How embarrassing! I lost my post and it was NOT one that I had composed and saved anywhere but in wordpress. Hmmm. . . thoughts for future work.
That post was based on Erin Baker’s “Since Last March” found here.
Since Last March
Since last March, I’ve been to Kentucky.
Kentucky for the birth of my grandson,
Kentucky for many holidays, 4th of July, Labor Day & Christmas,
Kentucky for the crawling, first tooth, and first steps (some via Skype).
Since March, my “baby” turned twenty five.
Twenty-five and a first time dad,
Twenty-five and an expert with bottles and burping,
Twenty-five and changing those diapers.
Since last March, I’ve said good-bye.
Good-bye to doubts and questions,
Good-bye to agreeing to impossible tasks,
Good-bye to questionable practices,
Good-bye to activities that waste precious time better spent on reading and writing!
Since last March, I’ve said hello.
hello to friends who I’ve met face to face,
hello to slicers and bloggers from #tcrwp, #ila15, #ncte15, #g2great ,
hello to books, read with friends and with kids!
It’s time to write!
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.
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.
And so it begins . . .
My pre-conference session, “Reading with Rigor: Interpreting Complex Texts Using Annotation and Close Reading Strategies” today is with the authors of this book.
Today, from 9 am to 5 pm, all day, with these two talented ladies. Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen. One hour closing workshop at #tcrwp last year gave me enough info/fuel for ages. Hmm? What will I learn in an entire day?
Here’s what Lucy Calkins says about them in the foreword of their book:
“You’ll join these two extraordinary teachers in demythologizing the essential skills of Common Core aligned reading and in teaching those skills in such a way that students own them.” LC
“…Dana and Sonja are crystal clear about the fact that increasingly, the role of a literacy teacher needs to be to empower students to be active agents of their own learning.” LC
“At the same time that they offer us inspiration and grounding in their very best teaching ideas, they also offer the very best practical details, procedures and materials needed for day-to-day, high-caliber teaching – the support so many of us desperately need to do our jobs even more than we have before.” LC
The #ILA15 program says –
“Presenters will create an engaging, hands-on learning environment to achieve the following learning objectives:
– Participants will learn strategies they can use with students for close reading, annotation, shared reading, and independent reading.
– Using an interactive, hands-on approach participants will explore ways to teach students how to identify and analyze literary elements such as symbolism, theme, mood, and figurative language, in ways that lead to stronger interpretation of complex texts.
#ILA15 Begins . . .
St. Louis? Yes, St. Louis!
Here’s my writing room for the next four days!
What will you be learning at ILA15?
What will you be writing about?
IRA now ILA = International Literacy Association
I’ve skipped over this paragraph in the ILA materials (probably 100 times now), but please slow down and read it . . .
“Illiteracy is a solvable problem, and together, we can make a difference! Amplify your efforts by joining forces with us at ILA 2015 in St. Louis, where you’ll get information and inspiration to transform your students’ lives. Register now for this can’t-miss event, where you’ll experience endless opportunities to network and learn—and leave feeling part of a meaningful movement, resolved to end illiteracy.”
And this . . .
“Literacy—across all sectors, mediums, and channels—is increasingly critical. In order to effectively prepare children and adults for the future, teachers must be well prepared to help diverse students improve their literacy skills.”
Whether illiteracy or aliteracy is a concern for you, follow the twitter stream on #ILA15 to LEARN from July 17 pre-conferences to the sessions on July 18-20 in St. Louis! Who defines well-prepared? Are your current efforts REALLY working for ALL your students?