Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Reason to Click My Heels Together! April 29, 2010

What event could bring  Franki from A Year of ReadingKaren from Talkworthy, Karen from Literate LivesKatie from Creative Literacy , Stella from My World-Mi Mundo, myself and others under one room tomorrow?

Could it be a sale at Cover to Cover?

The announcement of the Newbery?

NCTE?

OCTELA?

Good Guesses but wrong.

We will all be in one room to hear and watch Samantha Bennett , author of That Workshop Book: New Systems and Structures for Classrooms That Read, Write and Think, work in Katie’s second grade class and Karen’s fifth grade class. I am very exciting to have colleagues from three different grade levels that will be attending tomorrow, as well as a student teacher from the building. What a great professional development opportunity that would not be possible without the hard work of the volunteers for The Literacy Connection, including my friend and guru, Carol.

While we won’t all fit in Karen’s and Katie’s classrooms, the rest of us get to watch over close-circuit television, with debriefing sessions in-between.


 

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!
 

Once Upon a School January 1, 2010

Filed under: authors,reading-writing connection,school,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:05 am
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My husband came home talking about the Pirate Supply Store and their tutoring center sometime in the past year. He is a big fan of TED “Ideas Worth Spreading” tv and had seen the video of author Dave Eggers’ 2008 TED award acceptance speech. In addition, one of the guys who works for him has a friend who is affiliated with the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. I’m surprised I haven’t posted about it already.

“Founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia is dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the writing. Our work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.”

I love his dream!

 

TCRWP Fall Reunion October 19, 2009

The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project


presents the

Saturday Reunion

October 24, 2009

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Join the entire Project Community as we open our doors to thousands of educators from New York City and around the world for more than 140 free workshops, keynotes and closings throughout the day on state-of-the art methods in the teaching of reading and writing for grades K-8. Special guest speakers and literacy leaders from all over the country will join us to discuss such topics as: Help Students Think, Talk and Write Well About Reading, Teach Higher Level Comprehension; Use Assessment to Inform Instruction, and dozens and dozens more….

Katherine Paterson
The day will open with a keynote by Katherine Paterson, the author of young adult novels that have uplifted generations of children.  Her stories of perseverance in the face of impossible odds and her treatment of weighty topics, such as death and jealousy, have earned her numerous awards, including the National Book Award for The Great Gilly Hopkins, and the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia, and Jacob Have I Loved.

Speakers Include:

Lucy Calkins, Founding Director of the TCRWP is the author of many professional books including The Art of Teaching Reading, A Principals Guide to Leadership in the Teaching of Writing, and two series about units of study for primary and upper grade writing.  Her upcoming Units of Study on Teaching Reading for Grades 3-5 (Heinemann, 2009), co-authored with Kathleen Tolan, is due out from Heinemann soon.

Kathy Collins is the author of Growing Readers: Units of Study in the Primary Classroom. Kathy is a frequent guest lecturer at national conferences.  Her latest book is titled, Reading for Real: Teach Students to Read with Power, Intention and Joy in K-3 Classrooms.

Mary Ehrenworth is the author of Looking to Write: Children Writing Through the Visual Arts and The Power of Grammar: Unconventional Approaches to the Conventions of Language. Mary is the Deputy Director for Middle Schools at the TCRWP.

Amanda Hartman is Lead Coach at the Project and has co-authored three works with Lucy Calkins: Authors as Mentors, The Conferring Handbook and One-to-One: The Art of Conferring with Young Writers, as well as a CD-ROM: Conferring with Young Writers.

Laurie Pessah is Senior Deputy Director at the Project and leads study groups for principals, assistant principals, staff developers, and teachers, and she is co-author with Lucy Calkins of Nonfiction Writing: Procedures and Reports and A Principal’s Guide to Leadership in the Teaching of Writing.

Kathleen Tolan is Senior Deputy Director of Reading at the Project.  Kathleen co-wrote a FirstHand series on literacy coaching and co-authored with Lucy Calkins the upcoming Units of Study on Teaching Reading for Grades 3-5 (Heinemann, 2009).

Having found the “storytelling” behind history, our Closing speaker, Joy Hakim, author of the ten-volume series A History of US, will speak about shedding a new light on the teaching of history.  She put “the story” at the center of nonfiction again with her subsequent book, The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension.  Her passion and style have brought her wide acclaim and recognition, and her awards include: The 2008 Benjamin Franklin Award for Education/Teaching/Academic, and the 2007 USA Book News’s Best Book in General Science Category.


The Morning Keynote will be held at Riverside Church9:00 a.m.

490 Riverside Drive (between 120th and 122nd Streets)

The remainder of workshops will be held at Teachers College, 525 W.120th Street, NY NY 10027

No registration required.

For more information, visit our Web site at: readingandwritingproject.com


 

Day One… The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project 16th Annual July Institute on the Teaching of Reading: Teach Me in the Key of Life July 6, 2009

Whew! What a great day! I am now sitting in my very dorm-y dorm room. Two major differences from when I was last living in an dorm room: A-it’s much nicer with AC and my own bathroom (although the mattress had me wishing for a hotel last night), and B-I’m drinking a beer while doing my homework (or avoiding it I guess by typing this).  

This is the largest TC Institute with people from 24 countries including Sweden, China (Shanghai, specifically), Iceland, India, and Kuwait; 38 states; and includes 90 principals, 6 superintendents and a total of 1374 participants! Wow! 

The day started with a Keynote by Maurice Sykes (Executive Director of Early Childhood Leadership Institute titled “The Courage to Teach the Joy of Teaching”. He was a FANTASTIC speaker and started with a poem by Mimi Chenfeld (from Columbus, OH!)

Teach Me in the Key of Life
by Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld

I am waiting for you
I have been waiting all my life
to spend this time
with you.

I am full of questions, adventures, wonder, curiousity,
imagination.
I am full of fears, doubts, confusions, nightmares, dreams.
I am the Cowardly Lion. I need a badge for courage.
So do you.
I am the Tin Man. So tight. I forgot about my heart.
How’s your heart?
I am the Scarecrow. Hangin’ so loose my brain feels unhinged.
Does yours?
Sometimes I’m
GrumpySleepyDopeyBashfulDocSneezyHappy.
Sometimes I’m seven new dwarfs as yet unnamed.

I love to sing.
I know the words to 2,437 songs.
Teach me through songs.
Let me paint, doodle, scribble, draw, carve, fix, sketch – DO.
I can’t keep still.
I’m a spaced-out, far-out, Star Wars, Superman IV, rock ‘n’ roll, disco,
punk, psychedelic, tuned-out, right-on, cool age, 
electronic, stereo, video games, computerized, technicolor, ten-speed kid!
I need action!
Keep it moving!

I love to read baseball cards, album covers, TV schedules, movie ads,
license plates, T-shirts, buttons, posters, cartoons, cereal boxes,
recipes, highway signs, historical markers, magazines, picture books, 
sad stories, weird poems, animal histories, lost-and-found boards…

Let me ask my questions – even if you don’t know the answers.
Dumb questions, like who started numbers?
Do caterpillars know they’re going to turn into butterflies?
Where does the white go when the snow melts?
Why does time fly?
How do we see?
What do you see?

It’s not my birthday, but every day can’t we celebrate SOMETHING?
Colors, seasons, Tuesdays, Mexico, circles, houses, maps, our names, numbers, one seed, our journals, favorite books, inventions, rivers, peace!
Can we celebrate our country on the fourth of October or the twelfth of May?
We don’t have school on the fourth of July!
Every day let’s celebrate SOMETHING!
Life – the wonder and power and miracle of Life – of being here, learning together, with all our fantastic powers.

Surprise me.
Amaze me.
Startle me.
Challenge me.
Try me.
Laugh with me.
Love me.
Teach me
in “the key of life,”
and I promise I’ll
surprise, amaze, startle, challenge, try, enjoy and love YOU!

 

 

 

Is it possible for the day to get any better than that? It did-next up was a large group session for Grade 3-5 teachers, principals and school leaders. Lucy Calkins walks on water for me-need I say more-I know there are at LEAST 1300 other people who agree with me (and that is probably a low count just for this 10 block radius!).

I skipped lunch to attend a session by Joe Yukish entitled “Looking Closely at Levels A-G”. I will post more about this separately, but I think it’s the most clear view of early levels I’ve ever heard.

We then had a small group session (about 22 people) with Tifany Davis Nealy that was also fabulous (even the assigning homework part! My husband says I’m the only one who could ever get excited about receiving homework-I don’t think he is right). I will also post separately about what we learned in small group session.

The closing session was “Creating a Richly Literate Culture in a Classroom and a School: Ten Transformational Ideas” by Mary Enrenworth, Deputy Director for Middle Schools of the TC project. 

There was then a welcome reception for out-of-towners in an outdoor courtyard. Who did I get to sit next to and talk to?  You probably won’t be too surprised when I say, Lucy Calkins of course, but I did not stalk her! She was at a table by herself and everyone was too intimidated to sit down at her table of 10. Well, that wasn’t going to stop me! Her table’s theme was How Can a School or Person Connect to the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Especially if You’re Outside of NYC? The second or third person who sat down was someone Lucy greeted by name with a question-The woman was so flustered she got red and had to compose herself for a second-why? Because she also recognizes the greatness of Lucy and getting to have a conversation with her in person. It’s good to recognize yourself in someone else-it makes us all feel more connected.

 

Getting up early (again) March 21, 2009

I’m up at the crack of dawn to attend the 76th Saturday Reunion for The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. I’ve dreamed and drooled over this for many a year. It starts with a keynote from Richard Peck and then offers choices for 4 more sessions (20+ for each session) before having a Closing talk, a reception and then a debrief with the people attending the Coaching Institute.
It’s hard picking what to go to, but I have the train ride to narrow my choices down a little more. I am planning on seeing Lucy Calkins talk about Best Practices in Reading Workshop for grades 3-8 (TC has a Reading Units of Study in the works for publication in 2010), Author’s Readers Theatre with Avi, Sarah Weeks, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Brian Selznick, but still need to read through the 100 + choices again en route.

 

Reading toolbox January 17, 2009

 

 

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First Grade Authors November 7, 2008

Click to play 1st Grade Blog Post

I had the privilege of accompanying a group of first-grade teachers to visit another another elementary school’s Writing Workshop. Below I’ve pasted the information I got from my friend, and literacy guru, Carol, about what to expect during the visit. Carol is a retired educator from the district we went to visit.

The teachers are all experienced teachers and have worked as a team for seveal years. Their writing workshop is based on the work of Lucy Calkins and influenced by the work done at the Manhattan New School in New York City which the three teachers visited a couple of years ago.

Each writing session begins with a mini-lesson, which is followed by a student writing time, and then concludes with sharing/author’s chair. The teachers have been going through student writing folders at this time to decide what to teach and reteach before progress reports go home next week. The lessons you see on Thursday will probably come from this review of folders. Lessons the teachers and students have worked on this year include: “special moments”/personal narrative writing; content components (main idea, details and descriptive words); making sure each student’s writing has clear meaning; and the idea of ‘how do I know this piece is done’ or ‘when I am done, I have really just begun’.
They have also focued on spelling high frequency words correctly, capitals, and punctuation.

We will divide you into groups of two and you will rotate through each of the three classrooms. At the conclusion of the writing workshop time, the students have recess and the teachers will have time to talk with you and answer any questions. They are also happy to share their email addresses so you could contact them if you have further questions.

If you have time, we could stop for a quick lunch and talk about what you saw in the classrooms, any questions you have, and what ideas you might take back and try in your own setting.

 

Primary Comprehension Toolkit September 21, 2008

I am most of the way through the teacher’s guide of the Primary Comprehension Toolkit and I am impressed and excited! I began using the grade 3-6 Comprehension Toolkit a year and a half ago and our building began using it for all 4th and 5th grade at the beginning of the last school year (2007-2008). It is one of the few resources that all 15 teachers have been able to agree on-everyone likes using it and thinks the learning it promotes in our students is very worthwhile and comprehensive. 

Last year one of the fifth grade teachers and I went through and divided the texts that came with the Comprehension Toolkit and added onto the lessons as needed from the Toolkit Text book for grades 4 & 5. We then made binders for each teacher by grade level.  We agreed last year that teachers would use the binders as suggestions, but if they found new books or texts, they were free to substitute their own titles. The division of the texts left no teacher feeling frustrated that the “lesson had been taught” by the previous year’s teacher. We all saw the value in teaching and reinforcing the comprehension strategies in both grades, but most teachers wanted the security of knowing which texts to use and also the security of knowing their like-kind colleagues would be able to talk to them about how the text had gone when used in their classroom. Once teachers had taught the lesson once, they felt more comfortable branching out into their own text selections. 

I like how the Primary Comprehension Toolkit’s Teacher’s Guide lists the 12 Principles that Guide Our Work.

1. Teach for Understanding and Engagement

2. Create an Environment for Active Literacy

3. Understand that Text Matters

4. Foster Passion and Curiosity

5. Share Our Literate Lives

6. Create a Common Language for Literacy and Learning

7. Build Instruction Around Real-World Reading

8. Provide Explicit Instruction with the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework

9. Make Thinking Visible

10. Recognize that Reading, Writing, and Art and Interconnected and Synergistic

11. Differentiate Instruction Paying Special Attention to the Needs of Developing Readers and English Language Learners

12. Teach with the End in Mind

 

There are also sections on how to set up an active literacy classroom in a primary grades, how to fit the primary toolkit into reading workshop, a basal based program  or into content areas, depending on time constraints. 

It seems that the lessons are easier to transfer to your text selections than the intermediate edition, but I haven’t compared them lesson to lesson, so it could just be me being used to the format and equating familiarity with easier.

 

 
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