Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

New Teachers College Reading and Writing Project website December 13, 2010

Filed under: TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:38 am
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Check out the new Teachers College Reading and Writing Project website. I’m very excited about TC’s focus on the new Common Core ELA standards.

“Content Area Literacy and the Common Core Standards: Using Performance Assessments and Studies of Student Work to Reach Ambitious New Standards”

This brand new institute will help educators, at all levels, develop the curriculum and methods necessary to ensure that students reach the rigorous new standards for content area literacy embedded in the Common Core Standards. Participants will begin by learning a repertoire of skills for teaching young readers to think analytically about nonfiction texts; such as interpreting, synthesizing, and comparing and contrasting. Participants will draft action plans aimed at revising curriculum in social studies, science and language arts that best prepare students to read critically, wrestle with authors’ points of view, and talk in depth about authorial choices. The institute will focus not only on reading nonfiction critically, but also nonfiction writing, with an emphasis on informational and opinion writing. Participants will learn ways to help students write fluently across the curriculum, using writing as a tool for analytical thinking.

The entire institute will be angled to help participants develop and utilize performance assessments effectively—many that the TCRWP has already developed to track students’ progress in higher-level comprehension and composition skills inherent in the Common Core. Participants will delve into the implications on school leadership and classroom instruction; learning ways in which studying student work has helped teachers determine how this initiative relates to everything they are already doing. This institute will equip participants with classroom-tested, practical, powerful methods to ramp up the level of comprehension work that students do, while, still, instructing with concreteness and clarity to help students progress from what they can already do towards new, robust goals.

Throughout the week, participants will spend half of their time in a large group section and the other half of the day in small, interactive groups learning practical methods that will strengthen their teaching. Both small and large group sections will be organized by grade level.

 

 

 

Upcoming Teachers College Reading Institute June 30, 2010

I’m trying  to make my brain think of things I need to remember to pack /tidbits I’m glad I know for the upcoming TCRWP Reading Institute next week. I’m attending with two teachers-both of whom have not attended before. One is a second grade teacher and one is a fourth grade teacher.

Here are some tips I shared with them:

Pack a little umbrella-trying to find one in a store when it is raining is no fun
Plan on LOTS of walking. Columbia is spread out and it won’t be unusual for the keynote to be at one end of the campus and then the small group session to be six blocks away. Also lots of four+ story buildings with stairs.
They do give us a tote/bag with needed binder/books, etc. the first moring. It is a nice size and has a pocket for a water bottle-which we will want to carry with us.
Many times I would buy a bagel/sandwich or something like that when I bought my coffee in the morning before the keynote-then carry it with me to eat for “lunch”–Even though there is a lunch break, it isn’t terribly long to have bathroom break, get to next session site, and try to stop sweating –some days I would sit outside in the campus quad, eat whatever I’d picked up, call the kids, and watch the interesting things going on.
There is an AMAZING farmer’s market outside the keynote hall, but I dont’ remember which day.
 
Bring a notebook and pens for your own notes. I filled an entire five subject spiral last summer.
I’ve been told I might want to bring Amber Brown is not a Crayon, Because of Winn Dixie, and Tangerine along for one of my sessions which focuses on assessment. I was also encouraged to do an assessment using Skylark ahead of time.
In the advanced section, we will all be receiving Lucy’s new Guidebook from the newly published Reading Units of Study. I’m expecting my two colleagues to receive The Art of Teaching Reading.
 

Reading Units of Study June 21, 2010

I’ve been on the lookout since I got the e-mail from Heinemann saying Units of Study was published and that pre-orders were being mailed last week.

And here it is!

I was going to be cleaning the basement-now I’m planning on jumping right into the new Lucy Calkins, TCRWP, Units of Study for Teaching Reading Grades 3-5. Expect posts all week about this topic from me! Wheee!

 

TCRWP Reading Institute excitement May 30, 2010

Filed under: Calkins,professional learning community,reading workshop,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:38 am
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I’m so excited that I am attending TC’s 17th annual Reading Institute, July 5th-July 9th. While traveling on the Fourth of July is not ideal, in my mind, it does open up some fun possibilities. Maybe we’ll see the Macy’s New York City fireworks. Maybe the Statue of Liberty?

I’m even more excited as my former teaching partner was just accepted off the wait list this past week to attend as well! She will be attending a fourth grade section, another colleague will be attending a second grade section, and I’ll be attending the advanced sections. We’ll have information galore to share!

The sections I will be attending are:

  • Help Readers Progress Along Trajectories of Comprehension Development: Using Formative Assessments to Make Our Teaching Data-Based and Powerful (3-8), Lucy Calkins and Cory Gillette.
  • Design Units of Study That Can Move More Readers from Levels K, L, M to P and Q: Humor and Series, Inference and Monitoring for Sense (2-4), Emily Smith.
I’m thrilled that I’ll be learning information relevant to grades two through eight! I also think both topics are ones that will really help me help teachers.

David Booth,  Lucy Calkins, Kathy Collins,Tim Rasinski, and Jon Scieszka are the scheduled opening presenters. Of the five, the only one I haven’t heard before is Kathy Collins. Tim Rasinski, a fellow Ohioan, is a great speaker on fluency; last time I heard David Booth he made me laugh and think; Lucy-you all know what I think; Jon Scieszka-love that guy-so funny, was a great first ambassador, love his Guys Read project.

Three colleagues are attending the Reading Institute in August, representing second, fifth, and sixth grade. I’m so excited that we will be able to share information with each other, our buildings, and our district.


 

Poetry Unit of Study grade five March 28, 2010

Filed under: Calkins,Poetry,writing workshop — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:47 pm
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I raved about this unit last spring and have finally gotten around to putting it on a flash drive so I can bring it home from work to post on my blog.

Here is Reading Lesson 1 and Writing Lesson 1 from the fifth grade unit. Denver Public Schools curriculum uses Units of Study and have great resources.

Reading Lesson 1: Immersing Ourselves in Poetry

Materials

  • Student copies of two poems, such as “Packing,” page 43, and “The Photo-graph,” page 19, in My Name Is Jorge: On Both Sides of the River by Jane Medina or other poems of your choice
  • Large variety of poetry books at different reading levels

Intended Learning

• Students are immersed in the language and visual design of poetry to deepen their understanding of the genre’s elements.

Big Ideas

• Understand poetry elements, including word choice, rhythm, rhyme, imagery, metaphor, and visual design.

• Create mental images to understand literary language and deepen comprehension.

Mini-Lesson

In Guiding Readers and Writers, Fountas and state, “When you immerse your students in rich, lively poetry, you introduce them to intense, concise, skillfully crafted language.” In this unit, you need large collections of poetry at a variety of reading levels that fit this description.

The intention of the first two lessons in this unit is to let students experience poetry before they begin to think about what makes poetry.

Connection

Begin by sharing with students that “In a way, everything they need to know about reading and writing is in a poem” (Fountas and Pinnell, Guiding Readers and Writers). Explain that for the next few weeks, we immerse ourselves in this genre and discover just what they mean. Similar to the way we began our study of nonfiction and fiction literature, today we explore what we notice about poetry through a “Poetry Pass.”

Teaching

Arrange students so they can easily pass poetry to each other, as well as write notes on their “Poetry Pass” graphic organizers (see template at the end of this lesson).

Ideally, in a “Poetry Pass,” each student should access one poem or poetry anthology. The purpose of this exercise is to allow students to conduct what is similar to a conventional interview, with a poem.

Distribute copies of the “Poetry Pass” graphic organizer and examples of two poems. Place the graphic organizer on the overhead and do a think-aloud to model what information goes in each column, using a copied poem as an example.

Explain a scan is a brief look at a piece of literature without actually reading all the way through it, and a snippet is a piece or sample. Therefore, the “Scan, Snippet” column is a place for writing poem-specific noticings, such as titles catching your attention, line lengths, poem shape, or interesting words. Write an appropriate snippet example in the column, based on the poem you chose for an example (see the chart at the end of this lesson for an example using “Packing” by Jane Medina).

The “Comments” column can include things, such as how the poem makes you think or feel, if you are interested in spending more time with the poem or book, or poems you did not like.

Active Engagement

Using the second poem, allow students to do try-its with partners. Invite students to “Turn and Talk” about the second poem and fill in their “Poetry Pass” graphic organizers. Invite a pair of students to share how they filled out their organizers.

Link

Tell students during their independent time today, they choose poems or poetry books to use to fill out their “Poetry Pass” graphic organizers. When they hear the bell ring (or another signal of your choice), they will hand their poems or poetry books to the next person. They have three minutes between each pass to record information on their organizers. Allow about 25-30 minutes for this exercise.

Independent and Small Group Time

• Students read independently from poetry books and/or teacher-selected poems.

• Confer with individual students and/or provide small group instruction.

Sharing/Closure

• Give partners two to three minutes to “Turn and Talk” about information they recorded on their “Poetry Pass” graphic organizers.

• Invite one person from each group to briefly share some information recorded specifically in the “Scan and Snippet” category.

• Explain how their noticings in this column will help them in future lessons as they build on what they know about poetry.

Poetry Pass

Author Title Scan, Snippet Comment
Jane “Packing” Random indentations The title makes me wonder where they are going
 

Welcome Spring March 20, 2010

For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you know I’ve been silent for a while. Thanks to those who didn’t give up, but kept coming back to see if I was talking yet.

I moved in mid-January (which has been wonderful), had four ‘extra’ snow days to unpack, but the rest has been hard.It’s not even been “my” hardness that has been hard, but our small town has been suffering through immense sadness.

I’ve spent many days plotting a trip to TCRWP for their March Reunion weekend. I figured if a shot of Jerry Spinelli, Lucy Calkins, Katherine Bomer, Alfred Tatum, and Jim Trelease mixed with the TC energy couldn’t fix my funk, I might need to seek professional help! Unfortunately (or fortunately from my husband’s point of view), I could not find anyone who thought NYC was ‘just a road trip’ from Columbus.

If I was there I’d be getting ready to walk into Riverside Church to hear Jerry Spinelli’s ‘Failure, Fried Chicken, Fiction’ keynote. I would then be trying to decide if I was going to hear Mary Enrenworth’s talk on “Reading Historical Fiction: The Project’s Latest Thinking on the Intersection Between Deep Comprehension, Interpretation, and Book Clubs” or Jen Serravallo’s “Reading Conferring and Small Group Work in a Classroom of Accountability”. I would then skip off to see Jerry Maraia, who was my TC staff developer last summer, talk, “My Students Just Retell! Getting Readers to Think Deeply About Their Books by Supporting Inference and Synthesis”. After lunch I would have been hard pressed to pick between Tiffany Nealy’s “Unit of Study on Mystery Book Clubs”, “The Intersection of RtI and Reading Workshop” (not because it makes my heart go pitty-pat, but because I have to think, talk, and advocate about the topic endlessly, or “Grammar Instruction on the Go! Creating Demonstrations Sketchbooks to Support Small Group Instruction in Writing”. (I will admit that I just flipped over to Expedia to see if a magical plane ticket for cheap had just appeared. I know I am nutty, but I’m a good nut). I will now make myself stop looking at the Workshop Schedule.

I haven’t been able to make myself read and finish a book. I’ve started several, but after a chapter I’ve put them down. Today, I vow that I will pick one up and finish it. It’s not good for me not to read.

Here’s the positive I’m going to focus on-

  • It’s the first day of Spring!
  • My kids and hubby are healthy and happy!
  • Not only am I going to attend a week of the July Summer Reading Institute, but I will have a teacher from the elementary school there as well! The August Reading Institute has another elementary teacher and two intermediate teachers! We have two on wait list for July! This is huge for us!
  • I have a huge TBR pile!
  • Four days until spring break!
  • I love walking two blocks to get a coffee, an ice cream cone, or a drink!
 

I Should Have Known… January 3, 2010

Filed under: Calkins,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:00 am
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I should have known my husband was teasing me. When my 6’7″ inch husband skipped up the driveway (sign one), waving something from the mailbox (sign two), saying, “Oh my gosh! It’s the best mail ever!” (sign three)

“What, what,” I demand to know, trying to imagine a source of so much delight from my husband.

“Oh my gosh! It’s a letter from…” waving it out of reach above my head.

“Who, who?? Tell me!” I demand.

“Your best friend! Lucy Calkins!”

Ha ha. Funny guy. It wasn’t really a letter to me, but a mass mailing from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

Here’s the 2010 Course Schedule

February 16-19, 2010 Coaching Institute on Whole School Reform

February 16-19, 2010 February Institute on Content Area Literacy

Saturday Reunions! Mark your calendar!
Saturday, March 20, 2010 Keynote Speaker: Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee). Also featuring Lucy Calkins, Carl Anderson, Jim Trelease (author of The Read-Aloud Handbook), Kathy Collins, Katherine Bomer and Alfred Tatum. More than 140 workshops and keynotes!

I’m plotting with a friend how to take a group of teachers and pre-service teachers to the event. How bad could an overnight bus trip really be?

Saturday, October 23, 2010: Keynote Speaker Kate DiCamillo  (Tale of Despereaux)

So exciting! The best PD opportunity for FREE. If you can get there, it’s worth the effort!

 

Setting Up a Reading Workshop: More from Units of Study Across the Year in Upper Grade Reading, Grades 3-5 November 19, 2009

Filed under: Calkins,reading workshop — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:17 am
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Provisioning a Reading Workshop: Overview, Classroom Environment, and Tools

A transcript of remarks by Kathleen Tolan

Deputy Director of Reading, Teachers College Reading & Writing Project

The workshop model is a model in which all children are involved and engaged. In the case of the

reading workshop, students are engaged with reading books they have picked themselves. It’s

truly differentiated because children read books that they’ve chosen and on levels that they can

read. The workshop is not everybody doing the same thing. Imagine Santa’s Workshop, all the

elves are involved in different activities, but these activities share the same final goal. In reader’s

workshop, all students are focused on activities that are going to help them grow as readers. So

they’re putting into action some of the skills and strategies that have been taught to them, either in

conferring or in mini-lessons, and that they feel like they need to get better at as they go off and

independently practice.

The reading workshop consists of several components. Usually, it starts off with a mini-lesson,

which is whole-class teaching, and then the children read independently for the bulk of the time.

There is usually some form of interruption in the middle to refocus the kids or to teach them

another strategy. This is the mid-workshop teaching point. After that, the kids continue to

read.  Finally, there is usually a teaching share that may involve partner work. This brings

closure to the workshop.

So, in the reading workshop, one of the essential goals is to build a community of readers,

where children are really owning their reading life and composing their reading life in the

classroom in the company of others. Students are making decisions on what they’re going to read

and how they’re going to read it, even going so far as to choose the best place in the classroom

for them to read. The teacher is really working on trying to get children to see reading as

something they work on. Students need to think about their purposes, who they are, and  how

they’d like to grow. And, ultimately, the teacher is working to get the children to become good

thinkers, to use reading to help them develop ideas about the texts and themselves in the world.

Classroom Environments

In workshop teaching,  you’ll notice that teachers work hard at creating a place that encourages

kids to read and author their own reading lives. Classrooms are set up for both independent

work and collaboration. There’s no one way a classroom should be. However, there are some

things to think a little bit about as you set your classroom up. Is this a classroom that would foster

collaboration? Clustering desks or tables in groups can help. You want to make sure that you

provide opportunities for books to be talked about and shared.

It’s also important to create areas in which the class can come together and meet. This common

area is where we usually pull the kids together for whole-class teaching. A rug is not required, but

many people choose to use a rug to mark this space. Some teachers even have couches to make it

comfortable around the meeting area. None of that is required; you’ll make the classroom your

own. In designing your classroom for reading workshop, think about how to create a place that

feels like your home, where you would be doing a lot of your reading.

It’s also a good idea to have an extensive classroom library for workshop teaching. And so

setting up your library is something that you need to think a lot about. You want to make sure that

the room is set up in such a way that kids can  easily find books that match them as readers during

the independent part of reading workshop. And so a lot of the time the children have a part in

setting up the library. How do you make sure students know which books they should choose?

You could organize your library by reading level or create a section organized by reading level

using guided reading letters, dot colors, or some other method of your choice. The library should

also have sections organized by author, such as all the books by Jerry Spinelli, as well as areas, or

bins, that are organized by genre—such as adventure or mystery. There are some bins that the

class will create, like our favorite books. In this way, the kids are really helping to shape the way

their library looks and the way that they think it would help them be more powerful readers. In

some schools, each teacher can’t have his/her own full library so teachers sometimes borrow

books from each other. You might consider putting a shared library on a wheeled cart. That way

when I’m finished, the kids put their books back and then it goes down the hall to the next

teacher. So teachers share libraries. Teachers also take out a tremendous amount of books from

public libraries or from the school library to fill up the shelves in their classrooms. The library is

something that changes and grows. So as your kids are reading more and growing more, you have

to replenish it quite often.

In the reading workshop classroom, we try to think a little bit about what scaffolds we can put in

place to support our kids. So you’ll see a lot of charts, like this chart that a teacher is working on

to explain strategies, that are close to the meeting area. We try to create charts that are going to be

kid-friendly. Sometimes they’re co-created by the kids and the teachers. Some of us are better at

creating ones on the spot, others have to think carefully about the best way of expressing an idea.

On those occasions, the teacher has already written the information up and reveals it at the

appropriate time to the kids.  Some teachers make a smaller version of the information, such as a

bookmarks or handouts, so that the kids can keep the information handy as they read. We often

suggest that the teachers refer to the chart in their teaching, so that the kids don’t see it as

wallpaper, but actually keep using it and referring to it across the unit of study, and even after the

unit of study is over. You will find that a lot of the time charts will go away and come back. It

may be that the kids have outgrown it and don’t need it anymore. You can take it away and pull it

back out when needed. In this way, the information can seem fresh and new to the kids. We don’t

want to have a classroom so covered with charts that you can’t read any of them. So some of what

we do is have teachers read over the charts and figure out which ones are most valuable for the

kids and then they put some of them away.

Tools

In reading workshop, there are tools that help children see themselves growing as readers and us

assess their growth. A reading log is one example. Kids use their reading logs every day,

recording the number of pages read and how much time it took to read those pages. Not just at

school, but also at home, so they can compare and see what were they like as a reader in

September  to October. Kids might notice in September they read less and in October they read

more. Or they realize that in September they read more books, because they read shorter books

than I read in October. So they’re able to answer the questions, “Who am I as a reader? Where am

I going? How have I grown?” Using this tool, kids can set goals for themselves about where they

want to be and they can realize that have something to reflect upon. Of course, it’s also a useful

tool for teachers to check in with kids.

Another powerful tool in reading workshop is Post-its. A lot of people find that the kids are Post-

it crazy. What is all that sticking out of their books? It’s just a way for kids to be reading, and

many adults use the same tool. If you want to jot an idea or question down, you just stick a Post-it

on it. In this way, children can record their thinking and their ideas fast, either in their

independent reading book or in the read-aloud book while it’s being read. Often kids will jot

something as a reflection of the teaching that’s been taught. Kids look over their Post-its before

talking with a partner or with their book club for ideas they want to discuss.

A tool that is introduced later in reading workshop is reading notebooks. We start with Post-its

and then in October we start using the notebooks to study characters a little more in depth. We

don’t use the notebook in the same way for every student because everyone is not doing the same

thing, just like every student is not reading the same book. Children use this notebook to help

them grow their ideas or support their thinking as they read.

You’ll also find that we’ve created classroom book baggies. A book baggie is a simple little

Ziploc baggie where the kids put three or four books that they’re planning on reading that week

or in the next few days. We don’t want kids up and down to the library all the time because we

want them reading. It can create management issues if, in the middle of the workshop, kids are

going up to pick new books because they have nothing to read. So, if a student is a JK reader,

he/she might have 12-14 books in a baggie because that student is going to go through them

quickly. But if you’re a child reading at level P, you might only have three books in your baggie,

because that will sustain you for a week. So the book baggies is a simple way for students to have

their books there. Usually the reading log goes in there, along with some Post-its. And sometimes

even a reading notebook. If you get the gigantic big ones (baggies), you can fit more in there.

Book shopping, in a week, is usually spread out, so there’s only four or five kids each day going

to the library, and there’s usually a schedule. The children never choose books during reading

time, because that is disruptive, but usually during the unpacking or packing up to go home, in the

mornings or the afternoon. Teachers should create a book shopping schedule so that they can be

available to kids who need more support in making book choices. For example, teachers can’t be

in the library every day, but on Thursday, they’ll take the kids who have trouble finding their way

to books, they’ll put them on one day, so they know they have to be there on Thursday morning

when the kids are picking books.

 

Units of Study Across the Year in Upper Grade Reading, Grades 3-5 November 18, 2009

“Years from today, if you were to gather close around you the children you teach now and ask them about their reading lives, would they name your teaching of reading as a turning point? Would you like it to be? Does your teaching of reading have the potential to change not only your students’ lives but also your own life? It could, if you let your teaching be a course for you, and not just for your kids. Your life as a teacher, as a reader, and as a person, could be changed in big and important ways, if you let it.” —Lucy Calkins

I’m pretty excited about the upcoming Units of Study for Teaching Reading: A Workshop Curriculum (Grades 3-5) by Lucy Calkins and Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Originally the predicted release date was Winter 2010. Now it’s Spring 2010. I want it now!

I’m trying to decide if the Heinemann one-day workshop by Lucy Calkins on UOS in Upper Grade Reading will be beneficial to attend in January even though I won’t be able to have my hands on those books. Will it be beneficial to hear Lucy Calkins explain the UOS ahead of time? OR Will it be frustrating because the books aren’t available for purchase yet?

I’ve never attended a non-beneficial Heinemann Professional Development session and certainly LOVE Lucy, so I’m leaning towards attending.

Oohhh-I did just find that at the Units of Study website, there is an audio of Lucy Calkins giving an overview of the new Teaching Reading series. If you have never seen her speak, you should listen to this. Just hearing her voice makes me want to be a better teacher!

Here’s the transcript:

Units of Study for Teaching Reading: A Series Overview

A transcript of remarks by Lucy Calkins

Founding Director, Teachers College Reading & Writing Project

Teacher’s Guide

I’m excited to be able to tell you about Units of Study in Teaching Reading and to walk you through all

that’s there for you. The first thing is a book called “A Guide to Reading Workshop”, an overview of the

reading workshop. It describes the essential methods that will inform your teaching. In this guide to the

reading workshop, there is a chapter on conferring and small group work to support readers. There’s a

chapter on assessing readers and tracking their development and using data to inform your instruction.

There’s a chapter on the methods that are important to leading effective minilessons that explains how you

can explicitly teach the skills of powerful reading. There are chapters on the skills of powerful reading that

identify what it is that proficient readers do that we need to be able to teach all kids. All of the other main

questions that you’ll ask about methods of teaching reading are there in the guidebook, including what do I

do to support struggling readers. The guidebook is deliberately lean and meant not to overwhelm you but to

enable you to get the essence of all of these methods and this content, because in fact, the unit books

themselves illustrate them. So, there’s the guide and then there are four units of study books.

Unit of Study Book 1

If you know the series The Units of Study in Teaching Writing, the Units of Study in Teaching Reading are

patterned exactly after the units in writing. The first unit is a book which really helps you to launch the

reading workshop and to teach readers those essential skills that are so foundational that you really need to

address them in September. The first book teaches readers how to read with stamina, how to monitor for

sense, how to do the kind of retelling that shows a basic level comprehension. It helps you to assess all your

readers, to match them to books, to teach them the rituals of taking books between home and school, of

keeping logs of their reading. All of that is contained in book one. But I think the challenge of book one is

that there’s a lot of really essential work that you as a teacher have to accomplish. Of course, you want to

do it in a way that inspires kids and makes them see themselves as readers. You want them to feel that they

are authoring lives as readers and that their whole community of practice this year is going to be different

than any other year. This year, reading may in fact be the best thing that they’ve ever done. This book has a

whole lot of very practical work in terms of helping you with classroom management and getting your

methods going: getting the kids assessed, getting all of them going on their trajectory as readers, and then it

also does this inspirational work.

Unit of Study Book 2

The next unit of study book is a book on character. And of course character is one of the most important

things for a reader of a fiction text to be thinking about. All of us when we read fiction are thinking about

character. So it’s a book on character, but, for you as a teacher, what you know is that you’re really

following character into higher level comprehension. That’s really what this second book is about.

Specifically, you’ll see that it helps you to teach three different main reading skills. First of all, it helps you

to teach envisionment, and as sort of an extension of envisionment, prediction. What I have come to believe

is that so often we think that some kids are born as readers. Those are the kids that are sort of nose-in-the-

book readers and you can’t take them away from books. As teachers, we sometimes think that that’s in their

DNA or something, that they just come to us that way. What this book sets out to do is to help you as a

teacher challenge that notion, that some kids are born readers and some aren’t, so that you can do

everything you possibly can to help all of your readers be nose-in-the-book readers, who read, envisioning

and on the edge of their seat predicting. The other thing that it does is take envisionment and prediction and

talk about these as skills that unroll across a trajectory. There are ways of being a novice predictor, an

intermediate predictor, and an advanced predictor. You’ll see prediction and envisionment concretely laid

out so that you have a sense of what are the real specifics that you can be teaching to move kids from where

they are to where you want to take them. So the first half of the character book begins with teaching

envisionment and prediction. And then the book makes a real turn and tackles, instead of nose-in-the-book

reading, kind of lost-in-the-story reading; it aims to help readers grow theories as they read. You could

almost say that the second half teaches how to read a little bit like a professor with literary theories that you

can support with evidence. It’s helpful to think about that as teaching readers to have a different kind of

relationship to characters. So in the first half of the book, they almost are the characters. In the second half,

it’s a more expository relationship to characters where they’re looking at characters and thinking, “What

kind of person is this? What are the character’s traits? What are my theories for the character? What is my

evidence for those theories?” All of that work is supported in the second book.

Unit of Study Book 3

The third unit is a book on navigating nonfiction. It’s hard to choose a favorite book, like it’s hard to

choose a favorite son, but at least at this moment, it may be my favorite because I think it does such

important work on the entire field of thinking about nonfiction reading. Essentially, what Kathleen and I try

to do in this book is to help readers read nonfiction. I argue that a lot of times our instruction in nonfiction

has helped readers generate some questions and shown them how to open up a nonfiction book so that they

can skim and scan it to find answers to questions. Although I think that kind of nonfiction reading is really

important, we also need to teach kids to read nonfiction; to give themselves over to a nonfiction text and to

comprehend it. To take in what a nonfiction author has said in its entirety, not just finding cool facts.

Instead of, “When the Egyptians built the pyramids they didn’t wear underwear. Isn’t that cool?”,  we want

them to comprehend the main ideas that an author’s putting forth. So the book on nonfiction forwards the

role of structure and suggests that when we’re reading nonfiction texts that are organized as expository

texts, we need to be able to use the expository structure to help us to find big ideas, to find the specifics that

support big ideas. And that when we’re reading narrative nonfiction, or nonfiction that’s written like a

story, as for example biography is, that we can actually bring all that we know from reading stories, to bear

on reading that kind of nonfiction. We can read it in a way where we synthesize the whole text by bringing

that structure to bear on it.

Unit of Study Book 4

Then the fourth book, the last of the units of study books, is a book on reading historic fiction and doing so

in book clubs. The kids will think of it as a book on reading historic fiction, and you will as well, but the

real work of this book is that it’s teaching you to help kids tackle more complex texts and to read with

higher level comprehension. In fact, the main skill work in this last book in the series is that of teaching

interpretation and critical reading. And with it, teaching kids to write about their reading. So the historic

fiction book has a lot of work to do, because it’s teaching kids to tackle more complex texts, to read with a

more literary consciousness. To take their skills and ratchet them up even higher, to specifically read,

thinking, “What is this text really about?”, to try to figure out what the theme is in a text, and to be able to

talk and write about that in ways that are powerful and compelling. All of this is done while the kids are

working not with partners, which is the social structure that supports the first three books, but instead in

book clubs, where four kids are reading shared books. And, of course, the nonfiction book has added power

because it helps students think about nonfiction in relation to historic fiction. So that kids are also learning

that you not only read a couple historic fiction books that are set in a particular era, and think across and

among those books, but also bring in nonfiction texts that relate to those books. The other work of this unit

is helping with this intertextuality, looking across books including both fiction and nonfiction texts. Those

are the main elements in the units of study series.

Resources for Teaching Reading CD-ROM

Those of you who know the CD-ROM full of resource materials in writing won’t be surprised that there’s

resource materials in reading as well. But this time we really felt, because of having listened to teachers and

their requests, that we needed to provide extra resources.

Alternative Units of Study

So we’ve got a whole other book which is designed to help teachers tailor their teaching to kids. This book

supports teachers in developing alternate units of study. It lays out in a slightly more abbreviated form, but

still with all the minilessons there, four or five other units and then in yet more abbreviated form, another

half dozen units. This final book is one that helps you not just have minilessons that you can draw on as

you author your own curriculum, but also whole units of study that you can draw on as you author

curriculum in response to your kids and in conversation with your colleagues.

 

School Visit–Reading & Writing Workshop November 6, 2009

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Oct 09 School Visit
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