Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Engagement, Strategy Lessons, and Conversations...oh my!

No doubt that chapters 3, 4, and 5 have left us with numerous items to think about!  Although some of us are also reading chapters 5-8 in Jennifer Serravallo's other book titled, Conferring with Readers, one common theme from each book is the predictable structure for small group instruction and individual conferences.  During small group instruction, a structure of connect, teach, engage, and link is utilized.  During conferencing, the structure of research the reader, decide what to compliment and teach, and teach the reader is used.  Take a moment and think about why those two structures are different...what purpose does each structure have?

"Engagement in reading has been found to be the most powerful instructional activity for fostering reading growth," (page 70).  Thinking back to your classroom...do you remember a student who appeared to be reading only when you looked at them, a student who was stuck on the same page for days, or a student who could read but just did not choose to read?  The following questions stem from myself and from our text on engaging readers, strategy lessons, and conversations:

  • What do you look for when you check to see if your students are engaged readers?  Any specific routines/methods that you use?
  • Do we know our classroom libraries and all of the numerous books that emerge each day well enough to support our students in finding their "home run" book?  That single book or series that gets a reader hooked on reading.
  • Do we have a sense of the characteristics of most reading levels so we can use book introductions to transition the reader as they grow?
  • When do children look at, evaluate, and reflect on their own reading logs, book bin choices, notebooks, and sticky notes to think about their skill work and process?
  • How do we move kids from conversations about their books to the place where they can talk openly about their work and ideas that they are generating as a reader?
  • What about the idea of "sign-up seminars"?
  • Often the author refers to "bringing their baggie of books" to small group/individual conferences which means all students are not using the same book for small group instruction.  How does that make you feel?  What do you think about that?
  • Instruction can occur in small group strategy lessons, small group engagement lessons, guided reading, and individual conferences...which structure do you use most often?  Is there one structure that you would like to focus on next school year?
  • The author talks about prioritizing time in our classrooms for more regular student talk about reading and that we need to also support conversation strategies.  Book clubs, partnerships, read-aloud book clubs, conferences, all support conversation.  How often do your students have opportunities to be social around books?
  • Notetaking (by the teacher) is a form of formative assessment during small group instruction and individual conferences.  How do you record your notes?  Do you bounce from skill to skill, or do you stick with a skill over several days? 
Now those are some thinking stems! :)

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