#ILA15: Pre-Conference Day Learning
Pre-conference day . . . a day to get the conference up and running. For some a day to visit, vacation, or view some local attractions.
For others, a day of learning! Day 1 of #ILA15 in St. Louis with @LitLearnAct. A MARVELOUS day of learning! Institute 09 – Reading with Rigor: Interpreting Complex Texts Using Annotation and Close Reading Strategies wth Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul, the authors of this Heinemann text.
What is rigor?
There are many definitions of rigor and the dictionary ones are not conducive to joyous literacy learning. We created posters among our table groups of our own definitions of rigor. This view of rigor extends the possibilities for our students.
What are some common myths about “rigor”?
1. Rigor means increasing homework for the students.
2. Rigor means students should do more and more work.
3. Rigor is for some students but definitely not for ALL students.
4. With rigor, students should be able to do the learning without any supports or scaffolds.
5. The more resources you have and use, the more rigor increases for students.
6. No need to worry about rigor; the standards cover it.
7. Rigor is an addition to the curriculum. So of course, you are going to have to take a favorite unit out of your school year.
8. A teacher who is teaching with rigor will be a “Mean” teacher.
Of course, none of those myths are true according to Barbara Blackman in this resource.
How many of those have you heard?
How many of those do you believe?
Stop, pause and have a moment of reflection. How does this match your current knowledge and your thinking?
So just how do we keep the “FUN” and yet learn?
Listen carefully to what the girl says in this video. Do you have any doubt about what she does and does not know?
She does say, “This is really hard.” But she also says, “It’s so fun!”
Is that what your students are saying?
Are you sure?
We spent some time on the three components of text complexity. There are three components of text complexity and the basic triangle has been included here before. It’s not just lexile levels and there are many “mis-matches” listed in that post that happen when ONLY lexiles are used to determine who should read any text. Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, also explores lexile mis-matches in “Guess My Lexile”. Both Dana and Sonja encouraged everyone to consider all three elements at the same time when evaluating texts in order to truly find texts that will raise the thinking of the readers and not just promote reading through the text mindlessly. To think about:
How are wordless picture books rated on text complexity?
( 🙂 That’s something that I have put on my list to research but it won’t happen during this conference!)
Where and how do we find complex texts?
Drum Roll, please . . .
There is NO magic list of complex text.
There is NO magic list of complex text.
There is NO magic list of complex text.
Text selection should depend on the students, their needs, the strategies they know, the strategies they need, their data, and their interests! Text selection should not be the same, year after year, after year, after year, after year!
How much text should be used for a “Close Read”?
This has been answered previously; but only as much text as is needed. An entire text is NOT read closely. Doug Fisher’s beliefs in a range from three paragraphs to three pages was shared. NOT a whole book! Only pick the part of a text that is worthy, be strategic, because you are going to read that text over and over and over and over! You may have to trick the students into rereading by changing the purpose and the questions. The questions you raise should drive them back into the text and be so interesting that the students want to answer them. For over forty years we have had data that tells us that rereading improves comprehension.
The session title included annotation so the next section in the day’s learning was not a favorite of mine. I love the simplicity of “Know/Wonder” charts because I don’t need to xerox story pages in order to WRITE on the texts. (Know/Wonder source – What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making by Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse)The CCSS say to “read closely” but the word annotation is not in the standards. It is one way to read closely. However, if a list of “codes” is handed to students and they mindlessly mark up the text, the students are missing the benefit of “listening to the text” and “writing to explain their thinking”! That’s where the power is – not in pages that are bleeding highlighting or have complicated annotated code that students cannot and do not talk about! Goals for annotation: Mark only the most important sections. Write down your thinking IN WORDS!”
Texts that we used for annotations:
“Casey at the Bat”
“How to Paint “a Donkey” by Naomi Shihab Nye
“Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou
La Luna 2011 Pixar
A Nation’s Hope: Joe Louis by Matt de la Pena
I appreciated the practice with texts. “Walking the talk” as adults for those tasks that we ask students to do is always important to me. All of these included conversations about “What makes this complex text?”
And then we moved to Text Dependent Questions. These are huge in the Publishers’ Criteria. However, if you have a “Word” version of the ELA standards, search for the phrase “Text Dependent Questions” and see what your results are!
“No one can analyze or interpret texts without bringing themselves to the text.”
In this section, we worked with “Last Kiss” by Ralph Fletcher and had great conversations about whether a question that required inferencing beyond the words of the text was a “Text Dependent Question”. At this stage it really makes sense to think about a variety of questions that are well balanced at the different DOK levels!!!
Quiz (If you know the text “Last Kiss”)
“If you were to interview Ralph’s mom, what question would you ask in order to find out how his mom feels about the dad not kissing Ralph good night anymore as a part of the bedtime ritual?”
What are you thinking?
Literary Elements include many areas for instruction. We spent some time on symbols and talking about how patterns of repetition by an author could lead the reader to symbols. We looked at symbols in the “Last Kiss” and then discussed what they meant and how we gathered evidence to support our views. (Symbols: jellyfish, fireflies, handshake, “the kiss”, absence of the kiss)
Cartoons (do our students REALLY understand them?) . . . Many students don’t really see the humor so they might be great sources of short text to practice on with students. Depending on the age of your students, you might look to “Calvin and Hobbes” to see how students explain what is really happening in the cartoon strip.
We also spent some time on the pitfalls or challenges of Nonfiction. We explored an immigration text set that included a picture, first person recollection, and immigration statistics from the Library of Congress. .
Specific Challenges from a Black and White Picture:
- Not in color
- Can’t zoom in or out to examine specific details
- What is this about?
- Main idea?
- Need background knowledge
- Is the title helpful?
- Steerage passengers taking it easy on ocean liner . . . or is that a “sad” version of humor!
Do the challenges increase or decrease when additional source documents are added? What do you think?
Who should be generating the questions?
What do the standards say?
It is possible to teach toward the ambitious new goals of the Common Core Standards.
Teachers and students need to use knowledge to sort, question, reank, synthesize, interpret, and to apply knowledge.
Teachers need to continue to READ complex texts collaboratively and share their thinking and the puzzles that remain.
#SOL15: March Challenge Day 8 – Increasing Learning
Today’s story is the final installment in this week’s recounting of a focused professional development opportunity that our literacy team developed and delivered that included Quality Instructional Practices, ELA Iowa Core Standards and Assessment for Learning. To recap, the first post began with much Anticipation on Day 5.
And then based on learning with Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate, I shared the Instructional Strategies Bracket on Day 6 that Dyan Sundermeyer created and used to refocus attention on common strategies in a building.
On Day 7 I shared the work that we did around Quality Instructional Practices based on scenarios in Chapter 1 of Dr. Mary Howard’s Book.
So for those of you that live and breathe in the world of professional development or coaching, here are a few more details to whet your appetite.
Modeled Grade 5 Scenario
The scenario you read about yesterday was used on our second day with leadership teams. The thinking behind the grade 5 scenario was modeled after everyone had a chance to read and reflect (gradual release of responsibility) Then participants had a choice – scenarios from first grade, third grade or even title 1. Their task was to read the initial scenario and record the “Great, Good and Bad”, reflect on some questions, read the follow-up teaching scenario and consider the deliberate changes made by the teacher to move more actions to “Great”. At that point the teachers and administrators found a partner in the room and talked about the scenario and their understanding of the teaching sequence, student learning, and teacher changes. (Each scenario was color coded so it was easy to find a partner with the same color pages.)
Deepened Understanding of the Iowa Core ELA Standards
Our PD work continued with looking at two specific ELA standards through the K-5 range and considering these questions. How do they build on the previous grade level learning? What do they require of teachers? What do they require of students?
- Anchor Standard RL.3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
- Anchor Standard RL.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Close Reading of the Scenarios
Participants ended the “Standards Learning” portion with an application piece. Here was their task:
The teachers and administrators reread the scenario through the lens of “which standards” and then checked for grade level standards on those color coded documents. Possible answers for grade 5 include: RL.5.10, W.5.10 and SL.5.1.
Assessment for Learning – Learning Targets
Time was going to be an issue so our plan was to just begin with Learning Targets and provide an opportunity for our participants to work on those before we meet again. I’m going to stay with the “plan” as time did necessitate some shifting. We had some learning around the big definition of “Assessment for Learning” including Learning Targets and the fact that “clear goals” is .75 Effect Size (Hattie). Clear learning goals are absolutely essential for learning and assessment but we did not go into the difference between “goals” and “targets” at this time. Here is how the scenarios were used for the third time (close reading).
And the finale learning activity for the session involved watching a video of classroom instruction and in a triad looking for 1) “Great, Good and Bad; 2)Iowa Core ELA Standards and 3) Learning Targets. Can you identify the iterative nature of our work?
How do you have teachers grapple with the HOW – Quality Instruction and the WHAT – ELA Core Standards simultaneously?
How important is our design of GREAT work?
How do you model GREAT work in your PD?
Professional Development – Always a work in progress . . . Our state model
#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.
“Close Reading and the Little Ones”: #NCTE14
Wow! It’s been over a year since Chris Lehman (@ichrislehman) and Kate Roberts(@TeachKate) published Falling in Love with Close Reading. There have been Twitter chats, presentations, Twitter book study chats, PD sessions and much continued conversation about the many facets of close reading.
It has also been more than a year since the Close Reading Blog-a-thon! This post “Close Reading is not THAT important!” is one of my favorites. Have you read it? What about the series of posts between Chris and Kate? Check out the thought-provoking posts and reread CCR Reading Anchor Standard 1.
So today, it was back to work on reading for a bit. This is a short look into my thinking since Chris, Kate and Kristi Mraz’s (@MrazKristine) presentation at NCTE14!
- Reading –
- Close Reading –
- Reading Closely,
- Still thinking about!
- How Often?
- Wondering . . .
- Hopeful . . .
- Silent . . .
- Watchful . . .
- Listening . . .
- Fun . . .
- Thoughtful . . .
- Effective! ❤
Close Reading Session – Not starting with a song . . . (sigh!) but here are screenshots from a presentation that made us laugh, cry, and cheer for its thoughtful work with “The Little Ones”! The presentation – “Close Reading and the Little Ones: How it’s Different (And Incredibly Fun and Effective) in Early Elementary Grades” from #NCTE14
Think about “HOW” you make sense of these pictures . . . where and when do you linger?
I was excited to try out the routine. Amazed! It’s all that Chris, Kate and Kristi promised. And even more! What an empowering tool for students! Supportive of curiosity, wonder, and so much talk – what a wonderful way to frame paying close attention to “read” the world! (NOT a bloody hammer for teachers!)
Check out these notes! @ShawnaCoppola has the most beautiful notes. Here is her visual of the session! If you are on Twitter and are following Shawna, you would have already seen this! If you are not on Twitter, you should be. Lurking is encouraged. Explore the possibilities!
What questions remain?
Newspapers: Are they biased / unbiased?
You may have an answer for that question in the title. But do you know for sure? Definitely? Unequivocally? How did you research this issue?
The possibilities for bias in text are endless because text is all around us. Literally and loosely, text is the scenery around us whether it is print or not. The texts that comprise our daily lives may include a variety of print or non-print sources including electronic emails, blogs, newspapers, magazines and books. I want to focus on one of those – the writing found in news sources, typically in newspapers and how we can help students examine that question as they continue to build their reading skills for life.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6 – Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.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.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5 – Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
One event. Three articles. Three different stories.
How do you know whether the news is being reported or if the news is being shaped by the authors and publishers? Let’s investigate further!
To begin, we will just look at the pictures from the three stories:
What do you know? What do you wonder?
(Questions from What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton)
Hold onto those thoughts as you look at the titles. (And the titles are NOT listed in the same order as the pictures!)
“Obama tells Central American leaders most children will go home”
“GOP lawmakers fight plan to bring more illegal immigrant children to military bases”
“White House pursuing plan to expand immigrant rights”
What do you know? What do you wonder?
What theories are you now ready to begin building?
The sources in alphabetical order are: Fox News, LA Times, and Reuters
Which sources go with which pictures and article titles? Are you already considering revising your theory? That process of continually questioning and researching based on what you know and wonder allows a reader to demonstrate flexible thinking. Thinking really is one essential by-product of the “act of reading and understanding printed messages.”
What words/phrases do you notice in the opening paragraphs of the article covering the same event – news about immigrant children on this date? Read and jot notes about those words.
Opening paragraphs in the LA Times:
“Even as President Obama grapples with the crisis of immigrant children arriving at the Southwest border, White House officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks.
Officials signaled strongly Friday that Obama’s move would shield from deportation large numbers of immigrants living in the country illegally, as advocacy groups have demanded.” (LA Times, 7/26/14)
The same story from Reuters begins this way:
“President Barack Obama urged the leaders of three Central American countries on Friday to work with him to stem the flow of child migrants who have surged across the U.S. border and warned that most of them would not be allowed to stay.
In a White House meeting with the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Obama had a tough-love message: his administration had compassion for the children, but not many would qualify for humanitarian relief or refugee status. Many of the migrants have fled poverty and crime at home.” (Reuters, 7/26/14)
And the third story from Fox News begins with:
“Republican lawmakers are challenging the Obama administration over a newly announced plan to expand the use of U.S. military bases to house illegal immigrant children, warning that it will put a strain on troops and threaten military readiness.
The Pentagon confirmed this week that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services to house an additional 5,000 minors at DOD facilities.”
Do you notice any patterns? What are you wondering about at this time?
There are many ways to continue reading these articles. The length is conducive to having each student read all three, but a student may only be an “expert” on the actual writing techniques used in one or two of the articles. Do remember that it is sometimes easier to analyze two articles through simultaneous comparing and contrasting rather than just one article by itself.
I was wondering about the “experts” and the sources of quotes within the articles. Who does each author use?
“Obama said last month that because Congress had failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform, he would take executive action to ‘fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own.'”
“When the decision is announced, it will ‘increase the angry reactions from Republicans,’ Peiffer said.” (White House senior advisor – two other quotes as well)
“‘There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for,’ Obama said after talks with the leaders. ‘But I think it’s important to recognize that that would not necessarily accommodate a large number.'” (plus two more quotes by President Obama
President Juan Orland Hernandez of Honduras, “’They have rights, and we want them to be respected,’ he said.”
“‘The idea here is that in order to deter them from making that dangerous journey, we’d set up a system in coordination with these host countries to allow those claims to be filed in that country without them having to make that dangerous journey,’ said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.”
paraphrased information (no quotes in article)”The Pentagon confirmed that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel . . . request from Dept. of Health and Human Services. . . ”
Direct quote – “Donelle Harder, a spokeswoman for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told FoxNews.com.”
“Alabama lawmakers . . . ‘ongoing talks’ . . . . . . “Alabama GOP Reps. Martha Roby and Mike Rogers ” . . . . ‘The housing, feeding and caring of immigration detainees would severely compromise the critical mission at Maxwell-Gunter,’ they wrote.” (also a second quote)
“Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., said the request poses a very real threat to U.S. military readiness,’ noting the base is the ‘primary artillery training center for troops before deployment.'” (second quote also)
What might instruction/inquiry look like at this point?
I might begin to model comparing specific words and phrases that were used in the articles and also begin to discuss the sources. Which words/phrases seem to be the most simple form of reporting (without opinions/emotions) in comparison to words or phrases that seem to have been chosen for their emotional nuances? What could those comparisons look like?
Paint chips, a visual way to show the progression of vocabulary words, could be used. Students in 1:1 districts could simply create these using a chart and add color gradations to the boxes. Or students could consider how to use “shapes” to show the different layers of word meanings / nuances or phrases and words that explicitly provide evidence of the biases and or point of view of the reporters/publishers. Words could then be added as text boxes inside each color.
For additional discussion or to see an explanation of this vocabulary activity, see Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 Teacher of the Year, at the Teaching Channel here.
So what are some other choices?
If you are a devotee of “Falling in Love with Close Reading” by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, you may have been thinking of all the connections between the lenses of text evidence, vocabulary and point of view! That would be another way to conduct a close reading of these articles in order to see how they were “reported differently”.
Or, if you are interested in adding in some writing, you might have partner groups of students “summarize” their article in two or three sentences while asking them to include evidence that will help them “defend” their summary as “The Best Summary”.
OR you might consider this question – Can you predict how additional topics will be “covered/handled” by Fox News, LA Times and Reuters? After making your prediction (and writing it down), pick a topic, pull up the three different articles and see if your predictions are accurate!
Or consider where your own local newspaper fits within this “range” or reporting!
Does every text that you read contain some bias? What do you think? What would you need to do to unequivocally answer that?
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.
Reflecting on 2013
After a very, very family-filled holiday break and ten days without using my laptop, it’s back to “thinking” about professional development for the next two work days. But I would be remiss in moving straight to the list of upcoming events, if I did not slow down and consider the data from last year.
Top 10 posts on my blog (by number of readers):
In rereading those entries, I found that eight of the ten were posted in late June – September with only #3 and #5 before that time frame. Interesting for me to note that all of the top 10 were about reading and writing and not necessarily about “resources” which was my original thought for this blog!
Book chats on twitter or in blogs during 2013:
- Units of Study in Writing (Lucy Calkins and friends – Teachers College Reading and Writing Project) #tcrwp
- Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts – and Life! (Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts) #filwclosereading
- What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making (Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse) #wrrdchat
- Notice and Note (Kylene Beers and Robert Probst) #NNN
- Teach Like a Pirate (Dave Burgess) #educoach
- Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Learning (John Hattie) #educoach
- Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction (Jim Knight) #educoach
My Twitter Video from 2013 (Have you tried this at #visify? https://www.vizify.com/twitter-video):
Goals for 2014?
Still pondering where my focus will be! As a teacher/learner I found that 2013 was a year of growth in deeper understanding of reading and writing and the reciprocal nature of both. Continuing to write and “practice” author’s craft while I listen more to the learners (students and teachers) will also remain on my radar! Stay tuned for more specific 2014 goals!
What are your goals?
Follow up Chat: “Falling in Love with Close Reading”
It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a month since we had an online Twitter chat about Kate Roberts and Chris Lehman’s book, Falling in Love with Close Reading. Join us (Allison Jackson @azajacks and Laura Komos @laurakomos) tomorrow night for a follow up chat from 6:30-7:30 pm EST under the #FILWCloseReading hashtag.
Haven’t read the book?
A sample is available here: http://heinemann.sites.hubspot.com/falling-in-love-with-close-reading-sample
Wonder what we will chat about?
The questions for our chat are available here: goo.gl/yIkmQG
Will @teachkate and @ichrislehman be joining the chat?
Not on 12/9/2013 – They are speaking about their book all day long in New York!
Is Close Reading killing the love of reading for you and your students?
Then you really need to be on Twitter (tweetchat or tweetdeck) to follow #FILWCloseReading Monday, 12/9/13 to listen to a “different view” of close reading that will excite you and your students! We will be looking forward to seeing you!
Archive of chat = storify.com/LauraKomos/fil…
Wanted: “Complex, Text-Based Thinking by Students”
The title of this post comes from a direct quote from Vicki Vinton (coauthor of What Readers Really Do with Dorothy Barnhouse) in the comments section on her blog here. This is a HUGE shift for many teachers and students.
If we want students to be “doing” the “Complex, Text-Based Thinking” then something else will have to go. Vicki suggests (and I agree) that this complex student thinking would replace “text-dependent questions for complex text.”
Is this appropriate? What about text-dependent questions for complex text? What does the Iowa Core say (100% of Common Core is inside the Iowa Core)?
The picture below is of a “word search” for “text-dependent questions” in the ENTIRE K-12 ELA document including all content area supports for grades 6-12. Are you surprised by the results?
The phrase “text-dependent questions” was not found when the entire document was searched.
A second search for “text-dependent” had this result.
Again, no search items were found that corresponded to “text-dependent.”
Please check your own state standards document. Does it “REALLY” require “text-dependent questions” or is that “someone’s” interpretation of the standards? Should close reading result in students who can answer those text-dependent teacher questions? Or do our students deserve something better?
In the entire scheme of life, do you need students who can answer “text-dependent questions?”
Or do you need “Complex, Text-Based Thinking by Students?”
I am looking forward to your responses! (freezing rain is in tonight’s weather forecast in Iowa and I am not attending #NCTE13 so I conversations are welcome!)
In Love with “Close Reading”
Our Twitter chat celebrating Falling in Love with Close Reading on November 11, 2013 was fabulous, and I must thank co-moderators Allison Jackson and Laura Komos (@azajacks @laurakomos) for their question development, organization, tweeting in advance, and storifying the chat afterwords. Of course, Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts (@ichrislehman @teachkate) brought a crowd to the chat with their participation. My sincerest thanks to ALL participants and readers because deep understanding is necessary in order to ensure that ALL of our students can read, do read and YES, love to read!
The last few months have been a personal quest for knowledge about close reading. I read Tim Shanahan’s blog regularly (although I don’t always agree) and I began with his model for close reading with his “three step process” outlined here. However, I felt this process was stiff, clunky, and was confusing to students who began to say, “Do we really have to read this three times? Just give me all the questions now!”
I had to admit that process was not working in my own reading. Sometimes two reads were sufficient while at other times, it seemed like 10 reads was just beginning to scrape the surface for the “right meaning.”
I loved Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s view of close reading in Text Complexity, Raising Rigor in Reading when they shared that close reading should come in texts of varying lengths and was not a daily diet requirement as referenced here. And then the signposts from Notice and Note (Kylene Beers and Bob Probst) were next to receive my scrutiny as a book chat and facebook page sprang up! The language of the signposts made so much sense to students and teachers across the country, and one more entry point into “close reading” was revealed!
In June/July 2013, I attended both the Writing Institute and the Reading Institute at Teachers College in New York City. I learned what I had feared – that I really had not yet understood the impact and the grade level standards for the Common Core State Standards (and, yes, I was a “hick from the sticks”). The demonstrations at #tcrwp convinced me that I had not yet begun to grasp the possibilities for depth and scope in “close reading.” Each demonstration was different as the definition of text broadened. Mary Ehrenworth brilliantly provided a “mini-PD format” for Close Reading, for use in our own buildings, that included a poem and two song videos. Kate Roberts passionately used video and text to illustrate the necessity of close reading for point of view in nonfiction text and I was captivated. When the pending publication of Falling in Love with Close Reading was announced at the June Writing Institute, I immediately pre-ordered it.
And then September arrived and Chris and Kate began the Close Reading Blog-a-thon where Chris unveiled this definition which again stretched my understanding:
“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.” Sept. 2, 2013
My learning journey continued as I read brilliant posts that added to the collective blog-a-thon and my understanding and I did sigh in relief a couple of times when I discovered that I was not “way off base” in my thinking. What was so monumental? That one word – “independently” was a showstopper! Up until that point, I had wrestled with how to move to deeper understanding with wisdom from Vicki Vinton and my mates at #WRRDchat (What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton). The simplicity of “Know / Wonder” charts and looking for patterns has stayed with me as I work with students and teachers to build independence in understanding what readers and writers really do.
And then the book arrived. From Donalyn Miller’s first words about The Velveteen Rabbit in the Foreword to the closing pages of the Resources, this book is dedicated to “falling in love.” It is not just about “reading at school” but is truly a ritual for reading life.
I immediately began to tweet out some of my favorite quotes as I quickly discovered that the three part ritual described by Kate in June was at the heart of the entire book. Close Reading is not about interrogating students with text dependent questions although it is about the “Five Corners of Text.” That ritual is simply and elegantly:
- Read through lenses
- Use lenses to find patterns
- Use the patterns to develop a new understanding of the text
In love with the book, twitter conversations began. @laurakomos proposed a chat and we were asking the authors to set a date to chat with their readers. Documents were created and blog posts announced the chat.
Our Twitter Chat was a fun hour + with laughs (jinxed comments), gnashing of teeth (at some policies) and a whole lot of love, passion, respect and celebration of the close reading rituals that Chris and Kate propose in Falling in Love with Close Reading – Lessons for Analyzing Texts – and Life. You can check out the archive here.
Nurturing this love of close reading is going to be important if it really is going to be built on student independence. Teachers will need to consider and balance: types of texts read by the teacher, types of texts read by the students, complexity of student thinking, complexity of texts students are reading independently, balancing genres, balancing levels of challenge and length of texts. Careful thought and planning will be required in order to meet this goal from the book:
“Equally, move freely between analyzing texts, media and life.” (p. 124) The dream is for student independence and where you lead (especially by modeling), the students will follow for the rest of their lives!
Thanks, Chris and Kate, for such powerful learning and for sharing your ritual with your readers so students may grow in independence as they close read their minutes, hours, days, and lives!