Friday, August 18, 2017

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Instruction and Literacy Tip #3 - Reading Motivation

Meghan Retallick contributed this post. Meghan sends a weekly "Instruction & Literacy Tip" to her staff. Click here for more "Instruction & Literacy Tips". Click here for all of Meghan's Literacy Booth posts.
Whether you love or hate the Superbowl Champion New England Patriots, you have to enjoy this story about Patriot's wide receiver, Malcolm Mitchell.  Mitchell's greatest accomplishment isn't winning the Superbowl, but becoming a reader. A teacher first shared his story with me three years ago when,as a college athlete, Mitchell joined a book club with women much older than him to improve his junior high reading level.  Watch this clip from CBS news to learn more about his story and what reading means to him now with his current success.  What an inspiring story for all of our struggling readers out there!
So how do we motivate more students to be like Malcolm Mitchell?
First, an important factor at the heart of reading motivation is creating a social relationship around text.  The student will find more value in reading if they have someone to talk about books with who cares.  Using read aloud and discussion are very effective in motivating all types of readers.
Research (Gambrell & Marinak, 2009) supports the following two strategies to improve reading motivation and foster a social relationship around text:
  • I Picked This Just For You - Invite students into a reading conversation by selecting texts personally for them (i.e., “I picked this just for you.”).  This conveys the message that you can’t wait to hear whether they enjoyed your pick.  In other words, in addition to inviting reading, you are welcoming the conversation and inviting the student to develop a social relationship around reading.
  • Experts Teaching - This activity is a modified jigsaw that allows choice of group, collaboration to learn challenging content, and choice of presentation mode.  Instead of the whole class reading a whole text, students work in groups to read one chapter/section of the text and then have the choice of how they are going to teach the content of their chapter/section back to their peers.

See this reference guide I've put together for more strategies to increase reading motivation.
What practices have you found to increase reading motivation in students?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Intervention/Classroom Connection

Jaimie Howe contributed this post. Click here to read more of Jaimie's thinking.

Providing interventions and coaching all in one day has always been a struggle for me since I began this journey six years ago.  I have come to realize, however, the power of combining both of these roles.  

With the implementation of the new Lucy Calkins's Reading Units of Study this past fall, I have found myself extremely involved in the planning and teaching of these new units in several grade levels. This close involvement has improved the success of my intervention instruction greatly. The connections I can make for students during intervention to what they are currently doing in their classroom has been invaluable.  

One of the largest benefits I have realized, is my ability to use common language to support the transfer of skills from intervention to the classroom. For example, in first grade, students learn to be “word detectives” and are taught specific language for using strategies.  In kindergarten, students learn that they have superpowers (sound power, pattern power, picture power, etc.)  and are “super readers”, so this is the language I incorporate into my interventions with these kids. I have linked two bookmarks that are used in the classroom that I incorporate into my interventions to create common language. They have worked wonders to support our students.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What Are You Reading: May 2017

We start each month by sharing what we're reading - both for work and for fun. Join us by using the comments to share what you're reading. Click here for previous reading lists.

Meghan writes, "I've downloaded the audio book version of Mindfulness by Mark Williams to start tomorrow.  It is an 8 week program, so hopefully I'll be in a calmer state of mind by summer!"

Heather is reading Notice and Note Nonfiction by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. She writes, "Yes, I am still reading this book. :)  It didn't quite make my spring break beach bag."

Sharon is reading Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Everyday by Angela Watson. Sharon writes, "This is a link to a podcast conversation as the author interviews a Wisconsin teacher who went from burnout to Teacher of the Year utilizing components of the book, ie. to-do lists and changing  your story."
Jaimie is reading The Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. Jaimie writes, "This book just came out in February after last year's publication of The Reading Strategies Book. These books are great resources for mini-lessons, conferring, and strategy groups.  Very teacher friendly and ready to use."

Jaimie is reading Alone: Could You Survive? by D.J. Brazier. She writes, "This is a young adult book that my third grade son just brought home from school.  We started reading it together and it is a very engaging and suspenseful book.  Very similar to Gary Paulson's, Hatchet."

Lisa is reading Identical by Ellen Hopkins. She explains, "Written as narrative poetry, this is the story of identical twins who are complete opposites personality-wise. The twins hold a secret about abuse that is occurring between a family member and one of them, as they attempt to cope with the trauma of a car accident, caused by their father, a judge. The shocking story unfolds as the twins alternate perspectives, chapter to chapter."  

Carrie is reading The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. It is a selection she's offering to her middle school students for the end of the year book club.

Andrea sent this picture of the stack of professional books she's reading and later added that she started with Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge us Most by Jeffrey Benson.  She writes, "I just started it and I am in love with it.  (I started it yesterday per Barb's recommendation when I sent her a picture of my "To Be Read" pile.) The book is designed to provide real life student situations and the strategies used to analyze the challenges and to develop individual plans.  So far the most important takeaways (and I'm only on page 35) are 'Don't ask challenging students to do what they can't do. Don't set them up for failure that will have no redeeming possibilities.'
  • Identify places where students who are escalating can calm down.
  • Develop structures that allow staff who are working closely with challenging students to communicate their progress.  
  • Review each year the list of absolute rules and consequences and keep them to a minimum."

Julie is reading Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School
by Carol C. Kuhlthau, Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari. Julie writes, "Guided Inquiry is an innovative team approach to teaching and learning where teachers and school librarians, with other experts and specialists, join together to design and implement inquiry learning.  It engages children in constructing personal knowledge while using a wide range of sources of information and creatively sharing their learning their fellow students in an inquiry community. Guided Inquiry Design is grounded in the research of the Information Search Process (ISP) that describes students’ process of learning from a variety of information sources in extensive research projects.  The ISP research goes inside the inquiry process to reveal ways to guide students in deep engaging learning."

Meghan just finished Grit by Angela Duckworth. She writes, "What wonderful research for teachers, parents, and anyone looking to know how to join passion and perseverance for success!"

Maggie strongly recommends listening to the audio version of The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz! In the year 1242, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn to tell the tales of three children. The narrator collects the tales of their adventures as their stories come together.

Meghan read Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. She writes, "Excellent coming of age story to help the reader think about how to respond when we see injustice."

Meghan also read Mexican Whiteboy by Matt De La Pena. She explains, "I've been wanting to read this since I researched De La Pena last year for our Coaching Network meeting, but I just started it as the text in an intervention with an ELL student.  It is really offering 'windows and mirrors' for both me and the student-reader."

Andrea writes, "I am reading The Red Queen because my daughters love it and they are forcing me too.  So far, I have to agree, it's pretty good!"

Maggie is currently reading Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy. She writes, "When Alice is diagnosed with cancer, she enlists her friend Harvey to help her get revenge on those who've wronged her. Her plans go awry, however, when she goes into a remission and has to face the consequences of her actions."

Heather is reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. She writes, "This has been a powerful read so far. I highly recommend this book, and I cannot review it better than her website- click here."

Jaimie uses Teachers' College Reading and Writing Project Facebook groups. Jaimie writes, "I  have found so many great suggestions, resources, and comments on these pages. Lucy herself is on the pages all the time and answers many of the questions that are posted.  If you use the Units of Study, becoming a member of these groups is a must."

Spring 2017 Face-to-Face Meeting Materials


General Slides

Cross-Pollination Slides

Rule of Two Feet

Hard Conversations - Handout

SURVEY (to complete after the meeting)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Inviting Teachers to Share

Heather Zimmerman contributed this post. Click here for more of Heather's thinking.

As lit coaches, we can share all sorts of great resources, data, or ideas, but what ends up being the most powerful is when teachers see their teacher colleagues sharing what they are doing.  

This year, I have made it a priority to ask teachers to share what they are doing in their classrooms regarding our school initiatives.  I also ask my principal for ideas on who could share, since he gets into everyone’s classrooms.  

This has been really powerful.  Here is how I help teacher prepare:
  • When asking them I make sure to share what the great thing they are doing is that we want to see.  I make sure to be specific, so they know what we are hoping to see.
  • I make sure to tell them it’s an option. We all know it can be hard to share in front of our peers.  I never want anyone to feel like they are being forced to share and feel uncomfortable.
  • I share out Slides for the day, so they can add any visuals or talking points to the slides.  Then they can also see where they fall in the agenda.
  • Check in with them the day before.

Staff seem to really appreciate seeing inside their colleagues classrooms. We all know it is important to have teachers share their thinking, but making it a priority in an already full schedule can sometimes seem tricky.  When was the last time you set up a teacher to share their thinking?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Learning Visually: Resources for Secondary Coaches

Carrie Sand contributed this post. Click here for more of Carrie's thinking and writing.

As a typical literacy coach, I tend to know and follow the “rockstars” of our discipline. Regularly dropping first names of these reading celebrities into conversations, one would think that I’ve been friends with these people for years. So imagine my discomfort when my library media specialist asked me to attend the annual WEMTA (Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association) conference, and I opened my conference program to discover I didn’t recognize a single presenter’s name! In fact, other than the brief descriptions, I found myself relying on the oohs and ahhs of my library media specialist to direct me to the best sessions. Luckily, she know the rockstars of her discipline, too, because I was fortunate to attend a session led by Diana Laufenberg.

Laufenberg’s session focused on the power of learning visually. Scouring digital resources, she curates infographics that are mindblowing! As she was sharing her resources, I immediately began thinking about the complex reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills associated with implementing any of the resources she was sharing. I was also thinking about how visual texts can be an entry point to extremely complex thinking for all students. Finally, I imagined how these technology resources could be really motivating and engaging for both teachers and students, especially at the secondary level. Each resource made me more and more excited to get back to my district and talk about these ideas with teachers. I am still excited to think about how a coaching cycle could be built around just one of these infographics!

Check out all of  Diana Laufenberg’s resources on Learning Visually here:

In my opinion, the “The History of the Two Party Vote” and “The Gettysburg Address” are not to be missed, but the resources on the website are almost endless. My only word of warning is be prepared to lose some time in link after link!