Saturday, January 17, 2015

3-2-1 and The Common Core Writing Book

Our administrative and coaching team previously concluded that our intermediate students are not proficient with the writing standards and we must take rapid and systemic action. I ordered multiple resources to give the teachers standards-based support.  The first book our Title I funding purchased was The Common Core Writing Book.   (Be sure to read more about Gretchen Owocki on the Common Core  and grab free sample chapters via the Heinemann website.)

As with any new resource, we do not want to just throw it at the teachers and say "use it."  So, we planned an engaging introductory session (with several more sessions to follow). It did not include PowerPoints or anything similar!  We gave teachers the opportunity to read, share connections, and discuss.


After distributing the books, we had teachers silently read the overview section (p.xv-xx) and complete the 3-2-1 activity (described below).  This may seem like a horrible use of time, but we acknowledge the reality of our classroom teacher's daunting schedule. Flipped professional development (where teachers read beforehand) has flopped multiple times due to several teachers that were not prepared to participate in the "book club" experience.  We find it more productive when we give teachers uninterrupted time to read short pieces and immediately discuss the reading with peers. The overview section, of The Common Core Writing Book, establishes the mindset for writing instruction, and we thought it is essential for the teachers to question the author's view of intensifying instruction.  We used this brief section to establish a collective agreement of the elements of quality writing instruction.

Instead of a lengthy PowerPoint, where I do all of the talking and summarizing, I purposefully tuck-n-weave an accountability or an engagement strategy that teachers can take back to the classroom.  The strategy we, SRLC Coach Stacy Moore and I, co-planned for this session is called 3-2-1.

Directions:  Silently read the overview pages. As you read, use the folded legal sized paper to list 3 significant words that stick out to you, 2 important phrases, and 1 complete quote that summarizes the text.  Be prepared to discuss your notes with the colleagues at your table and have your organizer posted in the staff lounge.
Example chart created by Stacy Moore
Teachers silently read and completed the organizer for nearly 20 minutes of the morning professional development. Then, teachers were guided to use the organizer to discuss the overview at the table.  Stacy closed the session by having one teacher, from each table, share the key quotes, phrases, and words the teachers mentioned repeatedly; and, she also emphasized those we had similarly annotated as presenters.  The completed organizers were collected and displayed in the staff lounge for long-term review, continued discussion starters, and to keep our community focused on the priority of improving the student's writing.
Organizers displayed in the staff lounge
Let's take a closer look at what the teachers wrote on the 3-2-1.  What do you notice?









We noticed that several teachers chose the same powerful quotes and a wide variety of meaningful phrases and individual words.  The teachers highlighted and shared the main points for us!   They read, wrote, and shared our collective agreement!

The 3-2-1 is an excellent tool for professional development and has several uses for the classroom:
  1.  Summarizing text
  2. Individual accountability for reading
  3. Discourse facilitation
  4. Low-stakes writing
  5. Strategy for comprehending complex and lengthy text
  6. Structure to enable "teacher as facilitator"

I welcome your feedback, questions, and suggestions along my professional journey!

1 comment:

  1. I used this recently in a masterclass I was asked to do with a group of school-based teacher educators. I asked them to use the technique as preparation for the live session; everyone reacted positively and also saw potential for using this with pupils.

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