Friday, April 29, 2016

Authors Writing Badly and Inviting Us to do the Same (Part 3)

Marci Glaus, English language arts consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, contributed this post.

In the video trailer for Wisconsin Writes, you will hear Nickolas Butler say “you can’t be a good writer unless you’re a reader.” Through the author interviews and in review of the footage, I noticed a trend developing among most of the authors who participated in the project saying the same thing. The basis for such agreement is simply the idea that we can learn how to write by reading great writing. But it is so much more than just reading.

How many times have your read something and just let the story wash over you with little thought to the structure, word choice, or what the writer was doing to help you get lost in the text? I do it all the time. I found that I really have to step into a text much more purposefully when I am reading with a writer’s craft in mind if I am going to learn anything about writing. If I want to make my own writing better, I need to understand and be able to name what other writers have done so that I can try it out for myself if I find it useful. Even then, my writing can come in fits and starts while I try to tackle what the pros have done in a way that fits with what I am trying to do. It takes practice, but it is possible. Take, for example, speaker and writer Tasha Schuh and company. She talks about trying to start her first book several times, but growing frustrated each time before figuring out how to plan and put her ideas together. She states that while she loves to read, she had to find examples of books that she could use as models for her own. They helped her get started in her writing process which ended with her first book and landed her here, in this video series, working on her second.

Linda Godfrey advises students not only to “write, write write, and write some more,” but to “read, read read, and read some more.” She says this based on her own experience as a writer who ended up writing about things she never thought she would. Through extensive reading and writing experiences, she was able to step into different genres with success. This holds true with other writers who participated in Wisconsin Writes.

Stay tuned for the end of this school year when Nickolas Butler is featured, writing in a genre very few people (including himself) would expect to find him. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Authors Writing Badly and Inviting Us to do the Same (Part 2)

Marci Glaus, English language arts consultant at Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, contributed this post.

I love perusing the “What are you Reading” Literacy Booth blog posts for several reasons, but mostly because I like to see the diverse genre and topic choices. I have made more of an effort not only to track what I am reading, but to purposefully break out of what has become my established reading norm which is usually fiction, preferably with a strong female lead. The Wisconsin Writes project was an excellent method to help me branch out. By making it a point to read something from each writer before meeting with them, I not only experienced new and different genres/topics, but found a heightened sense of appreciation for the excellent work produced in the state of Wisconsin.

The biggest reading stretch for me was Patrick Rothfuss because he writes fantasy which is a genre in which I tend not to partake. Once I did my research, I very quickly found out how big of a deal he and his beard are and I ordered his first book. I (somewhat grudgingly) started it, but 722 pages later decided that I really was a geek (in the best way possible—watch his writing process video), and declared myself a fan. When I bought his second book, I geeked out with the cashier at Barnes and Noble for as long as it takes for people waiting in line to become annoyed.

A second reading stretch for me came through the works of two Wisconsin authors who (among other things) write for the Wisconsin Historical Society Press Badger Biography Series. Both Karyn Saemann and Stuart Stotts have published in the series. At first I was leery because again, here are texts that are not catering to my established genre and character needs, but I ended up learning so much about Wisconsin’s first public school teacher, Electa Quinney, and activist Father Groppi through texts that are written for younger readers. Coming in to these books with very little background knowledge, I appreciated the writing style for the series and the assumed audience.

Beyond the texts above, I viewed the Wisconsin Writes project as a method for taking stock of how many Wisconsin authors I have actually read. I obviously loved to meet some of the writers from our state in person, but I also loved meeting them in their writing. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Authors Writing Badly and Inviting Us to do the Same

Marci Glaus, English language arts consultant at Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, contributed this post.

When I sat down to talk with Wisconsin author and investigator Linda Godfrey about the hardest part about writing, I felt as if I had struck gold. She delivered the biggest, most valuable nugget when she said that the best thing she can do for herself as a writer is “giving myself permission to write horrible things badly.” Here, a professional writer admits that she has to get out of her own way and just write—no matter how awful it might come out the first time. Linda is not the only professional writer to say this. Wisconsin Poet Laureate Kimberly Blaeser admits “I think it’s that need to do it perfectly instead of messily… and I still struggle with that because I want to sit down and I want to keep at it until I get it how I want it to be, and a lot of times you simply can’t do that.”

Although there were several, one of the happiest discoveries through the Wisconsin Writes project was that of writers showing how messy, recursive, and hard writing can be. They help unlock part of the mystery of writing, showing us, in the words of writer and educator Molly Magestro, “you don’t just sit down and spit something out and it’s golden.” The icing on this literary cake is that when each Wisconsin writer shows part of his/her writing process in the videos, they share an established assumption that they will go back during and after their writing process to make their writing better. Stuart Stotts agrees. He shares part of his process while editing two books that are almost done. He admits that all of his books have taken at least four or five drafts to complete, and states “I don’t know anybody who just sits down and writes and ‘here it is, my book it’s done.”

There is power in showing students that even the best writers in the room have to stop, think, try on, delete, and get over the idea that polished, good writing will just flow every time they sit down. Whether it is an author, an educator, or a peer, students learn valuable lessons each time they experience someone else’s thinking. Sharing our thinking as we write is a great strategy to explicitly teach students different parts of a writing process, whether they are working on brainstorming, putting a writing plan into action, or revising.

Seventh grade teacher and writer Pernille Ripp provides some important advice for us, and especially for students in Wisconsin: “Just get that horrible first whatever it is out of us…you can go back and change it.” She encourages us to just write, no matter what level or how awful because revision is such an important part of a writing process. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Mindset on My Mind: Chapter 7 Disco

Barb Novak contributed this post. She is reading Mindset by Carol Dweck and sharing her thinking about every chapter. Click here to read more of Barb's posts about mindset.

Click here to read Barb's notes from Chapter 7 as a PDF.

In Chapter 7, Dweck applied mindset to parents, teachers, and coaches - people who have great power to use their words and actions to develop growth mindset in children.

Basically, everything adults say in response to children carries a message. Our adult words tell young people how to understand the world around them. Our response to success, failure, and behavior can build a growth mindset or reinforce a fixed mindset.

Our adult words and actions can also tell other adults how to understand actions. I heard Joel Westheimer say, "Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions". In chapter 7, Dweck proposed that schools must be about teacher learning if they are ever to truly be about student learning.

It's not enough to develop a growth mindset in our students. We must also develop a growth mindset about ourselves and our profession.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Comprehension Focus Groups: Looking at Child Labor with a Focus on Word Choice

Heather Zimmerman contributed this thinking. Click here to read more of Heather's thinking about Comprehension Focus Groups.

If you read my post about managing your learning, you might recall I decided this year I would have a stack of go-to texts.  With all my new learning, I sometimes feel I do not end up applying the learning in a consistent and strategic way.  I created a stack texts that would be my go-to for my lesson planning this year.  I have found this to be a successful way to manage my new learning.

One of my go-to texts is Chris Lehman’s book Falling in Love with Close Reading.  I read this book last summer and a co-worker friend of mine told me how wonderful this book is.  I decided I had to make sure to use this in a Comprehension Focus Group (CFG) this year.

The time came when I looked back at Lehman’s text to see if it could guide my student’s learning in a CFG for my 8th graders.  My school uses Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study for Writing and my 8th graders would soon be working on the informative unit and starting letters on an important issue.  I decided to get the ball rolling.  I found texts about child labor that centered around a book my students had picked from our classroom library that they wante to read- Iqbal by Franceso D’Adamo.  After digging back into Lehman’s books and thinking about my students’ needs, I decided word choice would be a powerful next step.  I also wanted to incorporate some open journaling on the topics they read about regarding child labor with a focus on their own word choice while they wrote.  

I was very happy with how this unit came together.  I felt this gave them resources for their literacy class if they chose to use the topic.  It also got them thinking about how word choice can show the purpose and tone, which can make an impact in their writing.  

Here is the outline to the CFG if you are interested:

Do you or your intervention teachers tie the intervention work to other classes?  What classes do you usually connect the work to?

Monday, April 18, 2016

I See You, I Hear You (Part 4): Missed Opportunities

Meghan Retallick contributed this post. Click here to read more of Meghan's thinking.

This post is part is the fourth in a series about building relationships with students:
  1. I see you, I hear you: Building Relationships with Students
  2. How do students know we see and hear them as readers and writers?
  3. Being Culturally Response = Seeing and Hearing Each Other

This morning I had an experience that took me by surprise.  One of my former students stopped in my office to visit--always something that brightens my day as I work more with teachers rather than students in this role.  This student was in my 9th grade English class for one semester two years ago, so he is currently in 11th grade.

He politely asked what my plans were for spring break (not big events--just pure relaxation!), and I returned that question.  His face became very animated as he talked about how his aunt had arranged for him and his brother to go to Ohio to visit a bunch of museums.  The one he was most excited about is the Armstrong Air and Space Museum.  This launched (ha ha…) us into a debate on the movie The Martian starring Matt Damon, and I just sat back with a smile as he expanded on what he knows and how much he loves learning about anything dealing with space.  After a 10 minute conversation, we wished each other well and parted ways.  But, I was left thinking about him the rest of the day.  I had no idea that he had that passion for learning about space.  He was a reluctant reader and writer and needed a lot of support when in my English class to stay engaged.  He had also visited me earlier this year after I observed his Environmental Science class through a coaching cycle.  When working in that class, I saw a very disengaged student and he shared that his multiple “Fs” in other courses kept him from playing hockey this season.  And yet, he will spend his entire spring break willingly and excitedly visiting museums and growing in his learning.

The overwhelming feeling I had was one of a missed opportunity.  Why didn’t I learn about his passion for space sooner?  I had never seen him as engaged and excited in conversation as he was this morning.  If I would have known this as his English teacher, maybe I could have channeled that passion into further learning.  How many other opportunities for growth had I missed with my former students because I didn’t take the time to see and hear them in casual conversation?  

I can’t change the past and obviously still created a positive relationship with this student as he still comes to visit me, but I take with me this small lesson in finding out who our students really are.  I remember that even when our minds are filled with so many other pressures and worries, taking the time to stop and listen to what drives them will drive us all to higher learning.  Creating authentic and engaging experiences that ensure student choice and can fuel their passions are always the key to creating amazing learning opportunities.  I move forward, more aware and on the look-out for these possible opportunities as well as sharing that awareness with the teachers I coach.

Last, but not least, since my last post in the series (see prior Parts 1-3), I saw the image below on Facebook and couldn’t help but see the connection to this series.  We never know when the opportunity will present for us to show students that we see and hear them and how much they might just really need us to do so.  It is our responsibility as educators to be vigilant about keeping our ears and eyes open, preventing missed opportunities.


Friday, April 15, 2016

What Students Need From a Secondary Reading Intervention Class...Unfortunately, It’s More Than Just Reading!

Carrie Sand contributed this post. Click here to read more of Carrie's thinking.

As a secondary interventionist in addition to my coaching role, I am always thinking about what works for struggling readers at the high school level. So...what does work? As evidenced by the lack of intervention options and resources available, no one really knows.  A post from a blog I subscribe to titled “When We Harm Rather Than Help-Some Thoughts on Reading Interventions” recently re-started my thinking on this topic.

In my experience, any intervention at the secondary level has its challenges. Assessment upon assessment has repeatedly reminded some students that they are “not proficient”, or in the “lowest percentile”, or not “college ready.” It is no wonder that as a result, many become disenfranchised with the experience of school. As a teacher working closely with high school students who struggle with reading, I’ve begun to think about the role of emotional intelligence within the secondary reading intervention classroom.

In recent years, terms like grit and perseverance have become popular in the world of education. I jumped on the bandwagon and started reading the books Mindset by Carol Dweck and Drive by Daniel Pink. Each of these books talked about totally different concepts, one about mindset, the other about motivation, but each made me think about the students sitting in my intervention classrooms. I especially thought about how the ideas I was reading about in these books were exactly the types of skills these students needed the most.

As I’ve done more exploration with emotional intelligence, I’ve come to learn that the traits often synonymous with success: conscientiousness, grit, perseverance growth mindset, are all malleable traits that respond to teaching. I wondered that if I could teach emotional intelligence within my classroom, in addition to the reading skills, what benefit would my students get?

So I tried it out throughout the first semester of this school year. I grounded my practice in the research of people like Dweck, Pink, and Angela Duckworth. As it is hard to determine exactly if teaching emotional intelligence was the cause, I will say that each of my students saw more growth than usual in standardized assessments and classroom grades. More importantly, students expressed through conferring that they often thought (in a variety of classrooms!) about certain strategies, such as positive self-talk and growth mindset approaches.

As a teacher working with high school readers who struggle, I think it is my duty to recognize the fact that students enter my classroom with more than just challenges in reading. While I know teaching emotional intelligence is not the magic answer to addressing students’ reading needs, by teaching these skills,I feel I am recognizing and responding to the needs of my student as person, not just a struggling reader.

Here are some resources that really helped shape some of my work in the classroom:

Growth Mindset Lesson Plan and Videos by Khan Academy:

Ted Talks:
The Power of Yet by Carol Dweck:

The Key to Success? Grit by Angela Duckworth

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We Get What We Plan For

Andrea Reichenberger contributed this thinking. Click here to read more about Andrea's work.

I’m a planner. Others will argue that I overplan, but I’m comfortable with that.  First, I think about the end goal and then I think about what evidence I’m going to use to assess whether or not I am getting close to that goal. Lastly, I plan the baby steps I need to implement along the way.  As it turns out, this is the philosophy of “Backwards Design.”  I love the concept of Understanding by Design (UbD). Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins have developed a thoughtful format that guides teachers to purposefully plan for student understanding.  Get it?  Understanding. By. Design.

What I’ve learned over the years is that when I don’t plan, I don’t get the learning I want to see from my students.  As I work with teachers through backwards design, I am reminded of how important it is to think through the goals of our planning and ask ourselves if they are meaningful and authentic.

What is it that we want the students to know and be able to do by the end of our units?  

What standards are we REALLY covering?  Which do we need to put more focus on within the unit?

How will we plan our assessments and performance tasks so they lend themselves to transfer those learned skills and knowledge outside of the classroom?

What daily goals or learning events do we need to plan for in order to guide our students toward that understanding?

How will we provide our students the effective feedback they need along the way?

I have to remind teachers that the planning process isn’t linear. I found myself modeling my thinking in front of one English teacher and then again in front of a class of 26 teachers from around the district. Not only did I need to think through the Big Ideas or Enduring Understandings (Students will understand that…), the essential questions, the standards, and the assessments all at the same time, I also needed to make sure I was using them all to keep my focus.  As I did, some of them changed.  I did not create my end of the unit activity and hope that everything aligned. I ended up revising, deleting, and creating several times along the way.

This work has resulted in many “aha” moments.  We are learning that we don’t plan a unit around a textbook or around the title of a book. We need to design them around the skills and the understandings we want students to come away with. Essential questions need to be open-ended and thought provoking. We are also discovering that when we don’t plan with big ideas or enduring understandings in mind, it is almost impossible to differentiate our instruction for those who require it.

Even though UbD provides several tools for teachers to use, we don’t have to use them. I encourage teachers to use the tools which work best for them. It is more important that they take the time to think through the plan.  It is exhausting, but well worth it. It hurts my heart when I hear teachers say “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” or “Can’t we just buy a textbook?” We went into this profession for a reason.  What kind of messages are we sending to our students if we decide that we are done planning our curriculum units or that we don’t want to think too hard?

If we think through our planning for student understanding, we will get exactly what we planned for.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Embracing a Workshop Model (Part 2)

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

Click here to read Jaimie's original post about embracing a workshop model.

Finally, I’m getting around to updating everyone on my district’s progress in moving forward with a Reader’s Workshop Model district wide.  Below, I will briefly explain the process our district took to evaluate the Lucy Units of Study for Teaching Reading, links to resources we used, and, ultimately, how we finally came to our decision.

Starting in November, the district formed a team to review the Lucy Units of Study for Teaching Reading.  The team consisted of classroom teachers K-5, special education, intervention specialists (Title 1), District Reading Specialist, and district administration. Each of the elementary buildings were equally represented.  We met for two half days and 2-3 one hour after school meetings.  During those meetings we spent most of the time in grade level groups reviewing each grade level’s materials. We used a rubric created by Louisiana Believes (Louisiana Department of Education).

The rubric correlates to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and allowed us to really break apart the materials into chunks and determine strengths and weaknesses in specific areas.  Below are the specific components that were represented.

I: Text Selection
II: Foundational Skills
III: Questions and Tasks
IV: Scaffolding and Support
V: Writing to Sources and Research
VI: Speaking and Listening
VII: Language

Components, I, III, IV, and VII were very strong in all grade levels.  The other components also scored well across the board; however, ranged a bit more between grade levels.

Along with the rubric, teams also viewed many of the online resources/videos available from Heinemann: Units of Study for Teaching Reading and the Reading and Writing Project.  I highly encourage you to take a look at these if you’re considering implementing a Reader’s Workshop Model in your district.

At our final meeting, we met an analyzed a spreadsheet that had been created, compiling all of the grade level’s rubric scores. It seemed everyone agreed that we should move forward with purchasing the materials; however, a final decision was not made until all participants participated in a Google Form Survey, allowing each individual to voice opinions and/or concerns with the potential of moving forward.

We just got the e-mail last week indicating that the kits have been purchased!  I am so excited to be a part of this process and look forward to writing more about how we proceed with professional development and implementation of the materials.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Instructional Rounds

Maggie Schumacher contributed this post. Click here to read more of Maggie's thinking.

There’s nothing more powerful than teachers learning from other teachers. Instructional rounds in schools and across buildings can be a very powerful tool for supporting teacher learning. In the Baraboo School District, we utilize instructional rounds and I’m always so inspired when I participate in these rounds. Read on to learn how we organize and benefit from these collaborative opportunities at the middle school.

Once per quarter, a teacher leader in our middle school organizes instructional rounds within the building. Participation in instructional rounds is completely voluntary. A form is sent out to all teachers in the building and people can sign up to be either a host teacher or a visiting teacher. People also indicate which hours of the day they teach and an area of focus they’d like to showcase with teachers visiting their classroom. The teacher who leads these efforts then works to organize the responses into an action plan. Approximately four or five teachers visit four or five classrooms on a selected day that works for all involved. In our building, rounds typically last for about 2 class periods. The teacher leader works to create a schedule for visiting and works with building administrators to ensure the teachers who are visiting classrooms get in-building sub coverage as needed. Typically, due to high interest, we can’t include all teachers who want to participate in each round, but we rotate through who is selected so that all teachers benefit at least once if not multiple times throughout the year.

On the day of instructional rounds, the teachers participating as visitors meet with the teacher leader in a designated location. Prior to going into classrooms, the teachers discuss the expectations and preview the schedule. Some of the host teachers have left a message to be shared related to what will be observed in class that day, but this is not required. The understanding is that teachers who visit will take notes on positives only; these notes are then copied and shared with the host teachers before the day is over. The teacher group who is observing stays in each classroom for approximately ten minutes before moving onto the next room. When all classroom visits are completed, the group returns to their starting location and discusses the positive things they saw throughout the day and takeaways and strategies they plan to use in their own classrooms. They finish by writing thank-you notes to those teachers they visited. The teacher leader places these in mailboxes before the end of the day.

There are many benefits of instructional rounds. Teachers get to visit classrooms they don’t normally get to see. Teachers have opportunities to cross content areas and grade levels and see what the other side is doing. Teachers see excellent models of classroom management and student engagement. There are so many great things we do on a daily basis that we don’t really think about until someone comes in and points it out to us. We all have so much to share and so much we can learn from each other if we are willing to open our door to others.

In our building, we have had only positive feedback following instructional rounds. Teachers who have participated as host teachers have spread the word to others about what a positive experience it is to have others come in and observe because they “feel like rockstars” when all of the positive feedback comes streaming in. Visiting teachers have been inspired and have left with many excellent instructional strategies, classroom management tips, and even room arrangement ideas, some of which they’ve incorporated in their own classrooms and instruction the very next day. There is so much possibility and opportunity to be provided to teachers when they are able to learn from each other. Some of the best professional development and teacher training can come from within your very own building!

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Road Map as Empowerment

Lisa Weiss contributed this post. Click here to read more of Lisa's thinking.

Shortly after I wrote my last blog entry, Cathy Toll was invited to my district for the purpose of modeling a coaching conversation. This year my PreK-5 counterpart, Deb and I have provided coaching-related professional development to all of the K-12 coaches in our district: literacy coaches, instructional coaches, technology coaches, and the media and information specialists. Our purpose during these monthly learning sessions is to develop common understandings of coaching, built around some common experiences and professional development, so that our coaches can  work to build capacity in the teachers they partner with in their buildings, with a full understanding of the district expectations for coaches.

We often talk about coaching in the ways that Cognitive Coaching identifies; we are either consulting, collaborating, or coaching. While we had many coaches who understood what we meant by consulting (which we try to avoid because there isn’t much opportunity to build capacity if we are simply telling people what to do) and collaborating (where the majority of us spend our coaching time), we had yet to demonstrate what a true coaching conversation looks like--one where the coach is the facilitator of another person's thinking, and that was why Cathy Toll was with us last month…

Viewing that conversation between Cathy and a literacy coach who volunteered to be coached, provided a reminder for me, a critical one for when a difficult conversation must take place. Even when you know what it is that you need to say, and you know what questions you need to ask of the person you are having the critical conversation with, it is wise to have a road map for the conversation. Cathy had shared her coaching conversation format with us, so we could follow it as she demonstrated, and it occurred to me that while having a plan mapped out is important for any coaching conversation, it could make a courageous conversation a bit easier. Knowing your goal for the conversation is important, so that you can set the pace within the time you have to hold the conversation.  

In the actual conversation, it is Cathy’s steps of problem solving (setting a path) and planning (getting on the path) that had me thinking about how this could help a coach get through the muddiness of a brave conversation. When the problem solving step comes into play, the coach is giving the teacher an opportunity to set a goal related to the problems that have already been discussed, and then, after the teacher has a chance to talk a bit more about the specific self-selected problem he/she wants to zero in on, the teacher has the opportunity to do some visioning/thinking about what success will look like when it comes to that goal, plan for small steps that will move one toward the goal, and clarify who will do what in the small steps…..

This map of Cathy’s provides an opportunity for the coach to empower the teacher, even if difficult truths are being discussed. The path leads the teacher to be a problem-solver who is in control of his/her plan to accomplish the common expectations. Naturally, it is not always possible to leave a heated discussion with a clear plan, but having a guide for the conversation certainly improves the odds that a courageous conversation can also be a productive one, with goals set to move the teacher forward.

Monday, April 4, 2016

When the Role of Literacy Coach Becomes Muddled

Julie Schwartzbauer contributed this post. Click here to read more of Julie's thinking.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the role of a literacy coach.  According to the International Literacy Association’s 2015 research brief, “The Multiple Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals,” the role of the literacy coach is defined as one who works with teachers and facilitates efforts to improve school literacy programs. They may work with individual or groups of teachers to support them in their efforts to improve classroom instruction. At the same time, they may hold responsibilities that influence literacy programs school-wide (e.g., developing curriculum, selecting instructional materials).

In the Appleton Area School District, the majority of our building coaches share the role of literacy coach with the role of literacy interventionist.  The International Literacy Association defines the primary role of the reading/literacy specialist as an instructional one, predominantly working with students who are experiencing difficulties with reading and writing.

We are finding, that more often, when the need for intervention increases, the literacy coach is often asked to work with individual students or groups of students on a regular basis. This role can be be of value to a school if class sizes are large and there is a shortage of expertise in working with struggling readers and writers.  This, however, takes a coach away from coaching.  It is important that principals and school staff understand that.  

If there is a high need for intervention in a building, an alternative might be for the coach to work in the classrooms with individual students or small groups.  This type of work can combine instructional services with coaching.

As a literacy coach, make sure that you have clear coaching goals that are shared with your principal and staff. That way, if you are being asked to provide pull-out services to individual students or small groups,  you can reflect on how that work would not contribute to your coaching goals.

The chart below comes from International Literacy Association’s 2015 research brief.  It depicts the varying levels of intensity as a means of illustrating coaching responsibilities.
Click here and navigate to page 11 to view this chart larger.

Friday, April 1, 2016

What Are You Reading: April 2016

We believe it is important for educators to be readers and writers, so every month we take a day to report out on what we're reading. Join in by sharing your current reading list in the comments.

Meghan organized three book study groups with 6th-12th grade teachers from a variety of disciplinary areas.  They are reading and discussing the following books:

Heather uses Chart Sense for Writing (3-8 writing) by Rozlyn Linder as a tool when she conferences with students.

Heather is also using Grammar Keepers by Gretchen Bernabei. She is taking ideas from this book for part of her next Comprehension Focus Group.

Brenda J. Overturf.

Carrie is reading The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar. Carrie says, "I am attending her conference in Milwaukee with my district's math coach. I was excited to find a resource that we can read (and attend) together.  We then discuss how different ideas from her coaching approach fit into our practice and content area."

Diane is reading Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty by Paul Gorski.

Julie is reading Sit Down and Teach Up by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover. Julie writes, "It’s a professional resource for teachers of young children. Using a combination of text and video, Katie and Matt explore the practice of conferring with our youngest writers and designing individual instruction around what they need."

Barb is aspiring to read Better Conversations by Jim Knight. A book about how to be more credible, caring, and connected? Yes, please.

Barb also aspires to read Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Deckle Edge. A sociologist writes about eight families facing eviction in Milwaukee, as examples of what is happening throughout America.

Diane writes, "In the last month I have spent a lot of time catching up on young adult novels.
The one that has affected me most is Beneath a Meth Moon by Jaqueline Woodson. It's a strong story about a young girl getting hooked on meth and falling under its spell.  It is written in flashback, memoir, and fast forward."

Diane also read  Miracle's Boys by Jaqueline Woodson, Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Heather read Monument 14- Sky on Fire. She says, "This is an end of the world young adult series.  One of my students found the first book on my shelf and now she is hooked. I just recently got her the second book (this book) and the third one for her.  This is a great book for grades 8 and above."

Barb's book club read Noggin by John Corey Whaley. She says, "Noggin is a science-fiction book set in modern American society. A teenage boy dies of cancer and has his head cryogenically frozen. Five years later, scientific advances allow his head to be re-attached to someone else's body."

Maggie read The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. She says, "This is one of the best YA literature books I've read in a while. Set during World War II, this novel will make you fall in love with historical fiction again."

Maggie also read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Maggie writes, "In this novel, science fiction meets fantasy, and the world is divided into those with red blood and those with silver. The silvers have god-like powers that separate them from the lower-class reds. Red Queen is the first in a trilogy. If you liked Divergent and The Hunger Games, this book and series is for you."