In kindergarten I read books about Dick, Jane, Sally, Puff, and Spot. They lived in a town with houses, sidewalks, and fenced yards. They seemed to have fun and play a lot. The girls and Mother always wore dresses and the older characters had the longer dresses. As for the guys, the Dad always wore long pants and the boys wore shorts and long sleeve shirts or sweaters. It wasn’t my neighborhood (a farm) or the way we dressed (church clothes, school clothes, play clothes). I didn’t know if the stories were real or pretend.
I was reading before I went to kindergarten so I’m not sure of the impact of the environment depicted in Dick and Jane books. I already loved books. And I dearly loved reading. School was fun, for the most part. But some of it was sheer drudgery. The silly workbooks, the round-robin reading, and reading one story a week was so . . .
excruciatingly . . .
As well as dry, dull and desperately boring. We stopped all the time to answer questions about our reading. The pacing was synonymous with a turtle and at many times, so darned tedious. But I loved books. And I loved reading. I loved reading for the windows into other worlds . . . enchanted, far away worlds! I didn’t see myself, my family or my neighbors in any of the stories I read.
But what if I hadn’t loved reading?
A groundswell exists for an elementary curriculum that includes both mirrors and windows for ALL our students.
“All students deserve a curriculum which mirrors their own experience back to them, upon occasion — thus validating it in the public world of the school.” (Source)
Are ALL of our students validated?
Last week at the #TCRWP June 2018 Writing Institute I was reading Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time to a group of third grade teachers. We were analyzing the text for “techniques” of narrative text and this book by James Howe had many. It was a new book for many of the teachers in the group, but the part that stuck with me were the brilliant words from our leader Simone Fraser:
“Read Alouds in our classrooms need to be more inclusive. It is important that ALL students are represented in our Read Alouds. We need to make sure that we read from at least ALL the bands of text that students are reading.” Simone Fraser
Broadening the definition of inclusivity.
This sounds so much like ‘common sense’, but are teachers doing this?
First, qualitatively. I am not saying you would start at Level H and read through to Level O (remembering that levels are only Teacher Tools), but do you purposefully read texts from bands that represent the students seated on the floor in front of you and that allow the students to ‘see themselves reading texts’ in your classroom?
And then a second issue, do the students actually see themselves, their neighborhoods and their cultures in the books in your classrooms? What of neighborhoods that are so homogeneous that they need to see even more diverse communities? How do you build libraries that expand the world?
As teachers decompress, plan and re-plan for those first days of school next year, I would challenge each and every one to consider how those first days of school (August or September) could be more inclusive.
What if the opening community-building Read Alouds were mirrors of the reading students did in previous years?
What if the opening community-building Read Alouds included one from each band of text – matching the students in front of the teacher?
What if the opening community-building Read Alouds were mirrors of the students and their cultures?
What if the opening community-building Read Alouds were fun, inspirational and then lovingly placed in a basket labeled “Our Favorite Books to Re-Read”?
To feel welcomed.
To feel accepted.
To revisit old friends.
To build community.
To demonstrate the value of re-reading!
To remember the excitement of that “first read”!
How do you welcome EVERY child to your reading community?
How could Read Alouds, that correspond to your students’ previous reading, build empathy and respect as well as empower and engage your students?
How could those beginning of the year Read Alouds strengthen and build upon student successes, positive attitudes and reading habits?
How are you including both mirrors and windows in your classroom book collection?
Isn’t this the “Engagement, Excellence and Equity that should be quaranteed for ALL students?
And as you are planning, remember these words from Lin Manuel’s tweet . . .
“You’re gonna make mistakes.
You’re gonna fail.
You’re gonna get back up.
You’re gonna break hearts.
You’re gonna change minds.
You’re gonna make noise.
You’re gonna make music.
You’re gonna be late, let’s GO” @
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Last August, the most difficult day of our trip to Rome was the very first day because it was not a typical day of just 24 hours. We traveled on the plane overnight. The perfect opportunity to rest. Yes, restful, if you were used to traveling like a sardine. Space between seats was extremely limited when reclined as most passengers were so inclined. At the airport it was “Hurry Up and Wait” to get baggage collected and through customs. And then the rain. All.Day.Long! The bus was always parked “just a little ways away” on this day where we had three stops scheduled but yet no “sense of the flow of travel or the schedule” on a bus with 50+ new best travel friends. Our sleep cycles disrupted, dining on new schedules, and walking, walking, walking. On this day we discovered that the “step” measurements by my siblings were not the same; however, they agreed, we walked over ten miles. Several of us had to call on every last fraction of an ounce of our stamina just to crawl into our hotel rooms. Our energy had ebbed with the waning hours, the uncertain schedule and the never ending first day of travel.
I tell that story because any new adventure brings a bit of angst. Last Monday was the first day of the August #TCRWP Writing Institute which began with a stirring keynote by Lucy Calkins for 1300 attendees, large group sections, simultaneous lunch schedule for all, small group sections and closing sections. Content may have been familiar or unfamiliar, but the intensity of the schedule both physically and mentally could also make one question one’s personal stamina.
YET have high expectations.Stamina:
Synonyms include “endurance, staying power, fortitude, strength,toughness, determination, tenacity, perseverance, grit”
Although it’s August, there are many stages of “school life” across the country: students who have been in session for over a week, those who are returning this week, those that return in the looming weeks of August, and of course those who don’t return until after Labor Day in September.
Is back to school “stamina” a teacher issue? A student issue? Both?
Already, I can hear the voices . . .”My kids can’t sit still that long.” “I can only start with five minutes.” “I’ll be lucky if they are able to sit for two minutes.”
It’s not about torture and being mean. Be realistic.
YET have high expectations!
Plan for your situation! And be purposeful!
Begins Day One.
If it’s a “Non-negotiable”, plan for how it will go on Day 1. Plan for some book exploration. Think about a soft start. Think about how your respect for your students, their time and their year will be evident in all that you say AND all that you do!
It’s not about cutesy perfectly organized classroom libraries.
It may be about having students organize the library
as they review the books.
Do you have a book bin of “Favorite Treasures from Years Past”?
It may be that the students have book baggies
that were filled at the end of the last school year.
It may be that you create book baggies for your students . . .
ready and waiting for eager hands to cherish!
When is it a physical challenge?
When is it a mental challenge?
How do we merge the two challenges?
What series of “work” will you begin on Day 1 in order to build stamina?
Begins Day One.
If it’s a “Non-negotiable”, plan for how it will go on Day 1. Plan for some small “bits of writing”. Think about a soft start. Think about how your respect for your students, their time and their year will be evident in all that you say AND all that you do!
No rushing off to buy “The First 20 Days” .
No “cutesy” worksheet of “interests to fill in.
Writing Units of Study are written to begin on Day 1.
If you change the order, read the first bend of book 1.
What habits do you need to build?
What writing of your own will you share?
When is it a physical challenge?
When is it a mental challenge?
How do we merge the two challenges?
What series of mini-lessons might you use across the day to build stamina?
Begins Day One.
If it’s a “Non-negotiable”, plan for how it will go on Day 1. Think about how your respect for your students, their time and their year will be evident in all that you say AND all that you do!
So many decisions?
When is it a physical challenge?
When is it a mental challenge?
How do we merge the two challenges?
How will your Read Alouds progress so that your students
will be independently sharing THEIR OWN Read Alouds by the end of this year?
What are your classroom non-negotiables?
How will you build your stamina?
How will you help your class build stamina?
What’s your plan?
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!)
AMAZING LEARNING continues at TCRWP!
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
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.”
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:
Letter sound ID
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?
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.
- 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?”
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!
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?”
- 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!
- 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?
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (William Shakespeare)
Read Alouds have had an important place in education and the lives of our students since Jim Trelease published his first book about read alouds in 1982 (more information about his work here). Some other names that have been used to describe read alouds include:
- Shared reading
- Close reading
- Cross text read aloud
- Interactive read aloud
What are read alouds?
A planned oral reading of a book or print excerpt, usually related to a theme or topic of study, is a basic read aloud. Typically, read alouds have been used to engage the student listener while developing background knowledge, increasing comprehension skills, and fostering critical thinking. The Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) has archives of articles (research-based) about using read alouds for engagement and comprehension.
What can read alouds do for instruction?
A read aloud can be used to model behaviors that powerful readers use to make sure that they understand the text as a reader or to understand the author’s craft as a writer. These parallel processes can provide a model for teacher demonstration/thinking to allow students to be active listeners prior to student practice of the same reading behaviors when reading their own texts in a small group, with a partner or individually. This “deep understanding” is important as the Common Core State Standards demand moving beyond literal understanding to Webb’s “Depth of Knowledge” as used in the assessments coming soon.
What format is used for a read aloud?
There are many formats that match the different names already listed above. See if one of these sounds familiar to you and also matches your goal for increasing student comprehension? In Iowa under Every Child Reads, the observable moves for a read aloud were:
- Activate students listening
- Read passage
- Elicit responses
- Conduct student application of knowledge
Planning a Read Aloud
1. Read the text as a reader first
- Spy on yourself and take notes on post-its
- Where do you react strongly?
- Where do you have a new insight?
- Where do you revise your thinking, etc.?
2. Decide if there are particular skills or strategies your class really needs to see modeled. *Check CCSS standards
- Defining vocabulary in context
- Noticing author’s craft
3. Choose the post-its that model the skill you want to model and have students practice.
- Decide what parts will be interactive
- Decide where you will pause
- Decide where you will have students turn and talk
- Use prompt sheet for support
4. Rehearse it
- Check that it “feels” right
- Check that it “sounds” right
Did you notice the subtle differences? Which one do your students need to be using themselves as they read? Increased understanding of the simultaneous processes used by powerful readers may mean a shift in your use of read alouds. What will be both efficient and effective for your students?
How does this read aloud fit into my 90 minutes of reading instruction (or 60 minutes of reading workshop)? It doesn’t under the model proposed by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project(TCRWP). The read aloud is both outside the workshop time and in addition to the workshop time! Yes, one more thing to be included in the busy school day. Reading workshop time is predominantly for student “work” with less teacher talk time! That work time is the necessary “practice and game time” for students to work through text with the coach (teacher) by their side so they can successfully accelerate through the rigor of the expectations of the CCSS.
So if a read aloud is NOT going to be a part of instruction and work time, what do I use for my focus lesson during reading workshop? At TCRWP, a mini-lesson is a part of reading workshop. Is it the same as a read aloud? What’s different? Check out the features listed in the chart below.
Mini – Lesson
|The teacher reads aloud to students in order to model and demonstrate all of the strategies that characterize proficient reading.The teacher could do a focused read aloud where one or two major strategies are popped out.A read aloud is interactive:
- Are you currently using read alouds for instruction with your students? If yes, which format is similar to the one you are using? If no, which format will work best in your classroom to provide the robust instruction that will increase student learning?
- CCR Reading Anchor 1 demands “close reading” by the students that will require explicit modeling and instruction in order to avoid being another example of “assigning” reading. Students may need some initial scaffolding with sentence frames in order to practice oral language structures for this work. Read Alouds can and should be a part of that instructional sequence! Consider how Read Alouds can help meet the goals of the other nine CCR Reading Anchor Standards!