Tag Archives: Donalyn Miller

Choice Makes All the Difference

Silent Sustained Reading

Silent Sustained Reading

Recently I observed one of my 8th grade students heavily involved in the book, “Notes From A Totally Lame Vampire” (Aladdin, $12.99) by Tim Collins. After a year of working with this young man, I had never seen him that involved in any book. Two weeks later I had to remind him that the bell to go home had rung as he and another classmate were deep in a discussion of “Milkweed” by Jerry Spinelli. This is every teacher’s dream, to have students feel passionately about your curriculum.

Number one in my class is you have to read to become a reader. In order to read, you need books and time. I provide both BUT it would be pointless unless the readers had choice in their reading opportunities. Now here comes the tricky part – how do you provide that?

To me the answer is natural, make your classroom a haven for reading material but I used the word “tricky” because until I read “The Book Whisperer” (Josey-Bass, $22.99) by Donalyn Miller I had only known one other ELA teacher who did this seriously. Why?

  • Money
  • Time
  • Being a book expert

Let me address each one as I see it. Providing many copies of various different titles can be challenging but here are some ways to bring those tomes into your classroom.

  • Spend any class monies on books rather than supplies, games, consumables, etc.
  • Go to garage sales.
  • Ask parents to donate.
  • Take advantage of Scholastic warehouse sales.
  • Borrow from the library (school or public)
  • Buy from Amazon used books – many are a penny plus shipping of $3.99
  • Share with peers

Silent sustained reading MUST be an integral part of each day’s activities. How can one become better at something unless you do it. I assign reading for pleasure as homework each night but how do I really know that is being done? By integrating this so very important idea into the daily routine I see with my own eyes what and how my students read. Rethink your own day’s routines – do students really need to do morning work or daily oral anything?

Now here is the really scandalous part, being the book expert. I read everyday all kinds of titles, and am still not an expert on YA books BUT I don’t believe that I have to be. I need to set an example but do not need to read every book in my classroom. But you ask, how do I know that students have read the book? Provide assessments that demonstrate their knowledge of the book. I NEVER give a test on a book. I am presently reading for pleasure “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Steig Larsson and wouldn’t want to complete it if I knew a test was coming. I assess in multiple ways one of which is a book review. This allows students to share and persuade other readers to have a look at their book. Here are a few samples.

“Elephant Run is a great book, so far. Roland Smith did a great job on Sasquatch, Thunder Cave, and the I.Q. series, it’s no surprise Elephant Run would be great.”

“Have you ever wanted to hit that perfect home run? Have you ever wanted to have a summer job with a major league baseball team? Well for Brian these can possibly both come true only in the fascinating book The Batboy by Mike Lupica. …..I like this book because it shows you to never give up hope.”

Can you tell who read their book? As the teacher it is your job to introduce the classics like “The Outsiders” or “Night” but when it comes to independent reading, allow your students to read what suits them and I think you will be amazed with the results.

NCTE10

Listening to Carole Boston Weatherford

Listening to Carole Boston Weatherford

My first NCTE conference took place at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Somewhat dreading the “magical” atmosphere filled with children run amok, I was surprised when Disney worked its magic on me. The conference was a delight. I listened to and met many of my “idols’ in the field of literacy. What follows is my notes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Inquiry Circles: Kids Want to Know – Stephanie Harvey and Anne Gouldvis

  • Despite all of the technological changes, children need to think and be curious.
  • Eric Schmidt (Google) “Teachers will be learning how to ask the right questions. Teach people to be curious.”
  • Teachers need to model what they are curious about
  • Einstein – “I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.”
  • Passion and wonder are contagious!
  • “Curiosity Coma” Loman
  • Need to explicitly teach thinking (comprehension).
  • We get in the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking.” Camus
  • Learning is the consequence thinking.
  • David Perkins – Smart Schools
  • Comprehension Continuum – Stephanieharvey.com
  • Students need to read metacognitively
  • Facts, Questions, Response form – helps to work out thinking – Interactive reading process
  • Read with a question in mind to synthesize information
  • Turning a heading into a question called the definition question
  • Consequence question – why does it matter? What different does it make? So what…
  • The action question – what can we do about it? How do you think you can help? Can you think of a plan?;
  • The questions a student asks after reading a text are a better assessment than the questions that a student can answer about that text. – P. David Pearson
  • Adopt and adapt our teaching language/instructional moves as their learning language/instructional moves.
  • Sara Holbrook – great poet
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me – Loewen
  • Docs Teach
  • Locate materials, construct focus questions, create mind maps, draw conclusions, explore and compare sources to understand different perspectives, synthesize information across sources, read critically to evaluate information and ideas – who is the author, what is the author’s purpose, perspective, bias
  • Cheyenne Again – Eve Bunting, Irving Toddy
  • Every effort must be made in childhood to teach the young to use their own minds. For one thing is sure, if they don’t make up their own minds, someone will do it for them. Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Writing Circles, Jim Vopat

Keep on Writing in the Real World

  • Endless Mountain Writing Project – part of National Writing Project
  • Authentic writing experiences – interesting, meaningful, useful product, engages, higher level thinking
  • Scribe Notes – a record of what occurred in class on the previous day – a list, a performance, a song, and more, narrative form, students take turn and all participate, post today’s scribe, make a writers chair, give points for doing, “Ransom Note generator” – postcard, letter, ransom note, slide show,
  • Code of Chivalry Project – Make the school chivalrous, discuss the Arthurian Code of Chivalry, Read Sir Gawain and Green Night, Develop a modern code, use modern codes to lead discussion that is bad in school, Gave surveys and disaggregated, made public service announcement after watching PSA already made, premiered project with admin and popcorn,
  • Engagement and Inquiry phase – what issues does the community have? What do we have to say about it? Write a narrative that has an impact like The Lorax, Gathered primary source info by doing interviews, found a documentary on the subject, did collaborative writing, Story maps – Readwritethink, 6 Trait – letting students choose trait to work on

Teaching the Holocaust in Middle School

  • Unit is based on critical literacy. Real content that allows students to deconstruct, interrogate, and be an agent of social change.
  • Help students understand the geography of the time to understand why this is important
  • Refer to Handout for Intro, Prejudice as Oppression, Children of the Holocaust, Resistance, and Action.
  • Bring in picture of loved one and scan, Write about picture that was brought in and share with the class, and then look at archives at USHMM, to find pictures like the one they brought in, and make a comparison,
  • Define prejudice, perpetrator, victim, and bystanders, relating to bullying. So far from the Sea by Eve Bunting
  • Kids – read poetry by the children I Never Thought I’d See Another Butterfly, Create a counter narrative of propaganda – anti-bully for example, Bullet point bio – most important information about person, look at other issues of genocide
  • What did you learn and how are you going to use it in your life now? Answer the question anyway they want as long as it is answered
  • Compare first chapter of Night with the students’ belief system
  • Teachingtheholocaustsocialjustice.wikispaces.com
Pam Munoz Ryan and Lois Lowry

Pam Munoz Ryan and Lois Lowry

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Google Lit Trips

  • Go on the trip with the characters; then students do it themselves
  • Jerome Burg – founder of Google Lit Trips
  • Bring Literature to life, taking students on the same journey with the characters, using technology
  • Engages students in the journey as well as introduce geography concepts, activates background knowledge,
  • Combines digital literacy skill, research, literary study, content skills, reading and writing
  • Need Google Earth 5 – download has flight simulator
  • Go to Google Lit Trips site, download .kmz file
  • Make a folder in Google Earth called Google Lit Trip and drag file there
  • Deselect all layers – click box next to the primary database
  • Check the Terrain and 3D building layers
  • To use with students file must be on all computers
  • Use organizational tools on GLT site
  • Outline expectations such as number of placemarks, pictures, websites, etc
  • Trip enhances not retells the book
  • Email Google to tell them of places not on the software
  • Keepvid.com – save a video to this and then show.
  • Creating paths may be difficult
  • Choose book, plan with a storyboard (image, websites, information)
  • Add new folder to “My Places” in Google Earth
  • Can edit field trips that are already made Right click properties or highlight slide – Get info on Mac
  • Save often or will lose.
  • Can change placemarks

21st Century Literature Circles

  • 21st Century Fluencies – information, solution, creativity, media, collaboration = digital citizens
  • Do three circles three times a year – mini lessons, reading
  • Themes – booklists with various reading levels, brochures, articles of the week – Kelly Gallegher, poem of the week, project ideas
  • Lesson plans – choice, time to read/write, group discussions w/feedback, projects w/21st century skills, norms-essential part
  • Formative assessment: pre- anecdotal notes, surveys, during – article of the week rubric, self-reflection, exit slips, literature circle rubrics, literature circle group assessments, anecdotal notes, Post: literature circle rubrics, literature circle group assessments, literature circle project assessments, summative assessments on indicators
  • Share rubrics before project so students know exactly what is expected. Students choose their project, planning sheets before beginning technology,
  • Google – Education Facebook style websites
  • Told story on Voicethread as the character’s point of view
  • Soundtracks – real world occupations, song categories to support discussion – choose songs that fit main and minor characters, and theme and explanation of why this song fits (written support) and cover art
  • Write a summary of the book, copy and past summary into Wordle.net, create profile for gallery

Jeff Wilhelm and Jim Burke

  • Jeff Wilhelm
  • Little transfer of knowledge taking place.
  • Literary Elements Books have to discuss the “how” and “why” to get to the “what”
  • Think about what expert readers/writers do and then have the students do it.
  • Capitalize on the power of sequencing – where are students (activate background) and build on it.
  • Use inquiry contexts, visual aids, practice with simulated texts, think-alouds, model, mentor, monitor strategic reading
  • Use list that students construct as to ways authors construct characters, setting, etc.
  • Character – What makes a good parent, teacher, or friend, What makes a hero, what is bravery, How to refrain a unit to include inquiry????
  • Setting – How does culture shaper who we are, what do we need to know to live in a certain culture, to what extent to time and place contribute to our understanding of self, To what extent is the American dream accessible to all, refrain a unit based on setting???? Levels of setting, microculture – class, mesoculuture – school community, macroculture politics/culture of the USA, place, time duration as well as the current time, Show pictures of same location in three time periods make inferences at setting, heuristic???? “Whoever’s doing the work is doing the learning.” Literature – you have to create the meaning, Setting is social and psychological – mood Passage, sensory details, Setting is rule setting – use prior experience to figure out the rules. How does setting affects characters, plot and theme
  • Alan Sitomer – What is role of new literaries? How much time to spend on them. Access and keep of with speed of how technology evolves. The Era of the Blend”
  • Move beyond the either/or in the world of technology. Digital reading/writing is going to coexist with traditional reading/writing. Soup of coexistance, teacher will be blenders, Students create compositions that include a spectrum input of technology and ideas
  • Jim Burke – What’s the BigIdea – What does the world expect of me? Look at your resume 25 years in the future. What would happen if they google you name. What would you find in Linked In and Facebook? Interview rotarians, Got interview questions from the net and prepared for an interview, Made a collaborative paragraph.
Watching a Presentation from David Weisner

Watching a Presentation from David Weisner

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Carol Jago

  • Imagination the neglected stepchild of American Education – Eisner
  • Make time for questions during instruction
  • Reading literature feeds the minds for imagination
  • 7 1/2 hours spent by teen on media based technology
  • Blissful productivity – sells video games
  • Need to find a way to feel this way from school related activities
  • Find one poem that’s easy, hard, and one that’s just right – and then analyze why its just right for you, present the just right poem for class
  • School is the place where young people come to watch old people work. – Jago
  • Mass exodus from real world to virtual world.
  • Annie Dillard – on reading

Modeling and Mentoring Literate Lives:: Trusting the Reading Workshop

  • The Life Cycle – Mary Lee Hahn, Teacher needs to be a reader, who belongs to a community of readers, flexibility, student-centered, in the moment, structured, mini-lesson, literature circles, focused instruction, MUST – read aloud, assessment-driven instruction, Choice of independent reading, conversation
  • Reflect and refine Blog – Kathy Meers??
  • Possible Phases of RW – Babymouse, Transition, Self-Challenge, Good Choice
  • Reader’s Notebook – Aimee Buckner – think tracks, Use notebook to jot notes, think deeply, talk with peers to articulate thinking, go back and add thinking, “Reading is Thinking” as well as talking, writing about your thinking, and discovering
  • Self-selecting the next book – Donalyn Miller “forever readers” finding time to read, anticipating book emergencies, book selection, reading list can show trends, look for choosing too easy or too hard, (genre, date finished, difficulty)  Reading List – Fountas  and Pinnell, are they comprehending the book? Book commercial – spontaneous time to promote a book they are reading, In the notebook – books to read list, book passes – janet allen (like speed dating) preview stacks of 5/6 of a genre, write plans for reading (reading resolutions) Notecards or reading notebook habits before and now, think about what they have read,
  • Tools of 21st Century – Franki Sibberson – Abbey loves books video, Melbourne Library, Bill Gaskins, Look for Previews and Podcasts for book previews, Tales2Go. Storytime Anytime app, Duck, Duck, Moose app, Cat in the Hat app, Toy Story iPad app, Consume or produce the media forms today = literacy, Reading in Action – bookcast, book trailer, Book Reviews McKillup Elementary School, Many websites that go with book, The Exquisite Corpse, Toon Book Reader, Spaceheadz, The Search for Wondlad, Skeleton Creek, Hallmark recordable books, Scaredy Squirrel on Facebook, The Pigeon on Twitter, Possum Magic on Google Earth, Twitter TV, Skype an author, QR codes, The Global Read Aloud Program, Laura’s Life Blog, Shelfari – social network for readers – can put together private groups, Voicethread as Book Talk, Judi Morellian Skimming gives a false sense of comprehension

Engagement A Critical Component of Helping Struggling Readers and Writers

  • Kylene Beers – Drive by Daniel Pink – Motivation, RSA Animate Drive, (Turn and talk) Autonomy, Mastery – working to continually get better, Self-directed
  • Linda Rief – middle school teacher, have students read their writing to you, Put best piece of writing on a Portfolio Wall, “lead a writerly life” Donald Graves, Write what matters to them, Have students fill in own report cards, 22 Frames animation software, Sam animation,
  • Kylene Beers/Robert Probst (Response and Analysis) important, students may be read on through students, All roads lead to theme. We read to identify theme. Developing nine lessons – Nice Notice and Note Lessons – helps to look for clues that authors leave in the text, generalizing principle/statement.
  • Lesson of the Elder – that moment in YA novels when, an older, wiser person offers a life lesson or advice to the main characters. What was the advice given to the main character. Often is the theme.
  • Lesson of Contrasts and Contradictions – moment in a story when there is a sharp contrast between what you would expect and what you would see. Why did the character act this way? What does it show me about character development?
  • Think-aloud – not effective, filled with text specific information and is difficult for transfer, unless it has a generalizing statement.
  • The Aha Lesson – point in which a character realizes something and things change – What has he learned and what do you think it will mean?