Saturday, February 25, 2006

Listening for a Third Place Brand in your Writing Classroom

Familiar Landmarks
“It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.”
Henry David Thoreau

Third Place Messages in the Writing Classroom

Starbucks does it with branding. The colors, the furniture, the baristas! That’s what makes it possible to march up to a register in any Starbucks and proudly order a Grande mocha no whip skim latte without a blink! You feel supported by what you see and what people are doing in the space. It looks familiar. You are entering a No Risk Zone. It’s so familiar, Make Yourself at Home should appear on the door! In your writing classroom, the same can be true. It can be the one place in school where students, see the endless possibilities for growth. Support them through familiar landmarks. Plan thoughtfully for creating a third place environment, a place where students feel capable, comfortable and creative. These are the Third Place messages that appear in the Coffee Culture world.

In the Cafe Kulture…

Teachers adopt the term branding as well. What familiar sights and sounds can be part of your Café Kulture classroom?

Brand your classroom for Writing Success….
Design the space. Coffee houses are designed for movement and well as for comfort. Use the help of students to create the room arrangement, either before school starts or at any time of the school year. Students can draw up plans for physical arrangement of desks, bookcases. Treat this as a problem-solving piece. It’s often best to have the kids take ownership of the room. It will send a message of shared control of the kulture.
Display the words of writers. Use quotes and beautiful language that is found everywhere…charts, banners labels can surround the students . The message is clear. We value language and use it with intention in this classroom.
Use music to set moods. Research supports the use of music as an aid to thinking. You have your favorites, and open up the list to the students…give them control over what is played to help the thinking in the room during independent time…or even before a mini-lesson to jump start energy for thinking!
Provision occasionally with snacks and treats that make the time feel more social. Every Friday: Café Day. Bring your favorite snack to enjoy as you write.
Use verbal Anchors. In some coffee houses, you are asked to connect with the staff for a personal third place touch. You may be asked as you order to identify your favorite super hero…that’s how you are called when your coffee is prepared, for example “Latte for Wonderwoman!” In your classroom, use a verbal anchor to get kids to attend to the pace of work. When it’s time for a minilesson, say the VERY SAME thing each day…for example, teach them to respond to..”Let’s rock” and the kids must say back…”Rock on!” That’s a way to signal for attention…when Independent Writing follows… say, ”Let’s chill”, for example…kids say “Chillin!” Using verbal ques can focus and generate attention.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Increase your Listening Power in Your Organization

Listening is the premiere communication vehicle in any organization.

Yet it's dying a slow death on the vine in our modern business culture. Think of it. The information age has blessed us with the ability to impact an organization's direction in a heartbeat. But this same blessing of technology can be a true curse. Blackberries...text messages...IM's and emails often flood a system with chatter making organizational listening fairly impossible thanks to the technology of distraction.

How can todays's leaders fight the tide?

Never lose sight of your audience...even if he is 5,000 miles away on the end of a teleconference! Listening is about people. Boettinger(1975) created a management lens that may help leaders simplyfy their own attempts to make listening a valued by people in the organization again. His lens featured three views: Vision, Craft and Communication.

Vision and Listening

Know what you want in your organization. What will it look like when people begin to consciously choose to work on listening? Spent time seeing the difference in meetings you lead. How will you raise the awareness of the skill? Who can help you?

These are questions that can shape a vision for listening in the organization, a real vision,and not just lip service. Spend time creating a listening time line. It might be your own personal time line. Then reflect on what the organizational timeline for listening has been. A leader that does a simple audit which includes talking to the rank and file about listening in their own lives and in their business day is building the begining of a vision that may at first be part of the oral culture. Shaping the vision into a written tenet shows all that listening is not taken for granted, and it is certainly held in high regard through thoughts and action!

Crafting Listening

Now that there is awareness, begin the process of becoming resilient listeners. Address skills of pausing and paraphrasing in your own listening life. Be aware of how your emotions set the course for your listening in meetings, and demonstrate this for your colleagues. When fsced with conflict or a difficult conversation in a meeting, learn to question rather then react. Saying in an approachable voice, "So, tell me more about your impression of my thinking...", can open the door to listening when you seem to be at a stand-off in a meeting. Pause before you respond and paraphase even the most biting comment, and finally, try to draw your colleagues into thinking bigger, even without tension by asking open-ended questions like..." "What hunches do you have about the response we have received from our clients to date?"

Communicate Listening Power

Elevate the cause of listening in as many ways as possible. Choose anvenues and forums for the language of listening to be advanced. The three P's of Listening: Pause, Paraphrase and Probe can become banners for e-zines and newsletters. In one to one meetings, set the intention to listen as a goal between the two parties, direct managers to set this as a goal for review, but allow training to weave the culture of listening together before evaluating listening performance.

Just remember...research says that the teleconference you are usually involved in is a garden of multitasking: people check emails, sort messages, or write a memo as they "listen". So how can listening flourish when the vines of technology wrap themselves around our conversation to the point of distraction?

The savvy leader becomes a conscious gardener who knows the right balance of information and exchange, and who can, with careful pruning. polish up the garden of communication through purposeful listening in an organization.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Charging the Writer's Workshop Battery through LIstening!

" There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment." Norman Vincent Peale

I wish I had said that. Because I live it.

Living life in the writing classroom is an enthusiastic dance... really, a dance marathon, since the teacher constantly supports the interest and momentum of students with a dynamic culture that,as Katie Wood Ray writes..."hums."

SO how to avoid the dull days of February when Writer's Workshop is no longer new. That's a challenge to teachers and students. Here's a few entusiastic tips that have kept the dazzle in my workshop dance, and they surround the idea of Listening, which is the key to connection and motivation!

Take a Vakay

Take a break from writer's workshop...and substitute a study of listening. Challenge students to bring in cd's, tapes, published.. and their own recordings. Listen to the sounds of the world..birds, oceans...jackhammers! Follow up the listening with lists of writing just ideas. Make charts that will be used when the workshop convenes again....share stories with partners about connection made to the sounds, record the connections in a notebook for further writing when workshops begins again!

Musical Moments

Listen to favorite songs...but anyone who chooses a song to play for the class must have the lyrics to distribute. The student leads the study of the lyrics. Students sing along then "unpack" the lyrics! Groups may be formed to create new verses of songs!

Blinded by the Light

Break groups into 3's...have one person in the group blindfolded. Teacher plays soundtrack themed recordings of movies or tv shows. One person write his impressions as the music plays, what connections is that student making? Stopping occasionally, a recorder in the group writes connections that the blindfolded person is making. Then compare images...does the blindfolded person's list differ from the sighted person's written images?

Hollywood Swingers

Find pieces of a few scripts the students would enjoy. In groups, ask students to stage the scripts as short radio programs for the whole class. When staged, the presenting group works at the back of the room so students need to LISTEN to the mini-play. Their backs are to the players!

After presenting a few of these LISTENING Challenges...break out the writers notebooks...and the workshop may not just may ROAR into a new level of motivation!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Four Ways to Improve the Way Students Listen

As the mother of three teens, I see the death of the listening culture everytime my kids get in a car with me. It is not that they're not listening. It's just that they are only listening to their own ipod!!! HELLO!!!

And not that I am not a music lover. I enjoy listening to my own ipod, that I have named, EdVenture Girl... but the chance to be together as family presents great opportunity to listen to each other, and that's not happening much in our media-soaked world!
So when I think of my kids in a classroom, not a can their teachers hope to get them to listen when I can't?

Maybe my educator side will win. At any rate, here's some thinking on getting kids to listen in the classroom..

1.Use Music

Now that may seem contradictory to what I just wrote...but really, it's not. In a classroom, music played for the entire community, can help kids get ready to learn. Playing music while learners write or while they problem solve in small groups really helps connect students' thinking. There is much research about the metacognitive benefit of music in the classroom, not too much on the ipod research for learning as yet! All I know is choosing the right music, by sound, lyric or theme takes the kids to a high interest level.

2. Paraphrase
Punctuate your lessons with short connective moments in pairs where kids paraphrase to each other what they have heard. Doing this in a team ,orally or with writing, can spark entry into discussion as one team presents its paraphrase to the group and then asks for another team to share theirs.

3. Sketching
When I read aloud or am presenting a concept in a lecture, I have taught kids to do sketches of what they hear and understand. It is a variety of Mind Mapping that helps students to access their thinking in the moment. They save the thinking...then return to it for further study. And ,yes,..Keep this in a notebook!

4.Eye Contact
Just valuing eye contact and stating this regularly helps students to attend. Every lesson I teach features several messages to that regard. Eye contact is central to processing information for some learners. Kids like it and they work hard to give you their eyes to signal listening!

These are but a few quick ways to counteract the slide into pasivity in a classroom...use a few and you will see the listening factor'll be music to your ears!!!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Trish in Someone Else's Chapeau Noir Posted by Picasa

Other Peoples Clothes: Listen to The Story

There are stories in Other people's Clothes. That is why I wear them. Everything I wear is basically consigned. I can't seem to help myself! When I buy, I buy vintage. Getting the Karma from other people's clothes works for me. I plan to build a speaking business around it!

So...Trish's Top Five Reasons to Wear Other People's Clothes...

5. Four Letter Word rule:The Word USED beats the word SALE any day of the week!

4. Always in style..well it was in style when it was bought!

3. No worry of running into someone wearing the same outfit, unless you are in the Goodwill!

2. No need to endure hot Abercronmie Sales girls to buy you 50.00 baby tee!...

1. You just love being different!!!

Viewing and Listening for Change through Lesson Study

I'm a seasoned staff developer with over twenty years of experience.

One thing I have learned outside the classroom that I apply in-house is when I want to learn a skill, I find a great model! I learned golf recently, and I have the beginnings of a good game because I chose a great model to learn from...and this theory lives in the client engagements that make up my consulting practice with schools.To accomplish this, I use a modified approach to the Japanese framework for teaching math, called, "Lesson Study".

The model consists of three parts: Planning a Lesson, Conducting a Lesson, Debriefing the Lesson. If you are a staff developer, it is a tool that you can easily incorporate into your repertoire for results. Viewing and Listening to an accomplished teacher is a powerful way for professionals to take on a new initiative. But simply modeling is not enough. The Planning and Reflecting that is part of the Lesson Study, makes for lasting change.Whenever I use Lesson Study, and I have used it in HS classrooms in Houston and Kindergarten Classrooms in New Jersey, two very different is always successful! Teachers like the active nature of planning a lesson, then watching me demo, then watching the kids try the skill being taugh, and the debriefing for next steps.

The following Framework may be useful to create a "soft version' of this Japanese PD approach:
Conducting Lesson Study 1. Choose a Skill to Teach ---With the teaching community who will be viewing the lesson, choose a very narrow skill to present! It's important that teachers have ownership here...Yet, you want to guide and facilitate so that the topic isn't too big...That results in YOU falling flat on your face in front of the group, so--shape the teachers' view. You will be on stage and you want the lesson tight!

2.Prepare the Group--Spend at least twenty minutes prior to the lesson talking about the skill, how it has been taught ,and the difference in the lesson for the study. Ask the teachers questions about the kids so you can connect to the learners in quick time.

3. Prepare a Handout --- Focus the feedback with something like this:What is the Topic of the Study?What do you Hope to see from the Lesson?What did you Observe the Students Doing?What does the Data( the work completed) Suggest?What are your next Teaching Steps?

4. Conduct the Lesson with High Energy--These are not your students, so get them comfortable quickly! Use humor and some strategies to connect you and help you manage the room of new learners...Have kids wear name tags! Ask for eye contact and quiet as you work. Try to have the kids focus on you, and not on the adults in the room.When students work on the skill you have demonstrated, teachers can mingle in the room and even talk to students. Teachers can collecting thinking data to see how the kids are processing the task!

5. Debrief--Review the lesson after the classroom time. Use the framework to facilitate and spend at least about 30 minutes with your group. Spend time talking about what the children did.( I have plenty of funny stories about what I did teaching a roomful of strangers, but save that for later!) Look at the student work as your precious data you are mining. It is just that!

6. Next Steps--Close with the discussion of how each teacher might tweak the lesson in his or her room. If the group can meet again, have teachers bring data from their own lesson, thus creating a real Lesson Study community: Teachers learning from each other!

Trish Rubin
Trisha EdVentures

Trrish Rubin
Trisha EdVentures

Accountable Listening in Classroom Mini-lessons
Trisha EdVentures

Trish Rubin Posted by Picasa

Trrish Rubin Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Accountable Listening in Classroom Mini-lessons

Today's literacy classrooms feature structured minilessons that are powered by direct teaching delivered through tight,quickly paced instruction by skilled teachers. The minilesson is often demanding on the teacher and on the students, as well. Yet, there is great value in its use. Learners who are the target audiences for minilessons, must be self-managing and responsible listeners who can quickly receive information demonstrated, and then turn it around in a quick practice called a "try it" as they apply the skill as best as they can.

Students must listen with intention in a minilesson.Following the 7-10 minute teaching time,they are expected to use what they have seen and heard to springboard into their own application of a literacy skill.

The type of listening children need in order to be successful in a minilesson is "Accountable Listening". Much like the current educational strategy of "Accountable Talk", this type of listening produces result in a short period of time!"Accountable Listening" can be taught to children as young as kindergarten age through any of the following avenues:

The Eyes Have It!

Train students who are gathered for a lesson to look you in the eye. Keep searching your group to engage eye contact in a way that reaches all eyes. Comment and praise those who make eye contact! I usually send a lot of Eye Messages in a lesson , and often remind students that I see their eyes, but am judging their ears!

Thinking for Inking!

Pattern students to move through kinestetic behaviors, like a think system sign. Train students to point to their brains when they feel they are understanding the skill. Demo this for the group in a think aloud fashion. Tell them they are not only cogitating...but they are Thinking for their Inking!

Anchors Away!

Teach a sound word, or an anchor word that can punctuate the lesson. For instance, If I say, " Do you get it?" regularly in my lesson, I teach the group to shout as a chorus," Got it!" Use this often in lessons to keep energy and connection high.

Elbow Partners

As students gather, have them identify their elbow partner for the day: the person next to them. During the lesson, you may stop once or twice to have students turn and whisper elements of the lesson. For example, the partners could repeat something in the lesson or speculate how they will use the skill.

Using this array of quick and engaging active teaching tools will keep students interested and the lesson lively. The writers in your minilessons will be fairly bursting at the seams to write independently in the "try it" when you have stimulated their thinking through Accountable Listening!