Check out the links to other DigiLit Sunday posts at Margaret Simon’s blog here.
Craft: What is it?
A woodworker has many tools that may range from hand tools like chisels. planes and mallets to power tools like saws, drills, and presses that can aid the process of turning out finely crafted projects.
Is the craft in the “Doing” or is the craft in the “Final Product”?
In writing there are many sources of craft. Some of my favorites are:
Lester Laminack, and
Stacey Shubitz to name just a few.
So many sources of craft information exist. Do I need craft information along the way as I draft or do I need the information as I revise and improve the clarity, anticipate a reader’s questions, and add additional information to make the work more interesting? I believe that writers need both skills. The more that a writer knows and anticipates in the drafting process, perhaps the revision will become less burdensome.
What is a teacher to do? Where should the teacher begin?
Many strategies and craft moves can be and are taught, but at some point the choices used by writers will come down to the individual authors. Strategic use of those moves needs to fit within the piece of writing that the author has undertaken. A wide repertoire of moves that fit into a grade level range of writing will come from mentor texts. Those mentor texts are often published texts, teacher written texts or student written texts. What a student will use will depend on the applicability to this piece. Teaching students to “self-assess” and even to “self-reflect” on their use of craft will be important. That’s one of the reasons why I believe these items in a fifth grade opinion writing checklist that students can use are absolutely critical!
Writers make many decisions as they draft and revise about their own writing. Tools with visible examples that students can use when talking about their writing or matching to a checklist or a rubric will put the power of writing choices in the hands of students.
Have you equipped your students to be able to make their own decisions about writing craft? What low-tech and digital tools have been helpful?
How do you make decisions about your own craft moves in your writing?
What did participants hear Lester Laminack say @IowaASCD at their #FallInstitute2015?
What do these have in common?
Golden Girls theme song,
Literary giants: Ken & Yetta Goodman, Jerry Harste, Donalyn Miller, Reba M Wadsworth, Katie Wood Ray
Authors: Ezra Jack Keats, Abby Hanlon, Cindy Ward, Linda Oatman High, Meg Kearney, Julie Brinckloe, Leo Lionni
Books: Ralph Tells a Story, Apt. 3, Cookie’s Week, Beekeepers, Trouper, Fireflies, Fish is Fish
Peeks / Previews: Three Hens and a Peacock, Moving Day, The Leaving Morning, Snow Day!
The number of books by Eza Jack Keats with Peter as a main character? (7)
What do they have in common? Lester!
(Lester Laminack – In case you know multiple Lesters!)
Where was I?
. . . In a land where learners were not to raise their hands to garner attention but were still expected to LEARN.
. . . In a land where KIDS were first and foremost.
. . . In a land where adults were mesmerized by storytelling.
. . . In a land where “Movie Reads” (AKA first reads) were like gold.
. . . In a land where “sitting perfectly still” was NOT required.
. . . In a land where THINKING was required (not optional)!
. . . In a land where conversation is buzzing about a Summer Read Aloud Festival!
But what did I learn?
And how am I going to use it?
Well, the content in this book is SOOOOO insightful!
Reading and writing are reciprocal skills, or as Lester says “opposite sides of the same coin”. This book is about more than just mentor texts because it answers the question “WHY do we need to study and use texts?” As an example, Lester recited the opening lead from Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.
“There was once a small boy called Wilfrid Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and what’s more he wasn’t very old either. His house was next door to an old people’s home and he knew all the people who lived there.
He liked Mrs. Jordan who played the organ. He listened to Mr. Hosking who told him scary stories. He played with Mr. Tippettt who was crazy about cricket. He ran errands for Miss Mitchell who walked with a wooden stick.He admired Mr. Drysdale who had a voice like a giant. But his favourite person of all was Miss Nancy. Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper because she had four names just as he did.”
Not just a “party trick”
Instead this was a demonstration of the power of a well-crafted text when the lead was incredibly effective. When do leads work? When do they not work? Teachers need a deep understanding of leads as both a reader and writer. Using Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge as a mentor text might have students imitate the beginning in their own text. But how would a teacher REALLY know that any one student or the whole class really had a deep understanding of what they read or wrote?
AHHH! . . .
So the goal is NOT to just write a lead like Mem Fox’s!
Not just imitation!
So then what is the purpose of using mentor texts?
There are several purposes, but it’s not just about “copying a craft move” into personal writing. Using a mentor text is about studying and loving that text as a reader in order to fully understand and appreciate the care and attention that the writer has given to the work. The “depth” of the qualities of the literature allow for multiple rereads or visits to the text in order to both admire and study the words, paragraphs and story. It’s the reason that the literature may transcend time and cause us to revisit an “old friend”.
Using mentor texts is also not about just reading one text and then turning around and using that text as a model for an “activity” that involves writing. True workshop writing means writing day after day, developing, growing and naming those moves discovered from reading that are now a part of writing craft. But that takes time and study – multiple books, multiple reads, talk, and thinking. Not just being told in a mini-lesson to “Do this!”
What does that sequence look like?
Lester Laminack said it begins with a “Movie Read” of a carefully chosen “Best Friend” book. A book that the reader loses himself/herself in and becomes a part of the story. A book that students must hear the whole book!
Then parts of the book may be revisited with students asking questions. Students may go in search of other examples . . . text structures, meaning, story elements . . . but moving beyond a surface look to a deep study involves time, purpose and attention to how reading the book enriches one’s own life. Reading, talking and thinking!
It’s not a new book every day. It’s a planned, deliberate sequence that ends with students being able to revise and improve upon a description or substitute a “telling” for an inference. It’s work but yet it’s fun without artificial motivation (punishments?) because students have stories they are bursting to tell and real audiences who can’t wait to unwrap those stories.
As teachers, we need to be more planful in our use of Read Alouds. We need to carefully study the texts and consider how they can inform our instruction. Use precise language. Check in on students’ schema and background knowledge. Don’t stop when students have cows with “fish bodies”!
Read! Write! Think!
Be true to students and their needs!
K – I – D – S!
Videos of Lester and Reba talking about their book here.
Tweets from the @IowaASCD #Fallinstitute2015 are archived here.
(First draft / Round One of my thinking from a day with Lester Laminack!)
Today is dedicated to learning with . . .
the co-author of
the incredibly talented and witty
What will we learn?
How to flip Read Alouds into Writing Opportunities!
Text Structure and Organization
- Problem and Solution
- Compare and Contrast
- Cause and Effect
- Determining Importance
- Making Connections
- Plot (with attention to conflict and tension)
- Perspective and Point of View
and along the way we will laugh, talk, and celebrate students because writers ARE readers and today is @IowaASCD’s Fall Institute. A perfect learning day!
“The focus of Writers ARE Readers: Flipping Reading Instruction into Writing Opportunities is to deepen our understanding of what we expect of readers, what we teach readers to do, how a reader’s insights can be the pathway into a more thorough understanding of writing, and how we as teachers can flip those insights to lead students into a more robust understanding of what it means to be literate. We pursue the notion of helping students recognize reading and writing as mutually supportive processes to make their developing leteracy more meaningful and efficient” (p. viii).
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.
What messages am I hearing every day at #ILA15?
Ask students what they need
Data is more than a number
What treasures remained from Saturday’s sessions at #ILA15?
1. The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing
Ruth Culham, Kate Messner, and Lester Laminack
Mentor texts in the form of fiction and nonfiction picture books provide teachers with a powerful teaching strategy to help students of all ages learn to write. Good models come in many forms: picture books, chapter books and everyday texts that allow students to study craft techniques in order to create their own strong writing using the writing process.
Ruth Culham shared some of her beliefs about mentor texts that are elaborated in Writing Thief. She read Bully to us as we focused on the reader’s view and then had us “re-read” paying attention to the author’s craft and studying the writing as an author.
She also shared a video from the author about the book. Her text includes Author Insights from: Lester Laminack, Lola Schaefer, Nicola Davies, Toni Buzzeo, Ralph Fletcher, David Harrison, and Lisa Yee.
Kate Messner shared her writing mentors: Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. They taught her how to read like a writer and how to find mentors on her own bookshelf when there were not live mentor authors in her hometown. Kate also shared that her own daughter knows how to find mentors. Merely by asking, “How are you doing that?” she found her own hula-hoop mentor. We should use that question with students and encourage students to query authors using that question to grow their own knowledge of the skills and strategies that authors use. Kate reminded us that mentor texts are found in the books that we love, so students who are readers will also have the background necessary to be a writer!
Lester Laminack wants Read Alouds to be FUN for students. He does not want every Read Aloud to be an “interactive read aloud” and even said that you can only “unwrap” the gift of a book once – let kids get lost in the story the first time. Lester is fun, funny and literally pulls no punches. My favorite quote was that “Read Alouds should be like drug dealers: deliver a little somethin’ somethin’ today, then come back tomorrow and deliver a little more somethin’ somethin’ on a schedule.” Showing up, delivering, creating a deep need and continuing to meet that need.
Read Alouds feeding the soul.
Read Alouds helping students grow.
Read Alouds for fun.
Take Away: Mentors are all around us: books, authors, teachers, and yes, even students! Choose and use wisely!
2. In Defense of Read-Aloud
Steven Layne literally had to stop his presentation to wipe the tears, from laughter, from his own eyes. Steven provided an overview of some of the instructional highlights from his book. Chapter one, In Defense of Read Alouds, is basically an overview of Why Read Alouds are needed. This is one of two slides listing benefits.
Launching a book requires intentional planning. Teachers carry an invisible backpack that includes their schema, but care needs to be included in developing schema with students. An example that Layne used was The Giver which would need two and a half 40 minute class periods to launch WELL! It’s a complex text.
The shared letters were my favorites, letters and responses to:
Witless in Walla Walla
Addled in Anchorage
Troubled in Telluride
Crazy in Calabasa
And if you are relatively new to Read Alouds, you may want to check out chapter 4, “The Art of Reading Aloud”.
Take Away: All students deserve carefully planned Read Alouds that introduce them to all genres of texts in order to find personally loved texts.
3. Accountability, Agency, and Increased Achievement in Independent Reading
Hundreds of teachers attending a session at this hour of the day on the first full day of the conference? REALLY?
Yes, it’s true!
Jennifer Serravallo masterfully led us through some possibilities for instruction and conferring to meet student self-chosen goals. With accomplishment of these goals, students will also increase their motivation to read and their student reading growth.
How much time is spent on reading?
Do classrooms have books?
Great questions that can jump start student reading!
I love this look at Hattie’s rating scale. It’s a great visual to remind us of the importance of that .40 effect size lynch pin (the light blue area). Kids need to read a ton but with goals and feedback they will be successful. Jennifer referenced some of the visuals from her book.
As with her previous texts, Conferring with Readers, Teaching Reading in Small Groups, The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K-2 or 3-5, I knew this was a great book but I have an even greater appreciation now that I understand the depth of care and attention given to each of the strategies.
I also believe that we need to “Teach strategies based on student needs – not just off of Pinterest randomly”. And the fact that we need to use common language in our buildings that matches the assessment language was clearly explained with “not slip and slide that may have come from Pinterest.” We must work on consistency of language in our classrooms for STUDENT success, not just because “I like this idea that I found somewhere”! Student learning is at stake!
Prompts fit these basic five categories. Do you know the differences?
- sentence starter
When and why would you vary your use of these five types of prompts?
This is a great text that is going to be so helpful for teachers!!!
Take Aways: The goal of strategies is to learn the skill so well that the reader uses the strategy automatically on a regular basis! Students must be a regular part of goal setting!
Many sessions still remain at #ILA15. Did you attend any of these sessions?
What would you add?
What are you hearing at #ILA15?
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?
I can’t really believe that I’ve been back from #NCTE14 for two WHOLE weeks! Wow! Turkey Day and back to work with a vengeance. What to do before the holidays hit?
I found some time to work on another view of my first time attendance at NCTE. It involved a new use of Zoom. Still in draft/learning mode, but I wanted to share what this could look like!
So what have I used? My Top 10 Quotes in the order of frequency of use! This video should give you an idea about the topics I have been working on / using during the last two weeks! (It was also in response to a challenge from @davestuartjr – another virtual and now face to face friend!)
What are you doing differently since #NCTE14?
How are you sharing your learning?