Thursday, September 30, 2010

Never Assume!

I  read this great book by David Shannon to my struggling third grade readers the other day.  My goal?  To help them access schema.  I mean everyone has probably had the experience of having to purge toys, right?

I paused mid-book to ask where everyone gets their toys.  Every kid had an answer except G.  She looked at me with the blankest stare I think I've ever seen.  I rephrased the question thinking maybe her language barrier was getting in the way.

In a sheepish voice but with an ultra sincere matter-of-fact tone, she looked at me and said, "I don't have any toys."  I was startled and said, "None?"  She said, "Nope."

I was reminded that you cannot assume anything when trying to access and teach schema to readers.  The most basic of assumptions on the part of a teacher can still leave the reader floundering as he/she tries to make connections!

I probed further and asked G if she knew anyone who had toys.  She said she did.  And THAT's where we began her connecting!

If you haven't read this delightful book by David Shannon, I highly recommend it to you.  I laughed out loud the first time I read it...and I was alone sans any children!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Walk On!

If you have not read Marla Frazee's book Walk On! I highly recommend it!  At first, I picked it up to use in staff development courses.  It's a perfect analogy for any new learning that one must undergo in life.  There are nuggets of wisdom such as finding support, go when you're ready, it's ok to cry, and "if your diaper is weighing you down, change it"!  Frazee dedicates this book to her son who is leaving for is written in a similar vein as "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Seuss.

Today, this book took on another role for me.  I used it with third graders.  We read it and talked about what it means.  Kids wrote responses to it.  On their own, several came up with the parallel to any type of learning.  As we talked further and thought about ourselves as readers, the connections started coming.

Next Step?  I think we're going to write an innovation called "Read On!"  I can't wait to read what they create!

And then, I plan to connect it to the old song, "You'll Never Walk Alone"  from the musical Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein.  I can't wait to find out where this journey takes us!.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordle: LitTeacher Isn't this AWESOME? It's a "Wordle" created from this blog.  Imagine all the fun things you could do with a tool that picks up key words and phrases and creates a word map for you!

If you haven't tried Wordle, here's a GREAT link to suggest ways to use it in your classroom: IdeastoInspire

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What's Shaping Your Thinking?

I have been reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  She is careful to note which books shaped the thinking for her book about awakening the inner reader in every child.  That got me to thinking about which books shape my thinking.

While there are "old standards" like "Mosaic of Thought" by Keene and Zimmerman, "Guided Reading" by Fountas and Pinnell, and "Reading Essentials" by Regie Routman, there are also some books that are currently at the forefront of all my instructional thoughts.

I've mentioned a few of these here on the blog or via our Facebook page.  I must add Miller's book to my list right now.  And I need to "re-up" an "old favorite", Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook (the 6th edition).

These books are currently helping me rethink my own stand on the Reader's Workshop Model.  They are reminding me of the importance of Reading, Writing, and Thinking for every reader every day.  And, more importantly, they are reminders that every reader deserves to choose his or her own books for reading and NOT have to create a response for each and every book read.

I am excited to follow Miller's journey in her sixth grade classroom.  I am excited to see how it will impact my work with youngsters at the elementary level this year.  And I am so glad that my job, and my approach to it, are never stagnant in the area of literacy.  In the words of Miller's mentor, Susie Kelley, "If you ever think you've got all the answers, it's time to retire."  To that I say a hearty "AMEN, sister!"

Now, what's shaping YOUR thinking?  Let's help each other grow!