Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Student Writing Teaches Us

There seems to be a lot going on with writing this summer and there are, of course, a few new books out on the subject. Currently, I am reading Mark Overmeyer's book, What Student Writing Teaches Us: Formative Assessment in the Writing Workshop. This book follows Mark's first book, When Writing Workshop Isn't Working (grades 2-5). Mark, like many teachers, is a person who loves teaching because he is always learning, and always figuring out a better way to teach. Currently, he is actively involved with Colorado's Writing Project, and worked in both an elementary and middle school doing the research for this book. Mark's overall message throughout the book seemed to be listen and look for what the students need to move ahead with their writing. This may seem obvious as a teacher, but with writing programs and prescribed rubrics, it is not always as easy... or obvious. Mark points out places where we may fail to listen in our effort to grade or assess certain aspects of students' work. I liked the student interviews about the grading process. I think this added to the book and at times made me think of Ralph Fletcher's Boy Writers. Mark's voice is conversational and easy to read, and I think this latest work of his could provide for some interesting discussion in a book group.

Friday, July 17, 2009

With a little luck Nancy Boyles new book will be released in October

There are always little things that can slow down the release of a book, but it looks like the long anticipated release of Nancy Boyle's new book is coming closer. October remains the release month for the book, in plenty of time to put the 40 new lesson plans into use. I will try to answer some of the other questions I have been getting so districts and individuals can plan ahead. As far as budgeting, this book will cost more than Nancy's other books as it has more features than past books. If you plan for $40 per book you should be safe; if it's lower, all the better! The book addresses grade level 2-8, and ties in with both trade books and RTI. As with all of Nancy's books, it will have an easy to use format and be classroom tested. On Friday December 4th, 2009 ALRAN Books will host Nancy at Lombardo's conference center in Randolph, Mass for a one day conference where Nancy will talk predominantly about the information in this book. Let us know if you'd like to attend - we'd love to see you there!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Sun has come out!

It is hard to believe the sun has come out today. Thirty days of rain, and only a few partial days of sun is too much. Consequently, I have done some reading this past month, during the breaks in my conference schedule when I would otherwise be outdoors.

There are some great new RTI books out. I think my current favorite is from Guilford, titled RTI in the Classroom, by Brown-Chidsey, Bronaugh and Mcgraw. This book is full sized, and its sprial-bound format makes it ideal for photo copying (50 reproducible forms!).  One of the elements I like about this book is that it covers: literacy, math and behavior. This book is easy to access. The book has ready-to-use forms to help in the monitoring and assessing process in the classroom that will hopefully make this process easier.  Remember, some of you are already doing this with a different form, or under a different name.  So, take a breath and look at some of this material to see how you can take what you are doing now and fit it into these new forms and strategies. The information contained in this book is clearcut, simple to understand, and will help you realize how much of RTI you already know and do, and help you understand and implement the parts that may be unfamiliar.  It's not hung up in a lot of jargon. It is practical. This book is meant for teachers, but will be useful to coaches and principals as well.

This book is for K-5 and thus covers the issue of Dibels, as Susan Hall did in her RTI book, Implementing RTI. It also provides "recipes," a term used to refer to the authors' strategies and forms for those without a standard assessment process in their school. This book has a heavy emphasis on documentation and offers many forms to monitor student progress... this is the big difference between this book and others on the market.