#SOL15: It’s all about nonfiction!


Inspired by and including ideas from #TCRWP #RUOS chat on August 24, 2015 led by Katie Clements (@clemenkat) about “Tackling Complexity” – grade 5 unit.

nonfiction

“All About Nonfiction”

 

Because you know I’m all about nonfiction

“bout that truth, no fiction

I’m all about nonfiction

‘Bout that livin’ in the world

I’m all about nonfiction

‘Bout that learnin’, no fantasy

I’m all about nonfiction . . .

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I like the real stuff

Not that made up stuff, that fantasy and sci fi,

‘Cause I like living in the real world, today’s world,

With learning in each day.

I see art, pictures, and videos showin’ pieces of real life

We choose it because it’s so real, we move in closer and closer for every detail

If you got a passion, name it and just let it rip

‘Cause learnin’ is more fun when you get to choose your own path to sail.

Because you know I’m all about nonfiction

“Bout that truth, no fiction

I’m all about nonfiction

‘Bout that livin’ in the world

I’m all about nonfiction

‘Bout that learnin’, no fantasy

I’m all about nonfiction . . .

Because you know I’m all about nonfiction

‘Bout that truth, no fiction

I’m all about nonfiction

It’s all about your world

I’m all about nonfiction

‘Bout your life – no kidding

I’m all about nonfiction!*

*Adapted from lyrics by Meghan Trainor “All About That Bass”

slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

#RUoS #TCRWP #SOL15: “We Are Readers”


Did you know there is a Twitter Festival this week and next?

twitter festival

#TCRWP #RUoS at 7:30 ET

Ten glorious days of twitter chata about the Reading Units of Study (#RUoS) from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (#TCRWP) meet Slice of Life 15 (#SOL15) amid a hashtag pileup!

The first two chats about kindergarten units are complete and I’ve learned a lot.

DISCLAIMER:  I have the first grade units and am just beginning my study of those.  I did have both the pleasure and privilege of beginning my first grade unit study with Liz Dunford Franco during the July TCRWP Reading Institute.  I’ve been reading in the units during the last month but I’m still a novice!

What have I learned?

“I used to think . . . but now I . . .”

I used to think that kindergarten teachers had to deal with management and teach the routines FIRST, but now I know that students engaged in powerful and interesting information texts and story books are capable of self-management and the students CAN actually learn more during workshop when the materials connect to their passions.

I used to think that sending home guided reading “D” books (Kindergarten end of year targets) was the best way of sharing goals with parents, but now I know that parents must first be grounded in “great stories” so they understand that reading is meaning-making and not “racing through the levels”.

I used to think that the same topic/genre for reading workshop and writing workshop simultaneously would be too great a cognitive load for students, but now I now that I can check for transfer from one time of day to another when students are working in the same genre and also build deeper connections with multiple teaching points across the day.

I used to think that formal assessments coupled with teacher observation data were a great balance, but now I know that the way we frame the “assessment task” contributes to either the fixed or growth mindset of the students and is actually more critical than the type of assessment used.

I used to think that focusing on the end of the year target kept us grounded in our goals, but now I know that the learning target is an important factor that must not be allowed to cause an “OVER” focus on the end goals to the extent that we forget / miss what is happening in front of our eyes.

I used to think that there were some basic things that students really needed to learn before literacy instruction began, but now I know that a growth mindset will have a greater impact on perseverance and stamina than any skills work!

twitter-logo-bird

Specific tweets that I want to remember from our chat!

natalie we are readers begin

natalie pitfalls

natalie two

natalie three

natalie four

natalie five

natalie six

natalie seven

Can you match the tweets to my “learning” above?

What is your understanding of the “Reading Units of Study” (RUoS)?

Which twitter festival nights match your grade level interests?  

How are you growing and learning?

slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

Beginning the School Year!


welcome

What’s your focus for the beginning of a new school year?

If your students have not yet begun:

What do you know about school, the year, your grade level, your students and yourself as you begin to plan? How do you set your priorities?  What are you planning based on your own personal belief statements?

If your students are already attending, think back to how you began the year.

the beginning

Nobody knows how much you know until they know how much you care.  Theodore Roosevelt

Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Anonymous

How important are relationships?

As an adult, how comfortable are you in those situations where you “play” icebreaker activities?  Which ones work for you?  Which ones make you think “Is this really the best use of my time?”

Dana Murphy addressed this conundrum in her post, “The Chicken and the Egg”.  Please go read her blog if you haven’t yet!  The notion of “Significant 72” is critical. Relationships are critical.  But how can relationships, fun and academics all work together during the “Significant 72”?

Obviously in upper grades, this would not mean “boring and endless reading of the classroom rules” for we know that co-constructed roles, expectations, and norms result in increased collaboration and learning.

And then Shaelynn Farnsworth’s post, “Kicking Off Back to School with Camera Fun”, caught my eye because it combined content, learning targets and building relationships within the classroom.  Of course it was also FUN! But I also loved the ideas because they involved some form of “creation”, higher level of Bloom’s or DOK, as well as a source of formative assessment for the students, if I chose to use the student products to not only tell me about the students but also to tell me what my students currently know about 6 word memoirs.

How do you make decisions about your learning priorities?

I see Dana’s thinking about how writing together can build relationships as well as Shaelynn’s “fun” and “technology” as integral parts of first days of school relationship building and setting the classroom expectations for learning.  “It’s all about the learning” would be a mantra of mine! As well as “It’s about ALL learning“. How much do my beliefs and values enter into my decisions?

what matters atwell

Tricia Ebarvia posted this on twitter on 8.15.15 and it’s a quote that I plan to hold onto.  It matches Kylene Beers keynote at TCRWP during the March Saturday reunion as well as the August Reading Institute.  A reader has to read in order to be a better reader. How do students get that time?  How do teachers provide that time?  How do systems protect that time?

Twitter has also provided other sources of inspirations and decision making.  A favorite quote of mine from Dr. Mary Howard is “Tick Tock, Every minute counts and must be designed to make the most of precious available time with students!”

tick tock

Time is finite.  Our minutes with our students are limited.  In order to teach both the reader and the writer, we must make deliberate choices about how to spend that time.

To begin the year I choose:

  1. Quality Read Alouds – where students will choose a word, phrase or sentence that captures their “ears” that they want to linger with. (Relationships will be built as we consider who has similar words and phrases as well as WHY the choice was made.)
  2. Writing about our Read Alouds – what are some of the most important things in my world?  (Relationships will be built as we talk with partners about the ideas in Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book.)
  3. Speed Dating with Books – Read a book and share with others in my group about who might want to read it and why. (Relationships will be built as students create To Be Read, TBR, lists.)
  4. To watch and listen (no interrogations) as students talk, read, write, and speak to capture their words and the essence of their thoughts.

 Why does it matter?

Sharon Salzberg says it best, “We learn and grow and are transformed not so much by what we do but by why and how we do it.”

Check out Tara Smith’s post “Begin the Writing Workshop Year by Writing on ‘Day One'”!  It’s fabulous!

How will you begin the year with fun, learning, literacy, AND relationship building?

#SOL15: The Book Behind the Show


story

Sunday afternoon was delightful as several of my siblings and families met in the Indianola High School Auditorium for the community theatre presentation of the musical “Shrek”.  Our star of the show was the little red-headed magician.  Other patrons may have focused on different characters!

What is the “backstory” of Shrek?  Where did it come from?

Shrek! is a picture book written and illustrated in 1990, by William Steig.  An ogre is sent from home at the age of seven to see the world and ends up saving a princess.  The story includes many favorite fairy tale figures like the Gingerbread Boy, Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf and of course, Shrek’s sidekick, the donkey.

Shrekcover

The book and the play have similarities.  But it’s the differences between the movie and play version and the book that are quite interesting for readers.  Which has the most memorable language?  Descriptions?

After two different online book clubs this summer, writing about reading Shrek!  and writing about viewing the stage version of Shrek! was not easy to focus.  Should I write about the power of the music?  The staging of the play?  The character development?  Or was it okay to focus on the sheer enjoyment of the afternoon?

What is the purpose of writing? (Do our students know and understand?)

What would “actors” in the production say about how the play was or was not like the movie?

I wonder if the stage actors ever read the book?  What do you think?

slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

#SOL15: And so it begins . . .


A New Year

routine to do list

Preparation the night before:

Am I ready?

Books?

Paper?

Writing utensils?

Other stuff?

What else?

Oh, yeah . . . Alarm set just in case.

Finally, to sleep.

keep calm and stay focused

Wide awake

Dim awareness

What am I supposed to remember?

What was that last thought before I fell to sleep?

Did I write it down?

Seriously . . .

Another hour until the alarm goes off

Quiet, peaceful

Low stress! (Oxymoron)

HAH!  My heart is beating with anticipation!

school

Arrival

Too early?

Definitely early!

How will it go?

Check my list again

Organized?

Smile on my face?

What emoticon or emoji best describes me?

Anxious?

A touch of trepidation . . .

And yet, also

Excited

Joyful

Ready for fun

And yet, nervous – just a little!

unexpected road

It’s the first day of class

This new year

And I am the teacher.

Am I really ready?

“Good morning, and thank you for coming to school!”

joyful

What thoughts and feelings do you have the night before that first day of class?

Do you share those with your students?

slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

#G2Great Challenge: Beliefs About How Children Learn to Read


challenge

How do children learn to read?

What instruction?

What materials?

What environment?

How should the time best be used?

All of these questions are important for teachers to consider as they prepare their classrooms across the country for this year’s new group of students.

Where should we turn to for answers?

Professional associations include International Literacy Association (ILA), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and NAEYC’s Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally AppropriatePractices for Young Children, Montessori, and Marie Clay and Reading Recovery.

In preparation for the beginning of another school year, a practical article to review is Dr. Richard Allington’s 6T’s of Effective Elementary Literacy Instruction. Those 6 T’s are:

Time

Text

Teach

Talk

Tasks

Tests

Which ones of those are priorities in your classroom?  How would an observer know?  How would a parent know?  How will the students know?

Quality teachers, with a passion for learning, a desire to create literacy rich environments, and the ability to align instruction, assessment and curriculum know that each year brings new challenges.  The summer is often spent learning, reading, writing, and studying great texts to prepare for the year. Are any of these on your list?

strategiesassessment-in-perspectiveGood to Great Teaching coverwhat readersfalling in lovereading-wellness

What are the sources of your beliefs?

#SOL15: Oh, The Friends You Meet When The Places You Go!


friends

What a pleasure to meet up face to face with friends during my learning journeys!

isabella2015-06-20 11.27.492015-06-21 19.23.35

Seymour and Fran at ILA 2015National Harbor beachSol dinner

ncteSlicers2014-11-21 17.17.05day 3 tcrwp

It’s summertime,

No time for flashy app,

No time for learning something new.

Time to chuckle,

Time to laugh,

Time to remember –

Our talk,

Our laughter,

Our fun.

Thank you,

Friends and Framily!

slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

Best of #ILA15: Did you see these resources?


International Literacy Association 2015 

Did you see all of these resources posted on Twitter this last week? Just one more reason that you all should be on Twitter for the professional resources and connections! (Check out the 30 blue live links!) In the interest of “organizing my files” from #ILA15, here are some resources that you might want to review!

ILA:  The Start of a Literacy Movement

Shiza Shahid – This is her TED talk, not her ILA speech, but well worth your time!

Professor Nana’s  “Summing it Up”

The Best of Twitter Quotes

ILA Literacy Daily:

Pam Allyn’s  “Reading is Like Breathing In; Writing is Like Breathing Out”

“Electric Opening Session Kickstarts ILA 2015 Conference”

“It Starts with You!” 

“Another Conference for the Books” 

“Literacy Conference Panel Weighs Teacher Prep”

Bruce Lansky’s  Poetry Olio Recap  “Saturday Night Live”

Education Week:  “Focus on the Standards without the Words ‘Common Core'”

Teachers for Teachers (Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan):

Slice of Life:  Making Connections Through Laughter

“International Literacy Association 2015 – Be the Change You Want to See in the World!”

Pernille Ripp’s “The Five Truths of Reading”

Heinemann #ILA15 Live Blog

Saturday

Sunday

Katheleen Smith’s Notes from 7/18 at ILA

Miss Miller’s  “Because of ILA: Take Aways and Bring Backs” 

Carol Varsalona’s  “Positively Undone and Renewed”

Professor Nana’s  “What the ‘L’, Part 2”

Vicki Day’s  “Reflecting on #ILA15 – Number 1 Take Away”

and then in case you missed them, my posts about #ILA15:

  1. #ILA15: One Week and Counting
  2. #ILA15 Begins Tomorrow!!!
  3. #ILA15 Begins . . . Reading with Rigor
  4. #ILA15: Pre-Conference Day Learning
  5. #ILA15: Day 1 Treasure Trove
  6. #ILA15: Treasures Continued
  7. #ILA15: Sunday Treasures
  8. #ILA15: Monday Finale
  9. #ILA15 Reprise

Have you added any new blogs to follow?

Will you plan to attend #ILA16 in Boston next July?

#ILA15 Reprise


My final post about #ILA15.  A clever way to make the first International Literacy Association Conference last – start blogging before I arrive . . .with eager anticipation and continue blogging after I return home . . .reluctant to “end” the experience (This is my 9th post about ILA!).

Hmm. . . just like commencement.

Is it

Definition 1: a beginning? or

2: a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are conferred on graduating students?

It all depends upon your perspective or point of view.

If you attended #ILA15, you have probably also returned home by now.  You have more bags of “stuff” than when you left.  Probably also a new book or two to read.  You check the calendar.  Time is fleeting. Depending on your location, the end of summer could be near.

You decide . . .

How will you put your learning to use?

learn

Will I be able to “name” your learning by your actions?

1. Do your students have voice and choice . . . and are they both inspired and empowered every day to be lifelong learners (the will and the skill)?

2. Do you look into the eyes of students, listen to their voices, and watch their actions (and not just on standardized tests) in your quest to find out what they know and what they need next?

3.  Do you model what you “preach” as in, do you REALLY lead a readerly and writerly life?  Do you communicate how reading and writing have transformed your own personal life with evidence of its authenticity?

4.  Do you truly provide the necessary supports so that ALL children in your care THRIVE every day at school? (No inadvertent shame?)

5.  Do you still have a list of things you MUST learn YET this summer in order to be the best possible teacher, coach or leader next year?  Have you asked anyone for help so that you don’t have to take your learning journey alone?

If you answered “YES” to all five of those questions, then you can choose one fun book and then one professional book to alternately read until your TBR (To Be Read) stack is depleted.

If you answered “YES” to four out of five of those questions, then you need to prioritize your learnings YET for this summer and get busy “learning” about 30 hours each week.

If you were in neither of the two categories above, you need to think seriously about Why you teach? Who you serve? and Your beliefs about education?  Only the brave at heart can truly teach ALL students. It’s not an EASY job.  Continue at your own risk because the students do not get “Do overs”! Their lives are forever in YOUR hands!

High Expectations!

Choose your adventure! It’s all up to YOU!

Which path are you on?

How will you know if your students are successful?

How will you know if you are successful?

What’s the next step on your learning journey?

(Didn’t attend ILA?  Would you like a quick summary?  Here’s the ILA view!)

#ILA15: Monday Finale


ILA

The general session that began Monday’s learning at #ILA15 was notable!  Stephen Peters shared that “My teacher thought I was smarter than I was, so I was!” To learn more about him, check out his biography here.

vaccine

And then Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer was interviewed by a panel that included two freshman students from a local high school who asked her questions about how to prepare for a career and even whether parents should have to answer questions from their child.  Smart, witty, fun . . . and on the importance of reading as Octavia shared that she struggled with reading and dyslexia.

Game Changers:  Using Sports and the Power of Adolescent Literature to Transform the World

Sharon Draper and Chris Crutcher

Laughter, long and constant, emanated from our conference room as Sharon and Chris answered questions from the audience.  Here are some of the quotes that I captured from these YA authors who have also been classroom teachers.

Chris – “The only people who are ruined by their experiences are the people who allow it.  I’ve seen people stand up under pressure, when I would have folded.”

Sharon – “Leave a door open, without being Pollyannish (not everything is going to be ok). I have to leave hope, not desperation and despair at the end of the book!”

Chris – “I would have failed Ms. Draper’s class but I would have still learned from her class. I ailed other classes, but I still learned something!”

Sharon on Diversity- ” Students, whether Black or Latino, need to see themselves in books and others as well!  Classroom library needs to be diverse regardless of the makeup of the class!”

Chris on language (curse words and the F bomb)-“It’s the language of ‘anger/rage’ so it’s natural. I want to hear your story in your native tongue.”

On writing, rejection, and editors:

Sharon, “I sent out 25 letters, 24 were no, 1 yes from Simon and Schuster.  When you turn in a manuscript,  you know nothing.  Find your own path.  Just because you know how to climb Mt. Everest doesn’t make it any easier the second time because you have done it before. Still hard, just know what to expect.”

chris and Sharon

Take Away:  Authors that write REAL books for kids, write from what they know and the kids that they see on a regular basis.  It’s hard work to craft a book so the content and details are still relevant 10 years later.

Transforming Understanding Through Informational Read Alouds

Seymour Simon and Linda Hoyt

What a star-studded ending to the conference with Linda and Seymour and a room packed to overflowing for the last session of the conference!  I was excited to meet my “Science Guy” as we evaluated the credibility of Seymour as a science expert during a TCRWP workshop earlier in July!  And yes, he fit our EXPERT category!

Seymour and Fran at ILA 2015

Seymour Simon began by showing the craft techniques that he uses in his many books:

  • Comparisons
  • Action words
  • Engage senses to set the scene
  • Ask questions
  • diagrams and photographs
  • Descriptive Detail

Seymour also shared a sample of the work that he has done as a publisher at Star Walk Kids. 500+ ebooks are available with more than half as nonfiction. I loved that he worked in a shout out to Mary Ehrenworth, Teachers College (TCRWP) and Twitter,  “a unique opportunity for teacher to talk about education in a universe of teachers interested in the same work”.

“EVERY teacher should read aloud daily!   Every book I write, I have to read aloud.”

And then pearls of wisdom from Linda Hoyt:

How do we make time for Informational Read Alouds?

“Shorten fiction read alouds. Put short informational Read Alouds into science and social studies to load up the heads and hearts of students. Make time. Informational Read Alouds do not need to be boring.  Be picky about what you read.”

Qualities of great informational texts for Read Alouds:

  • beautiful language
  • high quality visuals
  • test language – Does it beg to be read aloud?
  • Is it projectionable? (so kids can see the text)
  • You do NOT have to start reading on page 1 and read until the end.

We practiced with some text.  Be cautious in saying all text should be a Read Aloud.  This should be GREAT text. Teach kids that read alouds vary and where, why, and when we adjust them. Brian Cambourne’s Seven Conditions of Learning were included as well as a study of university students who are being read to at the University of Woolangong in ann adult study of the effect of Read Alouds on adult learning.

Linda shared a fourth grade persuasive PSA from Mrs. Fitpatrick’s class,  “Pulling over for emergency vehicles”, as an example of student work after learning through Read Alouds.

What are the connections between Read Alouds and writing?

Elevate Engagement

Build Capacity for Deep Thinking and Memory

Distribute Discourse

Recast Conversation Patterns

Pause to sketch, to think, to visualize and talk . .

“Lester Laminack advocates for seven Read Alouds each day. I go with three – only 1 is interactive – so students can FEEL what happens! ( Fiction, NF, and writing craft – ex. lead)”

Take Away:  A mix of fiction and informational text Read Alouds needs to be thoughtful, planned, practiced, and executed multiple times each day for ALL students! 

What do you want to remember from this finale post?

What will linger with you?

steps in the literacy journey

Walking the Path to Literacy Together

arjeha

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Resource - Full

Sharing Ideas and Resources

Joel Pedersen

be that #oneperson

adventuresinstaffdevelopment

All Things Literacy! Brianna Parlitsis

TWO WRITING TEACHERS

A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

elsie tries writing

"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.

I Haven't Learned That Yet

This blog serves to document my path of learning and teaching.

Simply Inspired Teaching

A blog by Kari Yates

Reflections on Leadership and Learning

Sharing my learning experiences

AnnaGCockerille Literacy

The Generative Power of Language: Building Literacy Skills One Word at a Time

Reading to the Core

Just another WordPress.com site

Karen Gluskin

My Teaching Experiences and Qualifications

To Read To Write To Be

Thoughts on learning and teaching

Books and Bytes

Exploring the best of literature and edtech for the middle grades.

To Make a Prairie

A blog about reading, writing, teaching and the joys of a literate life

Raising Voices

Thoughts on Teaching, Learning, and Leading

chartchums

Smarter Charts from Marjorie Martinelli & Kristine Mraz

teachu92

books and educational topics

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,664 other followers