What learning treasures did I find on a Sunday in St. Louis at #ILA15?
1. “I Hate Reading: Strategies Transforming Negative Self-Perceptions into Confidence
I find Justin’s work with #contraliteracy to be fascinating.
The sources are common. These “unintended negative effects” surround students, especially at the middle school age who are already both hyper-sensitive and hyper-critical of themselves and any “perceived’ slights.
How do we move beyond the many faces of shame?
1. Build Relationships with our readers. Admit, Acknowledge and Absolve them of past practices.
2. Use Self-Perception Scales to help students understand their own perceptions.
3. Have students tell their reading histories. Listen for the patterns.
4. Plan quality instruction
Be passionate about your invitation to ALL students to reading and writing
Remove all competition from reading
Provide access to print – print that students beg to read
Define what students can control – when and where can they find minutes to read?
Provide a reading mentor not a reading dictator (x number of pages, only this text, etc.)
One strategy that Justin has found to be successful for his readers is 30 Books in 30 Days Read Alouds. This promotes intimacy, relationships with characters, and connections with life as students practice strategies, form opinions, discover new interests and allows some above grade level reading.
Take Away: Independent and Autonomous Readers are Needed
2. Literacy Changed Their Lives: Teaching Reading as Writing with Picture Biographies
Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris
Because I love their book, Reading Wellness, this session was an automatic choice as soon as I saw the #ILA15 program! From the opening, “What are you on about?” to our ending dance, this session was absolutely FUN learning!
Which character in the picture is most like you?
There is a relationship between posture and success and creating positive change is important. This can be done through: 3 Gratitudes, Journaling, Exercise, Meditation, or Random Acts of Kindness. How do we define happiness? Have you seen this TED talk? The Happy Secret to Better Work with Shawn Achor
The whole concept of “Lean in, Lean Out” was explored with some adult pictures as well as student pictures. More information in their book, Reading Wellness: Lessons in Independence and Proficiency. As we moved on, Jan modeled the thinking from a Heart, Head, Hands, and Feet lesson using Ken Robinson’s The Element.
The real learning came when we partnered, read a picture biography and created a “Heart, Head, Hands, and Feet” drawing for our book. What a fun way to REALLY provide hope, inspiration and the power of positive thinking for career choices for students. There truly are actions that students can begin to take NOW to more fully explore possible careers.
Take Away: Biographies need to be carefully chosen to include childhood actions and balance of the four elements (alignment, balance, sustainability, and joy) is critical.
Just go to www.burkinsandyaris.com to see more information about “HHHF” lessons! It will be time well spent!
3. Writing From Sources is More Than “…the Text Says”: Support Thoughtful, Engaging Writing about Texts
Encouraging students to move beyond BORING information writing is a passion of mine so this session was also on my must attend list and then the fact that it was “CHRIS LEHMAN” presenting meant that I had high expectations that were completely MET! (Note: This session was so full that Penny Kittle was even sitting on the floor in the front! Amazing!)
I first met Chris Lehman at a 50 minute closing workshop during a Teachers College summer institute so I know just how much compelling information he can pack into an hour. And WOW! What a lesson in “passionate” reading, writing, viewing, speaking, and listening!
Chris’s basic premise was: What happens if we switch from this argumentative stance in writing
to a more invitational stance?
This invitational stance can still be persuasive and/or meet the requirements of claim, evidence, etc of the grade level standards in CCSS.W.1. The writing from this stance will be much more interesting while providing compelling information for the reader.
Chris provided the opportunity for us to practice using this invitational stance with a topic of our own choice or the topic of Pluto that he introduced us to in the opening minutes of the session. The stance carried over into sources as well. “What is it like to have a conversation with a source when you feel something about the topic/text?” Do we provide that opportunity for students? The whole idea of “reading with someone in mind (to share the information with later) led to some LOUD partner practice in a jam-packed room. Curiosity. Passion. Interest. Not copying. Not plagiarizing.
And then some masterful thinking about the “source” of information.
- “Teach appositive phrases, which is what this is, to students.
- Study mentor texts that TEACH about sources
- Bring learning about sources into your teaching (who is NASA?)”
Chris modeled this by describing his friend Barb who taught him about Bitmoji. Knowing a bit more about the background of the source in the introduction changed the whole tone of the piece. Check this example out!
“In 1920, before Fitzgerald was Fitzgerald, before the Great Gatsby, before Paris, before Hollywood, before most English literature lessons of today, Mr. Fitzgerald was a struggling alcoholic writer from Minnesota.”
That was just one sentence but think of the context, tone, mood and information that was conveyed. Was this “copied” from a book?
If you need more ideas about research, you won’t go wrong with Chris’s book, Energize Research Reading and Writing: Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence and Meet Key Common Core Standards, Grades 4-8 and you can read an excerpt here.
Take Away: Be passionate about learning and writing and move writing to an invitational stance that shows students how authors provide facts and information about sources without “copying”!
4. Metacognition: The Transformative Power of Reflective Thinking
Is “metacognition” just a buzz word?
The National Academy of Sciences in their report “How Students Learn” said that the key to effective learning, after 600 pages of research findings, was metacognition. John Hattie lists metacognitive strategies as 14th out of 138 influences on achievement and Marzano says that metacognition is the “mission control” of the thinking process. Metacognition is more than just a buzz word and in fact, is necessary for students to be reading writing, speaking, listening, and thinking at high levels.
With instruction and time for practice, students in even the primary grades can learn about metacognition and practice their thinking skills. It may look gimmicky at first, especially if the teacher dons a “thought bubble” to model and show their thinking to students. Talk, sketching, images, video, the use of complex text – all of these can be used to enhance thinking and reflection for our students.
Take Away: Students can use a silhouette of a head with a “brain-shaped” space to write their thinking to emphasize that it comes from the brain!
5. A Non-Freaked Out Approach to Literacy Instruction Across the Content Areas
4:45-5:45 (Still here learning!)
Are you a middle school or high school teacher? Do you work with middle school or high school teachers? Do you know Dave Stuart? His “Non-Freaked Out Approach to the Common Core?
This hour spent with Dave was an hour of pure gold and many, many ideas to consider about both the volume and the quality of literacy activities, reading, writing, speaking, and listening, across the day for students in middle schools and high schools.
Dave asked us to share our responses first with a partner, then with the group and /or on twitter to this question:
What, in one sentence, is your ultimate goal for students?
Dave also talked about getting past “argument’s baggage” because “…the goal is not victory but a good decision…in which a participant takes seriously and fairly the views different from his or her own.” (CCSS, Appendix A). Dave shared his “pop-up method” where he teaches or assesses 1-2 specific skills every time. So this time might be a claim and a paraphrase. Next time it might be adding on to someone else’s comment so that the skills for quality discussions/arguments/debates are specifically taught over time. His management tips:
1. No cross talk.
2. Teacher = coach
3. Every kid needs to speak.
4. “Great debaters can debate all sides.”
5. ” We all win with a great debate.”
6. Teach and assess 1-2 skills at a time.
7. Content and delivery.
I especially found his three types of writing to be helpful when thinking of ELA and Content Teachers. More conversation about the purpose of writing (to solidify or extend learning) could make this less “threatening” for content area teachers.
Provisional – DAILY – warm ups and exit tickets
Readable – WEEKLY – 1 paragraph compositions
Polished – monthly – longer essays
If you need more information about writing more and grading less go to mikeschmoker.com
TAKE AWAY: Debates and more writing can help build thinking and communication skills that will transfer to real-world success!
What “Treasures” did you find today?
What thinking / ideas do you want to carry forward into the next school year?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.