Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We were WONDER #1044!

WONDERful news! My school co-authored a Wonder of the Day on 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?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My new "in-between" graphic novel...

While at the bookstore this week, my daughter was looking for a "quick read."  I asked her to define "quick read" and she said it was a book that was easy to follow, might be silly, and did not need a bookmark.  So there you have future third grader's definition of a quick read.

My daughter loves books.  She loves to hear them read aloud and she chooses to read, but right now she is working through the picture book to chapter book phase.  She wants to read chapter books by herself but needs encouragement to work through a page with no pictures.  Sometimes she is frustrated to put the bookmark in so she can go back to the book the next time she reads.  Graphic novels are her "go-to" books.  She is attracted to the pictures but appreciates the numbers of pages and the humor of the series characters.

She began with the two voice style of Elephant and Piggie, but now feels that she needs more.

She then went to Babymouse.  The character and the idea of a series motivated her but she still needed support with some of the vocabulary and wanted to be more independent.

So..this week she found her new "in-between" graphic novel...Meet Bean Dog and Nugget!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Modeling the role of talk with our new classroom communities...

I was at the bookstore today and overheard a woman in the aisle next to me.  She was with a friend asking the bookseller, "Do you have any books, picture books, that I could read to promote community and respect?  Did I say...third grade?"  The woman had not found her match with the picture books on display titled, "Back to School."

So of course, if you know me, I jumped in.  I discussed several titles with the two women and let them be to decide #1 if I was crazy #2 to look for the titles we had discussed   Our paths met again in the check out line.  Two of the titles caught her interest and was buying both...Courage and Duck! Rabbit!  She saw the potential in the first book, but questioned the second title. it I used Duck!Rabbit! to model the importance of listening to one another respectfully, understanding each other's point of view, supporting thinking with evidence or own experiences, and talking to start the year.

1.  I paused the first scene from a YouTube reading of the book where it is just the character, no title.  The video is included below.  I asked students to silently look at the picture and write down what they thought the character was while sitting at their seats.  The students then came to the carpet and began sharing their responses.  (notice thoughts are left at their seats so they won't be changed) Right away students began discussing what they saw and pointing to evidence. Students learned quickly to appreciate what they did not notice at first and the value of listening while their peers are explaining.

2.  Then we watched the YouTube reading of the book, pausing at several points to discuss the new evidence we have seen...Has our thinking changed now?  What in the text made you think that?  Has my thinking been persuaded down a new path?  Do I see your point of view but I am still convinced that I was right?

3.  Then the students went back to their seats and wrote about what they thought the main character was now by supporting their thinking with evidence from conversations or text.  Students came to realize that conversation can lift your thinking or take you down a road that was not thought of initially.

Students were engaged and interested in this moment because they came to realize that there is no right or wrong answer.  They began to ask why or why not, determine importance, and realize that conversation leads to deeper understanding because the students are questioning.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Notice and Note...with whom?

I have now read Notice and Note...twice.  During my first read, the text was meeting my mind and awakening so many thoughts and experiences.  During my second read, I found myself thinking about all of the student novels I have read and trying to have a conversation (with myself) about certain signposts in certain books.  One line stood out like no other on page 12, "Now more than ever, reading seems to be a social act."  Whether it be words on paper or words on a screen, I realize more than ever that the demands of reading in each situation are different, but the social act is the same.  I could not stop thinking about, other than "turn and talk" or whole class read aloud, how to use these signposts in a more "social" action.  Here are some that come to mind:

1.  Two classrooms participate in the same whole class read aloud in their own classrooms, discovering signposts along the way.  At certain "rest stops", buddies from each class are formed to discuss the signposts.  Are the two classrooms finding the same responses?  The students take notes of their conversation, then report back to their classroom any new thinking or revised thinking from the buddy stop.
2.  Two book clubs in the same classroom read the same book, but meet only with their own group.  Then at certain "rest stops", a student from one book club meets with another book club and uses book club discussions to move conversation forward.  Are the two book clubs finding the same responses?  The students then report back to their book club any new thinking or revised thinking from the buddy stop.
3.  Two classrooms in different schools participate in the same whole class read aloud. At certain "rest stops", buddies from each class are formed to discuss the signposts in the media world (blogs, Skype, etc..).  Are the two classrooms in different schools finding the same signposts?  The students then reflect on how this social act triggered any new thinking.

In all of these social acts, the signposts act as text triggers.  These text triggers will support the students in using natural strategies, not forced ones.

Now I am going to read a student novel and look for the signposts myself.  Check out A Year of Reading...Mary Lee tried this with a book titled, Don't Feed the Boy.  I am thinking of trying it with Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Using curiosity to get to know our new students...

At the start of the school year, we need to get to know our students....their likes, interests, favorite build our communities and begin to move students forward.  There are activities out there that do just that...pre-made All About Me posters, filling paper bags with five objects that reveal more about us, interviewing a fellow classmate, just to name three.  But what if we also nudged our students to share what they think about and learn about in our intellectual community.  What do they wonder?  What has made them stop and question?  What type of thinking would make them act?  Is it animals? Events from history? Art?  What experiences in their lives have led them to situations that created wonder?  Was it a family vacation?  A tree seen on a nature walk?  A story from a weekend with grandparents?  A news clip seen on television? Or watching a rollercoaster twist and turn over and over again?

I believe that students need an intellectual community that encourages wonder and promises a time to act on that curiosity,  Students need resources, technology, and time to have open inquiry and time to act on curricular inquiry.  Students also need opportunities for wonders to be shared and to have conversations with classmates that already have that known knowledge or clues to what we are wondering about.  I believe in supporting a community where known knowledge to new knowledge is just as important and valued as unknown knowledge to new knowledge.

One way to start the year is to have students bring in a picture of something that has made them wonder...something that has driven them to ask a question...want to know more.  Students would share their pictures and write a clue.  A clue that would give someone with "unknown" knowledge a starting point.

Here is the picture my son would bring in...
 His clue would be: Florida Panhandle

The picture and clue are then put on the following bulletin board...notice the computer right next to the interactive bulletin board?
During inquiry workshop, students can research more about the photograph.  There are no specific questions to answer and would pin what they learned on index cards next to the picture.  This is used for open inquiry, but could also open with curricular topics.

Directions: Once the board is filled with action and knowledge.  Repeat. :)

PS...No sea creatures were hurt in the photograph.  Just scooped up in a pink bucket and adored by many beach walkers.  They were released back to the Gulf within a few minutes.  Check out this site if you want to learn more about these creatures...Blue Button Jelly (link includes video of how they were they impacted with the Gulf Oil Spill from a few years ago?)

His second place photograph.  Clue:  White line shows how high the Cumberland River was. (2010 Tennessee Cumberland River Flood)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Creating a classroom schedule...

It is this time of year when I have many conversations with teachers about creating their classroom schedules.  As a literacy coach, it is my role to listen, hear beliefs, see constraints, understand purposes, acknowledge promises, and support defining structures that are predictable and maintainable.

Here is a walk through of creating a classroom schedule that considers variables, illuminates beliefs, and makes promises.

1.  Plug in variables that you do not have control over...lunch, recess, specials, etc...
 2.  If your team has decided to have any common math or language arts blocks, this is the time to plug them in.  It is easy to see open spots as you discuss your common goal.  The team below needed a common math time so they could include the intervention teacher and the gifted intervention specialist.
 3.  Look for predictable, consecutive chunks of time.  Students need to feel the routine and promise of structures put into their day and for you...planning and responding to their needs the next day.

4.  List your priorities (your non-negotiables) that match your promises, beliefs, and visions.  Number one on this list was having read aloud at the end of the day.  The teacher wanted read aloud to be the last thing they did together, the last thing they remember doing, and a storyline that would leave them wondering, thinking, talking and longing to come back the next day as the students went to the buses.
 5.  Finding a reading workshop time that was open, consecutive, and was about an hour and a half.
 6.  Finding a time to put in an inquiry workshop that could connect to content area times.  With the way this schedule worked...planning inquiry workshop would have to be thought of as Friday, Monday, Tuesday so the lessons were consecutive.  This was the point that library and designated computer time was incorporated into the schedule.  Library for research and technology was needed to be a part of curricular inquiry circles.  Library had to bump read aloud on Mondays...but the read aloud book would be made as a possible mentor text for reading workshop on those days.
 7.  Needed to fill in word study and writing workshop.  Writing workshop won its spot because it lent itself to 50 minutes...four days in a row.
 8.  Define moments.  I always encourage teachers to "break it down.".  You will know if the times work based on how you define the moments within the larger chunk of time.  This is the time to plug in routines.  Defining moments is one step that is often skipped and can end up losing your way early in the year...teachers often want to see if the big blocks of times work before defining.  Defining is the most crucial lets you see if the structures you need are maintainable.  Notice: morning work is not worksheets (a belief that was wanted in this schedule).  Morning work contains routines that are needed to make the year or day run smoothly.
The best bit of advice: create it with a colleague and think of schedules as a process. When you have someone listening through the process...they can help you discover and reflect on what is most important.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independent reading vs. independent reader

I am a big believer in setting up a schedule in your classroom that illuminates your beliefs and promises
From Google Images
for your students.  Crafting a schedule of your school day is difficult...there are variables you can control and then there are variables that are out of your control.  Writing down that language arts is from 1-3 pm is too vague...structures, beliefs, and promises of what happens during that time need to be marked out...on purpose...promised.

Independent reading is one of those times often listed in one's schedule for the day. I have always had a strong belief of what independent reading time should be:
  • enough time for students to become engaged (30ish minutes)
  • full of choice and just right books
  • teacher confers during this time to monitor comprehension, engagement, book choices to support goal setting
  • accountability- I use Status of the Class
  • no writing assignments, no completing other assignments...the only writing that does occur is when a student feels the need to write random jots of "while reading thinking" for future conversations
  • recommendations, sharing books, and creating next stacks take place before this time so time is not lost randomly searching for books, wandering through the library...the next book is always ready so eyes on print time is not wasted!
Then I started reading, Notice and Note by Beers and Probst.  These authors have challenged me to not just think about the independent reading time but actually define an independent READER.  What is an independent reader?  I had always lumped my definition with this time and reader together...thinking about them separately has stretched my thinking.  These quotes from page 6 have me rereading, thinking, and rereading again...

"Independent reading is the ability to read a text on one's own with deep engagement, with attention to what might sway the reader's judgement or acceptance one way or the other."

"Independent readers are not only able to read without depending on the teacher to help them make sense of the text, but also are able to stand independent of the text itself, choosing on their own, with evidence from the text to justify the decision to agree or disagree, to accept the author's vision and thinking or reject it."

Here are some other posts on structuring an independent reading time so the independent reader has time to be thoughtful.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Using summer to get back to basics...

I decided to finally clean out my school bag from the end of the year.  I has been out for 17 days and the chore was finally happening.  To be honest...the only reason it was happening was that I needed to use the bag for a car trip!  (Perfect for holding books.)  As I was cleaning out the bag, I stumbled across my writer's notebook from when I taught fourth grade.  It was the place where I would write down thoughts from colleagues, conferences, books, articles, meetings, random thoughts when I couldn't sleep, etc...I came across a section in my notebook that reminded me to get back to basics.

I love summer....time to remember why I teach, what I believe, and what I want to promise my future students.  Everyone's teaching journey is different and we have all been touched by many reflective colleagues along the way.  Everyone's beliefs are their beliefs to own, shape, change, and share.  But the one thing I always remember to ask myself..."So that is what YOU believe Tracy...where is the evidence of it in your classroom?"  That is a very humbling question.  The answer requires honesty, vulnerability, and courage.  It is similar to when someone asks you what you believe about being healthy.  I can tell you what I believe about counting calories, low carbs, and Couch to 5K.  Now where is the evidence?  Unfortunately, the scale and my beliefs are not aligned currently in the weight department.

I like to do this fun belief exercise over the summer...when my mind is fresh, my body rested, and anticipation is the driving force into the next school year.   I say "fun" because it is to me...those of you who know me personally...yep...they would concur that I actually do find things like this FUN! I write down a belief I have in the classroom setting.  Then I write random thoughts, structures in which my belief could exist, and materials I would need.  This was how my inquiry workshop was developed last year.

Here are a few pages from my notebook...trying to get back to basics and not be consumed with things I do not have control over and to take control of the things in the classroom that I do!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Next Stack...Professional Reads...

Last year was the first time I followed and participated in CyberPD with the book, Opening Minds.  It was the best professional development!  I was able to read, reflect, reread, post, respond, and respond some more to all of the thought-provoking ideas that came from colleagues all around Ohio and the country.  Check out Cathy Mere's blog for more information on Cyber PD.

Here is my next stack:
This a reread...but always good to remind
ourselves about inquiry
and inquiry through literature groups.
Since I am a part of the RTI team for our building...
I love wondering!
Love the focus of the "How to Promote..."

I have been reading a lot about close reading.

Anyone who knows me....knows I love examining assessments...
Vocabulary impacts comprehension!

Can't wait to see what is picked!!! :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

CREATE-ing time at the end of the year....

For the first time in over a year and a half, I missed my monthly reflection on my One Little Word for the year.  During the last month of school, finding time...creating time...was not a priority.  Our to-do lists are filled with reports, inventories, conferences, packing up the room, finding distractions to avoid packing up our rooms, cum folders, and so on...I found myself losing sight of the year and the moments that were CREATEd and wonderful.

Today was our last day of school.  Through the hustle and bustle of the last day, a thank you note signed by a student I worked with this school year reminded me of why I am a teacher...why we need to slow down...why the end of the year is hard...and why they are not just kids on a class list or data projections.

Here is how this student signed their note to me...You go Bailey!  Invent something terrific!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

End of the year reading conferences...

How many more Monday mornings do you have left before summer begins?  My answer is four!  I always count Monday mornings instead of how many days are left in school.  I feel that as soon as the week we go and the days become a blur!  But...Monday mornings are when we "think" we have a plan in place but then our students take us down many different roads!

This is my favorite time of year...when my individual reading conferences turn toward reflection on the year and their summer reading plans.  The purpose of each conference will be reflection and to give each student a time to be heard.  I will be "listening" to their thoughts about themselves as a reader, their feelings about our predictable structure, the books that have touched their hearts, and their goal for summer reading.  I am going to have the students write about their thinking before hand using the template provided.  I am excited to "listen" to their feelings, their thinking, and most of all to model how important reading is by needing to meet and to "listen" to each one of them during the end of the year chaos.

Here are the four questions for my "listening" conferences:
1.  What have you learned about yourself as a reader this year?
2.  Name a part of Reading Workshop (read aloud, book clubs, book partners, celebrations, jotting, Reader's Notebooks, reading graph, independent reading, mini-lesson) that impacted your reading this year.  Why was this component so special or important to you as a reader?
3.  Name a book that has impacted you as a reader this year.  Why was this book(s) so special?
4.  We need to make time for the things that are important.  Reading is important.  Think about your summer.  When do you think you will make time to read?  Where can you make time to read?  Set a summer reading goal for yourself!

Link for End of the Year Reflection template.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

CREATE-ing time to build theories and thinking in book clubs...

It seemed that April was filled with many professional discussions around creating book clubs.  Book clubs created around genres, around authors, and around one character.  The conversations were not just about creating book choices for the clubs, but the conversations were focused more on creating structures for the clubs that encouraged thoughtful conversation, accountability, listening, and being open to new theories.  And... poof!  You have Anchor 1 of the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards.

Anchor 1:  Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on other's ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.  

For first grade this includes following agreed upon rules for discussions, building on conversations by responding to comments in multiple exchanges, and asking questions to clear up confusion.

For third grade this includes coming to discussion prepared, ready to explicitly draw on that preparation to explore ideas under discussion, and explaining ideas and understanding in light of discussion.

All the way to fifth grade...a continuation of third grade along with reviewing key ideas expressed and conclusions that were drawn from knowledge gained from the discussions.

There is a graphic organizer that I created during my Master's research project that has been the backbone to many conversations and has been tweaked, retweaked, and many teachers. 

This sheet is focused around one specific open-ended question that needed evidence to explain their thinking.   The question anchored our next discussion, but it also anchored their thinking while annotating while reading.  It pushed the students to think beyond the text.  After reading, students would answer the question/take notes/list evidence and color the stoplight to the right (green= good to go  yellow=anxious to talk because I am not sure  red=this was difficult and need to hear more from others).  When the students returned to their next book club, we would use this question to begin our conversation and use the writing as helpful hints to participate in the discussion.  The question would not be the only thing we would started the conversation with my teaching point.  Before the students would leave the group, each student would then add more thinking in writing that would combine their original thoughts with the conversation.  Then, after conversation, the students would color their level of confidence with the focus topic now.  This focused sheet helped to guide the readers through conversation and reading.  It provided me with each child's thinking...did the student demonstrate understanding prior to conversation when they were reading independently?  Did the student need conversation to further understanding?  And now...I had evidence of their thinking WHILE reading, AFTER reading, and AFTER discussion.  This tool provided an opportunity to notice, listen, and to determine what to support next.

Some examples of questions could be:

What kind of person is our main character?
Which event or character has impacted our main character's actions the most?
Who has the power in our story?
Evaluate a decision our character made.
Why is the character feeling the way they are?  Is this how you would feel?
What lesson did our character learn about __________?
How is the setting impacting our main character?
Using what you know about our character, how do you think the problem will be solved?
How does our character's situation mirror situations in your life or other character's lives?

What was your reading mostly about?
What caused ___________?
What was the purpose of our reading?
Why is this topic important?

CREATE-ing a structure to bring our book club together...that was April!

Check out other OLWs:

Sunday, April 21, 2013 favorite strategy...Let it out!

From Google Images
When I was in the classroom, poetry was the main vehicle I used at the beginning of the year.  I used it to steer the reluctant writer, to squash perceptions that longer is better, and it put the sound of language and word choice at the forefront.  This focus always provided a solid foundation for examining words, phrases, and moods in reading and writing all year.

As the year begins to wind down (7 more Sunday nights!...I count Sunday nights instead of days :), I always found poetry at the forefront again.  It was that time to use the community we had built to dig deep into our messages as a writer, our words, our phrases, and our moods.  Time to share more of ourselves as the journey in our classroom began to come to an end.

My favorite strategy in poetry writing is one I call...Let it out.  I was reminded of this strategy today as I struggled with memories of my father.  Seemed he was everywhere today. So I decided to ...let it out!  This strategy has three steps.

1.  Let the ideas out.  Write without punctuation and just let the ideas or feelings flow.

I think of him all day  he consumes my thoughts I see him at soccer games  I feel him on the golf course I hear him as I seek advice and comfort it is the memories that provide the warmth to the void I feel today

2.  Insert line breaks.  Insert pauses as you feel, think, wonder, or remember as you read it again.

I think of him
All day
He consumes my thoughts
I hear him at soccer games
I feel him on the golf course
I hear him on the phones
As I seek advice
And comfort
It is the memories that provide
Warmth to the void
I feel today

3.  Let the words out...Change words, delete words, play with tenses.  And my third attempt would be...

I think of him
All day
Consuming my thoughts
At soccer games
On the golf course
On the phone
Seeking advice
Seeking comfort
The memories
Warmth to the void

This sequence also helps students with seeing writing as a process and revising with immediate changes in a short sample.  Try it...let it out! :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Text set...built around wonder...

This text set (3 books and a Wonder) were developed around the concept of putting a subject's  motivation at the forefront.  Time to examine a real person's motivations, struggles, decisions, and reactions by using an event from our past.  Text sets are built around the idea of giving students time.  Time to gain a deeper understanding.  Time to use new knowledge as background knowledge the next day.  Time to ask questions.  Time to wonder.  Time to act on curiosity.

Also...check out Wonder 236...How Long is the Longest Bridge?

A historical account of the bridge from beginning to end
A text to understand the worker's point of view.
An encounter of how the march across the bridge unfolded.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Text sets...built around character

Kids are always thinking.  Kids always want to know more.  Kids are curious.  Text sets provide students with the avenue to act on their curiosity and to develop background knowledge that can be used immediately with another text.

Last year I spent the majority of my time focused on providing a text set that included fiction and non-fiction.  I was always faced with the decision of which one to read first for interactive read aloud. You might look at this text set and think...these two texts are together because they both have a goat on the cover.  Text sets are not topics by convenience.  Text sets are paired together to strengthen and develop meaning because no text provides meaning alone.  All the text we read are developed and become meaningful in connection to another text.

I wanted to support students in learning about characters and their motivations.  Furthermore, I wanted students to be able to read a non-fiction text and view the subject as a character.  I wanted the students to use the same thinking about a character in non-fiction as they do when reading a fiction text.  That was how this text set was formed.

The first text, Beatrice's Goat, is about a little girl who receives a gift.  The gift is a goat and in her African Village this goat will give more than the gift of milk.

The Goat Lady, which tells the story of a misunderstand lady who has provided goat's milk for people who in need and has sent her extra goats to poor countries through the Heifer Project.  Students can learn about the Heifer Project and how it impacts our world today.  There is even a blurb in the book that relays more true facts about this text.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New perspective...with Curious Critters!

I am in love with this book!  The photographs...the witty perspective...the informational text in the back...the use of print...

This text would be a great mentor text for writing from perspective when trying to convey facts and details.  Also, when paired with an expository text, it would provide an opportunity to work on Common Core Anchor 9: analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Curious about these curious is a link to a flip book of the first few pages.

Curious Critters Flip Pages (great for projecting in the classroom!)

Monday, April 1, 2013

OLW for March: CREATE-ing text sets...

I have realized that I am becoming obsessed with CREATE-ing (developing) text sets that lead to inquiry.  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.  Literature...Informational does not matter.  When using text sets to promote and extend inquiry opportunities, students are nudged to think beyond a venn diagram, to think beyond the fact that everything they learn is unknown to new, and to think beyond connections.  Students are using connections and experiences to see components, patterns, ideas, and text structures that the author uses to learn about topic in a different way.

When creating text sets in the classroom...I have found that I have had to use the following thinking to develop these text sets...

Students need to have experiences that allow the unknown information learned today or the thinking that was developed to a different level to become tomorrow's background knowledge.  Students need opportunities to not only develop background knowledge but use this knowledge to further their learning and thinking in a meaningful way.

Here is an example of a text set that leads to inquiry...

1.  Sleep Like a Tiger-  This book is wonderful!  From the concept of problem/solution to the beautiful figurative language.  All students will further their thinking with this text.

 2. In the book above,  the author uses the comparison of how and when a bat sleeps to encourage a little girl to sleep, even though she didn't want to.  The little girl makes a statement that bats don't sleep and the parents further explain a bats sleeping habits.  The book, Bats, would support students in understanding if the little girl's statement is accurate.

3.  Inquiry- So how do various animals sleep?  This text further develops a student's thinking about the way various types of animals sleep...beyond the obvious animals...armadillos, European bee-eaters, warthogs, and more!  It would be interesting to use one of these animals and try to incorporate it into the storyline of Sleep Like a Tiger.  Why did the author choose those specific animals for the story based on what you have learned now?  Students could also create more figurative language ideas based around the new animals in this text, Time to Sleep.

4.  More inquiry- What does happen while we sleep? While You Were Sleeping is full of fun facts that happen at night...great for analyzing comparisons in informational text...pairs nicely with the figurative language approach to Sleep Like a Tiger.  Figurative language is based on comparisons!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Graphic'll want to share this!

I have always believed that graphic organizers provide a visual picture of information and a roadmap to see the relationship between instruction and thinking.  Often graphic organizers are used when writing about reading so students can take a key role in processing and reorganizing thinking from a text.  The graphic organizers then serve as a map to communicate thinking visually.  Students benefit the most from pre-made  graphic organizers or generating organizers themselves when teachers have explicitly demonstrated when to use them, how to create them/use them, and why readers may need them.

I came across the following link that takes you right to many graphic organizers that you can print off:

This link reveals many graphic organizers and how to use them.  They are a link that features the text, Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency.

The graphic organizers are arranged in the following categories...

  • general concepts
  • specific genres
  • characters
  • informational text
  • text structure
  • content areas
  • vocabulary
A great resource to share with your colleagues!  And...a great resource to support writing about reading during guided reading lessons.

PS...Pre-made graphic organizers are one step...don't forget the ultimate goal is for students to process and organize their thinking on their own.  They can do it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Word Study...March Madness Style!

Here is a popular post from last year!  This was a simple way to review many word study skills in a one week time span!

I have decided to use the typical March Madness "brackets" as the main basis to my word
study this week.  One thing you may not know...I love college basketball!  This is my favorite time of year!

There were some skills that I have been wanting to review or dig a little deeper March Madness Word Study Style has been born!  The students will look through their Wonder Word notebooks, the "My Words" section of their Reader's Notebooks, look at past jots about words, think about favorite words, (I know one of my kids will pick...pumpernickel) and come up with 16 words to put to the test!  After the initial 16 words have been determined by each student, I will present a challenge each day.  The two words in the bracket will go face-to-face...and the winner will go to the next round.  I am actually writing this as I brainstorm, but as of right now...

Challenge 1:  The word with the most syllables by syllable swooping.
Challenge 2:  The word that contains the most multiple definitions in the dictionary.
Challenge 3:  I am going to give a 5 minute brainstorm...which word can generate the most new words off the word ?  For example...if it was "test"...detest, retest, testify, testy, testing, tests, testimony
Challenge 4:  Hmmm...something about context clues...or synonyms/antonyms
Challenge 5:  Each person will share the "winner" of their bracket by creating a poster of the word that includes...the word, a picture of its meaning (hand-drawn or from a a collage), a sentence, and a list of words that can be built off of it.  We will then add them to our "Wonder Words" bulletin board.

Yay!  Fun way to celebrate words, revisit some old favorites, and to review a few skills from "their words", "their writing", and  "their reading".  Let the Madness begin.   

PS...Go Buckeyes!!!!!