Bookended by our Thursday and Friday evening dinners . . .
are over 16 pages of notes, hundreds of storified tweets, pictures galore and thousands of words. Words Matter. Words matter whether spoken or written. Words in the heart matter as well. As a #TCRWP aficionado stunned by the passing of Deputy Director Kathleen Tolan this weekend, I celebrate my learning about small group reading instruction last summer with Kathleen even though I still yearn for more. That gritty, passionate, talented, brilliant and sometimes “pushy” Deputy Director would want us to carry on . . . Make the students in front of you YOUR PRIORITY! FOCUS on students!
FRIDAY at #NCTE16
The Heinemann Breakfast on Friday honoring the Legacy of Don Graves was a star-studded celebration. I felt like the red carpet was rolled out to recognize the literacy superstars in the room who all had stories to tell that encouraged us to roll up our sleeves, pay attention to students and get to work. From Penny Kittle’s, “When Don asked me to do something, I did it!” to her credo “NCTE is a place to settle your soul” we were entranced! Katherine Bomer reminded us that “Writing to discover what we care about is brave and that writing is a way a student’s voice comes into power and reminds us that we are all human.” Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell shared that their “mentor text drop box – a way to organize and access mentor text – represents the generosity of Don Graves.” This breakfast was a family breakfast that reminded us of who we are and where we are going together. ( Heinemann Podcast Link)
Charts as Tools for Conversation, Advocacy and Action (Martinelli, Schwartz, & Luick)
The focus of this presentation was on the purpose of charts, ownership and environment, reflection and action. The two words that I heard over and over were “purposeful planning”! This is embodied in sketching out the steps to check clarity, the vocabulary used, and the ability of the chart to act as the teleprompter for the teacher. Of course, a crystal clear teaching point helps!
One caution was to make sure that students’ voices were included in discovering learning together . . .students could contribute definitions, examples, and even make their own tools to use. Tools that begin in the minds of teachers become ideas that can eventually be handed over to the students. (Isn’t that what transfer is REALLY all about?) I’ve heard many, many, many TCRWP staff members say that when we introduce a tool, coach and provide support for a tool, we MUST have a plan for the tool to go away. Graphics in a chart are really meant to be replaced by pictures or names of your own students. Or even better, by students who make their own charts because they know the purpose and that’s good for teachers, students, and LEARNING!
Vocabulary Matters! – Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow and Char Shylock
How do students ever learn enough words to improve their vocabulary? How do students become invested in their OWN learning? Who’s really doing the work in vocabulary learning?
Step 1. Listen carefully.
Step 2. Wait.
Too often when students say things that are untrue or unbiased, teachers jump in. Instead of the teacher teaching 24/7, maybe students should teach us so that they have the skills that they need for the rest of their lives!
Step 3. Think. What do we know ( or What do we think we know) about …”
Step 4. Audition what you know. Try it on. Is this idea never true? Sometimes true? Always true? (or True for me? True for us? True for you?) Set up a place or way for students to go do this!!!
Step 5. Revise and rename. What assumptions changed?
Step 6. Spread the word.
This presentation included opportunities for us to think about shifting our beliefs, taking note of vocabulary words, increasing our word curiosity and consciousness and “settling our souls in teacher church”. Shana Frazin told us that “English is her superpower and Hebrew is her kryptonite.” If we think of a word in another language, how does that add to our repertoire? How does working with “categories” help students access MORE words. And then Katy illuminated some FUN, JOYOUS ways to find a few minutes to incorporate vocabulary work. . . in a closure – share, in a mid-class tip, in spare 5 minutes before the bell rings or even a simple conversation like . . .
“Wow guys, you are doing such fascinating work with characters… let’s talk about…. which would you rather be, character A or character B and why?”
Some activities take time:
- Sentence game
- Grid game – person and question
- Play with words – Beck’s Bringing Words to Life (Would you rather? How much would you like to ? Which is more important to ? When/ how should you?)
- Word sorts – content words for open or closed sorts
- Other work – paintings or artwork.
Vocabulary work that has student learning and ownership as the goal WILL stick with students. Vocabulary work that has “correct answers on the quiz” as an end goal . . . NOT so much!
The Power of Low Stakes Writing with Ralph Fletcher
Advice from students
“Use top shelf adjectives and verbs”
Like a big balloon…
Audience (beyond the teacher)
A sense of fun and adventure
Teachers who value
Invention, originality and voice
So what happened to the big beautiful balloon?
Student Choice increases energy and excitement to make the balloon soar.
Test prep brings the balloon back to the ground.
There is a battle between freedom and discipline
But teachers do have choice and must be
BRAVE to bring choice back with any of these . . . (and also low-stakes)
- Free Choice Fridays
- The Writer’s Notebook
- Class Writer’s notebook- Students inspired by what others write
- Classroom blogs
- Slice of Life Challenge
- Open Cycles – where students chose the topic and genre
- Need writing green belts – tap into the writing Ss are doing
- FERAL writing
- Study Driven Writing (Source Katie Wood Ray)
Recklessly wonderful writing.
Students choose to work on writing because
The ideas of writing give them energy.
Multiple Layers of Literacy Learning –
(Amy Brennan, Dani Burtsfield, Jill DeRosa, Kim Gosselin, Jennifer Hayhurst, Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson, Marissa Moss, Stefani Nolde, Erica Picarole, David Schultz, and Kari Yates)
What do you think of when you hear professional development? Who is it for? This session included conversations about learning for teachers, parents, and students. Learning, fun, and choice are necessary ingredients for multi-dimensional opportunities for all to grow! Summer school included learning for teachers and the students!
Advocating for Revision in Reading: Meaning Making as a Journey, Not a Destination – Ellin Keene, Matt Glover, Dan Feigelson and Kathy Collins
Students who are reading and writing A LOT know a lot. Ellin had an example of a six year old who understood the use of metaphor. Students who read and write have the tools to share their thinking at deeper levels than we may have considered. How do we help them revise their thinking? Sometimes it means the adult must close his/her mouth in order for the student to take the lead! Students need to learn to be comprehension decision makers! Students have to be flexible thinkers and not seekers of “right” answers. Building a “Reader’s Identity” is a desired outcome, not a letter of a level! What are the characteristics of a reader that you admire? That’s a different question than those that are typically part of a story inquisition! Product and process do matter so
“Privilege all texts”
” Our attention shows what we value!”
“Show reading identities.”
“Elevate the book.”
“Elevate the readers of the book.”
Dear Reader, Are you still here with me?
At this point we were off to the #HeinemannPub reception for the #TCRWP Reading Units of Study Libraries, the #StenhousePub reception for authors, and then dinner with #G2Great Voxer cousins! Many miles of words and ideas heard, considered and studied!
So what caught your attention on this overview of Friday’s learning at #NCTE16?
When were you nodding your head and saying, “YES”!
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
And a “Paul Harvey – the Rest of the Story” video here . . . How Friday ended!
This weekend the Twitter stream provided many insights about Literacy, Literacy Instruction, and “Intent”. A powerhouse line up was present at the New England Reading Association conference (#NERA2016) in Portland, Maine. You can see the speakers and topics here. This post celebrates the Twitterverse that allowed me to curate these ideas from afar.
What is reading?
At #NERA2016 Saturday, Matt Glover and Kathy Collins proposed this expansive definition. Many questions immediately came to mind.
Who does the work of reading?
What is the intent of reading?
What does this require of a teacher?
This quote from @chrisclinewcps says so much about some of the characteristics of “INTENT”!
At the opening session of #NERA2016, Ralph Fletcher fired an early shot across the bow with this slide. Think about these three questions as you read the content on his slide.
What was his intent?
What is the message for teachers?
What is the message for students?
As a reader, what was Ralph Fletcher’s message?
How important is choice?
Is choice just for students?
Is choice also for teachers?
And that connected to Paula’s tweet:
And during the panel for The Teacher You Want to Be, Vicki Vinton also said,
What does this mean in writing?
Paula also tweeted out this learning from Jeff Anderson (@writeguyjeff) about the role of grammar in writing.
Is the intent to have students do the work?
Are students doing the thinking?
Dan Feigelsen is crystal clear in his intent.
Pernille Ripp asks this question:
Her May blog post here addressed specific steps to create writing communities.
How do your students know the intent of your writing instruction?
Empowering students to do the work is the basis of Jan and Kim’s book. If you have not yet checked out this book, you need to do so!
According to the #NERA2016 program, Vicki Vinton’s session was
Vicki Vinton: Beyond Book Choice: What Student-Center Reading Instruction Can Look Like
According to the educator John Holt, “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” And in this interactive session, Vicki Vinton will share ways of ensuring that the activity of students and their thinking—versus curriculum and standards—are at the center of your reading instruction, whether you’re working with a whole class, a small group or one-on-one conference. You’ll see how to become a creator of learning opportunities, rather than a teacher of strategies and skills, which in turn will help students become powerful and insightful meaning makers, thinkers and readers.
The intent of “student-centered reading instruction” is for learning to be at the center of student work. How do you work towards this every day?
What do you notice as a reader?
What do you DO with / or make of what you noticed?
Because the intent is reading deeply, thoughtfully, and authentically!
What are your beliefs?
What is your intent?
Check out other thoughts about “intent” on #DigiLit Sunday with Margaret Simon here.
And special thanks to all who tweeted from #NERA2016 and especially to their Twitter Ambassadors: @LitCoachLady, @literacydocent and @guerrette79.
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!
The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning and Teaching was the source of the last panel presentation I attended on Sunday at #NCTE15 in Minneapolis. (Trivia note – #NCTE15 participants wrote 33,000 Tweets!)
Rock Stars on Stage:
- Katie Wood Ray
- Kathy Collins
- Vicki Vinton
The session was both funny, illuminating and oh, so insightful. After all, it was an introduction by Katie Wood Ray (who taught Matt Glover everything he knows as well as thinks of the greatest book titles EVER!), Kathy Collins and Vicki Vinton.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the illustrious crowd present: Kylene, Donalynn, Franki, Maggie, Katie, Christina, Dani, Katherine, Ryan, and Katie and many others that I did not see from the front row!
The 13 Beliefs
We explored these beliefs and the important qualities of readers.
And the question: How do we brand our reading? How do we really help students understand the importance of reading?
Kathy also spent time on belief # 3 – how do we appreciate that quirky child (annoying, yes) and make sure that he/she continue to grow and learn? And belief # 8 – Joy! Such a strong belief in joy that it needs to be a secret so that publishers don’t create and market “JOY kits”! And the gifs . . . oh, my! LAUGHTER! Here’s a gif that Kathy Collins did not use but may fit your future needs!
Vicki Vinton began with framing several issues with quotes and examples for the audience to consider.
And an example of grade three CCSS – aligned “reading work” for teachers.
Beliefs that were embedded in Vicki’s presentation included: 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. And then we moved into a demonstration . . . as we used a problem-solving approach to reading (like math?). “Words aren’t the problem…what does it MEAN when you put all the words together?”
And here’s the most important part of this post. I was the first volunteer for this problem-solving small group. Five of us – all adults and literacy folks – volunteered to participate in this demonstration. We had roles – as students – dyslexic, ADHD, ELL, ELL, and Unmotivated. We had never seen the script and time was fleeting. We actually read from a script and from text projected on the screen and we missed a couple of cues (“oohing” during reading) but we did “get into our parts”!
- As a reader, I was anxious.
- As a reader, I was worried about how well I could read and follow directions.
- As a reader, I was worried about the task.
- As a reader, I had no time to “think” about the text even though I scanned all my “parts” as soon as I had the script in my hands.
- As a reader, I wondered about “how well” we would do as a group.
- As a reader, I wondered if we would meet Vicki’s expectations.
In the interest of full disclosure, dear readers, I must tell you that I presented on a panel with Vicki Vinton last year at #NCTE14. So I was reading a script from a trusted/respected friend/mentor. Another group member was a respected colleague. I provide PD to all sizes of groups so the actual speaking/performing was NOT really one of my concerns.
If I, a confident reader, was worried about how well I would read so I didn’t let the group down, how do our students feel when they aren’t sure of the task or topic?
How do students really feel when they encounter new tasks/situations?
How have we structured our work/learning so that a mindset for growth is present?
The work that we demonstrated was important. The students were figuring out “Minneapolis Simpkin”. The teacher had not pretaught all the vocabulary words in the book. Words from “real students” showed that they were continually revising their thinking about what “Minneapolis Simpkin”was. This was a Peggy Parish “I Can Read” level 1 book. It was not a “hard” text. But the reader certainly had to be thinking in order to make sense of the text. YET, it was a tricky text where the narrator was not explicitly revealed. The text did not say, “Minneapolis Simpkin said, ‘——-.'” Students had to do the work of figuring out the story!
Big Take Away Thoughts:
Before: Remember to think of the student perspective when planning your instruction.
During: Listen to the students. Follow their lead. Don’t be the leader. (Remember that you already know how to read.)
After: Do notice and name the work students did (“Who’s doing the work?”) and discuss where and when this work might be expected to transfer.
What are the ideas that you want to remember from this session/post?
Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Accelerating Readers with Brooke Geller
Our agenda for the day:
Supporting complex texts and close reading during units of study
- Gallery walk
We displayed our learning in charts, brochures, flyers, and even blogs so class members could walk around and see evidence of learning. It’s fascinating to see our learning displayed in so many ways.
- Round table conversations
We met in grade level groups and discussed issues, questions, and/or concerns. See notes below.
Brooke read aloud from Stand for Children by Marion Wright Edelman and then we each stood and said who we were standing for.
Notes from grade level round table conversations:
Grade 7: Using some tips from Tracy Fell including personalizing student notebooks, writing at personal reader’s history and publishing it the first week of school. Brooke shared this possible schedule for 7th grade.
|Reading Workshop||Read Aloud…
|Reading Workshop||Reading Workshop|
Under this schedule Mondays and Wednesday will be component days and will include some vocabulary work. This particular group of teachers will also have “Great Works” studies three times a year for 3 week units where they will do a whole class book.
Grade 6: Because there is a focus on world cultures, they were looking for additional texts. Home of the Brave, Long Walk to Water, Your Move by Eve Bunting, and Inside Out and Back Again were all mentioned! They also talked about how characters change across series like Harry Potter – book ladders available on the #tcrwp website and this document was shared by Sandy Brumbaum.
Grade 5: Discussed launching the first unit and working with the close reading lenses at the beginning of the year. Because many students have not come from workshop classes, discussion centered around transitions including: reviewing curriculum calendars from grade 4 and concerted vertical alignment with adjacent grade levels. READ ALOUD – Popularities – From book – My first French Kiss One teacher shared using Home of the Brave (Applegate) early in the year with close reading work and then coming back to it later in the year as a part of author study. HF – Counting on Grace
Grade 4: They talked about access to notes from other grades, Goodbye 382 Shin Dang Dong for social issues, The Can Man, A Room of My Own, and Those Shoes, and Getting Through Thursday.
Successful Book Clubs
Brooke reminded us of the videos that show students talking about books like Bud not Buddy, My Name is Isabelle and Night (MS) and that it is helpful to let the students see the videos so they have a picture of their goal.
However, that video will NOT take the place of a mini-lesson.
Possible scenario for envisioning Book Clubs ( coaches, admin. & teachers)
- Watch video
- Create a T chart of what want/ know about a book club
|Looks Like||Sounds Like|
- Students set goals for own book club
- Meet as a book club
- Watch the video again and reflect on own work
- Revise chart based on own work, the video, and reflection
Social Studies Centers with Kathleen Tolan
We began with a whole group close reading of the Gorillas NF Read Aloud Video
- Notice the tone. How would you describe it?
- List the different ways the teacher engages the students?
- What methods of teaching are used?
- What scaffold or supports are used to maximize learning for all?
- What skills are children being prompted to use?
- What level of questioning is being used?
- What evidence of accountable talk do you see?
- Is the teacher able to assess students understanding of the content during the read aloud?
- How might assessment follow this read aloud?
These questions provided a variety of lenses to process the demonstration!
Whole Group Activity Boston Massacre
We used a basic picture like this by Paul Revere and compared it to two other versions:
Discussion questions included:
Who benefits from Paul Revere’s image?
Who was the image created for?
And how does it affect that person in that time period?
Why did Paul Revere tell the story this way?
(We worked with two other pictures that my Mac is not allowing me to copy)
Then we layered in “The Bloody Work of King Street” by Paul Revere.
A great ending to our work with Social Studies Centers but just the beginning to our curiosity about all those old pictures of The Boston Tea Party and ALL of those old stories.
Kathleen’s wisdom: Probably 30% of what you believe is actually true!
We want our students to read something and then put it up against facts. They need to be able to judge misinformation.
Many thanks and accolades
3 songs sung by teachers
A tribute to Walter Dean Myers who passed this week
Kathy Collins – Keynote Not so random thoughts on Butterflies, Thigh Gaps, and Teaching
Thigh gap, unattainable body mechanics, compared to NCLB!
So very funny! Such a good way to end the week. Kathy left us with a note of hope as she read the book, The Little Brute Family.