#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What are You Reading?)
March 20, 2017
For fans of What Readers Really Do? , you already know that Dorothy Barnhouse is nothing short of amazingly inspiring. In What Readers Really Do, Barnhouse taught us to be observers and listeners creating student agency with questions such as “What are you working on?” and “What are you thinking about here?”, then naming their work in ways that give them power and truth and a foothold. In Readers Front and Center, Barnhouse brings us to intentionality, to in-your-face realization of the person doing the work is the one learning. Through chapter after chapter entitled Teaching Smarter, Barnhouse shows us clearly how to do just that. There is so much that is great here and I’ll be straight, it’s not a straight through kind of read. Her description of the stairway to text complexity and how we don’t have to use a hard text and a hard task was an idea I go back to again and again, with colleagues, with administrators, with students, and with parents.
“Our students need to become the center of our teaching- not the texts, not the standards, and certainly not the assessments.”
This isn’t a call to abandon all these things, but to teach in that place that includes them, but gives the standing they are due, behind the student.
“Let’s think of a pebble through into a pond. The pebble is the student and the pond is the text. When that pebble hits the surface of the pond, we see ripples. That’s the thinking the student is doing as he reads. By paying attention to those ripples-and doing so by listening to the student-we can get a better understanding of how that text might be complex for that students… As teachers that’s what we need to see- our students interacting with texts. That’s where our teaching needs to start.”
Our role is to help students take on identities of learners.
“To pay attention is our endless and proper work.” Maxine Greene
For Teachers Who: Want to build agency, strengthen conferencing
I also read The Tree Lady during my story arc biography work in fourth grade. This book tells the story of Kate Sessions, the woman instrumental in establishing the diverse tree population in Balboa Park in San Diego. It is a visually stunning book with a clear story arc and a repetitive pattern if you wanted to teach into craft moves or structure. The story itself is amazing and would fit into curriculum studies in biomes, trees, ecology, botany, or women as leaders. The students are questioning my constantly choosing books with strong women. I think it goes without saying what my purpose is.
Teaching Use: Mentor text for biography, story arc work, craft moves of repetitive lines
Thank you to Unleashing Readers for the #IMWAYR inspiration.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Challenge. Read more slices here.