Tag Archives: Language

#TCRWP: Reading Institute Day 3



Day 3 of the Reading Institute ended appropriately with friends from the What Readers Really Do twitter chat including:  one author Vicki Vinton,  Ryan Scala, Julieanne Harmatz, Catherine Flynn, Tara Smith, Colette Bennett  and myself.  Interesting side note that we all Tweet, blog and love to talk literacy and education!!!  (Missing friends Allison Jackson and Steve Peterson)

ImageMust read book!

So what did we learn during Day 3?

In Brooke Geller’s session we worked on increasing our knowledge of nonfiction, made tools (pictures tomorrow), and began our study of guided reading and book introductions.  The assessment connections have been crucial – if we don’t plan to use the information, what purpose does it serve?  One of Brooke’s specialties is asking guiding questions to make us think about our practices. Examples:  Which students really need the structure and support of guided reading? Which students need more practice reading?  Are your students over taught and under practiced?  At what grade do you end guided reading for most students and move on to other structures with more student ownership?


Our Social Studies center work with Kathleen Tolan continued today with a lesson in note-taking (Teach students so this skill transfers across all content areas. Students don’t really want to copy every word, they just lack effective strategies).  This also means that you will be teaching nonfiction text structures in order for students to think about the format of notes that will best match the material / information being studied.  We played a round of “Guess My Text Structure” which we pretty much all failed in terms of speed of response.  The purpose was to provide a bit of “playful practice” with the types of text structures in a given text where students are required to provide evidence of their structure to win.  We ended our session with more center time.  (Still loving the open-ended nature of these tasks!)


Closing Workshop with Kelly Hohne – Close Reading of Informational Text

So, close reading AGAIN, Fran?  Really?  Are you kidding me?  There was the Close Reading Blog-a-thon.  And you have all those blog posts:

But stick with me and marvel at the sheer brilliance that I saw in Kelly’s work with us during the closing workshop.

The article we used was Gorillas in Danger  and if you open it up, you can follow along on a second tab or on a split screen.

(Disclaimer:  How I think this went!)

Kelly read the title and the first paragraph. She then asked us to think about that first paragraph.  What did it say?  What were we thinking?  After chatting with a partner, Kelly invited us to study the cover photo.  What impact did that image have on us as readers?  We then went to the word box and  discussed the specific words that had an impact on us from the definition.

Next Kelly reminded us that “beginnings matter” and that we needed to put our ideas from the first paragraph, the cover photo and the definition together as we worked to “see more”.   (Wow – close reading from a Read Aloud first paragraph, photo and definition as we BEGAN reading the article.)

Kelly reread the first paragraph and asked us to think about the visual images that were conveyed by the words.  We talked about “grooming, sleeping, playing” – human-like characteristics, the lush forest and the deliberate word choices by the author to make us more thoughtful.

Kelly then invited us to reread the first paragraph aloud with her (scaffolded – we had heard it twice so we were all successful) and  continued on through the rest of that column.  As we were reading we were to also be thinking about word choice.  We discussed those words that again seemed important to us and were also deliberate choices made by the author.


Kelly did not read the entire article to us and then ask us to reread it in its entirety a second time for vocabulary, a third time for main idea and sequence of events or a fourth time for point of view/stance.  

Instead Kelly carefully chose our entry points: the first paragraph (words), the cover photo, and the definition of “conservation” to begin our “close” reading.  We discussed those separately and then collectively. Then we read orally together. Not only did we have a purpose for rereading (fluency) but also for our lens of language and close reading.

Have you seen those moves before?

We had another go at “turn and talk” about the language in the rest of the text on the first page.  Then Kelly split the auditorium into three parts.  We listened to the second page under our assigned lens which was one of these:

1. language about the gorillas

2. structure

3. language about the conservationists

We ended with even more conversation about the purpose of this article and Natalie Smith’s view of the gorillas.

Kelly pushed us to notice more details in the story with the specific “read aloud” section.  We reread with specific lenses.  We read together.  We used the word choice of the author to help us support the BIG idea of this text. The lens of language paid off and helped us “see more” as well as be something “transferable” so students owned this text and other texts!

What did our language work look like?


What new thinking/learning have you added around the idea of close reading informational text?

Closing Keynote

Jacqueline Woodson (@JackieWoodson)

“Writing about the ordinary can show kids how extraordinary they are.” She knew that she was going to be a writer by the age of 7.  It took her 20 years to be a writer and “get those stickers”. Absolutely. Hysterically. Funny! Inspiring!  and oh, so great to hear her both recite and read her work!

It’s a new day!  What will you be learning today?


What do Employers Want?

Fellow blogger Dave Stuart, Jr. published this fabulous blog post  “12 Skills the Common Core and Employers Want” on January 4, 2014. Please go read it and then come back.

Here is the book that Dave was quoting from:

college book

I am in the process of reading the book, but I couldn’t wait to get to the end before posting this!

Here’s my shortened “Cliff-Notes” version of Dave’s post that I have been analyzing for the last ten days. Did you notice which Common Core Anchor Standards were most important to employers?

Which skills were #1, #2, and #3?  Did you notice that those were all three Speaking and Listening Standards?  And the content is way beyond an obligatory, one semester “Speech” class.

Study the chart for a few minutes and notice the color coding for the Anchor Standards?  What patterns do you notice?  (ahem, a bit of #close reading required!)  Are there other standards that you would consider adding based on the full quotations in Dave’s blog?

College Table

For the 12 features, the following ELA anchor standards were listed:

    • 4 Speaking and Listening Standards (yellow)
    • 10 Writing Standards (green)
    • 4 Language Standards (blue)
    • 4 Reading Standards (white)

Is that what you expected?  Granted, some standards are included in more than one feature. In the world of English Language Arts, there are 32 Anchor Standards.  An unduplicated count above has 13 or 41% of those standards as skill areas that employers want.

Do your students have these skills when they leave your school?  Why or Why not?
Do your students have opportunities to begin to develop these skills every day in every grade?

Please discuss!

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