Launching Books #IMWAYR

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Mentor Texts for the Beginning and the Long Haul

July 17, 2017

Every summer  I find a back to school mentor text.  Usually,  this text is a uplifting mentor about mindset for learning.  This year’s choices are no exception to that.  It’s the right way to go for the first few days.

Being a teacher for a number of years,  there are a lot of first days books in my library.  This year,  the hunt is different.  Let’s make these books go the long haul.  I want to return to them for meaning work, construction work, beginnings, endings, author’s moves, and theme.  That’s a lot to ask of one book.  However, the more familiar the story,  the more meaningful it is as a mentor tool.

the thing lou couldn't do Many of you will already be familiar with The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do and by its author,  Ashley Spires, author of the amazing, The Most Magnificent Thing, another well-used mentor text.  Without reading,  we can already do so much work on the cover,

lou thingloucouldntdo insert

right?  Essential Questions, Predictions, Foreshadowing.  This book doesn’t hold back,  Lou knows she can do the thing.  She avoids it.  She negotiates with it.  The best part is that (spoiler alert),  it doesn’t all work out in the end. It has a perfect Carol Dweck moment.  Read to find out.  Ok, all well and good but what else.  Taking just three ideas from Calkins UOS Reading 2nd Grade Authors Have Intentions, we can talk about theme.  (this will work for any grade)

Here’s where my practice is shifting.  I don’t have to have these questions answered to ask them.  The students often have better, deeper, richer ideas.  I think I know, but that’s not important.

jabari jumps cover

I couldn’t wait for my next title to arrive, Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall.  Reviews were awesome and LOOK at that cover.  So much to talk about after summer break!

But then there’s the first page,  and we can talk about Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 8.30.37 AM.pngor  details in the story or crafting an ending. We can use dialogue.  I can use the preview of the book video to notice, and wonder with the class.

 

My last book is purposeful.  I’m committed to add an Amy Krouse Rosenthal book to as many lists and as

the ok book cover.jpg

many demonstrations as I can.  This book isn’t new like my other two choices and honestly,  I may have used it for back to school before.  The video of The OK book will be how Literacy Bootcamp  begins this year.

 

 

Because in the world of must be amazing,  it’s ok to be ok while you’re figuring it out.  Illustrations, simple repetitive text, a thoughtful ending.  One great mentor.

inside the ok book

Happy hunting for your mentors.  Remember to make them go the distance.

#IMWAYR Opening Day Edition

It’s Monday What are You Reading:  Opening Day Edition

April 3, 2017

I was raised on baseball and have lived in baseball towns most of my life.  The St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and White Sox, and now  Boston Red Sox are dear to my heart.  As a teacher, I have yet to be at a opening day, though I have enjoyed  the ritual of spring training.  Here are some books to celebrate opening day wherever you are.  

Here are some terrific baseball books in no particular order.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.04.54 PMBaseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuk

A beloved book by teachers and students alike,  this book looks at baseball in a completely different light.  Baseball is the turning point in the poignant book.  Wonderful for character interplay and story arc discussions as well as its historic perspective.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.25.05 PMZachary’s Ball by Matt Tavares

Every New England child’s dream,  catch a fly ball at Fenway Park… and something magical happens.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.24.52 PMFenway Foul Up by David A. Kelly

 

I love all of the Ballpark Mysteries including  Wrigley Riddle.  This early chapter book is the beginning of a series about ballparks in the tradition of Ron Roy and Matt Christopher.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.24.41 PMTeammates  by Peter Golenbock

 

Jackie Robinson and PeeWee Reece teach more than baseball in this beautifully illustrated picture book.  A mainstay in strategy work.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.24.29 PMPoem Runs by Douglas Florian

 

Poetry, baseball, and Doug Florian- a winning team.  

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Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.24.19 PMThe Littlest Leaguer by Syd Hoff


Syd Hoff,  the sentimental favorite and a really great book. Easily read by our youngest fans.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.24.07 PMThe Field Beyond the Outfield by Mark Teague

Perhaps only available in my personal library, Mark Teague can do no wrong.  Aliens and baseball, a winning combo.  

Reading with Rigor: Teacher Edition #sol17

It’s Monday What Are You Reading?  Cognitive Load Edition

March 27, 2017

Recently,  I have been lingering over lessons and concepts, giving students time to understand more fully, considering the gradual release of responsibility in a more thoughtful way, scaffolding the ideas of something we have worked on into other areas.  Isn’t rigor something more than just difficult?  Note:  My links will send you to Heinemann and Stenhouse sites rather than Amazon.  It’s here that you will get more information, videos, and sample chapters.  sk

Disclaimer: This might seem like a crash course in literacy instruction.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.28.52 PMPreventing Misguided Reading, Jan Miller Burkins and Melody Croft

The Next Generation of Reading Instruction

This book is a GPS for the driving purposes behind quality literacy instruction.

Through structures in place, we can provide students with the environment to think critically and read closely.  The authors strategically use preassessment to reduce cognitive load.  

From the author:

“As you read this book, you will feel like you are having a stimulating professional conversation. You will agree, disagree, question, but most importantly, you will reflect. And after that, you will want to talk. For teachers…looking to think hard about the quality of their guided reading instruction, Preventing Misguided Reading promises to be the perfect study group companion.” — Kim Yaris, Educational Consultant, Plainview, NY.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.30.10 PMThe Construction Zone, Thompson

The subtitle says it all:  Building Scaffolds for Readers and Writers.  While I love this whole book, today I’m recommending Chapters 4 and 5 which focus on flexible design and flexible delivery.  We can get caught up on delivery curriculum and lose sight of the learners.  

In Thompson’s words,

If something isn’t working or if learners need more (or less) assistance, we counter by shifting our levels of support up or down as our scaffold moves closer and closer to its intended target.  In this way, scaffolding is alive and organic.  

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.29.31 PMTeaching Reading in Small Groups, Serravallo

In Serravallo’s own words:

We believe reading instruction should: ❏ match the individual reader ❏ teach toward independence ❏ teach strategies explicitly so that readers become proficient and skilled ❏ value time spent, volume, and variety of reading ❏ follow predictable structures and routines

We wrote that in a reader’s workshop classroom, we are reading mentors, and conferences are an opportunity for us to model the kinds of reading habits and skills we use to support student readers to do the same in their own reading.

This book is for anyone that is reconsidering their small group and perhaps whole class instruction, for teachers who wonder why their students aren’t making the progress they hope.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.29.14 PMWho is Doing the Work?

In their follow up book to Reading Wellness,  Burkins and Yaris hit us right between the eyes.  In their words,

When we are mindful about allowing students to actively engage their reading processes, each of these instructional context contribute to children rich reading growth.

This book covers building agency in read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading.  Caution:  They are tough on teachers, so be prepared to look closely at your practices and not take offense.  

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.29.46 PMNotice and Note- Strategies for Close Reading

Grade 3-8

I just can’t say it better than the authors themselves.  Here is a book that gives concrete systematic ways to reveal text to students.  Sidenote: follow Beers on Twitter @KyleneBeers and Facebook. She does not hold back.

Check out their Rigor and Talk Checklist.  

Just as rigor does not reside in the barbell but in the act of lifting it, rigor in reading is not an attribute of a text but rather of a reader’s behavior—engaged, observant, responsive, questioning, analytical. The close reading strategies in Notice and Note will help you cultivate those critical reading habits that will make your students more attentive, thoughtful, independent readers.”

—Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst
Also,  Readers Front and Center,  reviewed here.

 

For Students:

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.28.40 PMStuck Oliver Jeffers

 

An amazing book for anyone who has been, well, stuck.  Problem solving abounds.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.28.20 PMThe Most Magnificent Thing  Ashley Spires
Sometimes we can’t quite see where we are going until we look again with fresh eyes.

 

 

 

new-slicer-badgeThank you, Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Challenge. Read more slices here.

It’s Not Me, It’s Them #sol17

#IMWAYR  (It’s Monday,  What are You Reading?)

March 20, 2017

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 5.11.36 PMFor 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.  

Page 8

“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

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 4.43.29 PMI 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

 

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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.