Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2nd Annual Digital and Media Institute at TCRWP

My head is still near explosion and trying to process all I learned while in NYC from Tuesday night through Sunday morning. But I will attempt to share a few take-aways here while it is fresh in my mind. I am sure later as I process it all more, I'll have more to write.

* I am grateful to know a former colleague who now works at PS158. She invited me to spend time at her school on the day before the Institute. Seeing a project school was so helpful. My big take-away was the reminder that as the teacher in the room, I can make my walls match what the teaching points are. As I toured room by room, I stood in an empty room but knew what reading, writing and math units were being taught due to the anchor charts. Sometimes this has happened in my room but not ALL the time....this is something I can work on doing as a teacher.

* PS158's hallways were filled with art (as an art festival just occurred) and filled with the process of writing. Artifacts from the whole writing process were placed on the bulletin boards. Also the writing checklists were color-coded and students had highlighted places where they did the thing on the checklist in that color on their writing paper. The 1st grade had added an index card stating: I am most proud of____. I loved seeing this intentional reflection on writing, another thing I can work on doing as a teacher.  

* Colleen Cruz, Lindsay Mann, Cornelius Miner and Kate Roberts led an amazing Institute!!

As few take-aways:
* They model the importance of SPYING on ourselves as a reader of digital text and media. What am I doing as I read an e-book, an internet site, a video? Why did I click or not click the hyperlink? As I read a site, do I know who the author is and what their angle is? What are they telling me and what is being left out? Where else can I go to get more information on this topic?

* Then once I know what I do as a reader / writer of digital text or media, then I need to use this to create my teaching points and teach my students!

ALL this reminded me of how in the 1990s, Ellin Keene was telling us to do the same thing with print in her groundbreaking book, Mosaic of Thought. I still fondly look to that book as the one that taught me to be aware of being an active reader. Now this institute pushed me to be more aware of ALL the ways we communicate now in the 21st century. As a teacher, I need to also spy on how I read and comprehend all the visual, auditory and printed material that is coming at all of us so fast.

I stored my notes HERE (full disclosure...this was my first institute that I took ALL my notes electronically. And I have not had time to return to them to reread and fix spelling! I also in many places typed - add photo - as I took a photo at that moment of the ppt slide and soon I plan to insert all my photos but as of now, still on the To Do List!  -   Also, I am still trying to understand google docs. I think by sharing this link, you can get to the file...if not, let me know.)

* As I teach, ask if there is a way to amplify what is being taught by using a digital or media resource. The idea is never to teach the computer application. The idea is to teach strong reading and writing workshop lessons using the kinds of resources that are at our fingertips now because of our phone and our computers. Amazing staff developer, Lindsay Mann shared an online article about Inky, an Octopus that escaped from the Aquarium. As she read it, we had so many questions about this news item. These questions, our curiosity, led us to find out more and more because we easily can, thanks to the internet! We found videos and an e-book and could start to form a better understanding across multiple texts. A BIG take-away is that I am now a reader that is always on the lookout for another angle to view my topic through!!

* Technology allows me to show my thinking in so many ways. I'm used to having my students do turn and talks and to stop and jot on a post-it note. This institute showed me two new resources to use to show my thinking: TodaysMeet and Padlet. Colleen modeled using TodaysMeet as she read Last Stop on Market Street. Yesterday, I did the same lesson with my 3rd graders!! Click HERE to view our TodaysMeet jots. (Note until May 2nd when the TodaysMeet room closes)

If you view our transcript, be kind and remember - this was our first attempt and some our jots were just being excited to write and post in a community. Also, I guess we need to discuss using emoji as some like it and some are distracted by it! But if you look beyond, I personally loved being able to take this printout home last night and notice how some can name a character trait with evidence and some can name a theme in the book. Seeing their responses helps as I plan the next read-aloud. Because my students all have an iPad in their hand, using TodaysMeet is a free, easy online tool that worked as a way to gather their thinking.

And a student today asked if after Independent Reading Time, if we could write on TodaysMeet about what we are reading!!!! I loved his suggestions so I quickly started a 2nd TodaysMeet session HERE. (I made this session opened for a month, thinking that it can almost be a "Status of the Class" digital check in for me).

I still need to process my notes more and keep trying things in my classroom. This institute was at the perfect time. I can try some things out right away (which can never happen when I attend Summer Institutes at TCRWP) but summer is almost here, giving me more time to process and plan.

My final take-away is that I am glad I volunteered to present an Ignite Session at the Institute's Closing! I wrote about that HERE

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 19 - TCRWP 90th Saturday Reunion

Thank you to TCRWP community for allowing me to learn at your 90th (my 14th) Saturday Reunion. Know that I return to VA recharged and ready to lift the level of my literacy practice, thanks to your generous sharing of ideas.

Here are my take-aways:
1. Kathy Collins Keynote:
How can we plant seeds so kids will become an adult that reads for pleasure?
With this question in mind, Kathy suggested that just as advertisers brand their products, we, as teachers, can brand books. We can provide pleasurable experiences / comforting experiences with books with our young friends so that when they become adults, they will have brand loyalty toward a book(s) to share with their children! Kathy proposed that just as adults today take their kids on vacation to those places where they loved visiting as a child with their parents, todays' kids, who have pleasurable experiences with books, will also tend to share those books with their kids.

As a teacher, how am I developing a brand loyalty to books with my students? Am I making books comfort objects? Am I making the reading of books a pleasurable experience?  Great questions to ponder!!

2. Brooke - new 3rd grade Mystery Unit being written
Brooke explained first what this unit is NOT. It is not completing mystery worksheets. It is instead about growing foundational reading skills for level K-O readers with an emphasis on how to read books really well. The unit is divided into three parts.
    1. Read to get the mystery - start with a big drum roll!! Then explicitly tell them that as they read their mystery, they are to do this work as a reader - figure out what the mystery is and who the crime solvers are. If you are reading and lose sight of this, you need to stop, go back and check for meaning.

As you read, you are also paying attention to all the details and using these clues to predict the solution. A mystery worksheet may have had kids jot down clues but it stopped there. Instead, this unit pushes readers to make predictions and go back often to check and revise predictions.

A lesson is also build in to build fluency. Using the Pathways fluency progressions, as readers read their mystery independently, the teacher can go from student to student and note their fluency. Then planning for fluency small group instruction can be carried out using this data. OR the teacher can teach the students to use the progression and to listen to their partner and offer feedback. Either way, a foundational skill of reading is worked on while reading mystery books!

   2. What is the same across mystery books? As an inquiry lesson, students make a hypothesis and then read shorter mysteries on the first day of this bend to test it. Students continue to read mysteries with the idea that now they are reading them stronger than on day one of the unit.

   3. We can use all that we did in to read mystery books to read other books well. This bend is about transference. In a mystery, we had crime solvers. In other fiction books, we have a main character. In a mystery, we have a mystery to solve. In other fiction books, the main character has problems. Now students read a fiction book using ALL the foundational reading skills they practiced while reading mysteries to read this book well!

Suggested Interactive Mystery Read-aloud - A-Z Mystery: The Absent Author by Ron Roy.
Suggested Interactive fiction book: Good-Bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong by Frances Park

3. Kate
"There is no 'easy' in being an effective teacher." With this said, Kate shared 4 tools to help make teaching easy. First, she explained three root issues that make it hard - Memory (kids have so much stuff to hold onto), Rigor (kids are asked to work harder), and Differentiation (it is best when teachers match tasks to what a kid needs).
4 Tools:
1. Charts - she suggested using both repertoire and process charts. If help is needed on how to make these, check out Rozlyn Linder who wrote Chart Sense and Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz who wrote Smarter Charts. Definitely a great tool to help with memory!
2. Demonstration Notebooks - a collection of lessons in binder or artist sketchbook. At the top is the "before text". In the middle is the header stating the skill this page works on. Then under the header is strategies to try to do the skill. On the bottom is post-it notes to practice. To see an example, click HERE. Kate showed us at the end of our workshop how to make a page. Her suggestion was to push to make it quick - 4 minutes - so you would actually do it!
Suggestion for making the "before example" - Ask What does it sound like when my students are doing ___ skill? Write that.
Suggestions for the heading - names what this page is about - a little bigger font with colors to highlight it on the page.
Suggestions for picking the strategies - Ask Do I know a strategy to help with this skill? If not, who are my sidekicks I can ask? Lucy resource? A colleague? It is OK to do a little research! Then pick two or three so you are offering a choice but not too many choices to overwhelm.
3. Micro-Progressions - she reminded that the Pathways book is the Macro-Progression book. She shared how taking just one part of the progression and showing in user-friendly kid language what this looks like as a 1 star post-it, a 2 star post-it and a 3 star post-it. Kids can she what it looks like and sounds like and now using this tool can try to improve their work. To see an example, click HERE.
4. Student-made bookmarks - this idea is to ask each student to look at all the tools shared in workshop and to pick those that really help them and then make a personalized bookmark to remind them of the strategies they can use. An example of a bookmark is HERE.
The ideas Kate shared during this workshop are explained more in the book that she co-authored with Maggie Beatty-Roberts called DIY Literacy. It is being published by Heinemann in April. Click HERE to read more about the book and order yours!!

4. Kathleen - Ways to have ALL in the room be writing teachers!
"The most important thing we can do in our classrooms is to provide time for kids to give and receive feedback," Kathleen stated and asked, "Do we have a building where critical feedback is given, paired with suggestions to make our work better?" She suggested that we need to help kids know how to receive feedback and then work to make their writing better.
Giver of feedback - directly state what isn't working and add "maybe you could try to..."
Receiver of feedback - LISTEN well! Teach them how not to be defensive (But I was...) and instead, listen to what is being offered.
As teachers, are we providing TIME often so students can give and get feedback? Kids need to be setting goals and teachers can provide checklists and to help them do this. When goals are hung publicly, all in the room can become the teachers to help all reach their goal. With any goal, we need to see growth or we will stop working on it. In writing, feedback feeds us and helps us to see what we may not be able to see alone.  A goal can sounds like this: I am working on ______________ by doing ___________. What have I improved on? What do I need to continue to work on?

5. Maggie - Using Video/Film to Teach Qualities of Strong Writing Craft
Maggie shared how she started a think tank at TCRPW in 2007 with the idea of exploring digital texts and how this focus may impact writing workshop. She suggested looking at the work by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Curriculum 21.  Maggie's research has led her to these ideas:
"Writing is writing" whether it is words on the page or a crafted Ken's Burns' visual documentary.
"We need to teach kids to read the world as writers."
"Be a maker, not only a taker" or as others I have heard say, "Be a producer and not only a consumer" when it comes to technology.
She allowed us to experience three digital experiences that I can see retrying with my own writing and with my students:
1. Nonfiction - Open Inquiry - What makes this a strong piece of information writing??
She posed this question and then showed a part of the documentary, The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns
After viewing, we turned and told our partner all that made it strong.
Assignment - Now, write your information piece like Ken Burns.
(an example of an assignment teachers could do at a staff meeting: Write a line or two of information writing to teach about what it is like to be a teacher today.)
2. Argumentation - Closed Inquiry - Using the list of Techniques used by Argument Writers (published by Heinemann in the grade 6-8 Writing Units of Study), we watch the clip of I Have a Dream and jotted down what we noticed being used from this chart.
Assignment - Create your own writing makeover - Write like Dr. King!
3. Narrative Writing - She showed how we could use TodaysMeet.com to use a shared online whiteboard to jot our ideas about narrative craft as we watch a video clip. After we signed into TodaysMeet, she posed questions - What qualities of strong narrative writing do we see? What is the conflict? What can we say about the characters? The Plot? and then shared a clip from Modern Family. She suggested how this online tool helps to see trends that the students are seeing and not seeing as they view a narrative visual test.

Maggie also gave a shout-out to a teacher named Kevin English as someone to follow on twitter:
@KevinMEnglish His twitter page lists him as ELA educator, school board trustee, avid reader, NWP/EMWP teacher consultant, & lifelong learner. I blog athttp://englishseducation.blogspot.com .
Michigan englishseducation.blogspot.com

6. Lucy - Keynote celebrating the 90th Reunion Saturday - a TRADITION!!
I reflected on some of Lucy's inspiring words HERE as my 20th Slice of Life. I also listened as a 3rd grade teacher at a new school that is in the unique position to create TRADITIONS. Lucy suggested that teachers are a lot like "Startups" (the field that both her sons are currently working in now on the West coast). She reminded me that, as a teacher, I get to choose the traditions in my classroom, just as Startups create their own traditions.  She began to share how during her first year as a teacher, she brought tree stumps into her classroom to create a special place to sit and read. While telling this story, a voice in the Riverside church yelled out, "I have YOUR stumps!"- a perfect example of a tradition started and still going on!!

Lucy pushed me to reflect on what I will launch as "my startup tradition" in my classroom??
What will be, not just the one day activity, but the tradition, the habit, the tool to use to build the best classroom?
Could I go back after Spring Break to pilot something?
Could I spend time this summer reflecting and starting the year off with tradition in mind?
What traditions do I already have in place that reflects my values?
What traditions can I create that capture my values? For my classroom? For my own life?
What will I start? 
What have/will you start?!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

TCRWP Oct. 17, 2015 Saturday Reunion

TCRWP Oct. 17, 2015 Saturday Reunion - Another magical day of learning at Teachers College. So glad I went and that four colleagues tagged along on the early morning train ride up and back. Here are some of my highlights, seen through the lens of a 3rd grade teacher who wants to get better at teaching an information writing unit and get better at teaching reading workshop.

Mary's Keynote
She shared teaching points to read complex text:

Mary shared this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFbNq5br658

She stopped at the beginning to have us state what we think about the character. She reminded us of the teaching point "to delay judgement" as we continued to watch.

Can't wait to share this video with my students who already are trying to be brave. Already my students and I take dance breaks between Writing Workshop and Reading Workshop to rock to the song Be Brave by Sarah Bareilles - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4

Lucy - Information Writing Tips     (Thank you, Lucy - just want I needed to hear!!)
* Pick a topic close to your heart, stuff you know. Start broad as it is easier.
* Brainstorm the table of contents and allow it to change
* Try 10 drafts of possible table of contents
* Think of the logical order of the chapters
* Do LOTS of oral rehearsal during the drafting of the table of contents and order of chapters
* Jot notes about what you can write and ask: Do you have info for ALL parts of the structure
* Info test relies on STRUCTURE and transition words hold it together
* Informational writing is a conglomeration of lots of different GENRES (How to, small moment, essay, facts)
* Also this about which structure the chapter is written as - compare/contrast, cause/effect...
* ONCE the table of content is set, draft chapter by chapter, the chapter you know the best FIRST.
* As he students draft, teach a revision mini-lesson each day. Remind them on day 2 of revision that they need to go back and revise the chapter from yesterday and today based on today's teaching point and continue this process during revision.
* To understand the variety of ways information writing is written, look at a mentor text. NOTICE all the different kinds (description, Q/A, images, examples, facts, definitions)
* Include domain specific vocabulary and decide HOW you want to teach the reader what these words mean (glossary, in context, etc.)
* Transition words glue it together from part to part.
*Use prompts to say more: The important thing about ___ is ___, People may wonder ___. This connects to ___. This makes me wonder ___.
*Then teach how to write an introduction (it should hint at the central idea) and an ending.
* Include text features that accentuate the main idea of your writing.

Shana - Bridging the Gap from I know a lot about... to Crafting Beautiful Texts that Teach
(Thank you, Shana - the perfect follow-up to Lucy's workshop!)

She started by reading-aloud a part from a few nonfiction texts and her enthusiasm for this genre came through. Honestly, nonfiction has NEVER been my favorite but Shana's passion came through and made me realize I need to do the same when I teach informational writing.

Then she shared Five Lens to Read Nonfiction Writing suggested by Ralph Fletcher
Amazingly, as my partner and I read and reread what, at first, seemed like a really boring scientific animal article, it suddenly was more interesting and we came to appreciate the beautifully crafted text. Studying the mentor text helped me to like this kind of writing more.

Shana shared 4 Troubles Students have Writing Informational Pieces
I. Topic Choice - they pick a topic they are interested in but not one they are an expert on
* Do you care about the topic?
* Can you create a table of contents and fill it in?
* Do I have 1 or 2 resources to turn to to add to what I already know?
Purpose: remind the kids that this unit is to learn how to be a stronger information writer and NOT the time to be learning about a topic

II. Practice - "Practice makes permanent"  "lack of practice makes impermanent"
Suggestions for creating MORE talking/writing opportunities:
1. Science/SS/Math -Turn & tell or Stop and Jot a summary of today's topic
2. Information Tweets - add a picture and a big idea and tweet it out
3. Write Friday letters home sharing information from the week
4. Listen to the Morning Meeting and turn and tell your partner what you heard

III. Structure
Often the way kids jot facts down about a topic looks "like Jackson Pollock on the page"
Instead, help them to understand the idea of using CONTAINERS.
She showed us this anchor chart:
Then she said: Writers have containers, too. They call them STRUCTURES. The text structure holds the information. The text structure helps readers to hold onto the information s they read it.

Writers think of the best way to convey the information and then pick the best structure.

Then she showed how she wrote about READING ON THE SUBWAY as boxes and bullets, as compare/contracts and as problem/solution. She suggested we try to write about one topic using MANY structures and to give our students the same practice.

IV Development
She showed the Pathway Development Checklists for 3rd grade and then for 4th Informational Writing and 4th was SO much longer. It is a BIG JUMP. They really need LOTS of practice.
She also suggested keeping a chart up in the room ALL year long like this:

Development of ______ (list genre)
Part                             Expectation             Example
By having the charts up all year, the kids will start to understand that the KIND of writing might change, but all writing has a STRUCTURE, gets DEVELOPED and follows WRITING CONVENTIONS.

Shana also gave a shout out to 3 fiction books she recommends:
1. The Thing About Jellyfish
2. The War that Saved My Life
3. Boys Don't Knit (in Public)

Kristine Smith  - 3rd Grade Reading Unit, Character Study
Kristine went through step-by-step how to use Book Two and the online resources. Now I am set to teach a very powerful reading unit to my students. I love the new Reading Units of Study!!

Ryan Scala - Being Powerful Writing Partners
It was such a pleasure to learn from Ryan. Years ago I met him when we were in the same advanced session during a Summer Institute. Now he is a staff developer!! I learned LOTS - thanks Ryan!

First, I love that he got me to WRITE. "We have to do the work we ask our students to do."
Using the generating strategy of turning points, he got me to write a story about the first time I read during a church service.

Then he got my partner and I to evenly take turns to help each other write better.
- gave us different responsibilities
- used a tally to balance times used

One tip - Compliment Conference
1. Name the thing you see in the writing - WOW! I like the part where you said ______
2. Point out what it did for you as you read it - As I read it, I ___________
3. Offer a suggestion - Maybe you could _____ in another place

As a place to get ideas for how to compliment a writer, he suggested delivering an inquiry lesson with students by reading the quotes on the back of a book - a book blurb. What do you notice other literary publishers so when they give a compliment? Try saying that about your partner's writing as a compliment!

And he inspired me with the quotes of those smart people he is standing on the shoulders of:

 "Learning floats on a sea of talk."  - James Britton

"Writers need to talk about their writing."  - Katie Wood Ray

Lucy - Closing Keynote
She reminded the standing room only Riverside church that OUR expectations are our kids' ceilings. She reminded me to teach with confidence and let the kids surprise me!
She suggested:
1. Study student work, decide and teach in the presence of the possible
2. Give ambitious feedback
3. Teach in a rich context using mentor text
And she reminded us that we feel bigger in the company of others who are trying to grow. She reminded us to BE STAR MAKERS!

Kate DiCamillo on Mercy Watson's 10th Birthday!

On Thursday, October 15, 2015 my 3rd graders and I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating Mercy Watson's 10th Birthday by watching a live-broadcast of author, Kate DiCamillo. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, we registered to watch the broadcast. A few days before, we emailed our questions. Then at 1pm EST, we joined students all around the globe to listen to Kate talk about the Mercy character she created and her writing process.

Definitely my students favorite part was when the moderator said, "Students at Discovery ES in Virginia want to know why the Watsons always call the fire department and Eugenia always calls the Police Department?" Cheers erupted because our question was being asked. Kate said: "I like the idea that you can always ask for help so I include that in these stories." A nice thought!

Here are some pictures from the day:

Our class sign.

Class watching Kate on the Smart Panel.

Kate reading aloud to us.

Kate meeting a real pig at the end of the live broadcast!!

Here's some highlights of what she said:
* She published her first book, Because of Winn Dixie, at age 36. Now she is 51 and has published a total of 31 books. She has 4 more in the works with a new novel coming out in April.
* Her typical day as a writer is to get up at 5:30am, get a cup of coffee from the automatic coffee maker and write 2 pages. Every day - 2 pages.
* As a child, she was sick a lot and she spent LOTS of time reading books and imagining stories.
* She admitted that writing is a very solitary activity. However, she does have a community of writing friends that gives her feedback and tells her if her stories make sense.
* She got the idea of making Mercy's favorite food toast with butter the day she drove her friend to the airport using her brand new car and her friend got into the car with toast with butter and proceeded to tell her how great this food is. 
* Of all the characters she has written, she admits that Sistine Bailey and Flora are the two most like her.
* She always has a small moleskin notebook with her to jot down ideas. 
* she travels to "fill her well" and discover new ideas to write about.
* New York City is a favorite place to travel because she can walk 3 blocks and get so many writing ideas.
* She does not believe in "writer's block". Instead, she feels there are good writing days and bad writing days. But no matter what, you need to show up and write. That's why she writes 2 pages a day, every day. 
* Advise for budding writers - READ LOTS and Don't give up. She had 6 years of rejection letters.

More can be found AT HER WEBSITE

Monday, August 10, 2015

Using Checklist with On-Demand

I saw this on TWITTER:
@garycally: Day 1: give the on demand: Day 2: give them back, with the check list and have them set goals. @tarantoannie #tcrwp” love this!

 Then I tried it myself. I wrote. I picked a small moment from when I traveled to Chicago.

Then I read the 3rd grade Personal Narrative Checklist for 3rd grade from the Writing Pathway book and jotted it down into my notebook. I just included Structure and Development skills as I am pretty confident in my writing conventions.
 Then I reread my on-demand and annotated it to show the things I did do as I wrote my small moment using colored markers:

Finally, I listed my strengths and I listed the things I still need to work on - my goals!!
I LIKE this process!!! I plan to follow it with MY students as I begin teaching Writing Workshop in 3rd grade this year.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

July TCRWP Reading Institute - Nonfiction Book Clubs with Emily Smith session notes

I was in Emily Smith's Advance Reading Session at the July Reading Institute!!
The topic was Nonfiction Book Clubs, specifically the skills of Synthesis, Comparison and Perspective. Each day, Emily modeled for us through a read-aloud using this book:

Then I was in a book club with 2 others, reading about Earthquakes. My book was:

A very useful tool she modeled during the read-aloud with us was using a Vocabulary Word Bank . It looked like this:
"Turn and tell your club members the meaning of any of the words you know."

She did a shared reading of one part of the book and asked us to tell our group which are the POP OUT SENTENCE or MAIN IDEA SENTENCE and which seems more DETAIL SENTENCES. As she read, she got us to think about what weather is and if all our book club books are related to weather (the other club topics were tornado, hurricane, and volcanoes). Soon our club figured out together that weather only happens in the air so earthquakes are NOT weather.

The last tool she had us try was to listen to a complicated description from the book. Then liten a 2nd time ans SKETCH it. Because I listened and listened again and visualized a sketch, I really got the part of the book about how the sun interacts with the light and moving air to create weather. Here's my sketch that I used to teach my club my idea after hearing the passage read twice:
Then Emily sent us off to do this kind of work in our book.
What vocabulary words need to be in a bank to help us talk about our book in our club?
What are the Main Idea Sentences and the Detail Sentences?
What text structure is being used to organize the information?
What parts might a sketch help the reader to hold onto the information to then teach it to their club?

Questions to Think About When Planning a NF Read-aloud:
 * Think about the skill you want to model (visualize, synthesis, main idea/detail)?
 * What tool might help (vocab word bank / a map / a timeline / a ranking system)?
 * What is the teaching point and how will you teach (think-aloud, prompt for turn and talks or stop and jots)?
 * When will you have kids have a conversation (w/partner, club or whole group)?

Emily introduced us to the Reading Pathway Learning Progressions. She described them as tiny steps within the skills used to read fiction and nonfiction. The 2 sets of skills are divided into:
1. Literal Comprehension (word work, vocab, fluency, and main idea)
2. Interpretive Comprehension (cross text synthesis / compare and contrast)
3. Analytical Comprehension (perspective / growing ideas)

To get a felt sense of the progression, she prompted me to write a summary.

Then I placed it on the SUMMARY PROGRESSION page:
and my club discussed if it was a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grade summary. We decided mine was a 3rd grade summary because it has a main idea with details but does not use the structure of the piece to grasp the info (4th grade work). Emily pointed out that writing about reading can be annotated using the characteristics stated in the progressions. Time can be spent to revise our written comprehension to lift the level of our reading skills.

These Learning Progressions:
 * create a vision for what is possible for teaching as the skills are named, grade by grade
 * clearly can see what the next steps are in order to raise the level of a reader's comprehension
 * clearly can see ALL the many skills that go into this task called reading

Synthesis - to create something new, new understanding, from the parts.
Ask - How do these parts fit together?
Emily suggested that we read with a different lens and then discuss our thinking with our book club.
Just as we read fiction by paying attention to characters, setting and theme, she reminded us that we can read nonfiction with these lenses:
* setting (geography)
* events (cause/effect)
* sequence / timeline
* history
* technology

I chose SEQUENCE/ TIMELINE and reread my Earthquake book, almost skimming to find DATES and I took notes, adding what I read to a timeline. It looks like this:

I loved having a lens to read with. It kept me actively reading. And when we shared in book club, I had stuff to say and stuff to show. As a group member shared her findings about the history of measuring earthquakes, I could match that info to my info. We discussed info that overlapped and new info found by each. We were very engaged and motivated to keep reading to share with our club!

Compare and Contracts - Emily pointed out that as humans, we are wired to naturally compare/contract. We are always looking for patterns to recognize. We can remind our students that this is a life skill and not just a reading skill. We categorize always. Ever since she said this, I see myself doing this. As I write, I use metaphor, a way to compare! As I read, I use my background knowledge to then compare it to what I am reading. Duh!
Emily suggested teaching this first explicitly with a book that is explicitly set up as a compare/contract (ex - Dogs vs Cats). Then move to more complex texts where it is more implied. Then try it across texts (ex - This text says ____ and this text says ____).
FInally she had the tornado club come talk to us (the earthquake club) and we had a lively discussion about what is the same and different between our topics. She reminded us that this can't happen until each group has gathered enough information. But once they have, this is a powerful way to share about the topics that groups are reading about!

Perspective  - Start with articles where explicit opinions are being shared. 
Then move to less explicit text.
As we read, ask:
*Who is the source? 
* What is the point of view of the source? 
* If the author were involved in a debate, which side of the topic would he be on? 
* What kind of language does the author use?

I will be honest. I love fiction and almost NEVER freely choose to read nonfiction. After a week in an Earthquake Book Club and trying out ways to read my nonfiction book and discuss it with my club members, I am hooked. I do like nonfiction. Thank you, Emily!! I needed this week to immerse myself in this genre and to reading about my reading of it and to discuss it in a club. Because I did it, I now feel more confident to teach it to my 3rd graders next year!!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

July 2015 TCRWP Reading Institute - Mary's section: Readers Notebooks

My work in Mary's section revolved around Historical Fiction Book Clubs - I was reading the children's novel, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. (Others were reading the adult book Massie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear or the adult book The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker) The common thread was that all 3 books took place during WWI.

Mary first started by sharing research as to WHY we would want to spend time in a book club.
* A Carnegie Study showed how writing about reading raises the level of retention, comprehension and interpretation.
* Mel Levine's work shows that reading or listening or watching only places info our short term memory. It is when we do something with the info (writing, sketching, acting, talking) that the info joins our long-term memory.
* Pedro Niguere's work on peer culture points out that the peer environment will always win over an academic group so we need to make it cool to be doing school.
* Alfred Tetum's work shows that reading flounders when what is being read doesn't match the readers' lives. Mary pointed through choice and honoring the work of a reader who "reads" a baseball game help to make this match. She also shared that when Tetum worked with TCRWP he commented that he saw "too much strategy and not enough soul". He suggested more WHY and not only the HOW.
*Nell Duke's work shows that HS/College kids were dropping out because they had to read too much where they lacked the background knowledge to understand the reading. Research shows the importance of getting ready for a unit by coming to it with built background knowledge.

Using all this research, MARY said we should IMMERSE OURSELVES IN WWI this week. How could be do it? We brainstormed this list:
  • a big map of Europe focused on France
  • a big timeline
  • vocabulary word wall
  • photos from the time period
  • movie clips
  • primary source documents
Then she simply asked: What does your work group want to do? My table picked MAP. She came to us and suggested we use the document camera to project a map that we find online. And that maybe we tape together some chart paper so our map is BIG. Her coaching move here set an expectation but allowed us in the group to do the work.

Here is our map at the end of Monday's 30 minute work session (made by Kyle from CA, Adrienne from WA, Emily from TN and me from VA).
On Tuesday, Mary shared some TIPS that she modeled on Monday to help the work groups be successful. "Years ago, I would have all the handouts prepared for you and I would have done all the work." As teachers, always think about Efficiency vs Agency. Act more as a coach/guide instead of  handing out a project to be completed.
* provide research time around a text
* suggest possible sources that can help so kids aren't starting in a vacuum
* suggest very easy-to-read resources to build BK so it can be understood. (ex WWI for Kids)
* model how a work group can work together (role play)
My favorite quote: "Role play kids into the academic identities you want to achieve."

Her Tuesday tip was perspective. "Be sure to find ALL perspectives. Can you find primary sources from Germany's POV?" After looking all together at a WWI poetry text set, listening to Jerusalem by William Blake set to music and a trench scene from the movie Gallipoli (a war where 100,000 men died in 10 minutes), we got with our work groups again thinking about PERSPECTIVE and instead of going on to make a new thing, Mary encouraged us to look at the work from yesterday and try to raise the level of that work. HOW?
- Consider adding VISUALS
- begin to see your area (mine was the MAP) as a center that on Thursday the class will come look at to learn from. Do captions would be helpful to a visitor?
- Visit others in the room and consider the connections between each part of the room. Do post-it questions need to be added to help a visitor think?
And we were given 20 more minutes to work in our work groups.

My group laughed that we hadn't include Africa on the map made yesterday as we thought about perspective. So quickly we took it down, added more to the bottom. We also added the names of major battles and towns where the book club books occurred. Another group in the room asked to add their work around the leaders during WWI to be next to our map. Soon, our map looked like this:

While I was learning about WWI by construction a big map for our "Classroom Reading Notebook", others in the room created these displays for us to learn from and on Thursday, Mary gave us time to walk around the room in our BOOK CLUB group to specifically think about OUR story using the room to give us more background on this period in history.


The tasks helped my group really LOOK at the words in relation to our book, War Horse.

More pictures should be found here: http://readingandwritingproject.org/resources/mary

NOW while my group was doing ALL this research on the setting of my book club book, I was in a different group reading War Horse (Eric - a staff developer at TCRWP, Barbara from VA and Jean from Buffalo, NY). On Monday we decided as a book club to read 5 chapters a night and to write about our reading by noticing the setting, the emotions of the characters, and the craft moves of the author. Here are some images of our writing about reading notebook pages (sorry, I need to learn how to turn the images around before posting!):

On Wednesday, Mary shared LOTS of examples from kids notebooks (can be found HERE ). Then she gave us 20 minutes in class to make one more page and she moved around the room, coaching us and reminding us to "add some color"!Here is what my group produced!!

I found it fascinating to see how we sketched, jotted, organized our thinking, all so differently. Knowing that I was responsible for sharing my thinking each day with my group, pushed me to READ and then to really THINK about the story. Each day I was excited to meet as I have new ideas I was pondering and couldn't wait to see what my smart group members were also thinking. PLUS, I really got my story more, because now my "classroom" helped me to find WHERE the story was occurring and the timeline helped me to understand when and the images and word wall helped me to understand concepts. WOW - what brilliant work!!

I asked Mary how young she'd do this kind of work with as I'll be teaching 3rd grade next year. She smiled in her always encouraging way and said she saw 3rd graders in one school do a Native American book club unit! Look out, 3rd graders!!!

One more brilliant thing Mary did with us was a Read-aloud of two picture books set during WWII.

She read the beginning of each book and asked us to notice the trouble being presented by the author.
She read a little bit more of each book, one after the other, having us notice who is telling the story and how that character responds to trouble. She read more of each pushing us to think about theme. Suddenly, we, the listeners, realized that these books overlap...the girl in Rose Blanche seems to be the Angle Girl! Only Mary would find a way to weave two read-alouds together at once to have us do powerful listening and talking and thinking about characters, settings, themes and craft moves.

MARY'S KEYNOTE (on Tuesday) - Remembering Grant Wiggins

The education world lost Grant Wiggins who died last month. He is best known for inventing backwards planning  and authored Understanding by Design. First Mary reminded us to make sure we are doing work that we love, like Grant who died so young at age 64. Grant pushed us to think of the child we want to have and then build backwards from there. Grant's latest and sadly last work dealt with the idea of transfer of skills. Grant reminded us that kids need LOTS of practice or scrimmages to try, mess up, get coaching feedback to grow their skills.

Mary modeled three ways to practice with kids:
1. Book to Book - we looked at the role of the woman (the mom) in the book Piggybook by Anthony Brown and the role of the girls in the video Maddie and Tae - Girl in the Country (which is just FUNNY to watch!) music video
My turn-and-talk partner could successfully discuss the role of the mom in the book and then transfer to a video and continue to do the work around these complicated characters.

2. One Reading Experience to Another Reading Experience
Mary showed a video of a baseball play and asked us to read the "text", transferring our school work to outside school work. (Look for article by Mary and Cornelius Minor in Journal of Ed Research coming out soon on this work of connecting the "reading of sports" to reading texts.)

3. Teaching for the transfer of a mindset by teaching toward the values related to reading we most want to instill. To show this, she shared this Kindle - Joy of Reading VIDEO

I feel so spoiled having Mary as a small group instructor and hearing her keynote!!

Next I will share about Emily and Nonfiction Book Club work...tomorrow!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 2015 Reading Institute - Day 1 - Lucy's Keynote Address

Lucy's Keynote Address - amazing!!! Simply amazing!

I realized that this was my "lucky" 13th Institute as I have been coming to Institutes at TCRWP since the summer of 2007. Lucy starts her keynote the same way, every time I've heard her speak..."You come from..." and names the places around the globe and the positions we hold and the situations we come from. This year she reported that we were from 40 countries and 42 states. A total of 1,300 people chosen from 8,216 applications. I felt so lucky to be sitting in Riverside church to listen and begin a week of work and inspiration.

She spoke of the ideas of Steven Johnson (his TEDtalk  is entitled Where do good ideas come from?)
and how his ideas are similar to what happens when our reading students are in book clubs. They are coming together to discuss their book ideas much like Johnson describes as what happens when good ideas are discussed at the Coffee House - an architecture that leads to good ideas. I recommend watching the talk! (And after this week of attending two Advanced Sections that each placed me in a HF and a NF book club, I totally get the value of book clubs and can't wait to run them in my 3rd grade reading workshop during the 2015-16 school year.)

She spoke of the ideas of Brene Brown (her  TEDtalk is entitled The power of vulnerability). She stated that we need to be fully engaged and willing to take risks which WILL lead us to feeling vulnerable. However, the alternative is to avoid, disengage, be fearful. She pointed out that in such a state, you are less able to be flexible and responsive. In this state, you are literally stupider! (Another good talk to watch!) She also suggested reading Brene Brown's book: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

To inspire, she had us watch the Collin ES Happy to Read video!! I immediately emailed my school librarian and suggested we make such a video!! It looked fun and as Lucy reminded us, our job is to rally kids to LOVE books and have FUN with books!

She suggested that we must be a public learner, wearing the love of reading on our sleeve!
HOW? A few suggestions include:
* read with your colleagues
* study with your colleagues
* learn from others with the idea that "my school is where the stars come out" and that we all have strengths to offer so lets learn, not just from the noted experts, but from all on staff
* listen
* don't be afraid to bring forth questions

She stated something that really stuck with me the rest of the day...
"Watch kids closely. Embrace the trouble you notice as you watch kids. Get excited to teach them when they struggle."  As she said this, I realized that I often do the exact opposite in the classroom. I teach the mini-lesson and then get excited when I watch and see kids doing it right and I get annoyed by the strugglers. But she is right. I should turn my energy around and get excited to reteach through a conference what a struggler struggles with. My lens needs to shift. As she reminded us, we need to be asking "What did you learn today?" and not "What did you teach today?"

Check back as I have much more to share from my Advance Sections:
* Reading Notebooks through Historical Fiction Book Clubs with Mary Ehrenworth
* Nonfiction Book Clubs with Emily Smith
and Keynotes by authors Carmen Agra Deedy, James Howe, Mary Ehrenworth and Kathy Collins

I hope to have all my notes shared by Friday as my week of learning at TCWRP is too great to just keep to myself!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Handful of Stars - my notes in preparation for a book club discussion

As I read this book, I had a pen and post-it notes in hand and I made sure to be aware of my thinking. In total, I made 33 jots. That doesn't seem like too much for a 184 page book. But I will admit, I am more of a plot-junkie kind of reader. As a teacher, I've taught that as you read, you should stop and jot to make your reading more visible and then so you can sort your thoughts and look for patterns. But personally, I rarely do this work.

But I was motivated to try such work after reading a blog posting by a friend I follow on twitter (and who I just had the honor of meeting in person Saturday), Julianne  -  her blog post

She is attending the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project's Writing Institute and her blog made me think that with summer starting, I need to get back into reading like I want my students to read and not just reading quickly for the plot. Julianne also suggested that we have a virtual book club around this book as a few of us bought the book while together last Saturday. I am not sure HOW to have a virtual book club but I told her I was in and now I have read the book and made 33 post-it notes....

As I read, I stopped a few times to do a little research to understand what was happening and to help make a clearer movie in my mind.

One of the characters is Salma and her family is visiting Maine as migrant workers from Florida who use a blueberry rake to harvest the blueberries. A rake?? I couldn't picture it so I went to google images:

Now I understand better the work that Salma and her family did, day after day to harvest blueberries.

Google also helped me in the beginning when the narrator, Lily, spoke with Pepere and Memere and Memere suggested that Lily give a tourtiere to Salma as a thank you. I quickly discovered these are all French words and since Maine, the setting of this story, is so close to Quebec, a French-speaking country in Canada, I better understood the background of the characters.
Pepere = grandpa
Memere = grandma
tourtiere = meat pie.

I tell people that I don't read much nonfiction...yet, I realize now that I was reading nonfiction through my google searches to better understand my fiction story. Good for me!!

As Julianne suggests in her blog, my next step now is to look back through my notes and look for patterns, questions and theories.

I do see patterns emerging around the characters - Salma and Lily, the grandparents, the vet, and Lily's friend, Hannah. I think I could grow a theory about these characters, how and why they change.

I jotted a question before even starting the book, as I looked at the cover - A Handful of Stars? What does that have to do with a dog that can balance a blueberry on his nose? Now that I've finished the book, I think I could write a long answer to my first question.

On page 4, I wrote - Why do they need each other? Salma, Lucky (dog) and the narrator (Lily).
Again, now that I have finished, I think I could answer this.

On page 5 it says, "I don't usually talk to those kids and they don't usually talk to me." I think I could build a theory around the idea of diversity and mixing with different kinds of people.

Once I finished the book I jotted that this is a beautiful story about friendship and overcoming loneliness and overcoming differences. I think I could say/write more about this.

I think I have things to say about this book....however, I know I need to do much more thinking.
I need to sort my post-its and really think about the characters and the changes they go through. And then I need to ask, what is the author really trying to teach me through this book.

Confession: This is hard work and I plan to think about it more tomorrow....

To learn more about the author, Cynthia Lord, check out her WEBSITE.
I have read ALL of her novels and I loved them ALL, including this latest book!

Monday, April 6, 2015

My Notes from attending the 88th Annual TCRWP March Saturday Reunion

1. Kathy Collins suggested a way to know more about a reader is to look at a reader's SHELFIE - a photo of the stack of books they recently have read. What can we infer about this reader? Who in the room do you think matches THIS "Shelfie" photo? This reminds me of tweeting out this picture of my kindle of what I read over Winter Break:
What does this tell you about ME, the reader of these four books?

2. Lucy has me wanting to teach READING again (presently, I teach 5th grade writing). The grade-level specific Reading Units of Study come out in a few months (click HERE foor info ) and she gave a workshop overview of them. She reminded us that both reading and writing need to be taught differently now in the 21st century. Then she challenged us: What are the pathways of my teaching to get students to read in this new way? She suggested in her hour workshop doing three things:
* Kids need to be assessed in reading using a running record and the data needs to be used and valued. It can be an informal RR - as they read their own book, listen and note their rate and miscues and then tell the reader what level of book to read.
* Running Records aren't enough. Performance assessments (developed and included in the new Reading Units of Study!) based on a progression of reading skills need to be used. This provides a clear pathway for a reader to know what they are able to do and what needs to be done. How to get better at a skill is named and known because the progressions name the skill, grade by grade so a skill can be deliberately practiced!
"Deliberate practice of a skill makes us better, not just doing a skill."

*Writing About Reading - we need to show HOW to write about reading in Reading Workshop. Mentor texts showing how the writing of a post-it needs to be shared and displayed so when writers stop to jot, they are using this non-reading time wisely.

3. Kylene Beers - this was my first first hearing this funny, smart voice of literacy. A Texan, she was appropriately wearing very cool red cowboy boots! I was able to get a seat for her first workshop on Fiction. As I was leaving, the line to get in was 3x as big as the room. All wanted to hear about her new book coming out - Notes and Notices for reading Nonfiction which she talked about in the next session.

In this session, she walked us through the Six Signposts to look for when reading fiction. I honestly have not taught using this language but I own her book and have skimmed it. Hearing her, it makes perfect sense to me as to why it works. As Ellin Keene got readers to notice what THEY were doing as they read (connecting, questioning, inferring, etc), Kylene tells us to notice what is happening to the CHARACTER and to pay close attention when the character acts out of character or has an ah-ha moment. Notice when another character asks a tough question of the character. Notice when something keeps appearing or is repeated again and again. When these moments are noticed, the reader is sure to get what the author is really saying through this book. Kylene's strategies build on how I thought about reading comprehension and I need to actually READ her whole book and get her new Nonfiction book coming out soon.

She also had us read a poem called Forgive My Guilt by Robert Tristram Coffin (read it here)
With a partner, we were to fill in the chart Somebody-Wanted-But-So for the narrator and for the birds. Then she asked for volunteers to share sentences written. She asked us: Was the hunting deliberate? Accidental? What is the text evidence? She had us notice words we didn't immediately know, like frostflower, headland, plover, and quicksilver. This summary lesson still has me thinking about this poem! And such a simple strategy - using SWBS chart!

4. Shana Frazin - Help Students Love Rehearsal, Revision and Checklists: Tap the Power of Merging Joy with Assessment. She joked that the real title is Turning the Titanic! She walked us through an inquiry lesson on What is Revision? After stating what we know, she told us to look at some writing and to notice: 1) what revision work did the writer make? 2) how did the revision affect us, the audience? 3) as educators, what was the teaching that happened between the two pieces of writing
Here's two of the before/after writing pieces she shared:

The last part of the inquiry asked us to complete this sentence: I used to think that revision was ___ and now I think revision is ____.

A gem that she shared at the end was a way to help the checklists work better for student writers.
She reminded us of the brilliance of the writing checklists - the same 3 categories (structure, development and conventions) across the three genres (narrative, NF, and essay) and the same skills with in each category. Maybe to help our students, we hang 3 charts up, one for each category. In the first column, we list the skill (the part of their writing, like lead), the middle column, we add the words from the checklist that is the grade-level expectation of this part. Then in the last column, we add an example. We talk about if this example meets the expectation and why.

WOW - Shana - you are SO clear. I'll be tweeting the charts I make and how the Revision Inquiry lesson goes with my 5th graders next week as I'm determined to turn this lesson you taught me around with my students!
5. Mary - Good to Great Pathways and Ladders for Strong Writers so They May Become Extraordinary - Teaching in a school with lots of great writers, I loved hearing from Mary ways to help these top students. As she said, often these are the kids who get the least attention because a teacher's time gets sucked up by the struggling writers. Yet, these strong writers deserve attention so they don't just get good but can become brilliant writers.

* Make sure you actually confer with them
* Pair them up with other STRONG writers
* Suggest meeting with them at extra times or outside of class - give them the encouragement and the opportunity to work hard on this skill that they are strong in
* Offer them tools - the checklist at the next higher grade, a different mentor text, different inquiry questions

* Show them how to draft an entirely different draft - use a different style, write it for a different audience, try the 1st paragraph 5 different ways. She reminded us that this is the strategy suggested by Don Murray, Steven King and Mark Twain!

* Do serious and open ended inquiry work with a mentor text.
For example, use technology - she showed us the music video of Wake me Up by Avicii and asked us to think about the work the author is doing with SETTING. How is the setting important?
Click here to watch Wake Me Up  Then she played it again, turning off the sound and voicing over a story as the images appear emphasizing the setting. Then she suggested: Now try this SETTING WORK in your writing. Mary - you are so brilliant!!

6. Final Keynote by Kylene Beers
I feel lucky that I got a seat in Riverside church as my one friend stopped to use the bathroom and got closed out and could come in. The nave and both balconies were filled. As I read tweets afterwards, Amanda Hartman tweeted "4,000 people today, wow!" This was my 12th reunion - I've come every Fall and Spring following my first Summer Institute in 2009. It definitely felt more crowded. More and more, teachers want to learn HOW to do literacy work well. And in my opinion (and probably the opinion of the 4,000 around me yesterday), TCRWP is THE place to learn.

Kylene opened by pondering What do I believe about teaching?
"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
She then gave a brief overview of the history of education in America. She pointed out that literacy has always been tied to wealth. First, you were considered literate if you could sign your name, sometimes just by making an X.  Next, great penmanship was valued (clearly, the poorest didn't have time to write using beautiful penmanship). Then great speeches and poetry recitation. During WWI, the assembly line led to analysis and things like diagraming sentences and cliff notes. But now, she remarked, instead of taking things apart, we need to put things together. 

We need education practices to not just be interesting, but to be relevant. She suggested we need CHOICE, a curriculum based on more than tests, and that through literature we teach COMPASSION. Only than can those with power through literacy can use their privilege to learn how to navigate life well. 

7. Meeting Slicers at The Kitchette!! Hi Tara, Catherine and Fran!!
Far right is Fran - see her reunion reflection HERE
Middle is Catherine - see her blog HERE
Far left is Tara - see her blog HERE

So glad I went to the TCRPW 88th Saturday Reunion.
So glad I know it is worthwhile to spend all day learning on a Saturday, miles away from my home.
So glad I have a place to write about it here to share these great ideas with others who also believe that teaching literacy well is important.