My two favorite phrases from the TCRWP August 19 Reading Institute were “Thank you for coming to school today” and “Mine the resources”. Both of these were a part of Shana Frazin’s session ‘When We Know Books, Readers, and Skill Development, We Can Accelerate Students Past Sticky Points at Levels K, M, and R (3-8).”
When stuck at ANY level, we can NOT slow down our instruction to a snail’s pace. We can NOT continue to allow students to languish in levels and continue what is currently not being effective and HOPE that this time the results will be different.
What I learned this week is that teaching so students are not stuck, so students can be independent readers, so students can transfer their reading work means the teacher must be proactive in their practices. If serious about this work you will need to find a colleague and talk about those times of trouble for your students.
“Face them head on!” said Lucy Calkins in our Monday keynote in Riverside Church.
Then plan proactively.
After this week I believe there are three key areas where I can be proactive and prevent students from being stuck.
1. Skill Development. Introduce the skills of the text band complexity work during an interactive read aloud BEFORE the unit begins. What if students are beginning this thinking work during the Read Aloud where students are not focused on the decoding and accuracy work? What if we ensure that students have more practice time? What if we ante up the quality of that practice time with more judicious use of the tools in the units of study from the previous grades? And to enhance our own practices, what if we spy on ourselves as readers more to figure out which skills we use, when we use them, and how a series of instruction might go?
2. Readers. We used daily graphs, book buzzes, partners and small group work to build our community daily. We didn’t use reading inventories (the infamous Garfield one comes to mind) but instead used TALK built around just a few of those questions. Why talk? Because we are social creatures and we were also building community simultaneously. Who had a book similar to mine? Where might I go for my next book selection advice? Which person, who is not the teacher, will be that conduit? This part of building reading habits through talk seems more purposeful and critical than ever before . . . knowing the students and building that relationship. An “all in” reading life is important! And to enhance our own practices, what if we participate in adult book groups or a study group with more talk around a book that our students love and we have never read?
3. Books. We have to know books. As the Co-Director of the Classroom Libraries of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project this was an area where Shana’s knowledge and passion clearly intersected. Books are critical to student reading success and we need to know them as well as all the non-text-based reading that students do in order to build meaningful and purposeful connections. One way we did that this week was to have book baskets and baggies present every day. Access matters. As teachers we also need to consider ways for students to become experts in books. Increasing student expertise matters. We must be readers and must stay current in our knowledge of series for students because there is almost 100% correlation between series reader and lifetime reading. Increasing teacher expertise matters. Kids who have access to well-stocked, well-maintained, current classroom libraries read 50% more than others! An “all in” reading life is important to build that book knowledge and help us locate our own dependable sources of book recommendations! But do we know the books and the expectations for student understanding of the types of tasks that students will be asked to do in the grades previous to us? If not, we may need to visit that work in previous Units of Study. And to enhance our own practices, what if we shared with our colleagues all the sources that we use to stay informed about books that our students want to read, choose to read, and increase their own curiosity about themselves and their world?
As a final note, I don’t see skill development, readers, and books operating separately so I would not be writing myself a goal in one of these areas and working on them separately. Reading is complex and when all three of these factors are the layers of the instruction, student readers are the winners. Students are then able to use their knowledge to build, increase and transfer the critical aspects of their reading life to their lives both in and out of school!
Not merely regurgitation
Not just analyzing
But moving on to . . . dare I risk it? . . . innovation?
By reassembling ideas
Through some thoughtful reflection
Should I attempt it?
If you read my found poem yesterday here, you know that I did not attend the 92nd Saturday Reunion sponsored by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. But I did follow along in the TwitterVerse and even collected my re-tweets here in storify. There are about 150 Tweets there if you want to see some of the quotes, ideas, and Tweets that caught my attention.
In the interest of accuracy, this is NOT my first reporting on LEARNING when I was NOT at the conference.
My Previous Learning Via Twitter instead of In Real Life
- May 2016 – New England Reading Association (#NERA2016) in Portland, Maine
- April 2015 – #TCRWP in Paris and #NCTE and Poetry
- and that doesn’t even include Ed Collaborative Gatherings here and here
- And yes, I had a Tweet Deck column following the PAWLP Spring Day today #PAWLPARTS17
Teachers need to have many layers of skills and knowledge. They need to be EXPERTS with their content skills and strategies (Knowledge Base – the what), pedagogy (how to teach in an interesting and engaging way), design (why and how certain aspects of environment, technology, and instruction overlap) and in student development (to understand the faces/bodies in front of them each day). Which of those gets precedence on any given day?
As a teacher, it’s important for you to know and understand the skills, strategies of the standards and curricula as well as your goals for your grade level so the learning targets are crystal clear. Communication skills must be honed so that students clearly understand the purposes of today’s work and the connections that build every day to meet those end goals. However all of these are totally influenced by teacher beliefs and expectations. The teacher has to believe that ALL students can learn and learn at high levels. And what is it that they must learn?
Learning and school CANNOT be about preparation for the next grade. Grade levels assigned by century old arbitrary calendar years are not working for students. The goal in every classroom must be to prepare the students to be productive and independent citizens of the world. So that means no more points taken off for papers turned in a day late (where does that REALLY happen in the real world?), and that students need more VOICE and CHOICE in the work that is done in classrooms on a regular basis. And they also need to be risk takers, entrepreneurs, brave, empathetic, and . . .
“Wow, Fran, I was at #TCRWP and I didn’t hear any of that?”
My Take Aways from #TCRWP by Twitter:
- What do you value? How do we know? Set clear expectations for your students. Share your expectations for the students with them and then share what they can expect from the teacher. Here is one example from a reading teacher. Source: photo and tweet by Jane Losinger
Why does this matter?
This is NOT the same as My Job/Your Job. These statements share/show what you, the teacher value as a promise to the students. When I see these statements in your classroom or on your class website, I know how you will make decisions about time, resources, and even daily instruction. I can also make predictions about what I think your classroom will look like based on what you say you value! Bonus: This maters because of this Hattie result:
2. Be excited, passionate, enthusiastic EVERY minute of EVERY day!
Who knows when or which connection will work for a student? If it’s boring for you, it may also be boring for your students. You don’t have to be an entertainer and an expert at “song and dance routines”. But you do need to be reflective and consider your impact on your students. Ask yourself, “Would I REALLY want to be a student in this class?” Source: Keynote Address – Tweet by Mike Ochs
“Come to work every day like it’s your first day”—Drew Dudley
Why does this matter?
The first day of a new job is filled with excitement and wonder. Share that wonder ALL the time with your students! The students deserve your very best every minute. There really is no time in the schedule for “do overs” so make every minute count the first time. But also focus on how each student can be a future leader. Leaders are kind. Leaders are caring. Leaders are compassionate. Teach for long-term transfer. Know your class well so you can make wise, well-informed decisions that fuel your students’ passions and excitement.
3. Make the learning work visible and therefore attainable for students.
Make sure that you have a depth of knowledge about your content so that you truly understand what students need to do for the next increment of learning. That deep understanding is your own scaffold that you can later remove when students are successful. Tools that can help students reach for the sky and all those lofty expectations are critical. Source: Katie Clements tweet
“@ shares an awesome progression to help Grade 3 mystery readers lift the level of their prediction work.#tcrwp”
Why does this matter?
Students need to have clear learning targets in order to meet them. They can’t be secrets. They can’t be moving targets. Clear. Attainable. Clearly defined for self assessment because then students can figure out exactly how to improve their work in order to meet the criteria. Predictions seem like a fairly easy skill but they don’t occur in isolation and need a cycle of predicting, reading/watching/viewing, considering the degree to which the prediction was met, re-predicting (rinse and repeat) with those elements based on both explicit text references and implicit or inferred responses to the text! And to top it off a student needs to be predicting while collecting evidence to help grow other theories. Reading is COMPLICATED and does not happen one individual skill at a time!
And this bonus from Hattie:
4. Readers and Writers must be thinkers.
In your adult life are you really expected to be a “fact regurgitator”? Or are you expected to be a problem solver? A creative thinker? Source: Tweets from Mary Ehrenworth’s presentation.
“We are not looking for your first thinking, we are looking for your best thinking.”
Create reading notebook pages that open up thinking and develop thinking not tell what you already know.”
Why does this matter?
Thinking in life is not optional. The twenty first century is leaving the adults in the dust and we REALLY have no clue what jobs will be available for our kiddos when they graduate from school and move into the work force. We need to stop pretending that we have any real ideas and instead support students to make choices now. Students need a lot of practice in making decisions and being successful as well as making decisions and FAILING. That really is part of life. How we respond in the face of adversity is a true sign of our character. Let’s support students to be more cognizant of their own need to self-advocate for time, resources, and choices to increase their own learning NOW!
5. Circling back around to values – How are you going to put them into action?
What is your plan? Where will you start? What will you do? “Talk is cheap.” Time is precious! How do you make your actions match your “Professed Values”? Source: Mr. Minor tweeted by Julie Jee
Why does it matter?
Without specific actions, what will change? Keep it simple and doable. Don’t make it another form to be filled out and submitted to the accountability committee for leadership committee for change. Make it a focus for face to face conversations. Build a plan with someone else to increase your own accountability!
Ultimately . . .
I am ending with my thoughts after reading many of the quotes from Lucy Calkin’s closing. I’ve been there. Inspired. Mesmerized. Prepped for action. Ready to conquer the world. Ready to slay dragons after a day at a Saturday Reunion. And yet I can also imagine the tears shed for our beloved friend, Kathleen Tolan.
Something you believe in.
Work for change.
The Democracy in your classroom and in the world still needs your voice and the voice of your students who will inhabit this earth for many years to come!
Where will you begin?
How will we know you are using your gift of learning?
Innovation = My application of doing new things as a result of what I thought/believed I heard today in my #tcrwp Twitter Feed.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Traveling to new places
Visiting old places
Making new friends
Visiting old friends
Learning new things
Relearning things left along the way
Collecting words and images
Revisiting great words and images from the past . . .
Each day MUST involve some personal choice
As necessary as the air I breathe!
Something I choose.
To grow my thoughts!
To talk about books!
To write about books!
To find worlds to LOVE!
Do you read?
Why do you read?
If you teach readers, you MUST be a reader!
If you teach readers, you must BE a joyous reader!
Check out Donalyn Miller’s Nerdy Book Club post, “Getting on the Bus”, is a powerful read. Stop, go read it. Already read it? Go read it again! Demonstrate to yourself the power of rereading to confirm knowledge or celebrate the language.
My favorite quote:
Is this you?
If not, why not?
What’s your favorite quote? How have you shared it? How would we know?
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.