Sunday, January 23, 2011

Teaching with Intention - Reflection #5

Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio.  My fifth reflection comes in response to reading Chapter 5, Swimming with Sharks: Teaching for Understanding and Engagement.  In this chapter Debbie shares her work within a second grade classroom during a nonfiction reading and writing study.  In talking about organizing resources she mentions have five copies of a text for one for each resource tub that is easily read by the students.  Then she points out that other text can be difficult but become manageable for students when they use the nonfiction features of photographs, captions, cutaways, and more.  I think this is important to think about as teachers gather nonfiction resources for varying abilities within any classroom.

Debbie shares a project using a file folder to help organize thinking and learning.  The goal is to "teach kids strategies for remembering and understanding new learning in nonfiction by making schema theory - connecting new learning to what we already know - even more concrete."  I also found myself thinking this tool helps make kids thinking visible.  It makes the process of learning visible.  I find myself wondering how to make the thinking and learning more visible for young students, emerging readers and writers.  Before Debbie shares the journey and lesson with the second graders she cautions teachers to not just turn around and do this with their students.  She says it best, "The point isn't about finding the perfect lesson or progression of lessons to follow exactly.  The point is to know who you are and what you're about when your're teaching based on your beliefs, your students, and the environment you are creating."

While I loved the project she shares and think it is worth every teacher's time to look at, I found myself thinking I would need to tweak it for my kindergarteners.  Which is exactly what Debbie enourages teachers to do.  I will have to ponder this more as we look at nonfiction this spring.  I think I have a few questions to guide my pondering. 

What do my students need to know about nonfiction reading?
What do my students need ot know about nonfiction writing?
What do my students notice about nonfiction books?
How do my students think while working with nonfiction books?
Is observation a good vehicle for nonfiction writing?
How can or does observation fit in with nonfiction writing?
What can my students create to show learning?


  1. I love the fact that you included Debbie's quote about waiting to figure out how a new teaching idea can be implemented in your own classroom - i.e. resisting the urge to run with a great teaching idea without first thinking it through to see how it applies to your own kids and your own teaching philosophies.

  2. Mandy~
    You have a lot to think about. I am sure your understanding of your kids and Debbie's advice willl be all you need to create a very effective and visible study.