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techdirections February 2017 : Page 25

annotation strategies by students who have encountered complicated reading test problems. "When a student starts a reading section and they have passages that have a lot of text complexity . . . you can look through the text booklets and you can see where students either annotated the passages . . . to break down a complex text and make it accessible and where they didn't, where they just quit," Pietrafetta says. By holding students accountable for these behaviors, Pietrafetta be-lieves this is how students can be successfully coached to be "gritty"— or whatever you want to call it. "If you hold students accountable for academic behaviors than you can measure those things which are less abstract [and] you can start to mea-sure the growth in those behaviors," he says. This can be used to assess both individual students or entire school cultures, as Pietrafetta and his orga-nization do. By starting here, Pietrafetta says leaders "can look at student behav-iors at standardized tests and get certain mindset factors [to] start to take those on." But while looking at student be-haviors and helping them to learn perseverance is important, simply defining them as individuals who are with or without grit might be detri-mental to the cause. This is made evident by Dr. Lionel Allen, Jr., Vice President of School Operations and Chief Academic Officer of Urban Prep Academies. Urban Prep Academies is a partner of Academic Approach and has made national news for its 100 percent col-lege acceptance rate. Not only are Urban Prep Acade-mies' students college-bound, they're also students who already possess qualities like grit. "Our students are already sur-vivors . . . they already have grit. The key is to try to work with our students and try to get them to lever-age those qualities that they already possess in a way that will lead to academic success," Allen says. Part of this is done by partnering with experts like those at Academic Approach, and part of it is done by not focusing on what students lack and instead focusing on what each one "brings to the table." "If you're not addressing those issues and creating an environment where they're able to manage . . . stressors, then they'll never be able to fully engage in" becoming better readers, writers and math students, Allen says. As Pietrafetta says, a critical component to teaching students grit should be encouraging them to look at their life experiences as ways they have possessed grit in the past. If they can "[l]ook at parts of their lives where they've been really 'grit-ty'" than they can understand that they have the potential to believe in themselves to push themselves to learn. Together, thought leaders like Pietrafetta are the faces of the front line of cultivating grit—and they'll continue to do so as the divided edu-cation community picks a side. Women Changing History Dress up your classroom with the faces of female pioneers in American history! Stunning posters give your students a glimpse of the women whose visions and strong will changed our lives forever. Only $12.95 each Eleven different posters available. To view these posters, and to order, visit posterswomen.html K][`Û;aj][lagfkÛ9ggck£D]\aYÛÝۅ‡‡¤‚€‡¤†ƒ„€Ûp€‡‡ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 25

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