A new day. Typical. Some leaving home. Some already arriving at their destination. Snow on the mountain pass. Video from walking through the rainforest. And the ubiquitous, “Are we there yet?” Pictures of the first two arrivals at the airport: Kathryn arriving from MN and Justin from PA. They trickle in. The #G2Great Cousins are arriving from literally across the nation and within 24 hours all attendees will be present.
And then the Gala Event . . .
#NCTE17 began with celebrations divided by grade levels: elementary, middle, and secondary. The Elementary session recognized many attendees for their current work as well as their past work. First time attendees were equally applauded for their presence. The stars were aligned. Ones that I saw and or spoke to included:
Katie Ray Wood
Mary Lee Hahn
Literacy Rock Stars!
The big, big crowd was there to honor and salute the work of Katherine and Randy Bomer, who in their own inimitable style rallied us to action after Kathy Collins’ hilarious introduction of the honorees because she has known and worked with them for year. An interesting factoid is that their November interview is the most retweeted NCTE article. (link)
Critique and resistance are necessary.
What are our values in teaching? How do we translate those into practice?
In a time of resistance, what are we ADVANCING into the world?
Katherine encouraged us to:
- Meet every child with an air of expectancy: open heart, open mind with respect. Awe, wonder, and love. (Maxine Green – TC – “Humans are never done becoming.)
- Delight in students’ voices: “Does it bring joy?” “Student writing is the place where I know I am doing something meaningful.” “Best place to fall in love with student writing is in the notes you find in your room.“ From her mentors: Lucy Calkins, “Children can write, children have stories, and children can write with laser like vision”; and Donald Graves “Children will write if we let them.”
Randy shared that it’s not enough to resist. It has to be part of an action. He proposed that we advance justice and respect.
- Advancing Justice – Critical Lenses – Writing for Change
“Doing critical work is how we continually check the differences among people. How we restratify our relationships. Big concepts are: Groups, Power, and Relationships. Where do we find these in stories?” Student voice, agency, and thinking about hard things in the social world. . . Advancing more critical perspective. Reading our shared lives to see when we see something that someone should do something about – our actions, habits, and lenses.
- Advancing Respect – Appreciative Stance – Critique of Deficit Stance
“Listen to a reader to understand them. Readers come with enough.”
“No deficit perspectives.This has fueled me.” Hold up a mirror to check for an appreciative stance. Call people’s attention to injustices. DO something about them! Polarization that may have begun on internet but have moved to the street. Continue to resist injustice. “White folks are obliged to do that!”
You can hear more from both Katherine and Randy at 9:30 Friday, today, at NCTE. Or check out #NCTE17. Follow the hashtag through Sunday for the best and most important happenings from St. Louis, Missouri.
Final thought I tweeted out before we left the convention center:
“Do we tell teachers? . . .
You are enough!
You don’t need a basal.
You don’t need Pinterest.
You don’t need TpT.
You are enough.
Make decisions for the students in front of you!”
And with that the #G2Great celebration began . . .
Rumor has it that the Friday evening #G2Great meet up will include ukeleles.
How do you celebrate students?
How do you celebrate your own learning?
Who are your ELA heroes?
Focus: Informational Mentor Texts
What are informational texts?
The Common Core State Standards include the following in their definition of informational texts:
biographies and autobiographies; “books about history, social studies, science, and the arts”; “technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps”; and “digital sources on a range of topics” (p. 31).
That’s a broad range so what does that really mean? Sources that can inform your work include:
Research and Policy: Informational Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway? by Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer
6 Reasons to Use Informational Text in the Primary Grades – Scholastic, Nell Duke
The Case for Informational Text – Educational Leadership, Nell Duke
Where can I find lists of Mentor Texts?
Award winning lists include:
Robert F. Sibert Medal and Honor Books
Notable Social Studies Trade Books For Young People
Mentor Texts to Support the Writers’ Workshop (Literature and Informational Texts)
This list supports writers’ workshop. Others are readily available on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.
What about professional books to help me with Mentor Texts and Informational Writing?
There are many books that you can easily access. Some of my favorite “go to” books are here.
Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing through Children’s Literature K-8 by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Capeli (website)
The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham (Chapter 3)
Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts by Kelly Gallagher (Chapters 3 and 5)
Mentor Authors, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Essential Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard
and many grade level texts in the separate Units of Study of Writing by Lucy Calkins and friends at TCRWP.
What do I do with the books that I am considering as mentor texts?
Your number one task is to Read informational texts that you also like. And then your second task is to read these books from the lens of a writer. Identify techniques that the author uses very successfully. Third, talk with other teachers about the techniques and goals! To get started consider these helpful blog posts: A brilliantly written blog post on the use of a mentor text during a co-teaching instruction session by Melanie Meehan can be found in this post “Slice of Life Exploring a Fabulous Mentor Text” on the Two Reflective Teachers blog. Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris list “Our Top Eleven Nonfiction Books for Teaching . . . Everything!” here! Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers also have a post titled “Two Great Nonfiction Mentor Texts”. Tara Smith writes routinely about texts. “Mentor Texts” is a recent one. Two Writing Teachers: mentor text archive (You can also search any of the above blogs for additional posts about Mentor Texts!) And three from my blog archives: Reading and Writing Instruction – Paired Mentor Texts #TCRWP Day 3: Information Mentor Texts (based on Alexis Czeterko’s (@AlexisCzeterko ) Closing Workshop “Five Mentor Texts for Information Writing – and Ways to Use Them with Power”) #SOL14: Writing Techniques and Goals