Category Archives: Books

#SOL17: Silver Lake


Where do YOU begin?

Here’s a simple list of words from my writing notebook

Begun with an early morning observation

Sipping coffee

Waking up

At Silver Lake

Some words from the present.

Some from the past.

Some added over time.

words

How does a list evolve?

Grow?

Morph?

What categories would you make?

While waiting for inspiration to strike,

I’ve learned to keep my fingers moving across the keyboard.

Looking for photos

Looking for organization

and word clouds suddenly appeared in my brain.

word cloud oneword cloud twoword cloud threeword cloud fourword cloud five

Changing colors

Changing shapes

Changing colors

Adding a filter.

Using a visual as a stimulus . . .

Ready to write!

One of Those Moments

One of those moments

Etched on my cornea

Burnt into my brain

Captured in my heart

Gray sky

Combinations of clouds

White, thin, wispy

Surrounded by large and fluffy white-topped clouds

With an under girding of gray

Ready for a sprinkle or

Perhaps a shower or

Sheets of rain or

Buckets full pouring from the heavens

Harmony in thoughts shared

Rich in laughter

Engrossed in fun

So much to do!

A boat ride,

Pictionary,

Writing talk,

3 Truths and a Lie, and

Learning to play a ukelele.

Friends

Voxer Cousins

Readers

Writers

Thinkers

Teachers

Students

Bound together by a few moments in time

One of those perfect summer moments!

20170624_222414.jpg

June 24 – Silver Lake, MN

How do your thoughts become your ideas?  

What shapes your format?

Where does your organization come from?  

How do you share this process with your students?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      Process:

My first draft was totally a description – what I saw, heard and felt while outside

But it seemed really boring

And felt like it could be any lake anywhere

So this is Draft Two . . . after some revision!

 

#SOL17: Heart Mapping


As a reader I have many “Fan Girl” moments. The list of favorite authors is even longer and my “TBR” stack has collapsed upon itself. So it’s time to write.  Pick up the book. Test out some of those post-it marked pages and try it on.

But wait . . .

I signed up for the webinar.

Please, oh, please

Procrastinate until  the webinar.

And that gem . . .

The idea of waiting

WAS

BRILLIANT!

Have you noticed?

One of my all time favorite topics is writing about my learning!

Ahhh, you have noticed!

Thanks for traveling this learning journey with me!

As a result of my learning . . .

A Heinemann PD webinar with Georgia Heard,

I created a heart map with some of the best quotes.

Not an assignment.

My choice.

A way to collect and perhaps savor some ideas that I heard.

heart map for the webinar.JPG

And now I know that this is bigger than a topic list.

It’s bigger than just writing any old ideas into a heart shape.

It’s about REAL writing.

Writing that comes from my heart.

(Crap . . . can’t fake it . . . Must make it real . . . Writing!)

It’s about “an ache with caring”.

The passion to write comes from the connections I have to that topic that I have chosen …

Learning

Thinking

Writing

Checking out Mentor Texts . . .

What is the purpose of writing.JPG

“Heart Mapping” Webinar with @GeorgiaHeard

So many REAL reasons to write . . .

To Think,

To Dream,

To Play,

To Share,

To Dare,

To Capture Thoughts . . .

tips for writing from heart maps.JPG

I don’t just write to persuade, to inform or to entertain. (PIE)

I reject only having three reasons to write.

I write for many reasons.

Most of all, I write for me.

I write about ideas that matter to me.

Why do you write?

Plan:  To create a heart map after PD to hold onto favorite quotes or ideas. That visual learning map of the important parts that I choose to store visibly so I can return and unwrap their precious wisdom. My Learning Map.

Text Based Questions (Close Reading of my Webinar):

Phase 1:  What are Heart Maps? When would I use them?  Why would I use them?

Phase 2:  How does the design of a Heart Map support its use?

Phase 3:  How will students be able to use Heart Maps to increase their passion for writing?

How can models of Heart Maps result in crafting authentic, personal writing?

slice of life

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


Additional Information about Heart Mapping:

Georgia Heard’s website

Heinemann

#DigiLitSunday: Mentors


digilit-button

Join Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche for additional #DigiLitSunday posts here

mentor-four

Mentors . . .

I’ve had a few . . .

Where do I begin

To tell the story

Of how mentors have been my guide?

Mentors . . .

Trusted

Experienced

Advisors or

Guides

Mentors . . .

Teachers. . .

Authors . . .

Speakers . . .

Bloggers . . .

Technology wizards . . .

Mentors . . .

All with a digital presence

via

Twitter

Facebook

Voxer

Blogs

Google docs

and

(gasp)

even old-fashioned

emails.

How do you connect with your mentors?

mentor

Teacher Mentors

Allison

Julieanne

Jenny

 Mary Lee

Ryan

Sally

Sandy

Steve

Tara

Those lengthy conversations as we learned, laughed and studied together.  Asking questions, checking for understanding, and seeking new information . . . on our learning quests!

mentor-one

Online Book Study Groups

What Readers Really Do:  Teaching the Process of Meaning Making by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton – It was a Twitter book study with Ryan, Allison, Julieanne, Sandy and many more included a grand finale with Vicki Vinton.

Good to Great Teaching:  Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters by Dr. Mary Howard – This continues to be a weekly chat #G2Great on Thursday evenings at 8:30 EST.

Who’s Doing the Work?  How to Say Less So Readers Van Do More by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris  – This book study involved a combination of GoogleDocs and weekly Voxer responses.

A Mindset for Learning:  Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth! by Christine Hertz and Kristi Mraz – Book study and Twitter Chat

The Journey is Everything:  Teaching Essays that Students Want to Write for People who Want to Read Them by Katherine Bomer – A book study that resulted in several “essay slices” that included GoogleDocs and a twitter chat.

The Book Love Foundation Podcast Summer Study Session with Penny Kittle – a Facebook group with video, readings, and responses each week.

Craft Moves:  Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts by Stacey Shubitz – This book study involved a combination of Facebook responses and conversations with authors of the mentor texts from Stacey’s book.

mentor-three

Professional Development Facilitators who serve as mentors

  • Lester Laminack
  • Nell Duke
  • Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan
  • Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris
  • Vicki Vinton
  • Jennifer Serravallo
  • Melissa Stewart
  • Linda Hoyt
  • Seymour Simon
  • Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul
  • Lucy Calkins
  • Chris Lehman
  • Kate Roberts
  • Maggie Roberts
  • Cornelius Minor
  • Colleen Cruz
  • Mary Ehrenworth
  • Kathleen Tolan
  • Amanda Hartman
  • Celina Larkey
  • Katie Clements
  • Shana Frazin
  • Katy Wischow
  • Brook Geller
  • Liz Dunford Franco
  • Brianna Parlitsis
  • Meghan Hargrave
  • Kristi Mraz
  • Marjorie Martinelli

mentor-two

Bloggers

Many may be a part of the Two Writing Teachers “Slicer” group or this “DigiLitSunday group or just may be bloggers who I have learned from:

  • Vicki Vinton
  • Two Writing Teachers –  Current bloggers Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey (as well as Tara and Anna)
  • Mary, Amy and Jenn at Literacy Lenses
  • Julieanne
  • Dayna
  • Margaret
  • Mary Lee
  • Steve
  • Sally
  • Kathy
  • Erika
  • Leigh Anne
  • Ramona
  • Rose
  • Lynne
  • Linda
  • Elsie
  • Catherine
  • Shana and Katy
  • Clare and Tammy
  • Burkins and Yaris
  • Christina
  • Kari
  • Jennifer
  • Donna
  • Phyllis
  • Justin
  • Susie
  • Michelle

laptop

Technology Mentors

  • Cornelius
  • Maggie
  • Kate
  • Chris
  • Katie and Kristin

Authors of Books about Mentor Texts

  • Ralph
  • Penny
  • Ruth
  • Kelly
  • Stacey
  • Rose
  • Lynne
  • Lisa

(If you need last names for those authors of books about mentor texts, you can check them out in this post!)

So I’m apologizing to those literacy mentors who I left out in error – one of the disadvantages of making lists – but the point of my post is that these mentors, many of whom are in MORE than one list are all people that I know in the digital world as well as the physical world.

Through Twitter, Voxer, #TCRWP, ILA and NCTE, my horizons have expanded exponentially.  Now my mentors come from many, many states across this country.  All delightful folks that I have had the priviledge of learning with and beside .  .  . Mentors and Friends!

How do we know the impact that your mentors have had?

These pictures reflect my most recent thinking with some of my mentors! Can you name them?

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 23 – DIY Toolkits


My learning from the 90th TCRWP Saturday Reunion continues . . .

Session 2:  DIY Toolkits for Reading Workshop Teachers!!! with Kate Roberts

Please check out what fellow slicers said about this session:

  • Tara Smith’s blog post on #dothework is here.
  • Sally Donnelly’s notes on this session are here.  Scroll down to “Kate”.
  • And my own notes – Session 3 here from NCTE 15 with Kate, Maggie and Mike

The book will be available in APRIL and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival!

Do it yourself

So I’m deviating from the norm here as I’m not going to recapture all the information from the session (see the links above).  Instead I want you to think about what I heard as the spirit and the intent behind this session, at the TCRWP’s 90th Saturday Reunion.

Kate began with laughter. The whole point of the book that she and Maggie have written is to “make our teaching go better!  Make it easier!  ‘I said it!’”  After 17 years of teaching “every single year it feels like our jobs get harder!”  “We want to raise the bar because our students will rise to the challenge.”

“It has never been easy to teach WELL!”

There is an art to being a good teacher and teaching well.  Now more than ever, all students need good teachers.  How do we do that?  How do we teach the content and meet the individual needs of our students that seem to be a never ending task every year. You have to “Do The Work.”  But you don’t have to do it alone!

The tools in Kate and Maggie’s book will help us. How?

“Tools extend our reach and help us tackle big problems!!!”

For students, the tools put the work in their hands.  They provide prompts so students can and do “Do the work”.

But more importantly, for teachers these tools will also serve as “mentor tools” so that we can create the “just right” tools that our students need.

Will there be a tool for every student? Every situation?

Only if the book is 1,000+ pages long and has perpetual updating.  But what this book will do is provide a framework and enough models that you will be comfortable with adapting and / or one day creating your own tools!  Kate even suggested that groups of teachers should get together to create tools!

This was the second time that I watched Kate create a tool in less than 5 minutes for a topic drawn from the audience. Let me repeat. . . a topic from the audience . . . create a tool based on a request from the audience . . .The sheer recollection of that tool-making takes my breath away.  Kate’s ability to have a conversation with a packed room of teachers and administrators and simultaneously create a tool – a demonstration notebook page – is awe-inspiring.  Here’s what that page looked like as it was developed.

Summarizing

Step one: Draft text

one

Step 2:  Add Title – Cloud like color around it

four.jpg

 

Step 3:  One strategy

five

Step 4: Second strategy

six

Step 5: Post-its  = space for student practice =Final page

three

VOILA!

The goal for the page:

  1. Match the purpose (Increase your confidence in being able to make your own page)
  2. Make in 4 minutes or less
  3. Be visible
  4. Kids should see text as quickly as possible  (My interpretation – not after 30 minute lecture!)

How would a page like this help you, the teacher?

How would a page like this help your students?


 

Process/Goals:

The goal of this post was not to simply recount the workshop content.  I gave the reader two links for additional information and the book that will be released in April. I really wanted to focus on the “WHY”! And then share just how quickly Kate created the demonstration notebook page.  In order to meet those goals, I reread my notes, Tara’s post, Sally’s post and crossed off the “how – to” details for everything but those 4-5 minutes of creation. Truth:  Today it took me longer to locate the pictures that I wanted to use than it did to write the blog post.


 

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge posts are DAILY!

#SOL16: March Challenge Day 21 – Books


puzzled

So, yeah!

I have this problem.

This one teeny-tiny little problem.

I like books.

I like books a lot.

I have had summer jobs for over 10 20 30 years just to pay for my book habit.

In fact, I would not be stepping out on a limb here if I said,

“I LOVE BOOKS.”

So when I heard that TCRWP was going to develop lists of books for classroom libraries,

one side of me said,

“YAY, now I will know what the top of the line BEST books are!”

while the more frugal side of me said,

“Darn, I’ll need another job because this is really going to hurt my book budget!”

90th Saturday FREE Reunion – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project

trumpet circle

So here is what I think I heard in Session 4.  Get the Latest Scoop on Books and on the To-Die-For-Classroom Library Project

Lucy Calkins, Shana Frazin, Norah Mallaney. Molly Picardi and Heather Michael were all gathered in 136 Thompson to explain progress with the #TCRWP Classroom Library Project. (If you have not heard about the classroom project, you can read about it here on the TCRWP website. Read it now and then come back!)

Goals / Process:

  • Develop a state of the art classroom library that students will want to and will be able to read.
  • Make sure every word of every book is read so no surprise language exists anywhere.
  • Represent the diverse culture we see in our current world.

Lists were solicited from teachers and other TCRWP literacy aficionados.   However, approximately  50% of the books on the lists were picture books. The review team has searched for chapter books, when appropriate by level, to increase the volume of print as well as continued to monitor a balance of fiction and nonfiction.  Book levels were also a concern as Lucy said, “Levels need to be accurate. We want the right books in kids’ hands; books they can and do read!”

Here are pictures of book covers of some of the books recommended for the libraries of students in grades 3 – 5.

And then for students in grades K 2:

  • Rigby’s Where does Food Come From?
  • Hammerray – Mrs. Wishy Washy

The group shared some of the things they had learned before a quick guided tour of the book review work.

  • Titles for book bins do matter so the labels will be preprinted.
  • Curating a collection of books that will sustain students’ interest is hard.
  • High-low books are not all equal for middle school readers and finding age-appropriate and conceptually appropriate leveled books for MS students is tough.

Lucy reiterated that these would NOT just be your favorite books and few picture books would be included in classroom libraries.  Why? Because 4 student chapter books could be bought for the price of one picture book. The few that are included will be in the brief “Read Aloud” section of the shelf!

What books do you know?

What books look interesting to you?



Process:

I ordered (10 books) and saved copies of those book covers during the session (to my “blog pictures” folder on my desktop).  Ten was my limit! I read through my notes on Sunday and pulled the pictures of the remaining book covers and spent time perusing Hameray and other book publisher sites.  A.lot.of.time! (Remember I said I had a book problem. Did you really think I could click without stopping to read?  I had to look up Joy Cowley and then I was interested in her woodworking and then back to just how many Mrs. Wishy Washy books are there?  Wonder  .  .  .  I created the opening, defined my categories, added the tags and then pasted in my notes from my Word Document.  I did have to reload all the pictures into WordPress, but I had put the names into my doc so it went quickly.


slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge so be ready to read DAILY posts!

 

 

 

 

 

#SOL15: How many ways?


Does this chart look familiar?

ways to read a book

What does this chart really mean?

What does it look like to read a book in different ways?

As you read the following, think about which chart category applies?

Crinkle the pages

Squeeze the duck on the back cover – “QUAAACK!”

Label the pictures: duck, dog, dog, rabbit, rabbit, goldfish, goldfish, duck – one word per page

Use the same sentence stem for each page:  “I see a __________.”

Name the sound the animal makes with its name for each page.

Name the action the animal makes as it moves in a two word sentence. (“Goldfish swims.”)

Ask a question about each page:  “Do you see the _________?”

Name the picture and say something about its color.

Name the picture and say something about its size.

Count:  “One duck, one dog, two dogs, one rabbit, two rabbits, one goldfish, a second goldfish, and one more duck.”

Take the pages out of the mouth and turn them slowly again, without any words!

Tell a story beginning with “Once upon a time there were some animals . . .

Point to the picture and name the animals again!

How many ways did this grandma read one 8 page book?

How have you taught parents to read a wordless paper book?

What can you add to this list?

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. 

#ILA15: Treasures Continued


What messages am I hearing every day at #ILA15?

Teachers Matter!

Kids Count!

Ask students what they need

Words Hurt

Engagement Matters

Read More

Data is more than a number

ILA

What treasures remained from Saturday’s sessions at #ILA15?

1. The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the  Craft of Writing

     Ruth Culham, Kate Messner, and Lester Laminack

Mentor texts in the form of fiction and nonfiction picture books  provide teachers with a powerful teaching strategy to help students of all ages learn to write.  Good models come in many forms:  picture books, chapter books and everyday texts that allow students to study craft techniques in order to create their own strong writing using the writing process.

Ruth Culham shared some of her beliefs about mentor texts that are elaborated in Writing Thief. She read Bully to us as we focused on the reader’s view and then had us “re-read” paying attention to the author’s craft and studying the writing as an author.

one

She also shared a video from the author about the book.  Her text includes Author Insights from:  Lester Laminack, Lola Schaefer, Nicola Davies, Toni Buzzeo, Ralph Fletcher, David Harrison, and Lisa Yee.

Kate Messner shared her writing mentors:  Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.  They taught her how to read like a writer and how to find mentors on her own bookshelf when there were not live mentor authors in her hometown.  Kate also shared that her own daughter knows how to find mentors.  Merely by asking, “How are you doing that?” she found her own hula-hoop mentor. We should use that question with students and encourage students to query authors using that question to grow their own knowledge of the skills and strategies that authors use. Kate reminded us that mentor texts are found in the books that we love, so students who are readers will also have the background necessary to be a writer!

Lester Laminack wants Read Alouds to be FUN for students.  He does not want every Read Aloud to be an “interactive read aloud” and even said that you can only “unwrap” the gift of a book once – let kids get lost in the story the first time. Lester is fun, funny and literally pulls no punches.  My favorite quote was that “Read Alouds should be like drug dealers: deliver a little somethin’ somethin’ today, then come back tomorrow and deliver a little more somethin’ somethin’ on a schedule.”  Showing up, delivering, creating a deep need and continuing to meet that need.

Read Alouds feeding the soul.

Read Alouds helping students grow.

Read Alouds for fun.

Take Away:  Mentors are all around us:  books, authors, teachers, and yes, even students!  Choose and use wisely!

2.   In Defense of Read-Aloud 

       Steven Layne

Steven Layne literally had to stop his presentation to wipe the tears, from laughter, from his own eyes.  Steven provided an overview of some of the instructional highlights from his book. Chapter one, In Defense of Read Alouds, is basically an overview of Why Read Alouds are needed.  This is one of two slides listing benefits.

three

Launching a book requires intentional planning.  Teachers carry an invisible backpack that includes their schema, but care needs to be included in developing schema with students.  An example that Layne used was The Giver which would need two and a half 40 minute class periods to launch WELL!  It’s a complex text.

The shared letters were my favorites, letters and responses to:

Witless in Walla Walla

Addled in Anchorage

Troubled in Telluride

Crazy in Calabasa

And if you are relatively new to Read Alouds, you may want to check out chapter 4, “The Art of Reading Aloud”.

Take Away:  All students deserve carefully planned Read Alouds that introduce them to all genres of texts in order to find personally loved texts.

3.   Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading

       Jennifer Serravallo

     4:45-5:45 p.m.

Hundreds of teachers attending a session at this hour of the day on the first full day of the conference?  REALLY?

Yes, it’s true!

Jennifer Serravallo masterfully led us through some possibilities for instruction and conferring to meet student self-chosen goals.  With accomplishment of these goals, students will also increase their motivation to read and their student reading growth.

Beginning Point:

How much time is spent on reading?

Do classrooms have books?

Great questions that can jump start student reading!

four

I love this look at Hattie’s rating scale.  It’s a great visual to remind us of the importance of that .40 effect size lynch pin (the light blue area). Kids need to read a ton but with goals and feedback they will be successful.  Jennifer referenced some of the visuals from her book.

strategies

As with her previous texts, Conferring with Readers, Teaching Reading in Small Groups, The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K-2 or 3-5, I knew this was a great book but I have an even greater appreciation now that I understand the depth of care and attention given to each of the strategies.

I also believe that we need to “Teach strategies based on student needs – not just off of Pinterest randomly”. And the fact that we need to use common language in our buildings that matches the assessment language was clearly explained with “not slip and slide that may have come from Pinterest.”  We must work on consistency of language in our classrooms for STUDENT success, not just because “I like this idea that I found somewhere”!  Student learning is at stake!

Prompts fit these basic five categories.  Do you know the differences?

  • compliment
  • directive
  • redirection
  • question
  • sentence starter

When and why would you vary your use of these five types of prompts?

This is a great text that is going to be so helpful for teachers!!!

Take Aways:  The goal of strategies is to learn the skill so well that the reader uses the strategy automatically on a regular basis!  Students must be a regular part of goal setting!

Many sessions still remain at #ILA15.  Did you attend any of these sessions?

What would you add?

What are you hearing at #ILA15?

#ILA15: One Week and Counting!


This summer is a FEAST of professional development for me.  I had the great fortune of being accepted for two weeks of learning at TCRWP for Writing and Reading Institutes. (You can check out my public learning log under the “Recent Posts” at the right.)  Next weekend I will be in St. Louis for ILA.

How are you preparing for your learning?

preview

What information do you need to KNOW before you look at specific sessions?

Do you look for specific PEOPLE?

Do you look for specific TOPICS?

Here’s the link to the 16 page preview guide pictured above.

I used the search tool to create a DRAFT LIST of those I know that I MUST see.

Chris Lehman –  Sunday, Writing from Sources is more than. . .”The Text Says”

Jennifer Serravello – Sunday, Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading

Nell Duke – Saturday, A Project-Based Place

Lester Laminack, Linda Rief, and Kate Messner – Saturday, The Writing Thief:  Using Mentor Text to Teach the Craft of Writing

Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller – Sunday, Complex, Rigorous and Social: Fostering Readerly Lives

and then added in others previously marked in the program:

Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan – They are authors of the book Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers.

Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul – Preconference Institute – Friday, Reading with Rigor:  Interpreting Complex Text Using  Annotation and Close Reading Strategies

Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins – They are the authors of Reading Wellness. Check out a bit of their work here.

Kylene Beers and Bob ProbstNotice and Note and Nonfiction version to be out in October.

Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey – Many, many ELA texts involving Gradual Release of Responsibility

Other faves that I hope to see at ILA15 include:  Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse – What Readers Really Do; Dr. Mary Howard – Good to Great; and ANY and ALL TCRWP folks!

And?

Any Two Writing Teacher Slicers? – please say hello in person!

Any #G2Great chatters?

Any #TCRWP afficionados?

I’m ready to rename ILA15 as “Gateway to the STARS!” as I look at this line up of literacy greats.  What great learning opportunities and I’m still at the pre-planning stage.  (Maybe I will find Hermione’s secret so that I can be in at least two locations at the same time!)

Who would you add to this list?

#SOL15: March Challenge Day 7 Quality Instructional Practices


five

The story of Thursday’s professional development session continues here. Yesterday you saw a fun activity with Instructional Strategies Brackets. Today’s post provides a window into “quality” of instruction!

Quality Instructional Practices

  • How do teachers improve?
  • How do they know what to improve?
  • How can teachers be given an opportunity to rethink, reflect, and revise with support?

I have a solution for you . . .but as the author of this wonderful work warns . . .”This is not for the faint of heart!”

QUALITY?

What is it?  How do we recognize it?

One way:  Look for great, good and bad instruction as defined by Mary Howard in her book Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters. Chapter 1 is available free when you click on the sample tab HERE!

Good to Great Teaching cover

We used the window into classrooms where teachers guide us through a process of evaluating, adjusting, and elevating their teaching.  This grade 5 example of an initial teaching sequence (from the free chapter one) began our conversation.

one

two

Teacher leadership teams time read the scenario, recorded some examples in columns for “Great, Good, and Bad” and then discussed their thinking with colleagues. Conversations were rich with text examples often cited (close reading!).

We then looked at “What did this teacher define as “Great, Good and Bad” in her initial teaching sequence?”  (You will note that we have flipped the form as we want everyone to reread the GREAT column many times.)  The teacher columns looked like this and we made sure to note that the learning includes the conversations about the instruction and not an evaluation.

three

Teacher Reflection

Because the teacher in this scenario was going to use the lesson with another group of students, she wanted to improve it and she had the good fortune to be discussing her lesson with Mary Howard.  After reflection the teacher decided to change several things to make her instruction more effective that included:

  1. “Teach vocabulary at a different time.

  2. Check in at mid-point with small groups

  3. Make an interactive anchor chart.

  4. Add sentence starters to thinking and anchor charts

  5. Teach a whole group Mini-Lesson to teach the “form” to everyone and free up more group time

  6. Use a National Geographic magazine for students at lower level to access same work

  7. Record 3-5 details at end of day for reminders the next day”

Follow-Up Teaching Sequence

There is an “after” narrative in the chapter that we asked our folks to read and then discuss what changed for the students and the learning.  Here is the teacher’s view of the follow-up instruction.

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Please note that this activity was not about “putting the right descriptor in the right column” as the learning focused on “how do you define and describe great” and what changes were implemented in order to improve instruction? As well as, “How do you planfully work to increase the quality of instruction every day in your classroom?”

Focus questions:  How are you using the time instructional time that you have?  How are you increasing the GREAT Quality Instructional Practices in your classroom?

And remember Chapter 1 of Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters is available free when you click on the sample tab HERE!

Slice of Life

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place for us to share our work.

Reading and Writing Instruction: Paired Mentor Texts


(This is the fourth post about new resources acquired in NYC while attending the 2014 TCRWP June Writing and July Reading Institutes.  See previous posts for  a compare and contrast lesson #CCSS hereStand for Children here, and a book review here.)

Why Paired Mentor Texts?

Pairing mentor texts enables teachers to meet several lesson goals at once. Students who study the true facts behind a story make connections to the text and to history or current events. In addition, finding patterns and contrasts between  two genres can serve to better distinguish them in the students’ minds.

How can we maximize instruction?

Compare and contrast two texts  on the same topic in order to solidify thinking around characteristics or features of the text

Texts:  The Survivor Tree  – two different versions

The Survivor Tree:  A Story of Hope and Healing – 9/11 Commission (Available at the museum)

The Survivor Tree Inspired by a True Story bCheryl Somers Aubin, Illustrated by Sheila Harrington

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What do you notice from the book covers?  Stop, pause and jot a few notes.

If you were to begin to form a theory about these books, what would it be?

 

Before this summer, I would have jumped right in, read this first page, and had students make note of what the author was saying.

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I might have considered an “inquiry approach”  where I read this page with the book cover completed covered and asked the students: “Which book is this?” with follow up questions like,  “Why do you think so?” or “What is your evidence?”

BUT, it really isn’t about just being able to NAME this genre of text.  Instead it’s about noticing HOW the author used the techniques of the genre to meet his or her writing goals.  And viewing one text at a time is slow because of the lack of comparison and actually limits the amount of text that students are exposed to over the course of a year.

REDO!

New and Improved Plan (thanks to wonderful learning and time to plan):

Let’s look again using the “Know/Wonder” format from Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton’s, What Readers Really Do  Teaching the Process of Meaning Making.  We will begin by putting the first page of both books side by side.  Consider what you know after you read the first page from each book.  What information is the same? What do you still wonder after reading those first pages?

 

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What do I “Know” after reading page one from both books?

Both pages include these specific words:  Gallery pear tree, World Trade Center, plaza, New York City, September 11, story

The first page one specifically says “Survivor Tree” while the second one says “over time, and with great care, she recovered.”

Structurally, the first page one consists of three sentences that are fairly complex.  The second page one has four paragraphs.

 

What do I “Wonder”?

I wonder if both books will actually be about “HOW” the tree survived and the fact that trees can be “resilient”?

Will the first book continue to be more factual and contain more information even though it says it is a story?

Will both books continue to have a lot of similarities in their information that will make it “easy” to compare those stories?

Will the second book read more like a story or narrative with the “tree” as the main character?

Does the use of a watercolor drawing help create the “feeling” of a narrative in the second text?

Which text already seems to have more “narrative” features?

Which one seems to have more informational features?

Why are both authors saying that they are telling a story?

 

Making predictions:

In this new and improved plan, the second stage will actually have us looking at the book covers.  Based on what we have seen on the two different page ones, which book cover goes with which page and why? (Claim and supporting details)  I believe this conversation will have a greater focus on the text and how the authors have begun their stories.  This attention to the author’s craft will help the readers grow in both their reading and writing.

 

Can you already tell which page belongs to which book?  What writing techniques helped you make that decision?
Which plan do you usually use with paired texts?
What other paired mentor texts do you have in your reading and writing instruction?
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