#SOL17: First Day


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The bus turns the corner.

My last check to see that everything is in my car.

One picture down.  It’s kind of gloomy.  No sunshine for this auspicious day.

The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road.  I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended.  “Smile!  Just one more picture!”

He takes three steps, turns, and looks.  I snap the photo. He starts up the steps.

I’m sure it’s blurred.  Tears stream down my cheeks.

This would not be the day to take a lousy picture.

I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat.  Third row. Behind his friends.  He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning.  Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window.

The driver looks down.  Closes the door and the bus lumbers down the road.

  I hop in my car.  Five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture.  It’s 1995.  The First Day of School. No digital pictures.

As a teacher, how do your own personal “First Days” impact your attention to detail in your classroom?

What are you planning for this year?  Why?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

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#SOL19: Patterns


When you look at 9/10/19, what do you see?

91019

More clues:

What about:

9/11/19?

9/12/19?

9/13/19?

9/14/19?

9/15/19?

9/16/19 . . . ?

How many does it take before you recognize the pattern?

I’ve written about palindromes before here, here and here.

“A word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backwards as forwards, e.g. madam or nurses run.” – Oxford Dictionary

I find it fascinating that I notice it first in numbers that give me pause.

Is it the one time occurence that fascinates me or is it the pattern? While I ponder my response, many questions about patterns and configurations emerge.

In a rush to immediately solve problems, be efficient, and worry over so little time, do I rush to judgment too quickly?

A pattern . . .

More than once  . . .

Is twice enough?

Three times?

Over what period of time?

Today’s burning questions:

Would we really begin an intervention based on one piece of data on one single day?

Would we really teach something one day, assess it and plan for additional instruction or not, based on that ONE day of instruction without any additional practice?

Perhaps we need to slow down, think, formulate a question, observe, revise our question, collect evidence of patterns and then act . . .




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: #OLW Celebrate


My One Little Word (#OLW) was out in force this holiday weekend.

Celebrate

So many choices . . .  It was a family weekend . . .

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Relatives  and a funeral

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Saturday Wedding

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The beginning of the NCAA football season . . .

Sunday AMarekN Family

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Monday Labor Day Dinner and 15 Mareks/Ruths

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A blog post for Literacy Lenses:  All Learning is Social and Emotional:  Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom and Beyond.  (link)

It began with a text!

“Good morning, Fran. Just realized you’re in the great state of Iowa and so am I this weekend!  My brother lives in Kalona.  How far am I from you?”

The irony.

And so noteworthy!

On Saturday we were playing cards at my aunt Janie’s in Kalona which is about 100 miles from my home.  I was there in Kalona the day before.  Kalona, a town in the northwest part of the county where I grew up.

It was an irresistible invitation. We solved the problems of the world, literacy, schools, and the state of education on Sunday when I met up with Dayna Wells, from California, that I met in real life in New York City at a TCRWP Saturday reunion over four and a half years ago (Link). A reader. A writer.  A blogger.  A Slicer. A TCRWP learner!

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How did you celebrate Labor Day weekend 2019?

What were your choices?  




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: “Testing, 1, 2, 3”


Which season of the year is it?

Do I hear the echo of “Testing 1, 2, 3” as a microphone check from the press box before the announcer begins pre-game festivities?  Or do I hear “Testing 1, 2, 3” as a part of Test Prep?

As an elementary student, I loved multiple choice assessments.  Yes, those ovals were sometimes a challenge.  Filling them in neatly.  Not over-coloring.  Staying inside the lines.

On testing days my bifocals would get a work out because I would literally almost put my nose on the passages as I absorbed the stories.. I put my heart and body into those tests and I loved getting the scores back because I would be praised for my work.

Because I scored well.  I was typically able to make good guesses when I narrowed down the choices.  Because I read quickly, I always had enough time to double check the passage to verify my answers. I agonized over my  answers and spent time trying to do my very best work.

When tests are used to SORT students, it’s really hard to figure out if groups of students are actually progressing.  And labels don’t help.

Case in point:  NAEP Scores

Let’s look at a few characteristics of the NAEP test that is used as the “Nation’s Report Card”.

PERFORMANCE LABELS:

Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, or Advanced.

But what does this label tell me? Here is what “Basic” looks like for 4th Grade:

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Many of the tasks listed in CCSS RL4.1-3 and RI.4.1-3 are included in “Basic” level.  The NAEP page even contains a caution: “It should be noted that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments).”        -Source

Why then does everyone think that “Proficient” is the goal?

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So “below basic” still means a student can “demonstrate a literal understanding of what they read, understand a main idea from expository text, or follow a simple plot. “Below Basic” does not mean that the students cannot read.  And that is worth repeating.

“Below Basic” does not mean that the students cannot read. 

I’m not saying that high expectations and goals are not a part of our targets.  But what I am asking you to do is think about the criteria, who sets it, and what they have to gain by reporting that “education is failing” as the press seems to quite often do.

Let’s take a bit of time to explore NAEP assessments.

QUESTIONS:

Each test item in reading is labeled as one of these three:

  •  locate/recall,
  • integrate/interpret, or
  • critique/evaluate.

And the NAEP website shows this:

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So by percentage distribution (and for the sake of a conversation with 10 questions as an example):

2 out of 10 are locate/recall

6 out of 10 are integrate/interpret and

2 out of 10 are critique/evaluate

So what does this look like?  Are they all multiple choice (multiple guess) questions?   Here’s a released sample from 2017 for fourth grade.   You can check out additional samples or grade levels.

As you check out the sample, think about the skills and strategies that you, a proficient reader, use when you are reading.

Here are a few I thought of:

  • preview the questions before beginning
  • reread when stuck
  • be sure to check out headings
  • what do I need to remember about folk tales?
  • wonder the impact of character’s names
  • ask questions:  What exactly is a “merchant”?
  • reread to eliminate mc answers
  • reread to affirm possible multiple choice answers
  • reread to check your spelling for a constructed response

What is the ratio of the work that you ask students to do in your classroom on a daily basis?  Is it

  • 2 out of 10 are locate/recall
  • 6 out of 10 are integrate/interpret and
  • 2 out of 10 are critique/evaluate?

CONTENT:

How much does the content of the assessment matter?  How would you explain this to your students?  Your fellow teachers?  Your community?  How are you thinking you would fare on this assessment?

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And of course, the assessment is timed.  Readers have 30 minutes to read one story and respond to 10 questions.  They can reread.

But they seldom do.

They can reread, but they seldom do.

What is the thinking that students need to be able to do to be successful on this test? 

What is the thinking that students need to do to be successful in life?




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: Kindness


“Here, have this seat.”

“Please, go in front of me.”

“Is that the announcement you were waiting for?”

“We’ll share this plugin with you since yours isn’t working.”

Celebrating kindness.

It was an airport delay.

It could have resulted in

frustration,

anger,

hurt feelings,

unkindness.

Choosing to look for kindness.

Choosing to search for  signs of thoughtfulness.

Choosing the positive.

Celebrating kindness!

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What will you choose?




Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#TCRWP 19 Reading Institute


tcrwp

My two favorite phrases from the TCRWP August 19 Reading Institute were “Thank you for coming to school today” and “Mine the resources”.  Both of these were a part of Shana Frazin’s session ‘When We Know Books, Readers, and Skill Development, We Can Accelerate Students Past Sticky Points at Levels K, M, and R (3-8).” 

When stuck at ANY level, we can NOT slow down our instruction to a snail’s pace. We can NOT continue to allow students to languish in levels and continue what is currently not being effective and HOPE that this time the results will be different.

What I learned this week is that teaching so students are not stuck, so students can be independent readers, so students can transfer their reading work means the teacher must be proactive in their practices.  If serious about this work you will need to find a colleague and talk about those times of trouble for your students.

Face them.

“Face them head on!” said Lucy Calkins in our Monday keynote in Riverside Church.

Then plan proactively.

After this week I believe there are three key areas where I can be proactive and prevent students from being stuck.

1. Skill Development.  Introduce the skills of the text band complexity work during an interactive read aloud BEFORE the unit begins. What if students are beginning this thinking work during the Read Aloud where students are not focused on the decoding and accuracy work?  What if we ensure that students have more practice time?  What if we ante up the quality of that practice time with more judicious use of the tools in the units of study from the previous grades? And to enhance our own practices, what if we spy on ourselves as readers more to figure out which skills we use, when we use them, and how a series of instruction might go?

2. Readers. We used daily graphs, book buzzes, partners and small group work to build our community daily.  We didn’t use reading inventories (the infamous Garfield one comes to mind) but instead used TALK built around just a few of those questions.  Why talk?  Because we are social creatures and we were also building community simultaneously.  Who had a book similar to mine?  Where might I go for my next book selection advice?  Which person, who is not the teacher, will be that conduit?  This part of building reading habits through talk seems more purposeful and critical than ever before . . . knowing the students and building that relationship. An “all in” reading life is important! And to enhance our own practices, what if we participate in adult book groups or a study group with more talk around a book that our students love and we have never read?

3. Books.  We have to know books. As the Co-Director of the Classroom Libraries of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project this was an area where Shana’s knowledge and passion clearly intersected. Books are critical to student reading success and we need to know them as well as all the non-text-based reading that students do in order to build meaningful and purposeful connections.  One way we did that this week was to have book baskets and baggies present every day. Access matters. As teachers we also need to consider ways for students to become experts in books. Increasing student expertise matters. We must be readers and must stay current in our knowledge of series for students because there is almost 100% correlation between series reader and lifetime reading. Increasing teacher expertise matters. Kids who have access to well-stocked, well-maintained, current classroom libraries read 50% more than others!  An “all in” reading life is important to build that book knowledge and help us locate our own dependable sources of book recommendations! But do we know the books and the expectations for student understanding of the types of tasks that students will be asked to do in the grades previous to us?  If not, we may need to visit that work in previous Units of Study. And to enhance our own practices, what if we shared with our colleagues all the sources that we use to stay informed about books that our students want to read, choose to read, and increase their own curiosity about themselves and their world?

As a final note, I don’t see skill development, readers, and books operating separately so I would not be writing myself a goal in one of these areas and working on them separately.  Reading is complex and when all three of these factors are the layers of the instruction, student readers are the winners. Students are then able to use their knowledge to build, increase and transfer the critical aspects of their reading life to their lives both in and out of school!

#TCRWP 19: Conferring, Small Group and Transfer


It was a typical ending to the Reading Institute.  Filled with knowledge, new thinking, ideas from thought partners and then. . . WHAM! Unavoidable delays at the airport.

Choosing to harness the gift of time was difficult.  I wanted to complain so I did but I also wanted to take a look back at this week, a  typical week at #TCRWP where as a learner I was drinking from the fountain of knowledge at the same rate and intensity as the water erupting from a fire hydrant!

What was I working on? 

How did it go?

I’m still thinking of the three levels of transfer from Alexis Czeterko’s choice workshop, “Teaching for Transfer:  Remember What You Learn is for Life!  Supporting Transfer of High Level Skills across the Year and across Disciplines” and how these also REALLY apply to life.

The three levels were:

  1. Across Units
  2. Across the year/years
  3. Across Disciplines

How does that work in real life?  I’m still thinking on that answer, but I did have some “aha’s” as I thought about my learning during this week.

We were challenged to think of a way to share our learning in our advanced section, “The Intersection of Conferring and Small Group Instruction (3-8),” with Hannah Kolbo.  And as I struggled with a way to collect, organize and synthesize my learning across the ten hours this week, I abandoned idea after idea.  (Yes, many solely because I knew of no way to capture them on paper!)

This is my first draft attempt. I had to make conscious decisions about some things that just didn’t fit into this draft.  I was wishing for a flap to hide them under.  Or a second layer or even third layer. Or a way to visually construct something with moving parts. But it is what it is. A draft with room to revise, rethink, and perhaps to reimagine.

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Many of the big ideas are included.

One area where I continue to grow and learn is in the broadening of my definition of texts.  After all,  life isn’t really ONLY about texts and print or digital resources.  There were so many examples of “reading” at the airport that didn’t involve words. So many nuances. So many choices.

So many pieces to pull together and weave into the fabric and soul of my own literacy life as well as my learning life during the days, weeks, and months yet to come.

What did you learn this week? 

How will you hold onto your learning?

 

#TCRWP: Art and Science


Hall of Famer Dr. Tim Rasinski literally knocked it out of the park in Cowin Auditorium with his keynote, “Let’s Get back to the ART and Science of Teaching Reading!” We began with songs because songs after all are fun, aesthetic, and cultural.  But most importantly, it’s also READING!

We learned about Irving Berlin and the backstory for “God Bless America” first performed on Armistice Day by Kate Smith, the “Lady Gaga of the day”.

Song wasn’t the only art that Dr. Rasinski shared.  He used ART to illustrate the fact that the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is “CREATE” and that art is a pathway to creation for students and teachers.  Quotes and stories included:  Elliot Eisner, Steve Jobs, Alfred Einstein, Dalai Lama, and Nell Duke.

Tim Rasinski cited research and you can find it on his blog here that supports school work that he outlined where one component includes students learning poems every day. Poetry, another art, to be added back into teaching!

Of course we saw and participated in word ladders. Here is the Shark Week word ladder that Tim referenced in his keynote presentation.

Teachers can teach all of the “Big Five” from the National Reading Panel “Artfully”:  phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension through songs, poems, nursery rhymes, and performances. Student written scripts from existing stories were an extra plus for comprehension and that reading-writing connection!

His most recent work (co-written with 5th grade teacher Melissa Cheesman Smith) is The Megabook of Fluency, winner of the 2019 Teacher’s Choice Award.

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More about this text from Literacy Lenses here

A keynote that literally flew by with learning, fun and joy encapsulated in Dr. Rasinski’s 50 minute presentation!

Where might you add “ART” into your day?  What would be your goal? 

What have you added to your thinking about the art of teaching?

What were your takeaways from the keynote?

#TCRWP Reading Day 3


Reading habits for students and teachers are a skillfully woven thread to this week and from Day 3 this post could be about how Read Alouds, small group work and coaching intersect and complement each other.  But I am going to back up a step and share with your some of the learning that was emphasized yesterday about book selection by Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul in her choice workshop “All Diverse Books are NOT Created Equal:  A Toolkit of Critical Lenses for Teachers to Diversify Your Classroom Library.’

You may know Sonja from any of these works:

If you follow #G2Great you know that she was the guest on last week’s chat so I was delighted to see and hear her in person (although the topic was just a piece of this new book with Dana).

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Interactive?  Check

Read Aloud? Check

Informative? Check

WHY?

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop and the need for “Windows”, “Mirrors” and “Sliding Doors” were part of the why so students can see themselves and the value of their own lives in books. (More about Dr. Bishop here.) Sonja shared that her parents are happily married and her brother is gainfully employed which are two characteristics of stories NOT found in many current stories. Too many stories perpetuate false narratives.

Is the situation improving?

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You be the judge.

What are the 4 lenses?

Lenses:

  1. Representation
  2. Context
  3. Content
  4. Authorship

We physically looked at and read books from these collections as we learned about the four lenses and Sonja shared how even the books in her own classroom library had gaps when she applied those four lenses in her own audit and literally spread the books out on the floor.

The hard part of this is it will take time and work to diversify your classroom library.  Don’t make assumptions that it already is diversified.  Don’t just check off the four lenses.  Think about your students, their families and the community as you work to fill your classroom with books that represent your students and their lives!

When you think of your classroom library what books do you see?  What books do you not see? 

When you think of your Read Alouds what books do you read?  What books do you not read? 

How will you tackle both the “quality” and quantity of diversifying books in your classroom library?

 




Additional Resources:

Classroom Libraries

diversebooks.org

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

#OwnBooks

#disrupttexts

#31DAYSIBPOC

#TCRWP 19: Day 2 Reading


Reading Habits and Habits of Mind continue to be a thread that run through my learning at TCRWP at the 2019 August Reading Institute.  Just as we ask students to follow and hold onto ideas across a text or multiple texts so do we build theories and hold onto ideas across sessions, days and the week’s learning. Tuesday’s keynote with Mary Ehrenworth was a perfect example.  ” Supporting Kids as Social Learners Through Partnerships, Clubs and Study Groups.”

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This quote Mary shared from Pedro Noguera is on my mind because, of course peer culture wins because of the strength of the bonds.  So why don’t we use that social capital as we think of all the “things” that our students must navigate. Here are some real-life needs for our students.

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These don’t always show up in a curriculum guide. They aren’t necessarily in “the standards.”   But yet aren’t they real life situations that students need to be able to navigate?  When do we teach into them?

When do we talk about “social capital” and Malcolm Gladwell?  When do we bring in Alfred Tatum’s,  “We have to role-play kids into academic identities”? How do we combine the best of worlds?

Partnerships are key in the day to day implementation of both the Reading Units of Study and Writing Units of Study. For students and teachers.

We lean on partnerships in real life. Our marital partners. Our work partners. Our writing critique partners. Our book club partners.

Mary Ehrenworth shared that typically partnerships are formed on the basis of one of these types:

  1. Friendship
  2. Mentor
  3. Leveled
  4. Interest

Stop for just a second. 

Which do you rely on in your life on a regular basis?

Which ones have created life long bonds? 

Which ones do you regularly use in classrooms?

List out the strengths and concerns of all four types in order to decide which ones you should use and where.  But do add in . . .

Student view and perception. Take a 360 degree and inside/outside view!

Mentor Partners are a favorite in many classrooms.  But what if they do not lead to “increased independence”?  Mary quoted from Peter Johnston’s Choice Words, “Every time you solve a problem for a student, you make them co-dependent. If they solve for themselves they are interdependent.”

Leveled Partner discussions bring in questions of equity and of course how those partnerships are determined.  (What data?  Accurate data?  Data that is worthwhile?) When using leveled partners, make sure that students are not “isolated so they have no coalition.  This applies to kids at both ends, low and high kids.”

Interest Partners are often used with data coming from an interest inventory at the beginning of the year.  Is that inventory still accurate three months into the year?  Or were those the quick responses or choices that students have now outgrown?  Mary encouraged us to not overlook the multitude of data sources that we have available.  Here’s just one post it about writing workshop.

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And of course, it came with a twist.  Use on-demand writing. Definitely.  But not the scores for structure, development, and conventions.  Use the student writing to figure out what this student knows, is interested in, and writes at length about.  We looked at student samples to consider what social capital situations the students were navigating (remember the first chart) and to think about how partnerships might be formed.

Friendship Partners

How do they work?  When do they not work?

Are we sometimes hasty to dismiss them as “outside the classroom partners”?  How can the words and work of Pedro Noguera, Malcolm Gladwell, Alfred Tatum, and Peter Johnston connect with actual research by TCRWP staff developers?

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Emily’s tweet about friendship partnerships gave me more to think about as I revisited my notes.  What if we used the existing “friends” partnerships to shape “academic” partnerships?  What would be the benefits for students?

As the week continues, I am going to think about partnerships here at the Institute and out in the world.  I’m going to add in thinking about that layer of social capital and goal of independence as I wonder about teaching partnerships.

How are they formed? 

When are they most successful? 

What are the “things” that teachers navigate?

#SOL19: Classroom Libraries


Shelves.

Alphabetized.

Row after row of books.

Sorted and alphabetized by author’s last name.

Fiction, adventure, mystery, nonfiction, poetry, and yes, even multiple copies.

Books.

A classroom library.

Today I was feeling very nostalgic for that classroom library that I had so carefully organized years ago even though I would do it differently now. But it didn’t matter. No children were harmed by my lack of knowledge about better ways to display and organize books for student use.

It didn’t matter.  On the first day of teacher workshop days, I found out my room was moving.  The time spent in reorganizing my books on my own time was totally wasted.  Everything had to move.

The collection numbered in the thousands.

Personally-purchased books.

Sorted and alphabetized by author’s last name.

No longer to be displayed on bookshelves.

No room for shelves in a room with built in cabinets and doors.

What’s the big deal about classroom libraries?

I love to talk, read, write, think, and breathe reading and writing.  Ad nauseam.  I served as the principal author of this Literacy Leadership brief:  “Creating Passionate Readers Through Independent Reading.”

So this is a topic near and dear to me … passionate readers as well as classroom libraries as evidenced by my writing about It’s All About the Books by Clare Landrigran and Tammy Mulligan here.

I had the good fortune to be in Shana Frazin’s choice workshop titled, “Absolutely Nothing Matters More than Creating Classroom Libraries that Help Readers Grow with Purpose and Passion.”

Absolutely

Nothing

Matters

More.

That is ONE. BIG. BOLD. CLAIM!

Absolutely

Nothing

Matters

More.

And, of course I agree.  The data from Scholastic’s Reading Summits that Shana shared is like the frosting on the cake.

 

Reading boils down to two statements:

  1. Students need access to many books.
  2. Students need choice in what to read.

In order to have access and choice, equity could become a hurdle. Other problems might surface.  Lucy Calkins encouraged us in the keynote to confront problems, blow them up, and then begin looking for solutions. This is a complex topic as many administrators believe that they’ve already “bought books and “done the right thing” for students because there are books in all the rooms.  “Having books” does not guarantee that all books will be quality books.

Step One: Weed (1. Redistribute, 2. Donate, 3. Reorder, 4. Recycle)

Misleading (inaccurate, outdated or insensitive terminology or illustrations) 

Ugly (yellowed, brittle pages; poor binding; stained, worn cover, etc.)

Superseded (newer & better edition available; too many copies)

Trivial  (minimal intrinsic value; easily available elsewhere)

Irrelevant (outdated topics for current times)

Available Elsewhere (school media center, public library, online)

  (Boone. Texas State Library)

Step 2: Inventory 

Identify gaps so future orders are deliberate and thoughtful. There are many ways to inventory to make sure you have the variety needed for your classroom collection.  Students can help identify the types of books, the actual counts, and then some of the issues that may surface. Physically sorting the books draws attention to these characteristics and can be done a shelf or two or a bin or two at a time. 

What year were the books published?

If you have a sports category, how many of those books have females as main characters? 

Do your books reflect your students as mirrors or windows? (Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, The Ohio State)  Link

Step 3:  Add Books 

Don’t stop til you get enough… Books!  

Step 4:  Think Deeply about Organization.

Level your books for you the teacher.  But don’t write “Letters” designating levels on all the baskets. Invite your students to help label baskets. Be creative. Take one of your books and think of “labels” that might fit these categories. (Try this out at a PLC or staff meeting.)

CHALLENGE … can you think of at least 10 labels for a book of your choice?

Band
Author
Genre
Theme  
Format
Reacting to Text
R U o S
If you Loved . . .Try . . .
Series

Step 5: Create a culture of loving books!

Book Talks, Book Buzzes, Book Tweets . . .

This was my second look at this acronym for “weeding” books from Boone at the Texas State Library and I  really like the idea of a systematic way to review books with student help.  I believe any age of students could provide feedback to the teacher about the classroom library collection with this criteria.

What’s your plan for your classroom library?



Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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"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