Saturday, October 21, 2017

from striving to thriving - a giveaway!

It's time to coin a new phrase, friends. No more 'struggling' readers - let's change our mindset and go with 'striving' readers. In their new book, Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward have just this point to make, and share with us how we can move our readers from Striving to Thriving.

First Impressions
I just got these copies a few days ago, and haven't had time to read more than just the introduction, but already it's a hit. Here's why.

First, the work is grounded in research by two of my favorites: Rosenblatt and Goodman. I've written about Louise Rosenblatt before, but she came up with the transactional theory of reading. This theory states that no two readers read the same  story, because each text is a transaction between the book and the reader. Since all readers bring a different set of experiences and schema to the books they read, each interpretation of the text will be slightly different.

But Yetta Goodman, well I haven't written much about her. She's a pretty prominent person in my studies, too, because of her 'kidwatching' research. This is basically about how teachers have to observe their students in their work with literacy (teachers as kidwatchers), believe in their own professional judgments, and respect children's abilities. With all of that success will come.

In a time when we have so many exteranal ways to collect information - various applications students work on that put out reports of their progress (i.e. Accelerated Reader, Achieve 3000, Lexia, etc), I'm happy to read and be reminded that the teacher is the trained professional in the room, the teacher is the person who should be doing the observations, having the conversations, taking the anecdotal notes, and moving our children forward, rather than waiting on a system of some sort to tell us what to do.

The guiding framework throughout this text is Trust, Teach, Transform. The chapters are written in a common format, beginning with a vignette, including key research and teacher moves, and with practice and lessons. In addition, there is a section entitled Assessing Readers in the Round (ARR) which provides questions to guide your kidwatching.

I just went through the first chapter and loved what I saw. First, research upon research upon research. There tons of studies referenced and other books that are associated in meaning. Additionally, the practice and lessons are plentiful. One awesome idea that came along with helping kids build their identity was choosing a Walk-Up Song - you know, like at pro baseball games? Well, each reader chooses their own song, they share it with one another, and perhaps a teacher would pay it as they walk up to do a presentation.

Through each chapter you will find all of these things: research, classroom vignettes, practice, lessons, and questions to guide your thoughts and actions. All of this is delivered on beautiful, colored pages with tons of graphics and examples of work.

The Big Idea
After getting through the introduction and first chapter, I'm seeing that the big theme here is that time with books is what is best for our striving readers. Many times, the kids that need the most time with books are pulled to do work with programs to intervene, but in reality, what students need most is time with books and meaningful opportunities to confer with their teachers and peers. Harvey and Ward remind us that, "Programs don't teach kids, teachers do." and that "Becoming a wise reading teacher takes time, thoughtfulness, deep study, and sheer effort." What I'm getting is that you can't just impose a program on kids, but instead, you have to meet with them, read with them, and coach them... and most importantly, provide them HOURS and HOURS and HOURS of reading time. That is the way they will move from striving to thriving.

You guys, there's just a little bit on the book, but there is really so so much more. I can't wait to spend even more time with this book, and I'd love for you to do the same!

I have an extra copy of the book to give away! To be entered into the drawing, just leave a comment here on this blog post. Tell me about how you kidwatch in your classrooms - what observations are you using and how is that guiding your instruction with your students?

Next Saturday (10/28/17) I'll randomly select a winner from the list of comments. But a few things:

1. Make sure you are not a no-reply commentor. Check out this link to make sure I'll be able to reach out to you if you are chosen.
2. Chosen winner must be from the United States.

Looking forward to hearing your kidwatching stories! And, if you like what you've read here, follow my blog and connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @bigtimeliteracy :-)

Have a fab weekend!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

making small groups work in the middle

I'm 15 years into teaching and I've finally figured out small groups in the middle school classroom. Of course, I've been seeing small groups in some way or another over the years, but they haven't been as systematic as I've finally figured out this year.

In the past, I'd get kids learning with the activity and then I'd bounce around haphazardly, usually helping kids who were struggling, and leaving the higher-performing kids to their own devices...with no anecdotals about anything I was accomplishing. It was the best I could do at the time, but now I'm able to see all the kids in my class in a smaller setting over the course of 4 sessions of class.

I am lucky to teach on a block schedule, which affords me 88 minutes of ELA every day. We've got a lot of different things going on in 88 minutes, but no matter what we do, I try to save time for workshop: mini-lesson, workshop, and share time:

As much as I'd love my pacing to go like this, it just doesn't always work out that way. The past two weeks, my coteacher, Andrea and I were teaching the Signposts from Notice and Note - those are not mini-lesson lessons - they take a lot of time to teach and model. But this week, we've finally released that work off to pairs and small groups, which is happening in that 12:30-1:00 time frame.

There is one other important routine I set in place to make this work, too: Accountability Buddies, which I originally learned about on this blog post. Cliff's notes is that kids pick a partner that they want to work with for the long term. When we read poetry, they work with this partner. When they get confused and a teacher is unavailable, they go to this person. And, when Andrea and I are seeing a small group, we make sure a pair is either split between the two of us or both independent, and we require them to work together.

Side note about these buddies: when I was evaluated last year, I saw a small group, and my principal observed the buddies asking so many high level questions to one another about their task. What I love about this system is the long term partnership (and choice in the buddy) creates a lot of trust which allows for risk taking. I had no idea that this would be one of the many awesome results of this forming these long term pairs!

So after I have the buddy system set up, and after we have the routines down, and after I have explicitly taught whatever is the thing we are learning, when we're ready to release work to kids, then we are able to follow the pacing guide above. When we get to workshop time, I let the kids know where they will be working on a rotating basis, so each day I show them one of these charts:

Side notes about the charts if you want to try: Make them different colors - it will be easier for you and the kids to see the differences. Also, I prefer to name these "Conferring Day 1, 2..." instead of by the days of the week. Biggest reason is holidays - We probably miss a lot more Mondays than any other day, so this system just uses an ongoing, rotating basis for the groups.

With this schedule, every other day kids are working with a teacher. On the days away from the teacher, they have their Accountability Buddy as a support. They are taught they cannot interrupt a small group, and they don't! It's been great getting into a routine with this schedule.

And the best part? I get to see kids in smaller settings. All kiddos in my group get very specific feedback about their work, which I can see easily as they sit with me at the horseshoe table. They use guided writing practices (Jan Richardson) to orally rehearse the notes they are about to take. They learn to share to their small group (rather than just to me) and ask for clarification to the small group (rather than just from me). The quiet kiddo speaks up. And when awesome predictions or comments about theme or plot are made, I have the ability to take anecdotal notes that inform my knowledge of what kids know and can do.

Win. Win.

Of course this isn't the only way to make this happen...what are you all doing out there in teacher blog land? Leave a comment below with some ideas so we can keep the conversation going!

Happy Wednesday!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...