Teachers are like Fingerprints…

IMG_7864Since I filled up my writing notebook yesterday, on day 4 of the TCRWP Reading Institute I transitioned into 21st century note taking and brought my computer.  Although I know this new style of recording will save me the hassle of retyping my notes (yes, I did that) I am a little sad to leave my old school method behind.

Here are the highlights of my day:

I began the day in a session titled Informal Conversations Supporting Change in the Teaching of Reading.  Here we were given some great suggestions on how to start small and celebrate success.  My favorite suggestion was the idea of starting study groups with other teachers in your school.  The facilitator shared that the size of the group is not important.  Just 2 teachers who are interested in a topic can get together to form a group.  I also like that she suggested that the group be short lived (meet 3 times).  If the study is interesting you can always extend the group but if it is not working then you can move on.

IMG_7872In Interpretation Book Clubs we practiced a write around (see picture). Write arounds can be done before reading a book to active prior knowledge and engagement, during reading to help readers form theories about the book, or after reading to work on interpretation.  The goal of the write around is to use nonfiction to help interpret the text.  The supplies we used to do this work were nonfiction pictures from the time period of the text, markers, and a slice of large white paper.  This activity would be done during interactive read aloud time not reading workshop.

Here are the steps for a write around you could present to a class:

  1. Look at the photographs and jot all you see and notice.
  2. Zoom in on 1/4 of the illustration, what are you noticing about just that part?
  3. Rotate to another chart paper.  What have other readers noticed that you can respond to?
    1. “I agree with…”
    2. “I disagree with…”
    3. “One question I have is…”

At the end of the activity we were then challenged to think…”Do these images make a part of the story seem important that may not have seemed important initially? (Try to focus on themes and issues).”  The discussion was rich and I felt my interpretation of the text grow as a result.

IMG_7897In Coming Backstage in the New K-5 Reading Series we explore text complexity in nonfiction books.  Spoiler: there is a great tool in the 5th grade kit to help kids think about this!  We began our activity with a discussion of needed improvements in reading instruction with nonfiction texts.  The list was long!

My favorite thought was we need to stop the bad habit of letting kids read nonfiction with a pen in hand.  Why?  This encourages copying which is not doing any good.  What can we do instead?  Encourage readers to read more of the text and then STOP, look back over what was read, and THINK before writing or talking.  Text structures can be used to help students organize their thoughts.

FullSizeRender 2In Mystery Books Clubs and Close Reading Go Hand in Hand it was pointed out that mysteries help readers practice inference, close reading, synthesis, prediction, interpretation, to read with volume, stamina, AND engagement!  Wow!  It was clarified that close reading is when readers go back in the book to dig for clues or suspects to create initial and new understandings or revise their theories as they read.  Close reading is NOT controlled or answering prescribed questions.

FullSizeRenderFinally we were blessed to hear Ellin Keene present a beautiful talk on Your Instructional Fingerprint.  She clarified that the research on teaching encourages us to think aloud, model, demonstrate, confer, have authentic environments, and engage students BUT this should never be at the expense of our unique personalities (quirks) that make us interesting and memorable…just like our fingerprints.

What a perfect closing.


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