For the month of March, I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.
From My Notebook: Third Grade Assessments in Literacy #sol19
Through my work as a literacy coach, I have teachers that I meet and collaborate with throughout the week. Usually these meetings are at 7:30 a.m. on a scheduled day of the week. I meet with each teacher or team for 1/2 hour keeping notes of what we are working on. Our school is an UOS of Study school following the work of Lucy Calkins and colleagues in this our first year of full implementation. Most of our meetings are in their classrooms. Some teachers will come with questions, sometimes we plan out what we will work on the next week, sometimes I have a teaching technique or skill I’ve noticed or a suggestion. I keep a journal entry of each meeting to keep me thinking. I am thankful to Tammy Mulligan, Teachers for Teachers, for assisting me in working on offering a menu of ideas during this coaching time. This is still after years a work in progress.
The Third Grade is ending their information reading and writing units and moving into character studies. The Massachusetts’ state testing is looming large on the horizon. Though I would like to not give it much importance, it’s there. The ending of a unit and assessing then beginning a unit and assessing is a process while beneficial in many ways can seem to derail the learning process and give the teacher information that seems disconnected from their day to day work. This week in my third grade collaborations I suggested combining the idea of flash drafts or quick writes, the narrative task (MCAS), and assessments.
The four questions on the assessment are meant to be written in a 45 minute reading workshop using two text, an informational text and a related narrative nonfiction text. I suggested that the teachers use a known narrative nonfiction perhaps one of their mentor texts for the narrative nonfiction sessions in bend 3 and then find another text that relates to that text that is an informational text. In one classroom this might be the narrative nonfiction book, Carter Reads a Newspaper, typed as a narrative and a newsela article, Interest in Black History Is Growing . Day 1, the teacher pairs the narrative task to similar work the class has been doing, summarize the text Carter Reads a Newspaper and briefly write about one idea that you have grown from the text.
We had previously completed both whole class and small group work in part to whole using these two TCWRP resources.
The second text, the informational text can be read on another day with a summary of the informational text and then cross-text synthesis of both text. This allows for two days practice in reading text online and flash drafting writing about reading.
For the post assessment in nonfiction writing, two possibilities might be helpful. Using a topic in science or social studies, or having students use their genius hour topic have students complete a nonfiction article about one of these topics. This writing is completed during a standard writing workshop time. Using nonfiction writing checklist, the information writing task from the Writing Pathways, and the nonfiction writing tips from the information writing task will be helpful for students along with a quick teach to their writing partner before they begin writing.
These gentle adjustment to the assessment tasks allow for the writing to feel more natural to students along with carrying a deeper connection to the work of the room.