Join Margaret Simon at “Reflections on the Teche” for additional #DigiLit Sunday reading here.
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst are both speakers that I can listen to time and time again I’ve seen them at ILA, NCTE, and Kylene more than once at #TCRWP. One strategy that I participated in that has stuck with me is “Possible Sentences”. As a workshop participant, it went as Melanie Swider of “Two Reflective Teachers” described here although the session I attended was on a different date.
How can students more “authentically” USE vocabulary words and do more of the vocabulary “heavy lifting” in understanding and owning the words?
Possible Sentence Basic Process:
The teacher chooses vocabulary words.
The students, doing the work, predict and use the words in sentences.
*Then as a class, all the sentences are compiled and then questions are generated for each sentence.
Students return to their sentences and questions to revise them based on the understanding of the topic after reading.
How could we start using “Possible Sentences” in Book Clubs or in Content Area classes and add in some meaningful, very purposeful, use of technology?
Here’s what I proposed for our first learning practice:
You can go to the actual documents through the links below and save your eyesight:
Google Drawing Student Task Card link
Tools: NewsELA article, Wordcounter.com, Google Drawings cards, Google Docs – Response
Are you using “Possible Sentences”?
Have you added a technology component to increase student collaboration?
What tools did / would you use?
Disclaimer: The ideas in this blog are not novel. They are not original. They are appropriately “sourced” where credit can be applied. What is new / different / novel is perhaps the thinking that connects the ideas. Research-based.ideas! Student-centered.ideas! Many folks KNOW this. But do the teaching practices match the teacher beliefs?
Students need to read more in order to be better readers. Volume matters. (Richard Allington)
How can students read more?
A. Donalyn Miller – 40 book challenge
B. Book logs that keep track of books read. Compare lists over time.
C. Book lists kept by students that rate the books (scale of 1-5) and list genre.
D. Independent reading during class time followed up with time to talk about what was read.
Which ones of these have you tried and abandoned?
Did they work for awhile but then student interest seemed to wane and it seemed like students were “cheating” and recording books that they really hadn’t read? Or perhaps books that students began to read but when the going got tough, the books were abandoned?
Did you REALLY understand the goal / purpose behind that undertaking? Did you read the book behind the practice pushed into the classroom? Participate in a book study? Or did you find the pages on Pinterest or TPT and “try it” as a pilot with a high degree of skepticism.
If you went to the link above for Donalyn Miller’s 40 book challenge and read and even digested that post, you read these two paragraphs.
“The 40 Book Challenge isn’t an assignment you can simply add to outdated, ineffective teaching practices. The Book Challenge rests on the foundation of a classroom reading community built on research-based practices for engaging children with reading. Assigning a 40 Book Challenge as a way to generate grades or push children into reading in order to compete with their classmates corrupts everything I have written and said about reading. The 40 Book Challenge is meant to expand students’ reading lives, not limit or define it.
The 40 Book Challenge is a personal challenge for each student, not a contest or competition between students or classes. In every competition or contest there are winners and losers. Why would we communicate to our students that they are reading losers? For some students, reading 40 books is an impossible leap from where they start as readers, and for others, it’s not a challenge at all.”
This is just a small piece of Donalyn’s 40 book challenge. Reading one blog, one tweet, or attending one hour long session at a conference is not enough for deep learning. But it is enough to whet your appetite. Your appetite for life-long learning as well as your yearning for a solution that makes sense to you, your students, and your community will grow. Your appetite may lead to a mini action research cycle as you implement a research-based strategy in your classroom.
A week ago a friend of mine asked on Twitter: “Does anyone have a genre chart they can share to encourage strong readers’ growth?” And Dayna had several results immediately.
Steve shared this:
and Julieanne shared this:
I immediately drooled over both and wondered about combining them and adding
- Quarter 1 Goal ________________
- Quarter 2 Goal ________________
- Quarter 3 Goal ________________
- Quarter 4 Goal ________________
and then Steve added that his students also do this quarterly in google slides:
Why is this important?
Dayna Wells (@daywells) a principal in California asked the question. Two 5th grade teachers replied. Steve Peterson (@inside the dog) from Iowa and Julieanne Harmatz (@jarhartz) from California. Teachers collaborating online to share their practices. (And of course commercial #107 for WHY you really should have a professional Twitter account! ) Because if you followed them on Twitter, you would also know that they all three blog as well and you would have access to additional resources about / from each of them! (Commercial #108 for Twitter)
Relevance? What do you measure?
Matt Renwick (@ReadByExample), a public school administrator in Wisconsin, believes that “volume” is not enough for reading goals in his January 1, 2017 post “I didn’t meet my reading goal (and is that okay?)”. Goodreads said, “Better luck in 2017.” But his reading was rich. And look at all the qualities that Goodreads did include in their report as compiled by Kendra Grant:
If you go back to answer choices A, B, C, and D above, how do those match up with the goodreads list. I think 5 of the 7 data points are easily covered. Do you NEED 5 data points? Maybe. Maybe not. Do you need ALL 7 data points? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends upon the ultimate goal of your independent reading.
Who our students are?
Who our students might become as readers?
What’s the ultimate goal?
Is the purpose for a reading goal . . . to hold a student accountable for what they read? Or provide proof that they read and understood and (gasp) remembered a boatload of details to answer a quiz?
Or is the purpose of the reading goal to provide an opportunity to NURTURE a love for reading? And to encourage / nudge EVERY student to become an avid reader? See “Let’s Not Kill the Love of Reading” by Dr. Tony Sinanis (@TonySinanis).
Is the purpose to make sure that the teacher is helping all students to “BECOME a reader” (Thank you, Dr. Mary Howard – @DrMaryHoward) ?
What data do you need?
The data needs to match your ultimate goal AND the needs of the students. Are you thinking, “OK, I can keep doing what I have been doing?”
2. “Students do not need:
Programs / contests that provide extrinsic reward
Packets of activities”
Why are they missing?
Section 2 of the table of contents is included so you can see the practices that support increased student achievement.
“SECTION 2: WHY NOT? WHAT WORKS?
Why Independent Reading Matters and the Best Practices to Support It, Barbara Moss
- Does Independent Reading Influence Student Achievement?
- If We Know Independent Reading Is Effective, Why Don’t We Do It?
- A New Reason for Independent Reading: The Common Core State Standards
- What Practices Are Critical for Effective Independent Reading?
- Why Independent Reading Matters Most for Striving Readers and English Learners
- The Last Word: An Overview of Independent Reading Implementation by Teachers
Need more evidence? Check out “Three Keys to Creating Successful Reading Experiences” by Pernille Ripp (1/4/2017) and “Revisiting My One Classroom Non-Negotiable” by Christina Nosek.
YOU MUST . . .
- stop wasting students’ time,
- stop assigning “activities” in the name of accountability,
- make sure that anything you
askrequire students to do is that which YOU are willing to do as well in your own independent reading life.
DO YOU . . .
- keep a log?
- set goals?
- reflect on your goals?
- meet your goals?
- discuss how you feel about your reading?
- review the text complexity of your own reading?
Do your personal practices match your instructional practices?
You MUST utilize some “lens” or filter to sort out resources.
These are NOT all equal. A single number is NOT a goal!
How does your goal match your purpose? What are you REALLY measuring?
Process Goal for this Post:
Combine tweets; google docs, drawings, and slides; blog posts, books and Voxer conversations for a blog post with at least eight links for the reader to peruse and consider as they reflect upon whether their current teaching practices SUPPORT increased student reading! (And thanks to Dayna, Steve, Julieanne, Mary, Christina, Matt, Tony, Donalyn, Debbie and Barbara for the wonderful way that their work supports each other!)
Kylene Beers facebook post about lifetime readers!
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!
A common theme in these four sessions that I attended at #NCTE15 was the importance / necessity of involving students in their own learning. (It’s a connection that I could make about ALL of my #NCTE15 sessions in retrospect.)
1. Bring Students into the Conversation: Goal-Setting, Tool-Making that Supports Transfer
#TCRWP Staff Developers: Valerie Geschwind, Marjorie Martinelli, Ryan Scala, Amy Tondeau began this session with a “Turn and Talk”.
Think of a recent goal that you have achieved.
What were the conditions that helped you to reach that goal?
Motivation is a Result of . . .
- Social interaction
Tools that Support Self- Assessment
- Tools created from Mini-Lessons
Goal Setting with Students and Language that Honors Choice
And then Val introduced the cycle of learning. . . in student language.
- I am working towards a new goal.
- Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it is really hard!
- I need my tool to know each step.
- I am practicing my goal all the time: in every book or in every piece of writing.
- I use my tool as a check-in.
- I can use my goal in lots of places.
- I can teach other people what my goal is and help them do it.
I loved the idea of the three stages. I believe Brook Geller first introduced me to the belief at #TCRWP 2013 July Reading Institute that most “students are over taught and under practiced.” Many students seem to need more practice time with specific feedback and a lot less “teacher talk”. In this case a practitioner is someone who is actively engaged in the doing, who repeatedly exercises or performs an activity or skill to acquire, improve, or maintain proficiency, or who actually applies or uses an idea, a method, or a skill across many scenarios. In other words, our students are the practitioners!
Practice does not have to be boring. There are many methods (see picture below) that can be used to reach “expert” status but the key to this entire presentation was that students would be working on a goal of their own choice and moving from novice, to practitioner, to expert. What wonderful language to put into the mouths of students . . . How motivating and empowering!!!
Caution: These are not stages to be RACED through. They will take time to develop. Students in charge of their own assessment of these stages will definitely be students who know exactly what skills and strategies that they do have in their repertoire.
Be the Force! Help students
- Take on their own learning
- Take on their own change
- Cultivate a growth habit of mind
- See each other as experts
Tools: Checklists, rubrics, progressions, charts from mini-lessons. However, a new look . . . Bookmarks with 3 or 4 choices. Students marked the choice that they were using with a paperclip. Clearly visible!!!! AWESOME!
And then a final reminder .. . .
You’ve met your goal. Now what?
- Maintain your skills
- Teach others
- Get critical
- Set new goals
It was the first time for me to hear #TCRWP Staff Developers Valerie, Marjorie, Ryan, and Amy and I’m definitely looking forward to learning from them during future opportunities!!!
2. Responsible and Responsive Reading: Understanding How to Nurture Skill and Will
Kylene Beers, Teri Lesene, Donalyn Miller, Robert Probst
Of course this was a popular session so I was willing to sit on the floor (don’t tell the fire marshal) because I wanted to be able to be up front and see!
Donalyn’s presentation is here for you to review at your leisure. A very powerful activity included these questions: “What books and reading experiences would form your reading autobiography?” Donalyn explained that: What matters is WHY you chose the book? Insights from these responses lead to deep conversations with students. Convos for Ss
Teri Lesene’s presentation is here. This fact was startling to me! Obviously I need to read more than a book a week!
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst shared a great deal of information about nonfiction reading that has come from the process of writing their new book. This slide is something I want to remember. . . “when I have answers I need to question”.
And this one on the importance of reading.
3. Finding Their Way: Using Learning Tools to Push Rigor, Increase Independence and Encourage Learning in Your Classroom
TCRWP Staff Developers: Mike Ochs, Kate Roberts, Maggie Beattie Roberts
Maggie began this session with many great connections. “We haven’t seen teachers work harder than they currently are, YET sometimes students aren’t working so hard! ” Tools can help students buy into learning. Tools, in our daily life, extend our reach, meet our needs, help us tackle big problems and personally get better! Tools connect, access, build community . . . should change over time!
- Rigor and motivation
- Memory . . . Why don’t we remember things? (short and long term memory) “I’ve taught this 1000 times. I know they learned this!”
“A great coach never achieves greatness for himself or his team by working to make all his players alike.” Tomlinson
And then a typical problem from narrative writing. . . How to stretch out a frozen moment. Kate created a demo page in front of us and told us it was, “Messy!” Lean on a menu of ways, decide the color scheme, and title.
Another tool might be a Micro-Progression. It provides a clear description of behaviors that are expected so students will know where they stand. Middle level is good. Students don’t always have to think they should be at the top level of performance.
Bookmark – 5 or 6 most important things for students to work on. Let students create this for themselves. They can be different!
Mike – Framework for creating tools adapted from The Unstoppable Writing Teacher with a shout out to Colleen Cruz.
Do not plan to use a tool forever. Have a plan to remove the tools. Some tools we will always need (the hammer), some we want to go away/become automatic (steps to hammer a nail) Some tools become references, set aside until needed. Sometimes need an additional/alternate tool. Most writing tools are not designed to be used indefinitely.
Kate: “You find yourself getting as smart as the toolmakers as you use the ‘tools of others’ and you get better as teacher! You don’t want to teach without a sidekick. Your tools can be a sidekick.”
News : Spring 2016 a book from Kate and Maggie!!!! SO EXCITED!
4. Transforming Informational Writing: Merging Content and Craft
Seymour Simon, Kelly Boswell, Linda Hoyt
I think I know this boy!
Seymour’s part was actually titled: Celebrating the Wonder in Nonfiction Storytelling. He began with a discussion of what nonfiction really means. If nonfiction is really “not true” than fiction should be “not real”. There is something about the use of “non” that marginalizes the texts that are labeled nonfiction. After all, who takes anything with “non” in the title seriously?
Not much difference between teaching F and NF. . .
- Who am I?
- What am I?
- What about me?
Mystery, wonder, poem, the universe!
Seymour read aloud many great fiction and nonfiction pairings. One of my favorite pairings was:
Kelly: How Mentors and Modeling Elevate Informational Writing
Mentor texts plus teacher modeling equals quality student writing. When teaching writing, FOCUS! If the target lesson is about leaving spaces between words, only teach “leaving spaces between words.” Don’t teach everything in the world of writing.
Kelly’s example for the text went “something” like this as an example of what NOT to do! “Class, we are going to work on leaving spaces between words today as we write. What does a sentence begin with? Good! Yes, a capital letter. (writes The) Our next word is ‘butterfly’. Let’s clap the syllables in butterfly. How many? Yes, three. What sound does it begin with?”
If the focus is “leaving spaces between words” – that’s the teacher talk!
On mentors and models – read the book once to enjoy, then mine for craft. Use a favorite book over and over and don’t forget to use it for conventions! Here’s an example from Hank the Cowdog.
- Create a culture of Curiosity.
- Provide time for students to ask questions
- Immerse learners in fascinating informational topics and sources
- Focus on content and craft in the writing they see, hear, and produce
- “Float the learning on a sea of talk.” – James Britton
- Teach research strategies
- Teach visual literacy – First grade writing example
8. Writers Workshop Every Day
9. Make sure learners are writing all day long. Write to remember. Write to question. Write to think. Write to express yourself. Write to share your learning. In every subject area.
10. Write Using Elements from Real World Informational Texts (lists, emails, letters, notes, newsletters)
Involving Students Take Aways:
Students can set real goals and self-assess their progress toward their goals.
Students are motivated when they have control and real choices in their work.
Models and tools aid students in moving through a cycle of novice to practitioner to expert.
What are your thoughts about involving students at this point?
This summer is a FEAST of professional development for me. I had the great fortune of being accepted for two weeks of learning at TCRWP for Writing and Reading Institutes. (You can check out my public learning log under the “Recent Posts” at the right.) Next weekend I will be in St. Louis for ILA.
How are you preparing for your learning?
What information do you need to KNOW before you look at specific sessions?
Do you look for specific PEOPLE?
Do you look for specific TOPICS?
Here’s the link to the 16 page preview guide pictured above.
I used the search tool to create a DRAFT LIST of those I know that I MUST see.
Chris Lehman – Sunday, Writing from Sources is more than. . .”The Text Says”
Jennifer Serravello – Sunday, Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading
Nell Duke – Saturday, A Project-Based Place
Lester Laminack, Linda Rief, and Kate Messner – Saturday, The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Text to Teach the Craft of Writing
Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller – Sunday, Complex, Rigorous and Social: Fostering Readerly Lives
and then added in others previously marked in the program:
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan – They are authors of the book Assessment in Perspective: Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers.
Dana Johansen and Sonja Cherry-Paul – Preconference Institute – Friday, Reading with Rigor: Interpreting Complex Text Using Annotation and Close Reading Strategies
Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins – They are the authors of Reading Wellness. Check out a bit of their work here.
Kylene Beers and Bob Probst – Notice and Note and Nonfiction version to be out in October.
Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey – Many, many ELA texts involving Gradual Release of Responsibility
Other faves that I hope to see at ILA15 include: Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse – What Readers Really Do; Dr. Mary Howard – Good to Great; and ANY and ALL TCRWP folks!
Any Two Writing Teacher Slicers? – please say hello in person!
Any #G2Great chatters?
Any #TCRWP afficionados?
I’m ready to rename ILA15 as “Gateway to the STARS!” as I look at this line up of literacy greats. What great learning opportunities and I’m still at the pre-planning stage. (Maybe I will find Hermione’s secret so that I can be in at least two locations at the same time!)
Who would you add to this list?
If you are not familiar with Kylene please go to her own blog and read “About” her!
Kylene and Bob Probst are universally known for their 6 signposts for fiction from Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading. Their new book with nonfiction signposts will be out in October and those signposts are listed here.
As a speaker, Kylene is witty, charming, and down to earth. Her closing at the Teachers College paralleled her beliefs posted on her blog in March here. Kylene urged the thousands of teachers packed into the Nave at Riverside Church to examine their own belief systems.
“What do you believe?”
How would we know?
What do you stand for?
You need to have these conversations!
That question, coupled with this statement have been swirling in my brain for the last day and a half, and quite literally will not let go:
Literacy is the 21st century skill.
Not reading separated out.
Not writing separated out.
because of its role in power and privilege.
because of its role in history.
because of its role in history for minorities.
because of its role in history for women.
because of its role in history for the poor and downtrodden.
What are your beliefs?
How do we know?
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 for us to share our work. So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!
It’s the little things that make life wonderful!
Little things can seem like insurmountable objects . . .
like navigating the NYC subway system to arrive at Teachers College EARLY! I was actually more successful than navigating through my “home” deer country!
like organizing for a day run on an hourly schedule with 50 minute sesions (10 minutes to sprint to the next location) and NO time in the schedule for lunch (encouraged to pack and yes, you may eat in the sessions – ignore the signs that say no food!)
like finding your way among 4,000 friends engaged in learning on a Saturday at Teachers College
like worries about the wi-fi (had some overloads and would kick you off – How many total devices would 4,000 strong have? REALLY?)
and the ability to have a back up plan – First choice closed because you actually stopped to use the restroom? What were you thinking?
Other slicers who have posted about yesterday include:
and of course the many Tweets that emanated from the halls of the Teachers College campus. Right this minute, this tweet says it all:
What a day!
What a glorious day!
What a glorious day filled with laughter, love and learning!
(Notice how I worked on my elaboration there!)
Instead of an “All About Everything Post” the remainder of this post is dedicated to my #OLW “Focus” and will just focus on one key take away from the sessions I attended. (I promise – I will write more about what I learned. Some of it has to percolate!)
Patricia Polacco – Keynote Opening (Row 5)
“Teachers are my heroes. You devote your lives to the minds and hearts of others. What a wonderful calling”
Carl Anderson – Mentor Texts
We take the perfect text and we have to pull the curtain away. We need to love the mentor text. You wouldn’t marry someone you didn’t love. You are going to live with this mentor text day in and out. You have to know it inside and out. Work with a colleague to analyze the text. Make sure that kids will be moved by the mentor text (Not just one that you LOVE)!
Kylene Beers – Nonfiction Sign Posts
This is the picture that Kylene took from the speaker’s podium to show what the audience was doing as she displayed the slide listing the nonfiction signposts. By the way, the book will be out in October and we all had to promise to buy it! The nonfiction signposts are not ALWAYS found in each nonfiction piece of material because of the very nature of nonfiction. (more on that in another post) Here are the signposts in the order of frequency and importance:
Extreme and absolute language
Like this examples
Experts and Amateurs Words
Stats and Numbers
Contrasts and Contradictions
Again and Again
Cornelius Minor – Struggling Students
Cornelius began with an analogy about teaching skateboarding where one will fall the first 5-8 times. So he has to give you 20 opportunities to practice. “My job as a teacher is NOT mastery. Nothing will cultivate practice. Teaching sets you up for practice. Repeated practice sets you up for mastery. Engagement – how do I keep you moving! Multiple and intellectual energy to get some learning going! My job is ‘Teaching light and Practice heavy!'”
The brilliance of that philosophy!
Kylene Beers – Closing (Front Row)
Literacy is about power and privilege.
Slicer meet up at the Kitchenette! – So much fun to visit, share, decompress!
My head and my heart are both full from the learning. Much more to see and do while in NYC so “adieu” for now!
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 for us to share our work. So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!
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!
(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!
How much are your students reading? How do you encourage them to set HIGH expectations for their own reading?
(Photo: 123RF #21054105)
The Blog-A-Thon for Close Reading hosted by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts has resulted in thoughtful conversations around two words in CCSS Reading Anchor Standard #1. We are all eagerly awaiting elaboration from Chris and Kate’s book ‘Falling in Love With Close Reading‘ that will add to our knowledge. Blog posts have discussed close reading as a noun, a verb and with very specific cautions about being very careful to not destroy “the love of reading.”
So, a quick review that close reading is:
- Not every story
- Not dragging a two page story out to a week’s worth of lessons
- Not 999 text dependent questions
- Not the teacher scaffolding the work all the time
- Not the students being ‘assigned’ text to read and reread and reread
- Not a scripted procedure
- Not surface learning
- Not limited by the four corners of the page
- Not worksheets
- Not independent reading
- Not scripted lesson plans
- Not just a “school activity “
- Not isolated work with the CCSS reading standards one at a time
- Not always rereading three times
- Not . . .
In the first post for the Blog-A-Thon, Chris told us last week that:
“Close reading is when a reader independently stops at moments in a text (or media or life) to reread and observe the choices an author has made. He or she reflects on those observations to reach for new understandings that can color the way the rest of the book is read (or song heard or life lived) and thought about.”
Which words or phrases caused you to stop, pause, or reread as you read that definition?
Or (gasp!), did you tell yourself that you had already read that definition last week so you just kinda, sorta glossed over it? Did you notice any “patterns?”
Inherent in this definition is the belief that the reader will read like an author while observing the author’s choices within text, media or life. That means that the reader will probably “know and wonder” (Barnhouse & Vinton, What Readers Really Do) or “notice and note” (Beers & Probst, Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading) as he/she traces patterns from the text. Pattern tracing may evolve through the use of post-its, reading notebook entries or even on chart paper or interactive white boards. Student reflection on the meaning of the pattern would seem to be essential for “new understandings” to be constructed!
What routine(s) should be used?
The routine that the reader uses will be based on teacher instruction explicitly designed for independent application by the reader. The instructional format may include conversations about the “stance” or lens that the student is using to view the text: text evidence, word choice, structure, or figurative language. But it could also involve the lens of “character development and change over time.” (CCSS Reading Anchor #3 – Scroll down to the chart about “lonely characters and then go back to read the blog for the chart context.“) In the search for a theme (CCSS Reading Anchor #2), the lens could be the signpost “Again and Again” (Beers & Probst) or “Searching for Meaning”in Dea Conrad-Curry’s post.
Desired outcome = students independently and capably engaged in close reading of text, media and life
The path for instruction may be varied but it has to include authentic reading experiences. At times instruction may be inquiry with the teacher carefully observing students and the patterns they discover in their reading. At other points a more direct instructional framework may be Fisher and Frey’s gradual release of responsibility that includes: productive group work, guided instruction, focus lesson (including modeling), and independent work until the ultimate goal of close reading and “constructing new understanding” is TOTALLY dependent on the text and the student!
So how do we get to our final destination?
Observe the current status of our students. Provide explicit instruction that will “nudge” students to reach new understanding. Continue to “construct” meaning – not just identify it. Use the phrase, “Tell me more” instead of a barrage of questions. Sometimes the learning path will be whole class, small group or 1:1, but the journey needs to begin now. It’s 2013 and we can improve instruction and student learning as we work and learn together with a sense of urgency that will propel student thinking beyond current levels!
“We read forward and think backward, making within-text connections to notice patterns” (Barnhouse & Vinton, p.113) as we “trust student talk around texts to support our thinking goals” (p. 122). Reading, observing, talking, thinking about text, media, and life will help construct meaning and fit the puzzle pieces together!
It’s complicated! It’s messy! And close reading is definitely a big puzzle with no ONE right way to accomplish it!