Those of you that know me, know that I consider myself a geek - Star Wars, Lego, Star Wars Lego, Harry Potter, Star Trek...the list goes on. I am especially a literacy geek, and I tend to get quite excited when I find resources-new-to-me that I know will help to support all learners - adults and children. Hence the reason for this post and those to follow, for the next little while. I have mentioned Jennifer Serravallo in a previous post - she is an amazing educator and consultant that I have now had the privilege to see present twice. The first time I saw her present, I purchased 2 of her books (The Reading Strategies Book and The Writing Strategies Book), I shared my learning with others for a bit, and that was as far as it went. I knew that she was "talking the talk and walking the walk," but upon reflection, I wasn't ready to do the same with what she had to share.
Flash forward to May 15 of this year...3 years after seeing her the first time...and Whoa! The learning that happens this time is monumental! As I reflect on why the first time wasn't as powerful for me, I have come to realize that I had a lot more learning to do before I could see the value of what she shares in her presentations and her books. So, here we go!
Understanding Texts & Readers (2018)
What a fabulous book!!!! Yes, it is worth 4 exclamation marks!
One item from the book worth looking at is the chart found on p.17, "Reader and Text Variables Besides Level That Impact Comprehension". Take a moment and see what comes to mind after reading the title of the chart. Did you think of prior knowledge? ...the genre? ...text level? How about the age and maturity level of the student? The other variables listed include:
Some food for thought...
Some use levels in a very stringent manner. In doing so, students can be locked into only reading books that are at the level that only one assessment says they are at. Serravallo states that in fact, "one individual child is likely to be able to read a range of levels and text types with independence." p.16 So, what does that mean for us?
"The truth is, you can't 'level' a reader."
We have to be knowledgeable. We have to have an understanding of who our students are as readers, beyond what level they are reading at; what reading behaviours should/could we be seeing a student demonstrate if they are reading at Level R? We have to be able to access knowledge about text; what does it mean if a text is at level M? What characteristics can/do books at a particular level share? What goals and skills would be appropriate for students at a particular level? How can we use all of this knowledge and understanding to plan for instruction?
Of course, it isn't easy! I once had a colleague describe teaching a child to read was like trying to run up a sand dune - not an easy task given that depending on the day, on the moment, things can shift in ways that you weren't expecting. If we know where to look for support, like this book and our colleagues, and if we take the time to have purposeful conversations with our learners about their reading, it can become a tad easier. Relying on levels alone simplifies a very complex process that can prevent us from supporting all readers in a meaningful way.
Next time, I will continue to share more of my learning from this wonderful book!
Have a wonderful, restful weekend!!
Megan Zeni, the wonderful teacher from Richmond, has again shared some ideas for teaching outdoors with her latest called "Playful Learning Outdoors in June." It can be found here and is worth a peek. I particularly like the resource about bees and building a bee hotel or condo. She shares links to other great sites as well, such as Juliet Robertson's site Creative Star learning, and her post about "10+ Ideas for Windy Days." Overall, Megan shares some great opportunities for oral language, diagramming, labeling, captioning, and numeracy!
Adrienne Gear has posted her latest OLLI and it ties in beautifully with outside learning. She uses one of my favourite books by Kate Messner, Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt. The lesson ideas are fabulous, as usual, and provide lots of opportunity for student choice.
I have been given suggestions for lots of places to investigate for ideas. Thanks to my dear friends for sharing these!!
Ideas for Outside Learning - the opportunities for conversation and writing are endless
I am huge fan of Katie Novak, one of the UDL gurus (Universal Design for Learning). Her website and blog are full of supports for UDL. A recent find of mine is the page full of Distance Learning Plans that Katie and another educator, Allison Sancinito, have created. The plans may not be something that you would use in their entirety, but they may provide you with some ideas that you could use in the next new normal we are finding ourselves in. For example, you and your students could participate in "tag-team art" outside or learn about the science of laughter. The link to the plans can be found here.
Over the last few weeks, the amazing Adrienne Gear has been sharing some fabulous ideas to support all of us as we continue through Emergency Remote Learning, and into whatever it will become over the next few days and weeks - another new normal. Adrienne provides lesson ideas, complete with suggested anchor book and activity page(s). Wherever possible, she recommends online versions of her chosen anchor book, and in some cases, other books that could be used in a similar fashion to the one she uses in the lesson. Her most recent one connects to online videos and other types of information that students could use to further their learning if they were interested. Thank you, Adrienne!!
Click here to go directly to Adrienne's OLLI's (online learning lesson idea).
Adrienne's most recent anchor text...looks like another book to add to my shopping list!
11 Meaningful Writing Assignments Connected to the Pandemic
Writing gives students an outlet to express their feelings and connect with others during this unsettling time in their lives.
This was a timely article to cross my path today. I have been reflecting on a recent statement a colleague made about our students. They are crying out to be heard and to connect. They do not have the breadth or depth of life experiences that adults do that might help them to navigate through the pandemic (key words being might help...not sure if my breadth and depth is always steering me through the storm). Humans are often better able to process if they can talk about or write about what they are feeling. Anyways, this article might provide you with some ideas to support your students. You can link to it here.
This was shared with me by a good friend during a discussion about how teachers could learn more about what their students are thinking and feeling during our continued journey through the COVID-19 storm. Kristin Visscher, an educator from SD#37 Delta, has shared her ideas in a document titled Using Learning Journals to Move Students Toward Self Regulated Learning, found here. By asking what her district calls the Big Three (What are you learning? How’s it going? Where to next?), her students are able to share their successes and define what their needs might be. There is great potential in using her ideas in out current context and beyond. Think about the ELA learning standards would be working towards developing, as well of the Core Competencies! Thanks for sharing, Kristin!
Kristin's journal prompts
If you are wanting to provide some choice as to how learners practice their High Frequency words, click here for a document for a list of possibilities. My favourite one asks learners to find their words in actual text. Thanks to collaborativeclassroom.org for sharing these ideas.
If you are looking for short videos to help support younger writers at home, you might find the ones found here to be helpful. I think that some students, and their caregivers, would find them helpful and good starting points for some new writing. Thanks to Tanis Anderson for sharing this on her blog.
Linda Rief, author of The Quickwrite Handbook, has shared some ideas for sharing writing prompts with kids. Through the use of sample pages from her book, she provides us with ideas for first draft responses to mentor texts, which are provided. This is about writing quickly, 2 to 3 minutes, and getting the ideas down without worrying about the "conventions police". Click here to access the pdf version.