This week you have been treated to a blog tour to introduce you to the big ideas in Melanie Meehan’s book, Every Child Can Write: Access Points, Bridges and Pathways for Striving Writers.
In case you have missed a post, here is the recap:
FYI: I reviewed an advance prepublication copy of “Every Child Can Write.”
This book is based on two beliefs:
“1. All children can learn to write.
2. It is a fundamental imperative that we do everything in our power to teach
the students in our care how to express themselves through words and through
writing.” – Meehan, M. Every Child Can Write. xviii.
Sometimes I am known as a “book devourer”. I pore over pages I love. I have conversations with the author as I read. And I often do NOT read a book, cover to cover . . . as in beginning with Chapter 1 and ending with the last chapter. I love to study a quality Table of Contents (and Melanie has the BEST ever). And the Introduction is superb. Colleen Cruz set the need and the goals of this book beautifully and Melanie delivers with encouragement, a bit of fun, and an honestly engaging text that has you nodding your head. The ideas and issues are real. This is a book that I did read cover to cover the first time. And the second time. Now I’m going back to my post its and selectively rereading the “good parts”! (and it’s a sizeable chunk)
The book delivers many entry points, bridges and pathways for striving writers as promised, but it is also about entry points, bridges and pathways for teachers. You will have many avenues to explore in this book. The “Pause for PD” section in each chapter is specifically designed to make the book interactive . . . to help you bring it to life.
Chapter 9 is truly a gift to teachers, coaches and PLC teams because it is ALL about problem solving. Melanie takes us all inside a third grade classroom, shares data, instructional planning, and both the questions and the thinking that guide the teachers’ writing instruction. Melanie is quick to point out that this is not a formula for success as you may not have that second person in your classroom. Remember that Melanie invited you to “tinker” with the ideas to make them work for you and your students. Instead this chapter is meant to reinforce all the learning in previous chapters and share a way that it “might go” in a classroom and how you in turn could use the learning to make sure every child is writing.
So how does this go? Writing is complex and there is no easy “one size” solution.
Keep in mind that this is just a brief summary of my perception of Chapter 9 where Melanie “shows” you how the information and tools in Chapters 1-8 can work together in order to help problem solve some very common writing problems that may exist in your classroom. (And some of the parts occur simultaneously and not in the abbreviated linear format that I have used for this summary!) These are five common writing concerns that teachers and I have had discussions about them past and present!
A. The teacher is concerned that several students just are not writing or are writing at a very minimal level. Note that this “concern” was bigger than numbers/scores!
- Course of Action: Check the environment. How does it look from the student view? Are their routines that will raise the level of student engagement?
B. What are the entry points for students? Is it content? Where to begin? How to prioritize?
- Course of Action: Increase writing volume through several entry points including reteaching routines and setting up clear expectations.
C. What are the bridges to increase student independence? How does the teacher ensure students are doing the work?
- Course of Action: Collect additional data on HOW students spend their writing time (engagement data). The teachers determine some very specific skills that with short term scaffolds would move the students forward. Those bridges help students grow their skills with shared writing and gradual release of responsibility to decrease teacher dependence.
D. What pathways will help students be more productive? How does the teacher encourage efficiency and effectiveness?
- Course of action: Explore specific paper and writing formats for planning to meet individual student needs. The teachers also look at a variety of ways to have students use charts including access on a bulletin board where students were expected to be responsible for getting mini-charts as needed, to use them, and then to return them to their place as originally presented in Lynne’s blog post yesterday. (Aha – not just gluing into a notebook very passively and then never being able to find the chart again!) And then also think about a way to encourage conventions (see Chapter 8 and Kathleen’s post) without stifling the production of ideas!
E. How does a teacher collect volume and engagement data as additional routes to provide enough practice for students to increase their skills and their own confidence and competence?
- Course of action: Change the color of Flair pens so the teacher can check writing volume each day. Develop individual plans for writing as necessary. Develop and/or strengthen writing partnerships. Focus on writing conferences that lead to a higher self-efficacy when using writing tools.
In Melanie’s example of a third grade case study where students were not performing at the level that the teacher expected, this plan was implemented for four weeks with a second teacher available to teach and coach three to four times a week. The results: the total number of students who were proficient in all district required traits of focus, organization, elaboration, fluency, voice, and conventions increased.
You will have to check out the data in the chapter to see exactly HOW MUCH and WHERE the greatest increases were. The data is solid. But beyond that, students began to view themselves as writers and were more willing to assume risks because they felt more confident and competent. (risk-takers!) In turn, they became more independent and successful in their writing. And based on student work, the teacher also incorporated some of the changes from the four weeks into the next unit BEFORE it even began! Win/Win, all around for students and teachers!
What do you need to study?
How could this case study inform your own study?
Where would you start?
Don’t forget the chat tonight with #G2Great at 8:30 ET and 7:30 CT!
Book Give Away
Go back up to the links at the top if you haven’t commented. Each blog will be giving away one free copy of Every Child Can Write. That could be YOU winning one of the five free books!!!
#G2Great Wakelet – Link
“Because you know I’m all about the books,
‘Bout the books, everywhere
I’m all ’bout books, in the bookroom, and classroom
I’m all ’bout books, in the bookroom, and classroom
I’m all ’bout reading, ’bout the books,Because you know I’m all about reading,
‘Bout the books, Read Alouds too
I’m all ’bout independent reading, ’bout book sets.
I’m all ’bout book clubs, ’bout, partners too
I’m all ’bout the books (books)I’m all ’bout learning, all about growing,
I’m all ’bout poetry, all about the series,
I’m all about adventure, and mystery
We gon’ read fantasy, historical fiction, and nonfiction too.We know that books save lives
We know they make you feel
We know they take you places
We know they open up the worldWe know they are a must
We know that readers have to read
Do you have a bookroom?
What is the purpose of your bookroom?
There is no “ONE” right way to set up a bookroom. Tammy and Clare suggest that you can use a closet, a room, a portion of the school library for a bookroom or “book annex”. The initial step is to inventory your books and the forms that are available from the Heinemann Publishing online resources.
Do all students have enough books to read (volume) to both grow and be inspired to be a life-long reader?
Students need daily access to more books than they can read so they can have choice. If students are to be reading independently for 30 minutes each day, they need choices from a “limitless pool” of books. That’s the purpose of the bookroom. Choice involves considering a redesign or redeployment of current book inventories. Considering how to meet multiple instructional needs may require changes: some books in six packs for guided reading/small group instruction, some books as singles for independent reading and some books in 2s/3s for book clubs. All.without.purchasing.more.books.at.this.time!
Live dangerously. Check out your bookroom. Are there some books that are starting to collect dust because they haven’t been read recently?
If those are six packs of books in zip-lock baggies, Tammy and Clare suggest that you may want to consider having them redistributed as singles for independent reading. This is especially true for the beginning levels where students will need a high volume of books to read daily. To Consider: Maybe not all of the books need to be in sets of six in the bookroom. Is that a novel thought?
What are some other possibilities?
What are the key topics that your students are interested in? If it’s animals and you are a kindergarten teacher, you may want some A and B books in a basket labeled “Animals”. The label will NOT say A/B This may even be a basket with a mixture of fiction and nonfiction books (my thinking). If your first grade students like animals, you may need an E/F basket of animal books or an I/J basket of animal books. Again, the label will be the topic. The labels might be topics, authors, or general like “Laugh Out Loud”. Think of how easy it might be to “use” these books in your classroom if the books are already organized into baskets of approximately 20 books that you would be ready to check out and go!
What books do you need more of in your classroom? Books for independent reading? Books for book clubs? Books for small group instruction? Your classroom needs and student interests can help you figure out additional ways to organize books that may include your science and social studies curricula support as well. Sharing and redistributing books will keep the dust off and provide more reading for more students! What if you were able to reorganize your bookroom with a variety of combinations of books in order to enhance the readerly lives of your students?
If students are going to read a lot and become readers who love to read, they need access to books. A lot of books. Single books for independent reading are needed in many classrooms because “rereading” the guided reading books are boring after awhile as are the Xeroxed books at the low levels, and perhaps FEWER books are needed for guided reading, especially after Level K. (Moving to “strategy groups” for instruction allows the teacher to use the same mini-lesson for all students and provide practice in a text that shows they fully understand the strategy.) Practice, practice, practice in texts allows the student to build confidence and a skilled teacher can also consider how to close the gap for striving students. That means fewer books will really need to be stored in groups of six. Instead, baskets of books could be set up in the bookroom so teachers are able to rotate baskets to provide “new” titles for classroom libraries without depleting the school library. Independent student reading books can be refreshed and reinvigorated for immediate access in the classroom. (And it books are reassigned, perhaps the school book budget can now include some “new” purchases as new titles are published!)
Check out this April 29, 2018 Facebook Live session with Tammy and Clare here.
What ideas about bookrooms have intrigued you?
What books could maybe be read more often if some changes were made in your current book collections?
Are you using your books in the most productive ways for students?
Heinemann has graciously donated a copy of It’s All About the Books for each stop on the blog tour. To enter, comment below and either post a picture of some part of your classroom library or your bookroom with the link in a comment or write about your thinking or your questions about bookrooms. At the end of the week (Friday after 8 pm), a random winner will be chosen to receive a copy of this fabulous new book!