This week I have been preparing for my two weeks at Teachers College Writing and Reading Institutes for the third year in a row, a true honor and privilege to be so fortunate to be accepted when thousands apply!
What does my preparation look like?
- Rereading my notes,
- Rereading my previous blog posts from #TCRWP Writing and Reading Institutes,
- Reading #tcrwp tweets to see the conversations and work from staff developers,
- Collecting questions that my teachers want answers for,
- And of course the never ending packing!
I’m stuck on these questions from Booke Geller last year during the reading institute. (whole post here)
Which students really need the structure and support of guided reading? Which students need more practice reading? Are your students over taught and under practiced? At what grade do you end guided reading for most students and move on to other structures with more student ownership?
“over taught and under practiced”
“more student ownership”
are both phrases that are circling my brain . . .
If my goal is “evidence of students reading and applying skills and knowledge as they read”, how do I support that? What should my teaching look like? What should student work look like?
Who is doing the work?
What big questions are your current puzzles?
What does your “learning preparation” look like when you are the “learner”?
What else should/ could I be doing for my own learning prep?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsey for creating that place for us to work collaboratively.
It’s back to school time for many teachers this week in Iowa.
What does that mean?
Well, lots of meetings and professional development for one thing. But also the culmination of lots of planning for teachers. Many teachers have been reviewing and polishing their lessons from last year. Others have attended professional development locally or even in such far away places as New York City for the #TCRWP Writing Institute.
What blogs would be good to review now?
The Blog-a-Thon at Two Writing Teachers for the last week focused on building classroom routines for both reading and writing workshops. That link was for Tara’s first post about Writing Notebooks. And here is the recap for the week if you want to pick and choose your topics. What routines do you establish with your students to move them to the “independent” stage? What new routines do you plan to add this year?
What quotes are you going to hold on to as the year begins?
Lucy Calkins: June and August Reading Institute 2014
“To lift the level of reading you are teaching, you must work on your own reading. Outgrow yourself as a reader. Start today.”
“ We are no longer teaching information, but teaching students to sort, understand and make something out of the information that is at their fingertips.”
From Brooke Geller and the July TCRWP Reading Institute:
Richard Allington: “Many of our readers are over taught and under practiced.”
From Mr. Minor at the August TCRWP Reading Institute:
“Don’t slow down for struggling readers. Projects disrespect. Keep pace high with repetitions.”
(All of these tweets were also found n Twitter. Just one more reason for you to check out #TCRWP this week during the August Reading Institute!) 🙂
What do those quotations have in common?
What is different about them?
Which two would you choose to compare and contrast?
What are you planning for/ holding onto as you begin this new school year?
Back to School
Excited to learn!
Books on shelves
Books in tubs
Books on spinners
The bell rings.
Students race in.
Eager to tell their stories.
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Last Thursday, Brooke Geller read this book to us to close out our small group reading workshop session. It was powerful, it was moving, and it was a perfect ending to our week together. This book was written after Marian Edelman’s June 1, 1996 Washington, DC, speech about the importance of putting children first. 300,000 attended that rally 18 years ago.
Do you stand for children? What would evidence of your stand look like?
Back at the end of June, Chris Lehman wrote a post on his blog titled, “When There’s No White Horse: Being Our Best Advocate“. If you haven’t read it yet, go read it. Chris wrote that post as a response to another blog that had challenged ideas in Falling in Love with Close Reading authored by Chris and Kate Roberts. Chris chose to take the high road when he said:
“We, as a profession, need to advocate earlier and often for the policies that come our way. We need to shape the decisions that are made in our districts. We need to be active with our administrators. We need to offer our professional expertise so by the time something gets to the babble stage, it’s actually worth babbling about.” (06.25.14, christopherlehman.wordpress.com)
He continues on and tells us in the next caption, “We Can’t Wait for Advocates, We Need to BE Advocates!” (It’s not too late, you can still go back and read it!) Use his “small steps” to get started!
- Take back edubabble
- Don’t malign district decisions, get in there are help to make them
- Connect with other passionate educators
Your voice is needed! Stand for children! Don’t wait for someone else!
What do you stand for?
Accelerating Readers with Brooke Geller
Our agenda for the day:
Supporting complex texts and close reading during units of study
- Gallery walk
We displayed our learning in charts, brochures, flyers, and even blogs so class members could walk around and see evidence of learning. It’s fascinating to see our learning displayed in so many ways.
- Round table conversations
We met in grade level groups and discussed issues, questions, and/or concerns. See notes below.
Brooke read aloud from Stand for Children by Marion Wright Edelman and then we each stood and said who we were standing for.
Notes from grade level round table conversations:
Grade 7: Using some tips from Tracy Fell including personalizing student notebooks, writing at personal reader’s history and publishing it the first week of school. Brooke shared this possible schedule for 7th grade.
|Reading Workshop||Read Aloud…
|Reading Workshop||Reading Workshop|
Under this schedule Mondays and Wednesday will be component days and will include some vocabulary work. This particular group of teachers will also have “Great Works” studies three times a year for 3 week units where they will do a whole class book.
Grade 6: Because there is a focus on world cultures, they were looking for additional texts. Home of the Brave, Long Walk to Water, Your Move by Eve Bunting, and Inside Out and Back Again were all mentioned! They also talked about how characters change across series like Harry Potter – book ladders available on the #tcrwp website and this document was shared by Sandy Brumbaum.
Grade 5: Discussed launching the first unit and working with the close reading lenses at the beginning of the year. Because many students have not come from workshop classes, discussion centered around transitions including: reviewing curriculum calendars from grade 4 and concerted vertical alignment with adjacent grade levels. READ ALOUD – Popularities – From book – My first French Kiss One teacher shared using Home of the Brave (Applegate) early in the year with close reading work and then coming back to it later in the year as a part of author study. HF – Counting on Grace
Grade 4: They talked about access to notes from other grades, Goodbye 382 Shin Dang Dong for social issues, The Can Man, A Room of My Own, and Those Shoes, and Getting Through Thursday.
Successful Book Clubs
Brooke reminded us of the videos that show students talking about books like Bud not Buddy, My Name is Isabelle and Night (MS) and that it is helpful to let the students see the videos so they have a picture of their goal.
However, that video will NOT take the place of a mini-lesson.
Possible scenario for envisioning Book Clubs ( coaches, admin. & teachers)
- Watch video
- Create a T chart of what want/ know about a book club
|Looks Like||Sounds Like|
- Students set goals for own book club
- Meet as a book club
- Watch the video again and reflect on own work
- Revise chart based on own work, the video, and reflection
Social Studies Centers with Kathleen Tolan
We began with a whole group close reading of the Gorillas NF Read Aloud Video
- Notice the tone. How would you describe it?
- List the different ways the teacher engages the students?
- What methods of teaching are used?
- What scaffold or supports are used to maximize learning for all?
- What skills are children being prompted to use?
- What level of questioning is being used?
- What evidence of accountable talk do you see?
- Is the teacher able to assess students understanding of the content during the read aloud?
- How might assessment follow this read aloud?
These questions provided a variety of lenses to process the demonstration!
Whole Group Activity Boston Massacre
We used a basic picture like this by Paul Revere and compared it to two other versions:
Discussion questions included:
Who benefits from Paul Revere’s image?
Who was the image created for?
And how does it affect that person in that time period?
Why did Paul Revere tell the story this way?
(We worked with two other pictures that my Mac is not allowing me to copy)
Then we layered in “The Bloody Work of King Street” by Paul Revere.
A great ending to our work with Social Studies Centers but just the beginning to our curiosity about all those old pictures of The Boston Tea Party and ALL of those old stories.
Kathleen’s wisdom: Probably 30% of what you believe is actually true!
We want our students to read something and then put it up against facts. They need to be able to judge misinformation.
Many thanks and accolades
3 songs sung by teachers
A tribute to Walter Dean Myers who passed this week
Kathy Collins – Keynote Not so random thoughts on Butterflies, Thigh Gaps, and Teaching
Thigh gap, unattainable body mechanics, compared to NCLB!
So very funny! Such a good way to end the week. Kathy left us with a note of hope as she read the book, The Little Brute Family.
Accelerating Student Progress with Brooke Geller
Today we shared our tools with the admonition to consider these two questions: “What is it?” “How will I use it?”
1) Teaching Main Idea with examples for both explicit and implicit Main Idea (for work with teachers first)
2. Post-it Thinking Continuum for Student Self- Assessment
Students can ask the question: Where does my post-it fit on this continuum? and
How can I improve my post-it?
3. Strengthening our Post-its
Samples on top layer with suggestions underneath
4. Strategies for Nonfiction Texts with Questions
Teaching strategies specific to NF texts
5. Strategies to Grow Readers
Specific sentence stems/frames to increase thinking
6. Digital charts for analyzing point of view and what to do when I am confused
Then we explored Guided Reading Book Introduction in small groups with a teacher, a lifeline and three students. Before the second round, Brooke did some coaching to encourage engagement (and quality instruction):
- wait time
- questioning – name the student last
- showing text – particular parts
- displaying vocabulary
- display powerful images
- turn and talk early on
Social Studies Centers
In Social Studies Centers with Kathleen Tolan, we began by discussing our Big Edeas within our group. We posted them on the wall and then returned to our Drumroll (see Day 1 for the write around charts). While circulating the room, and visiting the write arounds, we were trying to match up our “Big Ideas” with the actual pictures from the write arounds.
This meant constant reading and re-reading. It also required trust and messiness. There wasn’t a clear cut 1:1 match. Kathleen reminded us that materials and intellect can challenge each other.
Important Teaching Notes
- We didn’t have “lectures” on “big ideas” and maybe kids don’t need those either.
- Revision of Big Ideas can come from the work.
- Some resources lead to bigger ideas!
- This is messy!
Big ideas included:
Access to knowledge is empowering.
Gender determines the future of a colonist.
Sanctions don’t necessarily work.
Slaves were traded as resources.
Colonial boundaries changed over time.
Not all Big Ideas matched up to the pictures but the more times that we, as students, revisit both the Drumroll and the Big Ideas, the more that we will revise our Big Ideas and increase both our personal and group learning. Not matching a picture was not wrong. However this “re-focusing” on Big Ideas gave us a bit more structure to think about as we began our second round of center work.
We had a page with four quotes for a whole class activity. When working with quotes, Kathleen said people and dates matter so we googled dates for the quotes that were missing dates so we could think about”time” implications as we worked on common themes between the quotes. After discussing a quote in our group, we then did a quick write about what the quote meant. Kathleen shared a fourth grade student response that was much better than mine due to the figurative language and the comparisons for freedom for slaves that was not a result of “liberty” from the British. It was a great example that pushed our thinking about the possibilities for student learning.
Questions to ask as we plan social studies Read Alouds:
What reading skills do we want to emphasize?
What writing skills?
What note-taking skills (taught and/or used)?
What are the student learning targets?
What vocabulary should be in the word bank? (Does the order match the content order?)
What visuals should be included?
What partner materials need to be collected, organized, labeled and copied for students?
Closing Workshop: Teaching Literary Elements Such as Mood, Symbolism, and Theme with Digital Bins – Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry -Paul
What are Digital Bins? They are text sets that include:
- YouTube.com videos
- Primary source documents
- Advertisements, etc
One example shared today was Theme:
“Theme is a thread that runs throughout a text.”
- Pay attention to details: characters, objects, colors, setting
- Note patterns such as repeated images, phrases, emotions
- Name the threads that tie this all together
Grade 6 Student Work Example for Symbolism
Create Text Sets Around Common Themes for Advanced Readers:
(have students compare across text sets)
- Growing Up
Their presentation was really informative and provided many practical ways to plan for instruction in “understanding the craft of writing embedded and discoverable through reading! Check out their blog here and their book as well for tons more information!
Keynote – David Booth
Our friend from Canada, David Booth, knows that there is a serious problem surrounding boys reading “girl books.” He works with students, parents, and schools in order to have them understand that the digital age is here whether we like it or not. Loved the pictures and stories about his granddaughter as well as the fact that he “poked fun” at himself and his technological capacities! Great speaker!
What was on your learning list for today? Did you attend the 7:30 pm #TCRWP Twitter Chat with @clemenkat?
It was a Sunday and 5:03 am.
Just like a kid getting ready for an adventure, I couldn’t sleep any longer. What to do?
The registration doors don’t open until 7:30. That would be 147 minutes of “me” time. My choice. My decision.
How do I decide? These are my “turn the page choices” but I have others on my Kindle that I can also choose from.
Here are just a few snapshots from Sunday, June 29, 2014.
New York City
The July 2014 Reading Institute began today with registration at 7:30 and then Lucy Calkins’ kickoff keynote. Who are we? The 1300 of us represent 41 countries and 46 states as Teachers, professors, editors, authors, superintendents, and coaches. Lucy quickly had us reading two coming of age works, a poem and a song, before she began to talk about how to lift the level of our teaching.
According to Lucy, we need to: 1) work on our reading and our teaching in order to “outgrow” our reading selves, 2) own our content, and 3) teach within a community of practice. The explanations, data, support, and stories were included in today’s #TCRWP twitter feed multiple times. Check it our online. Just know that Lucy’s final words were classic Lucy, “As you make your way back to the college, turn and talk and walk!”
Advanced Morning Section:
Accelerating Students’ Progress Along Levels of Text Difficulty: Guided Reading, Assessment Based Teaching, and Scaffolds for Complex Texts (3-8) Brooke Geller (@Brooke_Geller)
I have followed Brooke for quite awhile; however, on Twitter I had missed how funny she is. “Just add children” was one of the first quotes that I loved. The learning from this section is going to be helpful for me in multiple buildings this year. It was comforting to hear many of my beliefs affirmed, but it was also great to be working with song and video to “do close reading.” We worked as a group of three teachers to read through lenses, use lenses to find patterns, and used patterns to develop a new understanding of the text including authorial intent.
More details are available in the Twitter stream and note that my tweets from this session included both #tcrwp and @brooke_geller. If you are not following Brooke on Twitter, please do so. @brooke_geller
Twitter Meet Up Over Lunch
Over lunch Julieanne (@jarhartz) and I hung out in Everett Lounge for the Twitter Meet Up. Thanks, new followers and previous followers as well. It is always fun to meet Twitter friends in real life (f2f). Today was the only day that K-8 attendees had the same lunch so Rebecca Cronin was working on signing up more Twitter peeps.
Do note that the Trail Guide lists a session for Twitter newbies on Monday, June 30 in Millbank Chapel (1st floor, Zankel) entitled “Twitter is Your PD Friend: Ways to Use Social Media to Enhance Your Learning” with Amanda Hartman and Rebecca Cronin.
Advanced PM Section:
Social Studies Centers Can Lift the Level of Content Knowledge and Reading Instruction (3-8) Kathleen Tolan (@KathleenMTolan)
Kathleen covered a great deal of information about why and how to use centers during social studies (or science) as another way for students to read more across the day and access text chosen carefully for its content AND the reading skills included. My biggest “aha” was that reading workshop DURING social studies could provide a second time for reading workshop during the day. Keeping it simple and manageable would be one goal so you as a teacher would begin only with the number of centers that matched the number of teachers teaching the content.
Math Alert: So if only two teachers are working together, you would each be creating one center for two total. (Tricky part) But then you could have multiple copies of the same center so that ALL students are using those centers. This might be a way to consider beginning your center work.
What would this look like? My example: 24 students in the class. Put students in groups of 4. There are 6 groups total. (Knowing that some center work is done independently, other as partners, and still other as a small group.) The two centers are: “Life in the Colonies” and “Where Did They Come From?” Three groups would work on the “Life in the Colonies” centers and three groups would work on the “Where Did They Come From?” centers. So if I made the “Life in the Colonies” center, I would need to have 3 different sets of the same center. If Suzie made the 3 different “Where Did They Come From?” centers, Suzie would make 3 different copies of the exact same center.
What a great use of time! Reading, learning content material, and completing tasks while talking and writing a wee bit as well!
It was truly a pleasure to hear Amanda Hartman on the topic of, “A Session for Literacy Coaches: Staff Development Methods that Are As Essential to Professional Development as Mini-lessons and Conferring Are to Classroom Teachers.” Amanda shared many tips that were also tweeted out earlier today about the value of “voice over” and lenses or inquiry that might be considered for study. This is hard work but it is the right work and must be done by Teachers in order to set up a community of practice that will be successful. Not perfect.
Theme for today: A community of practice will help you make the changes you need as a reader and as a teacher of readers; don’t delay, begin NOW!
What did you learn about reading today?
Who will you share your learning with?
What will you do differently as a result of your learning?
And circling back around, what did I read this morning?
My favorite quote:
This is what kindness does, Ms. Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.
Check out Jacqueline Woodson’s site here for additional information about this book and others.
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The last three months have seemed like a year. Why? I was waiting to hear about the status of my application for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s June Writing Institute and July Reading Institute.
It seemed like “forever” since I saw the first tweet that said “…accepted!” Multiple friends received news of their status. My reading application status was “wait list” so I tried to be patient and believe that “no news is good news!” Finally I received notice that I was accepted for the Writing Institute. And last week my reading application was accepted! Two weeks at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project! Woohoo!
After my application was accepted I realized the truth of this statement. Institute paid. Housing paid. Flight booked. Checking time frames. . . Planning to maximize time and learning opportunities.
Why is this blog worthy?
My two weeks at Teachers College last summer for the Reading and Writing Institutes was one of the most fabulous learning experiences of my life! With the new writing Units of Study, my large group sessions every day were led by Lucy Calkins. She can build confidence and inspire all teachers to “do more” to increase the reading and writing of students. Anything and everything is possible with Lucy’s guidance!
And the many rock stars at #TCRWP. . . My daily choices included Mary Ehrenworth, Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts. It was so fun to “know” many of the staff and presenters because of their “Twitter presence” and so easy to thank them for their accessibility! Unbelievable learning. And yet, I have to confess, I was ready to go home last year when the first night’s assignment was to write a narrative. I spent hours (some whining and complaining) writing, drafting, rewriting, drafting. It was not pretty and basically fit the third grade rubric according to the #UoS rubric. Frustrating, yes; empathy for students, YES!
I am so ready to learn more. Do more. And I have been working on developing my own writing muscles this year – blogging, tweeting, and developing models. June Writing Institute! July Reading Institute! Love Learning!
My NYC agenda contains:
Advanced AM Section: Reports, Nonﬁction Books, Journals, Feature Articles: Information Writing and ELA Across the Day (3-8) Mary Ehrenworth
Advanced PM Section: Seeing Patterns in Student Work, Then Teaching Small Groups (and More) to Build New Habits and Skills (3-8) Emily Smith
Advanced AM Section: Accelerating Students’ Progress Along Levels of Text Difficulty: Guided Reading, Assessment Based Teaching, and Scaffolds for Complex Texts (3-8) Brooke Geller
Advanced PM Section: Social Studies Centers Can Lift the Level of Content Knowledge and Reading Instruction (3-8) Kathleen Tolan
How will you continue to learn about reading and writing this summer?
Here are two writing opportunities for you to consider:
Summer Writing for You, The Teacher (Two Writing Teachers blog post by Betsy Hubbard)
#TeachersWrite (Kate Messner)