I can’t say enough about how nice the weather has been the last ten days in New York City. I am saying it quietly as I know it is going to change, but it has been such a contrast to last year’s triple digit, steaming hot days! Why does the temperature outside matter? Well sometimes, in buildings gently aging, the temperature really varies and boiling temperatures do make it more difficult to stay focused and continue learning. But enough with the weather and on with the show, . . . er the review!
What is Social Studies?
Do you view social studies through this lens?
Or does this lens match your view of Social Studies?
Are you now thinking Social Studies is “kinda, sorta” both of those?
The minute I heard about the content area work done around centers last year at TCRWP (Teachers College Reading and Writing Project), I was interested. The use of Social Studies content to increase reading and writing has always been intriguing to me. I love social studies. Stories in the past? Who doesn’t like stories? And what a fun way to learn about the past – from stories. And I am not just talking about school-aged children here either. Now that pediatricians are recommending parents read to infants, I will also be consciously connecting more early literature contexts when available like this NAEYC list of recommended social studies books for youngsters age three and above.
This week I have daily sessions with Kathleen Tolan (@KathleenMTolan) during the Advanced Reading sessions at the July Reading Institute. Today was day two at the institute and we spent more than half our time working at centers. We are the students. We are doing the work. We are not teaching (YET). We are learning by being the students.
I am at the Compare and Contrast Center with 4 other adults. Our task card says,
“Welcome to the compare and contrast center!
In this center you will be reading, talking, note taking, and comparing and contrasting the colonies. Talk with your group about what you are learning: use text evidence.
After reading and taking notes, look back at your notes to develop idea. You can go back and add on to your notes or start a new page of wonderings and ideas.”
If you were to restate that task, or turn and tell the gist to your partner, what would you say?
Does this task feel like an assignment?
Does it feel like there is only one answer?
How do we know what to do?
We have had some instruction in the form of lessons and demonstrations. We have a page of thinking prompts for making comparisons and explaining differences that was included in the center packet. But we do not have a suggested “product” for this “reading” task.
We know that we need evidence so we are jotting notes and using quotes as a part of our evidence. We have five books about different colonies. Not all books are from the same publisher so not all have the same exact Table of Contents. The good news is that when we “perused” the books, one of our group members noted the similarity of four of the books and asked everyone else if the Table of Contents was similar. We were happy to find that common ground to begin our compare/contrast work.
Do you have content area centers for reading (input of information)? If yes, do the task cards sound open-ended like these? If not, why don’t you have centers? What are you waiting for?
Day 2 was Monday!
Advanced AM session with Brooke Geller
Show and Teach: We walked around the room and played / shared our video, song, poem, or text. These included: Finding Nemo, Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchel and also by Counting Crows, Adidas ad for world soccer, McDonald’s ad for World Soccer, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go for starters!
Then we did a close reading of “Mr. Entwhistle” where there is a lot of envisioning to do because the characters actions and words are contradictory. This was also part of a longer discussion explanation of how to use Read Aloud Jots to raise the level of jots for reading response about theories of characters.
We worked with strands of nonfiction in terms of:
- size of text chunks
- explicitness of main ideas
- new vocabulary and
- scaffolding provided by the text features.
Stacey Fell 8th grade
Using Readers’ Notebooks to Drive Your Middle School Reading Instruction
This session repeats on Tuesday afternoon – consider attending!
Does your reader’s notebook need some serious attention. Are you wondering what you should really be having the students “do” with their readers’ notebooks. Then you should definitely attend Stacey’s session on Tuesday. It will be packed full of ideas that you can use in your classroom and for your readers’ notebooks!
You will see examples of:
- reading histories
- publishable reading entries
- signposts from ‘Notice and Note”
- Best of Jots
- long writes from book clubs
- emotional time lines
- pressure charts and above all,
- the care taken with written pages by 8th grade students!
Closing Keynote with Mary Ehrenworth
There is this aura of effortless beauty that surrounds Mary Ehrenworth’s presentation style and today’s closing in Cowin Auditorium was not an exception. She presented information about reading workshop efforts that have been transformative and have grown out of Think Tank work.
Goals for Evidence-based Argument and Reading Workshop:
- Supporting ideas with evidence
- Depening logic
- Using the technical language of argument
- Constructing and defending positions with fluency and grace
- Acknowledge counterarguments
You really needed to be there to hear about possible implications, conscious decisions in schools, and to develop the skill and passion for both. It boils down to, “Do you want students to be obedient or be capable of “holding their own in an argument?” Eve Bunting’s “Fly Away Home” was the read aloud that we mined for evidence for three mini-flash debates with a neighbor that focused on:
character / setting – A. The airport is not a good place for this boy to live.
B. Actually, the airport is a good place to live
theme – A. Overall the most important thing to remember, when times are tough, is that all you need is love!
B. Overall the most important thing to remember, when times are rough, is that all you need is hope!
author’s craft – A. Overall, in developing the airport setting in this story, images are more important.
B. Overall, in developing the airport setting in this story, words are more important.
Could you defend either viewpoints in one minute, organizing your thoughts, AND including claim, evidence and reasons? Which of those things do you want to do in your classroom
This keynote FLEW and yet we had come so far! The point was/ is not about winning the argument. Instead the point is to be able to think, sort and sift through information quickly. More information about debate and Mary’s Closing Workshop during reading last week is here.
A second amazing day of learning . . .
What did you learn today?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Wow, Fran! Thank you for all of this. Have to mark for rereading and further consideration. Can’t wait for August institute but you’re helping me feel like I’m almost there for this one! Anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s blog. 🙂
Thanks! Nothing compares to an institute!
Amazing synthesis Fran ! Thank you so much for this.
I have to write it before I can let it go and make room for the next day. I am enjoying our conversations – face to face!
You are so right! A week at TCRWP is a week of inspiration! Thank you for sharing. I hope that the remerging of SS and Literacy will be an outgrowth of the CCS and am glad to see signs of this!
Inspiration, perspiration, dedication, fascination – so many words describe our week! Literacy and the content areas both need to work smarter in this CCSS world!
Love the recaps, Fran. TC is always such a wonderfully rich learning experience, with each session growing you as an educator. Can’t wait to hear more at dinner tonight! 🙂
I can’t wait to see you again either! Love being in NYC to meet up with Twitter, Blog, and TC friends. What connections and friendships we have forged!
Thanks for commenting!
I loved how you unpacked your thoughts. I am so excited that more nonfiction reading and writing is being encouraged in our curriculum. What a great professional growth opportunity. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful recap.
Thanks for commenting. There is always so much more to consider incorporating into our existing practices!
One day… one day… I’m going to go to a reading institute at TCRWP. It’s on the bucket list! I just want to do everything at once! Thanks for your recap, it shows me I definitely need to go to one, and soon!
#TCRWP is life altering and incredibly intense as a learning experience!
really nice to meet you the other day Fran- thanks so much for the write up on centers- i have always loved the structure, but I like the open-ended feel of these social studies centers even more.
Thanks for the comment. This social studies work has been soooo fun!
Wow. I had already figured out from different slices and tweets that TCRWP summer institutes are amazing. I was a bit jealous, Reading your detailed writing makes me yearn for a similar learning experience. It’s unfortunate that the ocean is so wide between two continents. I can still dream.
Dreaming is wonderful! And yes, you have inferenced correctly that TCRWP summer institutes are amazing! It’s immersion in a wonderful world of learning!
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