Thursday, December 15, 2016

DIY Literacy Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence

Last month I travelled with DIY Literacy Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts, enjoying it all.  I had recently heard Kate speak at our local Literacy Connection session and wanted to dig in deeper.  If you are looking for a little professional nudge, over the upcoming winter break then this book might be for you to look at.  I felt more positive, hopeful, and gathered some tips to make my own work and the work of my students more meaningful.

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.

- start demonstration notebooks to show students how during conferencing and not just in literacy, try one for math
- get the teaching tools off the walls and into the hands of students with bookmarks
- personalize bookmarks with strategies and steps to help students own the learning
- carefully think about the how to demonstrate bigger strategy ideas
- try micro-progression to show the desired outcome and journey learners can take

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"True learning happens when students get the instruction that fits their needs, have the agency and motivation to work hard, and remember and recycle what they've learned."

"Research also shows that people who write down their goals and share them with others are 33 percent more successful in accomplishing these goals."

"Each tool focuses on a skill students need (what they need to learn to do better) and strategies (ways to help students learn and perform that skill on their own).

"Your students can be more thoughtful about what strategies they use in their reading and writing, and they can hold onto your teaching as time goes on.  They just need a little help."

"When we find ways to differentiate our teaching the conserve our energy, we are able to do more than just deliver lessons."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Top Ten Things I Heard that Filled My Heart at #NCTE16

As I sat in the Atlanta, GA airport last night I looked around at the nine of us visiting with each other and thought I leave with a full heart.  My heart is full because I felt encouragement, hope, and warmth while I attended NCTE.  Yes, the temperature was warm when we landed in Atlanta and enjoyed our lunch outside but the warmth in my heart is from spending time with friends.   

Friends is defined at as; a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard or a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter:

These definitions help me make sense of why my heart is full.  I spent time with old, new, and wanna be friends.  I passed lots of strangers but I never felt uncomfortable. I felt this year especially, the NCTE planning committee, volunteers, and attendees all came to give each other a lift because we do have common feelings about the work we do and live within our classrooms and out of our classrooms.

This list of Top Ten Things I Heard that Filled My Heart at #NCTE16 will just touch the surface from my two days, if you would like to know more about something let me know.

10.  "Words alone can make a story hard to figure out but illustrations help pull the story through." - Erin Stead.  She gave an example of just the words for a picture book without the illustrations; typed on one page and then we read the words with the illustrations spread across pages.  The meaning was truly stretched and strengthened.

9.  "It's not about a level, it's about a process.  We want the same effort for print and meaning strategies.  They often become unbalanced." - Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins

8.  Author, Kate Kine hated hyphenated words as a young reader and now she makes sure they don't show up in the books she's writing.

7. Matt Glover encouraged teachers to give students choice for the type of genre they want to write and not just topic choice within a school year, and shared several examples of just how powerful this is. 

6. "Conferencing gets to the heart of lifelong reading." - Karen Biggs Tucker

5.  "Trust your wisdom and connect it to observation and data ." - Terry Thompson

4.  "Our job is to watch, to notice and listen so closely, so we can connect those dots." - Tammy Mulligan and Claire Landrigan

3.  We often feed into their weaknesses, why not feed into their strengths.  We saw an example where painting led to powerful writing.  "I chose orange it makes me think of disappointment."  Cheryl Tyler

2.  "Creating is not magic, creating is for everyone." - Bill Bass

1.  "Students need to read powerful stories of the human condition.  Courage is not something you say but something you manifest." - Ernest Morrill

Monday, November 14, 2016

Learning with Kate Roberts and The Literacy Connection

This past Saturday, I took time to learn with our local professional group The Literacy Connection and Kate Roberts.  Kate Roberts came to spend time with us as we think through her new book, DIY Literacy.  Kate is delightful, uplifting, and offers sound advice as we think about instructing our students in reading and writing.  The only downside to our day together was the lack of wifi which limited our tweets for sharing our learning.  While it was great to stay in the moment, I might have shared these thoughts.

Look for the moments when you are frustrated and/or you say things in your head, I've already done this or said that - that's when a tool might be needed.

We want tools to be personal, responsive, supportive and lead to independence.

We have this weird idea – kids should be working really hard all day, its not healthy or necessary.

A bit part of tool making is personal, it isn’t perfect.

More tools are better than perfect tools.

I know this past summer the #cyberpd community read this book and had lots of grand discussions around it.  Authors Kate and Maggie released some wonderful videos at the website for readers to watch.  I have a confession, because this book is marketed for third grade and up I didn't order it for my summer pd stack.  I knew I was missing out on something but was determined to stick to my already purchased reading plan.  I think this book is going in my bags to #ncte16.  I'm so excited to read and learn more about demonstration notebooks, learning progressions, and chart planning.

Kate will be back in the spring, if you are local and would like to hear her speak.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Page by Page vs Entire Poem {Poetry Friday}

Just recently, I was showing my students that sometimes one poem can be a whole book.  Up until now I had only been sharing anthologies of poetry.  We were reading Every Day Birds by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater when one student at the end asked me to read the entire poem together when they saw it as one piece near the end of the book.  My first reaction was - was just read the poem but okay.  I reread the poem and it did sound different.  My voice felt different.  The mood felt different.  My students were raising their hands with excitement to share with these responses.

-it was more catchy

-I noticed there were more rhyming words

-it made more sense

-there wasn't any pausing

Maybe turning the pages does create longer pauses making the flow of the poem a bit fragmented.  However, I love being able to focus on one bird at a time and study the illustrations.  Either way, this day my students taught me to read the poem across the pages and again as one piece to hear a different voice and notice more of the craft.  

Thank you to Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup for hosting Poetry Friday.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Low Floor High Ceiling Problems {Math Monday}

Several sessions at OCTM - Ohio Council Teachers of Mathematics mentioned and sited resources for Low Floor High Ceiling math problems.  These are problems everyone can have success and be engaged with.  If you would like more information has this great article, Using Low Threshold High Ceiling Tasks in Ordinary Classrooms.  I made a padlet with direct links to some fabulous resources for a staff meeting this week and thought this might be interesting for my readers. If you have a resource to add to the padlet, please let me know by leaving a comment.

Made with Padlet

Friday, November 4, 2016

Rereading for Meaning {Poetry Friday}


I threw 
a small water balloon.
That's all.

I hid.
I tossed.
I ran.

My victim knows, 
and lies in wait
with the garden hose.

by  Kristine O'Connell George

I shared this poem a few weeks ago with my second graders and I thought they would have a reaction to the ending of, "Oh, no!" but they didn't.  The room was silent.  I thought it was a great topic for young students.  There's a great illustration with it in the book - The Great Frog Race and Other Poems by Kristine O'Connell George.  I didn't want to tell them my reaction so I decided to reread the poem.  I started to see some eyes and eyebrows twitching a bit, a tall tell sign some thinking was flickering.  I reread it a third time and the reaction I was hoping for came and I was reminded that rereading for meaning might be easier with short poetry pieces.

Thank you Laura at Writing the World for Kids for hosting Poetry Friday this week.