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Reflections and Steps Forward

2023 has been a year. I have had many opportunities to learn and discover new ways to help my students succeed. I set a goal that I would present more and try to share what we are doing in Room 157. I can't say I was as dedicated to blogging as I would have liked, but I did have the opportunity to share my students' work. Watching teachers be inspired by the work of those I am blessed to teach will never get old.

Recently I had the opportunity to do two presentations for our local Professional Development Consortium.

The first session, inspired by the brilliant example of Paul W. Hankins, focused on how we work Multimodal composition into our responses in room 157. As I have explored Multimodal and Multigenre work and brought it into the classroom, I have always been so impressed with the work the kids produce.

There is something freeing about exploring your ideas and how you might be able to represent them outside of classic print responses. Generally, the approach in room 157 is to invite students to respond with multimodal composition whenever they see fit; this could be in short stories, poems, novels, and even in original compositions.

Some students even explored film in their original compositions. This student decided to write their I believe essay as a video submission and the results are incredible.

The second presentation I was able to do focused on Multigenre writing projects, and we looked more at assessment. Multigenre projects are a favourite for me because they give students many opportunities to shine.

Over the last few years, I have developed a few different projects. It started when I was first introduced to project-based learning, and then the idea took on a writing focus with the discovery of Project-based Writing by Liz Prather. We spend a lot of time looking at various forms of writing and how different forms can still tell a shared story. For our projects, we look at shared topics. Students are often given "must-have requirements" and then choices to explore how they see fit, and that will best complement their ideas.

I have always loved how Penny Kittle organizes her class structure, so I decided to organize the projects similarly. Students can break down the tasks required and set goals within the time frame provided. When it comes to assessment, we used a mix of single-point rubrics and more detailed rubrics for more extensive writing pieces, and, jumping off from the brilliant work of Sarah Zerwin; we self-assess by tracking our learning goals and learning progressions.

This year, being more purposeful about our work and learning how to share it more effectively has led me to new thinking based on the brilliant minds I learn from. This past summer I read Kwame Alexander's Why Fathers Cry at Night, it is an excellent example of storytelling in a multigenre format. I plan to use it as an anchor-type text as we look at writing about identity in room 157. Through studying the work of educators like Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, Dr. Kim Parker, Lorena German, and Tricia Ebarvia, I was able to create something a little more in-depth. Still a work in progress, and I am not sure we will hit everything in the document, but I like how things are all coming together.

Ultimately, I love learning and working alongside my students to help them see their own infinite potential. The traditional structures of school can be inhibiting, by allowing our students room to breathe and explore their own genius, we arrive at beautiful results.

As we move into the second half of this 2023/2024 school year, I am excited for the possibilities that are out there. I hope to utilize the blog more, not just as a space to share the brilliance of my students but also as a space to learn with other teachers. Lifting Literacy was meant to be a space where a community could come together to talk about teaching. With that in mind, I plan to do a little self-study of Tricia Ebarvia's new AND FANTASTIC book Get Free: Antiboas Literacy Instruction for Stronger Readers, Writers, and Thinkers through January. I am not looking at over-complicating things, just simply posting to the forum here on Lifting Literacy at the end of each week. I invite you to join if you wish. I mentioned on Twitter the other day how much I miss the community of educators we used to have, the conversations, and how it is up to us to build it back a brick at a time. Maybe this book study and blog can be a brick.

Good Luck in the New Year and hit me up if you want to talk literacy or maybe do a podcast episode or something.


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