Row after row of books.
Sorted and alphabetized by author’s last name.
Fiction, adventure, mystery, nonfiction, poetry, and yes, even multiple copies.
A classroom library.
Today I was feeling very nostalgic for that classroom library that I had so carefully organized years ago even though I would do it differently now. But it didn’t matter. No children were harmed by my lack of knowledge about better ways to display and organize books for student use.
It didn’t matter. On the first day of teacher workshop days, I found out my room was moving. The time spent in reorganizing my books on my own time was totally wasted. Everything had to move.
The collection numbered in the thousands.
Sorted and alphabetized by author’s last name.
No longer to be displayed on bookshelves.
No room for shelves in a room with built in cabinets and doors.
What’s the big deal about classroom libraries?
I love to talk, read, write, think, and breathe reading and writing. Ad nauseam. I served as the principal author of this Literacy Leadership brief: “Creating Passionate Readers Through Independent Reading.”
So this is a topic near and dear to me … passionate readers as well as classroom libraries as evidenced by my writing about It’s All About the Books by Clare Landrigran and Tammy Mulligan here.
I had the good fortune to be in Shana Frazin’s choice workshop titled, “Absolutely Nothing Matters More than Creating Classroom Libraries that Help Readers Grow with Purpose and Passion.”
That is ONE. BIG. BOLD. CLAIM!
And, of course I agree. The data from Scholastic’s Reading Summits that Shana shared is like the frosting on the cake.
Reading boils down to two statements:
- Students need access to many books.
- Students need choice in what to read.
In order to have access and choice, equity could become a hurdle. Other problems might surface. Lucy Calkins encouraged us in the keynote to confront problems, blow them up, and then begin looking for solutions. This is a complex topic as many administrators believe that they’ve already “bought books and “done the right thing” for students because there are books in all the rooms. “Having books” does not guarantee that all books will be quality books.
Step One: Weed (1. Redistribute, 2. Donate, 3. Reorder, 4. Recycle)
Misleading (inaccurate, outdated or insensitive terminology or illustrations)
Ugly (yellowed, brittle pages; poor binding; stained, worn cover, etc.)
Superseded (newer & better edition available; too many copies)
Trivial (minimal intrinsic value; easily available elsewhere)
Irrelevant (outdated topics for current times)
Available Elsewhere (school media center, public library, online)
(Boone. Texas State Library)
Step 2: Inventory
Identify gaps so future orders are deliberate and thoughtful. There are many ways to inventory to make sure you have the variety needed for your classroom collection. Students can help identify the types of books, the actual counts, and then some of the issues that may surface. Physically sorting the books draws attention to these characteristics and can be done a shelf or two or a bin or two at a time.
What year were the books published?
If you have a sports category, how many of those books have females as main characters?
Do your books reflect your students as mirrors or windows? (Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, The Ohio State) Link
Step 3: Add Books
Don’t stop til you get enough… Books!
Step 4: Think Deeply about Organization.
Level your books for you the teacher. But don’t write “Letters” designating levels on all the baskets. Invite your students to help label baskets. Be creative. Take one of your books and think of “labels” that might fit these categories. (Try this out at a PLC or staff meeting.)
CHALLENGE … can you think of at least 10 labels for a book of your choice?
|Reacting to Text|
|R U o S|
|If you Loved . . .Try . . .|
Step 5: Create a culture of loving books!
Book Talks, Book Buzzes, Book Tweets . . .
This was my second look at this acronym for “weeding” books from Boone at the Texas State Library and I really like the idea of a systematic way to review books with student help. I believe any age of students could provide feedback to the teacher about the classroom library collection with this criteria.
What’s your plan for your classroom library?
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.
It’s majestic even when under construction (yes, still) when the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project keynote begins at Riverside Church.
There was a “comfortable-ness” in the air in both the words and in Lucy’s delivery as she spoke of TCRWP days past, present and future.
“We’ve come from 48 countries and 43 states. Leaders of state-wide reform, scores of principals and literacy coaches. And teachers by the hundreds.”
We heard that the teaching of writing matters. Lucy said she was blown away by the sheer miracle of our presence. The teacher’s job is not to teach information but to teach how to access – writing is the best tool that we have for that work – doing something with that information at our fingertips! Writing comes from within us.
On day one of registration for this institute, 8,000 applied.
We, the 1600 seated in Riverside Church, heard stories of Donald Murray, Donald Graves, riding on the Patagonia interspersed with quotes and excerpts of writing.
And then, “Artistry in the Teaching of Writing”. Lucy spoke of teachers who know the Writing Units of Study forward and backwards and who can quote the bends – and the work therein. These same teachers, however, aren’t all writers and therefore don’t have the deep understanding of “the heart of writing”.
Writing has been written about, talked about and studied at great length! More time needs to be spent on the envisioning because our students will only be able to meet our expectations. Our expectations will truly be their ceiling of learning.
Lucy spent time talking about these three stages of the writing process:
” * Rehearse
* Revise and Edit”
The stories were many. Sometimes Lucy raced through quotes and parts. And yet at other times she lingered.
- Revision is not just prettying up the page, adding detail, a new beginning or ending. It’s all about growing insights or realizations! LC
- Units of Study: “I don’t know if they really highlight the depth that I know is necessary for rehearsal and revision. After you write a draft (in a WHOOSH), cycle back to rehearsal. That’s the cycle of life in the process. Is that the push in the UoS?” LC
- “If you need to rethink your teaching, how does that make you feel? To embrace the writing life and outgrow yourself over time – there’s more I could have done, you want to have a glad feeling of possibility of a place to outgrow yourself to.” LC
- “How can we see beyond our best work? If you embrace revision, if you embrace writerly life, you will need to learn from your writing! Grow an image of what is essential!” LC
- “If you want to support a person’s growth, treat them as if they are already the person you want them to be.” LC
Which idea do you want to consider to ponder?
Session 1. “Ratchet Up the Level of Your Students’ Writing by Teaching Them Revision: Tapping into the Power of Mentor Texts and Checklists (K-2)”
Revision needs to happen A LOT across the day. One place to add revision and allow practice at the primary grades is during Shared Writing. With the teacher holding the pen and children dictating the possibilities, students can have A LOT of practice that increases their understanding!
How do we revise? Revision comes after every step of the writing process. It may look different as in “Revise in the air – rehearsal all the time!!! EVERY part of workshop even in K, 1, 2. Get idea, revise, plan, revise. . . Revision is NOT one special day on the unit plan calendar! It’s every day!” CL
We had adult writer’s workshop in this session. More to come on that in later days. So nice to see and hear writing conferences as well. Second time to write on the first morning of #TCRWP June 2016 Writing Institute!
Celena talked about turning points in memoirs. “One little event, one little action that sets you up for change. Sketch those moments. Rehearse. Revise in the air. Tell the story in the air! Talk to and/with a partner about those moments. Iron out that turning point. It won’t sound like a story YET! It won’t sound like writing YET! It won’t sound like a memoir yet!”
- Revision is not a checklist. CL
- Revision occurs during and after each and every step of the writing process. CL
- As a writer, it is important to know HOW you define revision. How do you revise? Is it easy? Is it difficult? CL
- If your story is “my kids don’t like to revise or my kids don’t want to revise”, you have to change that story line as Don Graves said, “If writing is 100%, revision is 85%.” Your expectations as Lucy said do matter! CL
- In the beginning, you will want to see evidence of physical re-writing (flaps, post-its, revision pen), because those first revisions will develop volume, stamina, and risk-taking. Habits and behaviors will come from your philosophy of writing! CL
How have these takeaways and notes added to your K-2 writing knowledge base?
What do you want to remember?
Session 2: “Power Tools, Methods and Strategies: Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)”
When working with “Striving readers”, Colleen had us consider: personality, expertise, strengths, needs – not just problem areas! This positive, asset-building approach reminded us of the many things that a target student (one with an IEP, labeled EL, or both) could be viewed “as more than one way.” In order to teach students who are struggling, we must know them!
Colleen challenged us to observe students in many ways (and this is in her wonderful book, The Unstoppable Writing Teacher). Storytelling circles on the first day of school. Ask students to bring an object that the student can tell a story off of! English learning students can tell story in dominant language and then tell in English or with a partner as a scaffold. And then consider collecting knowledge in these areas:
- Social conversations
- Whole-class conversation
- Small-froup conversation
- Pen grip
- Feet placement
- Closeness of face to paper (vision)
- Legibility and size of writing
- Pressure on pen
- Eyes during workshop (on charts, on own work, on classmates’ work, wndering)
- Patterns of geting started in writing
- Patterns in topics
- Patterns in strategies
- Subject area of strength
- Subject areas of struggle
- When experiencing success . . .
- When experiencing frustration . . .
- Areas of expertise
- Telling stories about students changes us from thinking about them as case studies to more personalized humans. CC
- Observation data is important so take at least once a month to truly observe – “First Friday of the month – take time to watch your class.What is it that this child does?” CC
- “Only give feedback on one thing!!! Make it be a BIG Ticket Thought where other things can be “tucked underneath!” CC
- When reviewing a student on demand piece, name what students are doing – helps with teaching purpose – without jargon and buzz words. Keep your language simple. CC
- Go to understood.org – Look up a disability. How can this add to your repertoire? CC
What themes are you beginning to see emerge from across the day?
Closing session: “The TCRWP’s Latest and Best Thinking about Efficient, Powerful Small Group Work that Accelerates Students’ Progress in Dramatic Ways”
Small groups might be for:
Shared Writing & / or Interactive
Use small groups NOW!
PLAN for three small group sessions in a row – And not the same sequence/type each time. Not all students will need all three sessions! But some will when your goal is building independence and seeing evidence of transfer. Students will be sitting there. You need to have that specific learning target (AND YES, only one) that will move the writing across all kinds, all pieces.
- Crystal clear goals
- MOSTLY the kids (Pacing)
- NOT brand-new
- Practice – Repetitive – Transfer
- Create a series – use a mini-chart
What tools are you giving students?
- Writing in the air
- Lead in phrases or sentence starters
- Refer back to a tool (shouldn’t be a NEW one when working on practice)
- Use of Strategies to attain goals 80-85% of small group is practice. NOT NEW GOALS! AH
- A small group session of 10 minutes will have two minutes of teacher talk and eight minutes of student practice so that the teacher can check in with each student three times! AH
- If Ss struggle, how long do you wait? Who do you help? Help students who need quick nudge so that you then have 3 of 4 students working and can really spend more time with the one stuck student. AH
- Be prepared. What are my coaching moves? What are my scaffolds? Demonstration, lean directions, teaching tool? AH
- “How do I set up for two or three small group sessions in a row? How do I help Ss incorporate and use the strategies with more automaticity and independence?” AH
For me . . .
I have homework tasks yet to do, but writing this post helped me think about what I HEARD today.
Where/ how/ when will I use this information?
How is my learning helping me revise my thinking?
Which comes first – the learning, the revision of thinking, or the openness to new thinking?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Writing makes us all more human!