Sunday, September 30, 2012

My OLW...Listening when planning small differentiated reading groups

Every year I am looking for that perfect form, recording keeping tool, or system for planning small differentiated reading groups.  Whether it be...guided reading, strategy groups, book clubs, or individual conferences...I needed a tool that encouraged me and reminded me to LISTEN to what my students' needs were as readers.  I think I found it!  It came in the most simplistic form.

I did recopy an handwriting
was awful and I wanted to remove students' names.
My right-hand resource for planning small differentiated reading groups is the Continuum of Literacy Learning by Fountas and Pinnell.  From interactive read aloud, to writing about reading, to individual reading has it all.  I have owned and used this book for almost three years...why it took me to year two to connect the heading of the page to my planning for small groups...I will never know!  Over and over again, you see "Behaviors to NOTICE, TEACH, AND SUPPORT" written on almost every page.  It took me to January of this year to make the connection to my recording tool.  It is simple.  I write NOTICE, TEACH, SUPPORT at the top.  Then, six boxes to record student information.  I do not plan out the week.  I plan out the day.  This form encourages me at the end of each reading group to reflect and reminds me that what I notice is important.  It encourages me to respond the next day and reminds me to define my focus.  Here is how I interpret the NOTICE, TEACH, SUPPORT on my form.

NOTICE: Why am I bringing this small group together?  What do they have in common?  What did I notice today that will help me support their reading life tomorrow?

Check it out!
TEACH: What is the one thing I want them to experience?  I use the Continuum to help me and always note if it is within, beyond or about the text.

SUPPORT:  What type of media am I going to use to support their learning? Their independent reading books? A short text selected by me?  A group of short text that the students can choose from?  A book from a specific level?

Slowing down and LISTENING each day, instead of conforming to my agenda, helped me to ride their reading wave...not mine.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Common Core...evidence and OREOs

Now that we are reaching October and the school year feels like "full speed ahead"...I am sure it is the Oreo part in the title that caught your attention!  I can always infer how teachers are feeling in our building based on the level of my candy tin (evidence #1), based on the number of teachers standing around it (evidence #2), and how open they are about how often they visit the tin even if I am not there (evidence #3)!  In fact, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Common Core has shifted my thinking toward evidence.

One of the instructional shifts that the Common Core is bringing to the forefront is grounding our students' reading, writing, and speaking with evidence from the text...from kindergarten classrooms using prompting and supporting to respond to questions about key details in a third grade using the text as the basis for answers to demonstrate fifth grade quoting accurately when drawing inferences from the is all about the text.  The text is put to center stage since it is the one thing all readers have in common during conversations.

In order to make this shift in our teaching and in our classroom discussions, it is all about the OREO.  I came across a blog (check it out for the full acronym), written by a kindergarten teacher, that uses this acronym for encouraging students to think deeply when writing persuasive pieces.  Then I got to thinking... we could nudge our students to deeper thinking in conversations using this same model.  The thought process is very similar...

"What are you thinking?" (opinion)
"Why are you thinking that?"
"How does your thinking connect back to the text? (evidence)
"Tell us more"(evidence)
"So what are you thinking now?"

I was in a third grade classroom modeling this thinking with the book, The Sweetest Fig.  Students had jotted their thoughts down in their notebooks and we were examining thoughts that we could think deeply about.  By thinking about the OREO in my head, I was able to nudge the students to not accept their first statement as their only thought...but to see how grounded it was.  Here is an example of one student's response...

T: What are you thinking?
S: I think the owner is just mean.
T: Why are you thinking that?
S: Did you see the way he pulled the leash real hard?!?!
T: We did (and I pointed to it in the text). Tell us more.
S:  The poor animal was not even allowed to bark.
S2: Yes, the owner was very clean and fussy.
T:  We did hear that (and I turned to that part) So what are you thinking now?
S: I do not think Bibot is a person who should own a pet.

T= teacher   S= student

This acronym is a great tool to keep in your back pocket to support grounding our thinking in evidence and to support students in having conversations, not just reporting an answer.  It encourages the process of supporting with evidence in our conversations with the class, with book partners, and when we are engaged independently in a text.  Of course, eating an OREO while reading is great too!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

If you go to the zoo...

If you go to the Columbus Zoo, what do you find?
A gift shop full of many surprises.
If you look at the surprises, what do you see?
An intriguing section of non-fiction texts.
When you look inside the text, what do you think?
The following texts are engaging, new, and just what we need!

Animal Eyes and Animal Tails are a great series that takes a broad topic and breaks it down to specific sub-topics.  Perfect for using text features to gain information and to focus on understanding one main idea or drawing conclusions with a text on a one page spread.

Who Pooped At the Zoo? is an engaging read.  By examining complex one page spreads, readers will learn to dance around text features and various ideas on one page.