Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Great new PD book… March 18, 2010

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Well, Saturday is TC’s reunion weekend and since I can’t head to it (can’t convince my husband that NYC is “just a road trip”) I’m doing the next best thing and reading the new book by TC staff developer Jen Serravallo-Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers.
I’m only on chapter 3, but I’m very excited about it and highly recommend it!

 

It’s That Time of Year February 20, 2010

It’s the time of year when teachers need to start planning their professional development for the summer. Applications for the Reading and Writing Institutes at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project are now open! I am drooling! I don’t know if the fates will line up for me to travel to New York for the “best professional development” ever, but I can dream! I would really like to attend an advanced section of the Reading Institute, especially with the highly anticipated, upcoming release of the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5 (At least highly anticipated by me-you can now pre-order it on Heinemann but it doesn’t list the ship date. Since she was still finishing the writing when I saw Lucy Calkins in Indianapolis in the end of January, the date is probably a little up in the air.)

If you can figure out a way to get yourself to New York for five days this summer, or have a nice friend who will let you crash, it will be the best pd experience you can have  and you’ll be wishing you did it for yourself years ago.

 

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.

 

School Visit–Reading & Writing Workshop November 6, 2009

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Oct 09 School Visit
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Unit of Study Fiction Writing Grades 3-5 October 27, 2009

Here are my notes from my first session at TCRWP Reunion Weekend. The presenter was a dynamo!

Writing- Short Fiction

Quick Look at Writing Process:

  • Generating (3-4 days)
  • Choosing (1 day)
  • Developing (5-6 days)
  • Drafting (1-2 days)
  • Revising (3 days)
  • Editing (2 days)
  • Publishing (1 day)

 

Generating (3 days; 4 if not enough blurbs to choose from Writing Story Blurbs-what the story could be about (do for 3-4 days)

  • Chart: Writers Generate Ideas By:
    • Paying attention to the issues (problems) in their lives –don’t let them pick too big of an idea
    • Imaging stories we wish existed in the world
    • Rereading their narrative entries in their writers notebooks and asking themselves, “How could I turn this into a different story?”
      • be very focused-specific-don’t pick whole story (example-playground)
        • 3rd grade-friendship-what happens at recess, can relate to through many times
        • Stories should match their age!!

3-4 days of Story Blurb Writing-We are filling up our notebooks!

Don’t worry about spelling and grammar at this point

Immediately draw a line and have 10-12 pieces (story blurbs) to choose from

  • Story Blurb examples:
  • Maybe I could write about these two girls competing…
  • Maybe I could write about a boy who goes to summer camp…
  • I wish I could read a story about a boy named Josh…

Writers, you are always saying there are no good stories to read in the library and…

  • Somebody…Wanted…But…So

          Pushes them to develop problem

Somebody Wanted (Feared, cared) Because But/so
Jade Cared about her dog Scruffy Because Scruffy was very special to her Her dog ran away and didn’t come back
Bill Wanted to find out why his mom was going out at night Because his mom had just gotten divorced He followed her and found out she was dating

Pick one from chart and stretch out into a story blurb

Mentor Text-Those Shoes

          Not “perfect” ending

          Not she wanted a dog so her mom bought her a dog

  • Choosing (1 day to select)
  • Developing/Nurturing/Rehearsal-need to spend more time on this so 1 day on story mountains or timelines 
  • Drafting
  • Revising
    • Dictionary definition-
      • to prepare a newly edited version (of a text)
      • to reconsider and change or modify-put on a different set of lenses
      • Editing
      • Publishing (1 day)
Possible Teaching Points for Generating with some Predictable problems and strategies

  • Trouble Coming Up with a Story Idea
  • Story Doesn’t Match the Genre
  • Students writing stories about themselves
  • Students Do Not Understand the Problem Arc

 

  • Trouble Coming Up with a Story Idea

                    Bring in mentor texts—that you could take and change-example Those Shoes

                   If you were reading this book what would you say about it? Is it interesting. Would you tell me what isn’t interesting. Let’s make something happen! Make idea stronger and working with it.

  • Story Doesn’t Match the Genre (flying, ghosts-we will do fantasy later in the year)
    • Ask Yourself, “Can it happen to you?” no superhero magic endings
  • Students writing stories about themselves

          How Can we tweak this?
                   Maybe different problem

                   Never say, “bad idea”-say “great idea-Let’s try tweaking it.”

  • Students Do Not Understand the problem arc-they solve the story immediately
Possible Teaching Points for Developing with some Predictable problems and strategies

  • Choosing a story they think is strong enough, one they want to work on and one they think they can write well
    • Which one do you want to work on and which one do you think they can write really well.
    • Writers can develop their internal and external traits and not holding on to the problem in the story—

 

  • Choosing a story they think is strong enough, one they want to work on and one they think they can write well
    • Which one do you want to work on and which one do you think they can write really well.
    • Writers can develop their internal and external traits and not holding on to the problem in the story—
Struggle Problem Internal (limit the #) External
He wants to be popular so he lies and says he cheated when he didn’t Bob has let his friend cheat from his test. He gets caught because teacher thinks
  • Usually honest
  • Good student
  • Smart
  • lonely
medium heightbrown hair

only child

freckles

  • Think about problem first
  • Shy girl problem-wouldn’t be super friendly and loud
  • 3rd Grade-booklets
    • Storytelling using story booklets-touch page and say aloud-do at least twice each
  • 4th/5th Grade
    • Creating story mountains with small actions
    • Breaking down their story mountains into smaller scenes by thinking about:
      •  change of setting
      • change of time
      • when new characters enter or leave the scene

Sketching our scene

  • Use a sentence strip
    • Rules: have to show time of day by including a clock or night/day
  • Bigger scenes-more happens
  • Smaller scenes-make boxes reflect that
  • Notebooks away-no looking during sketching the story
           
1 2 3 4 5 6

Story Mountain example- Illustrate how to put—Boxes around scene

On Choosing Day:

  • have them bring notebook and put a little star next to which one they think is strong enough
  • thumbs-up when you have your idea
  • give post-it note to thumbs-up and quickly see/assess ideas
  • 10-20 minutes on rug to choose
  • Let strugglers take notebook home the night before to pre-pick
Predictable Problems During Choosing/Developing

  • 1 dimensional characters
  • Story doesn’t have a clear plot
  • Struggling with creating a scene
  • The solution is without struggle
  • There is no tension building up

 

  • 1 dimensional characters
    • Really evil or really nice
  • Story doesn’t have a clear plot (story doesn’t make sense)
    • Bring them back to Somebody, wanted, but, so
  • Struggling with creating a scene (what could happen before she got what she wanted)
  • The solution is without struggle
  • There is no tension building up
    • Teach how to slow scene down
      • Add: show don’t tell
        • Show internal thinking
        • Add action or dialogue

ALL BEFORE DRAFTING!!!

What does drafting look like:

          Big scene-full sheet of paper

          Small scene-half sheet of paper

 

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


 

I find a school visit to be one of the most powerful professional development tool October 17, 2009

We are taking the following books to Public School 41 when we go for our school visit next Friday. A small thank you token to the teachers, administrators, and staff…We are going to take 6 copies of each so teachers whose classrooms we visit feel appreciated.

Jackie robinsonTesting the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson & Kadir Nelson

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes only in dreams

Only in Dreams: A Bedtime Story by Paul Frank

old bear

We are also taking along copies of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Interesting Items About their school:

  • There is a School District Parent Coordinator whose job is to facilitate communication at the front-line between parents, teachers, and staff
  • There is an Extended Day option for students who need extra instructional support in a small group setting that can be mandated or voluntary from 8:00-8:50 Monday-Thursday
  • Reading Recovery is a reading intervention program used with First Graders
  • 2 times a month there are Family Mornings-families are then invited to stay after drop-off to observe literacy and math
  • Cluster classes are part of regular classroom instruction throughout the school year and include: Science, Physical Education, Art, Music, Computer, Theater and Movement.
  • Choice is an additional double period cluster class chosen by the students in 4th & 5th Grade. Past offerings have included Expression Art, Computer, Violin, Physical Education, Chess, Art, Science, Math Enrichment, Music and Chorus.
  • There are two part-time literacy staff developers  and one full-time math staff developer assigned to the building. In addition they have a TCRWP Staff Developer who comes in and leads classroom lab sites in reading and writing as well as study groups
  • Collaborative Team Teaching Class (CTT) -Their CTT class is a model for the entire New York City school system. At PS41 each grade has one CTT class, which has one full time general education teacher and one full time special education teacher.
    • In the CTT classes, the ratio is approximately 60% general education students and 40% special education students. Our inclusion classes provide the same curriculum as our other classes, with the added benefit of a higher staffing ratio and a great deal of support.
    • The Committee for Special Education (CSE) places the children who are on the special education side of the CTT class. The school administration places the children on the general education side of the CTT class. Children on the general education side are “model” students — they must model excellent behavioral and learning habits — and cannot be receiving any special services themselves to be in a CTT class.
 

Fall Reunion TCRWP October 13, 2009

Filed under: Calkins,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:18 pm
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10 days and counting until a Lucy Calkins /Teachers College Reading and Writing Project fix…

Chuckled to myself when obnoxious teacher told me she doesn’t use Lucy Calkins –that she is too “loosey-goosey” and not based on enough research. Chuckled even more when she said uses Katie Wood Ray.

Obviously didn’t know Katie Wood Ray was a staff developer for Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and that she and Lucy Calkins have great admiration for each other’s work.

Wish I was obnoxious enough to point that out to her in front of a whole group, but decided my private inner chuckle was more appropriate.

Get on board…the train has left!

 

TCRWP Fall Reunion October 4, 2009

Filed under: TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:15 pm
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I’m very excited to be able to going to the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Fall Reunion along with some colleagues from the elementary school.  Katherine Patterson is the keynote address. I saw her speak about ten years ago and was just floored.