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PoPCast Episode 02 Transcript

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Travis: Looking to maximize connections between Patterns of Power and the rest of your language arts class? We got you. Looking to engage more students in the invitational process? We got you. Looking for more ways to see transfer of student understanding of the grammar patterns we study? We got you there too.

Whitney: In this series of podcast episodes we are calling Into the Classroom, we will provide some practical suggestions based on our own experiences in classrooms with teachers across the nation, as ways to enhance the Patterns of Power experience for you and your students. Whether you're new to Patterns of Power or a seasoned veteran, this series of episodes is for you.

Travis: We're excited to dig into this work with you, so let's go!

Whitney: Hello, listeners. I'm Whitney LaRocca, co-author of the Patterns of Power series, mostly at the elementary level.

Travis: And you are joined today again, so lucky for you by Travis Leech. I am another co-author of the Patterns of Power series, and I focus more in the secondary space. And today we are going to be talking about getting started with an invitational lesson set, specifically looking at the invitation to notice. For some of us, this is it super exciting to just get started, to share a model of writing done well and to open up questioning for students to have them discuss for others. This might be the scariest invitation within the entire lesson set, because it has the potential to be so open ended, right? We could have. I know for me, I've experienced brilliance in first period and chaos in third period throughout the day. Right? So we're going to suggest to you some strategies to support student success during and after this invitation to notice you're going to set yourself and your students up to be as successful as possible. So, Whitney, why don't you get us started with how we might do that, how we might support teachers and our students with the invitation to notice?

Whitney: Sure. One thing for our listeners that are new to patterns of power, just a quick the invitation to notice is when we put up the sentence from the book and we ask our students, what do you notice? And that's open ended. And so for students that are who are new to this work, that very first invitation to notice is maybe a little bit uncomfortable. Once they understand how this process goes, they pick up from there and the invitations to notice in the future tend to grow stronger. But this first one is uncomfortable, and it can be intimidating for both you and your students if they're not comfortable in this open-endedness in the classroom. So one thing that we want to do today is really share those practical suggestions that we can use. Travis and I are all about practicality. We know. We are in classrooms. We know we see you. We know those tight schedules. We know the variety of learners that we have in one classroom. And we want things that are practical and simple and easy to implement.

So that's what we want to do today. And one way that we can help with this open ended learning experience of that invitation to notice, is to model the thinking that we would do during this time with a different sentence, right? So choose something from a book from another book or another text or that same text, especially if you've done a read aloud on it and you've done some work and choose something else and say, you know, I'm taking a look at this sentence and these are some things I'm thinking about now, I will tell you at the younger grades they tend to be more curious than they are at the older grades.

So sometimes when we say, what do you notice at the younger grades, there is no hesitation. They just share everything from "There's a letter A in the in the sentence!" Right? to "There's spaces between the words," but as they grow older, they become a little less curious and excited about what they're finding until they know what to do. And so we do want to model that. And so one way, Travis, that I like to model is to highlight things that we already know. And so I might look at a sentence and say, well, I know that authors use capital letters at the beginning of their sentences, periods at the end. So I recognize that that's happening in the sentence as well. But I also know that authors can use commas for different purposes. So I'm noticing a comma here. But now I'm going to ask myself, well, why is that comma there? What's the purpose of that in this sentence? And model that thinking there? Travis. What I know that you probably have something to add to that component.

Travis: Yeah, absolutely. No. So what I'm hearing you say is we give a shout out to the things we already know. So what's nice about this is as the process continues, if we need to do a reset at any point in time, this is a great way for us to revisit any of the focus phrases or any of the lessons that we have studied earlier. And a great shout out. Yes, a great shout out to years past. If I'm in sixth grade and I know my fifth, my students as fifth graders experience this. This could be a great way to shout out back to the work they've already done. Yeah, I love to model. Not only things that I notice, so that could be the the actual structure, but I could also talk about maybe specific word choice. I could talk about descriptive language and the images that it's creating. In my mind, if I see this, this character in this model described a certain way I'm envisioning what that character looks like in my head. I also really like what you just talked about, and I really want to kind of second that notion of thinking aloud for students to model what it looks like when you're not quite sure about something, and how you might think through that to maybe figure out some solutions.

Travis: So sometimes if I'm putting up a model that has a new punctuation: semicolon, colon, dash--as we get at least the start of middle school, sometimes kids aren't quite sure what those things are doing. So I might put up a sentence that has, here's my sentence a colon with a little bit of an explanation after it. But I could share that for my students by saying I noticed this new punctuation here that I haven't really seen before. I'm wondering what it's doing. So how might I figure it out? Well, let me look at what's happening before the this punctuation and what's happening after it. So through that, I might talk through what I see before and what I see after, and then I might be able to theorize, or come up with an idea of, what's happening. So I think that's a great way to highlight for students. If you run into something you're not quite sure of, you don't have to give up. You can kind of think through and use some context clues within that model to help support at least a guess, right? An educated guess.

Whitney: So, Travis, my question for you on this. I'm just curious on how you do this as opposed to how I do it. Is the sentence that you're choosing to use it may not be the exact same skill that's going to come up in the invitation to notice, is that right? Like, is that true?

Travis: Yeah, absolutely. So I think you address some things that are great. So I would use maybe something from my, you know, if I'm modeling independent choice reading in my classroom so that students see that as a successful model of it, I pull something from there to get kids more engaged and maybe, oh, what are you reading, Mr. Leach? I'd love to know more. Or something like, as you had mentioned, something else from the text, I don't want to give away if our focus is going to be on semicolons, to connect to sentences, to show a little bit more of a relationship between them. I don't want to set it up and like, give it away right away. So I'm going to focus on something a different model that is engaging, worthy of discussion, maybe build some curiosity, maybe has something that's emotionally connecting. Either it's funny or it's gross or it's something like that. I'm going to want to pull that as a way to model my thinking, to then move into this new space. I really like what you're saying there. Yeah. I don't want to give away what is a colon do. And now here you have it and you already have the answer. Right. So exploratory work there.

Whitney: Yeah. We're not really pre-teaching here. We're modeling how we notice during this process. So I think that's that's important to to note here that Travis and I both do approach that in the same way. I just as you were talking, I got to thinking about that like, oh wait, let me just double check to make sure that we are doing this. Another thing that I do with students is when we're looking at a sentence, sometimes, especially at the elementary level, we have not as much punctuation as parts of speech that we're really diving into. And as they get into, as they become older, it moves more into these different sentence structures with different punctuation, and the purpose for those and different uses of nouns and verbs and how we use those. Right. But the basics are very much at the lower elementary level. So often students will only look at capital letters and periods or punctuation. And that's it. So often sometimes I will use the question is, well, what words did the author choose to use? Or what is the author showing us in this sentence? Right. And that's a question that I might model. Oh, I'm going to read the sentence and think, what is the author showing me here? And then how do I know? Or what words did the author use to show that to me? To where we can really dive a little bit deeper into the actual words, which of course, then leads into the parts of speech through our invitation to notice.

Travis: Love that. And I think also, as you move forward in this process, know that you can reach back to former lessons as ways to prompt continued discussion. Hey, what do we already know about writing that we've studied before that we can bring into this discussion? So that's a great way to talk about complete sentences versus dependent and independent clauses as we get into conversations around complex sentences, different things. If we focused on punctuation or. Specific capitalization. I think you can continue to weave that in. And I think both of us have seen and experienced that. As students do this work more than once, they can come back to that background knowledge as a way to enhance. So that's also a great thing to call out. If you're noticing a lull in conversation and you want to continue it, to call back to, "Hey, what do we already know about writing that we've studied in former lessons?" If we have a focus phrase chart up in our classroom, that's a great easy for me to to "Hey, from here, is anything resonating with you?" So I think that's another great way to connect to visual, which that's another thing that we wanted to share as well, a way to visually support students setting it up, invitation to notice, and then having that continue to do good work throughout the rest of the invitational lesson set.

Whitney: So visuals with those focus phrases are huge. Like I with almost every focus phrase, I try to have some kind of visual even verbs, right? Verbs show action. I usually draw a little stick person running to show that there's action there, and not only does that help younger students be able to read and remember that focus phrase, but when we have those visuals attached, our brains just naturally remember things better and go, "Oh, okay!" As we get into the different sentence structures like the compound sentence structure, we have visuals for those in patterns of power that go so well and help us really visually see the structures of the sentences and what that looks like. So when we are writing sentences, we can see how those tie together, how those ideas go together.

Travis: So what that looks like to really connect to your the idea of the compound sentence, how we might draw that visual out is we might actually write the word sentence, or create a rectangle or a box and write sentence in it. As we're creating a template. Right. So sentence we would draw a big comma or a box with a comma in it. Then we would write one or more of the coordinating conjunctions and but or whatever we're working (FANBOYS!). One of the fanboys thank you. And then we would put another box with another word that we would write out sentence. So if we're connecting two sentences, we could do that with a comma. And one of the fanboys a coordinating conjunction of our choice. So if we have that visual up ways that we suggest, number one, put it on your whiteboard, write it out, or find bulletin board space where you can have these visuals or have students draw it into their notebook, create the visual themselves, and put that in an organized place that they can clearly go back to. As we move into applying later on through the invitation to imitate or in any of the application options that we might choose, we have a visual connection of this is the structure of whatever we are focusing on. So I love that as a touch point.

Whitney: And I'm glad you mentioned The Notebook. Some teachers that I have worked with in their writing notebooks. The students have just a few pages at the beginning of their writing notebooks that are devoted to this work, where they have a collection of their focus phrases, so they have the focus phrase, a visual to go with that. And then at the elementary level, we imitate together when we get to that part of the process. So that imitation, the one that we come up with together as a class, goes underneath that. So they have this running list of the focus phrase, the visual, and then a sentence that we compose together where they were actively engaged in that as a mentor for them. And so then they're able to go back to that list throughout the year and during this invitation to notice if they have their notebooks opened up, they have all of those focus phrases there with examples of what that could look like to where they can make those connections of what they notice in their new sentences as well.

Travis: Okay, so to recap, we are suggesting if you want to bring more students along in understanding what they should be doing in the invitation to notice and what that looks like, we may choose a model ourselves and model thinking aloud how we interact with that model before starting the invitation to notice with a different model for students to interact with. We also want to create visual connections and put them in a place that's easily accessible for students that also sets up a process of them taking ownership of their understanding and drawing back to that over and over so that they realize everything that they have access to as a writer, to be more successful in sharing their message with others. Did we miss anything? Does that feel good? Whitney?

Whitney: I think it feels great, I hope. The listeners do. That's the thing about recording this: we never really know. However, this idea of modeling yet again we, you know, modeling is key here. And engaging the students during that modeling as well to really invite them into this work so they can turn around and do it more independently.

Travis: All right. We hope this supports your amazing work that you are already doing. We're excited to share even more practical tips for you to support your work with PoP.

Whitney: In the classroom.

Travis: In the classroom. Talk to you soon!

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