Mentoring New Teachers, Episode 6

Welcome to the final episode of this season of our Mentoring New Teachers podcast! In our last episode, Laura and I explored the idea of using mentors–both professional and student mentors–to inspire students to write. As Laura shares with me in this episode, her students benefited greatly from 1) noticing the different and varied craft moves of such beloved authors as Kevin Henkes and Mo Willems and 2) trying them out in their own compositions. Their excitement over the realization that they, too, could use these moves in their writing was palpable!

In this episode, I offer Laura some advice about how to incorporate strategies for helping her students learn and retain sight words into her instructional routine. As many teachers who work with our youngest students know, it can be enormously difficult to balance phonics work and word play with opportunities to listen to and read connected text–not to mention everything else that teachers must juggle within what often seems like a few short hours! Because this is our final “formal” conversation for the podcast, Laura and I also reflect on this unique experience and the many ways in which it has impacted our work as educators.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through one classroom teacher’s first full year as a public school educator. We hope you have found lots to take away and try in your own classroom and/or share with others, whether you consider yourself a “novice,” a “veteran,” or somewhere in between. If so, please recommend this podcast to colleagues within your professional learning network. And if you have any advice for how we might improve this or future Stenhouse podcasts, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Add comment September 24th, 2018

Mentoring New Teachers, Episode 5

It’s hard to believe that this is the second to last episode of our Mentoring New Teachers podcast–we hope you have enjoyed it thus far! In our last episode, Laura and I discussed what she might do to help her kindergarteners gather the courage to practice decoding and encoding words as they become more and more aware of the variety of ways that letters and sounds combine to form words. In the interest of not adding anything more to her plate as a classroom teacher, I offered some suggestions for how she might encourage her students to take “healthy risks” with their words by modifying some of what she already does with them. In addition, I suggested some simple ways that Laura might incorporate additional multisensory work within her literacy stations as a fun way to help her students create even more neural pathways in the brain than they’ve already created as developing readers and writers.

In this episode, Laura and I talk about the power of using mentors–both professional mentors and student mentors–to inspire students to write while also opening up a world of possibilities for how they might make decisions as composers of text. While teaching students to write by focusing on specific genres or forms of writing can be useful, teaching them to notice and ask questions about the kinds of craft, organization, and illustration moves their mentors make–while also encouraging them to envision making these “moves” in their own work–can ultimately transcend any genre or form that students might compose. Because this kind of “noticing” and “wondering” work can leave teachers feeling overwhelmed by possibilities about where to go next in their teaching, we also briefly discussed how to then build responsive curricula for their student writers.

 

RESOURCES & INSPIRATION:

 

Coppola, Shawna. 2015. “Math, Literacy, and the Need for More Blank Paper.” The Educator Collaborative Community Bloghttps://community.theeducatorcollaborative.com

 

Dorfman, Lynne and Rose Cappelli. 2017. Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6 (Second Edition). Portsmouth, NH: Stenhouse

 

Eickholdt, Lisa. 2015. Learning from Classmates: Using Students’ Writing As Mentor Texts. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

 

Ray, Katie. 1999. Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom. National Council of Teachers of English.

 

Add comment September 21st, 2018

Mentoring New Teachers, Episode 4

In the last episode of our Mentoring New Teachers podcast, Laura and I talked about how to begin the (often overwhelming) task of facilitating guided reading groups with young students. I explained to her how the original intention of guided reading has become somewhat lost due to the nature of many of today’s existing guided reading programs, and I offered some advice for how to begin this challenging,  but often necessary, work.

In our fourth episode, Laura shares with me how her mid-year literacy assessments led her to conclude that she needs to invest more time in helping her kindergarten students to practice decoding and encoding words. We discuss how to do this by modifying some of what she already does with her students, and I also suggest some ways to incorporate additional multisensory work with letters and sounds to help students create even more neural pathways in the brain than they’ve already created over the past several months. Finally, I share with Laura some common missteps that many teachers make–myself included!–when working to help students become more independent readers and writers. A tip: you may want to listen to this episode in small chunks–there’s a lot to absorb!

 

 

RESOURCES & INSPIRATION:

 

Cleaveland, Lisa. (2016). More About the Authors: Authors and Illustrators Mentor Our Youngest Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

 

Dehaene, Stanislas. (2010). Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read. New York, NY: Penguin Publishers.

 

Add comment September 20th, 2018

The similarities between written and visual composition

RenewIn Chapter 3 of her new book Renew! Become a Better–and More Authentic–Writing Teacher, Shawna Coppola asks teachers to redefine and rethink what it means to “write.” “Broadening our ideas about what writing “is” can be scary, as if we are opening up a Pandora’s box,” Shawna writes. “But in all reality, continuing to teach our students writers through a narrow, outdates lens–one that, in overvaluing written composition, does not accurately tell a story about the world of writing beyond most schools and classrooms–harms their development as writers by limiting the kinds of composing they are exposed to and encouraged to practice.”

Here’s Shawna with a bit more of her thinking:

In their book Teaching as a Subversive Activity, which was published in 1969, Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner write that not only have written assessments and assignments become ubiquitous in schools, but that even outside of school, “print has been the chief means of our information flow.” They go on to state that “equally certain is the fact that print no longer monopolizes man’s symbolic environment” (165).

If we were to open our favorite social media feed, or visit our favorite online news source, we would find this to be even more the case today, almost fifty years later. And yet, how many of us would argue with the fact that in today’s schools and classrooms we continue to over-emphasize (and over-value) written composition over visual composition–or even a hybrid of the two–particularly the older students get? In chapter three of my new book, Renew! Become a Better–and More Authentic–Writing Teacher, I point out the similarities between written and visual composition and make a case for renewing our writing instruction by incorporating more of the latter in our (and our students’) daily lives. I also offer a variety of ways that teachers can engage students in this work, ensuring that the writing they are invited to do in school is much more reflective of the world in which they–and we–currently live.

You can learn with Shawna this summer at The University of New Hampshire’s Summer Literacy Institute. Catch her workshop titled “Writing, Redefined: Honoring the Compositional Work of ALL Students.”  Head over to the Stenhouse website to read Chapter 3 of Renew.

 

References:
Postman, Neil and Charles Weingartner. (1969). Teaching as a Subversive Activity. New York, NY:
Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

Add comment June 5th, 2017

Now online: Renew!

Renew“Relax and enjoy an afternoon’s reflection on how to break out of rigid prescriptions and orthodoxies that limit writing instruction.”
-Thomas Newkirk, from the foreword of Renew!

Shawna Coppola’s new book Renew! is built on the premise that our students are ever-changing. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with relying on instructional strategies that have worked in the past, Shawna challenges writing teachers to rethink and revise their practice regularly.

Shawna uses a framework of Rethinking, Revising, and Renewing to examine the most pervasive educational practices in writing instruction and to help ask the questions necessary to revise them so that they are effective for all students. She goes on to examine some of the most ubiquitous practices, including what it means to write, the tools typically used to teach writing, and how writing is often assessed. She also offers ideas for how teachers can nurture their own writing lives and thus reinvigorate their teaching.

Order your copy now after previewing the entire text online!

Add comment May 15th, 2017


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