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?
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!
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 work collaboratively.
Are you one of the 18 “slicers” who will be dining together this Saturday night at #NCTE14? If not, check out the slicing posts and become a regular slicer so you will be ready next year!
* * *
What’s important in writing? One answer is,
“Teach the writer, not the writing!”
For additional information, go to this post!)
So in writing (narratives, informational, arguments), what transfers (#OLW14)?
Is it the hook, the organization, the voice, or the purpose?
Goals for Professional Development:
I can identify writer’s techniques and goals in order to READ like an author for deeper understanding!
I can use those techniques and goals to dig deeper into the elements of the written genres under review.
I can use author “language” to increase my knowledge of writing techniques and choose quality texts to share with students.
In order to stimulate thinking, create conversations, and pay attention to commonalities and similarities, I chose to introduce writing techniques and goals for informational, argument, and narrative all in the same session.
A. Informational Texts and Writing Techniques and Goals
Back in July, 2014, I wrote this post about how we used “goals” to look for examples in mentor texts. Take a minute to reread that post here.
What do we actually do in PD? We use combinations of National Geographic’s Wolves and Seymour Simon’s Wolves to play bingo with the entire card (3 x 4 array) using the techniques side. The small rectangular post it covers the technique and allows one to add the page number for the location of the technique in the text. The deliberate use of two texts on the exact same topic where each one has a different style and purpose creates fun conversation for teachers. Then we wrap up with a “Know/Wonder”(source: What Readers Really Do by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton) chart to summarize our findings and consider which book would best meet which goals as well as a myriad of reasons why/where/when we would choose which text. (More subtle, less reliance on text features? Find another book where an author has written like Seymour Simon’s Wolves!) Result = fabulous conversations around common literary techniques and goals using the same “naming words” across all grade levels.
Process: Everyone looked at both books with a bit more structure (12 cards each) and less independence for this first round. Goal = identify the techniques and name those that “surprised” the reader.
B. Argument / Opinion Writing Techniques and Goals
In this activity, teachers look at one column of the “techniques for writing arguments” page for texts that had recently been read in class, either by the teacher or by fellow students. Again, we use a “Know/Wonder” chart to summarize our learnings from this section.
Process: Each partner group had one of the “I Wanna . . .” series by Karen Kaufman Orloff and illustrated by David Catrow with either the vertical Column A, B, or C from the Argument Techniques cards to look for specific techniques with room to “jot” evidence for “Know/Wonder” chart. Each partner group has only 4 technique cards to look at books in a “series” by the same author. Goal = discuss patterns the author uses across her series and consider how this information can inform readers AND writers.
C. Narrative Text Techniques and Goals
In this activity, teachers look at just three of the “techniques for writing narratives” and the narrative “goals page” in order to consider how the authors used dialogue, actions and inner thoughts to achieve their narrative writing goals. Each participant jots down page numbers and goals on a response sheet and then discusses what they notice in their books. Whole group debrief is through the continuation of the “Know/Wonder” chart.
Process: Each partner group had a different narrative. Each group chose one technique they wanted to explore and then following a “write-around”, the book and notes were passed on to the next partner group. Each group had time to analyze two books. Goal = Readers and writers will recognize that techniques look very different when considering differences in authors’ styles, audience, and purposes for writing.
As a reader, when do I name those techniques in order to increase my understanding? As a writer, when do I “try out” those techniques in my own writing? As a teacher, how does knowledge inform my deliberate choices for Read Aloud texts?
Were there “absolute right answers” for these three types of text reviews? No! The focus was conversations among the teachers about the techniques to deepen understanding first and then book selection will continue to be future work. The three different ways to use the techniques were just a beginning point! Also consider the following three anchor reading standards dealing with “craft and structure” that allow the reader to make sense of “reading”:
Craft and Structure:
What writing techniques and goals do you point out in Read Alouds? How do you use your knowledge of “author’s craft” to help you select your Read Alouds?
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.
(This is the fourth post about new resources acquired in NYC while attending the 2014 TCRWP June Writing and July Reading Institutes. See previous posts for a compare and contrast lesson #CCSS here, Stand for Children here, and a book review here.)
Why Paired Mentor Texts?
Pairing mentor texts enables teachers to meet several lesson goals at once. Students who study the true facts behind a story make connections to the text and to history or current events. In addition, finding patterns and contrasts between two genres can serve to better distinguish them in the students’ minds.
How can we maximize instruction?
Compare and contrast two texts on the same topic in order to solidify thinking around characteristics or features of the text
Texts: The Survivor Tree – two different versions
The Survivor Tree: A Story of Hope and Healing – 9/11 Commission (Available at the museum)
The Survivor Tree Inspired by a True Story b
What do you notice from the book covers? Stop, pause and jot a few notes.
If you were to begin to form a theory about these books, what would it be?
Before this summer, I would have jumped right in, read this first page, and had students make note of what the author was saying.
I might have considered an “inquiry approach” where I read this page with the book cover completed covered and asked the students: “Which book is this?” with follow up questions like, “Why do you think so?” or “What is your evidence?”
BUT, it really isn’t about just being able to NAME this genre of text. Instead it’s about noticing HOW the author used the techniques of the genre to meet his or her writing goals. And viewing one text at a time is slow because of the lack of comparison and actually limits the amount of text that students are exposed to over the course of a year.
New and Improved Plan (thanks to wonderful learning and time to plan):
Let’s look again using the “Know/Wonder” format from Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton’s, What Readers Really Do Teaching the Process of Meaning Making. We will begin by putting the first page of both books side by side. Consider what you know after you read the first page from each book. What information is the same? What do you still wonder after reading those first pages?
What do I “Know” after reading page one from both books?
Both pages include these specific words: Gallery pear tree, World Trade Center, plaza, New York City, September 11, story
The first page one specifically says “Survivor Tree” while the second one says “over time, and with great care, she recovered.”
Structurally, the first page one consists of three sentences that are fairly complex. The second page one has four paragraphs.
What do I “Wonder”?
I wonder if both books will actually be about “HOW” the tree survived and the fact that trees can be “resilient”?
Will the first book continue to be more factual and contain more information even though it says it is a story?
Will both books continue to have a lot of similarities in their information that will make it “easy” to compare those stories?
Will the second book read more like a story or narrative with the “tree” as the main character?
Does the use of a watercolor drawing help create the “feeling” of a narrative in the second text?
Which text already seems to have more “narrative” features?
Which one seems to have more informational features?
Why are both authors saying that they are telling a story?
In this new and improved plan, the second stage will actually have us looking at the book covers. Based on what we have seen on the two different page ones, which book cover goes with which page and why? (Claim and supporting details) I believe this conversation will have a greater focus on the text and how the authors have begun their stories. This attention to the author’s craft will help the readers grow in both their reading and writing.
Can you already tell which page belongs to which book? What writing techniques helped you make that decision?
Which plan do you usually use with paired texts?
What other paired mentor texts do you have in your reading and writing instruction?
I believe in the power of bundling the CCSS Anchor Standards so I was quite happy to purchase this book at the New York Public Library while in New York for the #TCRWP Writing and Reading Institutes.
I loved the content immediately as each page had a picture and a text block. The organization was also easy as each two page spread had the “then” picture on the left page and the “now”picture directly opposite it on the right page. My mind took me straight to compare and contrast with “visuals” and texts.
We will begin with the front cover. The book will be displayed via the document camera. Each partner group will also have the picture. The partners will have some time to study the picture and record the things that they know and those things that they wonder. After all groups have had time to talk and record their notes, we will record their thoughts on chart paper or on a google doc on the screen. Students will be well aware of the power of “…and the evidence of that is. . .?” as they listen, question, and challenge each other’s thinking. Each partner groups will then develop a draft theory about this book and its contents.
Inquiry will continue with this picture (text folded under at first).
So, here’s the first draft of my plan for grades 3-5. We are going to use the “Know” and “Wonder” chart idea from What Readers Really Do especially now that I have met both authors, Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton. We will begin with the picture only. Then after all partner groups have several “Knows and Wonders” recorded privately, I will read the text under the picture. Students will be encouraged to study the text as well. They will add textual evidence in a different color of ink as the partner groups continue to add to their “Know/ Wonder” thinking. Before the next picture is added, students will be encouraged to consider whether their draft theory is still holding up or whether it needs to be revised.
Similarly, picture 3, partners recording “Know and Wonder”
After partner groups have recorded their Know and Wonders from the picture, the text below Lady Liberty, and from class discussion, we will continue to explore whether our theories still hold true.
Similar process for another pair of pictures . . .
After working with these two pictures, students will pair square so that each set of two partners will be matched up with another set. As a group of four, they will discuss their “Knows, Wonders” and patterns and theories.
On the next day the quad groups will again discuss whether they have additional “knows and wonders” to add, clarify, or restate. Time will also be allocated to add, clarify or restate patterns and theories as well. Partners will be encouraged to take a different set of “then” and “now” photos and continue to test their theories and patterns as well as answer questions that have arisen.
How will this work align with the CCSS ELA Reading Anchor Standards ?
The following list of CCSS ELA Anchor Standards could possibly be included in this study.
Key Ideas and Details:
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Do you agree with these possible standards? Disagree? What would you add to this instructional sequence?
in capitals –
stick, stick, stick, space, stick, stick, stick, stick, space, stick, stick
straight lines and angles.
in lower case –
stick, stick, stick, curved, stick, stick, stick
lines, angles and curves.
for visible thinking
Yet for students:
Confidence and purpose.
Encourages goal setting
and a plan to reach goals.
Honors all student processing.
Becomes a way of life –
trajectory of students.
Means not right now,
Know that they won’t
run out of time.
Yet for teachers:
Gives us room
to expand and / or
Adjust our teaching and thinking.
A way to show students
we want to stand by them
and we will help them get there.
Lets students and teachers
grow and learn,
Bets on students and teachers
to do the best that they can, so
All have met the power
of a growth mindset
with multiple materials
and multiple opportunities
“Yet” opens doors that “can’t” wants to close.
What does the word “yet” mean to you?
[Tweets that were used for the creation of this content poem can be found here. Thank you Dorothy Barnhouse and Kylene Beers for your illuminating quotes during our 04.22.14 Twitter book chat (#WRRDchat) discussing What Readers Really Do!]
This is my celebratory 100th post with over 25,000 hits since October of 2012! Thank you, READERS!
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton have introduced us to Know and Wonder Charts in their magnificent text, What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Making Meaning.
There is a Twitter Chat, tonight, April 22, 2014 from 8:30 – 9:30 EST (#WRRDchat) where many of these ideas including “implementation” will be discussed. Our chat leaders include: Allison Jackson (@azajacks), Julieanne Harmatz (@jarhartz) and Ryan Scala (@rscalateach). Additional resources include these previous posts: “The Process of Meaning Making,” “Beyond CCSS: Know and Wonder Charts” (July 2013), and our group facebook page where last year’s chats are archived.
What have I learned since last summer?
Students must do the work!
Teachers cannot wait until their comprehension instruction is perfect. Students need to be “doing” the work of constructing meaning. There is a huge difference between students who “don’t understand YET” and students who don’t know what they are doing.
Here is some of our work from third grade last month. Our book was Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T Washington.
Here is page 2 – the first text:
After reading this page, students discussed with a partner both what they knew and what they were still wondering about. So the picture below is what the first whole-class “Know / Wonder” chart looked like. A lot of conversation centered around the word “longed” which JD so aptly told us “did not mean long like 2 feet long.” That discussion led to the inference (with evidence) that Booker “wanted to read.”
As we read on through page 3 we were thinking about:
- Were any of our questions answered?
- Were any patterns beginning to emerge?
Our question of “Why is Booker NOT reading?” was answered on this page.
Now our chart began to get messy as we used it to demonstrate how we were “making meaning” as our first question was answered with a bit of color coding for our question in the “Wonder” and our answer in the “Know.”
One of our goals was to see how the character developed over time in this text. How did the author reveal information about Booker? As students worked with partners, they crafted their own post – it descriptions (rewritten here – 😦 poor photography skills). How could these descriptions show a progression of “drafting understanding” that could be used to dig deeper into the author’s words?
These first two were pretty similar and were easy for the students to think about as “evidence-based” descriptions with picture two adding the inference “be a reader.” Picture 3, below, demonstrated students who continued on through the text in search of “MORE” ideas and evidence. They wanted to know “WHY” reading was so important to Booker and they did not stop until they had drafted their theory.
Because we have also worked with formative assessment and checklists, we tried another view of the same post-its in a chart with labels and descriptors so students could begin to “self-assess” their own work. This was the FIRST draft – an additional step was later added between the “two stars” and “three stars.”
After discussion, students could perform some self – assessment to determine where they were at in their understanding. This self-assessment allowed most students to answer the question: “What would they need to do to ‘move the level of understanding in their post-it response?'”
But, we had to take a deep breath and stop and rethink here. The ultimate goal is NOT to get the “top star” rating. We wanted to include some self-assessment so students could focus on the learning targets, but we wanted to be crystal clear in our ultimate goal. This sent us back into the book to re-read to check what the text REALLY said instead of what we “thought” it said!
The focus for instruction moved to “patterns.” Students begin to look for “patterns.” This is the stage where the students were “reading forward and thinking backward” as they” tracked patterns to see how the patterns were connecting developing, or changing.” The “What we Know” changed to “ALL” about the pattern – What is the pattern? How is the pattern changing? and the “Wonders” shifted to – Why? What could the author be showing us?
This was hard. It was tempting to set the students up with more modeling or even more scaffolding. However, will more “teacher work” REALLY increase the likelihood of “independence” for the students as they construct “meaning making?”
What do you think? How do you help students draft their understandings? And how do you stay focused on the real goal?
During July 2013 we read and chatted about this book for several weeks in the Twitterverse and created a facebook page here that includes several of the storified chats. We are currently prepping for a reprise chat, Tuesday, April 22 from 8:30 – 9:30 EST. Questions for the chat are on this google doc. Our hashtag is #WRRDchat . Follow @azajacks @ who have been an integral part of this adventure for the last year. @
Why is this book so important?
It is important because the authors, Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton, illuminate the process of meaning making for teachers and then provide clear, explicit examples from work with students at a variety of levels. Too often, teachers feel pressured to “test” the students into comprehension and to search for that “one” correct interpretation. In this life-changing text, Barnhouse and Vinton remind us that the readers truly must be the ones who are “making meaning.”
Check out the free samples on line:
- Amazon http://www.amazon.com/What-Readers-Really-Do-Teaching/dp/0325030731
- Heinemann (free chapter) http://www.heinemann.com/products/E03073.aspx
Other sources of information:
Vicki Vinton’s blog “To Make a Prairie http://tomakeaprairie.wordpress.com/
and a previous post of mine from last July: CCSS and Beyond: Know and Wonder Charts https://franmcveigh.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/ccss-and-beyond-know-and-wonder-charts/
Join us Tuesday night, April 22, 2014, as we share our learning, continue to ask questions and expand our learning community!
What is your favorite quote?
(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!) Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge: Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna and Beth. More Slice of Life posts can be found at Two Writing Teachers .
I LOVE to read. I LOVE reading. I typically READ just about anything. Reading is my preferred activity over cooking, cleaning, or crafting. I could be considered a voracious reader by some. I read quickly when I am reading for fun. I will read almost anything but I do not like vampires, fantasy or science fiction very much. When I find an author that I like, I devour ALL their texts. When I find something I really like, I may reread it. There are times during the year when my reading life seems to suffer. While writing blog posts every day, I do have less reading time. Is it “okay” that my reading seems to have an ebb and flow? How much should I be reading? What should I be reading?
I believe that I need to be familiar with authors and texts in the field of literacy. I have my favorite authors and this year they all deal with loving literacy: Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Kylene Beers, Dorothy Barnhouse and Vickie Vinton, Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, and all the authors of the fabulous Units of Study in Writing from Teachers College. My reading of YA varies according to the favorites of students in the buildings where I work.
How does reading play out for our students? How much should they be reading?
In Book Whisperer, Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna and Beth. More Slice of Life posts can be found at Two Writing Teachers Donalyn Miller challenges her middle school students to read 40 books per year. That is basically one book per week, including reading over holidays and school breaks. A student who has developed those “reading habits” is likely to be successful as they move through life. In Reading in the Wild, Donalyn is more specific about the “habits” that students need in order to be life-long readers. Those numbers seem to make sense because a student will “be in the story” and stay connected to the text in those time frames.
For our struggling Middle School and High School students in Second Chance for Reading, I have suggested teachers set 30 books per year as the goal for students. If teachers have expectations and are carefully monitoring student work, 30 books is ambitious for students who have been less than successful in reading for years. It’s doable, a stretch but yet highly possible if the habit of reading becomes a part of a daily routine.
But is that “good enough” for our children? How long to read a book?
I was following the Twitter stream from the Saturday reunion at Columbia’s Teachers College and several tweets caught my eye. Exactly what books should students be reading and for how long?
So taking Hatchet and spending a week and a half on it would fit with Donalyn Miller’s goal of 40 books per year. Is this happening? Are students allowed to read a book like Hatchet in a week and a half? I believe this also fits with the belief behind CCSS Reading Anchor #10: “Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently. Yet, it seems like I should be doing more in order to have teachers and students consider the “sheer volume” of what they are reading.
Are there books that should be “whole class” books in grades 3-6? If yes, what would be the characteristics of such a book? And how “many” of these would a child read during any given year?
I remember working on Language arts curriculum 20 years ago when teachers wanted certain books to be on a “protected list” so teachers in grade 3 would not use a book reserved for grade 4 because then it could not be used for prediction. But what is the real goal of a “class book”? If it truly is to have all students explore specific texts, will the class read at the same pace? Is it about the “activities” that accompany the book and its reading? What about a book club approach?
This tweet of a quote from Kelly Gallagher caught my eye:
So Kelly would agree with Donalyn Miller that students should not be spending forever on a class book. Dragging a novel out into 9 weeks’ worth of work turns it into a “9 week worksheet”! That belief has also been espoused by Richard Allington who has said that students need to read “more” in order to be better readers!
Are there some books that every fourth grade student should read? That would be a great source of conversation for a team of fourth grade teachers. What literature is that important and that interesting for the students? The same question would apply for informational text, poetry and drama. Those decisions can and should be made at a local level. The caution would be in “not allowing” a whole class text to be the only reading at the time and also not to be drug out as Gallagher’s quote reminds us.
How much should a student read every day?
The original source of this quote is not listed but think about this for a minute. To stay on the same level (maintenance), a student needs to read just right books for an hour each day and a common expectation in about 3/4 of a page per minute. So a quick check by a teacher 5 minutes into a silent sustained reading time would suggest that all students had read at least 3 pages. If a reading log/goal setting page includes the page started, a teacher could quickly move about the room conducting a visual scan. This would be data that could allow the teacher to form groups to discuss goals and purposes for reading.
The goal would not be public humiliation. I have used “bribes” for reading – pizzas, food, parties, etc. in order to encourage students to read more. Sometimes the food begins as the “reason/purpose” for reading until a student becomes “hooked” on reading and then begins to ask for books for gifts! Students do not need to take quizes to show their understanding of books. Carefully remove barriers or practices that are “counter-productive” to reading MORE! Consider how you can help your students be daily readers who will carry that habit over into the summer even when you, the teacher, are not around!