Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Using graphic organizers to encourage deeper thinking in Reader's Notebooks...

A reader's notebook belongs to the reader.  The notebook should reflect what the reader needs to stay engaged in the text and push for deeper thinking.  Analyzing, categorizing, and evaluating were the three skills that I choose to put out there in the form of graphic organizers as thinking stems for deeper thinking.

After writing the post, Reviving Reader's Notebooks, I realized that there were three graphic organizers that I modeled mini-lessons with that were essential to have available to students WHILE they read.

*** Just added links to the graphic organizers at the end of the post on 2/27/13*** Enjoy! (Don't forget to comment and let me know how it goes!)

You are reading a book and a character makes a decision to act on something or say something.  A decision you don't understand.  A decision you have been waiting for.  A decision that you wonder what you would do.

The Other Side
Next to the face with the question mark, the reader records the character's decision.  As the reader, you evaluate the positive and negatives that can come from this choice.  The next part, the most important part, is not on this graphic organizer...then the student openly writes and comes out with a final judgement statement.  Was this a good decision?  The graphic organizer serves as a scaffold to thinking beyond the text.  Students then want to jump back in the book and read to see how the decision plays out.

Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County
This graphic organizer gets at the heart of the "why"and pushes beyond describing the character toward understanding the character.  Why is the character acting this way?  Why is this character saying this?

PS...Love this book!

This graphic organizer promotes thinking about how particular facts go together.  When reading a non-fiction book, students decide to collect facts into jars on particular topics.  Students label each jar with their topic...it is the beginning of notetaking and students discover that you can find facts on a topic all throughout a non-fiction text.

For example, in Elephants Can Paint Too, my students collected facts on "how elephants paint" and "trunks as tools".  Students learned that teaching an elephant to paint with a trunk is different than discussing the way the trunk is used as a tool.

PS...Here are links to the graphic organizers...EVALUATE, CATEGORIZE, ANALYZE
PSS...All organizers were made in Microsoft Word using Microsoft Images Online

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reviving Reader's Notebooks...

This is the time of year when I always felt a need to "revive" my reader's notebooks.  There were readers who embraced our notebooks, readers who did not engage in the notebooks, and by now...our reading lives had grown and changed.

The notebook is a great organization tool to showcase growth and changes in a student's reading life.  But what was my purpose? Was it to record books that they have read, to keep a list of books they want to read, to tally different genres, or to compile their thinking for groups or book clubs?  Was it all of those?  Some of those?  What was the purpose?

I realized one of my main purposes was to provide students a place to record their thinking WHILE reading a text.  At the beginning of the year...it was a "sticky note" collection that we used for book talks, book partners and conferences.  I had a collection of authentic thoughts and strategies that were put at the forefront in our reading workshop.
Collection of thinking for a book partner.
But then...I felt a need to develop a purpose that was even more choice-driven by providing students an avenue to develop their own monitoring plan.  What did the student need to "hold on to" so they could take their comprehension to a deeper level?  What focus did they want to explore so they would do more close reading and not feel like they "had to " stop?

Student trying a book that was "longer" for her.  She felt a need to track the big event at the end of every chapter.  She was not use to having a book last several days.  

A student was reading a nonfiction book about different breeds of dogs.  She wanted to keep track of the different groups of dogs, an example of a dog, and a detail about that group while she reading.  She said, "I never knew that there were this many breeds of dogs!"

A student was inspired by a mini-lesson to think about the "mood" she felt as a reader.

But then...I felt a need to "push" the readers to deeper skills such as analyzing, evaluating, categorizing...The best avenue for this was to use graphic organizers (some pre-made and some constructed from anchor charts) from mini-lessons and bring those skills at the forefront of the notebooks.

Categorizing information about Harry Houdini into important events in his life and stunts.

A student decided to use a graphic organizer from writing workshop.

A student decided to evaluate the decisions of her character.
At the end of all this thinking...Whether it was jotting on post-its, developing their own jotting plan, or using graphic organizers to deepen their thinking...students had choice to "revive" what they needed to move their reading life forward at their individual pace.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pinterest...bringing staff together

I am very fortunate to be able to be a part of all of the team meetings in our building...grades K-5...every week.  Teams are working on a variety of focuses...using Lucy Calkins as a springboard to planning Common Core literacy mini-lessons, examining resources we have used in the past and finding their place in the Common Core, sharing students to provide an extra intervention block, and more!  Many of the teams have been discussing possible sequences for reading and/or writing workshop mini-lessons.  While discussing this sequence, often an anchor chart, a resource list, a graphic organizer from Pinterest will appear in our conversations to support the focus of a lesson.

After having a sidebar conversation with Erin at Nerd Herd in Third (and using her technology smarts!), Erin led the way in designing a Pinterest board for our school.  (Read her blogpost, Pinterest Anyone? for more details on its structure.)

This board has been a great tool for supporting teachers at all times of the day by providing a place to bank ideas from discussions at team meetings, in the halls, in the teacher's lounge, in the bus line...wherever!  It also inspires conversations on not just trying everything, but reflecting on how this idea could turn into an idea that works with our grade level, our teaching styles, and our students.  Check out our board...you are welcome to follow its development! And a big thanks to Erin for making it all happen!
Spotlight Literacy

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

10 for 10 Nonfiction Picture Books

 Here are my top 10 Nonfiction Picture Books...in no random order! :)
Check out Cathy at Reflect and Refine to see more links to your colleagues' favorites!
This text has narrative and expository all in one!
If I had to pick one...this would be my favorite!
Captures students' wonders about how items, names,
and inventions came to be!

Just check out the layout of this book...
I love how the text is arranged.

A biography that students will enjoy
hearing from beginning to end!
You had me at "photographs".

Great for cause and effect in small paragraphs!
And...appreciating the word "why"!
The structure of Now and Then is very engaging!

High level of interest for students...especially in November.
Would be a great pair with Frindle!
Love using ABC books to determine importance
of selecting the word for each letter. Great model for a
different type of research project.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

When you need a pep talk...

I needed a pep talk.   After discussing House Bill 153, getting ready for parent teacher conferences, focusing on the Common Core for our first full year, implementing Ohio's Third Grade Guarantee requirements...and so on...the stakes keep getting higher.  On Friday, I got my pep talk and it came from the following video at the end of our professional day.  He encouraged me to..."Pass this video along and let's get the whole world to dance."  (You will also learn the meaning of the phrases..."Not cool Robert Frost" and "Like a boss"!)

PS...Great mentor text for persuasive writing...he quotes...Robert Frost, the band Journey, and more...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Finding the evidence when discussing a character...

I have been working with my students on analyzing characters...wondering...what kind of person is this character?  We have been working on growing theories about a character and using this theory to predict future actions.  What I have noticed over the past two weeks...my readers have precise words to describe their character but do not always pick the most specific piece of evidence to support their thinking in conversation.  I find that they are always searching for support and often just pick the first piece of evidence that they find or say something general.

While I was talking to my readers,  I would find that the students knew that the character was a particular kind of person but needed a bridge to the text.  I decided to use the dictionary as that bridge.  Each student told me a word that they thought of when I asked...what kind of person is this character?  Then we looked up the definition in the dictionary.  We talked about the definition and highlighted key words that we thought related to the story.  Immediately, the readers were lead to looking for a "specific" part in the story that connected to the words we highlighted (In fact...they did it enthusiastically because the highlighted words lead them to a specific part!).  After they found their evidence, we wrote our theory of why a character was acting a particular way.  Using the definition and highlighting the key words in the definition supported the reader in finding a specific piece of evidence to support their theory. The dictionary was a quick way to scaffold thinking to move toward deeper understanding.

Here is some thinking from third graders while reading the classic tale of the Fox and the Gulls and from a fifth grader while reading, Riding the Flume:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New books, a new photo, and "renewed" thinking...

Today was the final day of the Reading Recovery Conference...always good to get back to routines, but my head is spinning with new books, a new photo, and "renewed thinking".

New Books
Here are some titles that were presented...have not read them YET but plan on reading them NEXT.
Text as a teacher...
Blue Chameleon
A River of Words
Biography with a real journal
The Extrordinary Mark Twain:
 According to Susy
Words Set Me Free: The Story
of Young Frederick Douglas

New Photo
Renewed Thinking

Lucy Calkins ended the conference with a session on Opinion Writing and the Common Core.  She reminded me of two thoughts that we should keep with us as we are teaching the writer, then the writing.  My personal thoughts are in red.

1.  Kids learn to write...by writing. Students need a predictable structure in their day to write after explicit instruction (mini-lessons)...time to work on the craft and mechanics of writing.
2.  What is the promise of writing in your building?  How does the foundation my students experience this year carry over to the next year?  Students need explicit units of study on opinion/argumentative, informational, and narrative writing.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Authors inspire poems...a day at the Reading Recovery Conference

 Today I had the privilege of attending the National Reading Recovery and K-6 Classroom Literacy Conference.  It is so exciting to see so many teachers and presenters passionate about reading.  The following authors each sent a message my way today.  As I reread my notes, I found myself catching phrases with a universal message.  As Patricia Scharer said while citing J. Patrick Lewis, "You read aloud poetry so your ears can have as much fun as your mouth!"

My first session was Jan Richardson, author of The Next Step in Guided Reading.

Support readers
understand the process
No program on the shelf
Just an appropriate lesson

analyze the instruction
analyze the reader
motivate the reader

tell them

give readers the will and thrill
not just the skill

 Next Up...Patricia Scharer from THE Ohio State University.

Texts are teachers
to experience
to find secrets
to develop understanding
to create other readers

Learning to read
a mindset

don't want to
stop working

learn something new
                                  stretching skills
                                            Throw yourself in

                                           What are your readers' mindsets?

PS...My peanut butter brownie from the North Market!
It was so good it deserved a spot!