Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Professional Mentor Texts

I was thrilled to be a part of Kylene Beers and Bob Probst's first Facebook live event. It was on their Notice and Note Facebook page and was greatly attended. (If you are not a part of this group, I highly encourage you to join it). During the session, one listener posted a request for teachers to mention their go-to professional mentor texts for literacy. This got me thinking of my own mentor texts.

I wear a lot of hats in my district. I am a reading interventionist, instructional coach, K-12 ELA Department Chair and I also lead some professional development around literacy. Thus, my go-to pile above is quite large. This does not include some more books in my middle school room :)

I am always on the look-out for new ideas or better ways to ensure I am growing professionally so that my students are academically successful. I then give snip-its of what I read to administration, staff and students. I realize everyone is not as excited as I am to read so much professionally, and I respect that. However, they do appreciate it when I share bits of what I am learning with them.

Teach but always learn.:

Here are some of my favorites for upper elementary & middle school literacy:

  • Falling in Love With Close Reading by Christopher Lehman & Kate Roberts
  • Energize: Research Reading and Writing by Christopher Lehman
  • Notice and Note by Kylene Beers & Bob Probst
  • Reading Nonfiction by Kylene Beers & Bob Probst
  • DIY Literacy by Kate Roberts & Maggie Beattie Roberts
  • Reading Strategies Book by Jen Seravallo
  • Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth & Christopher Lehman
  • Teaching for Deep Comprehension by Linda Dorn
  • Guiding Readers and Writers by Irene C. Fountas & Gay Su Pinell
  • Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson
  • The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
  • Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
Primary Literacy:
  • One to One by Lucy Calkins, Amanda Hartman & Zoe White
  • No More, "I'm Done!" by Jennifer Jacobson
  • The Daily Five by Gail Bushey & Joan Moser
  • Reading Strategies Book by Jen Seravallo

Engaging Students/Education in General
  • Drive by Daniel Pink
  • Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess
  • Book Love by Penny Kittle
  • Opening Minds by Peter Johnston
  • Professional Capital by Andy Hargreaves & Michael Fullan
  • Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie
Instructional Coaching
  • The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar
  • Instructional Coaching by Jim Knight
I am sure I am missing some that I have used and I know there are many more on my "to-read" list. What are some of your favorite professional mentor texts?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Teaching Grammar in Context

My 4th and 5th grade teams requested teaching grammar in context as our topic for this month's common planning time. We have been taking a look at the practice exams for the upcoming Forward Exam (Wisconsin's version of testing for the CCSS), and the staff noticed a lot of grammar questions. I am so glad they brought this idea to common planning because it was a great time to discuss how to teach grammar in context, not in isolation.

My favorite resource for this topic is Jeff Anderson's Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop. 
Some quotes:
“Pattern based development rather than rule-based correction.”
“Teaching DOL is as effective as ‘Yelling at the overhead.’”
“Love the errors and all they reveal.” (Look for patterns in students’ thinking)

We had some great discussion as we looked at the language standards for each grade level, reflected on which ones students may need some addition instruction on, and then began to plan lessons using Jeff Anderson's examples. It became very clear that our students needed a 2 week "bootcamp" revolving around grammar. This is going to be centered around their writing and through the use of mentor texts.

Here are some more of my favorite ideas from Jeff's book...

  • Rather than putting a poorly written sentence up for students to correct, put up a well-written sentence and ask them, “What did you notice?” “What else?”, “What else?” Continue until you have exhausted the realm of possibilities  within the class. Take one of their noticings and use it to teach a mini-lesson that you have preplanned anyways.

  • To teach the test taking skill of noticing errors in incorrect sentences, take that good sentence and change one thing to make it incorrect. First make sure the students have a good understanding of why and how it is correct. Talk about what was changed and why it is no longer correct. Ask - “How does this affect the meaning of the sentence?”

  • A good sentence: “His room smelled of cooked grease, Lysol, and age.” -Maya Angelou. A sentence like this nature can be used over several days and for many minilessons.

  • Have the children create a sentence about their own rooms similar to Maya Angelou's. Notice the features of the sentence to include - place, scent item, proper noun, abstraction.

  • Children need to understand what is correct before they can realize what is incorrect. You never know something is missing if you’ve never had it in the first place.

This was a great discussion and use of our common planning time this month!

Do any of you have a resource you use to teach grammar in context?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Writing in Response to Reading

During our 3rd grade common planning time this week, our focus was on writing in response to reading. I had great resources to share with the staff and then Maggie and Kate posted their DIY series second video on this topic and I had to adjust. It was just too good not to share.

DIY Series

Image result for DIY literacy image
This was this group's first experience listening to Maggie (@maggiebroberts) and Kate (@kateteach) speak, and I heard many comments on how engaging the teachers thought Maggie and Kate were and how their explanations were clear and concise. We brainstormed ways we could use their teachings to improve instruction about writing about reading in the classroom. 

My go-to book for my entire teaching career has been:
Image result for guiding readers and writers

Fountas and Pinnell have amassed such fantastic information in this text, and it is always one I return to again and again. 

They say, "Writing about reading is a tool for reflection and as a way to share and explain one’s personal reactions, questions, and interpretations of texts. The writing may range from very brief notes to longer more polished essays. The goal is not to summarize or retell the story in a way to prove they’ve read it but to uncover the meaning of the text and their response to that meaning."

When children write, they can discover more about what they think and feel about a text. It is a tool for reflection and sharing. The primary use is to help individuals become better readers by:
·         Engaging in critical thinking and learning about how to interpret text
·         Connecting reading and writing
·         Developing flexibility in responding and going beyond simple retelling or answering questions
·         Using the notebook to promote and support discussion
·         Formulating thoughtful and personal responses to what they read
·         Responding and reflecting continually during the reading of a text
·         Engaging in meaningful independent work while the teacher works with groups of students
·         Collecting, examining, and using interesting words and language patterns
·         Examining the writer’s craft and recording the techniques they notice for later discussion and use in their own writing
·         Sketching or drawing to express their understanding in images as a support for discussion or writing

Another resource I enjoy using is The Two Writing Teachers blog. It is always relevant to the workshop model, and you can sense the workings of Fountas and Pinnell and also Lucy Calkins in their work.
Writing About Reading (choice)

I feel so fortunate to have these wonderful resources to share with staff to help us all grow professional to improve student achievement.