Maggie Kay Hall-Librarian, Mother, Life-Long-Learner and Literacy Advocate
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Hall’s Independent Research on The Science of Reading Findings & Implementation for Best Literacy Instructional Practices
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“The effective mobilization of human resources always requires their voluntary participation (Matthews, p. 40).”
It does not take long to search and find a list of adjectives describing characteristics of what one would consider to be a successful leader. It is a little more complex however, to truly break down the specific components that drive the success of an effective leader in any organization, including the wonderful world of education. In short, leadership is all about human interactions.
Effective leaders seem to find ways to understand the purposes and goals of those around them while also recognizing the implications of their decisions and remaining open to reflect on their practices. Leaders must continually consider the influence and impression they are making on others and the effect this may have on common goals. Effective leaders take the time required to build meaningful relationships. People do not like feeling like a subordinate, taking orders from another person without having the ability to provide input in the decision-making process. Effective leaders have to embrace and conform to the many misconceptions they know exist among diverse people groups.
Effective leaders provide ample opportunities for others to utilize any professional potential they may have to increase in their own capacity. They also give credit and recognition to employees when it is due as consistently as possible. Effective leaders understand that the teaching and learning process continues as adults in our professional roles, and ensure this growth continues throughout an organizational body. Effective leaders attain the ability to recognize a specific set of skills in others and can think of ways to utilize them for the greater good of the group. I personally believe that a leader’s goal should be democratic, in the sense that boundaries are set with well-defined goals and clear expectations, while also providing growth opportunities to each worker willing to seize them.
Forming Impressions of Personality (1946). Pgs 56-72. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology.
Mathews J. (2016). Toward a conceptual model of global leadership. IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior. 15:38.
Servant Leadership Approach
The terminology of servant leadership was coined in 1970 by a man named Robert Greenleaf, although these same practices occurred long before. Since then, this leadership style has been applied in various contexts. Instead of commanding or enforcing authority, the servant leader holds a ‘serve first’ mindset in an effort to uplift, empower, enhance the professional development of their employees. This leadership style seems to move past the aspects of the transactional leadership approach. Two core principles of this leadership style are to first pose meaningful questions, and second is to truly listen (with the intent of understanding) to and act upon staff’s needs based on the responses to these questions. The servant leader does not hold themselves above or better than anyone else. Additional characteristics of servant leadership include community building, foresight, wholehearted attention, persuasion, and empathy. Quincy Adams (6th US President) once said “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” The overarching idea is that if a leader focuses on the desires and needs of their employees, then these actions will be reciprocated, leading to enhanced productivity and professional performance (Gregory, 2006).
Transactional Leadership Approach
German sociologist Max Weber determined that there are three primary categories of leadership in 1947, one of them later referred to as transactional leadership. Used quite frequently post World War II, transactional leadership can be described as taking charge, giving directive, being in command, being resistant to change, and structured. This leadership style may not be the best fit if the goal is to encourage initiative or creativity. These leaders focus on the day-to-day task at hand, which can mean gains in organizational productivity levels. Transactional leadership is all about exchanges and reinforcement from top to bottom. This type of leader expects a certain number of products or outcomes in exchange for predetermined rewards, such as a paycheck. Another name used for transactional leadership is managerial leadership as it is about managing through monitoring employees. This leader is usually the sole decision maker while staff is expected to follow suit (Gregory, 2006).
Transformational Leadership Approach
Initially coined in the 1970s by J.V. Downton, the success of transformational leadership can be measured by the impact it has on employees and organization as a whole. James M. Burns later added that through this form of leadership, “leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation.” This style can be further described as promoting intellectual stimulation, holding consideration for various employee viewpoints, using a clear vision to inspire motivation, positive influence, and stakeholder empowerment while also building upon staff trust and respect. Similar to servant leadership, there are many factors of relationship and team building through effort to create a professional culture responsive to change. In this leadership approach, the goal of the leader is to perpetuate the cycle, creating additional leaders by increasing professional capacity through various initiatives. One goal of this style is the hope that through positivity, goal setting, collaboration, and encouragement, that employees will begin to view themselves and their work more meaningfully. Influence comes from affecting the way staff members perceive their roles and contributions to the organization. The transformational leader believes in the power of persuasion first and foremost (Purvanova, 2006).
Comparing Leadership Styles Based on this week’s readings and findings the primary differences between all the leadership styles is that some focus more on individual employee needs and while the other focuses more on the overall organizational goals. On the other side from the perspective of the employee, one style may be preferred as a follower of someone inspirational and motivating, while others are primarily focused on monetary gains or transactional exchanges.
Bambrick-Santoyo (2018), explained the Data-driven Instruction as identifying what our students needs are and finding ways to meet them where they are. I can appreciate the mind-shift-thinking from “Did we teach the concept?” to “Did students learn the concept?” (p.28). Using data to drive instruction is all about tracking skills mastered or skills that require more focus or interventions so that these things can be considered when creating/selecting curriculums, lesson planning, and classroom instructional practices. Having student data to analyze can help educators to identify the what, why, and the how. Student data can help drive the overall objective focus, direct the selection of academic activities, and guide progress monitoring. Bambrick-Santoyo (2018) also explained that assessments are the starting point for how we plan to develop our instruction. If mastery is set by the assessment our students take, then they need to become a common implementation practice across grade levels and content areas, occurring at least quarterly. The text also recommends that assessments should be available for educators to analyze prior to testing so that they are able to build their instruction to the level of questioning and rigor reflected on the test. The next criteria area requires that assessments are aligned with TEKs (Texas Knowledge and Skills standards) with the long-term goal of preparing students to be future ready (college and beyond). Finally, assessment should include the same TEKs subsequently throughout the school year in order to determine a growth or decline with a specific TEK. Studies have shown that using student assessment data to drive instruction works. While there is no substitute for solid teaching, the data can help us focus on specific student needs and to implement strategies that will increase student learning outcomes (Bambrick-Santoya, 2018).
Mandinach (2012) stated that, “Data-driven decision making is a generic process that can be applied in classrooms to improve instruction as well as in administrative and policy setting.” (p71). Per the Institute of Education Sciences (2017), it is better to use the data as appropriate to “inform the goals rather than letting the goals be driven by what happens to be in the data that we collect.” Our Smith School Family Community (SFC) data reveals several areas needing improvement such as with our communication with families and ability to get our community and stakeholders together in such a way that will impact and promote student learning. The data showed that we could improve by including our families in campus-wide decision-making and in developing a more diverse and inclusive parent community group. I was a bit surprised by many of the responses received from the members of our community, and I needed their honest responses to make appropriate changes. Stakeholders who are committed and engaged in school activities are not always aware of everything the school has to offer or how to access all the resources available to them. I began to consider the data analysis process with a focus on the data just collected. The Institute of Education Sciences (2017), sates that there are several steps to be followed when making using data for decision-making.
These steps include:
Ø data must be collected from a variety of sources.
Ø Data must be reviewed, and a hypothesis must be drawn from it.
Ø The hypothesis must be tested through a plan of action.
Ø The cycle starts all over. In the area of Improving Communication, the data shows that our school communicates well through the varied forms of technology usage.
I was surprised that our parents' responses show that we are failing to conduct annual surveys to share information and concerns about students’ needs and perceptions of school programs. Although our school communicates with our parents regularly weekly, communication is mostly in send mode and does not provide for the parents to return any meaningful feedback. Parents feel they are not involved in many school-based decisions. Aldine ISD started a Family Engagement Plan asking that all campuses to engage families in the instructional processes. Aldine ISD has an At-Home Learning plan to foster parental involvement through the online district Aldine Cares initiative. Our school also used other social media types such as the district Let’s Talk site, Class Dojo, Twitter, Remind App, phone calls, e-mail, etc. In the area of Promoting Positive Parenting, the survey revealed that our parents appreciate that our campus newsletter and website include a calendar of school events information. However, the survey revealed that our families would also like information about their student’s goals, strengths, and skills as it relates to academics as well. A feedback survey could be initiated during school enrollment procedures or individual parent-teacher conferences. This initiative will align our campus with the district’s initiative to promote family engagement. This should provide tools and resources to our families that need to help their children with their schoolwork, as well as additional workshops, and volunteer opportunities will give parents options to participate in. In the area of Increasing Volunteerism, we do recognize our volunteers for their time and efforts. We also encourage families to be involved on our campus by helping with events and planning and scheduling school events at more convenient times for families. We may also want to consider ways to match our parent volunteers' interests and skill set to our school staff so that they can effectively assist in the classroom too. We should do to get more volunteers involved. I believe that opening the school library, cafeteria, and gym to volunteers during school hours to complete tasks usually assigned to staff would greatly assist in this effort. Increasing parent volunteer’s involvement would improve our school climate and have a positive ripple effect within our local community and partners. In the area of Collaborating with the Community, the school works well with local businesses, industries, and community organizations on programs to enhance student skills. We also provide information on community activities that link to learning skills and talents, including summer programs for students. However, we need to improve on sponsoring inter-generational programs with local senior citizens. We will solicit resources for volunteer training and offer afterschool programs for any and all individuals that may be interested in attending. Those programs could be extended to include more senior citizens residing within the community and target new areas such as local senior citizen complexes. The school building could also be utilized for more community events such as after-school tutorial programs offered through the local civic centner, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Girl and Boy Scouts. Mandinach (2012) says that “the use of data at the local level include making sure that the right data exists in determining the right data elements are used to make data-driven practices possible” (p 82). I think that Smith Elementary is on the right path regarding the use of data to make the well-informed decisions for our Stallion students and stakeholders.
Value of Professional Self-Reflection
Reflection on the present can help us as leaders to prepare for the future. Good leaders are visionaries.
The process of self-reflecting for the intent of bringing about more self-awareness can unlock serious potential in yourself which in turn can benefit those that you lead. It is difficult to inspire and motivate others as a leader if one’s own emotions are continually getting in the way. Understanding that this process is ongoing must also be realized. Good leaders embrace and work towards improvement (Mabe, 1982).
Often leaders have the intent of remaining completely objective in various situations, but it remains possible that they do not have the perfect understanding of how their behavior is impacting others or their perspectives. There are also times where leaders are expected to react constructively to bad news. When this is achieved, teams can move towards problem-solving instead of backpedaling (Mabe, 1982).
Research studies have shown that leaders who take the time to self-reflect and become increasingly self-aware reported having better relationships with staff members, increased ability to regulate emotions, reduced stress, and greater effectiveness at work. However, the caveat to this is that self-assessment works only if being completely honest with yourself to the extent acknowledging strengths and weaknesses. This can be difficult to do as well (Parlakian & Seibel, 2001).
There are various action steps that can be taken in the self-assessment process, including: completing self-assessment questionnaires, self-observation via video recording, peer observation, requesting honest feedback from others, reflective journaling, progress monitoring or success tracking, building a robust network of professional peers, and intentionally making the practice of targeted self-reflection a part of your evolving leadership style. Self-assessment leads to self-awareness, which leads to individual behavior reform, which leads to a positive catalyst of change from the top down (Parlakian & Seibel, 2001).
One mantra that educators seem to share is that of being ‘lifelong learners’ and that is what self-reflection and awareness bring to the table. The realization that there is need for improvement or development in a specific area and taking action steps required to make it happen. How can I be a more effective leader? Now that is the question! This week’s discussion prompt invites another quote from psychologist Abraham. Maslow, who once stated “you will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.”
Mabe, P. A., West, S. G. (1982). Validity of self-evaluation of ability: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67, 280–286.
Parlakian, R., & Seibel, N. L. (2001). Being in charge: Reflective leadership in infant/family programs. Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE
Throughout the self-assessment and self-reflection process, it has been beneficial to
consider my typical behaviors throughout the workday. It causes one to consider how and why we invest our time and efforts the way that we do through an honest and eye-opening lens. The purpose of these assessment activities seems to ascertain an accurate picture of the state our leadership approach is in currently in relation to our habits that either positively (or in need of
improvement) contribute to the school’s overall vision for improved teaching and learning.
Effective administrations focus on methods of shifting school culture by reflecting on their own
best practices in addition to collaboration with other professional stakeholders. Soren Kierkegaard once wrote, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards” which applies to this week’s research and application in great length (McMillan & Hearn, 2008)
I feel that with these self-assessments, there is not necessarily a right or wrong response. I also believe in balance and that a little of both people and task thinking in our leadership personalities. Both bring various strengths of leadership traits to the table to move the needle forward. Task oriented leaders tend to prioritize their to-do list, are concerned with efficiency, productivity, and obtaining goals. People oriented leaders are more people focused, work towards building relationships and a sense of community. At the end of the day, we as leaders do not want to neglect relationships or our to-do-list, thus priority and time management is such a crucial part of navigating leadership in general (Henkel & Marion, 2017).
To move the direction of my intersected lines on the graph more towards the middle of that Team Leader quadrant, I would consider working towards the following action items:
● Add relationship building activities to to-do list
● Continually lead by positive example
● Find ways to foster team collaboration and sense of professional comradery
● Ensure a clear vision has been effectively communicated to all
● Cultivate a passion and sense of urgency for continuous learning and improvement opportunities for every student
● Sustain the need for positive improvement through the practice of assessment, reflection, anddata analysis beginning with myself
● (Henkel & Marion, 2017)
Oftentimes we all seem so caught up in meeting daily demands that it can become difficult to pause long enough to reflect on how things went and what it means for the way we need to approach the next day. This is just as true for the campus administrator as it is for the classroom teacher. This assessment in conjunction with the others shows me that I am very much a work in progress. I am not certain if any of us contribute to the success of others to the extent that we would like to, but it is something the reflective administrator can strive for and move close to a little more each and every day (Desravines & Fenton, 2016).
Moving forward I plan to make an aggressive commitment to practice the following:
● Begin with self-awareness
● Think and act intentionally
● Assess the impact of my actions
● Be responsive in relation to collected information
The Value of Professional Collaboration
I feel that much of what we have learned about throughout this course pertains to both collaboration and creating a certain type of culture/climate on campus. Collaborative cultures take the brakes off and accelerate a faculty’s capacity to improve upon instruction.
Information is the lifeblood of any well-structured and successful organization, and it must be communicated clearly.
A true brainstorm is not possible without collaboration. According to Berman and McLaughlin (1992), for schools to change and to succeed, educators must be collectively involved in the implementation of practices and processes. Working among your professional peers allows you to develop new or small ideas into real action plans.
The collaborative instructional leader must prioritize creating school wide opportunities for collaborative, partnerships, and leadership. These practices are necessary for discovering new ideas, initiatives, or research-proven instructional strategies. Leaders that tap into their teacher’s experiences and expertise are more likely to achieve success. Collaboration often requires a leader to become vulnerable enough to seek input and help from others. This also may lead to some discomfort as stakeholders work through conflicting opinions or viewpoints.
While principals are the learning leaders on their campus, they require support from other teachers, skills, and community members in addition to district-level administrators in order to drive the bus forward. Research suggests that effective administrators facilitate collaborative shared leadership among staff and stakeholders.
As an administrator, I plan to place priority focus on the following:
School leaders realize that they cannot reach their instructional goals in isolation. A collaborative culture is more than attending meetings, lesson plan sharing, or attending professional development sessions. Creating a collaborative culture is developed by the principal's transparency, humility, integrity, accountability, honesty, and a commitment to inviting others into the mission of achieving shared goals.
Academic Calendar Planning
When meeting with the campus leadership team to discuss plans for the upcoming academic calendar, it is important to consider the knowledge, experience, and recommendations made from your professionals that will truly allow students to become and remain successful in school. As a new school administrator, I would first ensure that my leadership team is made up of the most appropriate stakeholders including assistant principals, skills support specialists across content areas, department heads or teacher team leads, our school counselor, ILS/Librarian, and myself to ensure that we are receiving feedback from a diverse group of student advocates which each contribute to our school in unique and meaningful ways. During the first planning meeting we will discuss the things that worked well and perhaps not so well from the calendar implemented from the prior academic school year. I would suggest that we meet either virtual or in-person 3-5 times prior to the start of the new school year or until we feel confident with our action plans. Next action steps will be based on our evaluation, discussions, ideas, and findings so that we can create and align our new goals to our priority focus areas (Desravines et al., 2016).
I agree that it is important to collectively look for specific areas seemingly stuck at a level of under-performance among sub-populations, across particular content areas or grade levels, and continue looking for similar trends throughout priority items. By doing this, we are able to use data to justify our decision-making and explain to teachers the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ and then can also support them in the ‘how’ as well throughout the school year.
I think that the Diagnosis Process Guide is solid although it would require a considerable amount of time to coordinate and conduct with the campus leadership team. As our text states, “school leaders often jump to judgements that can distract them from a deeper understanding of school action” and I would want to do all that I can to prevent this from occurring. I also agree that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ planning approach, and it is vital to the success of your particular school to ensure that developed targets, goals, and action steps are appropriate and realistic for your specific staff, students, and school community. It makes sense to use student data as a benchmark to work from in order to help teachers set attainable targets. I also agree that to have a holistic understanding of your students, it is important to use ‘multiple data points to diagnose school practices’ (Desravines et al., 2016).
I am not certain I would say anything is necessarily missing from the ‘diagnostic’ process, but I would add how incredibly valuable it is to have ‘pausing points’ where the leadership team has ample time to reflect and review what action/priority items are working well, what needs to be scrapped, or perhaps just tweaked slightly to remain in place as most beneficial for student’s academic achievement at our school. I have also seen firsthand how easy it is to fall into the habit of comparing your campus to a sister campus or thinking everything should be apples to apples across your district, when the reality is that the community and students that we serve can be quite unique compared to the school ‘next door’.
For example, our testing coordinator has to work between two campuses and we are only about a 10 minute drive apart from one another. One campus where I teach, over half of the student population are English Language Learners (many of them newcomers) while down the road there are a total of 4 ELLs at the ‘sister campus’. Needless to say, our academic/curriculum needs are not going to be identical- all the way to the type of teacher certifications we need to hire and the bi-lingual paraprofessionals we will need to support these students.
Desravines, J., Aquino, J., & Fenton, B. (2016). Diagnosis and action planning. Breakthrough principals: A step-by-step guide to building stronger schools. (pp. 27-48). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Campus Improvement Planning
The Campus Improvement Plan serves to align objectives, goals, strategies, and actions, combined will increase student academic achievement and performance for all students. Following a Campus Improvement Plan should help to close learning gaps through implementing necessary supports. From this week’s simulated Campus Improvement Plan, the highlights that I appreciated the most include: The data considered, questions posed (Root Cause Analysis process), and the three-year time frame required to effectively implement big change.
When considering key elements to keep in mind when building a Campus Improvement Plan independently, these are the items which have been documented as best practices for the CIP development process:
The evaluation process when reviewing your CIP should include: listing your needs, identifying strategies, identifying funds, reviewing current data, and evaluating the current impact of your Campus Improvement Plan.
The Campus Improvement Process works best within a positive school climate with a focus on culture. The ideal supporting environment includes a quality of relations between school staff, students, families, and the community. The idea of developing a ‘whole school’ is a common theme that drives many campus improvement initiatives.
Bambrick-Santoyo, P. (2018). Staff culture. Leverage leadership: A practical guide to building exceptional schools (pp. 263 - 288). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Your personal definition of school culture-
School culture refers to shared behaviors and beliefs that are held by staff, teachers, students, and the community used to develop a positive school climate/environment for all. School culture goes beyond the parents and students- it also refers to the way that teachers and staff interact and treat each other.
A positive school culture is evident when:
While all parties play a part in the everyday development of a positive school culture, it starts with the school principal. While the principal sets the tone for the culture, they also recognize that this is a shared responsibility and creates the catalyst for positive change so that all stakeholders also take on responsibility.
Who has to “buy in” to a change in school culture and why?
Research confirms that school culture has the power to influence and affect student learning. Everyone who works at a school regardless of position leaves their fingerprint on the campus culture. I believe that the ‘buy-in’ factor has to have a trickle down effect, and while it does not require 100% to have the desired impact, it does need to be owned by the majority. It begins with the principal making a commitment to the cause, then buy-in from the leadership team, then buy-in from the teachers and staff, and then trickles down to students and families.
One of the best ways to obtain buy-in from others is by including their voice, thoughts, and opinions in the big decision making process. The more that your team and teachers feel that they have a valid part in shifting campus culture for the better, the more likely they are to be motivated to act as champions of this change. Much like students, teachers and staff also like to be recognized and rewarded for their efforts and contributions. Another part of buy-in is educating your stakeholders on all the elements of campus culture to better understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ (Reichers & Schneider, 1990).
Desravines, J., Aquino, J., & Fenton, B. (2016). School culture. Breakthrough principals: A step-by-step guide to building stronger schools. (pp. 120-144). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Leverage Leadership, Chapter 5: "Student Culture", pp 221 - 261
Reichers, A. E. & Schneider, B. (1990). Climate and culture: An evolution of constructs. In B. Schneider (ed) Organizational Climate and Culture (pp.5-39). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Mission and Vision
It is important that every school (and any type of organization really) have their own mission and vision statements. According to Desravines (2016), various organizations and schools may use the term vision and mission differently. The mission should guide the organization’s strategy and a vision statement should summarize the direction in which you are headed. The mission statement, on the other hand should define how you plan to arrive to your predetermined destination. I do feel that if developing a vision is done with the right intentions and ingredients for success, it can push a school in the right direction for the betterment of staff, students, and the local community. A vision statement is a clearly defined outline explaining where you want to be as every school aims to be the best, or so one should hope. Vision statements should be clear, concise, and describe where you want to be in the future, so it explains the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ keeping the specific needs of the school in mind. The mission statement you generate defines the ‘how’ you plan to arrive at your targeted goals stated in your vision. Your vision is your desired destination and your mission explain your travel plans and what is needed in the suitcase to make it there, sort-to-speak. Every school wants to make it to an “A” rated performance status (or should). We all want for every learner to have the opportunity to become academically successful. The data sets provided this week can be used to formulate both a mission and a vision statement by looking at the data as it allows us to identify trends over the course of two years which shows us which students need the most support and in which areas. In the development of the vision and mission statement for this junior high school, the following items should be considered:
· What is our purpose as an educational organization?
· What qualities do we want for our campus to hold academically and otherwise?
· What do we want our core values to look like and why?
· Who is our core audience in the community and how are we best serving them as a public school?
Implementing data-driven decision making as school leaders helps to know whether the schools realizing their mission, vision, and purpose.
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I am sharing this because I am grateful for those who taught me these strategies and I use them regularly. I believe they promote the learning process.
In my view... The days of 'sit and get' for students and 'sage on the stage' for teachers are long gone. I think that the whole virtual instruction format has become a hindrance for embracing some of these strategies listed below, and understandably so.
Some in our field may call it whole brain teaching, some call it instructional strategies (lLead4ward), or perhaps call it Kagan Structures. What do they all have in common? Intentional structured opportunities for student conversation and collaboration.
I also call it making students an active participant in their learning... and it may often look like structured chaos. Because these are strategies, they can be applied across content and grade levels. This can also be done while being Covid-safe if well prepared.
If you walk through the library during one of my lessons, 9 times out of 10 you will see that the students are busy and buzzing working in collaboration (yes they are also talking)... which is exactly how I designed it to function. Students will never have an empty desk (unless transitioning) and always leave with a tangible product in hand. Of course this product could be virtual as well.
The most recent research in education tells us that teachers should be facilitating learning and students should be talking, engaging, and interacting with you, the teacher, and one another frequently. If a teacher is posing a single question and having a single student respond- where is the learning ownership for the rest of the class? These strategies are so important because we do teach so many tiny humans at one time and need for them all to be held accountable.
Trust me when I tell you (as someone who teaches just about all students on campus) there are some students/classes that are not ready to do all the fun interactive learning activities that I have planned for them as they are not willing to comply with my expectations for the LMC. In these cases, I assess behavioral/structure concerns and spend my next class revisiting my expectations and requirements until we learn how to get it down together. When students lose the privilege of participating in fun and engaging activities, it will usually motivate them to turn it around for the next opportunity.
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After reading the article ‘Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report’, I chose to outline a lesson plan for number 15-Cartoon squares, but with a twist. Narrative non-fiction is one of my favorite genres next to expository texts, so I like coming up with activities that will get the kids more interested in this genre as well. In addition to reading biographies and memoirs, I also enjoy incorporating technology into my lesson plans.
For this lesson, students will select a person of interest and study them by reading biographical works published about their lives. Students will then create a digital biographical story of their own using a website called: Storyworks.com. Since students do not visit the library every single day, this project could take up to a month to complete. The targeted level for my project is sixth-grade reading with a focus on ELAR TEKs.
Formal lesson format attached with rubrics and examples:
National Literacy Standard
6.1 The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively by recognizing the need for information and the librarian collaborates, designs, and provides ongoing instruction and integration of information technology and literacy.
6.7 Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Literary Nonfiction. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the varied structural patterns and features of literary nonfiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding.
Students will demonstrate their understanding of researching, reading and writing a person’s biographical works by creating their own literary non-fiction work through digital story telling.
Students will create a digital story board using Storyjumper.com
Digital Biography Project
The Library (various books), the Internet (various sources), Storyjumper.com
The librarian will introduce the project by reading a biography about Eleanor Roosevelt to students and point out the things found to be very interesting. The librarian will also display a Story jumper digital project completed prior as a model example.
• Literary device
• Personal narrative
Students will read various biographical works on one pre-selected person of interest.
Students will take notes of the findings that they think are the most interesting and beneficial to contribute to their projects.
Students will also research person online from librarian approved sources.
Students will compile information to draft together an outline of their own literary non-fiction piece.
Librarian will provide short tutorial on how to use the Storyjumper website for purpose of creating a digital flipbook.
Students will be provided with ample time to take their researched findings and work on the website to create their own digital project product.
Librarian will walk around to monitor progress and provide assistance.
Student’s final projects will be evaluated by their peers for appropriate feedback and additional contribution. Teacher librarian will grade students project based on rubric below.
Comments/Lesson Reflection: (To be determined...)
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Klassen, J. (2011) I want my hat back. Penguin Random House: New York, NY. 1-40 pp.
In this book, a bear has lost its hat and wants it back. The bear goes around and asks all the animals it encounters whether they’ve seen it or not. When they all say no, the bear thanks them each, and then lies down feeling saddened. Soon after, a deer comes and asks what the hat looks like. As soon as the bear starts describing the hat it remembers where it has seen the hat. The bear jumps up and runs back until it meets the thief and recovers the hat. The book consists of many elaborate illustrations and very few words.
Shakespeare, W. & Wiegle, M. (2007). Romeo and Juliet. Spark Publishing: New York, NY. 1-225 pp.
No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels is a series based on the translated texts of the plays found in No Fear Shakespeare, making the more attractive to the young adult reader. Each of the titles is illustrated in its own style, but all are funky, and appealing to teen readers. This text offers helpful plot summary with line-by-line translations of the original play illustrations that show the reader exactly what's happening in each scene--making the plot and characters easy to understand.
Appelt, K. (2002). Poems from homeroom. Henry Holt and Company: New York, NY.
The poems here describe the lives and longings of high-school students. From having crushes to first learning how to drive, Appelt focuses on the dramas of teenage life. Her poems speak directly to her readers, who will also appreciate her suggestions, and her excellent bibliography of adult books on writing.
Hodgson, F. (1911). The secret garden. The Phillips Publishing Co: New York, NY. 1-375.
When Mary Lennox’s parents die of cholera, is sent to England to live at her Uncle Archibald’s house. She finds the bleak Yorkshire moors in winter a very different place to India. Used to her orders being obeyed, Mary is astonished by servants who answer back. Mary is soon intrigued by the tales that the maid Martha tells her of her life at home in a large, poor family, especially about her brother, Dickon, and his animals. When Martha tells her about the garden that was locked ten years ago by her absent uncle after his wife’s death there, Mary determines to find both it and the key. As spring approaches and she spends more time skipping in the gardens and talking to the elderly gardener Ben Weatherstaff, she begins to become a happier and healthier child. In the end, Mary brings the garden back to life. She helps to restore his health, and her friendship also improves his personality and outlook on life.
Pullman, P. (2005). The golden compass. Random House Publishing: New York, NY. 1-368.
This book as all the elements of fantasy with its multiple words and adventure missions. Lyra lives in a parallel world in which human souls take the form of lifelong animal companions called daemons. Dark forces are at work in the girl's world, and many children have been kidnapped by beings known as Gobblers. Lyra vows to save her best friend, Roger, after he disappears too. She sets out with her daemon, a tribe of seafarers, a witch, an ice bear and a Texas airman on an epic quest to rescue Roger and save her world.
Williams, S. (2013). Jump:Twinmaker #1. Balzer + Bray. New York, NY. pp. 1-496.
Clair lives in a world transformed a global teleport system which allows people to transport themselves instantaneously around the world. When a coded note promises Improvement - the chance to change your body any way you want, making it stronger, taller, more beautiful - Clair thinks it's too good to be true, but her best friend, Libby, is determined to give it a try. What starts as Libby's dream turns into Clair's nightmare when Libby falls foul of a deadly trap. With the help of Jesse, the school freak, and a mysterious online friend called Q, Clair's attempt to protect Libby leads her to an unimagined world of conspiracies and cover-ups. Soon her own life is at risk, and Clair is chased across the world in a desperate race against time.
Palacio, R.J. (2012). Wonder. Alfred A. Knoff Publishing: New York, NY. pp. 1- 320.
August Pullman is a ten-year-old boy suffering from severe birth defects, including a cleft palate, which have left him disfigured. His parents decide to enroll him at Beecher Prep middle school after years of homeschooling him. During a tour of the school, August meets Jack, Julian, and Charlotte. Jack is nice to him, and August believes he has found a friend. The book is a look into how our friendships can affect the quality of our lives, and it’s important that we look beyond physical appearances to find our friends. People who might look different can be some of the best friends that we will ever make.
Lowry, L. (2003). The silent boy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: New York, NY. pp. 1-193.
Set in a small Pennsylvania town in the early 1900s, this book tells the story of Katy Thatcher, a precocious doctor's daughter, and the unusual boy she meets on a nearby farm. Katy Thatcher always knew she wanted to be a doctor like her father. She joins him on his rounds and has a keen interest in the people around her. She's especially intrigued by Jacob, a gentle, silent boy who has a special sensitivity toward animals. While Jacob never speaks to or looks at Katy, they develop an unusual friendship and understanding. The townspeople dismiss Jacob as an imbecile. Katy just thinks of him as someone special who has a way of communicating with the animals through his sounds and movements. Only Katy comes to realize what the gentle, silent boy did for his family. He meant to help, not harm. It didn't turn out that way.
Lee, S. & McClelland, E. (2016). Every falling star: The story of how I escaped North Korea. Amulet Books Publishing: New York, NY. pp. 1-336.
This is the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.
Stewart, M. (2012). National geographic readers: Titanic. National Geographic Society: Washington, DC. pp. 1-48.
This text includes exclusive in-depth coverage including Bob Ballard's 1985 discovery. Delve in to learn more about the passengers on board and how this terrible disaster could have been prevented. This book seems particularly accessible to beginning readers (ease of use). Clear photographs with informative, boxed captions; several numbered lists, such as “10 Cool Things About Titanic”; a timeline; and sidebars defining unfamiliar terms are nicely integrated with expository prose that describes the ship, briefly covers the voyage and disaster; rescue; and thoughts about how the disaster could have been averted.
Literature for a Diverse Society (Multi-cultural)
Quintero, I. (2014). Gabi, a Girl in Pieces. Cinco Puntos Press: El Paso, Tejas. pp. 1-208.
Our main character, Gabi is a 17-year-old Mexican American girl that is navigating considerable conflict both at home and in her social life: her father is addicted to drugs, while Gabi’s strict mother pressures her to conform to her own views of their heritage and values. Gabi, who seeks comfort through binge eating, wants to grow up on her own terms, and she explores her awakening romantic and sexual feelings by writing poetry. Gabi’s letters to her father are particularly moving, and her narration is fresh, self-aware, and reflective. The intimate journal structure of the novel is especially revealing as Gabi gains confidence in her own integrity and complexity: “I guess there is more to this fat girl than even this fat girl ever knew.”
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Selection: Bud, Not Buddy
For this week’s assignment, I chose to focus on an example of historical fiction (young adult) out of the three genre options. I have always been drawn to historical fiction when considering realism specifically. I really like the way things seemed so real and cultured at a time before Internet, Google, social media, and all other things technology driven. At the same time, if it was not for distance education online, I would not be an educator today.
The example I chose is Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. I was also surprised that I was not able to find this title or author mentioned in Chapter 5, since this was also an awarded the John Newbery Medal and has written many other historical fiction texts.
This historical fiction story takes place in Michigan during the 1930s during the Great Depression, which is a very important part of American history. A book study using Bud, Not Buddy could be used with other departments for a cross-curricular study as well if they were learning about the Great Depression or US History in general. Bud’s character is quite dynamic as an African-American orphan and is tired of bouncing from one home to the next. Many students can either relate or appreciate the type of problems/conflicts he faces since many come from broken homes or have lost a parent. Bud decides to run away on a quest to find his real father. Since his mother had passed four years prior, Bud has no other family members left in Michigan and no other reason to stay. Middle-schoolers can relate to the main character, Bud since he is ten years old and the plot development throughout the story on focuses on a few weeks of Bud’s life, and not a life-span. In addition, the language is not too complex so that a younger reader can clearly understand everything stated. The language and dialogue the author uses for Bud is far from grammatically correct or formal, but it is authentic to the time period, making his character that much more believable. One of Bud’s favorite things to say is “shucks”. Adolescents can easily understand the way Bud thinks, talks, interacts with others, and the world around him.
The setting in this book is described in rich accurate detail which helps to bring the past back to life, and the writer uses enough figurative language to keep the story interesting. Sometimes Bud must walk miles and miles, sleep under a tree, feels lonely, or like he cannot trust anyone. In the year 1936, traveling along through cold and rainy in Flint, Michigan is tough for a kid, but especially living during such a racial and controversial time. Real individuals throughout history are referenced in this book, such as J. Edgar Hoover, Herbert Hoover, and Satchel Paige. While the circumstances of the times are depicted in an authentic way, the author provides the reader with much optimism and hope as Bud eventually finds a new family and home with the Jazz band members that his grandfather plays with. The universal themes in this book emphasizes the importance of survival, fate, family, love, hope and relationships. Bud is a very bright (and brave) kid and keeps track of every life lesson he learns along his journey.
This book is great for a wide range of ages, but I think it is target towards the middle school levels more than anything. It is also a great read for anyone who enjoys reading about historical situations like I do. All the events taking place in Bud, Not Buddy could have actually happened, and after reading you might wonder if they really did. It is based upon real life hardships, such as the Depression, and what it might be like to go through life as a young boy during this time-period.
Short, K, Tomlinson C, & Lynch-Brown, C. (2015). Essentials of Young Adult Literature, 3rd Edition. Pearson. pp 84-90.
Short, K, Tomlinson C, & Lynch-Brown, C. (2015). Essentials of Children’s Literature, 9th Edition. Pearson. pp 123-128.
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Based on readings, young adult literature should reflect the reader’s age and developmental levels while addressing their interests and reading comprehension abilities. The content usually includes contemporary conflicts and experiences with characters to whom younger students can relate. Young adult literature also considers contemporary world views including gender social cultural, and social diversity. Issues dealing with politics and environmental issues might also be included with literature for adolescents worded in terms easy for the younger reader to fully comprehend. With adult literature, there is a lot more room for gray area, complex character development, complicated plot lines, mature life situations, and the length of the text can go on and on.
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