October 17, 2021

EPISODE 6: WOKE WRITING

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello, my energetic and committed tribe and welcome to revoke rewriting our kids education podcast. My name is Michelle person, and we are on a journey to change the face of education. We are rethinking re-examining and re-educating ourselves and our children. Last week, we talked about what it means to be woke and reading class this week, we follow the natural progression of things, and we’re going to explore what it means to be woke and writing can good writing really be taught. We will explore that question today with our guests Lavonne gigger from the great state of Georgia. She was introduced to a system that we should all be using the dot system. And she is going to tell us more about it today. And the words of James Baldwin read, read, read, never stop reading. And when you can’t read anymore, right,

Speaker 0 00:01:25 Writing gives voice to our inner thoughts and allows us to share them. It is often been said that the best way to improve someone’s reading is to have them write writing focuses on phonics, comprehension, mechanics. It has students developing their voice and how they can communicate that voice to others. I can tell you that though. It might be the best way to create better readers. It is not the easiest. It might be the best way to create better readers, but whatever I would say, okay, class, take out your writing journals. The groans were all audible. Eyes were roll. Teeth were sucked. My kids hated writing, but they had to write each year. Standardized tests are putting more and more emphasis on writing and not just personal narrative writing, where you can make up a story or summarize a chapter and paths. No students, these days are expected to read two separate texts, form an idea about what they read and then defend that idea.

Speaker 0 00:02:31 Citing examples from both texts as early as third grade, if you cannot write, you do not pass the end of the year state assessment period, we could do a whole separate podcast on whether or not I believe that particular requirement is grade level appropriate. Spoiler alert. I don’t, but unfortunately, and traditional public schools right now, that is the reality. And the model that we have the most frustrating part from is that no one seems to ever want to talk about the fact that we tend to write how we speak. Why is that important? You might ask, well, one, we know our black and brown babies don’t always speak the Queen’s English and that strike one. Number two, we can only write as well as we read. So given that our black and brown babies on average also read one to two grade levels behind their peers. Writing becomes even more burdensome. So how do we do it? How do we make sure our children are able to express themselves fully and adequately? My guest today is here to explain how she does it and give us a few tips, but vine, it is great to see you. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule down there in Georgia for talking and talking to us today.

Speaker 2 00:03:50 No problem. I am honored to be invited. We

Speaker 0 00:03:54 Were talking before we got started about the writing system that you stumbled across and with were, and were introduced to that helps get kids engaged and really understanding, grasp, um, the different elements of the writing system. And we cannot wait for you to share all of that. Um, but before we dive into that, um, can you tell the listeners a little bit more about you, who you are your background? So

Speaker 2 00:04:17 My name is Lavonne. I’m originally from Kansas. I’ve been here in Georgia, just over 13 years. Um, I’m a mother of three, I’m a dancer and I’m having about education as well. This is my eighth year in education, my five and a half, six years going into teaching fourth grade also then second grade. And I’ve done a combination of police department alive. And self-contained,

Speaker 0 00:04:47 That’s funny. I love it. I’m a second and fourth grade, ironically, like we’re we’re sister and like, you know, you’re, we got sister spirits, uh, fourth and second grade where the two grades, I taught everything, but I spent most of my time in second and fourth. Um, and that’s funny too, because that’s perfect for the question I’m about to ask you first, second grade is when you really transition into really first grade is really more about getting a sentence out, you know, like being very specific, maybe writing one full sentence with correct capitalization or the period. Second grade is when you start to introduce the idea of a paragraph, meaning you’re going to organize your thoughts. You’re going to plan fourth grade is actually when they expect you to kind of be working on revising that process so that you can be considered a fluent writer for fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. So you’ve actually seen people in both areas really, really beginning and where they should actually be like refining their craft. So that being said, my question to you is what does good writing instruction look like if you’re instructing and you know, does it matter whether or not you’re instructing somebody beginning process or somebody who really has a good grasp? What does good writing instruction look like?

Speaker 2 00:06:03 Well, for me, good writing instruction, as well as all instructed has to be fun if it’s not fun. Okay. Um, but with writing the structure to what I learned from my mentor is that you must include a lot of verbal language. I agree with the school of thought that says that you can speak it. You can write it. So we must get scholars to practice speaking well so that they will write what they say in my own experience. You will see improvements by leaps and bounds. So we, we practice what we’re going to write, saying it out loud and have them get up. And so like, for example, with the topics and my second graders, we gave them three topics where their paragraph, let me tell you about, would you like me to tell you about, there are many things about, so we were going to write about our favorite back, you know, our favorite type of tips. And so they had to pick which one of those scars they like, and they have to go to the people in a structured way. All right. 1, 2, 3, 5 to partners. You know, let me tell you about our ruffles, cheddar, cheese and onion, whatever it is. And then they’ll look somebody up and they say it three or four times before we ever get the paper off the sentence. Everyone you have said this verbally about five times. Now we’re going to sit down and best believe they’re going to be sitting there.

Speaker 2 00:07:32 And they’re going to write exactly what they’re thinking in their head. I love

Speaker 0 00:07:36 That. Like, I mean, that’s a great tip. So that, I mean, that’s, I usually ask for three tips that you should be doing that engage, um, specifically black and brown learners. First of all, that’s it work with anybody? I think. Um, but I definitely think that a, like you said, that is fun that they will want to do that. And if you start your writing lessons off like that, they are automatically going to be engaged. And then the second point is most of our kids are not, um, our kids are not, um, uh, people who sit and get right there, they, they are, they have to do, they are kinesthetic. So if you’re, you’re asking, you’re adding to, to right away to the whole writing process and a kinesthetic aspect to it, they’re getting up and they’re going to do something. And then you’re adding the oral tradition, which is such a rich part of, you know, the, the history for black and brown kids.

Speaker 0 00:08:24 Um, they get to talk the talk. So they get the, so before, so then for me, if you introduce writing that way, the, the, oh, when you say, get out your writing journals. Oh, like, oh, oh, yay. So the first strategy that I heard you talk about obviously is adding, um, adding speaking, but to, to writing before they start to write, are there any other tips you have that you think teachers should be doing? If they are going to be trying to engage their learners, primarily black and brown learners, how, what else should they be doing besides making it fun obviously, and also making sure they’re integrating opportunities for them to talk to each other. What other tidbits, whatever nuggets can you reign on us today

Speaker 2 00:09:09 Do not be afraid of popular culture the last year and the year before period, who was like the thing to say, I’ll take it back. And they are yelling and listen, you see them sitting there writing, like, you’ll see them out loud punctuation, even if it’s not a period that we have the theory to go back and correct. Like, but if we could just start by getting punctuation at the end of sentences, I know you teach her, like, there’s not one, look, we look at adult Facebook lightly hold big pieces with that one function, but we can start that by engaging in the culture and all they hear people speaking at home and we’re not going to make them feel bad like that at home for our young learners, we can bridge something that they’re hearing at home, but normal and place. And take that into. This is how we connected academically.

Speaker 0 00:10:28 I have spoken to, um, a lot of educators, um, as we were in production to do this show in some of our other episodes that will be coming out this season. And that is something that I have heard over and over again, make it relevant, make it relevant for them because that is how they feel. That’s where they get their sense of comfort. And once they get that sense of comfort, that’s when they will begin to you’ll see performance levels increase, you know? So like, I love that, that piece of information there. So make sure it’s culturally relevant and create a safe space for them to do that. I love that tip. And
Speaker 2 00:11:03 I have my third one for you. My third one is music, always the music, all wasn’t music. So I started my classes. I’m teaching social studies fourth grade this year, and I am still incorporating writing, but the music always wins. So the music,

Speaker 0 00:11:24 When you say the music, do you mean playing it in the background, using it at, you know, studying the lyrics? What do you mean when you say

Speaker 2 00:11:31 No, we’re, we’re referencing gates. We’re saying gates accelerated vocabulary. And so, um, I’ll pick an instrumental that the key is probably right now, we’re doing the <inaudible> for these kids. Don’t know me and my system. I’m introducing it. And I had my mic and I’m like, okay. So I’m going to say the word person when I brought the mic to you after me. But how did one of these boys before we even knew what we were about to say, we’re like living, you know, trying to get on beat as we get through the year, we’ll get on the right now. We’re not on, but it’s is fun. They’re reading. The word is accelerated because what I am doing is I’m teaching them the word before they will encounter it in the actual reading.

Speaker 0 00:12:32 And you’re teaching them the words to the instrumental version of a song that they are familiar with, that they already

Speaker 2 00:12:39 Know. And then the following week, then I will, um, the bottom, I will define the words and I’ll use gifts, funny gifts that they may have seen on their mom’s phone or videos, pictures, whatever he is doing, whatever it takes for them to understand the meaning of that word. And then they will read the word in their textbook examiner. So that’s one, that’s one way, but

Speaker 0 00:13:11 Building those, but we talk all the time about building those bridges. You are building those bridges. Thank you so much for the work you are doing, because that is that it it’s important work and you will be surprised once you build those bridges where they will go, how, like they, I mean, you just have to build that bridge. So that’s, that’s great.

Speaker 2 00:13:30 Thank you. It doesn’t feel like we’re, I’m having fun. Yeah,

Speaker 0 00:13:34 That should be fun. Now tell me about this fun writing system that you stumbled across, that we should all be using. Because like I mentioned before, before you and I came on, my kids hated writing 100%. It was, they got better at it. You know, we, we offered some choice. I tried to introduce it in small chunks, but it still, it was nothing. They did not love it. And I don’t know that this, I don’t know that any person who’s not just a writer will actually ever love it, but I want it. I want it to not hear them suck their teeth every time I said, take two, writing journals. So you have stumbled across the system that they might not end up loving it, but they feel comfortable with it and they don’t hate it, which is key. So tell us about the system that you found.

Speaker 2 00:14:25 Yes, that system, I must first the credit where credit is due. Um, the wonderful genius as I call him Tony forward, um, came up with his doctors, more, introduced it to the staff, um, where I was working at the time. And it was, um, funny because it very, uh, was very similar to something that I created on my own. I had created this color coded writing system when I was teaching fourth informational writing. But, um, as the Ford version expanded, um, from K through five and it also took into account, you know, near informational and persuasive writing. So number one, I found it fruits on the board, a shout out for him. And so now it’s with me forever. I’m taking it everywhere and I’m sharing it because it works. Um, so when I was using it, I was teaching second grade. So basically what it does, it gives the kids a structure of what to always expect.

Speaker 2 00:15:25 It’s not going to be new just because you’re writing about something new with a second level of off focus. On second grade, you will always have your red dot, which is the topic, your orange, yellow, and green with the three details about your subject matter. And then your blue, that would be your conclusion or your closing. Okay. And then within each of those dots, you have four bullets points. Did I remember to do, you know, the capitalization and the punctuation and what is the function of each of those sentences? Okay. So it creates this ability that if like, oh, wait a minute, how it’s different now? It changed, no, it didn’t need a topic, three sentences in the middle. And I pulled them.

Speaker 0 00:16:12 I liked that. So basically you get them brainstorming orally. Like we talked about at the very beginning. So they’ve got the ideas in their head and then they’ve got a framework they can put, they’ll take the ideas, the thoughts, and put them on paper in an order that makes logical sense, which is what we all want. Um, okay. How long does it take the kids usually to grasp this?

Speaker 2 00:16:36 So, um, we were working in, uh, a low performance school. So what we created, what we created was that the doc system should take about 10 to 14 days, um, in second grade, because they’re only writing one sentence per day, write one sentence per day. Now, when you give this to kids who are performing well, it’s magical. It’s magically delicious, like lucky tomorrow. Oh my God. Like the keys just love. So you can, when you’re getting look on those students, you probably could produce a quality piece of paper in one week. Okay. Because they, one is a graphic organizer and the graphic organizer was solid public, just like the doc. And then you have your graphic organizer then select that. We’ll do we do different part of the organizer. Then you get into a rough draft based on the automatic. So you can literally take from the organizer right now into your rough draft.

Speaker 2 00:17:40 And we even use the color pencils or crayons so that they can come or call back, Hey, write in your rough draft. And then of course the rough draft is done. And then you go the editing process. So that may take two days. And we’re now talking about one level, two days of editing, depending on how intense you want that editing to be. They of course that you write your Bible, grab that you tight or written and give them a nice piece of, of stock or letterheads and put it on and add pictures and whatnot. They’re so proud to display it.

Speaker 0 00:18:13 Okay. Now tell me in your experience, I obviously, as an administrator, I know how to teach former teacher. You have a bunch of kids in your class, some will be on level, some will be below level. Some will be all the way over here and your opinion using the system. How long would it take somebody who might be a grade level or two below to be able to produce a great level, um, piece of writing. And also if you have somebody who’s on level, how, because differentiation is always key. How, how good is the system in your opinion at taking somebody who is on level and, and helping them.

Speaker 2 00:18:50 So that’s the beautiful thing, because it’s already set up for our five. So you may need to get that differentiation. You need, you may need to get the, uh, the struggling writer, the, the grade level below standards, and you’re giving them there and giving them different goals to hit that if it’s an IEP goals may be totally different than the class anyway. Um, and then of course, with the gifted or the hyper for me, they do push them. If I had a fourth grader, I would give them the fifth grade that fits them and challenge them. All right. Now, there are some things that they’re doing in the fifth grade level writing. I want you to incorporate this.

Speaker 0 00:19:36 I liked that. I liked that there you have that the rubric set up so that it it’s by grade level. So you can kind of gauge where your kids are all in the same classroom and give them the level that works for them. That’s, um, that’s, that’s always a great help when you have that, those differentiated tools in the classroom,

Speaker 2 00:19:53 Because they feel that success. I did it, I did it. I, I told the main idea, you know, and they’re able to tell them the part of this sentence that I wrote. And now you get to add on, okay, well, can you tell me more? Can you give me another, you know, that detail doesn’t have to be one detail. You can add two details within your yellow, that your yellow, instead of just one
Speaker 0 00:20:27 Parents support this type of work at home, what can they be doing to make sure that they are continuing at home? The work that you’re doing in the classroom,

Speaker 2 00:20:36 Being very verbal, this sounds really silly, but talk to your children, talk to them and let them explain anything to you that they know. Well, they know off the board. Let me tell you about how to play Fortnite. You pick an avatar next comma, you do this finally comma. You can bet you can become a great Fortnite player like me. Just let them talk to it, that talk to you about anything that they are an expert

Speaker 0 00:21:14 Parents. I hope you heard that you don’t have to do anything extra. Just let them ramble now. And if you let them ramble, you’re helping them put thoughts together. And you are, um, you are helping them to become better writers. Lavonne. Can you tell us right now, there are any free resources out there. Um, and obviously if you, if there’s a way for our listeners to get this dot system like is if they can find it online and reach out to somebody to get a copy, what, what resources do you recommend? How can we find this, that system?

Speaker 2 00:21:43 You can definitely follow me, um, and send me an inbox. And I will definitely send you a copy of the doc system. Now, in order to contact me, you have the first five to support my other business. I am a dance instructor as well. Um, so that is the distance work because I’m a sophisticated F O P H I L I C w E R K. That is on Instagram and Facebook. Um, and you can ask me where, um, and send me an inbox, then I’ll go ahead and send you a copy of that system. But if you can go ahead and schedule your class, or if I’m relaxed, face, everything is fine with me fitness. We are going to get this party. You don’t work out. That’s not going to feel like a workout, just like why? Because it’s not going to feel like, right.

Speaker 0 00:22:36 And that was just going to say, like you have to, after you spend a long day at your job, and then you’ve listened to your child, talk about writing to help them become a better human being, do something for you, go to work. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Speaker 2 00:22:51 Teachers pay teachers, please, please pay teachers. I have a couple of items on their diagrams. I have some addition is the reps that are on there about like, the music is always key for me. So teachers pay teachers. Khan academy is excellent. I know a lot of us know client having for math, but they have a lot of ELA that is expanded on Khan academy, which is free.

Speaker 0 00:23:19 Okay. All those are great tips. Uh, parents, we, all of those informational pieces will be included in the show notes. Um, um, after this episode is over. So don’t feel like you had to be writing it all down while you’re listening. Um, Lavonne. I want to thank you so so much for being here with us and talking to us about this great, this great writing system that you found and these great insights on just how to make writing more enjoyable for our kids. So, because they have do it, that’s the sad part is like they have to do it. There, there is no kid that’s going to be able to pass any state tests. Um, if you go to a traditional public educator, a traditional public education school, you can’t pass what you need to pass. If you can’t write well, they just, they don’t allow it anymore. So thank you for these tips on how we can get our kids excited about writing. And even if they might not ever love it, they at least won’t hate it. So thank you so much for your time.

Speaker 0 00:24:16 Let your kids talk, let them talk before they write, let them talk when they come home from school so they can practice putting ideas out there into the world. I love that tip. I want to thank our guests, miss Lavonne, gigger for coming by and sharing those nuggets with us today. Show notes, resources, and links to all the things we’ve mentioned are available on our website, www that just like me, presents.com. Make sure you hit subscribe and share this podcast with other parents and educators in your circle. Visit us on Facebook at just like me presents, join our group and share writing tips that you might have next week. We are leaving the world of language arts and we are going to explore a best practices in math. What does woke math look like? And why do so many of our students struggle? Thanks for listening. And remember if our can see it, they can achieve it.

Speaker 0 00:25:17 Parents are you frustrated with traditional education? I was educators. Are you struggling to find inclusive academic content that represents your students? I know the feeling that is why I created just like me presents just like me presents is a multimedia production and development company that stresses the importance of literacy, culturally relevant teaching materials and active learning experiences. Check out our culturally responsive books and supplemental curriculums on our website. Www just like me presents.com and the just like me book. And just like me pick sections. Your child will be amazed at how many books they can choose from where the characters look like them. They’ve never had math explained the way we do with remember through rhyme and I can guarantee the history we share. And meanwhile, an Africa isn’t taught in any traditional public school. Let us help you get the tools you need to rewrite your child’s education and set them on a path to success. If you have a child in kindergarten through fifth grade, trust me, you’ll want to check us out. I think you’re going to love our programs and the long lasting positive impact they will have on your child. Our programs help students develop a strong sense of self of from their identities and encourage critical thinking and entrepreneurship skills. Head on over to the website. Now at www just like me, presents.com and help empower your child to become the best version of themselves. And remember if our children can see it, they can achieve it.

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