IMWAYR: My Thinking Has Been Disrupted!

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Today I opened Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, and my thinking has been disrupted! In all my years of teaching, I’ve never had it so good — I’m past the “trying to impress the administration” stage of my early years, and I am able to focus on the authentic purposes of teaching reading (to enjoy the stories, to think, to learn…) and forget about the nay-sayers and their agendas. In the introduction to this fabulous, eye-opening professional read, Bob confirms that “our students won’t learn to read these difficult texts by taking quizzes or preparing for them, or by collecting points and prizes…” (see below, page 9)

The nay-sayers don’t bother me anymore. I already know what page 9 states:

My thinking has been disrupted. Kylene and Bob hope that we teachers “jot notes…join us at workshops, or connect with us via social media.” Check. Check. Check. I love Kylene and Bob because they really do want us teachers to be successful, but they want our students to be successful even more. They are helping us, guiding us, and cheering us on! Thank you!

I hope that you are lucky enough to grab this book (as soon as possible!), read it, and have your thinking disrupted this summer. Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Who Needs Words? A Series of Posts About Teaching Reading and Learning to Read

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Welcome to Slice of Life Tuesday! Slice of Life stories are published each Tuesday at http://www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Thank you, ladies, for inspiring teachers to share!Slice of Life Small Logo

Who Needs Words? A Series of Posts About Teaching Reading and Learning to Read

Part 1: Getting Started with the help of the Experts

As I started teaching nonfiction strategies this year, I used my newly autographed copy of Reading Nonfiction: Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. I was excited to get started because my former students helped the researchers by taking a survey that informed the book’s work. I talked with former and current students about my passion for teaching reading in meaningful ways and told them that Kylene and Bob would continue to guide our next unit of study.

NoticeandNoteNonfictionBook
As I prepared my lessons for the unit, I was immediately drawn in by the beginning chapters’ set of three essential questions that defined the “Stop! Notice and Note” points for readers. In the book, Beers and Probst described using the lessons with readers who became completely engaged in the thinking work, and I wanted the same for readers in my classroom.  The premise was easy to use and the students could catch on quickly, especially since they were already used to the Notice and Note signposts for fiction books. I explained to the students that these strategies work for all reading for the rest their lives — not just for “today.”

To get to the point of this post, very simply, the essential questions that help a reader to “Stop! Notice, and Note” are: 1) “What surprised me?” 2)”What does the author think I know already?” and 3) “What challenged, changed, or confirmed my thinking?”  The more practice I had myself while trying out the preliminary texts, the more I realized that the essential questions for nonfiction can be easily transferred to my “before-the-winter-break” study of wordless picture books.

I am ready to go! I have a stack of wordless picture books piled, prepared, and ready for my students to enjoy. (See part 2 of my series tomorrow for wordless picture book titles I am using in the classroom!) Thanks to Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, this smooth transition in “Noticing and Noting” will be just the ticket for wrapping up 2015’s learning and gliding us into the new year! Thank you, my friends!

Reflections from the All Write Institute — #4

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To Lunch…and Beyond! Reflections from the All Write Institute — #4

The lunch session took me by surprise. I didn’t want to miss the session called “From Boring to Enjoying”, but I was hungry, so I ate some wonderful food catered by a local BBQ. After filling up and meeting with some blogging buddies in person (!), I headed off to see teachers from Fort Wayne, IN talk about how they used Notice and Note strategies (Beers/Probst) in their classrooms to make reading come alive. The speakers were wonderful, entertaining, and knowledgeable.  I loved hearing how they used journals, Edublogs, and stations to keep students interested in reading. “Tabletop Twitter” sounded engaging — a way to have kids respond to reading or writing — a way to collaborate and also have some fun.

One of my main goals next school year is to get students started with blogging. I have found blogs to be a fulfilling way to spend time with writing, and it’s social, academic, and fun! Students can write stories, poems, reflections, and share their views — all from the comforts of “home” (school classroom). Blogging also allows for differentiated instruction and small group work; I can have students easily save their work without losing papers, etc. as well. If there’s one thing I am learning as a veteran teacher, it’s that technology is available and useful, and I need to work with more technology in my classroom.

After lunch, it was time to talk books! This was my favorite part of the day! Tammy and Mary Helen were also wonderful, animated presenters that shared their favorite books for mini-lessons and read alouds.  Although many of the books were geared towards the primary grades, I know for sure I will be using many of them in my middle school classroom next year. Why? Because research (and my own experience) shows that reading aloud to students works. Many higher-level thinking skills are used in reading these books, yet they are easy to read (so students can focus on craft and not so much vocabulary), and teachers don’t have to use more time than a mini-lesson to make teaching points (time management). Plus, these books are engaging! (What administrator isn’t looking for that?)

For example, Pitter Patter by Martha Sullivan, shows different ways to say Hello (kids love “different ways to say…”), has information about the water cycle (meeting the standards), and provides extra activities with interactive apps (centers or at-home extension). I love books that include extras at the end. “For more reading, go to…” This keeps students engaged after the school day is over.  Another engaging book is I’m a Shark! by Bob Shea. This incredible author is a favorite in schools, and this book includes connections to life, grammar/spelling reminders, and figurative language (also meeting the standards!). One book I have not used before, but I will this fall, is Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin. I learned about the “Power of 3” many years ago in writing workshop, and the students always love the lesson when I teach them this “magic”. This book has voice, which some students find difficult to write. Also, everyday happenings CAN be stories, which students learn quickly in writing workshop. We work on personal narratives first in our curriculum, and Dragons…can help us, I’m sure!

Sharing books and joy is an amazing way to spend time, not only in the classroom with students, but also during a summer PD institute! I was inspired; as I left the room, the only question I had was, “I wonder how much money we are allowed to spend this year on books?”

 

 

SOLSC Day 16: Notice the Moon

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Notice the Moon

When I walked out to my car this morning, I noticed the crescent moon shining brightly over the field across from our row of houses.

At first, I saw a halo around the moon, and I thought, “Well, I’d better enjoy today, because it’s going to rain in 3 days.” (science class flashback: precipitation usually occurs 3 days after seeing a halo around the moon.) I looked up again at the southern sky. I looked at that halo more closely.

The circle seemed almost like a rainbow: the inside, closest to the moon, was white. As it spread out, it turned slate, and then white again. It was like a painter was trying to blend the colors together. Then on the outside, I squinted because I couldn’t believe it. I saw a variegated pink outline. Amazing! The moon had caught my eye, but I stopped to pay attention. Dr. Beers would be proud of me, as I “noticed and noted” this moment in time.

Slice of Life Tuesday: Lifelong Learning

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I love being called a lifelong learner! I am extremely honored to be in the company of Carl Anderson this week at the Indiana Partnership for Young Writers summer institute. I am half jealous/half living vicariously through my pals who are attending various reading and writing summer institutes this week. We all travel to the ends of the earth for one purpose: to learn. Fabulous!

I remember the first time I went to New York to take part in a summer reading workshop — my gracious cousin invited me to Teachers College. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. My family made fun of me, saying, “It’s like you think you’re going to hang out with celebrities.” Well, yeah! Lucy Calkins, Kylene Beers, Lester Laminack, and all the other literary geniuses I met are celebrities!

Now each year, I look forward to my “vacation learning experience.” I guess I’m the literary “groupie.” I’m so happy that there are so many of you out there just like me.

Have a great time learning. And…share your notes!

 

Day 29: SOLSC Slice of Life Story Challenge

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What’s Your Color?

“Color” keeps revealing itself as a topic I should study today. I’m not sure why, but I thought since the “colors” were showing up again and again (shout out to Kylene Beers and Bob Probst! LOL), it would be interesting to research some “color” ideas. Here are a few of my findings:

My friend’s band, Gandhi, is releasing a great song this coming week called “Color Yourself.” I first heard it live when I was visiting Brooklyn a couple of years back now, during one of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project summer institutes. “Color yourself in green again…” the words of the song remind me to show off my personality, convictions, and lifestyle using color.

"Color Yourself" by Gandhi

“Color Yourself” by Gandhi

Listen to the song here.

I was on Facebook earlier, and engaged myself in (yet another) silly quiz, “What’s Your True Color?” The first time I took the quiz, my color was pink. I would never choose pink as my favorite color, but the quiz is about personality, and not visual favorites. What PINK says about me: I cannot remember all the descriptive words, but I know it showed something about being relaxed and taking naps. I love naps! I wish I would have taken a nap today. My instinct as a researcher told me to take the quiz again. With the same answers to the same nine questions, I got the color PURPLE, which said, “you’re always up for the next adventure…you are the first one to purchase a new gizmo (NOT!) or try a new restaurant (YES!).” I took the quiz one more time (you know, to use the “power of three”) and I was nabbed as “purple” again.

All of this assessment wore me out. Ha! Maybe I do need a nap!

My favorite color is blue. According to a personality test I did many years ago, the color blue alludes to peace, serenity, and casual presence. I read about this when studying design, too, so it must be accurate. I guess I was looking for relaxation in my life back then, and I do still love blue jeans, my navy blue sweatshirt, and blue and gold were the colors of my high school teams.

It was interesting studying colors today. Maybe I’m tired of the white and grey of the snow and winter. Maybe as the snow melts, I am hoping to see green again. Maybe I’m a rainbow!

What is your color?

 

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