#SOL18: Why?

My #OLW stood me in great steed this weekend at #ILA18.Screenshot 2018-07-23 at 11.14.01 PM

So much to see . . .

So much to do . . .

So much to learn . . .

But What’s the Point?

Back in the Dark Ages,

In the late 2oth Century!

I remember the value placed on

Whole-Part-Whole in education.

The goal was always LEARNING!

The intent was for ALL to be LEARNING!




After #ILA18 I feel that many empowered teachers have been set free in the universe to “change the world” and continue learning.  We haven’t learned it all.  There is a real need to continue to grow and build our knowledge base.

And that brings me to one of my Sunday sessions.   We were learning about the Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts (4th edition) under the leadership of Diane Lapp and Douglas Fisher. It has 18 chapters.  Chapters that could be used in schools for professional development.

18 Must Reads.

18 Invitational Conversations.

Exploring the tight connections between research and best supported practice that promotes literacy for every learner.

This was not a book available to purchase in the Exhibit Hall.

Screenshot 2018-07-23 at 6.02.34 AM

But could it?  Dare it be a lens to consider best practices?  A lens to consider What?  How?  or even WHY we do what we do in instruction?

In its entirety this is one side of a handout from a round table at that session . . .

Chapter 16


8 Essential Components of Comprehensive Language Arts Instruction.

Any surprises for you?

As I reviewed the list, I found it quite interesting that this list of components included nine, or exactly half of the chapters.  Curiosity, of course, won out.  What on earth could the other nine chapters be about if this is “the list of components for instruction” and if THIS is the book for teachers to study.

So I was off researching.

In a classroom, I would have been in major trouble because I was on my computer and might have appeared to NOT be on task.  But I was in search of more information.  What is the other half of this book about?  This book we should study?  This book we should use? This 499 page book!

This post is titled “Why?” not to just allow me to pose my own questions but also to perhaps begin to develop some of my own theories.  Why these eight components?  Why do two of the eight (25%) not have chapter resources supporting them?


What are the “Whys?” that are circling in your brain?

What format will the chapter take?

Will there be recommendations of “amounts of time” per component?

Will there be “recommendations of additional resources”?

Were any teachers involved in updating this handbook?

Is there any support for how to put these 8 components into action?

Or how to “know” when the components are all aligned?

Will this text continue to treat each component as a separate silo?  What about the reciprocity of reading and writing? How will we grow readers and writers?

Why this text now? 

What’s so compelling about this text, right now, that this book should be a part of a district’s professional development?

It was a pleasure to hear much rich conversation around real reading and writing at #ILA18.  Real, rich, robust reading that is NOT about single standard instruction or assessment.  It’s actually quite refreshing to go back to the “Whole” of language arts instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening that moves stedents to take action in the real world.

Doing school must end.  It’s time to capitalize on any instruction that promotes high learning and engagement that challenges students without mind-numbing page after page of annotation, Cornell notes,  and skills-based minute particles that can easily be googled.  Why do adults think these decisions can be made without broader input from our communities?

If the whole is our entire language arts program

and the part is the eight components,

what “WHY?s” will you need answered before you can implement these 8 components?

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


20 responses

  1. It’s a pleasure to read what goes on in such a curious mind as yours.

    1. Terje,
      It’s a busy mind for sure! LOL !

  2. I love the ideas swirling around in your brain. It makes me even more curious about what it will “look like” at my new school.

    1. Erika,
      Plenty of travel time yesterday so ideas were definitely swirling!

  3. I agree with their list of essential components but wonder if writing about reading is included in writing instruction. It seems to me that when we think about “writing instruction” we think of narrative, informational, and persuasive writing, all of which can be very formulaic. What about the kind of writing Katherine Bomer advocates for in The Journey is Everything? When to we teach children how to write to grow their thoughts and ideas? (Not expecting an answer, just throwing it out there.) Thank you for sharing so much about ILA on here and on Twitter!

    1. Catherine,
      I found it so interesting that there were three chapters on “oral, discussion, and presentation and only ONE on writing. Exactly. What about writing about reading? What about THINKING? I was in a round table for “critical reading” so I believe the “depth” of reading is covered but I fear that this “LIST” is a long ways from implementation. IMO!

  4. Well, now I am curious about this book – the purpose of it, and the “why read it?” question teachers will ask, especially because it’s a rather long book! Your ILA adventures have been such fun to peek in on, Fran. 🙂

    1. Tara,
      I want to know what “action” teachers will be able to take after reading even one chapter. So hard to glean that information sight unseen . . .and for that price! Thanks, Tara, it was an interesting conference!

  5. Thank you for sharing your reflections on an ILA session with us. I stopped at your line, “Doing school must end.” So many teachers are doing just that – going through the motions – and not thinking about learning as a progression on a continuum. There are so many others who are ripe for new thinking and changemaking. Let’s hope we can build the latter group!

    1. When school continues to look and sound the same year after year, there is too much “doing school.” That means some may need to consider second career counseling. Our students can no longer afford to sit in classrooms where their needs for comprehensive, thoughtful, and “better than the past” literacy instruction is required! It’s about learning. . . not scores, not numbers, not . . . . LEARNING! ❤

  6. Fran,
    I appreciate you sharing your curiosity in this post inspired by ILA. I, too, stopped at “Doing school must end. It’s time to capitalize on any instruction that promotes high learning and engagement”. My main observation as I moved from ES to MS is that kids move from class to class and are just “doing school” and then their real passion comes out through clubs and projects. And I keep wondering why? Why can’t school be related to their passion which would engage them and push them to learn. I’ll just keep wondering along with you!

    1. Sally,
      OH, please do add more wondering. Yes, the students who come alive before school, after school or on weekends who are “just mar3king time” doing school. That’s so worrisome to me. They are so VERY good at being compliant that I fear we love the true creativity. The wonder. The spark of joy! ❤

  7. Fran, you always give us so much to think about in your posts. I have been around enough to see teaching strategies change and then come back to a previous way of thinking…the pendulum. I think that whatever form of instruction is used it has to take into account our students and what will move them along enabling them to reach their full potential.

    1. “their full potential”
      So important to encourage all students to stretch and grow! That is such a key! THANKS!

  8. Great post Fran. I love that we share our #OLW

    1. Curious is such a great word, Brent! Allows for so much flexibility in the world!

  9. I love how you just put this out there for us all to wonder about.
    I wonder why the other chapters titles were not shared.
    I wonder who is buying this book. District folks only? Hmmm.
    I was sad not to be at ILA but glad to be able to view some of what went on.

    1. Hmmm . . . So I’m still puzzling over the 2 required components that have no “book chapters” – Oral Reading Fluency. That’s been a real money maker for so many publishers of just bad stuff (IMO) and then Read Aloud and Self-Selected Reading. It would have been the perfect opportunity to include the research.

      I.am.shocked.that.it.is.not.a.chapter! REALLY shocked! And not in a good way!

  10. […] I attended a research round table at #ILA18 in Austin  and posted the first side of the hand out from one 15 minute segment about Chapter 16, “It is About Time for Comprehensive Language Arts Instruction (We’ve Tried Everything Else!)” in this post. […]

  11. […] wrote briefly about the #NCTE18 session here and assessment and vocabulary as well as #ILA18 here about Chapter 16 Comprehensive Literacy Instruction and 8 essential […]

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