Thinking Through the Process-Using Thinking Maps to Write Effectively GCEL Conference Savannah, Georgia February 24-26, 2014 Nancy T. Willis Haralson County Middle School Literacy Coach and Reading Support Teacher Benefits of Thinking Maps Students: • Visual patterns from which a deeper level of comprehension evolves as students organize their thinking. Especially good for students having learning difficulties. • Empowers students with tools to analyze complex texts or to think mathematically for conceptual understanding-common core requirements. • Students utilize Thinking Maps to organize their thoughts to produce effective writing artifacts. Students are able to write based on their blueprints. Takes away the fear of writing! Benefits continued Teachers: • In utilizing Thinking Maps in all content areas, teachers are able to “speak” a common language that carries over in all subjects. • The needs of ALL LEARNERS are met using these tools. Each map represents a different thought process. • When students reflect their thinking on their map, teachers are able to quickly determine their level of understanding. Misconceptions can quickly be clarified and remedied. • Teachers design lessons based on student understanding. Benefits for the Administration • Thinking Maps promote integrated and interdisciplinary learning. • All members of the school community share a Common Language for meaningful and rigorous collaborative learning and planning. • Monitoring teacher effectiveness and teacher quality is facilitated. Writing Instruction Background In Haralson County Schools • Minimal writing/grammar instruction in primary grades-Mostly concentrated on reading. (Reading First) • Elementary Schools-2007-54% fifth graders (WHES) passed the Writing Assessment. • Need for a System-Wide Program-Tried Step Up to Writing-no consistency. • Primary, Elementary, and Middle Schools incorporate Thinking Maps now with success. Writing Progression at HCMS • 8th grade state Writing Assessment: Prior to initiating Thinking Maps: 54% to 65% Under state direction: followed state frameworks closely-More writing performance tasks More collaboration of lesson planningReview of student work samples Year One of Thinking Maps • Entire faculty trained-collaborated about how to use the maps in all content areas. • Roll-out of the Thinking Maps to all students in all content areas. Content areas were assigned certain maps. • Follow-up training by Thinking Maps trainer-fine-tuned classroom usage • Tier 2 and 3 students report appreciating the structure that Thinking Maps gave them. • 8th grade writing assessment scores rose from 65% to 71%. Additional Training • All system academic coaches received trainingTraining of the Trainers-expository, persuasive, narrative, and response to literature. • Thinking Maps began being used in all gradesK-8. • Effective initiative-Elementary schools showed great gains! One school rose from the fifties to the seventies. The other school didn’t show much gain due to inconsistent usage of maps. HCMS-Year 2 Implementation • Academic Coach gave additional training to the entire faculty in using Thinking Maps to produce effective writing. (Setting the Stage) • Academic Coach gave additional training to ELA teachers in Using Thinking Maps to produce effective writing in all genres. Manuals were purchased in all genres. • Gifted students reported not needing Thinking Maps to organize their writing.( We had only had a minimal number of students to exceed on the writing assessment, so????) • Teachers were still telling students which maps to use and when. Set a school goal of getting students to choose which ones they need. • 8th grade writing assessment scores rose from 71% to 82%! Only 4 students exceeded. HCMS-Year 3 Implementation • 8th graders had 14 non-readers when they entered the middle school in 6th grade. Many other students were below grade level by at least 2 years. • HUGE push for promoting effective reading practice and progress monitoring as well as developing writing skills. • ELA scores in the CRCT were consistently below reading skills. • Teachers continued requiring students to use Thinking Maps but were still guiding them too much in what maps to use. Students were able to verbalize what thought process they were using. • 8th grade writing assessment scores dropped only 2 percentile points to 79%. NO students exceeded on the assessment. • School focus for 2013-2014: Push for exceeding scores and students use any Thinking Map they feel needed. HCMS-4th Year of Implementation • • • • “Taking it off the map” has been a big push. More writing performance tasks Individual and small group writing instruction Support classes using more Thinking Maps for writing opportunities • More writing in LBI. • Whole faculty training in expository and informational writing. • Waiting on writing assessment scores. HCMS Initiatives to Enhance Thinking Map Usage • Reflection on lesson plans • Collaborative planning-grade level and vertical • Literacy Block Initiative • Contests showcasing student work Next Steps for HCMS • More vertical planning for grades K-8 • Encourage students to combine maps and/or modify maps to better organize their reflections/notes • Vertical planning with high school teachers to become informed of weaknesses that are still present. • Ongoing training in all content areas for all genres.