Do you love to plan?
Do you hate to plan?
Planning can take many forms. Planning to write in the form of creating an outline and then following it point by point . . . just the thought of it, makes me nauseous. In the vernacular of “slicers”, then am I a “pantser” meaning I plan by the seat of my pants . . . in the moment? Actually not. I’m somewhere in between.
It all depends . . .
What’s your process for planning in your personal life?
It’s time for a weekend get away or a family vacation. Do you investigate possibilities on line via “The Google”? When and where do you plan? As you are packing? Or in advance so you can make sure that everything fits? That might necessitate packing that “carry on” bag in advance to make sure everything fits. That might mean “lists” depending on the length of the stay. That might mean a careful assessment of “technology needs” in order to be prepared.
What’s your process for planning in your work life?
As the school year winds down are you preserving those notes? More of “x”. Less of “y”. Scrap a, b, and c. How do you make those decisions? That might mean lists of “If . . . , then . . .”, T charts of pros and cons that precede the inner debate, or even basic boxes and bullets.
Lists of lists???
Again, it all depends . . .
If you are a secondary teacher (grades 6-12), then you need to immediately order this book and join one of the many book studies that are planned for this summer. (Note that I did not say, if you are a secondary ELA teacher, because I believe there is merit in the principles and ideas in this book for social studies teachers, instructional coaches, principals, and curriculum directors.)
The hashtag for this book is #180Days. But I want to draw your attention to the subtitle: “Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents.”
And in case you missed it, the full title is 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents.
Let’s face it.
A “How to” book with QUEST, ENGAGE, and EMPOWER in the title.
There are probably days when you scratch your head and wonder, “WHY? Why am I doing this to myself?” Other days in moments of honestly, your first period class really sucked, second period was better, and third period rocked. WHY?
That opportunity to practice.
That opportunity to tweak the lesson.
A different beginning.
A different ending.
That opportunity to re-vision the lesson.
Some teachers have the opportunity to adjust and discuss situations as they occur with collaborative teaching partners. But in this book you have the collective wisdom of Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle as they share how they planned, the basis for their decisions, their varied class periods (each day, Kelly and every other day – block schedule, Penny) as they taught and collaborated across the country, NH and CA.
Not sure if this is the book for you? Resources that may help you decide are:
And if that’s not enough, please join the #G2Great Twitter Chat this Thursday night.
Added – Literacy Lenses post about 180 Days #G2Great Chat 5.20.18
Do you “engage and empower” your adolescents on a regular basis?
Do you worry about being responsive to life and also “fitting it all in”?
This book will show you how to make better decisions about your students – based on the needs of your students – so that you can and do ENGAGE and EMPOWER them!
WHY does it matter?
How will you be planning for next year?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
#TWTBlog had these questions for their #Twitter Chat about “Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts”. Were you there? Which questions/answers really helped you grow in your thinking about mentor texts?
This chat was a culmination of a week long series about Mentor Texts and in case you missed it, here are the links:
“Tuesday, May 3: Reading Like a Writer, Step-By-Step by Elizabeth Moore (that’s me!)
Wednesday, May 4: Student-Written Mentor Texts by Deb Frazier
Thursday, May 5: How to Choose and Mine Mentor Texts for Craft Moves by Stacey Shubitz
Friday, May 6: Digital Mentor Texts for Blogs by Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski
Saturday, May 7: Create Your Own Text by Dana Murphy
So why on earth am I writing about Mentor Texts again?
Well, there are whole books about Mentor Texts that include ten of my favorites below and Stacey Shubitz’s Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts that will ship from Stenhouse in June of 2016! (You can preview it here.) And I was just lucky enough, with my friend, Melanie Meehan, to win a FREE copy last night as a participant in the chat!
So, if I have 10 of these 11 books (soon to be 11 of 11) about Mentor Texts, why am I writing about them again?
I know that it’s a total shock to some of my readers, but I must admit that I am a bibliophile. There are very few books that I’ve met that are NOT my immediate friends (except for the fantasy, scifi, vampire type books that I often just AVOID)!
Collecting samples of mentor texts has been helpful in my study of the craft of writing. Each of these books leads me to other authors, books, and even publishers that allow me to deepen my knowledge of author’s craft. I’ve been a writer, off and on, for decades. But during that writing time, I have NOT always studied writing. Instead I was playing at writing and sometimes only “practicing” writing. I trusted the authors above to choose texts that would surely be magical mentors for either myself or my students.
Recently my study of writing has been more reflective and my goal has been to define the elements that work (as well as WHY) and YET sometimes I STILL totally miss the mark! The books above provided a safety net because I did NOT trust my own judgement of mentor texts. I knew there was no “magic list” and YET I still thought there was often something magical about these books that FAMOUS AUTHORS had placed on their lists of Mentor Texts. Reading through their choices was like Intro to Mentor Texts 101. I could see what they chose and why and try to imitate that.
What did I learn from tonight’s chat?
The chat was just like “Field of Dreams” . . . “Build it and they will come!”
Stars on the Twitter Red Carpet #TWTBlog included:
- Ralph Fletcher
- Lynne Dorfman
- Rose Cappelli
- Ruth Culham
- Kim Yaris
- Jan Miller Burkins
- Lisa Eickholdt
- Shana Frazin
- Cornelius Minor
- Emily Butler Smith
- Dr. Mary Howard
- Tara Smith
- Catherine Flynn
- Melanie Meehan
- Jessie Miller
- Leigh Anne Eck
- Lisa Keeler
- Margaret Simon
- TWT Team – Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey
The storified chat is available here.
But here are a couple of my favorite tweets that I am still thinking about in response to Q5) “Why are teacher-written mentor texts important? How do you use them?” . . .
and this all important one from Dana on Q1 about reading mentor texts:
The conversations last night were rich. I will be reviewing the storify as I know I missed some. And like any great texts, some tweets will need to be revisited!
Who are your writing mentors?
What are your favorite mentor texts?
How would we know?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
From Twitter and Kelly Gallagher’s “Top Ten Takeaways” (and he said – in no particular order):
Julieanne Harmatz NCTE15 A Necessity
Mary Lee Hahn My NCTE Top Tens
Joellen McCarthy The Literacy Super Bowl NCTE15
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan (Assessment in Perspective) Slice of Life: Some Slices from #NCTE15
Jennifer Sniadecki Slice of Life Tuesday: NCTE Lives On
Carol Varsalona Celebrating Professional Growth
Middle English #NCTE15: Disney For English Teachers
Donna Friend Dear #NCTE15
Sarah Zerwin My Top Takeaways from #NCTE15
Dana Huff NCTE 2015 Reflections
Audrey Fisch and Susan Chenelle Day 2 at NCTE: Critical Encounters with Non-Fiction
Visiting with old and new friends
Our volunteer guide the first morning in the skywalk
Learning with a co-worker and friend
The skywalk and the inside path to the convention center
IKEA (first timer)
Sharing #NCTE15 love with @Tara_Smith5 and @Azajacks
Thousands of attendees and thousands of views of #NCTE15 . . . What will you remember?
Writing quotes I’m holding onto and thinking about as I construct this post:
|“I read like a teacher of writing even when I’m reading the morning paper, and I see rich text possibilities all around me.”
-Katie Wood Ray @katiewoodray
|Steps to Using Mentor Texts
Select a text to emulate and reread – one that inspires an idea, models a structure, or demonstrates an author’s craft worth trying.
· Read it (Read like a reader)
· Analyze it (Read like a writer)
· Emulate it (Write like the writer)
– adapted from Kelly Gallagher @KellyGtoGo
When I read like a writer, it feels different. There’s a bit of anticipation and excitement because I know that I am going to be writing soon. There’s also a bit of trepidation and anxiety.
“What if it’s not good enough?”
“What if no one wants to read it?”
The point of writing and especially writing like the writer is that one writes a LOT. It’s not about the audience YET. It’s about the words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and yes, even the poems appearing on the paper in DRAFT form! The print version is a pre-cursor to being ready for a “reader”.
Writing . . . Writing from the heart of a writing teacher! You will be a better teacher because you can model and share exactly “how” you begin . . . or get unstuck . . . or try a new craft example.
What writers are you emulating?
What quotes are you holding?
Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place to share our work. So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!
(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, 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!