NoRedInk and ReadTheory in Grade 6 Reading/Writing Workshop

Introduction

This post will present preliminary data on the effect of NoRedInk and ReadTheory on Korean international school grade six students. Grade six English teachers gave students 10 minutes in the beginning of every English class to work on NoRedInk (NRI) and Readtheory (RT). Based on MAP growth in Reading and Language Use, NoRedInk has a stronger effect on student performance.

Background

I am a grade six ELL teacher at Korea International School Jeju. We use a co-teaching model in the MS, so I am in every English class with the English teacher, Paul Boland. We started using the Teacher’s College Reading/Writing Workshop this year in the MS, continuing its rollout that began the year before in the ES. Our student population is mostly Korean, and while they are high-performing students, many need English language support.

As we started developing our lessons, we realized there weren’t many opportunities to practice language during the class. Our instinctual need to provide opportunities for student output set us up to struggle with the 10-12 minute mini-lesson time limit. Both Paul and I have been in Korea for a long time (longer than our students), and we know that students – and their parents – want opportunities to practice language. Long story short, we wanted an easy way to practice in class and at home, so as soon as workshop started, so did NRI and RT.

We see four groups of students for 80 minutes every other day on a 4-day schedule (A, B, C, D). Students begin every class with 10 minutes of NRI or RT, depending on the day. Students were also encouraged to use these programs at home. Every report or email home reminded students and parents that they should be practicing at home.

No Red Ink

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 9.33.43 AMNo Red Ink is an interactive website where students can practice their grammar and writing skills. We really like how NRI differentiates and provides tutorials that teach students when they’re wrong. We also like that sentence subjects come from movies, books, sports, and a variety of other topics the kids are interested in. There is even a way to put your friend’s names in the system so that they show up in your practice sentences.

ReadTheory

readtheory logoRead Theory is an interactive website focusing on the skill of reading comprehension.  To start, students must read several pieces and answer comprehension on each one. The texts are organized into Grades 1 to 12 reading levels.  Once a beginning level is determined by the program, the student must read texts that at the determined level. When the student continues to get all the questions correct, the program bumps them up to the next grade level of reading text.  Likewise, if the student makes several mistakes while reading the text, the program bumps them down to a lower grade level. This program does not show the students why their answers were correct or incorrect.

 

Data Organization

At the end of the year, we had data for 60 students; 60 students that had an equal amount of instruction and had taken the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) tests in the Fall and Spring. All 60 students also had an equal amount of time to use NRI and RT.

To organize the data, we split the students into groups of 15 and labeled them A, B, C, and D. To measure their growth, we used the Conditional Growth Percentile (CGP). The CGP is a percentile that compares students growth with other students in the same grade beginning the year at the same achievement level and receiving the same amount of instruction. The CGP is useful because it levels the playing field in terms of how much growth is expected each year.

 

Here is an example of what the data looks like:

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 6.12.53 PM

To see the effect of RT and NRI on growth, we sorted each column numerically and divided the list into four groups. As you can see above, the number of topics mastered increases as you would scroll down the page. The 60 students, as mentioned before, are split into four groups. The example above shows group A. The CGP of group A was then averaged and compared to the other groups. To compare groups, we averaged the CGP of each group.

 

Variables

RT and NRI collect different data. For the NRI analysis, we used the number of topics mastered; for RT, we used number of quizzes taken and number of quizzes passed.  

We also asked students if the program helped them grow as a reader (RT) or learn about English (NRI).

Results & Discussion

Quizzes Taken and Average CGP .                 Quizzes Passed and Average CGP

The above charts show CGP growth in the four groups. Keep in mind that a 0.50 CGP (50th percentile) means that the group as a whole grew just as much, or better, than half of the students who started the year at the same achievement level, received the same amount of instruction, and were in the same grade.

What sticks out to us is that the difference among groups is small. When comparing the data, there is a slight upward trend in Chart #2. What this suggests is that passing tests requires more engagement. It is likely that some of the students simply clicked through questions for 10 minutes. 

Topics Mastered and CGP (1)Within NoRedInk, students master a topic once they’ve answered a number of questions successfully. The data here clearly shows that the more topics a student covered, the more they grew. We’re excited to see these results because direct language instruction is something that we find difficult to include in the workshop model. A strength of NRI is that it tells students what they are doing wrong. When a student provides an incorrect answer, NRI gives tips and clues, and the student can try again.

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Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 4.29.27 PM

It’s clear that student feel the programs are helping them learn about English and grow as readers. So far, our data show that NRI is doing a better job at that. What we find curious is that about 80% of all students feel that the programs help them, yet the amount of time students spend working through the programs varies greatly. If most of them feel that it’s helping them, why aren’t more of the students reading more articles and mastering more topics? If 80% of people agreed that drinking eight glasses of water a day kept them healthy, but less than half of them drank eight glasses a day, what questions would we ask? These are the same questions we need to ask our students.

Looking ahead

We hope to continue using these programs during the 2018-19 school year and move from 60 to several hundred students. Keeping in mind that students will need to be taught how to use the programs effectively, in and out of school, we hope to increase the amount of time they spend meaningfully working through the material.

Flipboard Magazines with Google Docs

Two years ago, our language arts class tweeted photos explaining text-to-world connections while reading The Giver. That was an eighth grade class well versed in social media. This yescreenshot_2016-12-12-23-20-47ar I teach sixth grade and though Twitter doesn’t enforce their age requirement of 13, other social networking services like Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram do enforce theirs. As a result, social media is still a few years away from most of my sixth graders – I’m not complaining!

Creating a Flipboard magazine from the student tweets was simple. All I had to do was assign a unique hashtag for the assignment, search for the hashtag in Flipboard, and flip the results – simple.

It’s not so easy this time, but I’ve found a solution that I want to share.

  1. Clean up the Google doc: Things like paragraph spacing and picture placement can make the post look odd if it’s not done right. What I’ve found is that tabbiscreen-shot-2016-12-12-at-11-26-28-pmng the beginning of each paragraph and keeping pictures in line with text work best. Make sure the title of the document is the title of the article and that student last names are removed.
  2. Publish: Click ‘File’ and ‘Publish to web’. This will open a window that gives you a link to the published document. Copy and paste link to open the published document.
  3. Flip it!: To complete this step, you’ll need the Flipboard + Flip It Google Chrome extension – get it here. Once you’ve added the extension to Chrome, click the extension to add the published document to your Flipboard magazine.
  4. Enjoy: Now that your published Doc has been added to your Flipboard magazine, you can share it with your students and colleagues.

Our students wrote newspaper articles loosely based on research they had done to create a video for the worldof7billion.org student video contest. Since they submitted their articles in Schoology via Google Drive, I can make a copy of the original documents to ‘clean up’ and then publish.

 

Differentiated Writing Instruction with Google Docs

Google Drive and its integration with Google Classroom has made a huge difference in my classroom. One of the biggest advantages I have seen so far is the opportunity to provide differentiated corrective feedback on student writing synchronously. This means I can give students (a whole class of students) comments and suggestions, and highlight errors as they write. The comments below show the range of support a teacher can provide based on the level of each student. Each comment asks the student to self-correct or clarify, though the effort required to make the correction varies in each comment, matching the ability of the student. As you look through comments, ask yourself what each comment requires the student to do to make the correction. In the past, differentiating writing feedback was a time consuming, ink-draining process that seemed to have little or no effect. Now, I feel like I can support the students appropriately while they are in the process of creating writing. Going through these processes with the teacher will help students retain what they learn.

 

Online Literature Circles: Week 2

In my most recent post, I outlined the steps necessary to set up online literature circles using Edublogs. Since then, the literature circles have begun, and we’ve just finished the fourth week. In this post, I’ll share some samples to show what is actually happening in the circles, and discuss the challenges and issues that have come since they started.

As you read, keep in mind that the students are already maintaining their own personal Edublog and are familiar with all of the procedures and tools necessary to post on the class blog. As a precaution, I made a short tutorial (click here for video) and gave a short reading assignment (chapter one of The Giver) to practice posting and commenting. I didn’t spend the entire weekend reorganizing student posts, so I have to say they were successful.

Each student receives a schedule, like the one here, which tells them what they are responsible for each week. It includes their role and a checklist that describes the three things that need to happen every week.

litcircschedule

Throughout the week, students read the text and develop the post for their specific role. Posts are due at the end of the week, and the summarizer in each group has up until the day of class to complete their assignment. This gives them a few days to read through all of their group’s post and summarize.

Instructions

Literature Circle Instructions

Role Descriptions

The links here are to the documents that are embedded in the class blog. These documents describe the overall assignment and the specifics of each role.

Example #1: Discussion Director

dd

This example shows the five questions that a discussion director asked their group. It also highlights one of the mistakes many discussion directors made in the first few weeks. While it looks like there are five questions here that cover the main points of the reading, the student failed to follow the specific instructions that come with being discussion director. Each question is supposed to serve a different purpose. For example, question one should be a closed question that makes sure everyone noticed an important plot detail. Question three should be a a question to the author, Lois Lowry. This question is supposed to spark discussion about something that would help readers better understand the text. In this example, the student is on the right track, but the way the question is formed is incorrect as the author would know who the old are.

In the future, I know I have to spend more time going through each type of question and provide more examples. Now that we’re in week five, most discussion directors are getting it right, but the confusion could have been prevented with clearer instructions. The response below shows that the questions did get the student to pull things together and draw some conclusions, but the product will be much better when the right questions are asked.

ddcomment

Example #2: Word Wizard

wordwizard

This is a good word wizard example. Each word comes with a sentence to contextualize it, a page number, the student’s own definition, and the dictionary definition. Many students comment on Word Wizard posts and say that they also didn’t know the selected words.

Example #3: Visualizer

visualizer

Visualizer posts with Fotobabble are going really well. Students are using the sentence frames provided in the instructions and are getting creative with their drawings. Students that don’t feel comfortable drawing can use another image or group of objects to depict a piece of the text. Last week, a student used his younger brother’s Lego figures to set up a scene from the reading instead of drawing a picture; it was well done and the class enjoyed it.

Example #4: Connector

connector

So far, the connector seems to be the most popular role as it receives the most comments. Students are doing a good job of making real world connections; however, in the future, text-to-text connections need to be a requirement. They are by far the least common connection that I’ve seen so far. Here are some comments to the above post.

connectorcomment

Example #5: Reflector

reflectorThis example shows the reflector commenting on big ideas as they work their way though the text. Page numbers need to be included so that the group members can follow the reflector’s thoughts as they read specific parts of the text.

Example #6: Summarizer

summarizer

The last student from each group to post each week is the summarizer. The summarizer’s job is not to summarize the reading, but to summarize the discussion that happened online. In this example, the students discusses the group’s response to the discussion director’s questions and the vocabulary selections. I would like to see more substance in the post and less listing. Students will often list all of the director’s questions and the vocab in a effort to lengthen the post, which is unnecessary. There is enough material in the posts and comments to write a good summary that highlights the most interesting material.

Though there are many small things that need tweaking before the next time this happens, the literature circles are making the reading that happens at home active and promoting a deeper understanding of the material through discussions and peer feedback. In our school, where many of the students need language support and lack the confidence to speak during classroom activities, the online literature circles are providing opportunities to request clarification, check comprehension, and to demonstrate understanding prior to class. This results in more participation and interaction and ultimately, more language development.