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)

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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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Reflection Thursday #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.

I chose a word in January to guide some choices that I made throughout this year.  It’s the eight year that I have chosen a word.  This year’s word is reflection. Reflection

unnamedReflection:  Greeting #sol19

March 21, 2019

I come around the corner.  There’s my cart, full for the meeting.  My head is full but now thoughts are fully forming.  Snippets sailing through in the early morning routine. As the next room comes into view, she is there at the counter.  She signs in and turns to the doorway. I comment that she hasn’t brought much with her today. She laughs.

We come into the room together, jostling in the open doorway.  Arms full, we  haven’t fully made eye contact yet.  We begin to set up our things for the meetings to come, technology, pens, notebooks.  She looks in her bag for something.  I peer in behind her to see if she has any books I want to take a peek at.  I notice there is a book in her bag that I’ve just read.

We turn towards each other at the same moment close in proximity.  She begins speaking as our eyes come up from our work to each other.  When our eyes meet, she pauses.  I am not sure who reached first,  but at that moment we embrace.

The words will come.  For that moment there is just connection.

Sometimes a meeting, a talk, a lessons will start with a rush of words.  That pause,  that moment of eye-to-eye,  connection is the heart of the work.  Being a coach, an educator, a colleague is about so many different kinds of work.  The heart of the work is connection.  Stopping in the moment, in the day, in the work to look someone in the eye.  To say,  I’m listening.  I hear you.  You matter to me.  What you’re thinking and feeling and struggling with, matters to me.  

Routine #3: Reflection #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 2019-03-19 at 4.54.52 PMRoutine #3:  Reflection . #sol19

March 20, 2019

Autopilot. Every day.

Alarm early.  My side of the bed.  Out and dressed.

 

 

Dog leash in hand.  Quick walk and quiet talk.  Then breakfast for her.

Coffee percolating.  ‘School lunch’ for the two humans.  Potato Chip for Lily.

All done now, girl.   

Phase 2.  Cup of Coffee.   Slices or other reading for 1/2 hour or so.

Then…

Wait… I look in the mirror while I am drying my hair and your eyes stare back at me in the mirror.   I look again closer. They aren’t actually your eyes.  I remember your eyes being a soft blue with a little green and mine… well they bear that tawny hazel from I don’t know where.

So what is it?   The crow’s feet?  The shape?  I don’t really see it in the next minute.  Just a fleeting feeling and unseen seen and then gone.

I pause.  The house is quiet.  He is gone and she has gone to sleep somewhere else.

I wonder about you, so long gone.  What would I say if I had the chance?  What would you ask?

I shake my head a little,  staying in the present.

Returning to the routine.

Dream Home #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.
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Dream Home #sol19

March 19, 2019

Perhaps we started talking about our dream house when we moved out East. Maybe it was before that.  It could have been when we actually build our “dream house” years ago.  I’m not sure.  Many of Saturday afternoon, over cocktails, on vacation, random morning talks have been not so much what a dream house might be, but where.

The talk has been getting a little more serious in recent years.  Vacationing in places we might move when we retire.  Thinking about real estate and bedrooms, pools and porches.  Never actually getting to the place where we did something about it.   We were looking, but not looking.

Then I read an article about a location that is said to be the next up and coming place.  I looked up real estate in this location. A great deal was rough looking, not quite where I thought I wanted to live…  For the first time,  I said aloud… maybe we should buy somewhere before we actually want to leave here.

This statement shifted our thinking slightly.  We are nowhere near buying a second house.  However,  I think we are in a place where we are going to explore with more purpose.  Try a few places on for size.  Perhaps plan.

Considering these ideas on my commute today, the thought occurred to me that this might be like changing curriculum. As I sat in our professional development today, I thought we could have stayed on the sidelines waiting for our ‘dream house’ to come to us, but we took on a ‘fixer upper’ two and three years ago before we quite knew what we were doing.  Instead of saying, this current house suits us just fine, we jumped in on an opportunity and began renovations.  Like some other renovations, these can be painful.

Renovating all the moving pieces at once is painful.  Teachers need training and time to learn a new curriculum stance.  Students do not have the foundational skills that some lessons, activities, and units presuppose.  Their teachers are back to the drawing board, building a scaffold from prior years’ curriculums not taught fully yet.  We don’t have all the materials that would make this build seem optimal.

This is the time for a barn raising.  All hands on deck.  We teach these folks some things who talk it over with others who try it with a few more.  Those many say to the readers and writers, let’s give this a go.

I hope this house of literacy will be fairly close to completion before the two of us actually move to that retirement dream house.  The learning community is not tearing down the walls anymore.  Now we are rebuilding.  All the supports are going to be stronger for the personal care everyone is taking.

Each year we’ve moved forward, mucked around, had some success.  It might be a few more years until we are completely there.  Being the pioneers that we are, we moved in before it was ‘move-in’ ready.  We’re living in ‘construction dust’…

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.

(Saint) Patrick #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.

(Saint) Patrick #sol19

March 17, 2019

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth.  Patrick from your own father. A strong Irish name.  Francis from both generations in your grandfather’s family and your grandmother.

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth.  What a surprise how well it fit you.  Those big blue eyes filling that face right from the start paired with that dark hair.  So Irish, though I suspect that dark hair was your mother’s DNA.  Pale skin with a sprinkle of freckles round out that Irish face.

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth bringing with it a saint’s day celebrated by the world.  This was good for you, for you love a good party and being right in the center.  Many St. Patrick’s Day celebration when you were too young for green beer involved Green River,  green clothes,  green cookies or green frosted cupcakes.  There were Lucky Charms and soda bread and always, always, treats for your class.

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth-full on Irish.  An identity to hold on to.  The identity of generations of your family.  A people.

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth, but it has always been your name.  It fits you just like it should…perfectly.

From My Notebook: Staying with the Hard Work #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.  Usually these meetings are at 7:30 a.m. on a scheduled day of the week. I  meet with each teacher or team for 1/2 hour keeping notes of what we are working on.  Our school is an UOS of Study school following the work of Lucy Calkins and colleagues in this our first year of full implementation.  Most of our meetings are in their classrooms. 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. I am thankful to Tammy Mulligan, Teachers for Teachers, for assisting me in working on offering a menu of ideas during this coaching time.  This is still, after years, a work in progress.

Thinking about Writing about Reading:  Book Clubs, Literary Essay, & the Narrative Task #sol19

March 16, 2019

IMG_3575The afternoon before they warned me.  Be ready!  We’re bringing a lot to talk about tomorrow.  Maybe we need some extra time.  Sure, I say.  You know I’ll be here around 7.

Sure enough, around ten after 7,  the show up, arms full, already talking to each other.  I imagine all the way down from their rooms in  the other side of the building,  Anxious to see what they are thinking, the papers are quickly spread all over the table.  Waiting and listening for the kernel,  I take a sip of coffee and open my notebook.  This conversation had started the week before. The intersection of historical fiction book clubs, literary essays, and the looming state test tasks have been a hot topic.

Last week, after a free write about the the character trait of Fox in Fox, the students struggled to develop a thesis for Number the Stars and the books in their book clubs.  Having some personal theories, I wait for an opening and ask, point to the place where you lost them. There is a pause where these thoughtful teachers consider, then go back and look at their student work.  I wait.

Make to the start.  What’s the goal?  Grow an idea about a character using evidence.  Two overall problems emerge:  idea is weak or evidence doesn’t strongly support thesis.  The students seem to be heavily reliant on retell or prediction.  What’s next?  Go back.  Try again with a familiar text that they completed a lot of character work with in the fall, The Last Kiss by Ralph Fletcher available in the book Marshfield Dreams.

Our final decisions:  Limit choice to Complications A Character Has or Lesson Learned                                            Teach Back into the Skill                                                                                                                      Reexamine Results                                                                                                                                  Have student create a theory chart with evidence across text

They came back with the more notes and ideas the next week.  Stay tuned.

 

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theory chart

IMG_3599 Growing an ideaIMG_3686.jpgJot Menu