Posts filed under 'Literacy'

Author conversation with Ralph Fletcher

We recently had a chance to sit down with Ralph Fletcher, whose latest book is Making Nonfiction from Scratch. In this clip, Ralph talks about what makes nonfiction inherently creative. Preview Making Nonfiction from Scratch it its entirety online!


Add comment December 10th, 2015

Scaffolding Waits

Terry Thompson is our guest blogger today with this great post that invites teachers to slow down the scaffolding process, to allow students the time and space they need as they learn new skills. It’s easy to feel rushed — especially  because it’s already November! — but what if we all stopped to enjoy our students?

Scaffolding Waits

the-construction-zone“I can’t believe it’s already November!”

If you haven’t said this out loud yet, you’ve probably been thinking it. The transition from October to November can be one of the most exhausting times for teachers. We’re well into the school year, the newness has worn off, and everything’s up and rolling. But sometimes it feels like things are rolling just a little too fast and we’re on a gerbil wheel that never seems to stop.

This morning was pretty typical. I jumped out of bed at 5:30, stumbled to the kitchen to start the coffee, got myself ready, walked the dogs, threw some clothes in the wash, and made a beeline to the car before making a hectic drive through rush hour traffic, skidding into the parking lot, throwing my bags on my desk and darting to breakfast duty, arriving – whew! – just in time.

And that was all before 7:00 AM!

If you’re anything like me (and every other teacher I know), you probably feel this same, constant state of hurriedness. We’re in such a rush! We dash to recess. We bolt to lunch. We hustle to that last minute assembly everyone else seemed to have on their calendar but us.

And, if we aren’t mindful, this culture of constant of haste can permeate the best part of our work – our face to face instructional time with children. We rush to get assessments done. We rush to get to the next lesson. We rush to get readers to the next level. We rush and we rush and we rush.

But, what if we didn’t?

As I continue to contemplate the concepts about instructional scaffolding I explored in The Construction Zone, I keep returning to the many things that a more knowing other knows. And, one of those things that a more knowing other knows is that the scaffolding process can’t be rushed. We may try to rush it – but scaffolding takes its time.

Scaffolding waits.

Think about the classic scaffolding examples from outside the classroom like teaching children to walk or ride a bike. No one has to remind parents to take their time with these processes. There’s no rush. They follow the needs of the child, supporting when needed and pulling back when it’s time. It all unfurls naturally.

These same qualities apply to the scaffolds we build in our classrooms. As more knowing others in the scaffolding process, we know that there is a difference between a sense of urgency and a flurry of haste. We know it takes time to get to know learners. It takes time to reflect. And we make room for this.

We take time for assessments as we get to know our learners and their needs. We take time for observations and conferences that tell us more. And, we take time for the important things like read-alouds and community building. We take time to be present and enjoy the learners in front of us. We take time to relax with our kids and a good book. We take Time to reflect.

Yes, it’s November. The holidays are already upon us and the mid year mark is coming fast. And, yes, everything seems to be pulling on our schedule all at once. But what if we hit pause for a moment and took a deep breath? What if we resisted the urge to rush? What if – instead of rushing students through the next assessment, the next conference, the next lesson, the next guided reading level – we slowed things down and lingered in the wonder of the incredible work we get to do every day?

So, as you skid into the holiday season (and then directly into the following semester), give yourself permission to slow down. Breathe. Trust yourself. Enjoy your students. And, enjoy the scaffolding process.

2 comments November 6th, 2015

Video Podcast: Debbie Diller on why she wrote Growing Independent Learners

Debbie Diller’s new book Growing Independent Learners will be available late winter, but until then here is our brief chat with her on how the book came about.

Add comment October 22nd, 2015

Now Online: Story

storyThis is a wonderful book: generous in its ideas, rich in its examples, and humble in the simplicity of its approach.
—Linda Rief

This book will encourage teachers to restore the study of story to its rightful place in the curriculum.
—Kelly Gallagher

Teaching reading and writing strategies is essential, but in Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning, Katie Egan Cunningham reminds us that when we bridge strategy with the power of story, we deepen literacy learning and foster authentic engagement.

This inspiring book shows you how to honor students’ identities and interests through story selection, expertly find stories from a wide variety of sources and genres, and incorporate the power of stories into your teaching of reading, writing, and classroom conversations.

You’ll get specific ways to build a classroom library that reflects our diverse society through rich, purposeful, and varied texts. The practical toolkit at the end of each chapter and annotated bibliography of texts, videos, songs, and websites will help you implement the book’s central ideas in your classroom.

Preview the entire book online now!

Add comment October 5th, 2015

Live Twitter chat with Terry Thompson

In case you missed our live Twitter chat with Terry Thompson, author of the new book The Construction Zone, here is your chance to catch up. The chat was hosted by Franki Sibberson and covered everything you need to know about scaffolding. Preview some of the Tweets below, or you can read the full chat on Storify.

 

Add comment September 15th, 2015

Now Online: Vocabularians

I started reading Vocabularians and could not put it down! Readers are given a glimpse into middle-level classrooms where the best of collaborative, classroom-based research unfolds to reveal what can happen when teachers across disciplines work together to help students increase their word knowledge…this is a book that needs to be a part of every PLC.
—Janet Allen

vocabulariansFollowing up on her bestselling book, Word Nerds, veteran middle-level educator Brenda Overturf teams up again with teachers Leslie Montgomery and Margot Holmes Smith to share an integrated vocabulary program for grades 5-8 in their new book, Vocabularians.

You’ll get a seven-point plan for intentional vocabulary instruction that fits the schedules, developmental needs, and curriculum of the middle grades. You’ll see how to engage students in active learning experiences with words and help all students increase word knowledge.

After implementing this framework, you’ll see students using the words they learn in their own writing and speech, showing what they really know on assessments, and building the confidence needed to take risks with language. 19 engaging activities incorporate meaningful vocabulary practice, and the companion Study Guide (which you can download now) provides chapter summaries, discussion questions, and guidance for PD with a PLC or team of teachers.

Preview the entire book online and watch three short videos featuring Brenda Overturf, students, and teachers across the curriculum who have implemented Vocabularians in their school.

Add comment June 16th, 2015

What we talked about with Kelly Gallagher

We covered a lot of ground during our hour-long chat with Kelly Gallagher. We talked about his new book, In the Best Interest of Students, as well as the effects of the Common Core State Standards on the teaching of reading and writing. Here are a few memorable Tweets from the chat, as well as the fuller archived version.

Add comment April 9th, 2015

Now Online: Teaching Arguments

teaching-argumentsMakes a powerful case for the teaching of rhetoric as an essential thread in the fabric of every child’s education…will resonate for every English teacher.
—Carol Jago, from the Foreword to Teaching Arguments

One of the most essential skills we can teach students is how to comprehend, analyze, and respond to arguments, taking into account the audience, occasion, and purpose. These skills open the door for all students—not just Advanced Placement—to rigorous academic texts, and will help them succeed in college and career.

In Teaching Arguments, Jennifer Fletcher gives you a firm grounding in rhetorical concepts, practical writing prompts, and engaging activities—such as the rhetorical précis, descriptive outlining, and the doubting and believing game—that will speed your students’ understanding of rhetorical skills and strategies.

Using an approach based on situational awareness and responsiveness instead of rules and formulas, Teaching Arguments helps you move your students beyond superficial responses to texts as they become better critical thinkers and communicators. The book is available now, and you can access the full-text preview online.

Add comment February 24th, 2015

Author Conversations: Kelly Gallagher on the best interest of students

We sat down with Kelly Gallagher recently to talk about his new book, In the Best Interest of Students: Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom. In this clip Kelly  talks about the book and cites the potential overemphasis on close reading as an example of where application of CCSS can go awry.


1 comment February 10th, 2015

New from Kelly Gallagher: In the Best Interest of Students

in-the-best-interest-of-studentsThe issues swirling around the adoption of the newest set of standards, much like the issues generated by the NCLB era, have again diverted our focus from the best practices of literacy instruction.

In his new book, In the Best Interest of Students, Kelly Gallagher takes stock of how recent educational reforms have driven changes in classroom instruction that are counter to what we know works. He invites fellow educators to pause in the midst of the tumult and remind themselves to do right by their students—to ensure that their reading, writing, speaking, and listening are grounded in deep thinking—and to foster a lifelong desire to read.

Kelly helps you navigate standards and the realities that accompany them while not neglecting proven literacy practices. You’ll get concrete examples of where the Common Core and other state standards provide a target for good instruction, and where they fall short. And you’ll get dozens of practical lessons and instructional strategies that Kelly successfully employs in his own classroom.

In the Best Interest of Students will leave you ready to respond to the pressures you encounter during this time of rapid change, keeping your focus on the best interest of your students. You’ll gain a clearer understanding of when to embrace the standards, and when to take a different course.

Preview Chapter 1 online, and when you preorder the print version of the book with code BESTEBOOK by February 16th you’ll get the e-book for free, and we’ll waive the shipping charge.

Add comment February 9th, 2015

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