Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Professional Learning Focus: Reading and Writing. I Just Can’t Get Enough April 5, 2009

Having had the opportunity to hear Carl Anderson speak about conferring and assessing young writers yesterday just 2 weeks after attending a Lucy Calkins Literacy Institute, I am in professional learning and reflection rapture.

A blogging friend ran into me yesterday at the workshop and remarked, “You’re at everything”.

While I don’t attend “everything”, I would agree with her that I do attend everything that I possibly can that is professionally valuable.  I do draw the line and know that I can’t focus on everything. For instance, several years ago when I had first started using Lucy Calkins Units of Study, my principal got a little annoyed with me when I refused to attend a workshop on 6 + 1 Traits of Writing.  He could not understand why I would prefer (and insist) on going to a workshop about new literature at the Columbus Public Library when I had the opportunity to hear a presenter from Texas in my own school.

“My brain can’t handle any different information at this point. It is really hard work getting Units of Study up and running and I can’t afford any distractions from it if I am going to give it the attention it needs to be successful.”  I tried to explain to him.

I even went so far as encouraging him to cancel the speaker. After all, we were all supposed to be working within the parameters of Calkins Writing Workshop, and I truly believed that all the session with that Texan would do would get people excited about something that they really shouldn’t be doing that year and frustrated that they couldn’t go try out what they had just sat through a whole day session about. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. 

I also have learned that I have to go out and find what I am looking for in the area of professional development. Being a teacher in the community I live in, has so many positives, I can’t even begin to name them. Unfortunately on-site professional development is not one of them.

Bigger districts have had the opportunity to bring in renowned experts to talk and work with their teachers for years and years.

“What!? Ralph Fletcher was in your room teaching writing workshop!” I would drool hearing this year after year while talking to teaching friends at the Dublin Literacy Conference.

I, on the other hand, have had the opportunity to read their books and try things out with a couple of like-minded individuals.  Really good, but not in the same league. Rec league basketball instead of the NBAs.

Fortunately, it has gotten easier over the years with opportunities such as the fifth annual Lakota Literacy VIEW , The Literacy Connection, as well as the annual Dublin Literacy Conference, on-line resources such as Choice Literacy, blogs (see my sidebar for my favorites) such as Two Writing Teachers or Reading Zone and nings with like-minded teachers.  For now, I am still a learner and need to soak in everything I can in order to best help the teachers and students I work with. My excitement over the possibilities leaves me recharged and ready to learn more!

 

Conferring with Writers April 3, 2009

Filed under: writing conferences,writing workshop — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:11 pm
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Today was part 3 of 4 sessions studying conferring in the writing workshop with a focus on Carl Anderson’s book Assessing Writers. As part of the Literacy Connection, Carl is in Columbus today and tomorrow.  He led a writing workshop in a fifth grade classroom, complete with mini-lesson, student conferences, and share. There was time for debriefing between sessions. Tomorrow he will lead a workshop for teachers on the same topic. 

I learned a lot watching Carl in action and am looking forward to learning more tomorrow. I’m also hoping to pick up his newest book set Strategic Writing Conferences: Smart Conversations that Move Writers Forward. Stay tuned for another update this weekend.

 

Assessing Young Writers by Carl Anderson February 5, 2009

51mc6ahuwkl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_I just finished reading this 2005 book by Carl Anderson and it is great! I wish that I had read it the year it came out at the same time as I was first reading Units of Study by Lucy Calkins. It would have been so helpful to me as a classroom teacher and really has helped gel my thinking about writing workshop. 
I highly recommend you add this book to your professional reading list! 

 

This review at Amazon sums it up very well:

I wouldn’t be as good a teacher of writing without this book. No kidding. It provides the daily nitty-gritty practical solutions to common writing workshop problems, and has great ideas for conferring, unit planning, troubleshooting, and more. This is for the every day teacher and college folk alike. 

Some of the blacklines from this book are ESSENTIAL to my organization of workshop. I can’t imagine trying to do it without his advice and guidance. His book was the “Miracle Grow” to my Calkins kit experience. The piece I needed to REALLY pull it off and feel good about it. Heworked in the project with Ms. Calkins, so his ideas line right up with the ideas I already have in motion. I don’t work for anybody, but I heartfully encourage you to help yourself by getting this one (and I love his How’s It Going? too…)