Tag Archives: Liz Franco

#TCRWP: Day 5 Reading Institute 2015



Reading Institute 2015

Day 5 – Liz Dunford – State of the Art First Grade Reading Instruction

Purposes of Interactive Read Aloud:

  • Exposure to richer texts
  • Opportunity to model expressive and fluent reading – explaining voices
  • Supports growing repertoire of skills
    • Vocabulary
    • Comprehension
    • Speaking and Listening

Prompts that are transferable:

What ideas do you have about the book from the cover page?

Already having ideas? (preview chapter titles – if available)

Look closely at the pictures. What do you think will happen next?

So let’s think about the trouble and how they solved it?

How would you describe the characters?

What are you learning about these characters so far?

What words can you use to describe these characters?

What are the BIG important parts of this story? Retell those parts

How did the trouble start and HOW was it solved?

What lesson did the character learn?

What do the standards say about Speaking and Listening?


K- listen

1st – Take turns listening

2nd– listen with care because I want to say more


K- keep talking

1 – build on other’s talk

2 – link comments   “I also think…. But when you said . . . That makes me wonder. . .”


K = get help or clarify “I don’t understand.”

1 = ask peer for information or to clarify “What do you mean? Show an example.”

2 = gather information, deepen understanding of topic   “I see what you mean? Does that connect to? How does that fit? “

To truly learn about speaking and listening at a first grade level, study a partnership. Make a t-chart with “Strengths” on one side and “Next Steps” on the other side. Watch and listen to the interactions. Researching partners and their dynamics will help a teacher because it will provide the actions for small group, conferences, Mini-lessons, Mid-Workshop Interruptions, Partner work and shares. Everything the teacher does should be cohesive.

How do you spend your time?

If you only have 30 minutes for small groups, you must choose wisely. Build a chart. Make a plan. Time allocations might be:

Individual Conference – 5 minutes

Small group work -10 minutes

Guided Reading Group – 15 minutes

Partner Conference – 5 minutes

Look for patterns in your work.

Where are you spending most of your time?

Which student are you only seeing as an individual conference?

Is that the best use of your time?


Katie Clements – Teaching Students to LOVE complex Nonfiction

How do we ensure students are also critical consumers of nonfiction?

We watched two videos from google (Google Interview and Smart Dad) to begin thinking about the role of information in our world today. It’s changed from the world that many of us knew. (especially those of us who lived when dinosaurs roamed the Earth!)

A Series of micro – lessons for critical thinking to consider





1 Writing about reading – typically writing that matches the structure of the original text
Teaching Point- “Today I want to teach you that information readers write in order to better understand what they are learning as they read. Specifically, you can angle your writing so that it better explains the information. I could use boxes and bullets, but what’s my agenda? What can humans do to prevent or limit global warming? So I need to know the causes. And then I need to think about what anyone can do to prevent global warming and then I am thinking I need a third place to record What I can do personally so I now think a three column chart is the best way for me to be organizing my notes.”

I had to answer the question: “How I can take notes based on my agenda!!!”

“What’s my agenda?   What do I want to learn from the text today?”

“How can I write about my reading in a way that would help me capture that?”


Are sources trust-worthy?

2 (In Grade 5 or 6, this may be a whole class lesson.)

Authors will contradict or present slightly different spins on the same story– which one is true?

Global Warming by Seymour Simon

Is Seymour Simon trustworthy? Read his background. Is he trustworthy?

What parts of book should we consult? Paragraph on the author? Smithsonian as publisher?

When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca Johnson

Is Rebecca Johnson trustworthy?  How do we know?

Research – personal communications with experts

Considering qualifications: “If you have a birdfeeder in your back yard. . .” are you an expert?


How are you going to nurture a love of nonfiction texts for yourself?

How are you going to nurture a love of nonfiction texts for your peers?

How are you going to nurture a love of nonfiction texts for your students?

#TCRWP: Day 3 Reading Institute 2015

Oh, Happy Day!


My #OLW (One Little Word) is Focus!

And Focus was my goal today!

So I’m cutting straight to the chase and starting with my second session!

I literally only have two pages of handwritten notes from this session because . . .

We were working every minute!

(That could mean that I have a whole ton of photos, but remember “Focus” – no time to get side-tracked!)


Katie – Loving Complex Informational Texts

How can we accelerate students up through the levels of Nonfiction?

Today we studied the reading progressions in the new Units of Study in Reading that had their “birthday” on Tuesday of this week.  Katie modeled looking across two grade levels of the “Main Idea” study that has been our anchor this week, and then we were turned loose to choose our own progressions to review.  This was eye-opening, scary and yet, exhilarating work with collaborative opportunities to deepen our understanding as we read and discussed the content.

Our world of learning was then rocked by the three tools that Katie shared:

  1. Writing about Reading – Demonstration text written by the teacher
  2. Checklists for students constructed by the teacher
  3. Reading Toolkit pages

Then we could choose to create either Tool 1, 2, or 3.  My partner and I chose Tool 2. Checklist as we felt that would really be “beginning with the end in mind” if we constructed the checklist and then went back to write the demo text.  Here are our first drafts for our Analytical area:

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The chunk of “progressions” that this was based on is also included here:

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This is work for just one of the progressions for Informational Text with checklists drafted for students in grades 2-4.  The progressions include student expectations for 16 areas.  These grew out of ten years of work in classrooms where students were collecting post-its across a wide span of grade levels but the work did not increase in sophistication as it continued up through the grades.

Do teachers understand this work?  

Where does this fit into your current understanding of teaching reading?

Just a bit more about the Learning Progressions you see pictured above (3 strands = literal, interpretive, analytic)

  • Lays out growth over one year
  • Based on grade-level expectations
  • Written in first person, with student friendly language
  • Includes both external behaviors and outcomes and internal processes
  • Lays out 1 possible pathway for growth
  • Designed for student self-assessment (included in MWI and Shares)

Is this work that your students are already doing?

How would your propose to set up a course of study for your students to learn how to do this work with informational text?

And then we moved on to Performance Assessments. We completed the task as students where we were asked to respond in writing with multiple main ideas.  In our group, we seemed to either have a topic sentence that was a “series” or two distinctly different paragraphs dealing with separate main ideas.  “Real students” did neither so it is helpful to have our own ideas in mind but also be prepared for students to do something totally different.

Performance Assessments:

  • Eliminated skills already in Running Records
  • Included skills that are valued on state standardized tests
  • 4 main skills for each unit of study (Others are addressed but only four are assessed at the beginning and end of the unit)
  • Can be completed in one class period
  • Text used is designed for grade level readers
  • Not to assess reading level but skill level thinking so a teacher could read them to a group of students

How could these performance assessments inform the reader?

How could these performance assessments inform the teacher?

Switching gears from upper grades to FIRST grade!

Session 1

Liz Franco – UNIT 3:  Readers Have Big Jobs to Do:  Fluency, Phonics, and Comprehension 

As you can tell by the title, this unit focuses on the foundational skills.  It is targeted for readers in H – I – J band and specifically designed to build the skills and practice for students that will help them be successful as they encounter more difficult text.  We explored books in this range and found that the texts are more complex.

  • Past tense  – many irregular words
  • Figurative language – comparisons
  • Multi-syllabic – 3 syllable words
  • More complex sentences
  • Multiple phrases in the same sentence
  • More often than not – sentences are getting longer so line breaks are sometimes a scaffold but this leaves at K, L, M
  • More dialogue
  • Dialogue tags are varying
  • Fluency – read with expression to match the tags

Then we looked at running records from students to determine what we should teach.  What were the miscues?  What strategies might we try?

  • Rereading to self – correct
  • Cross checking
  • Check to see if it’s a snap word
  • Try the vowel sound another way
  • Use tools in the room (vowel chart)

And then we talked about the “HOW” for providing instruction . . . Possibilities for working with vowels:

Strategy Lessons – sounds vowels make – Readers have to be flexible – try it 2 ways

Small group shared reading

Small group word study with the vowel charts (Making/)breaking words AND THEN may make into small group interactive writing – compose something) or a Vowel sound hunt from books in their baggie

Key Point:  We aren’t convening a guided reading group of “H” students because we are going to give them “i” books.  Instead we ask:

What kind of H reader?

What supports tap into next steps?

Possible Tools:

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So, each student is provided with the instruction they need, not just marching through the levels . . .


“A student is ready for “I”, but he/she tends to karate chop words and not think about whole of text.  I will have more previewing work in my introduction.” LF

“A student is ready for “I”, but he/she tended to struggle with multi-syllabic words and not look through the words, I will put more VISUAL supports into my introduction.”  LF

“I am strategically planning who is being grouped together.  It’s not about the ‘letter’.’  LF

What small group?

What do the students need?

And how you are teaching?

So after Day 3 of this Learning Journey at the Teachers College Reading Institute, what are you thinking?

#TCRWP: Day 2 Reading Institute 2015


Session 1

Liz Dunford Franco – State of the Art Curriculum to Support First Grade Readers

We began with a study of mini-lessons in the first grade Book 1 of the new Reading Units of Study. With a partner, we read a sample, role played it and then debriefed with table groups with these questions in mind:

  • How are students engaged across these lessons?
  • What does the teacher do?
  • What does the student do?

Liz shared some tips for reading the lessons with our group. They included:

  • Use a highlighter to mark the language so you are clear and consistent.
  • Teaching Point – echo the language in the plan
  • Connection- This is where you can add your own personal touch and make it relevant but keep it short and sweet.
  • Make notes to yourself – ( My thinking – Consider a different color of post it for what you as teacher need to do or say in advance so everyone has “materials” needed.)

What does kid watching look like at the beginning of the year in first grade?

The teacher might be looking for evidence that a student is able to

Self – start

Refocus with a teacher gesture

Work with table group

Work with partner

Generate question

We talked about keeping the mini-lesson short and staying under the 10 minute guideline length for a true “mini-lesson”. Liz pushed us to think beyond just the “10 minute time limit” in order to determine where the lessons broke down. By studying “where the trouble was” in the lessons, we could see where we were losing time and avoid those behaviors.

What patterns did we see?

In active engagement, was too much time spent going back over the strategy for an extra mini-mini-lesson?

Did the Link involve reteaching instead of just a nod to the chart?

Were students being kept in the group and not sent off for additional work?

How could the teacher check in with students later (without losing time)?

Hand student a post it and then after all students are off reading,, say, “1, 2, 3 eyes on me! If I gave you a post-it, come back to the table!”

“Taking a sneak peek could be taught as an Inquiry Lesson.”

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We jigsawed sections from the 2nd book – Unit 3 Learning about World – Reading Nonfiction with the following bends:

Bend 1: Getting Smart on Nonfiction Topics

Bend 2: Tackling Super Hard Words in Order to Keep Learning

Bend 3: Reading Aloud Like Experts

A feature that I loved and tweeted out was that in grade 1, Book 2 Nonfiction, students are put in the role of teacher to do their own read alouds! (This was always the goal with Every Child Reads in Iowa: students would be able to do their own Read Alouds, Talk Alouds, Think Alouds, and Composing Think Alouds.) I also loved to hear that kids need 10-12 informational books in personal baskets or common group baskets. At this stage I am waiting to hear more about both the Read Aloud 5 day plan and Shared Reading Plan.

Possible assessments for Grade 1 students include:

Running Records

Letter sound ID

Sight words

Spelling inventories

Comprehension to be assessed through Read Alouds, talk, conference and the use of a pre-assessment to determine whether students need another bend to build up habits or a unit from If/Then before beginning the nonfiction unit.

What are you thinking right now?

What “AHAs” did you have?

Any specific connections/questions that came to mind for the non-first grade teachers?

Session 2:

Katie Clements – Embracing Complexity: Teaching Kids to Tackle and Love More Complex Nonfiction (Grades 3-6)

How can we support students in tackling and loving more complex texts?

We began with four minutes to teach about our non-fiction book with a partner (after a few tips about how to do this well). This was a great energizer for the group, as well as validating our homework assignment.

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  1. DRAFTING main idea

We began with nontraditional texts: Main idea from text and pictures combined that Katie modeled and then main idea from a video that we practiced with a partner.


  • Don’t just name a topic.
  • As you read on, hold the main idea loosely to see if it STILL fits.
  • Revise main idea as more information is added.

We watched a very short PSA video clip. First viewing: “As you are listening and watching – watch for the chunks, we will see how the chunks fit together!” We discussed.  Katie posted the three big ideas she heard and then put bullets under them. Before we watched the video again we were told to sort and rank details for a mini-debate.

As we worked on this, I tweeted out:

“Use of non-traditional texts. . . do our students know how to process/understand text that they will live with all their lives?”

Key Takeaways

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1. Revision will be necessary in complex text.

2.  I believe we have a moral obligation to teach students how to do this complex work with the texts that they are using in their lives. This means students will need to learn how to do this work independently!

New Tool:


Katie shared some ways that this tool was used in a fifth grade classroom and we brainstormed some additional ways that it can be used. As I read my homework assignment, I watched to see if these areas were also “complexity issues” in my book.   Much potential here!

How do you teach main idea in nonfiction text?

What makes it complex for kids?

Does it get “messy”? 

Kathleen Tolan – Closing Workshop

Groups and Maximizing Student Growth

Key Takeaway:  Small groups for all – not just struggling readers!

How can we get a routine for ourselves so we “know how it is going to go?

 We need to take interventions to mastery instead of introduction so students get reading practice and their work can be lifted. Because growth takes time, we need realistic strategies. Anything that is hard takes practice. Name it for yourself. Put the work into your daily schedule so the students can do it again and again and grow.

Kathleen share some of the frustrations of planning for small groups.

  • Sometimes it takes 45 minutes to plan for one session.
  • And then the lesson doesn’t go the way we want it to.
  • The students aren’t doing well.
  • There is no magic fairy dust to sprinkle on the students!

What would it be like to plan for the increments along the way?

Small Group Session 1:  Small groups should NOT be using new material. You will need to go back to the exact space in lesson plans. RETEACH! Don’t do a big demo or Think Aloud!  Instead invite the small group to “co-create the original lesson!” This allows you to turn the work over to the students quickly and also see which parts of the original lesson stuck with the kids!  This way within minute two of a small group, students are at the. “Open your book and now you do it!” stage.

Coach! Coach! Coach!   Coach!

All of us do it together quick and then to transference.

Link – add in when we will meet them again! Put on schedule to make sure it is included. Check in is short – 10 sec.

Small Group Session 2:  Reread from Read Aloud

Redo what you did last time or shared writing from last work. Take this into your own book. Read – your 5-7 min. are up. But they are still there “DOING” the work!


Students don’t need us there for repeated practice. Leaning happens when you are not there! Set them up and give them tools!

Small Group Session 3:  We are working on envisionment. Go, work.

Our goal is not to talk all the time. Use progression on envisionment and write around the post it, naming the work.  When we use the progression, make sure you teach down all the way through that level and then teach one thing that leans into the next level.  Be realistic.  If a student is at level 2, don’t expect them to immediately jump to level 4.

Give one tip.

Students doing the work!!!

Repeat coaching one more time!

  • Small Groups – set 2 groups up. Move faster! Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t sit as Teacher! You will move faster! After 5 min. move on!
  • Need internal sense – Need to reset our clock!
  • Tangible tools. What can you leave behind?  What’s important?
  • If we introduce tools that go across content areas, look at the amount of practice students will have!

What is your routine for small group work?

Who do you work with in your small groups?


Mary Ehrenworth – Keynote

Remembering Grant Wiggins: Innovating “Teaching for Transference”

Mary shared that this session was the result of collaborative work from the TCRWP staff. Students in school need less drill and more scrimmage because feedback varies. Feedback in skills and strategies are “can you do them?”  In scrimmage feedback is likely to be, “How are you doing with them on your own?”

  1. book to book – Piggy book – Work you can do in any book

(characters in books are more than one way (strengths and flaws) Your opinion is more valuable when allow for nuance and acknowledge there are some troublesome parts!

  1. Book to book – (Characters with strengths and flaws)  Maddie and Tae – “Girl in a Country Son”

“What’s the most important thing?” Sorting and ranking made discussions stronger.

“What’s the next important thing?”

“What makes you say that?”  Don’t just nod your head.  Ask “Why is that important?”

3. Transference to another text – history text – Schoolhouse Rock – Elbow Room

(Strengths and flaws, Power and disempowerment)  Stems you might use are

“While it’s true…”  “Nevertheless…”

4.  Inside / outside school Transfer

Mary shared that she and Cornelius Minor will have a JAL article next week that included close reading of sports event that allowed students to “read their lives”.  Our goal should be to nurture transference form one book to another, from one reading experience to another, and from one reader to another.  How often do we feel like we are around the campfire having fun? Don’t want to leave the story?

How do you teach for transference?

#TCRWP: Day 1 Reading Institute 2015


This was what I expected the streets of New York to look like after hearing Lucy Calkins call to action at Monday’s Reading Institute at Riverside Church (The Doors and “Light My Fire” were a part of my picture – No, not teachers setting fires! See why we can’t allow “personal connections” in the CCSS!).  One story was about camping and “This Little Light of Mine” and yet her passionate plea to the 1300 teachers, administrator, authors and leaders from 40 nations and 42 states was to notice the detail in story and in our lives in order to find the learning!  Quotes from “the Dons”, Georgia Heard, and Susan Boyles provided a back story for

“I hope that you are on fire as a learner and teacher of reading.

Learn from the whole of your life!

What you do in hard times tells a lot about you as a reader!” Lucy Calkins (june 29)

The reality was more like this as we surged through the streets back to campus.

fire two

How are you going to embrace trouble and be on fire as a learner?

How are you going to be a “Star Maker” in your organization?


2015 Reading Institute 


Session 1:

1st grade – Elizabeth Dunford Franco  – State of the Art Curriculum to Support First Grade Readers

We had the good fortune to explore excerpts from the new reading units of study.  In first grade Unit 1 is “Building Good Reading Habits”.  Teachers currently using the Writing Units of Study will appreciate the familiarity of the structure of the new reading texts.  A new piece is the growing anchor charts that thread across each bend and unit with “pre-made” pieces.  Liz had us all repeat an oath that we would NOT laminate the post-it pieces.

The three areas of focus for “Developing Readers Across the Year” in grade 1 are:

  • Word – Solving
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension

Liz shared that time is spent discussing that habits are what people do automatically without any reminders, so students will draw on their learning from kindergarten as they build habits before, during and after reading.  If the goal at the beginning of the year is to “Start Off Strong, students will need to:

  • Read a lot
  • Practice re-reading a lot


That means that teachers will need to plan for predictable problems and we were off to work.  We identified possible problems and strategies/tools to aid in these areas:

Engagement / Independence

Stamina / Volume

Partnership Routines

Here is an example of a tool we created to help partners with taking turns.

Mini-chart Partner Take Turns Speak & Listen

We were thinking that this could be a two-sided card with speaking on one side and listening on the other.

What would you create to help first graders with Engagement / Independence, Stamina / Volume. or Partnership Routines?

Session 2

Katie Clements – Embracing Complexity: Teaching Kids to Tackle and Love More Complex Nonfiction (Grades 3-6)

In what ways are nonfiction texts complex?

Research notes:

Nell Duke – Fewer kids are signing up for science class or science majors, due to complex NF texts and they don’t have skills / to read them.

1992 – over last 60 years the complexity of science texts has increased.

ACT – clearest differentiation is ability to read complex text

Richard Allington – Students reading of NF peaks in grade 3 and plummets afterwards

What is “Complex Text”?

Webster – A whole that is made up of complicated and interconnected models.

What are some of the factors of Text Complexity?

  • word level (words in text, how frequently used, whether unique, length of word)
  • sentence level (structure, length)
  • structure level  (one simple conventional or multiple in text)
  • meaning level  (abstract or not as clear)
  • knowledge demands (Is the content familiar? Are there allusions to current events?)

What are some quotes about text complexity?

Vicki Vinton – “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Stephanie Harvey – “Complexity resides in what’s not written.”

Mary Ehrenworth – “Complexity is not equivalent to difficulty.”

So what do teachers need to do?

  1. Build up Background Knowledge  This is critical when students lack knowledge in content. They will revert to reading pictures because text is too hard.

Mini – lesson Possible Teaching Point

“Today, readers, I want to teach you that when researchers find the texts on a topic are just too hard to read, they can get some other texts that are way easier. If you read an easier text first- really studying the words, the ideas, so that you master them – those easier texts can give you the prior knowledge you need to handle the hard texts.”

2. Deepen knowledge of genre –

Give students more knowledge of the nonfiction genre.  Tell them the names of the craft being studied so the secrets are unveiled! Specifically teach the language of the genre to students.

Complex nonfiction texts are a lot like snowflakes – no two are alike!

Our continued work:

What are the ways the text gets complex?  What are the strategies that we can use?

The Explicitness and Complexity of Meaning/Central Ideas and/or Author’s Purpose

  • the number of ideas
  • the explicitness (implicitness) of the ideas

Language/ Vocabulary

  • familiarity of words , multiple meaning words – and then use secondary meanings
  • easy definitions in understandable words

Structure (including text features)

  • number of structures
  • Signals that structure is changing

Knowledge Demands

  • the amount of prior knowledge a reader is expected to bring
  • the degree of support the text provides
  • the amount of information the reader is supposed to absorb

Read some nonfiction text. What makes it easy?  What makes it difficult?

Closing Workshop

Developing Fluency and Understanding Figurative Language in Longer Books: Getting to Know a New Unit of Study – Brianna Partlisis

The “Fluency” work in the second grade units is based on the work or Tim Rasinski and involves the 3 P’s.

1. P – Phrasing – how you scoop your words together so not one word at a time.


What sounds right?

Try multiple ways.  Have the students mark up text, try it out and then try another way using wiki sticks (session 3).

2. P –  Prosody – matching expression!

Expression/Voice should match characters.  If a boy and Dad, they should sound different!

3P – Pace


Just right pace – session 5

Goldilocks connection

You do want students to be aware of this – NOT too fast, too slow, but just right!


Session 1 – reread aloud and in your head!


We read parts of our book again and again,

We read parts of our book again and again,

We read parts of our book aloud and in our head.

Understanding Literary Language

K L language – Metaphors, similes, idioms, homophones

“Sizzling like a hot potato” means . . . . .

Why would an author use that specific phrase?

This content seems to work best when aligned with poetry!

How are you explicitly teaching fluency, rereading and literary language?

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