This week’s theme for #DigiLitSunday is “Slicing our lives”. Head on over to Margaret Simon’s “Reflections on the Teche” for additional posts.
Slicing our lives is what many bloggers do each Tuesday throughout the year. But when March arrives (whether like a lion or a lamb), it’s time for the “Story Challenge” where bloggers write each day of the month. So that’s 31 consecutive posts to write as well as to respond to fellow bloggers in the community! This year is the 10th annual SOLSC so that’s a whole lot of stories.
It’s an opportunity to write stories every day and live a more writerly life . . . in public. Sharing stories allows us to build a community of writing friends. Perhaps in the first year of slicing, you only read the posts of those persons who post just before and after you. But after a while, you branch out and look for those who write about similar topics, teach the same grade, have similar jobs, people you follow on Twitter or those you have met in real life (IRL) or face to face (F2F).
What is a community?
It’s often considered to be a group of people joined together for a common purpose or passion. Today I celebrate both the Slice of Life Community and the DigiLitSunday Community. Friends from around the world that I rely on when I’m looking to learn more. Friends that I often meet in both the blogosphere and the Twitterverse. Friends with whom I enjoy spending time!
Members of both communities that I have met face to face at NCTE and/or TCRWP Institutes or Saturday Reunions include:
- Margaret Simon
- Tara Smith
- Carol Versalona
- Julianne Harmatz (We even presented on a panel together at NCTE15!)
Slice of Life Community members that I have met face to face at NCTE and TCRWP (Institutes and / or Saturday Reunions)
Slicers that I have met face to face at TCRWP Institutes or Saturday reunions:
Slicers that I have met face to face at ILA or NCTE:
- Leigh Anne
Slicers in my neighborhood that I see at local/Iowa events:
- Kathy Scuitema
- Deb Day
Slicers that I am looking forward to meeting:
Everyone of you that I have not yet met. I so enjoy reading the “About” section of blogs to see where you are from and whatever additional information you provide. I have gone with you to quilt shows, Africa, France, to family events, to dinner and have so enjoyed learning with and from so many talented writers!
My life is richer for all the slicers that I know around the world IRL (F2F) or online! Thanks for being so generous with your time and stories! I’m honored to have so many great “blogging mentors” in my life! Thanks to so many of you for stopping by, reading and commenting.
(And my sincere apologies, in advance, for anyone I’ve accidentally left off the list. I started it two days ago and I’ve been checking my blog posts and my ILA, NCTE, and TCRWP notes to try to be as accurate as possible. However, the mind is the first thing to go . . . with old age!)
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
International Literacy Association 2015
Did you see all of these resources posted on Twitter this last week? Just one more reason that you all should be on Twitter for the professional resources and connections! (Check out the 30 blue live links!) In the interest of “organizing my files” from #ILA15, here are some resources that you might want to review!
Shiza Shahid – This is her TED talk, not her ILA speech, but well worth your time!
Professor Nana’s “Summing it Up”
ILA Literacy Daily:
Bruce Lansky’s Poetry Olio Recap “Saturday Night Live”
Education Week: “Focus on the Standards without the Words ‘Common Core'”
Teachers for Teachers (Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan):
Pernille Ripp’s “The Five Truths of Reading”
Heinemann #ILA15 Live Blog
Miss Miller’s “Because of ILA: Take Aways and Bring Backs”
Carol Varsalona’s “Positively Undone and Renewed”
Professor Nana’s “What the ‘L’, Part 2”
Vicki Day’s “Reflecting on #ILA15 – Number 1 Take Away”
and then in case you missed them, my posts about #ILA15:
- #ILA15: One Week and Counting
- #ILA15 Begins Tomorrow!!!
- #ILA15 Begins . . . Reading with Rigor
- #ILA15: Pre-Conference Day Learning
- #ILA15: Day 1 Treasure Trove
- #ILA15: Treasures Continued
- #ILA15: Sunday Treasures
- #ILA15: Monday Finale
- #ILA15 Reprise
Have you added any new blogs to follow?
Will you plan to attend #ILA16 in Boston next July?
My final post about #ILA15. A clever way to make the first International Literacy Association Conference last – start blogging before I arrive . . .with eager anticipation and continue blogging after I return home . . .reluctant to “end” the experience (This is my 9th post about ILA!).
Hmm. . . just like commencement.
Definition 1: a beginning? or
2: a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are conferred on graduating students?
It all depends upon your perspective or point of view.
If you attended #ILA15, you have probably also returned home by now. You have more bags of “stuff” than when you left. Probably also a new book or two to read. You check the calendar. Time is fleeting. Depending on your location, the end of summer could be near.
You decide . . .
How will you put your learning to use?
Will I be able to “name” your learning by your actions?
1. Do your students have voice and choice . . . and are they both inspired and empowered every day to be lifelong learners (the will and the skill)?
2. Do you look into the eyes of students, listen to their voices, and watch their actions (and not just on standardized tests) in your quest to find out what they know and what they need next?
3. Do you model what you “preach” as in, do you REALLY lead a readerly and writerly life? Do you communicate how reading and writing have transformed your own personal life with evidence of its authenticity?
4. Do you truly provide the necessary supports so that ALL children in your care THRIVE every day at school? (No inadvertent shame?)
5. Do you still have a list of things you MUST learn YET this summer in order to be the best possible teacher, coach or leader next year? Have you asked anyone for help so that you don’t have to take your learning journey alone?
If you answered “YES” to all five of those questions, then you can choose one fun book and then one professional book to alternately read until your TBR (To Be Read) stack is depleted.
If you answered “YES” to four out of five of those questions, then you need to prioritize your learnings YET for this summer and get busy “learning” about 30 hours each week.
If you were in neither of the two categories above, you need to think seriously about Why you teach? Who you serve? and Your beliefs about education? Only the brave at heart can truly teach ALL students. It’s not an EASY job. Continue at your own risk because the students do not get “Do overs”! Their lives are forever in YOUR hands!
Choose your adventure! It’s all up to YOU!
Which path are you on?
How will you know if your students are successful?
How will you know if you are successful?
What’s the next step on your learning journey?
(Didn’t attend ILA? Would you like a quick summary? Here’s the ILA view!)
The general session that began Monday’s learning at #ILA15 was notable! Stephen Peters shared that “My teacher thought I was smarter than I was, so I was!” To learn more about him, check out his biography here.
And then Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer was interviewed by a panel that included two freshman students from a local high school who asked her questions about how to prepare for a career and even whether parents should have to answer questions from their child. Smart, witty, fun . . . and on the importance of reading as Octavia shared that she struggled with reading and dyslexia.
Game Changers: Using Sports and the Power of Adolescent Literature to Transform the World
Sharon Draper and Chris Crutcher
Laughter, long and constant, emanated from our conference room as Sharon and Chris answered questions from the audience. Here are some of the quotes that I captured from these YA authors who have also been classroom teachers.
Chris – “The only people who are ruined by their experiences are the people who allow it. I’ve seen people stand up under pressure, when I would have folded.”
Sharon – “Leave a door open, without being Pollyannish (not everything is going to be ok). I have to leave hope, not desperation and despair at the end of the book!”
Chris – “I would have failed Ms. Draper’s class but I would have still learned from her class. I ailed other classes, but I still learned something!”
Sharon on Diversity- ” Students, whether Black or Latino, need to see themselves in books and others as well! Classroom library needs to be diverse regardless of the makeup of the class!”
Chris on language (curse words and the F bomb)-“It’s the language of ‘anger/rage’ so it’s natural. I want to hear your story in your native tongue.”
On writing, rejection, and editors:
Sharon, “I sent out 25 letters, 24 were no, 1 yes from Simon and Schuster. When you turn in a manuscript, you know nothing. Find your own path. Just because you know how to climb Mt. Everest doesn’t make it any easier the second time because you have done it before. Still hard, just know what to expect.”
Take Away: Authors that write REAL books for kids, write from what they know and the kids that they see on a regular basis. It’s hard work to craft a book so the content and details are still relevant 10 years later.
Transforming Understanding Through Informational Read Alouds
Seymour Simon and Linda Hoyt
What a star-studded ending to the conference with Linda and Seymour and a room packed to overflowing for the last session of the conference! I was excited to meet my “Science Guy” as we evaluated the credibility of Seymour as a science expert during a TCRWP workshop earlier in July! And yes, he fit our EXPERT category!
Seymour Simon began by showing the craft techniques that he uses in his many books:
- Action words
- Engage senses to set the scene
- Ask questions
- diagrams and photographs
- Descriptive Detail
Seymour also shared a sample of the work that he has done as a publisher at Star Walk Kids. 500+ ebooks are available with more than half as nonfiction. I loved that he worked in a shout out to Mary Ehrenworth, Teachers College (TCRWP) and Twitter, “a unique opportunity for teacher to talk about education in a universe of teachers interested in the same work”.
“EVERY teacher should read aloud daily! Every book I write, I have to read aloud.”
And then pearls of wisdom from Linda Hoyt:
How do we make time for Informational Read Alouds?
“Shorten fiction read alouds. Put short informational Read Alouds into science and social studies to load up the heads and hearts of students. Make time. Informational Read Alouds do not need to be boring. Be picky about what you read.”
Qualities of great informational texts for Read Alouds:
- beautiful language
- high quality visuals
- test language – Does it beg to be read aloud?
- Is it projectionable? (so kids can see the text)
- You do NOT have to start reading on page 1 and read until the end.
We practiced with some text. Be cautious in saying all text should be a Read Aloud. This should be GREAT text. Teach kids that read alouds vary and where, why, and when we adjust them. Brian Cambourne’s Seven Conditions of Learning were included as well as a study of university students who are being read to at the University of Woolangong in ann adult study of the effect of Read Alouds on adult learning.
Linda shared a fourth grade persuasive PSA from Mrs. Fitpatrick’s class, “Pulling over for emergency vehicles”, as an example of student work after learning through Read Alouds.
What are the connections between Read Alouds and writing?
Build Capacity for Deep Thinking and Memory
Recast Conversation Patterns
Pause to sketch, to think, to visualize and talk . .
“Lester Laminack advocates for seven Read Alouds each day. I go with three – only 1 is interactive – so students can FEEL what happens! ( Fiction, NF, and writing craft – ex. lead)”
Take Away: A mix of fiction and informational text Read Alouds needs to be thoughtful, planned, practiced, and executed multiple times each day for ALL students!
What do you want to remember from this finale post?
What will linger with you?
What learning treasures did I find on a Sunday in St. Louis at #ILA15?
1. “I Hate Reading: Strategies Transforming Negative Self-Perceptions into Confidence
I find Justin’s work with #contraliteracy to be fascinating.
The sources are common. These “unintended negative effects” surround students, especially at the middle school age who are already both hyper-sensitive and hyper-critical of themselves and any “perceived’ slights.
How do we move beyond the many faces of shame?
1. Build Relationships with our readers. Admit, Acknowledge and Absolve them of past practices.
2. Use Self-Perception Scales to help students understand their own perceptions.
3. Have students tell their reading histories. Listen for the patterns.
4. Plan quality instruction
Be passionate about your invitation to ALL students to reading and writing
Remove all competition from reading
Provide access to print – print that students beg to read
Define what students can control – when and where can they find minutes to read?
Provide a reading mentor not a reading dictator (x number of pages, only this text, etc.)
One strategy that Justin has found to be successful for his readers is 30 Books in 30 Days Read Alouds. This promotes intimacy, relationships with characters, and connections with life as students practice strategies, form opinions, discover new interests and allows some above grade level reading.
Take Away: Independent and Autonomous Readers are Needed
2. Literacy Changed Their Lives: Teaching Reading as Writing with Picture Biographies
Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris
Because I love their book, Reading Wellness, this session was an automatic choice as soon as I saw the #ILA15 program! From the opening, “What are you on about?” to our ending dance, this session was absolutely FUN learning!
Which character in the picture is most like you?
There is a relationship between posture and success and creating positive change is important. This can be done through: 3 Gratitudes, Journaling, Exercise, Meditation, or Random Acts of Kindness. How do we define happiness? Have you seen this TED talk? The Happy Secret to Better Work with Shawn Achor
The whole concept of “Lean in, Lean Out” was explored with some adult pictures as well as student pictures. More information in their book, Reading Wellness: Lessons in Independence and Proficiency. As we moved on, Jan modeled the thinking from a Heart, Head, Hands, and Feet lesson using Ken Robinson’s The Element.
The real learning came when we partnered, read a picture biography and created a “Heart, Head, Hands, and Feet” drawing for our book. What a fun way to REALLY provide hope, inspiration and the power of positive thinking for career choices for students. There truly are actions that students can begin to take NOW to more fully explore possible careers.
Take Away: Biographies need to be carefully chosen to include childhood actions and balance of the four elements (alignment, balance, sustainability, and joy) is critical.
Just go to www.burkinsandyaris.com to see more information about “HHHF” lessons! It will be time well spent!
3. Writing From Sources is More Than “…the Text Says”: Support Thoughtful, Engaging Writing about Texts
Encouraging students to move beyond BORING information writing is a passion of mine so this session was also on my must attend list and then the fact that it was “CHRIS LEHMAN” presenting meant that I had high expectations that were completely MET! (Note: This session was so full that Penny Kittle was even sitting on the floor in the front! Amazing!)
I first met Chris Lehman at a 50 minute closing workshop during a Teachers College summer institute so I know just how much compelling information he can pack into an hour. And WOW! What a lesson in “passionate” reading, writing, viewing, speaking, and listening!
Chris’s basic premise was: What happens if we switch from this argumentative stance in writing
to a more invitational stance?
This invitational stance can still be persuasive and/or meet the requirements of claim, evidence, etc of the grade level standards in CCSS.W.1. The writing from this stance will be much more interesting while providing compelling information for the reader.
Chris provided the opportunity for us to practice using this invitational stance with a topic of our own choice or the topic of Pluto that he introduced us to in the opening minutes of the session. The stance carried over into sources as well. “What is it like to have a conversation with a source when you feel something about the topic/text?” Do we provide that opportunity for students? The whole idea of “reading with someone in mind (to share the information with later) led to some LOUD partner practice in a jam-packed room. Curiosity. Passion. Interest. Not copying. Not plagiarizing.
And then some masterful thinking about the “source” of information.
- “Teach appositive phrases, which is what this is, to students.
- Study mentor texts that TEACH about sources
- Bring learning about sources into your teaching (who is NASA?)”
Chris modeled this by describing his friend Barb who taught him about Bitmoji. Knowing a bit more about the background of the source in the introduction changed the whole tone of the piece. Check this example out!
“In 1920, before Fitzgerald was Fitzgerald, before the Great Gatsby, before Paris, before Hollywood, before most English literature lessons of today, Mr. Fitzgerald was a struggling alcoholic writer from Minnesota.”
That was just one sentence but think of the context, tone, mood and information that was conveyed. Was this “copied” from a book?
If you need more ideas about research, you won’t go wrong with Chris’s book, Energize Research Reading and Writing: Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence and Meet Key Common Core Standards, Grades 4-8 and you can read an excerpt here.
Take Away: Be passionate about learning and writing and move writing to an invitational stance that shows students how authors provide facts and information about sources without “copying”!
4. Metacognition: The Transformative Power of Reflective Thinking
Is “metacognition” just a buzz word?
The National Academy of Sciences in their report “How Students Learn” said that the key to effective learning, after 600 pages of research findings, was metacognition. John Hattie lists metacognitive strategies as 14th out of 138 influences on achievement and Marzano says that metacognition is the “mission control” of the thinking process. Metacognition is more than just a buzz word and in fact, is necessary for students to be reading writing, speaking, listening, and thinking at high levels.
With instruction and time for practice, students in even the primary grades can learn about metacognition and practice their thinking skills. It may look gimmicky at first, especially if the teacher dons a “thought bubble” to model and show their thinking to students. Talk, sketching, images, video, the use of complex text – all of these can be used to enhance thinking and reflection for our students.
Take Away: Students can use a silhouette of a head with a “brain-shaped” space to write their thinking to emphasize that it comes from the brain!
5. A Non-Freaked Out Approach to Literacy Instruction Across the Content Areas
4:45-5:45 (Still here learning!)
Are you a middle school or high school teacher? Do you work with middle school or high school teachers? Do you know Dave Stuart? His “Non-Freaked Out Approach to the Common Core?
This hour spent with Dave was an hour of pure gold and many, many ideas to consider about both the volume and the quality of literacy activities, reading, writing, speaking, and listening, across the day for students in middle schools and high schools.
Dave asked us to share our responses first with a partner, then with the group and /or on twitter to this question:
What, in one sentence, is your ultimate goal for students?
Dave also talked about getting past “argument’s baggage” because “…the goal is not victory but a good decision…in which a participant takes seriously and fairly the views different from his or her own.” (CCSS, Appendix A). Dave shared his “pop-up method” where he teaches or assesses 1-2 specific skills every time. So this time might be a claim and a paraphrase. Next time it might be adding on to someone else’s comment so that the skills for quality discussions/arguments/debates are specifically taught over time. His management tips:
1. No cross talk.
2. Teacher = coach
3. Every kid needs to speak.
4. “Great debaters can debate all sides.”
5. ” We all win with a great debate.”
6. Teach and assess 1-2 skills at a time.
7. Content and delivery.
I especially found his three types of writing to be helpful when thinking of ELA and Content Teachers. More conversation about the purpose of writing (to solidify or extend learning) could make this less “threatening” for content area teachers.
Provisional – DAILY – warm ups and exit tickets
Readable – WEEKLY – 1 paragraph compositions
Polished – monthly – longer essays
If you need more information about writing more and grading less go to mikeschmoker.com
TAKE AWAY: Debates and more writing can help build thinking and communication skills that will transfer to real-world success!
What “Treasures” did you find today?
What thinking / ideas do you want to carry forward into the next school year?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
What messages am I hearing every day at #ILA15?
Ask students what they need
Data is more than a number
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.
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 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.
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
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.
How much time is spent on reading?
Do classrooms have books?
Great questions that can jump start student reading!
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.
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?
- 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?