Posts filed under 'Literacy'

Now Online: Teaching Globally

Teaching GloballyIn today’s globally connected world, it’s essential for students to have an understanding of multiple cultures and perspectives. In Teaching Globally, Kathy Short, Deanna Day, and Jean Schroeder bring together fourteen educators who use global children’s literature to help students explore their own cultural identities and broaden their knowledge of the world.

Contributors take you into a wide range of classrooms—from Mexican-American students in Southern Arizona learning about their heritage through the picture book Esperanza Rising, to a diverse group of seventh graders immersing themselves in the culture of Nigeria through a global novel.

Teaching Globally lays out why this kind of global curriculum is important and how to make space for it within district and state mandates. Built around a curriculum framework developed by Kathy, the ideas and strategies will help teachers integrate a global focus into existing literacy and social studies curricula.

Teaching Globally is filled with vignettes from K-8 urban and rural schools, as well as an extensive lists of book recommendations, websites, professional books, and an appendix of global text sets.

The book is available for preview in its entirety now!

Add comment July 21st, 2016

Now Online: Good Thinking

Good Thinking“Once you start looking, you’ll see arguments everywhere,” Erik Palmer writes in his new book, Good Thinking: Teaching Argument, Persuasion, and Reasoning. “All of them are opportunities to teach good thinking.”

A large part of our everyday communication involves argumentation and reasoning—for example, when we want to persuade others, make good purchasing decisions, or analyze the messages we receive from advertisers and politicians. But how well do we prepare students for these tasks?

In Good Thinking, Palmer shows teachers of all subjects how to transform the activities they already use into openings for improving student thinking. Building on his previous work in Well Spoken and Digitally Speaking, he reveals how all students—not just those in advanced classes—can begin developing sophisticated reasoning skills that will improve their oral and written communications.

Blending theory with practice, Palmer shares a wide range of classroom-tested lessons and explains complex concepts in simple, practical language that gives teachers a deft understanding of the principles of good arguments, proper use of evidence, persuasive techniques, and rhetorical tricks.

Preview the entire book online now!

Add comment April 13th, 2016

Investing in Stories

We continue to reflect on the role of stories today with an examination of the stories that surround us every day. At the end of her post, follow Katie’s tips on bringing stories to the forefront of your teaching. And then tell us on Twitter: What is your story today?

Investing in Stories

Katie Egan Cunningham

These days it seems like every industry is talking about the power of stories. Want your advertisement’s message to stick? Tell a story. Want your shareholders to keep investing? Tell a story. Want to bring in more customers? Tell a story.

In fact, if we want students to be college, career, and life ready, an investment in stories looks to be one of the most important investments we can make. Here are a few examples across industries that caught my attention.

In the December 2015 issue of Inc. magazine Thomas Goetz, CEO of Iodine, a digital health startup, says, “The story, it turns out, is the most important thing. It can’t just review what we’ve done; it must also excite the imagination about what the world will look like once we do more. It won’t be enough to present a plausible, worthy case for our future—our story must convince people that it’s worth millions of their dollars to see that future happen.”

At the online healtIMG_1206h hub HospitalityNet, consultants in the hospitality industry advise business leaders to use the structure of fiction to improve their forecasting and strategic thinking: “A good fictional storyline may seem like a whirlwind of characters and events, but for exactly that reason it can captivate and motivate an audience to grasp real issues and see different possibilities, all within a framework that everyone understands could plausibly evolve from the world as it actually exists today.”

The streets of New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood have a new retail store that changes the shopping experience—including the store’s layout and merchandise—every few months. The name of the store? Story. The driving idea is that the store is a place for discovery and maybe even reinvention. What is your story? What do you want it to be? Come in, look around, and find a new story for yourself.

Audible, the audiobook giant, advertises finding “stories that surround you.” Folding laundry? Surround yourself with a romance novel. Eating cereal? Surround yourself with the French Revolution. Sitting on the beach? Surround yourself with a noirish thriller.

Finally, the world’s biggest media brands now trust the “social media evangelists” at Storyful to “discover, verify, and acquire social media for their storytelling.” Businesses want to know which stories are worth telling.

All of this points to what, I believe, we as educators have always known—that humans are addicted to stories. That when we listen to someone else’s story we encourage a sense of belonging and make change possible. That stories are a pathway to connection.

As teachers, this gives us even more justification that time spent on powerful stories is time well spent. Here are some simple and joyful ways to keep stories at the forefront of your teaching:

  1. Make read-aloud a daily ritual, without exception. Create space for discussion before, during, and after reading.
  2. Vary the kinds of stories you share to highlight different perspectives and life experiences.
  3. Explore the structural elements of narratives as both readers and writers.
  4. Zoom in on craft techniques storywriters use to hook readers.
  5. Listen to songs and have students rewrite the lyrics as a narrative.
  6. View print and media advertisements, noticing how they tell stories to persuade their market.
  7. Listen to audiobooks as a class to “surround” yourselves in stories.
  8. Make it a year-long goal to build a classroom culture of story every day.

 

Where do you notice other industries spotlighting stories? How do you build a world of story in your classroom?

Add comment March 8th, 2016

Each day should be a story-worthy day

We are excited to kick off this week with Katie Egan Cunningham, author of Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning. We invite you to read her post below and then think about the role of stories in your classroom. What is your story today? Share with us here on the blog or on Twitter using this template and #Story.

Each Day Should Be a Story-Worthy Day

Katie Egan Cunningham

We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.

― Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Each morning I wake up to the human alarm clock that is the sound of my children’s feet climbing out of bed, letting me know it’s time to get up. Once my eyes are open, I grab my five-minute journal and jot down three thoughts about what would make today great, three things I am grateful for, and an affirmation of who I am. Before I close my eyes at night, I grab my journal once more to process the day—to remember three amazing things that happened that day and how I could have made the day better. This journaling ritual in my life began as a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband. Better than flowers or chocolate, he somehow knew that envisioning the story of my day before it happened and remembering storied moments at its end would be a simple way to bring me happiness every day. He was right. For a year now, I have been hooked.

When my children hop on the bus or walk through the doors of their schools, I envision their day, knowing that there will be story-worthy moments. I wonder what amazing things will happen to them. What stories will they hear that inspire them to be kind or to take new risks? What will friends say that make them laugh or make them cry? Will they bravely share an idea out loud? How will it be received? I know there will be Morning Meeting stories. Talking in the hallway stories. Monkey bars stories. Roaming in the library stacks stories. P.E. team-picking stories. Bus riding stories.

In my work with teachers and students, I’ve started to adopt the five-minute journal philosophy—that is, that envisioning and remembering the stories of our days in a few simple words and phrases is a way of building a story-worthy attitude about every day.

I also believe that, as teachers, we have the power to be story changers for our students. Every Monday, I work in an afterschool program supervising soon-to-be literacy specialists working with fourth and fifth graders. I tell my graduate students that their primary role is to learn as much as they can about the students’ stories—what matters most to them—and to use that information to drive their decisions as teachers.

One day, during the afterschool program, I read aloud The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli. With each turn of the page, children nodded their heads in agreement—oh yeah, lots of action makes the best stories. Plenty of humor makes the best stories. Stories that make people cry are actually the best. Rather than go along with the chorus of agreement, a boy named Andrew talked back to every page, letting us know he was resisting this particular story and maybe even the story of our time together. We needed to show Andrew that he had choice and challenge in our time together, and that what mattered to him was valuable to us. As the weeks went on, Andrew became the first student to arrive and the last one to leave. He stayed to work on his new comic book, to write about Yo-Kai Watch characters in their fantasy world, to talk to me about his soccer match and what he wanted to read next. His identity in the afterschool program changed from resistor to most passionate contributor. Andrew unknowingly convinced me each week that what we were doing together as readers, writers, and thinkers mattered, and that as teachers we have the power to change the narratives we tell ourselves about our students.

I am convinced that human connection is the pathway to knowing each other’s stories, so I decided to use heart mapping in my work with teachers last fall. Through the process of jotting and sharing, I learned that one teacher was battling throat cancer as she tearfully explained the cancer ribbon drawing she made on her map. I learned that I grew up in the same small New Jersey town as someone sitting across from me. I learned that other teachers also had two sons. Our relationships to one another changed. We came to know more of one another’s stories.

To help your students (and yourself) take note of the story that happens each day, try starting with these simple methods:

1. Take time at the start of the school day to jot down what would make today great.
2. Take time at the end of the school day to jot down three amazing things that happened and one thing you could have done to make the day better.
3. Build in time for students to share their interests through heart mapping, community mapping, and hopes and dreams mapping.
4. Provide time for partner talk, emphasizing the importance of listening as much as speaking.
5. Tap into students’ interests to support their book shopping—what connections do they have to characters, real-life figures, and settings?
6. Step back and observe your students, both in and out of the classroom. Notice and jot down the storied moments you see, and share them with students as fuel for their writing.
7. Share your own jottings about the story of your day.
8. Remind students that every day is a story-worthy day.

What are the stories you are grateful for each day in your classroom? When have you been a story changer in a student’s life? When have students changed your story?

1 comment March 7th, 2016

What’s your Story?

Why do stories matter? Whose stories count? Where do stories live? How do stories come alive? How do we build stories? How do we talk about stories? And why does this work take courage?

Join us next week here on the blog and on Twitter and explore the role stories play in your classroom and in life. Katie Egan Cunningham, author of Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning will join us with two blog posts –on tips and ideas for helping your students (and yourself) to take note of the story that is today, and a thoughtful examination of the stories that are around us in marketing and in the news.

Watch this video with Katie where she talks about how stories help us care for students and enrich classrooms. Then come back on Monday to read more from Katie:


We invite you to tell us: What’s your story of the day? Download and use this template, or just use #Story on Twitter.

 

Add comment March 4th, 2016

Now Online: Growing Independent Learners

0912Debbie Diller’s long-awaited new book, Growing Independent Learners, has just been released. This comprehensive guide builds on her previous books to help teachers plan standards-focused lessons and work stations, organize the classroom for independence, and use anchor charts to support learning goals and help students remember big ideas.

With over 400 full-color photographs, this beautiful book gives
you:

– Detailed explanations of each standard’s importance and real- world application;
– Planning tools that include academic vocabulary, whole-group instruction, and suggestions for literacy work stations;
– Complete whole-group lesson plans that you can use and modify again and again;
– Connections to help you extend the lessons into other areas of daily instruction;
– Mentor texts to use during whole group, small group, or stations; and
– Teaching tips that can help build skills from grade to grade.

Growing Independent Learners is an essential resource that will help you create vibrant classrooms filled with independent learners.

Watch Debbie talk about why “preparation is everything” when growing independence:


Add comment January 14th, 2016

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

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