Resources Used for the Reading and Writing Project

Lesson Outline for the Reading and Writing Project

Purpose Statement: Reading and Writing Project

Articles and Rubrics used for the Reading and Writing Project


Day Three: Reading and Writing Project

Day Three of our Reading and Writing Project was all about the writing.  As a team, we decided that we needed to see what our students could write without our support.  When we went on our school-wide broadcast, we read the writing prompt and asked the students to write a written response.  We asked the teachers to allow the student to address this task on their own without scaffolding, outlining, or pre-writing with the students.

How long should this essay be?  How many words should we write?  These questions were asked in many of our classrooms by our students.  Students brains are trained to ask these questions.  Students were waiting for their teachers to respond with the answers. Instead, we all just stated, that you write whatever seems appropriate to you to answer this question.

Speaking to teachers and staff members involved with students as they were writing, they all commented that the students took the assignment very seriously.  It will be interesting to review the written work at our next collaboration time and see what the strengths and weakness are of our students as readers and writers.


Opps! We miss the mark a little bit!

What did we discover from our conversations after our first “Reading and Writing Project” cycle?  We discovered we have a little more work to do in the area helping our students understand how to annotation their text and show their thinking.  After reviewing many student work samples (text with annotation and essays), it was noted that our students are keeping their annotations very simple.  The papers look great!  The words were highlighted on the text and a few phrases and statements were written. But, overall the comments were lower level statements and did not focus on making meaning like grade level readers.

Just a reminder……annotation is not a standard.  Annotation is a strategy used to attack complex text.  Annotation  is a method used to slow down a reader’s thinking and allow for the reader to make their thinking public for their own reflection, conversation points, or writing supports.

For teachers, annotations are meant for review.  Annotations are a form or assessment for the teacher to get a quick gist of what the students are comprehending or not.  If annotation notes are not being reviewed than they should not be done. Without meaningful feedback regarding a student’s annotation notes, the students can not progress with their reading goals.

Today, if you randomly went into one of our classrooms and asked our students what they are working on during their literacy classes, it would not be unusual for the students to respond with— annotation.  But, our end goal would be for the students to be able to verbalize that they are working on reading grade level complex text independently or that they are taking note from a text to be able to site evidence from their text in their conversations or essays.

After reviewing our students’ annotation notes, we agreed as a team that we needed to revisit our thinking about school-wide annotation marks.  Although the majority of students were able to highlight unknown words and phrases, there were minimal written notes regarding finding answers, making connections, or identifying evidence to support the author’s claim.

We decided as a team, to create a common annotation chart to use school-wide, that is noted below. Utilizing this common language in all of our classes will create reading routines in the classrooms and allow the students to build on their understanding through using this structure.

Annotation Chart 1

We also committed as a team to keep the focus on learning to read complex text using a variety of strategies — yes annotation is one of those strategies– but not the only strategy– and not the ultimate goal of the reading lesson. The end goal for every close reading lesson is that the students can comprehend complex text independently.

Lesson Two: Reading and Writing Project

Day two was all about the students’ rereading their articles and setting specific reading purposes for their reading.  Our teachers guided the students into creating specific reading purposes by asking a few text dependent questions and referring to the genre characteristics. After a few minutes of discussion regarding setting a purpose for reading, the students created their reading purposes and went right into the work of rereading.

What I noticed right away was an obvious level of comprehension of the articles that was not there the day before.  Students were underlining different sentences and referring back to their reading purposes.  After the students were done rereading, they participated in talking with their table partners.  I heard students sharing the sentences they had underlined and also talking about the big ideas in the articles.

When we had the students share out their thinking about their reading and discussions, it was great to hear the majority of students report that the article information made sense and they actually understood the main ideas of the articles. That is what rereading with a purpose is all about!  Day two was a great success!  Students were rereading with a purpose, talking about text, referring to textual evidence, and beginning to think about the author’s claim.

Annotation, a strategy utilized to attack complex text.
Annotation, a strategy utilized to attack complex text.

Lesson One: Reading & Writing Project : Admin Team

The Reading and Writing Project!

What is the purpose of the Reading and Writing Project?

To develop grade level independent readers of complex text and grade level writers

What is the BIG PLAN?

Have you ever thought about the power of your team?  I am proud to announce that on our campus we have embarked on a task that involves the whole village!  Every middle school teacher and student will be participating in a monthly close reading and writing lesson during our ACE /homeroom time and we will use that information to help guide our instruction through out the month in the areas of reading and writing.

Today was our first lesson and every student read the same text and annotated their articles in their classrooms.  This was a cold read.  No extreme scaffolding for us!  No partner talk to make meaning during the first read through.  It was a task given to see what our students could do on their own.  This is harder than it sounds.  We love to share our thinking.  We love to work together to make meaning!  But, today we allowed our students to think for themselves. This is the beginning of a very gritty relationship!

The administration team, me and my assistant principal, lead the first lesson on our broadcast that runs daily.  We will conduct two more lessons over the next few days and than we will bring all our information together to debrief and discuss at our team collaboration meetings. There is power in school wide information and this data will help us create a clear picture of our students abilities to read and write independently.

Next month our English Language Arts team will be in charge of leading the learning and each team through out the year will have an opportunity to teach the entire school for one week each year.  I am pretty excited about what we will read about when it is the science and math team’s turn to conduct their lessons.

(FYI: We have utilized the reading and writing rubric of David Pook and the research of Nancy Frey and Doug Fischer to help us create a school-wide CCSS  literacy plan for our school)

I have also included a short video clip of my observations about day one lessons on our campus and student responses.

It is a great day to be stuck in the middle and we are full of anticipation for what the next few days will bring as we embark on the next two days of our Reading and Writing Project on our campus!