Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Week 3 of #Cyber Pd: Reading in the Wild

 I am excited to join the numerous bloggers that are wildly reading, Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits.  All of these reflective participants' thinking and wonderings are collected by Michelle at Literacy Learning Zone.




"I hate nonfiction, Mrs. Miller. It's so boring.  It's all about dead presidents and whales, she said." (page 178)


While reading the story Donalyn shares about Ashley, a girl that reads four to five books a week and is open-minded to reading almost anything, I realized that this is a powerful entree into dialogue about a current issue that is causing many teachers to rethink our basic assumptions about non-fiction in the classroom and for readers.

To increase students' nonfiction reading skills, access, and motivation for reading, Donalyn nudges us to consider several activities for non-fiction texts in our classroom. (page 180) One activity she suggests has been on the discussion board in our district and while teachers are planning...Pair fiction text with nonfiction on related topics.

After reading a book like this, I always need to ground my thinking in something I am currently thinking about so the big ideas do not get lost in the noise.  This activity pairs nicely with Anchor 9.  In anchor 9 of the Common Core, students are being pushed to analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.  The big questions that I have found myself reflecting on:

When you pair the two text, what is your purpose?

Are you bringing these two texts together to build background knowledge or are you providing an opportunity to compare approaches by building meaning off of two texts?

I know the goal is not to master a text.  The goal is to use strategies, conversation, and writing to justify/analyze/synthesize at a higher level and to use the text as the common ground of that thinking.  I am not selecting paired text for convenience.  I need them to be paired together to strengthen and develop meaning because no text provides meaning alone.  They are meaningful in connection to another.


Look at this standard closely by grade level.  



Literature
Informational
K
Compare-contrast adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories
With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

1

Compare-contrast adventures and experiences of characters

Identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

2

Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.


Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.
3
Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series)

Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.
4
Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.
Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
5
Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.

Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

A conferring point that would stem nicely from my new thinking: Do I give students time to "act on their curiosity" when reading a paired text?  Do I  allow them time to divert from their next stack and either immerse in the topic or research for answers?  I need to take time to promote this text set as an extending inquiry opportunity because "through wide nonfiction reading, students build background knowledge content knowledge, increase confidence, and discover authors and topics that feed further reading and independent investigations." (page 182)

I have some examples of text sets in previous posts:

Text set...built around wonder
Text sets...built around character

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A school year fueled by recovery...

I have not blogged in almost a year and am refueled for this coming school year.   I am refueled, not because I have not blogged, read many blogs, or commented, but due to spending this past school year focused on recovery...returning to a normal state of health, mind and strength for myself.  I found that I needed silence in our busy world because words were beginning to lose their meaning. I felt as if I was juggling topics and beginning to chase noise without grounding ideas in my beliefs.  During this recovery,  I found myself listening more and not reacting.  I realized speaking does not always heal or solve problems.

During this "education recovery", I realized I was not driven by fear.  I had not become afraid to venture out with new ideas and was willing to nudge the status quo.  I found with silence, my beliefs were not losing focus.  I did realize that I was driven by the need for approval with evaluations, being there for every teacher I support, working with families in our RTI process and SLOs.  I found that I was trying to please everyone.  I had forgotten that was the one key to failure.  I also realized I was driven by unnecessary stress.  Stress worrying about things that I could not change.  I had to find focus.

Now,  11 months later...I have found I was focused but was letting the noise of our education world interfere with my silence.  I found myself this summer ready to venture back into the blogging world and making this a part of my new "refueled" reading and writing life.  

I am in the literacy coach role again next year.  Even coaches need time to refuel...to keep calm...and teach on! :)


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We were WONDER #1044!


WONDERful news! My school co-authored a Wonder of the Day on Wonderopolis.org and it was posted today!!!!!  We were wonder #1044.  


The website is brought to life by the National Council of Family Literacy.  Wonderopolis connects learning in schools to our homes/communities.  Their approach informs and encourages inquiry and discovery in the family and classroom setting.  The Wonders are aligned with CCSS, STEM, and Blooms Taxonomy.  Back in December, NCFL sent a team to our school to discuss what it was like to author a website and write informational text.  Our school brainstormed possible new wonders.  Then, a fifth grade Wonder Writing Team researched and wrote the answer to our school question...Can Coins Bring Good Fortune?  Today it appeared as the Wonder of the Day.  Please check out the link to see the connections to media, vocabulary, and inquiry.  Congratulations to our students!  Thank you to Wonderopolis!!!!

I am feeling a tshirt in the making...instead of their flamingo tshirts...mine would say "I know if coins bring good fortune!" with a big number 1044 on the back! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Which type of writing to start the year?

Which type of writing to start the year...informational, narrative, or opinion/argumentative?  When looking through writing resources available, most start with narrative.  Narrative gives students a chance to tell their story and to learn about them personally as we begin to develop our intellectual communities in writing workshop.  But what about this twist?  What about starting the year with opinion/argumentative writing?  What message would that send our students?  It would send the message that we all have opinions (just like we all have bellybuttons), we all need to be heard, we will use text as a trigger to share personal experiences/feelings, and we have the right to change our mind as we gather new knowledge through text and conversation.

I have been sharing a series with some teachers titled, This or That ________ Debate: A Rip Roaring Game of Either/Or Questions.  This series has an animal debate book, history debate, sports debate, and
survival debate. Would you rather run fast like a cheetah or long like a wolf?  Would you rather swim with a great white shark or a jellyfish?  Would you rather help build Mount Rushmore or build the Panama Canal?

Readers are presented with a question and a two page spread that presents text features and details about each side of the debate.  The reader must decide what they would rather do.  A great opportunity to answer the question without reading (students can share personal experiences, feelings and known knowledge), read (model reading nonfiction), share (speaking and listening), find details (evidence based), and then make your final decision (drawing conclusions).  Students can write in the OREO format (opinion writing) to discuss their final side.


Hmmm...what is your opinion?