A rainbow peeked out between clouds. “Has it been raining?”
“Not here. Not yet.”
“Wow! And yet you still have a rainbow!”
Such a joyful and auspicious beginning to 24 hours filled with joy.
Three months since our last gathering and a full day of professional learning.
And more precious time with dinner and continued conversation.
A prelude . . .
During our opening hour keynote with Jan Millers Burkin on Monday morning in Cedar Falls, Iowa at the Jacobsen Center for Comprehensive Literacy at UNI:
we practiced the four intentions, alignment, balance, sustainability, and joy, with actual movements from Reading Wellness: Lessons in Independence and Proficiency,
and we lifted weights: 3 pounds, 5 pounds, 8 pounds, and 10 pounds from Who’s Doing the Work? How to Say Less so Readers Can Do More,
and we thought about what we should continue to do MORE OF from past literacy education in order to “refocus” and “reframe” our work.
Are the keynotes you attend always this joyful?
Make a note to NOT miss out on a keynote by either Jan Burkins or Kim Yaris. It will be memorable!
It was also my pleasure to sit in on Jan’s session about “Who’s Doing the Work?” When our students have plateaued, we need to rethink our instruction. One apparent cause is often “over-scaffoldization” in a rush to put “hard text” in front of students. Jan and Kim provide some incredible thinking points for you to consider as you think about the gradual release of responsibility and Read Alouds, Shared Reading, Guided Reading and Independent Reading.
There is much to consider in this rich text and 90 minutes was a great “teaser”. How do you absorb information? Do you like to hear it first? Read it first? Combinations?
I’ve read the book three times now and I’m set to reread it again. Some parts I may skim as I look for specifics about which students at which time as well as marking up some of the bullets. I am not doing this to “get ready to present this information” to others, but in order to better understand the processing of reading. That invisible work that happens in a student’s head. That invisible work that is often “magical” for some students and so elusive for other students.
Teaching reading is complex. There’s no “ONE way” (methodology, purchased program, or philosophy) that works for all students which is why “thinking teachers” are necessary in every classroom to meet this goal.
Students need to read (write and talk) a lot in order to meet this goal. And Shared Reading is one of the most overlooked possibilities for student growth. But beyond that, thoughtful BALANCE is also required! Balance in literacy instruction, balance across the day and in “real life” – not just a schedule that portions out bits of labeled reading without careful attention to the interaction of the student work.
Professional growth is one of my passions. I have absorbed a lot of trivia from a lot of meetings during my decades of work. I read; I read a lot. I talk about my reading. I write this blog in order to check my understanding. I participate in books studies, Twitter chats, and Voxer conversations in order to grow and learn. I cannot and have not ever relied on professional development to appear on my doorstep. As a professional I have to continue to grow my understanding. I know when I need to learn more That means continued conversations. That means continued work on my part. Every day. Read. Write. Talk. Reflect. Intentionally. Purposefully.
It’s NOT a google search, hunting through Pinterest, or buying stuff from TpT.
It’s above and beyond scheduled work hours.
It’s a commitment to personal learning.
What are you reading?
What are you talking about? And with whom?
What are you learning? How are you growing? How do you know?
How are you seeking out professional development?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
The books referenced:
Are you following Jan and Kim on Twitter?
Their blog? https://www.burkinsandyaris.com/
Shared Reading – #G2Great chat and subsequent blog post
#SOL17: Goals and Technique Cards Reprise
I’m still reeling from the information on goals in Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris’s post about the 1% of the population that set goals and regularly review them. It’s a short post. Go read it here. The numbers are staggering and the consequences for learning are dire if teachers are NOT setting goals in their classrooms.
Let’s Review: How important are clear learning targets for students?
Hattie, Fisher and Frey say that their effect size is .75 for “Teacher Clarity”. Teacher clarity could easily transfer to deeper student understanding of the desired learning target. Clarity in knowing what the target looks like would make the target easier to meet..
What kind of goals should teachers be setting for writing instruction?
“Teach the writer, not the writing.
Teach strategies for elaboration and development.
Teach for transfer.
Teach for increased student independence.”
What could goal setting look like?
One way it could go is through the use of the goal and technique cards from this post. As a writer I could pull out the techniques that I have already taught for the writing types this year. I could list them in descending order by the frequency with which students are using the techniques. Then I could check the on-demand writing for the new unit and see which techniques are present. This is one example of using data to determine goals.
Another way it could go would be to set up an inquiry study. Students could have the technique cards and could self-assess their use and / or understanding of the writing techniques. Then these students could use the goal cards to set some writing goals for themselves. Maybe the goals will be about structure, development OR transfer! Maybe students can begin to be “better than the 1%” if they have:
to practice using the techniques
and goal-setting to improve writing across the text types.
Win/Win in Student Goal-Setting and Teacher Clarity!
Are goals for the day, month, or year?
Won’t there be a variety of goals and time lines? Perhaps there will be an over arching goal that all students will love to write that will have its own steps or mini-goals. Perhaps it will be to improve the quality of the students’ narrative writing during this unit. Perhaps it will be the goals for this week. But without clear goals . . . what learning path are you on?
How could you use the techniques cards, goal cards and teacher clarity of work to improve your own writing and/or student writing?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
#SOL16: Who’s Doing the Work
The quality of professional development texts for 2016 has been amazing. One book that I continue to return to time and again to deepen my understanding is this one by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris.
Twitter chats, Voxer discussions and Google docs have been the electronic formats that we’ve used for our conversations. You can review the storified chats by clicking on the links to these Literacy Lenses posts: Read Alouds, Shared Reading, and Guided Reading,and Independent Reading. You can also see connections and learning about/from this book in my previous posts here, here, and here. Some of you may have been fortunate to be a part of this group that presented at the #ILA16 Institute “Who’s Doing the Work? last Friday or been in the audience to see the presentation.
For those of you who don’t participate in Twitter chats, Voxer discussions or Google doc conversations book studies,
YOU HAVE MISSED SO MUCH LEARNING!
I’m not saying that you have to do all three of those but if you are a teacher of reading or writing, you must be doing some reading and writing in the summer. Learning is both efficient and effective when it includes collaborative study with peers. I still have to do the work and wrestle with my own understanding, but then I also appreciate hearing other perspectives from colleagues and coworkers.
Here are just a few samples from my work with understanding this book! These are some excerpts from my writing about my reading!
A. Word Splash from Chapter 1
Write a paragraph that uses five or more of the words listed below and is related to teaching reading.
- transformative – not used
- risk – not used
- Independence (used 11)
“Reading well requires students to put many processes to work simultaneously in an effort to understand whatever material he/she is learning from. Factors that play into success in reading are enhanced when the student is allowed choice and is trusted to spend time reading materials of his choice. Independence in reading takes effort and energy as a reader is empowered to construct his own meaning of texts. Too difficult text may be frustrating and may cause the student to be too dependent on teacher scaffolds. Motivation to continue to read may come from the synergy of the right text at the right time with the right amount of practice!”
B. Quotes to Ponder – Chapter 1 (Respond both before reading and after reading)
“To grow and develop as readers, children need instruction that mirrors the ‘end’ goal–readers with smoothly operating, balanced reading processes who feel empowered and motivated to take charge of their reading lives.” (p.24)
Before Reading: Readers need to read in order to grow and develop as readers. Answering a barrage of questions as before, during , and after reading does not make them better readers. The right amount of instruction matched with the right texts will build independent readers who can and do read.
“Knowing a student’s reading level, however, does not tell us anything about how that student reads … .” p.24
Before Reading: Reading level only tells you approximately what level text the student was last successful on. That letter or number doesn’t tell anything about the reader and what they CAN do!
After Reading: I am so fascinated by the fact that these two sentences followed each other in the text. All 3 cueing systems need to be firing simultaneously (like all pistons in an engine) in order to efficient, effective reading. Instruction can’t be parsed out and over-focused on any one element! (quote 2) All three readers had same letter but different issues. The level is only one piece of the data puzzle. It’s not the end game.
“Each instructional context, from read-aloud through independent reading, makes a unique contribution to students’ growth in proficiency and agency.” (p.27)
Before Reading: The student is a product of all instructional contexts so each, ind. Reading – read-aloud, are important to his/her development. Those contexts help build the “want to read” motivation so that students are successful later!
“Teaching across the gradual release of responsibility with an emphasis on reading process–versus an emphasis on reading level–will change the way you teach reading forever.” (p.27)
Before Reading: Reading level is limiting – reading processes open up the universe to the student! Process will help focus on what the student is capable of and will provide the information needed to keep the student moving forward. Reading is not about a certain % to pass a leveled book test.
After Reading: Fascinating, again, that these two sentences were also back to back in the text. Balance in reading processes requires a balance in instructional contexts that creates the internal motivation to read/learn . . that want to read. And when you focus on reading process (within GRR), your teaching will be changed forever!!!
Subtle shift to “What can you try?”
C. Poem – Chapter 5 (Independent Reading)
Choose from these words to create a poem.
Which words would you choose?
What would your poem look like?
What would be your evidence of learning?
Choice in what I read
Choice in when I read
Choice in where I read
Choice in ideas I explore
Choice in whether I want to or need to reread
Choice in community in which I share
A habit, deeply ingrained in my readerly life
My responsibility to monitor
Building on my strengths, my passions, my pleasure in learning
Growing as a reader
Joyful . . .
Of those three activities, which would you consider:
A: Word Splash
B. Quotes to Ponder
How do you work on your learning?
Twitter, Voxer, Google Docs, Blog Posts = Evidence of my learning
Low Tech would be paper, pencil, markers, notes . . .
What’s your evidence of learning / thinking?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. The hardest step is the first step of your learning journey!
#Digilit Sunday: Function
Twitter connections are so fabulous. Via Twitter today I found out that the focus of #Digilit Sunday was function. Check out Margaret’s post here. The part of “function” that I have been thinking about a lot lately is “executive function”.
It’s close to the end of this school year, but how can students still be increasing their own level of executive function? Isn’t this where deep learning and even transfer live? Isn’t this the whole point of moving beyond “surface learning”?
And of course, the most important factor in executive function, in my opinion, is that a student has had plenty of opportunities to “do the work”? How do teachers ensure that students are doing the organizing and the self-talk? They must “say less so readers can do more” and demonstate over and over that they really can do the work with panache and confidence!
For me, the connections from this post all began years ago during TCRWP Writing Institute with a conversation between Allison Jackson and myself about this book. That conversation grew into a book study, Twitter chats and actually meeting the authors. Completely life-changing . . .
The function of learning is that students do the hard work of making meaning. That students actually dig into surface, deep and transfer learning. That teachers are like the conductors on the train. Recognizing the signs, making them visually and verbally apparent, but that ultimately students are really the ones who need to be in charge of their learning. And that learning should always, always, always be JOYFUL!
Unfortunately, this Mark Twain quote may still be true:
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
But I can learn in spite of or even despite my education!
Is learning the FUNCTION of your work?
How do we know?
#SOL16: Always Learning
It comes in many forms.
In many places.
A journey of
And like a pile of legos
Rebuilt in another shape
A different shape
A synthesis of ideas!
The past week has been a journey into read alouds. Perhaps you participated in the #G2Great chat last week. Check out Jenn’s post about that chat, please. With the title, “Teachers Doing the Work: Thoughtful Planning for Intentional Read Aloud“, you must stop and check it out!
And then I’ve continued to read in this new book.
Chapter 2 is all about Read Alouds and the title is magical, “Read-Aloud: Giving Students a Reason to Learn to Read”.
I’m lingering with this idea, ” Next generation read-aloud focuses on read aloud’s power of engagement while still leaving room for intentional but limited teacher talk. It follows the lead of students as much as possible making space for responsive teaching, reflective connections to standards or isolated strategies, and celebrations of productive effort.”
And then this post from Susie Rolander completely consumed my thinking as I continued to wonder about how we help students find their voice and path in literacy learning.. It is about the students and the learning they can show us IF and WHEN we tap into and “turn on their smarts”.
To top it off, I just learned about the research tool in google last night from my colleague Dyan. Where have I been? Why did I not know this? Inside any google document or slide show, you can research straight from the document WITHOUT opening another tab? How, you ask?
Under the tool bar – select research and then you have a myriad of choices.
Images – those that are free to use. Scholar for that quick look at resources . . . .And the link will be inserted with a picture or a reference . . . And MLA or APA style can be added.
As a result of this tool, here’s how I’m feeling:
as I wonder when WordPress will incorporate this feature?
Here’s a portion of my search for Read Aloud under Google Scholar inside a google document.
So much that I can now do without opening 10 other tabs . . . one for a search, one for an image, one for whatever distracted me . . . .
Always learning! Thanks to my friends at #G2Great, @hayhurst3, @burkinsandyaris, @suzrolander and @DyanSundermeyer !
Have you used the google research tool?
Do your students?
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
#SOL16: Rainy Night Results in . . .
Rain . . .
No outside work.
Rain . . .
Time to read.
(Gotcha – definitely NOT inside work!)
After two glorious days of temps in the 70’s and 80’s, I was so happy that this was waiting at my doorstep yesterday after a long day of work. Perfect timing! Relaxing with friends . . .
It’s available online courtesy of Stenhouse Publishers here. I have been reading (albeit slowly) the online version, but it’s tedious. Reading online means that I have one device open to read and another device open to take notes. No split screen. There’s a limit to the size that I like to view pages in professional texts. Slow. Absorbing. Delighted.
I love this infographic.
“This book does not advocate the simple idea of the teacher doing less. Rather it is a guide to being intentional about what we do less of.” – Joan Moser (Foreword)
This book is truly a gem as it guides the reader to think, and to think deeply about whether teacher scaffolds unintentionally cause greater student dependence. If our goal is joyful, independent, capable readers . . . what should we really do more of? What should we do less of?
I’m savoring this book and pages 14 and 15 are my current favorite because the section is “What Do Reading Levels Mean, Anyway?” and wordlover me is mesmerized by the use of “ubiquitous”. And the thought leaders . . .
Fountas and Pinnell”
Ready for some “next generation literacy instruction“? Ready to learn about “saying less” so students do the work to learn more?
You need to read this book!
And check out how long you resist figuring out where the words come from that are the background for half the page of the book cover. It’s another favorite section of mine. (Truthfully, I thought I would be farther in the book. But I’m rereading. Marking. Post-it-ing! Thinking!)
What’s it like to get that book you have been eagerly anticipating?
Do your students know that joy?
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
Building A Reading Community #TheEdCollabGathering #4
The talented and amazing Kim Yaris (@kimyaris of @burkinsandyaris) took us on a whirlwind tour of books and classrooms for fifty minutes of FREE learning via Chris Lehman’s (@ichrislehman) Education Collaborative free online PD all day Saturday, September 19th.
Did you miss it?
Here’s a brief glimpse of some of the characteristics that Kim showcased!
Check out Kim’s session here!
So much to think about as you make sure that you have a supportive learning community in your classroom/building!
It’s not too late to follow along live (or later). Here is the agenda for #TheEdCollabGathering!
Learning on a Saturday!
Are you familiar with Jan and Kim’s book, Reading Wellness? Their blog?
#ILA15: One Week and Counting!
This summer is a FEAST of professional development for me. I had the great fortune of being accepted for two weeks of learning at TCRWP for Writing and Reading Institutes. (You can check out my public learning log under the “Recent Posts” at the right.) Next weekend I will be in St. Louis for ILA.
How are you preparing for your learning?
What information do you need to KNOW before you look at specific sessions?
Do you look for specific PEOPLE?
Do you look for specific TOPICS?
Here’s the link to the 16 page preview guide pictured above.
I used the search tool to create a DRAFT LIST of those I know that I MUST see.
Chris Lehman – Sunday, Writing from Sources is more than. . .”The Text Says”
Jennifer Serravello – Sunday, Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading
Nell Duke – Saturday, A Project-Based Place
Lester Laminack, Linda Rief, and Kate Messner – Saturday, The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Text to Teach the Craft of Writing
Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller – Sunday, Complex, Rigorous and Social: Fostering Readerly Lives
and then added in others previously marked in the program:
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan – They are authors of the book Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers.
Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul – Preconference Institute – Friday, Reading with Rigor: Interpreting Complex Text Using Annotation and Close Reading Strategies
Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins – They are the authors of Reading Wellness. Check out a bit of their work here.
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst – Notice and Note and Nonfiction version to be out in October.
Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey – Many, many ELA texts involving Gradual Release of Responsibility
Other faves that I hope to see at ILA15 include: Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse – What Readers Really Do; Dr. Mary Howard – Good to Great; and ANY and ALL TCRWP folks!
Any Two Writing Teacher Slicers? – please say hello in person!
Any #G2Great chatters?
Any #TCRWP afficionados?
I’m ready to rename ILA15 as “Gateway to the STARS!” as I look at this line up of literacy greats. What great learning opportunities and I’m still at the pre-planning stage. (Maybe I will find Hermione’s secret so that I can be in at least two locations at the same time!)
Who would you add to this list?
#SOL15: Wrapping up 2014 and Studying my Writing Process
Last week was a big week for writing assessments as well as professional development planning. I was also working on some planning for future demonstrations. . . typical multi-tasking for a fairly typical week! I actually kept a post-it open on my desktop to keep track of my writing process for this blog because it was the purest “creation” that I was developing. Most of the other pieces were revisions or combinations of other past work.
The picture below from Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris fascinated me last week! Stop and read that blog about the writing process if you haven’t yet, because there is so much wisdom about what each of these “steps” really looks like! Not every single second of writing is visible so take a deep breath and consider your own writing process as you develop a piece of writing from planning to publication.
My mini-research: Does my writing parallel this?
What was my topic for this next slice?
I had spent some time in December looking at my blog data and wondering what my top blog posts were for 2014 when I wrote an average of two posts per week or at least one “slice” each week as well as a daily “slice” during March.
To begin my planning for this post, I went to my data to double check the top five blog posts and then created this table in Word. After previewing it, I decided that I didn’t like the “picture of the table” so I went with a word version so the links would be clickable. This caused a major discussion with myself about how I would classify adding links to the table. Was that Revision or Editing? (I went with editing due to “surface changes”!)
|5||#TCRWP Day One: Reading Institute|
|4||#TCRWP: Informational Writing Goals|
|3||#TCRWP and a Teacher’s Toolkit for Teaching Writing|
|2||Lexile Level is NOT Text Complexity CCSS.R.10|
|1||Close Reading in Kindergarten? Is it Possible?|
My top topics for 2014 were: Close Reading, Text Complexity, and #TCRWP Writing (2) and Reading (1). . . a mixed list. Looking back at blog data for previous years revealed that “Close Reading in Kindergarten? Is it Possible?” was also my top blog post for 2013. (As a side note “Close Reading and the Little Ones” was also a great presentation at #NCTE14 by Chris Lehman, Kate Roberts, and Kristi Mraz. Check out Catherine Flynn’s post here about the presentation and how she used it.)
I learned two things about my process for writing blog posts.
1) I keep a list of possible blog topics. By the time a topic is put on this list, I have already begun the pre-writing process. I’m not sure that I can accurately record how often I work on “prewriting” because the list often includes two or three specific ideas about the topic.
2) I needed to add another step to the writing process. Sometimes I do collect some information/evidence collaboratively with others. However, that is NOT the step that I added as I developed this post. This post included both a picture and a table import with multiple opportunities to “check” or “preview” my work. I included that as another step in the writing process. Typically, I try to check to see what my post looks like on both a PC and a Mac because it is never the same. Maybe the “preview” is important because I worry about the “publish” button. It is still scary to push that button and then see that my post does not match my “vision” for writing.
So here’s my best representation of my process for writing this blog post.
Does everyone use the same exact process?
What does your writing process look like?
What are the implications for your students?
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 Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work.
Focus: Informational Mentor Texts
What are informational texts?
The Common Core State Standards include the following in their definition of informational texts:
biographies and autobiographies; “books about history, social studies, science, and the arts”; “technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps”; and “digital sources on a range of topics” (p. 31).
That’s a broad range so what does that really mean? Sources that can inform your work include:
Research and Policy: Informational Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway? by Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer
6 Reasons to Use Informational Text in the Primary Grades – Scholastic, Nell Duke
The Case for Informational Text – Educational Leadership, Nell Duke
Where can I find lists of Mentor Texts?
Award winning lists include:
Robert F. Sibert Medal and Honor Books
Notable Social Studies Trade Books For Young People
Mentor Texts to Support the Writers’ Workshop (Literature and Informational Texts)
This list supports writers’ workshop. Others are readily available on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.
What about professional books to help me with Mentor Texts and Informational Writing?
There are many books that you can easily access. Some of my favorite “go to” books are here.
Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing through Children’s Literature K-8 by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capeli (website)
The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham (Chapter 3)
Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (Chapters 3 and 5)
Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Essential Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard
and many grade level texts in the separate Units of Study of Writing by Lucy Calkins and friends at TCRWP.
What do I do with the books that I am considering as mentor texts?
Your number one task is to Read informational texts that you also like. And then your second task is to read these books from the lens of a writer. Identify techniques that the author uses very successfully. Third, talk with other teachers about the techniques and goals! To get started consider these helpful blog posts: A brilliantly written blog post on the use of a mentor text during a co-teaching instruction session by Melanie Meehan can be found in this post “Slice of Life Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text” on the Two Reflective Teachers blog. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris list “Our Top Eleven Nonfiction Books for Teaching . . . Everything!” here! Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers also have a post titled “Two Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts”. Tara Smith writes routinely about texts. “Mentor Texts” is a recent one. Two Writing Teachers: mentor text archive (You can also search any of the above blogs for additional posts about Mentor Texts!) And three from my blog archives: Reading and Writing Instruction – Paired Mentor Texts #TCRWP Day 3: Information Mentor Texts (based on Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing – and Ways to Use Them with Power”) #SOL14: Writing Techniques and Goals