with your curriculum. But how do you scaffold and support good listening skills?

186957826Multi-draft Listening

Just as we ask students to read a text more than once, they’ll need to listen to a podcast more than once.  I suggest taking an approach similar to the one you’d use with close reading:

First Listen – Listen to the podcast all the way through to make sense of the story and get the gist.  Pause occasionally to have students jot down names of people, questions that come up and big ideas that are explicitly or implicitly stated.

Second Listen – With your students, develop a listening agenda.  What questions do you/they want answered?  What’s the main idea of the episode? What aspects of the episodes structure contribute to their understanding?   Chunk the listening by stopping every 5-10 minutes to allow students to jot notes and add to their graphic organizers (see the next section).

Third Listen – This very focused listen allows the class, small groups, or individuals to return to specific points in the podcast to re-listen for deeper analysis in order to confirm or test initial theories they developed based on their early listening.

Student-created Graphic Organizers

Because students can’t annotate this audio text in the same way they can annotate a hard copy or even digital text, graphic organizers become really important.  Podcasts require a bit more work on the part of the student when it comes to annotation.  Below are some ideas for types of graphic organizers to help students structure their thinking:

  • Timeline of Key Moments/Events – A chronological list of key moments in the story that will help them later develop ideas about the episode’s structure.
  • Structure Picture – Students draw a picture of how they perceive the structure of an episode.  This might follow the more traditional text structure graphics we’re accustomed to or might be more of a mind mind.
  • People Map – As they listen, have students develop a map of characters and how they’re related — like this one on the Serial website.
  • Evidence Chart – Have students create a T chart.  For Serial, the two columns would be titled “innocent” and “guilty.”  As they (re)listen, they will record which evidence makes Adnan seem guilty and which evidence makes him appear innocent.  For another podcast, students might be gathering evidence regarding another question.  The columns might be labeled “pro” and “con” or “agree” and “disagree.”
  • Question Web – What questions remain unanswered? Students create a web of both factual and analytical questions, connecting those that relate to and generate other questions.

Have ideas to share about good podcasts for student listening and how to use them in the classroom?  Please share in the comment section.  In my final blog post on podcasting, I’ll provide some ways of thinking about having students produce their own podcasts, and possible pitfalls in the process.

Delia DeCourcyDelia DeCourcy joined Oakland Schools in 2013 after a stint as an independent education consultant in North Carolina where her focus was on ed tech integration and literacy instruction.  During that time, she was also a lead writer for the Common Core-aligned ELA writing units. Prior to that, she was a writing instructor at the University of Michigan where she taught first-year, new media, and creative writing and was awarded the Moscow Prize for Excellence in Teaching Composition. In her role as secondary literacy consultant, Delia brings all her writing, curriculum design, administration, and teaching skills to bear, supporting districts in their implementation of the Common Core via onsite workshops and consultations, as well as workshops at Oakland Schools.  She is currently spearheading the development of literacy-focused online professional learning modules as well as the building of a virtual portal where Michigan educators can learn and collaborate.

Podcast Power: Boosting Listening Skills, part 1

Common Core Consultants' Corner Literacy & Technology

podcastDuring the twelve hour drive from Michigan to North Carolina and back over the holidays, I listened to a lot of podcasts. I admit it: I’m a podcast addict. Any time I have to drive for an hour or longer, I listen to a podcast–This American Life, The Moth, Ted Talks Radio Hour, Radio LabSnap Judgment… All that listening and driving got me thinking about using podcasts in the classroom and why it’s a relevant medium.

Connection to Standards

The Common Core Standards prioritize speaking and listening skills in a fairly rigorous way.  ELA teachers have always valued speaking and listening skills and given students the opportunity to develop them in their classrooms.  But with the adoption of the Standards, these skills are now clearly defined and progress in complexity from year to year, meaning teachers and departments have to think about how they’ll address speaking and listening in a comprehensive way. Often when we think of the speaking and listening standards, our minds immediately go to discussion–how to get students to engage in rich and complex discourse.  But in this post I want to focus on the podcast medium as a fairly exciting way for teachers and students to explore close listening together.  Listening to podcasts as nonfiction texts (a great way to infuse your curriculum with more nonfiction!) directly addresses these two standards:

Speaking & Listening Standard 2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Speaking & Listening Standard 3: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Why Is Podcasting an Important Medium?

484812177I remember talking to a colleague a few years ago who proclaimed that podcasting was not new media.  She said it was just recorded radio and that podcasting was over.  But podcasting is so not over and it’s a lot more than recorded radio.  Sometimes podcasts never appear first on the radio at all.  So why is this an important and popular media form?

  • Podcasts are available on demand via our mobile devices, thanks to iTunes and the websites of popular podcasts. So we can listen anytime, anywhere.
  • There is a growing library of free, high-quality podcasts on a wide range of subjects.
  • They run the gamut of nonfiction genres: storytelling, informational, and argument-focused podcasts ranging in purposes from entertainment to news to self-help (exercise, nutrition, spirituality, emotional health).
  • We can multi-task while we listen–drive, make dinner, walk the dog, exercise at the gym.
  • As with other digital texts, the general public (students!) can create and publish podcasts–and they are in fairly high numbers.

Start with Serial

serial-social-logoIn October, I was over the moon when Serial, a This American Life spin off that follows a single story for twelve episodes came out.  From episode one, I was hooked.  So rather than talk about strategies for integrating this medium in your classroom (that will be my next post), I’m going to make a pitch for using this new podcast.  I would suggest that for high school classes, especially juniors and seniors, Serial is a great place to start.  (I’m not alone.  A California high school teacher has replaced the study of Hamlet with Serial.)  Why?  Well, here’s the context for the start of this story…

It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. 

Serial website

Adnan, a popular student with strong ties to the Muslim community, is later found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.  He was 18.  And as the very first episode of Serial unravels for its listeners, the evidence was contradictory and, in some instances, spotty.

Other compelling reasons to use Serial in the classroom:

  • serialcollageIt’s great storytelling and relevant to your students.  The cast of characters is almost entirely high school students (or they were at the time of the murder) living through the things your students experience–juggling school and extracurriculars, navigating cultural differences between home life and school life, experiencing young love, making their way through the simmering stew of high school social life. This will seriously engage your students.
  • Serial has changed the face of podcasting.  It’s like the True Detective of radio (with a lot less violence).  People could not wait for each new episode of Serial to be released on Thursdays and there was no telling which direction the story would turn and if the producers would decide to declare Adnan innocent or guilty.  It has been downloaded more than any other podcast–more than 5 million times.  And unlike many mainstream podcasts, it was not orignially broadcast on the radio.  To read more about Serial’s popularity and possible reasons for it, check out this Salon article.
  • It has caused a stir on the internet.  People are blogging about it, arguing about it, and commenting non-stop.  There have been many articles published as the story has unfolded week to week.  The number of Serial-related threads on Reddit alone are a clear indicator of how this podcast has captured people’s imaginations.  And there’s a new two-part interview with the star witness whose testimony led to Adnan’s conviction and life sentence.
  • The Serial website contains all kinds of really cool visual artifacts related to each episode.  Using these in conjunction with the episodes means students can analyze across media–a Common Core dream!
  • Serial provides endless ways to study central idea/claim, argument and evidence, theme, bias, character development and text structure.

If you don’t want to commit to all twelve episodes of Serial, consider using only the first episode.  That 60 minute audio text alone will make for some very interesting and creative teaching and learning. In my next post, I’ll talk about developing close listening and annotation skills and other ways of using podcasts in the classroom.  I’ll also suggest specific episodes from other podcasts you might use.

Do you have any podcasts you love? Please share in the comments section.  And if you’re already using podcasts in your classroom, please share your ideas!

Reading Podcast Power: Listening Skills & Curriculum, part 2

Delia DeCourcyDelia DeCourcy joined Oakland Schools in 2013 after a stint as an independent education consultant in North Carolina where her focus was on ed tech integration and literacy instruction.  During that time, she was also a lead writer for the Common Core-aligned ELA writing units. Prior to that, she was a writing instructor at the University of Michigan where she taught first-year, new media, and creative writing and was awarded the Moscow Prize for Excellence in Teaching Composition. In her role as secondary literacy consultant, Delia brings all her writing, curriculum design, administration, and teaching skills to bear, supporting districts in their implementation of the Common Core via onsite workshops and consultations, as well as workshops at Oakland Schools.  She is currently spearheading the development of literacy-focused online professional learning modules as well as the building of a virtual portal where Michigan educators can learn and collaborate.