#SOL16: Who’s Doing the Work

The quality of professional development texts for 2016 has been amazing.  One book that I continue to return to time and again to deepen my understanding is this one by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris.


Twitter chats, Voxer discussions and Google docs have been the electronic formats that we’ve used for our conversations.  You can review the storified chats by clicking on the links to these Literacy Lenses posts:  Read Alouds, Shared Reading, and Guided Reading,and Independent Reading.  You can also see connections and learning about/from this book in my previous posts here, here, and here. Some of you may have been fortunate to be a part of this group that presented at the #ILA16 Institute “Who’s Doing the Work? last Friday or been in the audience to see the presentation.

wdtw ila16

For those of you who don’t participate in Twitter chats, Voxer discussions or Google doc conversations book studies,


I’m not saying that you have to do all three of those but if you are a teacher of reading or writing, you must be doing some reading and writing in the summer. Learning is both efficient and effective when it includes collaborative study with peers.  I still have to do the work and wrestle with my own understanding, but then I also appreciate hearing other perspectives from colleagues and coworkers.

 Here are just a few samples from my work with understanding this book!  These are some excerpts from my writing about my reading!

A. Word Splash from Chapter 1  

Write a paragraph that uses five or more of the words listed below and is related to teaching reading.

  • scaffold
  • empowered
  • energy
  • transformative – not used
  • love
  • process
  • motivation
  • risk – not used
  • learn
  • effort
  • choice
  • trust
  • Independence    (used 11)

“Reading well requires students to put many processes to work simultaneously in an effort to understand whatever material he/she is learning from.  Factors that play into success in reading are enhanced when the student is allowed choice and is trusted to spend time reading materials of his choice.  Independence in reading takes effort and energy as a reader is empowered to construct his own meaning of texts.  Too difficult text may be frustrating and may cause the student to be too dependent on teacher scaffolds.  Motivation to continue to read may come from the synergy of the right text at the right time with the right amount of practice!”


B. Quotes to Ponder – Chapter 1 (Respond both before reading and after reading)

“To grow and develop as readers, children need instruction that mirrors the ‘end’ goal–readers with smoothly operating, balanced reading processes who feel empowered and motivated to take charge of their reading lives.”  (p.24)

Before Reading:  Readers need to read in order to grow and develop as readers.  Answering a barrage of questions as before, during , and after reading does not make them better readers.  The right amount of instruction matched with the right texts will build independent readers who can and do read.

“Knowing a student’s reading level, however, does not tell us anything about how that student reads … .”  p.24

Before Reading:  Reading level only tells you approximately what level text the student was last successful on.  That letter or number doesn’t tell anything about the reader and what they CAN do!

After Reading:  I am so fascinated by the fact that these two sentences followed each other in the text.   All 3 cueing systems need to be firing simultaneously (like all pistons in an engine) in order to efficient, effective reading.  Instruction can’t be parsed out and over-focused on any one element! (quote 2) All three readers had same letter but different issues.  The level is only one piece of the data puzzle.  It’s not the end game.

“Each instructional context, from read-aloud through independent reading, makes a unique contribution to students’ growth in proficiency and agency.” (p.27)

Before Reading:  The student is a product of all instructional contexts so each, ind. Reading – read-aloud, are important to his/her development.  Those contexts help build the “want to read” motivation so that students are successful later!

“Teaching across the gradual release of responsibility with an emphasis on reading process–versus an emphasis on reading level–will change the way you teach reading forever.” (p.27)

Before Reading:  Reading level is limiting – reading processes open up the universe to the student! Process will help focus on what the student is capable of and will provide the information needed to keep the student moving forward.  Reading is not about a certain % to pass a leveled book test.

After Reading:  Fascinating, again, that these two sentences were also back to back in the text.  Balance in reading processes requires a balance in instructional contexts that creates the internal motivation to read/learn . . that want to read.  And when you focus on reading process (within GRR), your teaching will be changed forever!!!

Subtle shift to “What can you try?”

C. Poem – Chapter 5 (Independent Reading)

Choose from these words to create a poem.

skill independent encounter conferences
learning difficult agentive struggles
automaticity quiet responsibility community
apply strategy differences evolved
solve pleasure assessment books
observe benefits selecting zone
transfer problems passions guidance
strengths exchange reading titles
support individual opportunities energy
habit performing levels just-right
glitches ideas stamina choice

Which words would you choose?

What would your poem look like?  

What would be your evidence of learning?

Here’s mine.

Independent Reading


Choice in what I read

Choice in when I read

Choice in where I read

Choice in ideas I explore

Choice in whether I want to or need to reread


Choice in community in which I share

A habit, deeply ingrained in my readerly life

My responsibility to monitor

Building on my strengths, my passions, my pleasure in learning

Growing as a reader

Joyful . . .


Of those three activities, which would you consider:

A:  Word Splash

B. Quotes to Ponder

C. Poem

And WHY?

How do you work on your learning?

Twitter, Voxer, Google Docs, Blog Posts = Evidence of my learning

Low Tech would be paper, pencil, markers, notes . . .

What’s your evidence of learning / thinking?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  The hardest step is the first step of your learning journey!




32 responses

  1. You are so right. This book provides a slight adjustment to my knowledge and the result is transformative.

    1. Julieanne,
      I love that it’s literally re-focusing the lens ~ and not buying a whole new camera. That’s refreshing. But vigilance will be required because scaffolds are a slippery slope that must be constantly and thoughtfully monitored!

  2. This is awesome! Thank you – i wish i could have gone to the ILA conference. I REALLY want to go next year. Did they say where it was going to be at all?

    1. You are welcome! It looks like the website says Orlando for #ILA17.

  3. Fran, thanks so much for a post chock-full of thought-provoking information. It looks like I need to add another text to my reading list!

    1. I promise that you won’t regret this book. It’s like a conversation with Kim and Jan with enough stops for reflection to gently nudge you in a better direction for the students learning! ❤

  4. I’ve been busy reading children’s literature so far this summer. You’re reminding me to also open the PD books in my stack. This one isn’t there yet but on your recommendation, I’ll add it! Thanks and I LOVE your poem. I may be sharing that in Reading Workshop with my 3rd graders come September!!

    1. Sally,
      I started 5 books in May and now have finished 3. I’ve loved the kid lit I’ve been reading as well. It’s so hard to keep a balance going. ,. . You are so welcome!

  5. I am in the midst of this wise book and being transformed by its wisdom – thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Fran.

    1. Tara,
      You are welcome . . . just a few of my meandering thoughts! I’m considering how quickly we change topics/instruction without giving our kiddos enough practice . . . how to be flexible enough and yet learner centered?! ❤

  6. Sounds like a terrific book. Thanks for synthesizing the cogent parts for us. Will be reading this book soon, as it looks like a good one to recommend to staff.

    1. Sue,
      There are so many resources including http://www.burkinsandyaris.com/ that have additional information about this terrific book. It’s a wonderful book study!

  7. Great ideas to explore to support my readers in the library. We talk a lot about choice at the circulation desk; some teachers are more open to free choice than others. I’ll add this book to my arsenal!

    1. Information is power and having specific information to help convince others is always critical.

      I’m chuckling over arsenal!

  8. Fran, as always thank you for your content-rich posts. I’m already excited for the Word Splash. I’ll be using it for an upcoming workshop I’ll be facilitating in the end of July. I wish I could of been at #ILA16 but that will be another time! I’m wondering if you know where it will be in 2017. I’m figuring it won’t be on the east coast. ~Amy

    1. Amy,
      It’s always fun to see some different “tasks” used – for us as adults and those of us who do PD.

      I believe Orlando is 2017 location!

  9. I, too, loved reading this book this summer! I participated in the Facebook book study. So much new thinking to merge with old thinking. I am excited to put what I learned into place this year and see the results. The most powerful take-away for me was the statement that shared reading is the most powerful tool in our arsenal and it is the thing to turn to when children plateau in guided reading. Ooh… I can’t wait!

  10. I haven’t gotten this one — yet. I definitely will, especially after meeting Burkins & Yaris this weekend at the Stenhouse Reception.

    1. Stacey,
      You will want it!
      Have so enjoyed learning with Jan and Kim the last few years! ❤

  11. Thank you Fran for stretching my brain. The book is on my MUST read list for the summer. I love the way you highlighting your learning. I WILL return to your post once I finish reading the book – or while I am reading the book!

    1. Christine,
      This is a MUST read book. Lots of ways for us to SHARE our learning. We need to make sure that students always have choices as well!

  12. I just received information in yesterday’s mail about net year’s conference, Fran. That and reading your post makes me want to go. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, insights, and examples.

    1. Bob,
      I hated that it was too far for this summer, but there is always another year!

  13. Thank you, Fran! I’m going to print this post off and tape it to my desk! It’s full of all the advice and thought-shifters that I need to keep in the forefront of my head. I have the book in my TBR stack, but it’s time to move it to the top! Thanks for ALL you do to help me learn and encourage me along the way!

    1. Kathy,
      You have both feet on the learning path and you are on your way! This book will help you think about ALL your second graders differently!

  14. This is a great synthesis of your thinking about Jan & Kim’s book, Fran! I was fortunate enough to have a chance to chat with them at ILA, and their book is on top of my TBR pile.

  15. Torn between this book and Craft Moves for my next professional read.Both will be read in the next week:) I love the way you have responded in a variety of ways to the reading.

    1. So many great books! And so many ways to respond to reading. I think, we the adults, probably need to branch out even more!

  16. […] You can read about it here, here, and here. […]

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