Notebook Saturday: Drop In #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Notebook Saturdays

Through my work as a literacy coach,  I have teachers that I meet and collaborate with throughout the week. Some teachers will come with questions, sometimes we plan out what we will work on the next week, sometimes I have a teaching technique or skill  I’ve noticed or a suggestion. I keep a journal entry of each meeting to keep me thinking. 

Notebook Saturday:  Drop In #sol19

March 23, 2019

She rushes in the book room, paper in hand. Do you have a few minutes? she asks.  I turn from my computer, my head full of other thinking.  I hesitate, only for seconds.  Sure, I say, What’s up?  

She places a carefully constructed sheet on my table.  I scan for a moment.  Oh,  new strategy goals…  She has been very careful.  I wish I remembered her carefully constructed titles for the groupings.  In my mind I was already translating them… word solving, ok.  Two word solving groups.  (Middle word)   Now I’m remembering… Mind Movies,  Dialogue.  I called one Fluency.  Oh yes,  she called it sound like talking.   There’s one cryptic group that I’ve called LL.  Hope she remembers who and what.

Looks like you’ve got it thought out. 

I don’t know how I’m going to fit it all in.  

(Sigh) (This is a talk I can do on the fly)  Let’s talk it out.  Let me get a piece of paper.  Legal pad sheet ripped off the pad.  Stickies.  Pencil.  Let’s go. Ok,  how many groups can you fit in a workshop?  Two? 

I think I can fit three, she says.  Hmmm.  I quickly draw a grid, talking as I go.  Let’s plan for four days and then you can have an extra for things you notice that week or just whip around conferring.  I pause…  Let’s start with your word solvers.  

We begin working through groups talking strategic times, timing, configuration, methods as we go. My paper begins to look like a football play book.  (As if I’ve seen one of those)

IMG_3799

Quickly we work through the groups. Perhaps start the week with Word Solvers.  Maybe this word solving group can be seen by your partner teacher and you can just do table conferences.  

On we go.  Four days a week for the word solvers. She’s been running a shared reading group with them.  I suggest a gradual release. 2 minute teach, 8 minute watch and coach.  Then later in the week, run both groups at the same time, centering herself and going back and forth.

She’s ready for a stretch in technique.

Her Mind Movie group and Dialogue group perhaps two days each.  That might be a good try for Shared Reading.  Interactive Read Aloud, she says.

Mind Movie group?  What level?  Lish?   You could teach into story mountain.  Time line? she asks.   Four squares.   Maybe a little higher level character work.  Iris is the kind of person who…character trait.   

We talked through book club ideas quickly.  Double partnerships, book club talk.

We include a bonus slot for research or teaching into current unit lessons.  I draw a poorly executed trash can fire.  She looks up.  Sometimes fires happen.  You need space for that.  

Then I say something off the cuff in closing. That’s a mantra, she says.  Write it down. 

IMG_3800 (1) Laughing,  I write it down as I say it again.

Off you go.  

 

My apologies to Jennifer Serravallo for my fast edit of a technique I learned from her.  You can read more about this grid planning technique in Teaching Reading in Small Groups.  

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Monday Bookshelf: (Un)Flat Characters #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Monday Bookshelf:  Character Study in Intermediate Edition #sol19

March 18, 2019

If you are reading this, you might have the same problem I do.  Bookshelves bursting at the seams and an organization system that works one day, but not the next.  Welcome to my Monday bookshelf, where I will organize a stack of books within a category.  Hopefully this stack will resonate.

We meet up on Friday mornings at 7:30 and co-teach with each other through the reading (writing) block each day.  Sometimes we chat on the fly before I go to my first class at the beginning of her planning.  Sometimes she stops me on my way down the hall.  Sometimes I drop in as I am walking by.  We talk a lot.

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.50.31 PMThis week we are talking about what it means to be in a book club and the dreaded flat characters.  I won’t mention the flat characters.  You know who they are.  They lurk around in easier chapter books or series where the author keeps that main character as flat as a pancake. When you say something brilliant like

develop a theory about a trait of your main character and use evidence to grow that idea, 

that darn old flat character really won’t give up one single thing.  He or she just sits there on the pages moving forward with not a real emotion one.

Help me!  I have some real emotions. 

So here we sat with this problem along with another problem… Harry Potter.  Now I love Harry Potter, not as much as the next person, but I do think he’s pretty special.  HOWEVER,

itsgoingtobenearlyimpossibleforthatnineyearoldtopickonecharactertraitandevidencefromaSEVENHUNDREDpagebook. 

First my recommendation for books with characters for third graders who love Harry Potter.  patentpending

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.49.30 PMBeastologist.   Ok, the actual title is Flight of the Phoenix (Nathanial Flood, Beastologist)  This book is short.  This book is easy.  This book is filled with villians and twists and surprises and magic and… an orphan.  I know,  WINNING.  Also a series.

Another similar short book is Spiderwick.

If you want something in the same vein, but a harder read,  Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos will fit the bill.  Again a series.  Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.49.13 PM.pngThese books are for your HP lovers.

The flat character lovers need something else.

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.49.00 PMFor Lovers of the flat character books,  perhaps Ellray Jakes is Not a Chicken.  The character isn’t much less flat, but he does learn something.   This is also a place where I might insert Alvin Ho or Calvin Coconut who seem much less flat.  I insert male protagonists here because I am thinking about certain flat characters.  If your flat characters are perhaps fairies,  I think Spiderwick might work or perhaps you could work in some strong girls like,  Lola Levine or  Dyamonde DanielsJasmine Toguchi, or Sofia MartinezScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.47.35 PM

definitely a theme here

All these books are not expensive.  They are relatively easy to read and find.  They are part of a series.  And… we will be book tasting them very soon in a third grade near me.

So my teacher colleague and I read and talked about some books.  Some fresh books will come and be loved by her friends.  Some old flat friends will stay and we’ll work through those skills with short text and picture books.  We will pick up that story another time.

Monday Bookshelf: Fairy Tale(ish) Edition #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Monday Bookshelf:  Fairy Tale(ish) Edition #sol19

March 11, 2019

If you are reading this, you might have the same problem I do.  Bookshelves bursting at the seams and an organization system that works one day, but not the next.  Welcome to my Monday bookshelf, where I will organize a stack of books within a category.  Hopefully this stack will resonate.

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 4.31.28 PM.pngStack 2:  Fairy Tale, Folk Tale, Fable, Traditional Tale… Any Book with Strong Archetypes and a Lesson

Being a little tired of most fairy tales where the female character is at the whim of the male power character,  I branch out to other books that have a traditional tale feel without actually being one.  All except The Three Little Pigs, which could be either gender and seem to work with every demonstration lesson ever.  (Don’t believe me.  It’s Tammy Mulligan’s theory.  Give it a try)  For that story,  you don’t need a book.  Every single person knows what happens.  Here is a collection of books with a strong lesson, strong characters, and character change. 

 

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.28.17 PMA Camel in the Sun inspired by a retelling of a traditional Muslim hadith, or account of the words or actions of the Prophet,  this is the story of a camel whose owner only realizes his selfish ways when the Prophet appears and tends to the camel humanely.

 
Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.27.05 PMThe Wolf, The Duck, and the Mouse   This is a crazy tale where the victims change the tables on the villain.  Who is the bad guy in this story?  Perfect for the student who loves a twist.

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.25.39 PM

Little Tree  The little tree stubbornly refuses to let go and faces the consequences.  There is a strong message here about change.   Very simple text and beautiful illustrations.

 

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.24.39 PMThe Uncorker of Ocean Bottles   I’m not sure what kept me from this book until now.  The Uncorker has the solitary job of retrieving bottles from the ocean and delivering them to the appropriate persons until one day…

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.23.00 PM

 

Horrible Bear   As in many of Ame Dyckman’s books,  the obvious bad guy just isn’t.  Misjudged,  the bear isn’t the one with the lesson to learn  See also  Wolfie the Bunny and Misunderstood Shark

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.21.29 PM

 

Chopsticks  I kind of want to include an AKR book into every category I make.  They can be used for so many.  Chopsticks think they can only work together, until… See also Spoon and Exclamation Mark.

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.20.00 PM

Bloom  is a fairy tale with an anti-hero.  She’s the solution that no one wants.  She doesn’t have to be the one to save the day,  she can give her powers away. Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.20.31 PM

 

 

 

 

Also in the Stack:    Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.58.55 PMThe Princess and the Pit Stop a delightful mashup of many tales where the heroine definitely makes things happen  Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.59.55 PM

After the Fall    a familiar tale with a much more satisfying ending

 

 

and  Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 4.01.26 PM.pngWe Don’t Eat our Classmates

I have never seen this problem in a classroom and yet, I think we can all relate

 

Shoelace Philosophy #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 5.20.36 PMShoelace Philosophy #sol19

March 10, 2019

A conversation between the Kennedys where I attempt to use Darin Johnston’s # genius

Typical Saturday Morning at the Kennedy’s.  Mr. K is watching something on TV and I am running around doing this and that.

Mr. K calls from the couch, We need something to replace shoelaces?  Your basic shoelaces won’t work?  We need these Hickie things?  

#yeahwedo

Coming in to the room, I say as someone who has discussed shoelaces and shoe tying daily for the last thirty eight or so years, I’m all for something that keeps shoes tied.  

Then I think about shoelaces and so many discussions about shoelaces.

#velcroruinedhandwriting

Yes, that’s right.  When velcro first gained popularity, many were worried that students who didn’t practice shoe tying would lose manual dexterity,  eye- coordination, self-care and then not be able to develop all the skills needed to develop beautiful penmanship.

#sothatiswhathappenedtopenmanship

Then velcro ran its course and students went back to shoelaces… which are either hard to tie, slippery and untie, or just aren’t tied.  This led to me and, I believe, others to constantly saying Stop and tie your shoes. Do you need help with those laces? 

#ifIonlytalkedaboutbooksthatmuch

So there you have it folks, civilization as we know it hangs on the balance of students learning how to tie shoes. So I ask you, Do we need a replacement for shoelaces?  

#issomethingbiggergoingon

 

#thishashtagthingisharderthanitlooks

#darindoesitbetter

 

 

 

5/31 Monday Book Shelf #sol19

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 8.32.28 AMFor the month of March, I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.  This is day 5. 

 

5/31  Monday Book Shelf #sol19

March 4, 2019

If you are reading this, you might have the same problem I do.  Bookshelves bursting at the seams and an organization system that works one day, but not the next.  Welcome to my Monday bookshelf, where I will organize a stack of books in the whim that strikes me that day.  Hopefully this stack will resonate.

Stack #1  Mirrors and Windows for Shared Reading and Read Aloud

Providing for reflection of the school experience for some and empathy creating conversations and reflection for all through shared reading and read aloud can be a multipurpose tool in the classroom.  With so much content, wise choice of books help us discuss Social Emotional Learning goals along with decoding and comprehension skills. 

These book provide a glimpse into the lives of children who are struggling to find their place in this world.  Isn’t this true for many? 

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.57.09 AMA Boy Called Bat was this year’s Global Read Aloud pick for the younger students’ read.  What to say about Bat?  Bat struggles are in some ways universal and in others particular.  He is sensitive to sound, loves routine, has objects for comfort, avoids eye contact, and is incessantly inquisitive.  When Bat’s mother fosters a baby skunk, Bat learns a lot and by sharing that moves closer to friendship.  What I love is that everything isn’t smoothly resolved in the end. A beautiful read aloud for any class perhaps first through third grade. Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.57.40 AM

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.55.22 AMBeatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker is much more in-your-face kind of reading.  Beatrice’s classmates and teacher can get frustrated with her ways.  This is a book about her trials and missteps, her attempts and successes.  Again,  I like that everything isn’t perfectly resolved.  I am wondering if reading a chapter or a book talk might spark an interest in a small book club in grades two through four.  Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.56.02 AM

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.51.27 AMStuart Goes to School and Stuart’s Cape are particularly new books, just new to me. Stuart is starting to school and has some real and exaggerated fears about what might happen.  Unlike the my other choices,  there is magic involved here.  The magic, however, is not necessarily responsible for  Stuart’s change in thinking.  An easy chapter book for reluctant transitioning readers, possible shared reading text for second graders, a book reviewed book for a book club.  Many possibilities for this short series.  Also magically written by Sarah Pennypacker, a perennial favorite. Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 8.06.35 AM

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.53.56 AM.pngFox the Tiger, a book award winner for 2018, is a charming beginning reader about a Fox that decides to be a tiger.  His plan,  his friends’ reactions make for a surprising deep well for character change and feeling discussion.  Perfect for shared reading in a late kindergarten and any time in first grade.  Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.54.19 AM

I might label this bin.  Be Unique, Be You.

 

 

 

What I Took Away from It’s All About the Books #IMWAYR

9780325098135 Ten Things I Took Away from It’s All About The Books

April 20, 2018

Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan’s new book, It’s All about the Books is a wake up call to every elementary classroom, school book room, literacy specialist, and administrator.  Buy more books and figure out how to redistribute the books you have so that every book is getting into the hands of students.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned or been reminded of by this amazing book.

 How many guided reading sets do we need? 

Break up the guided reading sets and make them into more interesting groupings. Keep the sets that will help teachers teach specific genres or specific skills in strategy groups.

Level, but don’t make it about the level 

It’s true at the beginning reading levels, students should and need to be reading at level.  However, making the level how we identify books,  identifies readers too.  Those kiddos don’t want to read an ____ level book,  they want to read a book about tarantulas or dolphins or whatever.   Make those groups be fun and funny and interesting.  Some book bin labels from our revolving bin collection:  Fun, Fun, Fun,  We Go Out,  99 Problems, I Got a Dog.   Our books are leveled A/B,  C/D, E, F/G,  H/I, but those level aren’t how we identify them.  IMG_1182

 

Move those books around!

Bring them to faculty meetings.  Make a bin swap date once a month for K-2.   As a coach, tote them to collaboration meetings, PLC, and whenever you meet with teachers.

 

Involve everyone in the DIY

Just because I live in the literacy center,  I don’t own it.  Involve everyone.  Ask questions:  What do we need?  What do we have?  What organization would help? What’s hot?

Find out what is out there in the building

Do a complete inventory.  Find out what you have to work with.  Include classroom libraries that were purchased by the district, mentor texts, classroom sets, EVERYTHING.

Organize a book swap 

Organize a book swap for teachers.  What books do you have in your room that your students consistently can’t read, don’t read, are too high,  too low,  ready to move on.  Maybe those books are just what someone else is looking for.

Organize a book swap for students

Have student bring in outgrown books.  Set up shopping tables by general grade level or interest.  Have kids take however many you can spread out.

Create a shared document 

Create a shared document for recommendations, for groupings, for books.  What would be a good next purchase?  What should a classroom teacher build up?  What is a must own?

Start in one place to organize

Let’s say your teachers all want to work on folk and fairy tales.  Create a section in your book room that is especially for those titles.  Same with animals.  These are always needed and popular.  Think about what you need organized as a group and start there.

Encourage everyone to switch up their offerings 

A good time to switch is over breaks or at the end of units.  Keep some from the last that didn’t quite get around to everyone or to use for transition.  Another good time to switch is after assessment time when you want to match readers with books that are more right for them.

School favorites

Think about vertical focus.  Is there a title that wants to move from grade to grade.  Picture books are not just for kindergarten and first grade.

Help Given

Hang a sign in the door of the book room, Help Given.  Have kiddos come by to discuss book groupings with you and help put away.  Have PLCs meet where the books are.

 

These are just a few of the amazing ideas inside Clare and Tammy’s great book, It’s All About the Books.  This is a must read for all teachers of reading because it really is all about the books.

 

 

In Search of the Perfect Read-Aloud #sol18

IMG_9715.JPGIn Search of the Perfect Read Aloud #sol18

March 26, 2018

Since Wednesday,  I have been in search of the perfect read aloud, not for the students, but for their teachers.  This read aloud must have a twist or surprise, a character journey both internal and external, and most importantly,  the sixteen or so teachers I am reading it to shouldn’t have heard it before.  I know, right?  That’s the kicker.  So started the quest.

Having spent Wednesday and Thursday in professional development,  we have scheduled a short hour long follow up on Monday with the kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers.  All of us have been working on intentionally raising the accountable talk with our students and rich conversations are growing everywhere across the building.  The goal of our current professional development cycle was craft lessons, so our talk naturally took in helping students construct their own knowledge.

Our library supervisor is so lovely and agreed to recommend some books from the library’s collection.  Tammy Mulligan recommended some more and I had a few I was thinking of in my personal collection.  After several fretful days where I reread many texts,  I took my favorite candidates to the library to chat with Barb, our librarian.  She was drawn to some she knew but there were several that she was unfamiliar with, so we began to read books together late on Friday afternoon.

Our after school program students were in the room as we were looking through the shelves,  reading bits together, and one of the students unfamiliar to me came up and said,

I heard you and Mrs. M. reading together,  there was something about a policeman. 

Yes, I said, there was a policeman in that book.  He was helping the girl make a mural.  Do you know what that is?  Head Shake.  It’s a big painting on the side of a building. 

Why are you reading together?

We like to.  Head nod.

Barb and I did read together for quite a while that afternoon.  We laughed and talked and planned and enjoyed the camaraderie that comes from a shared love.  We share other things, two sons, midwestern roots, a similar age,  but this day,  it was all about the books.  Page by Page,  laughing and talking.  We enjoyed it so much that we think we might have a book tasting for the teachers, inviting them to the library to see some of our favorites and think about how they might incorporate them into their read aloud work.

Barb encouraged me to choose a funny book. I think because I made her laugh reading it.  The character does change through the course of the story.  So our first read aloud recommendation for you is The Bad Seed.  We wanted to use the books Extra Yarn or Not Norman, but they were familiar to some.  My back up book, that I will probably use with the teachers on Monday, is Weslandia, a story of a boy who learns to carve his own place in the world.  Others in the short stack include Little TreeThe Tree, an Environmental FableYard Sale,  and Windows.

There are more on the stack, but I’ll save them for another day.

Some background reading in constructivism and read aloud can be found in Comprehension Through Conversation and The Construction Zone.   Terry Thompson’s book is a very accessible text on the effective use of scaffolds with students.

Some Key ideas in collaborative talk in read aloud:

  • Choose rich text  that beg for rich conversation.  The students don’t have to understand the setting and the characters don’t have to be human, but the characters should have some depth.  I recommend anything by Eve Bunting, most by Kevin Henkes, and the simple but powerful texts of Marc Barnett.
  • Plan, but don’t plan too much.  Have an idea of the destination, but let the students get their with their own GPS.
  • Talk takes practice,  think alouds scaffold students toward a disposition for this talk.
  • Help them get to the heart of the story,  what was the character’s heart’s desire?
  • Think to yourself,  how might I structure my own talk if they can’t get there?

31-day-streak-with-border

Nearly There.  Day 26 of a 31 day writing streak as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Thanks to all the slicers who encourage me and Two Writing Teachers.   Read some amazing slices here.