Sharing a Change

This year my school has several new initiatives to improve student achievement. I am in a new position so I am not experiencing the initiatives as a classroom teacher. I have taken a step back and have watched as the classrooms have evolved through the past few months.

I, myself have taken on new initiatives in my classroom as an intervention teacher and have also had to step back and reflect on my instruction.

After teaching a quarter of intervention groups and different grade levels in a variety of subjects, there are many things that I have enjoyed so far this year. I have made significant changes in my writing instruction, but unfortunately I only feel that is possible because I am an extra resource and an extra teaching time to these students.

The biggest change that I have made is the product expectation from my students. We have not concentrated on 1 type of writing for a quarter, but rather they have been exposed to a variety of examples. We have read the examples made connections to our lives and then written our own pieces.The products have not been on traditional writing paper but rather I have given my students a choice to use a graphic novel template. Each student has worked on their drawing and then added a sentence. None of the children only drew illustrations, they wanted to add a written description to their illustrations. As we were completing the writing, each child referred to the sight words around the room, their background information activities or the model text. Not one child asked me for help or guidance. If they needed help, they asked the peer next to them, or were thinking out loud and the peer offered help.

Here are some examples from their 5 senses writing:

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The other writing activity that I started this year was using story cubes to tell stories. You can read about it in Excitement About Writing Stories. This activity was new to me as a teacher and I was impressed by the variety of stories the children told. The most exciting part was the way the students worked together and loved the writing process. They all wanted to have some part of the story and they worked together. This verbal storytelling was a new activity and they knew exactly what to do. I gave them the activity again and they tried to work independently, but I could tell that they enjoyed working together in a group.

All of this is great for me, not a classroom teacher, not feeling the pressure of the curriculum, so where does this fit in a classroom. This is where I struggle.

  • How can I show teachers that this is worth it?
  • How can I work with teachers to implement these practices into the classroom?
  • How can I persuade teachers to step away from the curriculum and add these assignments into their classrooms?

I have noticed that I am more of a risk taker and will try something new without knowing if it will be successful or a failure, but I am one of a few. With all the new initiatives at our school, teachers don’t want to take on something new, teachers don’t want to steer away from the familiar.  So I am stuck with —

How do I share these great changes?

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8 thoughts on “Sharing a Change

  1. jackieb38 November 12, 2016 / 1:19 am

    Thanks for sharing these resources! Writing is a topic that is so hard to make engaging for my students and I could see them really gravitating towards these activities. I love how you acknowledge us classroom teachers who have a lot of stress to teach the mandated curriculum, but especially for my third grade reluctalent writers, this could completely change their mindset about writing. Recently I have seen an increase of interest in writing when I incorporate alternate forms of puplishing writing: electronically, in recordings, for various audiences, etc. These different writing prompts will motivate students to demonstrate their creativity through writing and I hope teachers see the benefits over the fear of not covering the specified standards we are expected to teach!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jennmphil November 12, 2016 / 1:37 am

    Kudos to you, Cara, for stepping out of the box and trying new, exciting ways to engage your students in literacy.
    I wonder if you show your fellow teachers pictures of the children engaging in these activities, products of the learning, and even have students “showcase” their activities to the other teachers if they will see the value?
    You could maybe even create some task cards/center baskets which contain the neeeded items and directions that they could borrow or recreate. Sometimes the “new” seems daunting to prepare and implement until you are shown or modeled the idea.
    Sounds like you have a lot to share with other teachers- hope they recognize you as a valuable resource! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jordan Davis November 12, 2016 / 4:35 pm

    Cara,

    Thank you for all your hard work with discovering new ways to get your students engaged in writing and storytelling! I’m glad as an intervention teacher you feel the freedom now to be able to try new ways.

    Your students have really shown growth in their learning process by these tasks being more accessible to them. There is not one way they can do the task they have the freedom to show their understanding. I needed to be reminded of this as well as an EC Teacher.

    I wonder how you can help the classroom teachers to implement these ideas into their class. Some ideas could be to sit down with them to discuss what your doing in the classroom and show the students’ work samples. You could even show them a video from your recorded lessons. Ask for some feedback from them and their thoughts? This could open them up to being willing to try these ideas with their students too. Also, you could offer to lead this in the regular classroom and maybe have your students come talk about their experience. I think Jenn suggested a great idea of making task or activity cards for them to use within the classroom.

    Keep up the excellent work Cara!!! Proud to see how your students are growing!

    -Jordan Davis

    Liked by 1 person

  4. thomasunc November 12, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    Getting other teachers to try new things is a multistep process and depends on your power in the school setting, but here are some ideas you might try.
    – Select a teacher that you have a positive relationship.Sit down with her and tell her about the process. See if she is interested, intrigued, or curious.
    – Work with one grade level. Pick the one grade level that is most open to change. Show examples and measure their interest. Maybe one teacher would let you teach a lesson to his class. Maybe they will start playing with the idea.
    – Set up a professional development day. Tell the teachers about your success, show the context and then let them try. I find when teachers are given time to be true learners, the tone in the room shifts and the energy lifts. Maybe after having a positive experience, a few teachers will try the idea in their classrooms.
    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. cheriedh November 12, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    I love the idea of using the graphic novel template for students who need a different way to express themselves in writing. This gives students who have a different learning style an alternative to traditional story writing. I have used the Story Cube in my classroom and saw the benefits for children who had good verbal expression, but had difficulty with written expression. When we went through the story cube together, they could actually tell me what they wanted to write and we could put it on paper together. Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. griepmk November 12, 2016 / 5:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing these ideas! I love how you used the graphic novel templates to engage your students in the writing process. I am also very intrigued by the story cubes. I have a few reluctant writers this year in my class and I could definitely use the graphic novel template to help them feel confident in their writing. I did something similar to this for my small moment writing unit where students could publish their writing using legos. They were able to tell the story through legos, took pictures of the scenes, and then made a comic strip in which they added dialogue. I think you can share these new changes you have found just by showing them all the great work your students have done. I know as a teacher I am more apt to try something when a teacher shows me the final product.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. whitneyallred November 12, 2016 / 11:18 pm

    Do the classroom teachers do literacy centers? I love introducing my students to a new task and then letting them loose in centers. They are so creative and engaged when they have the freedom to be independent and explore. I only do literacy centers for about 20-25 minutes, but when the activities are engaging they could last even longer! I often struggle with balancing the curriculum with creative projects, but I think it all boils down to engagement. When students are engaged, they have more stamina in both writing and reading. I think if you shared their writing samples with the teachers it would get them excited. It looks like they are doing some great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ckllit17 November 17, 2016 / 1:43 am

    Thank you for the responses and suggestions. It is great to hear suggestions from peers. In more exciting news… I showed the teachers the templates and they have asked for a copy. We are moving in the right direction!

    Like

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