My two favorite phrases from the TCRWP August 19 Reading Institute were “Thank you for coming to school today” and “Mine the resources”. Both of these were a part of Shana Frazin’s session ‘When We Know Books, Readers, and Skill Development, We Can Accelerate Students Past Sticky Points at Levels K, M, and R (3-8).”
When stuck at ANY level, we can NOT slow down our instruction to a snail’s pace. We can NOT continue to allow students to languish in levels and continue what is currently not being effective and HOPE that this time the results will be different.
What I learned this week is that teaching so students are not stuck, so students can be independent readers, so students can transfer their reading work means the teacher must be proactive in their practices. If serious about this work you will need to find a colleague and talk about those times of trouble for your students.
“Face them head on!” said Lucy Calkins in our Monday keynote in Riverside Church.
Then plan proactively.
After this week I believe there are three key areas where I can be proactive and prevent students from being stuck.
1. Skill Development. Introduce the skills of the text band complexity work during an interactive read aloud BEFORE the unit begins. What if students are beginning this thinking work during the Read Aloud where students are not focused on the decoding and accuracy work? What if we ensure that students have more practice time? What if we ante up the quality of that practice time with more judicious use of the tools in the units of study from the previous grades? And to enhance our own practices, what if we spy on ourselves as readers more to figure out which skills we use, when we use them, and how a series of instruction might go?
2. Readers. We used daily graphs, book buzzes, partners and small group work to build our community daily. We didn’t use reading inventories (the infamous Garfield one comes to mind) but instead used TALK built around just a few of those questions. Why talk? Because we are social creatures and we were also building community simultaneously. Who had a book similar to mine? Where might I go for my next book selection advice? Which person, who is not the teacher, will be that conduit? This part of building reading habits through talk seems more purposeful and critical than ever before . . . knowing the students and building that relationship. An “all in” reading life is important! And to enhance our own practices, what if we participate in adult book groups or a study group with more talk around a book that our students love and we have never read?
3. Books. We have to know books. As the Co-Director of the Classroom Libraries of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project this was an area where Shana’s knowledge and passion clearly intersected. Books are critical to student reading success and we need to know them as well as all the non-text-based reading that students do in order to build meaningful and purposeful connections. One way we did that this week was to have book baskets and baggies present every day. Access matters. As teachers we also need to consider ways for students to become experts in books. Increasing student expertise matters. We must be readers and must stay current in our knowledge of series for students because there is almost 100% correlation between series reader and lifetime reading. Increasing teacher expertise matters. Kids who have access to well-stocked, well-maintained, current classroom libraries read 50% more than others! An “all in” reading life is important to build that book knowledge and help us locate our own dependable sources of book recommendations! But do we know the books and the expectations for student understanding of the types of tasks that students will be asked to do in the grades previous to us? If not, we may need to visit that work in previous Units of Study. And to enhance our own practices, what if we shared with our colleagues all the sources that we use to stay informed about books that our students want to read, choose to read, and increase their own curiosity about themselves and their world?
As a final note, I don’t see skill development, readers, and books operating separately so I would not be writing myself a goal in one of these areas and working on them separately. Reading is complex and when all three of these factors are the layers of the instruction, student readers are the winners. Students are then able to use their knowledge to build, increase and transfer the critical aspects of their reading life to their lives both in and out of school!
“This is Station 1. We read poems, mostly funny poems. Then we vote for the poem that we like best. We can record it for Seesaw. But the important part is that we have to read it without laughing but with expression so our audience can tell we like it.”
“And this is Station 2. Here we practice reading information. Today we are reading about sharks. When we finish, we tell our partner two things we learned about sharks and if we have any questions that we would still like answered about sharks.”
“And this is Station 3 and here we practice tongue twisters. We try to read them as fast as we can but we have to make sure that we say each word exactly the way it is written. Sometimes it’s hard. We try to beat our personal highest number of reading any one in a row”
“And this is Station 4 where you can read anything you want. We use this station last because it’s the most fun and if you are not causing trouble, you can stay here as long as you want because it’s important to build your stamina.”
What did you see and hear on this mini-tour of 4 Reading Stations?
What did you learn about reading through the words of the student explanations?
What were they working on?
Can you see and hear these kiddos?
Where was I?
In a bookstore
Eavesdropping on two boys who were book shopping for real,
But also “playing school” . . .
There were so many questions I wanted to ask,
but I listened and watched as I sat reading my own book, hoping I was holding it right side up as I was also scribbling down notes as fast as I could write. The joy and the seriousness juxtaposed in their words as they read.
What routines would students take from your classroom to play school?
What would they tell an observer about your beliefs and practices?
The lyrics from the Byrds have been going through my brain lately as I’ve lost track of day and night, days, and now even weeks, and WOW, how did it get to be August?
“To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven . . .” Video, 1965.
What does it take to be an award winner?
This song won a Grammy back in the 1960’s. Ah, yes, before many of you were born. So what is a classic? What is real? What needs to be repeated? What needs to be retired?
Cherish . . . and another tune instantly comes to mind.
Do I have songs on my brain?
Everything’s coming up roses and in verse!
There’s something about the JOYFULNESS of song!
I’m hopeful that the joyfulness in my life spills over to ensure that joyfulness is a part of every classroom this fall. Enthusiastic teachers. Refreshed. Relaxed. Rejuvenated.
Ready for challenges.
Ready to toil anew.
Ready to advocate for EVERY student.
Ready to lose your heart to that next room full of students!
And yet, every day the clock will continue! Can you find precious minutes for MORE reading and writing? Can you redistribute the time you have?
The students . . .
Excited students. Excited and eager for routines. Eager for learning. Eager to make a difference. Eager and enthusiastic to be back at school.
A time to be curious and focus on their brilliant minds and all the great things they do know. A time to think about next steps and small nudges of growth that will start spinning the success wheel.
Time shows what we value.
I love this quote from Ralph Fletcher.
“Time is a new kind of poverty. A schedule
that features daily writing communicates to
students: ‘Writing is one of my non-negotiables.
It’s too important for me to squeeze in
once in a blue moon’” (p. 45).
~ Ralph Fletcher
The Writing Teacher’s Companion
What is on your daily schedule?
What are your non-negotiables?
How will we know?
And just to come to a full circle . . . “So what is a classic? What is real? What needs to be repeated? What needs to be retired?”
What is really necessary in your classroom?
What do students really need to learn?
How will you know?
Life is all about decisions. Time is in your favor. Many have just begun. Many begin soon. Others have about three weeks. How will you use every precious second in honor of worthwhile and necessary learning?
Before we can ask for MORE TIME, we must make sure that we use our existing time wisely!
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
I search my computer.
My starting point.
What do I already have?
Take a walk.
Come back and dig in.
What does this connect to?
Who are my go to authors?
The most accurate sources?
So many tabs open that I can only see a letter on each.
What to keep?
What to file?
What to read?
Which books do I put on my stack?
And the big question:
What to use?
I’m working on my PD for Monday.
What’s my plan?
What’s my process?
Be not dismayed!
I have books.
I have professional books.
I have shelves and shelves and shelves of books!
But sometimes my book is on my desk at the office . . .
And sometimes someone has borrowed my book and is reading it!
Have you seen my secret weapon?
This was new to me just last month. It’s the Heinemann Digital Library and it’s already been a lifesaver. Understand this. I greatly admire the many authors that can narrow down their “5 Most Influential Book Lists”. I really, really do! However, I struggle to narrow down my “Top 5 Books for Fluency” or “My Top 5 Books for Conferring” or My Top 5 Books for Small Group Instruction”. (Is it too many books or too many favorites?)
What’s the Heinemann Digital Library?
It’s an annual subscription resource for unlimited and searchable access to books, articles, videos and even courses to learn more about reading, writing, assessment, early childhood, math, school improvement, and many more topics.
Why am I so fascinated with the Heinemann Digital Library?
Well, I am often known to have TWO copies of my well-used, beloved professional books. One is marked up with questions, comments, “!”, “*”, and other annotations. Pages will be dog-eared. Some may be tabbed. And yes, there will be sticky notes but those notes don’t remain sticky for long if I’m constantly peeling them off to peer at the words underneath. Access to the digital library now means that I can access the resource from my computer which is so handy when quite frankly, I don’t really remember where the book is right now.
How have I used this resource?
Here’s one example. I needed to add more information to my knowledge base and find some specifics for increasing student engagement during writing workshop. I have several resources on my stack on my desk:
Writing Pathways by Lucy Calkins
The Unstoppable Writing Teacher by Colleen Cruz (also in the Digital Library)
The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo
But I now also have these books, articles and a video courtesy of the Heinemann Digital Library.
One video, two articles, and three books . . . plus the resources that I already have. I’m pretty confident that I have a wide range of professional resources from recognized literacy researchers, experts and teachers. I have my resources and I’m now ready to work!
How does this connect to classroom work?
This is also the work that I would expect high school students to complete independently (after providing the groundwork in elementary) for the following ELA College and Career Ready Anchor Standards.
“CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCRA.R.2 Determine central odeas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.”
“CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.”
I would not presume to say that “working on the standards ONCE” would allow me to determine whether the standard has been met. I would want a body of evidence but that’s a whole different series of blog topics!
If you plan professional development, what’s your process?
Where do you get your quality resources?
Heinemann Digital Library Link here
and, in the spirit of disclosure, Yes, this was written after conversations with Cathy Brophy at Heinemann after I purchased my own personal membership to the Heinemann Digital Library and tweeted about it.
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.
What do these have in common?
Golden Girls theme song,
Literary giants: Ken & Yetta Goodman, Jerry Harste, Donalyn Miller, Reba M Wadsworth, Katie Wood Ray
Authors: Ezra Jack Keats, Abby Hanlon, Cindy Ward, Linda Oatman High, Meg Kearney, Julie Brinckloe, Leo Lionni
Books: Ralph Tells a Story, Apt. 3, Cookie’s Week, Beekeepers, Trouper, Fireflies, Fish is Fish
Peeks / Previews: Three Hens and a Peacock, Moving Day, The Leaving Morning, Snow Day!
The number of books by Eza Jack Keats with Peter as a main character? (7)
What do they have in common? Lester!
(Lester Laminack – In case you know multiple Lesters!)
Where was I?
. . . In a land where learners were not to raise their hands to garner attention but were still expected to LEARN.
. . . In a land where KIDS were first and foremost.
. . . In a land where adults were mesmerized by storytelling.
. . . In a land where “Movie Reads” (AKA first reads) were like gold.
. . . In a land where “sitting perfectly still” was NOT required.
. . . In a land where THINKING was required (not optional)!
. . . In a land where conversation is buzzing about a Summer Read Aloud Festival!
But what did I learn?
And how am I going to use it?
Well, the content in this book is SOOOOO insightful!
Reading and writing are reciprocal skills, or as Lester says “opposite sides of the same coin”. This book is about more than just mentor texts because it answers the question “WHY do we need to study and use texts?” As an example, Lester recited the opening lead from Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.
“There was once a small boy called Wilfrid Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and what’s more he wasn’t very old either. His house was next door to an old people’s home and he knew all the people who lived there.
He liked Mrs. Jordan who played the organ. He listened to Mr. Hosking who told him scary stories. He played with Mr. Tippettt who was crazy about cricket. He ran errands for Miss Mitchell who walked with a wooden stick.He admired Mr. Drysdale who had a voice like a giant. But his favourite person of all was Miss Nancy. Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper because she had four names just as he did.”
Not just a “party trick”
Instead this was a demonstration of the power of a well-crafted text when the lead was incredibly effective. When do leads work? When do they not work? Teachers need a deep understanding of leads as both a reader and writer. Using Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge as a mentor text might have students imitate the beginning in their own text. But how would a teacher REALLY know that any one student or the whole class really had a deep understanding of what they read or wrote?
AHHH! . . .
So the goal is NOT to just write a lead like Mem Fox’s!
Not just imitation!
So then what is the purpose of using mentor texts?
There are several purposes, but it’s not just about “copying a craft move” into personal writing. Using a mentor text is about studying and loving that text as a reader in order to fully understand and appreciate the care and attention that the writer has given to the work. The “depth” of the qualities of the literature allow for multiple rereads or visits to the text in order to both admire and study the words, paragraphs and story. It’s the reason that the literature may transcend time and cause us to revisit an “old friend”.
Using mentor texts is also not about just reading one text and then turning around and using that text as a model for an “activity” that involves writing. True workshop writing means writing day after day, developing, growing and naming those moves discovered from reading that are now a part of writing craft. But that takes time and study – multiple books, multiple reads, talk, and thinking. Not just being told in a mini-lesson to “Do this!”
What does that sequence look like?
Lester Laminack said it begins with a “Movie Read” of a carefully chosen “Best Friend” book. A book that the reader loses himself/herself in and becomes a part of the story. A book that students must hear the whole book!
Then parts of the book may be revisited with students asking questions. Students may go in search of other examples . . . text structures, meaning, story elements . . . but moving beyond a surface look to a deep study involves time, purpose and attention to how reading the book enriches one’s own life. Reading, talking and thinking!
It’s not a new book every day. It’s a planned, deliberate sequence that ends with students being able to revise and improve upon a description or substitute a “telling” for an inference. It’s work but yet it’s fun without artificial motivation (punishments?) because students have stories they are bursting to tell and real audiences who can’t wait to unwrap those stories.
As teachers, we need to be more planful in our use of Read Alouds. We need to carefully study the texts and consider how they can inform our instruction. Use precise language. Check in on students’ schema and background knowledge. Don’t stop when students have cows with “fish bodies”!
Read! Write! Think!
Be true to students and their needs!
K – I – D – S!
Videos of Lester and Reba talking about their book here.
Tweets from the @IowaASCD #Fallinstitute2015 are archived here.
(First draft / Round One of my thinking from a day with Lester Laminack!)
Another book that I found at the New York City Public Library was this gem that is full of wonderful advice about what you should do this summer!
Have you seen this book? Do you remember “Little Golden Books”?
I remember collecting a wide variety of these when my son was little. They were a perfect length for bedtime reading and had such a nice “happily ever after” ending (or at least the ones I remember). These were constants on the shelves as I traded other books that I was using at school depending upon the season and the age.
I’m not saying that these are great literature and are worthy of “stickers” as we heard Jackie Woodson talk about at #TCRWP’s Reading Institute. But do check out the messages that I found in a very quick perusal of the book’s pages.
(And it’s very important to note that this page says 1959. I didn’t know that color TV had even been invented in 1959. Maybe color TVs just hadn’t made it to Iowa yet! History of color TV here at wikipedia.)
So if you turn off the TV, you should . . .
Clever, NO? Not convinced?
More wisdom . . .
or even . . .
What have you planned for your summer vacation?
Will you turn off TV?
Will you read a book?
Will you use your imagination?
Will you learn something new?
. . . a cute book that you will enjoy sharing!
(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!) Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge: Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna and Beth. More Slice of Life posts can be found at Two Writing Teachers .
For a bit of entertainment this weekend we went to the show and it was especially great because we were together watching this movie series again!
Stunning visual effects! Are the characters still believable? And consistent across the first two movies? How well did the movie capture the contents of the book?
We both agreed that the book was better than the movie. As bookaholics we may be a bit biased. Isn’t the book always better than the movie?
A trilogy to debate. Evan says Hunger Games is the best book of the series. I say Mockingjay is better. Two different votes – neither wins . . .
Let’s see what the readers say! Which one is truly the best book? Which movie is your favorite so far?
Please take this quick 3 item survey (no names will be captured)!
Click on the survey link here.
Which is usually better: the book or the movie? Why do you think so?
(As I write this post, I am going to practice CCR Anchor Writing Standard 1, “Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.” )
As I reviewed the blogs listed here on my page as well as the ones on my google reader, I thought about the power of technology. I eagerly look forward to catching up on my “online blog reading” in order to see what is happening with many friends that I know in the virtual world. I have found that a “support system” exists that helps me increase my own understanding of literacy and the bigger educational world. This post takes a look inside some of those blogs that are a part of my own support system that range from a Twitter chat group and some of its specific members to a blog from work that greatly influences my literacy specialist work to a blog that makes me think about how students should be using blogs for real world writing. The topics and content may vary but blogs are powerful sources of learning as well as reflections of learning; just check these out!
1) #educoach The #educoach Twitter chat takes place at 9 pm CST each Wednesday night. The chats are co-moderated by @KathyPerret @PrincipalJ and @shiraleibowitz. Because all three are very talented leaders, I am including all of their blogs under number one #educoach . The reasons for reading them are uniquely different and important! (Yep, cheating already!)
A) Kathy Perret’s “Learning Is Growing “ blog is a place where she records her reflections and new learnings. In the “About” section, Kathy explains that the name was inspired by the book Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Kathy is an aspiring elementary principal who currently serves as a Reading Consultant for NWAEA in Sioux City, Iowa. As I reviewed Kathy’s blog for specific posts to recommend I noted that the archives extend to August 2010 with 70,829 hits recorded. This seems to be a blog with a great following! Favorite posts that extended my thinking included: “Discover Writing” posted on July 14, 2012, “Angry Birds” – A Lesson in Assessment FOR Learning posted on February 15, 2011 and “ Think-Pair-Share Variations” posted on March 21, 2012. These three posts represent thoughtfully written articles for teachers that include the background theory, actual implementation steps, and resources that would benefit a teacher implementing the strategies in a classroom.
B) @PrincipalJ’s blog is “Reflections from an Elementary Principal. Jessica Johnson reflects on her practice, her learning and connects with other school administrators as an elementary principal in Wisconsin. Favorites of mine include: “Ready for the First Day of Bucket Filling!”(Sept. 2012), October 3, 2012, “Do my teachers know how amazing they are?” that was about nominating a teacher for a state award who didn’t feel she was a viable candidate, and “The decision to go school-wide with Daily 5” posted on February 9, 2011 that details how Daily 5 began with one second grade teacher the previous year. With blogs dating back to 2009 a reader could find many topics that would build upon his/her own understanding of life as an administrator or lead teacher in any building.
C) “Sharing Our Blessings” is Shira Leibowitz’s blog shared in her own words “because for Educators and Parents, Counting Our Blessings Just Isn’t Enough.” Shira is a lower elementary principal in New Jersey. A special favorite of mine is the post “Who’s Afraid of Principals?” posted 10.09.12 that so aptly conveys a student vision of adults and reminds adults to stop and think about the perceptions of our students! Posted on 04.22.12 is “The Learning Walk Shuffle” which details an evolution of learning walks to the current foci of differentiation and student engagement. That is one post that I have reread multiple times! “A Team of Coaches” posted on 02.13.12 provides information about the specific roles of the math, Hebrew, science, educational tech, enrichment, media and literacy, and literacy and learning strategies coaches found in her building. All of these coaches work together as a coaching team to support meaningful professional learning. Shira talks frankly about professional learning required to design and support all students and teachers.
2) Quick Reviews and Ideas is a blog by @ksteingr (Kristin Steingreaber) who is the media director at Great Prairie AEA (Ottumwa and Burlington) where I work. The purpose of this blog is to connect students with new media resources. Teachers and/or students will be interested in the reviews. The October 24th post is a review of the book, The giant and how he humbugged America by Jim Murphy. Publisher information is included as well as why this may appeal to students in Iowa: “Hull claimed that he got the idea to create the giant while on a business trip to Ackley, Iowa” (page 47). Curriculum connections to books from the National Council of Social Studies are also included in the book reviews found in the October 21st post as way to increase reading within curricular areas. The blog archives list 53 posts for 2012, 56 for 2011, 67 for 2010 and 78 for 2009 as further evidence of the long standing tradition of book reviews. Busy teachers will appreciate that the reviews are succinct. Looking for a specific title? There is a “search” available on this blog that allows one to focus on specific titles and/or topics.
3) This last specific post “Ideas for Integrating a Student Blog into Your Curriculum” by @penilleripp is on the “Blogging through the Fourth Dimension” site and is a “Must Read/Follow” because it includes education musings, technology and lessons as well as Pernille Ripp’s Life as a Teacher. Need ideas on how to incorporate student blogging in order to make writing as authentic and as meaningful as possible without it becoming another homework burden? If yes, then this is the post you need to read. Thinking about student blogging? Then this is the blog for you to follow. Mrs. Ripp has 150 posts archived for this year alone which could greatly inform any reader looking to add to their own knowledge of technology and writing. Any teacher who is considering student blogging will find additional resources and food for thought on this blog!
So this was quite lengthy. Did I support my claims that these were great “must follow/read” blogs? Was the reasoning valid? Was there sufficient and valid evidence? Where could I have improved my argument?