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Friday, October 3, 2014

irc day 1 in review

Well as you know if you've been keeping up with my blog, I'm at the Illinois Reading Council Conference in Springfield, Illinois with a bunch of teachers from my district. All of the Literacy Coaches are here, plus a handful of the Reading Specialists and half of our principals. We are representing well!

Yesterday my principal, Christine from Just Jantz, and I presented at 8am - the story of our school and our implementation of Reading Workshop. We had a small group join us and I had fun - we didn't really get nervous either! So, I think I'll have to be back to present again!

After our session, we attended some others. I went to one on Instructional Coaching, then saw Richard Allington talk about literacy in our communities, and then heard Rafe Esquith. He wrote Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire which I read a long time ago. So, here are the highlights from yesterday:

From the Instructional Coaching session:
"People aren't ready for coaching until they're ready for it."
This group talked a lot about their journey and how it takes time for teachers to see that coaches just want to collaborate and work together and that we have nothing to do with administration. So, they keep offering to collaborate, because teachers aren't ready for it until they're ready for it.

I think that's true - the summer before I was hired my principal told me to read Jan Richardson's The Next Steps in Guided Reading. I didn't get into it until just last month - I had to try out guided reading first (remember, I was in middle school prior?) Anyways, teachers have to be ready for their next steps when they're ready. So coaches, keep offering the things you do! And if you get grabbed in the hallway by a teacher who needs something, that's just as good as a teacher filling out a form for coaching. They called this "hall-jacking" and I thought it was pretty hilarious!

From Dick Allington's Session:
He talked a lot about literacy and communities - poor vs. middle communities and access to books and vocabulary that each of those communities have. It really is pretty crazy....here's just one quote about word exposure:

Children of the poor are exposed to 13 million words.
Children of working class families are exposed to 26 million words.
Children of professional families are exposed to 45 million words.
(Hart & Risely, 1995)

But it's not just that. Children of higher income families hear better *quality* of language - 100 times more positive statements (Honey, we are going to buy peas today. What kind of peas should we get? There are 4 different kinds. Which ones should we pick?) than children of lower income families, who hear 13 times more negative (Sit down. Be quiet. Don't touch that.) statements.

Dick said that WalMart is a perfect place for this kind of data collection! hahahhaaaaa :-)


What can we as teachers do? Obviously use the great language that we do, but also stock our rooms with books, and give kids *ample* time to read:

Knapp, 1995 said that meaning-oriented practices do not impede mastery of discreet skills, and may in fact, facilitate it.

So, if you want to "keep kids stupid, keep doing worksheets." (Allington's words!) If you want to help them grow, give them LOTS of time to read books!

Rafe Esquith
The last person I heard last night was Rafe Esquith. He was just alright for me - he definitely has a system of doing things that is pretty good - you should read his book for some great ideas!

As far as reading goes, he reads all the classics with his fifth graders: To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Huck Finn - there were many more, but books like those. He reads all the books to kids as a shared text so they are definitely making meaning, but I'm just not sure how I feel about him reading that content with kids. That's my big gripe.

On a positive note about him, what he says about reading, "Every great book is about you." And that's true. The reader gets to know the characters, the problems, and considers life in a new way after reading those books. So I did like that.

Well, that's all for day one. Sorry there's no images or pictures - my Internet is ridiculously slow and the thought of having to load more tabs to spice this up doesn't sound fun. Tomorrow I'll share today's events - which began with Lucy Calkins at breakfast this morning and it was fabulous!

Be on the lookout for my next post about today's sessions!


Happy Friday!

4 comments:

  1. Our district is focusing on vocabulary this year with an 83% poverty rate. Very interesting statistics. Thanks for sharing! Hope you enjoyed your day today!

    Amanda
    A Very Curious Class

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  2. Yikes! I definitely agree with you about the content of those classic novels being inappropriate for 5th graders. Just because they're capable of reading it, doesn't mean they should. I hate to think that kids are reading these books but only understanding the plot on a superficial level, but I don't know that you can expect much more at that stage!

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  3. Great post!!! I took a class from Allington when I lived in Knoxville. I can hear those words coming out of his mouth. He said the same thing then. Many times I have him in my head during guided reading!! Give them more time is what I shout to myself!
    Thanks!!

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