10th Grade English Students Take on the CRAAP Test Rumble

Earlier this week, I did a new twist on the write-around written conversation strategies by using it as a learning structure for students to evaluate different sources of information. This entry, originally posted today on my media center blog, shares our learning experience with the CRAAP Test Rumble!

Update 1/16/17:  The original post on the Hooch Learning Studio site has a more detailed explanation, so you may want to visit here to get a fuller picture of the learning activity.

Update 2/26/16:

By popular demand, here are the Word documents for the activity:

CRAAP Checklist Feb 2016

Small Group Response CRAAP Feb 16

The Hooch Learning Studio

Image created with Canva

Earlier this week, we had the great pleasure of working with Ms. Boudreaux and her two sections of Honors 10th Literature/Composition.  We used Monday to give students a hands-on experience in evaluating a variety of information sources.


We began with a quick chat about the importance of evaluating and assessing allinformation sources in the context of one’s research task and topic, not just websites.    We then introduced the CRAAP test and showed a short video to familiarize students with the principles and questions to consider; students also received a CRAAP test checklist (see below).


After the video, we explained to the students our hypothetical research task and topic (aligned with their actual assignment), and we reviewed the procedures for participating in our write-around, our learning structure for students looking at the different information sources and using the CRAAP test as our set of conversation prompts…

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Write-Around + See-Think-Wonder + Gallery Walk-Big Group Share=Art Students’ Awesomeness


I’m continuing to collaborate with amazing art teacher Dorsey Sammataro in AP Studio Art and now with her extended period Introduction to Art class along with her fellow Fine Arts teacher Donna Jones.  Dorsey and I began this mini-collaboration last week with a brief conversation and meeting about the new unit on graffiti and public art that is culminating in the students participating in a Free Art Friday drop in October at Atlanta’s Beltline.  She then shared the unit planning guide (a Google Document) with me; we did a great deal of virtual collaboration at the end of the week and over the weekend using the commenting feature as well as the chat tool—it was wonderful to be able to brainstorm and have conversations about the content and plan the write-around using Google Docs.  I love the ease of sharing and collaborating in Google Docs plus the fact you can export the file with the comments in an easily readable format if you are like me and sometimes need a hard copy in front of you (see below).DSCN1892

To build prior knowledge, the students have watched some videos, read a few articles, (see this page in LibGuides for the background “texts“) and engaged in class discussion around these “texts” with Ms. Sammataro and Ms. Jones; I also did the readings and viewings over the weekend to be up to speed on the content.   I then attended the mini-lecture/conversation about the history of graffiti with both classes yesterday (they meet for a 90 minute block daily); this terrific presentation provided students to come up to the board and interact with the slides as well as opportunities to participate in class discussion.  Not only did I learn many new and interesting facts about graffiti, but I also live Tweeted the session with the hashtag #hoochart and then pulled them together into a Storify story (also embedded in the LibGuide).   Dorsey and I then finalized the write-around questions and discussion prompts; we also incorporated two great prompts suggested by my Norcross High colleague Dan Byrne, who once taught Art History courses!  The prompts included:

Today both classes arrived at the beginning of 4th period; our library assistants helped me set up the tables, butcher paper with prompts, and Sharpies needed for the activity.  Once students were seated, I then reviewed the protocols for our write-around:

As always, we encouraged followed these basic protocols:

  • Move about organically during the first pass at each table and prompt
  • Write quietly and channel their conversation energy onto the paper
  • Respond with text, graphics, sketches, and hashtags
  • Use the second and third passes around each table to respond to their peers
  • Visit each table as long as needed; we did not specify a required time or order to move about
  • Students could choose to initial their work or not
  • For this particular activity, we encouraged students to use their sketchbooks if needed (many had taken notes in these)

Students composed for roughly 30 minutes; the trajectory of the conversation was consistent with what I’ve seen for nearly two years now in doing the written conversations with a build-up of energy.  I was very impressed by how quickly these students, mostly 9th graders, jumped into the activity.  Several visitors, including one of our assistant principals, our visiting instructional technology coach, and a parent volunteer were impressed that every student was participating and engaged.

Vine Video:  Writing Around in Action




We then asked students to self-organized into small groups of 4, and I reviewed the See-Think-Wonder structure for the groups to process their thinking and responses to the ideas and thinking of the write-around as well as the content of the last few days.  For roughly 15 minutes, groups used large post-it notes to record their small group collaboration:

Vine Video: See-Think-Wonder in action:



Dorsey then added a really fabulous twist to our large group share since we had over 40 students participating and about 10 small groups.  Students hung their post-it note responses on the wall, and we then groups could either volunteer to come up to the gallery and present their ideas or we nudged groups to volunteer.  Some groups had a spokesperson come up to the gallery and be the spokesperson; other groups came up together as a team and shared.  Students were very supportive of each other during these mini-presentations and shared some incredibly thoughtful observations, insights/understandings, and wonderings/questions:

Vine Video:  Gallery Walk Share in Action

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DSCN1888 DSCN1860

You can see the depth  of their thinking in the slideshow below with the photos of their work.  They now are moving onto developing their ideas for an original piece of art they will create for the Free Art Friday field trip drop in a few weeks in October.  I’ll be participating in this great day of authentic learning and fun, so look for a future post live from “in the wild” as we move forward with the unit!

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Artists and Their Work as Touchstone “Texts”: Unpacking Craft with Write-Around Conversation Strategies


Our AP Studio Art class and teacher Dorsey Sammataro continue to move forward with their current explorations on what inspires art and action and how art can be a catalyst for service and social change.  After watching a video on the Genesis photography project by artist Sebastiao Salgado and reading this NY Times article about him and his work, Ms. Sammataro designed 5 reflection questions for us to use in our “write-around” questions activity.  As I always do with write-arounds, I first gave students a quick primer on what the written conversation strategy is and the guidelines for participating.   This is the first time I have done this activity with an art class or a class so small (there are about a dozen students enrolled), so I wondered if we would have any difficulties building the conversations and sustaining the energy of them, but the students exceeded my expectations writing and responding to the questions and each other for a whopping 35 minutes!   It seemed their energy and investment in the written conversations picked up the longer they composed and responded.

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The following day, a few of the students were gone with Ms. Sammataro on a field trip to the University of Georgia, but the rest of the class met with me in the library.  I wanted them to have time to process the written conversations, especially since there so many interesting reflections and responses in written format as well as artistic renderings, including sketches and graphic representations.  I encouraged students to walk around for about 10-12 minutes and review the written conversations.  Students then formed small groups of 2-3 and processed their thinking using the See, Think, Wonder strategy.   Students were asked to share their observations:  big ideas, patterns of responses or themes, and big takeaways; they were also asked to think about and share their insights and new perspectives. Finally, they were asked to share their wonderings and questions they had, including two complex (how, why) questions.   They worked for about 12-15 minutes developing their responses on large sheets of paper.




We then met in a large circle and each group had an opportunity to share out their findings and their peers could then comment and respond to the small group’s thinking.  The substitute teacher who was with us helped video the discussion so that Ms. Sammataro could hear what students had to say, and I shared that video to a shared Google Drive folder with her.






I think the activity helped students bring together their reactions to the written conversations and make connections to the videos and article they watched/read about the art of Sebastião Salgado. While the activity took two days, it gave students an opportunity to “slow down” their thinking and dwell in it, something that might not have happened to the extent it did if students had answered the reflections in a more traditional setting such as a homework assignment (paper or through a virtual classroom platform) and/or in a traditional group discussion without the written conversation, small group debrief, and big group share pieces.

Next Steps

Students will now be working the next two weeks to create new pieces.  They can look to the work of Sebastião Salgado for inspiration or if there is another “touchstone” artist on their radar, they can pursue the work of that artist.  The wellspring for the subject matter continues to be the issues they are exploring.   We will wait until they have created some new works before we move forward with deeper and more intentional research on our issues and topics, but for the next two weeks, students can work with me individually in a research conference or consultation to find more information as needed to fuel their current works in progress.  While I’m on standby for “research conference/help” on demand as needed, I’m also spending time in the art studio with the class observing their processes and practices.  Today was my first observation, which was a rich experience for me,  and I already have much to reflect upon! I’ll be writing more soon about what I observe and how they approach their craft can inspire how we might re-conceptualize and re-imagine “research”.  I am deeply appreciative of the class being willing to share their work and thinking not only with me, but with all of you, a global audience that I know will find inspiration from their work; if you are on Instagram, you can follow their work here.

Writing Around Literature Motfis + See, Think, Wonder for Deeper Understanding


Yesterday we had the privilege of observing and listening to the students of Language Arts teacher Aba DeGraft-Hanson think together and share their ideas around different motifs of To Kill a Mockingbird.    They first began with a write-around the motifs last week; they then met in the library learning studio yesterday to discuss the ideas from the write-around and collaboratively draw conclusions by using the See, Think, Wonder structure from Making Thinking Visible.   Aba’s variation of this learning structure also asked students to include a one-word distillation of their ideas.   As students discussed and worked through the lens of See, Think, Wonder, Aba walked around and conferred with each group to answer questions or to serve as a sounding board.





Students then presented in their groups using our Steelcase Verb dry erase easels and the written work of their write-around.


dry-erase boards

Students also took notes as they listened to their peers and jotted down key ideas to revisit.



After all groups completed their presentation/share out to the class, Aba led a short discussion with students about connections between the motifs.  She then provided them a graphic organizer to help them go deeper with the motif they had explore and to help students connect the motifs to themes of the novel.

motifs theme

This two day activity generated rich conversation and some extraordinary thinking with the students!  I encourage to take time to listen to Aba’s narrative of how she blended written conversations with the See, Think, Wonder learning structure and her reflections on how these learning activities ignited student thinking and learning.

We are deeply appreciative of Aba and her students so generously sharing their work and using the learning studio here to practice inquiry and critical thinking.  We also hope their story of learning will inspire you to think about how you might use these learning structures with your students!

 Additional Resources