About this episode
Welcome to POPCAST, Episode 9! This is a special edition of the podcast where your hosts, Jeff Anderson and Travis Leech, answer listeners' questions that have come in since the release of this podcast and their new book, Patterns of Power, Grades 6-8. If you have any other questions for Jeff and Travis, head over to the Patterns of Power Community Facebook group. Happy listening!
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
Jeff: Welcome to POPCast.
Travis: A Patterns of Power podcast.
Jeff: Discussing grammar in the context of the reading and writing connection.
Travis: I'm Travis Leech.
Jeff: And I'm Jeff Anderson. And we're your hosts today.
Travis: For episode eight, step six of the Patterns of Power process.
Jeff: The Invitation to Edit.
Travis: Jeff, let's talk about the Invitation to Edit. Why is this an important step in the process?
Jeff: Well, what you'll notice is it's the last step, not the first step where we've gotten curiosity, tapped into, gotten conversation, tapped into, trying it out, tapped into, got all that learning happening before we ask kids data. I think one of the biggest mistakes I see made, or that I've made, quite honestly, as a teacher, is asking kids to edit stuff that they've never seen before. Or that they don't know the proper pattern or the meaning-based pattern in the first place.
Jeff: And I'm not talking just worksheets or test practice where we ask them to edit, also just sending them back and telling him to edit their own writing. All those things are destined for failure and we have to do something different. And so here we are, we've spent five, six, seven, eight days teaching, just soaking in the pattern of power process, and looking at the standard or that particular pattern of power, which in this case was the comma which, and then we step into what we call the Invitation to Edit, which would be as close as we get to building a bridge between test taking and the actual good instruction.
Jeff: I like to say best practice is test practice, but this helps get their mind moving to what this might also look like on a test. So the Invitation to Edit in the student facing materials, which there are always student facing materials with every lesson in Patterns of Power, inviting adolescent writers into the conventions of editing. Ah, can I say something?
Travis: Yeah, no, you got it.
Jeff: There you go.
Travis: It's there.
Jeff: We do that because Stenhouse Publishers is our sponsor and we want to thank them again for sponsoring this POPCast. That's Stenhouse Publishers.
Travis: S-T-E-N-H-O-U-S-E.com, we appreciate you.
Jeff: There you go. So on the student facing Invitation to Edit, it says editing conversations. This thread of conversation has moved throughout this process. Have you noticed that? Because that raises our conscious level of awareness of the moves writers make to create meaning. So the first step of the Invitation to Edit is to display four sentences. The top sentence is the model that we've been studying, and we ask the question about that model we've been studying, what did we learn about writing from the author? What did we learn about writing from the author? That's that first step.
Travis: Yep, and putting this correct sentence up first for students to look at and to discuss, this is a great opportunity for them to review the pattern, to restate the focus phrase and to get into that space again of being able to have a rich discussion about the convention that's going on right here.
Jeff: My friend, Elena Morris says, it's like we get to vacuum up the residue of all the week's learning to put it back out. They're generating it again. They're talking about it again. Then that was the first sentence, and I said there were four sentences. The next three sentences are labeled A, B and C. And they're the exact same sentence, except for one thing.
Jeff: Like letter A, which is the same sentence that we've been looking at, that we've been studying, but there's been one change made in it. In letter B, you look at that same sentence we've been looking at, but there's been another change made to it. And when you look at letter C, there's yet another change. And remember, you can always look at the 6.4 lesson that we have, that's free for you to preview on stenhouse.com, so don't forget to use that if that will help you picture this. Anyway, on the C, we also make an alteration, we make a change.
Jeff: So we go through them one at a time. We've already gone through the first one and asked, what do we learn about writing from the author? The second one, letter A, with one change in it, we ask what changed? So the first thing they do is they identify what changed because we want to develop that editing eye to look for things that may be helpful or causing problems with making meaning. And then to keep it in that language of meaning and effect, instead of right and wrong, we asked what is the effect of that change? Not what's the mistake. We say, what changed? And then what's the effect of that change on the reader? We go through that for each of them.
Jeff: Now, when I started this process out, I used to hide and reveal one sentence at a time. But what we figured out over time is having them all up and having the kids be able to do comparative analysis, which is what they're asked to do on standardized testing, is very helpful. And there's an Invitation to Edit for every single lesson in the book, but you'll be able to write your own because Travis, tell us some of the things you were thinking about that you could do as those changes in those bottom three sentences.
Travis: Yeah, so when we took a look at various state standards around language, we-
Jeff: And the national testing too.
Travis: Absolutely. We noticed that there were some standards that would be a real challenge to find a successful model sentence. For example, sentence fragments or run-ons that happens maybe ever so often, but that's not something that we want to promote as a successful model pattern of writing.
Travis: So this is a space where we can really address playing with or omitting or adding punctuation to create those fragments or run-on sentences. This is a place where we can look at those commonly confused words and maybe shift different versions of that word. I'm thinking about to, too and two. There, their in they're. It's an its.
Jeff: What? Those sound like the same words to me, Travis.
Travis: They absolutely do. So having that discussion around the effect that using different spelling might have.
Jeff: Oh, spelling.
Travis: Spelling. Spelling words in different ways. We can look at tense shift, shifting from past, present.
Jeff: Oh, it's getting tense.
Travis: We can look at the agreement between pronouns and their antecedents.
Jeff: They can be so disagreeable sometimes.
Travis: And I think capitalization is another place where we can do some playing in this space.
Jeff: Yeah. You can just write it in all capital letters if you wanted, and then that's a way you could address to the kids why we don't write things in all capital letters, because it's actually really hard to read something written in all caps.
Travis: So as you are making decisions to create your own process, your own invitational process through a pattern that you have, once you get to the Invitation to Edit, and we have this spelled out for you in words, in chapter two of the book-
Jeff: Some long, some short.
Travis: Some suggestions here for you. So things to think about for you to really be adept at hopping in, using your model sentence, and then switching it up.
Jeff: And the really cool thing on the teacher planning pages, which are usually about two pages before we have the student facing stuff that you can use tomorrow in your classroom, is there's a big yellow box. That's the Invitation to Edit box, which has the, what did we learn about writing from the author? And has the original sentence written there and then has the A, B and C with the change, but it's in a T-chart. So on the right-hand side, just in case you don't know what the effect of the change is, or you might need a little help or want some help explaining that to your kids, on that right-hand side of that big yellow box, the invitation data box. There's an explanation of exactly what changed and what is the effect of that change. Let me give you an example.
Jeff: We've been looking at Mr. Charles can barely hear a thing, comma which, remember that comma which. Mr. Charles can barely a thing, comma, which is why he's always yelling at everybody and everybody's always yelling at him. So in letter A, we took the comma before which out, and we asked the kids what changed and they'll say, well, the comma's gone. What effect does that have? Well, you're supposed to use the comment after the which. So here's the explanation, just so you know what this looks like in the T-chart, in the yellow box next to it.
Jeff: The comma between thing and which has been deleted. This affects the flow of the sentence. Without the pause, the complex sentence can run together. I use the comma which to add detail. There's that focus phrase again. Can you see how often you're supposed to use that focus phrase? So it literally becomes a part of their authors craft thinking. It becomes automatic in their own thought.
Travis: All right, Jeff. Now let's talk about some of the pitfalls within this invitation and just some tips that maybe we can offer or ideas that we can offer to address those. And I really wanted to start with-
Jeff: Pitfalls and tips.
Travis: With this idea of making this section, this invitation about right and wrong, like the first sentence is right, the other three sentences are wrong.
Travis: There are specifics that we've done within some of these lessons. I'm thinking, for example, looking at punctuation. So the idea of commas separating information versus dashes separating information, both work, both are correct. And you're going to notice in those lessons, those punctuation lessons, that we sometimes substitute out correct versions of different-
Jeff: Correct changes.
Travis: Punctuation usage, and so that discussion is even more-
Travis: Yeah, and it's more important here about choice. The choice that the writer made here and the effect. So, commas separating versus dashes separating. What effect does that have on you as the reader? We don't want kids to see it as, well, this is right because it's how I saw it in the pattern, in the invitation to notice, and everything else is wrong, because that's not the case.
Jeff: Intentional or not, all of our choices have an effect. Intentional or not, all of our choices as writers have an effect on the reader.
Travis: Yeah, and we can talk about if we are specifically omitting things or making sentences in this space that we may traditionally have thought of as wrong. Instead, we can shift that conversation to this meaning, maybe it messes with our meaning because it's not in this correct pattern, I guess.
Jeff: Right. It's because we're used to it, and when you're used to something it's comfortable and it doesn't distract you. And if you make a choice that's different, if you do intentionally put in a sentence fragment let's say, you have to do it for a reason. Author's purpose and choice. It all comes together here. I mean, this is like, for instance, thinking about punctuation. All punctuation separates. Say that with me, even if you're walking around the lake, all punctuation separates.
Travis: All punctuation separates.
Jeff: But there's a subtle difference between a comma and a dash. And we'll talk about that in the actual yellow box that we discussed, but a comma is a little more common. And in fact, it's the most used punctuation mark of all punctuation marks. Commas are the most used.
Jeff: So if we use a dash, it's a little quicker, it guides the eye over there. It's a little more casual. It's a little more dash, it's fast, your eye goes right across to it. So there's just subtle differences in how we do this. And that's what we want these conversations to be, because that's the word again, editing conversations, because we know of the retention value of conversation and talking back and forth and raising our conscious level of awareness of the moves writers make to create meaning and how different choices have different effects.
Travis: Yeah, and then to really reiterate that point. I think another pitfall that we may fall into here, just because of timing in our classroom day.
Jeff: Rush, rush, rush.
Travis: And because of the need to get graded assignments. We may turn this into more of a worksheet than actual conversation.
Jeff: And worksheets are conversation killers.
Travis: And we really want to remind you here, this whole process, every step of the way we have conversation built in as this way for students to actively make meaning.
Travis: Absolutely. So this is no different. So having that conversation, if you're looking for a way to pull a grade out of this, that grade could come in a reflective, short writing piece about the conversations that were had in the Invitation to Edit.
Jeff: And we're doing a question and answer podcast in a couple of weeks. And that one will address that in particular.
Travis: Oh yeah, that's a great point.
Jeff: So the other pitfall would be making it all about this, don't study the sentences, don't do the compare and contrast, don't do the invitation edit, just do, I mean, invitation to imitate and celebrate, just do all invitations to edit, and think that you're getting away because you're using literature, it's good. No, no, no. They need the other steps. This is the culmination. This is the [inaudible 00:14:34] application where their understanding comes back to the surface. Don't turn it into a daily oral language, or DOL. Don't turn it into about being right and wrong. Don't turn it into a worksheet. It's an editing conversation.
Travis: And this is where you've built up students' confidence. This is where confidence should be the highest throughout this process around this pattern. Students should want to have this discussion because they're empowered. They know what this pattern is about. They've talked about it, they've observed it. They've imitated it. They've applied it. They've gotten great feedback from you and their peers.
Jeff: You can't skip that part. You just can't. That's where the learning happens, in the conversation.
Travis: I think I hear that music.
Jeff: What's that mean?
Travis: Signaling that it is the end of this episode. They seem to just go by so quick.
Jeff: Well, we'll see you in two weeks when we have question and answers. So I'm looking forward to that. And we'll probably do another question and answer episode somewhere down the line.
Travis: All right, everybody, as always, great to have a conversation with you around the Patterns of Power.
Jeff: And as AOL used to say, goodbye.