"This invitation helps to show students that their words have meaning and their words have power in the classroom . . ."
About this episode
#POPCAST, Episode 5! In this episode, Jeff Anderson and Travis Leech talk about step 4 in the Patterns of Power process, Publish, Share, and Celebrate. Listen and learn how it works to engage middle school students in the writing process.
Listen to the podcast
View lesson 6.4 from Patterns of Power, Grades 6-8 mentioned in this episode
Meet Jeff and Travis
For over thirty years, Jeff Anderson has inspired writers and teachers of grades K-8 with the power and joy of the writing and grammar. He has written eight books for Stenhouse Publishers. He also writes middle-grade novels. Travis Leech is currently a middle school instructional coach in Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, TX. He has thirteen years of experience in education, including teaching middle school English Language Arts and as a gifted and talented specialist. Follow Jeff and Travis on Twitter.
Read the transcript
Travis Leech: 00:04 Welcome to POPCast, the Patterns of Power Podcast. Discussing grammar in the context of reading and writing conventions. I'm Travis Leech.
Jeff Anderson: 00:15 And I'm Jeff Anderson and we're today's host.
Travis Leech: 00:17 For episode five, this is step four of the patterns of power process.
Jeff Anderson: 00:22 The invitation to share and celebrate, middle school edition.
Jeff Anderson: 00:37 Travis, you're kind of a happy guy. Happy-go-lucky. Why is it so important that we share and celebrate as part of the Patterns of Power Process?
Travis Leech: 00:48 Well, I like to, in my classroom, take the opportunity to celebrate my students as many times as possible throughout the day. And this is really an important part of the process because this invitation gives students an audience to share their writing with, an audience of their peers. We're making assumptions here that this is a safe space, a safe audience to share with also showing... This invitation helps to show students that their words have meaning and their words have power in the classroom and just generally speaking as writers.
Jeff Anderson: 01:25 Can I jump in here for a second?
Travis Leech: 01:26 Please.
Jeff Anderson: 01:27 Because a lot of times people ask about, "My kids aren't motivated", "My kids don't want to write", and I have to tell you probably one of the number one ways that you can do this and to get those kids writing is to have them share a small bit of text, which this is... That again, it's that small bite sized chunk. But when you know you're going to be able to be heard, it changes something in you and what you're willing to do, and the amount of effort you're going to put into it. If I want to make my friends laugh, let's say, well, then I'm going to do some certain things I'm going to play around with purpose and effect and synthesizing what I know about this and how I can make this into a joke. I get to do all that when there's an audience. And I think our favorite thing to say is, let's say it together, "What is celebrated is repeated." "What is celebrated is repeated", and we got that from our friend, Debbie Miller who's another Stenhouse author.
Travis Leech: 02:23 And that is a powerful statement for us to be able to use. So thanks for that, Debbie.
Travis Leech: 02:28 How we invite students to share and celebrate in our classroom is as follows: we start with that piece of imitated writing that students have created in step three of the process, the invitation to imitate. We're going to ask them in some format to share their writing either with each other or with the whole class. And we're going to ask students to share their writing twice. That first time we ask students to share their imitation, it's just so that we as audience members can comprehend the words that they have put together and really understand just what their sentence is saying.
Travis Leech: 03:08 That second time that we're asking them to share is so that we can hear the pattern so that we can get that idea of the pattern and really get more of that content, let that content settle in.
Jeff Anderson: 03:23 And I think that that's one of the cool things, is as you get to sink into that pattern just a little bit more, just be immersed in that pattern just a little bit more. And what's fun is, let's say a kid in your room wasn't listening, that never happens in middle school, does it? But if a kid wasn't listening, the first thing he hears everybody go, "Ooh", when that's first read or laugh hysterically, when it's first read, that really... What writers write for, that audience that Travis was talking about. When that happens, they're going to, "Hey, what'd he say? What'd he say?" Well, if you know what she said, it's going to be repeated again, you'll be quiet and you'll actually listen and they will listen, they love this part. And some of the kids who are the most resistant to share, love sharing these because they get good reactions and it's a manageable bite-sized chunk. So don't forget that important power of sharing and celebrating.
Travis Leech: 04:16 And what we love about this too, is that it's another opportunity to really etch this pattern into their brain. They see it once in our invitation to notice, again and other version in comparing contrast, they create one and imitate, and now they're hearing more and more of those patterns, that same pattern being used in different contexts.
Jeff Anderson: 04:38 So if you're going to skip a step... Well, number one, don't skip any of the steps, but especially don't skip this step. I feel people sometimes think, "Well, that's fluff", but I hope you're hearing it's motivation, it's what drives the writers into trying and attempting to use that author's purpose and craft we want them to use.
Travis Leech: 04:56 And let's be honest, this is the step that builds our community of writers. Right here.
Jeff Anderson: 05:00 There you go.
Travis Leech: 05:01 Our community of writers exists for this right here to be able to share with our audience and get that feedback that they so desire.
Jeff Anderson: 05:08 And think about how many kids can share. When it's just a sentence that you read twice, we can have a lot more sharing going on, and there's a lot more connection that can go on between those members to hear other voices.
Jeff Anderson: 05:19 When I hear Travis do it, who's my peer, then it makes it possible for me... Let's say I wasn't able to counter come up with an invitation, well, that's okay, you tried. I listened to his and then I might feel safer. That's why we always call a time to share a little before everybody's finished before the trouble starts, that's how I like to describe it. We ask them to share a little bit before everybody's finished, when there's a third to two thirds of the kids have finished, then we might get them to start sharing. And then that kid that's still struggling or are at their desk, these students will get to hear more models and maybe be able to crank out their own and raise their hand and still be in time to share. We have that going where everybody's engaged. There's not lots of time where nobody's engaged. We want them to be engaged, but we also want them to be connected because in this world, none of us have enough connection anymore because of the digital nature of our lives.
Jeff Anderson: 06:14 Yeah, you can share digitally and I'm not against that and you can connect digitally, but we also need that human-to-human contact, which I think is so important and can come here. And that sound of laughter, to be able to hear that when you wrote words is such a wonderful, connected feeling.
Travis Leech: 06:32 And so affirming. So firming to me personally, as a writer, and I'm sure for all of you in the writing that you do.
Travis Leech: 06:39 Offering a few opportunities or options for sharing and celebrating with your students, you can check this out inside the Patterns of Power book it's on page 52, a really nice flow chart that shows you the nuts and bolts of these different sharing options. But just to give you an idea of three options that we think are really effective, that have worked really well for us in a lot of different classroom settings.
Travis Leech: 07:06 The first is doing a partner share or a small group share. Depending on the structure of your classroom, if you have table groups, having that table group share with each other and possibly choosing a best-of to share out to the whole class, that's one thing that I like to do. Having students partner up in some novel way and then share with each other and give each other feedback, "Hey, what's one thing that you really appreciated? A word or what's some feedback that you can give about their writing?"
Jeff Anderson: 07:40 Don't forget the focus phrase.
Travis Leech: 07:42 Thank you. Next. I forgot what the focus phrase was.
Jeff Anderson: 07:49 It's, "I use the comma which to add detail." That's why you have to keep repeating it. It's not just for the kids. It's for you. "I use the comma which to add detail."
Travis Leech: 07:58 And that's a great check-in, as well. Did, did I use the comma which to add detail appropriately here?
Jeff Anderson: 08:03 It's appropriately, are you saying that kids can be inappropriate? Oh, I'm sorry. Nevermind. That's not where [inaudible 00:08:09].
Travis Leech: 08:08 In middle school, yeah, it's possible. It may have happened once or twice.
Travis Leech: 08:14 Our next opportunity for celebration is doing a whole group celebration. So either in some novel way that you choose or looking at some of the lessons that we have throughout the book, we offer different options for celebration. Sharing writing with the class and acknowledging in some fun way, the whole class, as an audience, give some love back to whoever decides to share in whatever way they do. So I like doing different types of cheers, always is a fun one.
Jeff Anderson: 08:50 What about music? I love music. And if you played around with music, you can play stadium rock in and out. You could play this.
Jeff Anderson: 09:23 I know that's a different kind of witch. This is a W-I-T-C-H-Y, witchy woman. And we're talking about the relative pronoun which. See why we don't keep up with the titles? We can't even think about all those abstract titles, W-H-I-C-H. But we had a little fun with it. We had a little fun and we made up a few little words-
Travis Leech: 09:46 Yeah, we sure did.
Jeff Anderson: 09:46 ... So listen. And it goes a little something like this.
Both: 09:49 Woo hoo. Which then comma see how well it connects. Woo hoo. Which then comma. It has a pause on its mind.
Jeff Anderson: 10:08 Would you believe we did not rehearse that? And yeah, that's true. It's a big truth, we did not rehearse that, that's just how that came out. It's beautiful.
Travis Leech: 10:18 But let's be honest. Music's fun. It's enjoyable. I listen to it to get in a mood. I know that I've reminded kids 450 times to get their headphones out of their ear as they're walking through the halls. Kids want music in their lives as well to set the mood. So I think it's a great extension of the mood that we want to bring into this classroom.
Jeff Anderson: 10:41 Well, tell about what we did in the book the Patterns of Power inviting adolescent writers into the conventions of language for grade six through eight. Tell them about what we did, Travis.
Travis Leech: 10:50 We were really mindful of adding music that we felt either caught that mood or caught that vibe that we were looking for or music where the lyrics matched the pattern that we were taking a look at in that lesson. Inside the book, when you're looking in that invitation to celebrate area, you're going to notice in most lessons that there is a musical note symbol, and next to that are some musical choices, some songs that we thought really pair well with this lesson.
Jeff Anderson: 11:24 And it's even a Spotify playlist.
Travis Leech: 11:27 Absolutely. In the back of the book, appendix A we've included the soundtrack for the entire book, all of the lessons and there is a QR code, as well as a link for you to hop into Spotify and get the entire playlist for free to be able to use in your classroom.
Jeff Anderson: 11:44 Well, I've already had my appendix out. Am I going to be able to use this?
Travis Leech: 11:47 Absolutely.
Jeff Anderson: 11:48 All right. Thanks, Travis.
Travis Leech: 11:51 We've talked about partner and small group celebration, we've talked about whole group celebration. Let's also talk about the idea of publishing student writing, publishing these imitations somewhere within our classroom walls, or even out in the hallway for people to see. So if I want my friend who is in a different class period to see the really funny and witty imitation that I put together, it would be great to have a space in the classroom for me to post that maybe on a note card or even a sticky note on some kind of anchor chart that attaches-
Jeff Anderson: 12:23 Maybe under the focus phrase.
Travis Leech: 12:24 ... attaches to the focus phrase. That is a brilliant idea.
Jeff Anderson: 12:28 I took the words out of your mouth.
Travis Leech: 12:29 You did. But publishing student writing, I love to have my walls just plastered with student writing and student work, because, again, that sets the tone that this is a place where we take chances, we're writers and we celebrate each other
Jeff Anderson: 12:45 Because when we risk, we accelerate our growth.
Travis Leech: 12:50 Absolutely. Jeff, do you want to talk about any pitfalls in this stage? I know you had really touched on that one idea of, if I don't have enough time, maybe this is one that I cut when we really address that. This is a very important step of the process.
Jeff Anderson: 13:10 Well, I was thinking of this thing you said the other day, when we were planning this podcast and you were saying, "Here is where we pour fuel on the writer." I love that because it's true. It's about the motivation and people are always saying their kids aren't motivated. If we take away the very thing that's going to motivate them, then it disrupts the process. This is part of the process. And it comes here for a reason, but be an application on our next step, another application, but this is an application in and of itself. Just the sharing and the hearing of that Pattern of Power.
Jeff Anderson: 13:45 Now, some people are afraid, "Well, what if a kid shared something incorrect?" Like shares a sentence that's incorrect. Two things. Hopefully you've bopped around the classroom like a ping pong ball and you know where some places that you need to go check and you've helped them one-on-one get to where they need to be. But if a kid raises his hand or her hand and proudly reads something aloud that is wrong. If it's real close, sometimes if it's real close, I'll read it the second time. And I do this when they're right or wrong so the kids never know why I'm doing it because sometimes the kids share something in their voice just doesn't carry over the room, so I want to repeat it. And we're really not about right and wrong, we're about meaning and effect. But if I took that moment to correct that student in front of everybody else, then we've just destroyed that warm environment and that motivation Travis was talking about.
Jeff Anderson: 14:45 If you must address it, you can get to it later, but what I really feel like is you put up another mentor sentence and you have some conversation you talk about it and you let them figure it out. Then, find it by giving them examples. We teach through connection, not correction. Correcting is not teaching. It'd be so cool if it were, but it's just not. And we want a trusting, warm environment.
Travis Leech: 15:10 I think another pitfall that you may be fearful of, but I'm telling you if you've gone through the process already, I have not yet seen it where no student wants to share.
Jeff Anderson: 15:26 Even middle school. Oh my gosh. That's a miracle.
Travis Leech: 15:29 Absolutely. Again, if this happens in your classroom, the first time you share and celebrate, then I would suggest just like in that invitation to notice where we talk about scaffolding upward into whole group, start with a partner, put kids in a space with a partner and have them share with each other. That's a very intimate space where there's not a lot of fear of failure and then move them as their confidence builds into that whole group.
Jeff Anderson: 16:00 Well, Travis, I'm hearing the theme song come in. Our Patterns of Power POPCast theme song, so that means it's time to go.
Jeff Anderson: 16:08 We're really glad you joined us this week to talk about sharing and celebrating. Next week, we're going to be talking about the invitation to apply. Yet another application because we know that that's what the research pushes.
Jeff Anderson: 16:19 We want to thank stenhouse.com.
Travis Leech: 16:23 S-T-E-N-H-O-U-S-E.com.
Jeff Anderson: 16:26 For sponsoring us this week and every week. And we appreciate their generosity of letting us get here with you with the number one podcast on teaching grammar in context.
Travis Leech: 16:38 And we look forward to talking to you again soon.