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

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Part 2: The Wordless Picture Book Titles (Short List)

I promised in Part 1 of “Who Needs Words?” that I would reveal the title list for my “Notice and Note” study of wordless picture books. Well, life is tricky, and gathering wordless picture books for use in middle school is difficult (another story, another time). Thankfully, many primary centers came to the rescue and I received a box of books today! Librarians of South Bend Schools, I thank you kindly for sharing.

I plan to share many new titles with my students next week as we continue to use Notice and Note strategies taught to us by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. As I said earlier, I found that the three essential questions from Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies work well to study these non-word texts.  To recap, the three essential questions we will use are: 1) “What surprised me?” 2) “What does the author think I know already?” 3) “What challenged, changed, or confirmed my thinking?”

The first order of business: read wordless picture books, talk to our partners, and share our thoughts. I cannot wait for the thinking fun! (I also cannot wait to hear the comments when I introduce the titles to my pre-teen students. I can just hear it now: “Man, some of these books are old!” I will giggle to myself and watch what unfolds.)

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The following is a short list; the students will work in pairs. As we receive more books, I will add them to the series’ posts. Let’s get started:

Fossil and Chalk by Bill Thomson, Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman, Zoom and Re-Zoom by Istvan Banyai, Journey by Aaron Becker, Sector 7, Flotsam, and Tuesday by David Wiesner, Frog On His Own by Mercer Mayer, Flood by Alvaro F. Villa, Unspoken by Henry Cole, Time Flies by Eric Rohmann, and Deep in the Forest by Brinton Turkle.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Art as Comprehension. I stole my friend, Trevor Bryan’s work for that. Thank you in advance, Trevor!

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.

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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?”

 

 

Update on Book Clubs

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Update on Book Clubs: Letting Students Show What They Know

After the first week, the book clubs are still a hit! I noticed a few general trends and used my observations to speak with the groups today:

1) Students completely on their own will forget some of the skills and strategies they learned during the school year. A teacher facilitator’s job includes reminding students that they can, in fact, show what they know with a little review here and there. For example, one group was reading The Tiger Rising, and I noticed the readers completely skimmed over page 92 without saying anything to each other. (This whole page is absolutely an Ah-Ha moment! See Notice and Note signposts by Kylene Beers/Bob Probst.) I asked if I could butt in for a moment and had them reread the page. “Oh, yeah, we knew that.” I reminded them that when they stop naturally, that might be a place to share with others in the group. Maybe someone didn’t pick up on the signpost, and you all could have a great discussion. “OK!” Back to work.

2) Some students won’t be able to keep up with the assigned reading. Someone is always missing homework, and there’s always a reason for it. The group was upset at this one person, but the student had a family issues excuse, and needed encouragement more than a lecture.  My personal connection made the group think: “Remember when I had to leave and go to the doctor for my eye? I didn’t get my work done for a few days. My team helped me to catch up; it wasn’t nearly the problem it could have been because I got the support I needed.” Together, we set up a plan so the student could get back into the swing of things. Crisis averted!

3) Choice reading is the best, most engaging sort of reading that students do in school! How many times have we read the research by Donalyn Miller, Kylene Beers, Richard Allington, Nancy Atwell, and the many others who support reading what students choose to read! Transfer of skills, ladies and gentlemen! It works!

I love watching my students show what they know. They are excited, engaged, and energetic book club participants, and I am a captivated observer! Keep calm and read on! (Who said that?)

 

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.