Archive for September, 2010
Join an all-star lineup of literacy experts and exchange ideas with colleagues who share your goal of excellence in literacy instruction at the 21st annual Literacy for All Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, November 14-16. Speakers include:
At only $385 ($265 excluding the pre-conference workshop), the Literacy for All Conference is a great opportunity for top-quality, affordable PD. Visit the conference website at Lesley University for details and registration forms.
September 29th, 2010
In his book Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning, Herb Broda shows how the school grounds can become an enriching extension of the classroom. In this week’s Quick Tip, Herb talks about how to bring the outdoors into the classroom with little effort.
I have a vivid image of Linda Lang’s former classroom. She used to teach in one of those wonderful old rooms with creaky wooden floors and lots of wall space. There wasn’t much wall to be seen, though, since nearly every square inch was covered—mostly with naturerelated posters and student work that refl ected the outdoors.
The outside wall was blessed with many windows, one of which had a large pine tree growing nearby. She had placed bird feeders near the windows and the pine provided cover for the birds. Kids busily observed the various species of birds at the feeders and then recorded what they saw. Her class participated in the Classroom FeederWatch program through Cornell University, which actually turns the bird feeder outside the window into an interdisciplinary research activity and enables children to share their data with students across the country. The data is then accessible online and can be compared with fi ndings in other regions. More information about this program is in the “Resources” section at the end of this book.
Placed near classroom windows, feeders can provide a unique opportunity for students to get an up-close look at wildlife without leaving the classroom. Feeders also can promote a stewardship ethic as students take responsibility for filling and maintaining the feeders.
Feeders also provide a great opportunity to carry the message of enjoying nature back to the home. Simple bird feeders can be made from a variety of simple materials and often require no construction. Pie pans, plastic bottles, and pine cones with peanut butter and seeds can be converted easily into bird feeders that kids can watch at home. Linda feels that this carryover factor is one of the most important outcomes of outdoor-based teaching. If kids get excited about something they see in nature, hopefully they will develop and share a sense of caring and concern for the environment.
Having some plants or domestic animals in the classroom can provide a strong personal link with nature. Even things as simple as a small aquarium or some indoor plants on the windowsill can provide a natural feel to the classroom. If students take on the tasks of cleaning, feeding, watering, and generally taking care of these living things, feelings of responsibility and stewardship begin to develop.
Some teachers have found classroom pets to be valuable teaching tools. I’ve seen classrooms with gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats, snakes, even ants and worm farms! The decision whether or not to keep a live animal in a classroom is one that needs to be considered carefully, however. Multiple factors need to be evaluated, such as:
- amount of care needed
- purchase or donation of the animal
- health needs of the animal
- cages or other environment
- weekend and vacation arrangements
- cost of feeding and maintaining the animal
- student allergies or other health concerns
- appropriateness of the animal for your classroom
The pet should be included in the classroom only if it can be justified as a way to teach learning objectives throughout the year.
The modeling of humane and compassionate animal care is essential. Several outstanding websites are referenced in this book’s “Resources” section that provide a useful background for making a decision concerning pets in the classroom.
September 28th, 2010
Stenhouse books — and our authors — are becoming world travelers. We told you about our books in Rwanda and Belize a few months ago. Now Stenhouse author Stephanie Harvey (Strategies That Work, Nonfiction Matters) is spending some time in Japan, conducting her Reading is Thinking workshop for East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS). EARCOS serves about eighty-five thousand students and 115 schools throughout East Asia. They’re sponsoring professional development workshops at their member schools, and Steph’s is one of about three dozen taking place during the 2010-2011 year. Workshops are conducted in English and most workshop leaders are from the U.S.
Check out some of Steph’s photos she sent to us from her travels. She was in Kyoto when she sent these pictures.
September 27th, 2010
This week’s poem comes from six-year-old Ellie, who took her inspiration from Ralph Fletcher’s poetry book, Ordinary Things. Ellie’s poem appear’s in Ann Marie Corgill’s recent book, Of Primary Importance. I have to admit that I picked this poem for one line. I am a new mom – I am sure you can guess which line grabbed me!
Stuff That Nobody Thinks About
The warm feeling.
Butterflies in your tummy.
The smell of breakfast.
The sound of pencils sharpening.
The sound of birds chirping.
The look of funny faces.
The taste of melting chocolate in your mouth.
The feeling of dirt under your fingernail.
The sound of music in your ear.
Stories ringing in your head.
The feeling of tears rolling down your face.
The soft feeling of your mom’s hand.
September 24th, 2010
Teacher Leader Network member Elizabeth Stein recently interviewed Rick Wormeli about his new book, Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject. Rick talks about how he developed the book and admits that “almost everyone wondered how I could make this into a full-length book.” Rick says that while people might think that his book is strictly for English and langauge arts teachers, the majority of the book is for teachers of all subjects and grade levels.
Read the full interview on the TLN website and then preview Rick’s book online on the Stenhouse site.
September 23rd, 2010
We just posted the full text of three new titles online!
Kathy Paterson, author of Teaching in Troubled Times, examines the impact of fear in modern classrooms. She addresses children’s heavy exposure to violence and stereotypes and shows teachers how to explore the major issues in the lives of their students.
The Writing Triangle: Planning, Revision, and Assessment, helps students move from generic writing process guidelines to specific and practical strategies related to important writing forms, including description, narration, poetry, exposition, persuasion, and exploratory. Author Graham Foster discusses each form and gives suggestions for exploring key features, planning strategies, revision criteria, and assessment techniques.
Katherine Luongo-Orlando is the author of The Cornerstores to Early Literacy: Childhood Experiences That Promote Learning in Reading, Writing, and Oral Language. She shows teachers how to create active learning experiences that are essential to building early literacy. This step-by-step guide to the early years also offers practical pathways that will guide young learners on their first steps to lifelong literacy.
September 22nd, 2010
We’ve just added a new feature to the Stenhouse website! As you browse through our books and you happen to see a book that your Facebook friends might find interesting, you can now share that link with them with just a click!
You will see these logos at the bottom of each product page:
Use them to post your favorite Stenhouse books to Facebook, Twitter, or several other social networking, news aggregator, and blogging sites, including Digg and Blogger.
September 21st, 2010
Our tip for this week comes from Steve Moline’s book, I See What You Mean: Children at Work with Visual Information. Steve is working on the second edition of this book and is looking for new student work. We’ve created a Ning group where you and your students can look at sample works and upload your own. Steve will pick the best and your student will be published in a Stenhouse book! So read this tip and then head over to the Ning group to find out more!
How we read depends on our purpose for reading
There is more than one way to read a book. We can read it from front to back, intently, leaving nothing out. We can browse through the pictures. We can search for one or two facts only, picking out only the straws we need from the haystack of information. We can scan, sample, skip and skim. How we read depends on our purpose for reading.
Consider, for example, the differences between how we read a biography; that is, when we read it “for the story,” and how we read the same book when we wish to locate specific information:
When we read “for the story”:
- we want to read the whole text;
- we start at the front and end at the back;
- we read from top to bottom and from left to right;
- if we put the book down, we pick it up later at the point in the narrative where we left off;
- the verbal narrative of a biography does not need the pictures to make its meaning;
- the first line is the gateway through which we enter the text;
- completion of the narrative is part of the satisfaction of reading it.
But when we read selectively to locate specific information:
- we can choose to read only part of the text;
- we may start at the front, the back, or somewhere in between. That is, we can choose the gateway through which we enter the next. For example: the contents page, the index, the headings, the pictures and captions.
- the visual elements (photographs, diagrams, maps, etc.) can be read for meaning, evening when they contain few words or no words
- the diagrams, maps, graphs, etc., sometimes need to bread: bottom to top, right to left, in a circular, apparently random zigzag way, depending on its design and our own purpose in reading it.
- if we pick up the book later, it may be for an entirely different purpose, so we don’t need to find the place where we left off;
- we sometimes stroll through an information text bakcwards and we still make sense of the part we read;
- sometimes the words make imcomplete sense without the visual elements that accompany them; words and image together make the meaning;
- we read what we need and often we write (we make notes) while we read.
As readers we are free to choose how we read an information text, such as a biography. We can choose to follow the author’s pathway, that is, to read “the whole story”; or we can choose to read the same text selectively, choosing our own pathways.
What is special about selective reading?
If we teach children that all reading is “reading for the story,” we overlook many key strategies that we employ when reading selectively. Some of these strategies include scanning, skimming, accessing the text through the index, using headings as signposts to the information we want or just strolling through the pictures in order to orientate ourselves in the text.
These selective reading strategies depend on the purpose we bring as readers to the text and the special kind of interactive relationship the reader has with an information text.
September 21st, 2010
We invite you this Poetry Friday to turn to the Orient and to Tao Te Ching with us. Fred Brill uses this poem at the end of his book Leading and Learning: Effective School Leadership Through Reflective Storytelling and Inquiry to show the push and pull of forces that come with being a school leader. “Many tensions exist in the world of educational leadership,” he writes. “Just as there is discord between theory and practice in the larger field of education, there is also tension regarding the need to apply the appropriate balance of pressure and support.”
It is Friday, so start your weekend with these few lines:
Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight;
Empty and be full;
Wear out and be new;
Have little and gain;
Have much and be confused…
Be really whole,
And all things will come to you.
September 17th, 2010
My students found the emphasis on literary criticism generally fresh, intellectually engaging, and useful. Many of them said they appreciated having a vocabulary of criticism and multiple ways of approaching a text.
Literary criticism has great potential for expanding students’ repertoire of reading strategies and cultivating their independence as critical thinkers. Award-winning high school teacher Tim Gillespie distills many years of continuously refined practices in his new book, Doing Literary Criticism.
Tim sets out three principles: students should be doing (and not just reading) literary criticism; they should be exposed to a variety of critical perspectives; and nothing should be done to smother the pleasure of reading. He then presents a rigorous curriculum featuring eleven critical approaches, each with an overview of benefits and limitations, teaching suggestions, and practical activities. An extensive CD included with the book provides reproducible overviews for students, essay exam questions, a bonus chapter on postmodern criticism, and more.
As policy leaders and standards increasingly call for more critical thinking and challenging texts, literary criticism is poised to fill the role. Doing Literary Criticism will help English teachers make the most of this rewarding subject. Print copies of Doing Literary Criticism are due in mid-October, but you can preview the entire book and pre-order online now!
September 15th, 2010