Labor Day weekend has come and gone. All schools are in session. Some have been for a week or so. Others have over a month in. It’s that time of transitions. No more “wearing white”. Getting out the college football colors and fall clothes. Trying to prep fo hot weather in un-airconditioned buildings.
I remember kindergarten in a country school. It was less than four miles from our house. Easy access. A true neighborhood school. The old “be careful what you wish for” as it was a small building and classes were combined. I loved that I was allowed to read. I hated that we wasted our time on silly worksheets and coloring pages and so much Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff. Their lives didn’t match our rural farm lives.
And then first grade was in town. In an addition to the school. First grade with other first grade classes. First grade where I could only read books off the first grade shelf in the library. First grade where I read all the books by the end of the first quarter. First grade where my teacher tore up my page with a red sun, a purple sky and green flowers. That wasn’t her picture. First grade where it didn’t matter what I needed or wanted to learn. First grade where I was going to conform. First grade where I was sick. A lot. first grade where I can still remember the number of tiles on the bathroom walls, the floor, and even the ceiling.
First grade when I hated school.
Hated the Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff stories that I already read the year before. They were awful the first time. They were an even bigger waste of time the second time around. I didn’t excel at coloring inside the lines. I wanted the task to be done. I wanted to be able to read, write and draw. Creativity was not prized. My pictures never made the wall. I know exactly how Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik felt when her teacher gave her an F for her free verse poem and this poem by Robert Gianni was praised.
“I have a dog whose name is Spot.He likes to eat and drink a lot.When I put water in his dish,He laps it up just like a fish.” *(Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry)
Which school better met my needs?
Access and Equity matter. All students need access to quality education. Equity is huge. The books that I was mining this holiday weekend are here. There are many others I could have consulted, but these were at the top of my stack!
What’s our goal?
If it truly is to “grow readers and writers” – students who want to read, who do read, and who love to read – kids need access to books. That’s an equity issue whether the school doesn’t even have books – due to their zip code! Or because the students have a new teacher and of course there is NO classroom library set up magically waiting for new teachers!
And then time to read glorious books. Self-selected books. Books that match their interests! Books that make sense to them!
Literacy for ALL . . . What does that mean?
Communicating as a priority. Classrooms not existing as rooms of silence!
Books that reflect the composition of the classroom and the communities around the world. No more “Boy Books” or “Girl Books”! Has you thinking been challenged?
A focus on learning NOT assessing.
The real tangible goal. Are ALL students progressing? Are all students learning self-assessment? Are students developing their own goals and agency? Are students transferring their literacy work to other content areas? What are your students telling you? Do they love learning? Are they curious?
Here are a few of the quotes I’m still holding onto . . .
How did you grow your knowledge and skills this summer?
What are you still wondering about?
What questions do your need answered?
What quotes would you add?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
That big star? Always in the North?
Easier to see out in the country
Away from “city” lights
Easily 100 carats bright
A stationary beacon.
It was a lab extra credit. We took turns looking through a telescope. But we really liked the view from the quilt on the ground. The sky sprinkled with twinkling lights was mesmerizing. And the “city slickers” slowed down to observe just a bit of nature. I didn’t want to be there. The ground was hard. It was late. A book was surely calling my name.
Read me. Read me.
But the uncertainty of whether I needed the extra credit made me linger. I knew my lab partner probably needed my points as well. That night – a peaceful view, a bit of learning and the company of friends and classmates.
I knew this. I didn’t have to be there. But it was Easy. No challenge No stress. Just time, a different location, and an opportunity for an out of the ordinary instructional experience.
There’s something magical about the North Star. I’m not sure if it’s the “constancy”, the fact that it doesn’t move, or just the symbol that guides us that sparks my curiosity (#OLW18).
What is your guiding star?
One of mine is my insatiable need to continue learning… and reading …and writing … I’m currently stuck on E’s
and these quotes from our #G2Great chats:
My current North Stars – my source of direction comes from:
What is your North Star?
Where does it come from?
What sustains it?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
What is essential in literacy instruction?
How do you know?
Is this something you were taught?
Or is this something you have learned?
As you can see, “curious”, my #OLW is already in play for 2018. It sits on my shoulder daily encouraging me to wonder about new and old issues. So let’s take up “essential”.
What does essential mean?
“1. absolutely necessary; indispensable:Discipline is essential in an army.2. pertaining to or constituting the essence of a thing.3. noting or containing an essence of a plant, drug, etc.
4. being such by its very nature or in the highest sense; natural; spontaneous:essential happiness.” Dictionary.com
Why this book?
What additional information is available?
“”…without that culture of joy and celebration of strengths…we are never going to get our students where they need to be and where they want to be.” @ talks about her new book, Literacy Essentials:”
What makes this book so appealing?
- The format of the book.
The three big “units” are Engagement, Excellence, and Equity.
You CAN begin with any of those sections. They are very well cross-referenced so that you can dip into the pieces that you need!
2. The format in the chapters.
There’s a conversation with Regie with facts, questions, and anecdotes that illustrate the point. Then there is a detailed “Take Action” section. This is repeated multiple times in each chapter which has endnotes for a closing. A single teacher could choose actions to make changes in their classroom. A group of teachers could choose actions to make changes in their building or district. The possibilities for thinking teachers are endless.
3. The teacher in the book.
Calm, practical, thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations. Not a bunch of “mumbo jumbo” from publishers, test-writers, or those who have not been in classrooms recently or perhaps . . . EVER! Real solutions that will NOT add hours to your day. Real solutions that you can advocate for. Real solutions that will bring joy back into your life!
Not yet convinced?
Join the #G2Great chat Thursday, January 11th. Be a part of the conversation or listen in – whichever role is most comfortable for you. Listen in to hear the essence of the text, the indispensable actions, the natural, spontaneous actions that can bring JOY back into your teaching life. Then consider your next steps!
Why does this matter to me?
I remember meeting Regie at a Regis Literacy Institute in the late 1980’s or early 90″s. She was the first real live, up close and personal “edu-hero” that I ever met. She was so kind, so thoughtful and so willing to talk to me even though her coffee was growing cold in the cafe and I was totally interrupting. She’s a teacher. She’s a leader. She’s a reader. She’s a writer. Regie’s amazing!
What professional reading do you have planned for 2018?
What books are you “curious” about?
Where will you begin?
By Sunday the air is bittersweet. Farewells begin. Last conversations are passionate pleas to capture frantic final minutes. Choices are final. Options are few. Time races. No second chances to catch folks as flight departures begin before the sun is above the horizon.
And yet, gems . . .
“What is Authenticity?
Is it the same when viewed with a student lens?
How do we know?”
L. 30 Prioritizing Student Voice: Honoring Independence, Identity, and Advocacy as the Cornerstones of Learning
And from the #G2Great family:
- Samuel Fremin @The Sammer88
- Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson @kkht6912
- Susie Rolander @suzrolander
- Justin Dolcimascolo @jdolci
- Kara Pranikoff @pranikoff
Sam Fremin began with asking us to not constrain student’s creativity! He told us the story of having a two page limit to an assignment that meant he had to cut almost everything out of his original seven page response.
What is the purpose of a two page maximum assignment?
What is your response to a “page limit”?
Is that indicative of the teacher’s attention span?
Sam contrasted that with this year’s AP Lang course where they were to “Write about something important to us” as they compared and analyzed two essays. As a 15 year old, Sam, who likes The Onion wanted to write a satire about “Discrimination not really being that bad” and through multiple conversations with his teacher, worked out the details and “used a display of writing that I will never get to write again. I displayed my need to try that voice.” And the teacher, even though she wanted a tight rein on the expectations, did participate in a two-sided discussion that allowed Sam to write his satire!
And then Sam’s role (as a high school junior) was to continue to introduce each of the panel members. Such poise and great presence for a high school junior and one of the #BowTieBoys! (Sam blogs here.)
We also learned that advocacy for Native Americans is important because Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson shared a US map with reservations marked although only 22% of Native Americans live on reservations. Kathryn teaches at an Ojibwe school so she is very cognizant of appropriate language and respect for cultures. Awareness may be a great first step but Kathryn also encouraged us to be aware that work barely scratches the surface of working with folks who have different beliefs and values. How do Ojibwe students want to be named? When do we ask?
Susie Rolander shared that we need to let student input drive our work. This means we need to revise and renew our professional practice. (A plug for Coppola’s book – Renew!) It’s a Journey! But for students who are struggling there does need to be a Sense of Urgency! And that this meant as an interventionist, Susie wanted her students to be independent. “I don’t know what I would do without you!” from a student was not what she wanted so one big action in her productivity plan was to move to student goal-setting so the students themselves would know if they were meeting their goals. Their goals. Not teacher goals.
Justin had us begin by completing this statement: “I am _____”
I am a:
Am I real? Do my students know my many roles? Do other staff know our roles? Justin shared a “I am” board created in his school.
Justin’s parting challenge was to consider equity and how we build our identity every day of our school lives so that we are not just working on career education in high school. Instead of “What do you want to be?” in terms of a career, Justin said we need to shift to “What great problem do you want to solve?”
Kara Pranikoff, author of Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation, closed out the presentation with thoughts on how to use talk in the classroom to increase student engagement and agency. And also, “Deep thinking takes time, we’ll wait. Take your time.” Students set the pace. As an instructor at Bank Street College, Kara and Susie routinely invite their students to Twitter chats!
M. 24 Rekindling Our Teacher Hearts and Minds to Reclaim Our Sense of Agency and Purpose
(Ellin Oliver Keene, Vicki Vinton, Donna Santman)
What is the purpose of education? Which of the four statements matches your thinking?
What do you value?
” We overestimate children academically and underestimate them intellectually.” ~Lillian King
Shout out to Regie Routman:
Resources will often dictate practices. (from Read, Write, Lead)
“However, we NEED to begin with Beliefs first, then our Practices, and then choose Resources that align LAST!”
Beliefs and Practices – Donna Santman @dsantman
What made your current school a match for you?
When Trouble Starts:
What do you do?
What flexibility will be required of me here?
And how will I respond when trouble happens?
Our core beliefs about children;
Our core beliefs about ourselves.
We are humbled in the face of children;
We are humbled by our children.
There has been a huge language slide in our country.
How do we convert deficit language to asset language?
Check out the asset mapping resources on Ellin Keene’s website Mosaicliteracy.com
N.O8 Redefining Authenticity: Empowering Student Ownership
(Do you know their Twitter names? @acorgill @katiedicesare @ruth_ayres @coloreader)
I was expecting to be blown away by Ruth Ayres because I can’t stop talking about her new book just out, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. It’s an amazing personal heart-wrenching narrative about her children who struggled with life and then also a “how to” deal with teaching writing. And yet all three of the other panel members complemented that presentation.
Skills and dispositions for writing are the same for real work. We have to get the heart right. Students need to write. Yes, kids are afraid! Writing is where I can help kids see the different ways a story can go.
If we have authentic writing projects, teachers cannot make all these decisions. Students need some choice and voice. This is NOT a free-for-all! You don’t have to leave ALL open! But you must leave SOME open!
How do you ensure that students have an authentic voice?
How do you know that students REALLY believe that they have a voice and some choice?
What did you learn on Sunday at #NCTE17?
Remember to check out additional #DigiLitSunday posts at Margaret Simon’s “Reflections on the Teche”.
The #cyberpd discussion of Vicki Vinton’s new book is allowing readers to respond in a variety of ways. Check out the #cyberpd hashtag on twitter or the Cyberpd google hangout for additional posts. ( Check previous post here and my padlet here.)
Section 2 begins with this quote:
“Practices are our beliefs in action.” – Regie Routman, Read, Write, Lead
and then Chapter 5 “Creating Opportunities for Readers to Figure Out the Basics” has a quote from General Gorge S. Patton and Chapter 6 ” Creating Opportunities for Readers to Experience Deeper Meaning” has a Mary Oliver quote. The journey is now about HOW some specific core practices position readers to “grapple with those problems found in texts in order to deeply understand what the writer might be conveying about people, the world, and life.”(p. 55)
Knowing that everything has a purpose in a text, I’ve been asking myself what anchors this text for me. The “Steering the Ship” sections (Figure 5-7, p. 82, and Figure 6-5, p. 108) are huge for me this week. The sections are titled “Teaching Moves to Support Thinking and Meaning Making”.
Did these “Steering the Ship” pages make you stop and pause? These are the “To Do’s” in order to teach reading in a problem solving way. They can be prompts for a teacher cheat sheet. Practice, practice, practice will be required in order to have them to “naturally” be a part of my repertoire that pushes student thinking and provides responsive feedback with students developing the lines of inquiry. But that practice with less modeling and scaffolding by me will enable students to do more of the work themselves.
What are the BIG anchors of this text?
- “Create opportunities for learning”
- “Shift from answers to thinking”
- “Experience the thrill of figuring things out”
- “Embrace complexity”
- “Take risks, get messy, keep learning”
Why these? They are a part of the graphic on the front cover.
Which one is repeated on the back cover?
What thinking am I doing as a result of this professional reading?
I am making notes. I’m trying sketch noting. I’m reading other blogs and responses. I’m writing to consolidate my own thinking. Writing . . . in response to reading. Writing . . . in order to better understand my reading. Writing and revising . . . in order to make my writing clearer.
How do you share your thinking?
What is working for you?
Want to join #CyberPD?
Join the Google+ Community
Follow #cyberPD on Twitter
It’s messy, it’s fun, it’s scary, it’s evolving! THINKING required!
Rain . . .
No outside work.
Rain . . .
Time to read.
(Gotcha – definitely NOT inside work!)
After two glorious days of temps in the 70’s and 80’s, I was so happy that this was waiting at my doorstep yesterday after a long day of work. Perfect timing! Relaxing with friends . . .
It’s available online courtesy of Stenhouse Publishers here. I have been reading (albeit slowly) the online version, but it’s tedious. Reading online means that I have one device open to read and another device open to take notes. No split screen. There’s a limit to the size that I like to view pages in professional texts. Slow. Absorbing. Delighted.
I love this infographic.
“This book does not advocate the simple idea of the teacher doing less. Rather it is a guide to being intentional about what we do less of.” – Joan Moser (Foreword)
This book is truly a gem as it guides the reader to think, and to think deeply about whether teacher scaffolds unintentionally cause greater student dependence. If our goal is joyful, independent, capable readers . . . what should we really do more of? What should we do less of?
I’m savoring this book and pages 14 and 15 are my current favorite because the section is “What Do Reading Levels Mean, Anyway?” and wordlover me is mesmerized by the use of “ubiquitous”. And the thought leaders . . .
Fountas and Pinnell”
Ready for some “next generation literacy instruction“? Ready to learn about “saying less” so students do the work to learn more?
You need to read this book!
And check out how long you resist figuring out where the words come from that are the background for half the page of the book cover. It’s another favorite section of mine. (Truthfully, I thought I would be farther in the book. But I’m rereading. Marking. Post-it-ing! Thinking!)
What’s it like to get that book you have been eagerly anticipating?
Do your students know that joy?
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
How important is a reading life?
A recent post To Be a Reader included quotes from Donalyn Miller’s “Getting on the Bus“. Lanny Ball wrote about supporting middle school readers in “Be a Reader Yourself: Lessons from the Branding World“. And then I saw this from Regie Routman, “What I’m Reading, February 2016“.
As a reader, I have many choices. I can share my reading notebook with lists of books read. I can blog about favorites. I can talk endlessly about the books I’m reading, the ones I have just read or the ones that linger on my most favorite list. I can participate in the Title Talk Twitter chat on the last Sunday of each month. I can peruse the many entries from The Nerdy Book Club. There’s even an “It’s Monday, What are You Reading?” group.
As a reader, I must read! And I must share that passion and excitement that I find when an author writes something so captivating that I believe everyone should read it. My favorite new children’s book is:
My favorite new series for middle/high school students:
How are you sharing your readerly life?
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. Get ready to share your writerly life with the March Slice of Life Challenge!