Blogstitute 2017: Writing Teachers Must Write

Ackerman & McDonough 2016 2In today’s Summer Blogstitute post, Jennifer McDonough and Kristin Ackerman, authors of Conferring with Young Writers, make the argument for why writing teachers must also be students and practitioners of the craft they teach.

 

Writing Teachers Must Write
Jennifer McDonough and Kristin Ackerman

Let’s begin with the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about . . . most teachers of  writing are not writing. Yep, we said it . . . out loud . . . it’s true! Now in their defense, these teachers have a lot of reasons that they do not write, and several are very legitimate reasons.

To name a few . . .

  • Teachers are busy. Many are juggling multiple subjects and multiple classes.
  • Our schools are constantly adopting new programs so we often feel bogged down by all of the new things we need to learn.
  • We are drowning in grading, parent emails, faculty meetings, fire drill procedures, etc.
  • Testing, testing, testing . . . need we say more?
  • There are few to no existing classes on teaching young children to write offered to teachers in college programs. Reading, math? Yes! Writing? Nope.

As two teachers who are in the trenches, we completely understand that it is not only challenging to make time to write but most of you reading this will have no idea where to even start to get the training and background on how to learn yourself. Here are a few tips on how to make time to write, where to find mentors and why it will benefit your teaching.

  • Delegate drafting days in class. Sit with your  students and write as if you were another student in the room.
  • Set aside one planning block a week for writing so that you are prepared to teach authentically.
  • Think about your drafts during the rare times that you have a few moments to yourself. When you go for a walk or when you’re getting ready for work. That thinking time is crucial for generating ideas. We like to jot our ideas down in a little mini-notebook that we keep in our purses so that when we have time to write we can refer to our notebook to remember our ideas.
  • Get involved with other writing teachers and meet for coffee or wine to share different ways that you are squeezing in time to write and what you’re learning.
  • Find every professional resource you can on how to help kids become better writers. There are so many great professional texts out there to get you started.
  • Read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott or Writing Toward Home by Georgia Heard to inspire you to begin your own writing journey.
  • Start a personal journal of thoughts and ideas.
  • Create a personal or professional blog to try out your writing for others.  Audience is everything and will keep you accountable but also give you purpose.

Now for the why.  It would be crazy to think about teaching someone how to play tennis without having ever picked up a racquet. We would never entertain teaching someone how to fly a plane when all we have ever done is boarded one and gave a cheery hello to the flight attendants. These things seem a bit crazy, yet every day teachers are being asked to teach something in which they have had little to no training or experience. When we present across the country and ask teachers to raise their hands if they had any classes in college on how to teach young children how to write, we maybe get one hand raised. The rest just give us that look of relief that someone actually acknowledged the problem and it isn’t their fault or shortcoming.  Having said all of this, we understand but still cannot excuse ourselves from being the best writing teachers we can be. There are so many important reasons why we need to make time to learn the art of skill of writing.

  • We stand by the statement “Those who do the most work do the most learning.” If you want to feel comfortable coaching writers you have to write.
  • Teaching authentically demands that you are familiar with your subject.
  • We know that the most important factor impacting student learning is the teacher. So, if we want to impact our students, we need to be prepared.
  • Conferring with writers is easy when we have walked in their shoes. Instead of glaring at the kid who has a blank sheet of paper we can look at them with empathy and say, “I know just how it feels to stare at a sea of white and wonder what to write about. Can I show you a few strategies that have helped me to generate ideas?”

Our final why ends with a quote from Maya Angelou, her words remind us that through literacy instruction we are calling on the one thing that we all have in common to connect and learn: our humanity.

“This is the value of the teacher, who looks at a face and says there’s something behind that and I want to reach that person, I want to influence that person, I want to encourage that person, I want to enrich, I want to call out that person who is behind that face, behind that color, behind that language, behind that tradition, behind that culture. I believe you can do it. I know what was done for me.”

—Maya Angelou

So, let’s be the kind of teachers that make time to write so that we can reach, influence, encourage and enrich the students in our classrooms.

4 comments July 18th, 2017

Blogstitute 2017: Revision Rx

In the next post in our Stenhouse Summer Blogstitute series, Ruth Culham, the author of The Writing Thief and Dream Wakers, has a little writing and revision assignment for you. Follow along as she revises a short paragraph and invites you to practice and play along this summer. Tell us how your revision process worked in the comments or on Twitter (#blogstitute17).

Revision Rx
Ruth Culham

News Release:

ruthculhamThe prescription for what ails writers about revision is now available as an over-the-counter remedy. Once accessible to a precious few, it’s no longer a high-priced prescription drug. Now all writing teachers and their students can help themselves anytime they wish. Available in six different flavors (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions), you can match taste preferences to individual writers to treat writing maladies of concern.

Introducing: The New and Improved Traits of Writing. This solution to common complaints of many writing teachers and students has been around for over thirty years, but now, thanks to new research and design, the traits have been recompounded to cure the revision blues. And best of all, they are free. Just visit : www.culhamwriting.com, and help yourself. Dosages for children as well as adults are clearly listed.

Warning:  Writers who go long periods of time without reading may need a bigger initial dose for full effect. Tell a colleague immediately if you or any of your students experience extended periods of continuous writing that last more than 24 hours. Do not take this remedy unless you are fully prepared to write better and more often.

***

It’s true, you know. The prescription to cure writing maladies is revision with the traits of writing in mind. Knowing how to break each down into just-right dosages can make all the difference in your writing instruction. Here’s something to try this summer while you are thinking about next year and how you will approach revision with students.

  1. Write a short paragraph on a topic of your choosing. Maybe it’s an anecdote about something interesting that’s already happened this summer; maybe it’s something you are curious about and have googled so you can learn more; maybe it’s an opinion you want to express about something you feel strongly about. It doesn’t matter the topic, just write something—rough, raw, and not smoothed over at all.

Here’s mine:

It’s harder and harder to go to bed early now that it’s light so long. Instead, I go outside with my neighbors outside on my patio and talk while the sun sets and quiet comes over my condo group . . . day slowly turning into night. It is peaceful. It is happy. Summer nights are my favorite time of the year. 

  1. Download the Grades 3–12 traits of writing Scoring Guides from the Library section of my website: culhamwriting.com.
  2. Pick one of the traits, any one: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency.  (Not conventions, though. That’s an editing trait, and we’re trying out an idea for revision here.) Read the definition for that trait at the top of the page.
  3. Look at the four key qualities for that trait and pick one–just one. For example, if you are looking at word choice, notice:
  • Applying Strong Verbs
  • Selecting Striking words and Phrases
  • Using Specific and Accurate Words
  • Choosing Words That Deepen Meaning
  1. Read the criteria for an Exceptional/Strong piece of writing in that Key Quality only. For example: Apply Strong Verbs: The writer uses many “action words,” giving the piece punch and pizzaz. He or she has stretched to find lively verbs that add energy to the piece.
  2. Turn back to your initial draft and look at it critically to revise for strong verbs. Highlight the verbs you want to focus on, then cross out any you can improve, reword, and add new ones. Don’t recopy¾just work on one thing; this is what I call Squeeze it Once and Let it Go.

It’s harder and harder to go head off to bed early now that it’s light so long. I go hang out with my neighbors outside on my patio and talk chat while the sun sets and quiet comes settles over my condo group . . .  day slipping into night. Peaceful. Happy. If only summer nights could linger longer.  

Or . . .

It’s harder and harder to go head off to bed early now that it’s light so long. I go hang out with my neighbors outside on my patio and talk chat while the sun sets and quiet comes settles over my condo group . . . day slowly turning slipping into night. Peaceful. Happy. If only summer nights could linger longer. 

  1. Put your piece aside in a Writing Wallet, which is a simple manila folder that holds some key drafts of writing, and stop for now. Another writing day, you can pick a different Key Quality of word choice or a different trait completely, and take a fresh look at your draft through the lens of a new Key Quality. Meanwhile, you can write something new and add it to the Writing Wallet for future revision practice, too.

FYI:  Notice I replaced verbs that add energy to the piece, but because revision is never in a simple box, I wound up changing a few lines to smooth them out, too, as I was focusing on the verbs. Focusing on one trait can lead to revising in another. In this case, the sentence fluency improved, too, as I revised for strong verbs. A happy turn of events.

The result of this focused activity is revision.  Real revision.  Not just neatening up the text and applying editing conventions so it is readable, but changing the text to make it clearer and more dynamic–one Key Quality of a trait at a time.

Think of the possibilities.  Once you have a Writing Wallet that contains some pieces of practice writing, you can turn to mentor texts such as those in my books The Writing Thief and Dream Wakers as sources for evidence of every Key Quality of every trait. You will love some of these books and you’ll want to pull out examples of different writing qualities, study them as a craft techniques, then try out what you’ve learned on your practice pieces in the Writing Wallet. There are five revision traits and each has four Key Qualities, so as you read, you can find examples of all twenty writing skills for revision. Remember though, follow the doctor’s orders:  Focus your work on only one revision activity at a time, learning each thoroughly and well. More in-depth study means these writing skills and techniques will have better odds of transferring into longer, more extended pieces of writing through the entire writing process.

This is the revision Rx. Try a spoonful of the Writing Wallet this summer and you’ll have models to share with students when they get back from their summer break.   And remember, as every good pharmacist will tell you, it’s important to finish the prescription, even if you start to feel better, so to get the maximum effect, keep taking this Rx from the beginning of the year to the end.

Learning from Experts

With gratitude, I’d like to share an essay that children’s author Pat Mora wrote on about her own writing and revision process. Pat believes in revision and finds it to be a joyful experience.  She offers ideas to make it pleasurable for you and your students, too.

Beginning Again and Again

By Pat Mora

One of my writing secrets is that writers often begin again and again. I am finishing my new picture book, BOOKJOY, WORDJOY, to be illustrated by the talented Raúl Colón. I have enjoyed collecting my poems for children and writing new poems including “Writing Secrets.” It is based on ZING, my book about creativity for educators. In the poem “Writing Secrets,” I don’t say that writers edit. We revise. I didn’t always like revising, but now, it’s probably my favorite part of writing.

            “Oh, no!” you might be saying. “I don’t like rewriting at all!”

            That’s how I used to feel. I don’t rewrite everything, of course. I don’t revise letters to my three wonderful children, for example. I do begin again and again, however, when I am working on stories, essays, or poems that I hope will be published. I polish. I had to learn to polish my writing when I was in school and at the university.

            When I was a little girl in El Paso, Texas, a city in the desert right on the Mexican border, I liked to read. Now, many years later, I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in high desert. I still like—no, I love to read and read every day. I am a writer because I am a reader. I enjoy playing with words—learning new ones in English and Spanish, listening to words, hearing them rhyme.

            Growing up, I didn’t think about becoming a writer. I thought about being a teacher, and then a doctor. Maybe I didn’t think about being a writer because none of the writers I learned about were living—except on the page. Also, I’d never heard of a writer who was bilingual, who wrote in English and Spanish. In my home, we spoke both, but at school, we didn’t talk about and enjoy our different home languages and cultures. It is so exciting that today in our libraries and classrooms, we share books from all the diverse families living in our United States. Sharing and respecting our cultures makes us more united—and smarter.

            When I started writing, I started writing for adults and was surprised that I didn’t write about going to the moon or Hawaii, what can sound fun and exciting. I wrote about the desert, family, Mexico, and stories. I write about what I like, what interests me, and about famous people who interest me. I really enjoy the wordjoy of poetry and remember writing poems in eighth grade.

            I made-up both words, bookjoy and wordjoy. Writing is both work and play. Maybe you want to make up a word, to play?

            Not everyone in the world has books, libraries, goes to school, and learns to read. If we are lucky enough to be readers, then we can be writers and share what we write. The pleasure of sharing our writing is one of my other writing tips. Have you ever given a family member or friend a poem you wrote? What a special gift!

I love the way Pat explains her different types of writing and which pieces she revisits and writes “again and again” to polish. Consider sharing this essay with your students, so they can hear a successful author’s own words about how important revision is to the writing process. You can find more essays by some of my favorite authors in Dream Wakers, too.

 

3 comments July 13th, 2017

Summer Book Club: Becoming a Literacy Leader by Jennifer Allen

Matt Renwick is an elementary principal in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, and he invites you to join him and his colleagues as they spend the next few weeks reading and discussing Jennifer Allen’s recent book, Becoming a Literacy Leader. In this guest post Matt talks a bit about the benefits of a summer book study and the details of how his group will discuss Jennifer’s book.

Summer Book Club: Becoming a Literacy Leader by Jennifer Allen
By Matt Renwick

Becoming a Lit Leader 2nd EdFor literacy leaders, summer is often the best time to read, reflect, and recharge. The students and staff are on break, yet we are already thinking about next year. Schedules, calendars, and budget proposals loom large on our to-do list. Yet the quietness that comes with an empty calendar and building offers opportunities for us to reengage with literacy as both a person and a professional.

Personally, I typically take on more fiction than nonfiction in June, July, and August. Having flexibility in my daily schedule, I don’t feel as guilty about reading a little bit longer into the night when I have a real page turner. The long days of the school year are evened out by the slowness of summer.

Professionally, I can unpack a special educational resource that has been sitting on my desk for a while. During the school year I’ll open it up from time to time, glance at a few of the tables or figures, maybe even read an excerpt from a chapter that looks immediately helpful. I’ve wanted to read it in its entirety, but I also want to give it in my undivided attention. That means reading it with a pen in hand to document my thinking in the margins and write a post or two on my blog as a reaction.

This summer, I am fortunate enough to have eight other literacy leaders join me in a summer book club. We will be reading Becoming a Literacy Leader: Supporting Learning and Change by Jennifer Allen (Stenhouse, 2016). This is the second edition of Jennifer’s resource, described on the back cover as a “thoughtful, reflective evolution of her work as she rethinks how her identity and role as a literacy leader have evolved in the ten year’s since she wrote the first edition”.

As we read the text, we will also be sharing our reactions and reflections at the now-collaborative blog Reading by Example (www.readingbyexample.com).  Our timeline will run from early July through the end of August. Our goal is to become more knowledgeable about literacy and leadership through our readings, our writings, and through the conversations via the blog post comments and on social media. Bringing multiple perspectives to a single resource should increase our capacities as literacy leaders: diversity is effective in changing thinking.

Becoming a Literacy Leader is not a book for only instructional coaches and literacy specialists. Anyone in a school can become a leader of literacy. As Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak note in the foreword, “this book as implications for all school leaders – principals, coaches, support staff, central office administrators, and teachers – as we work to make meaning together, to learn, and to grow” (xii). Through this summer reading (and writing) experience, we too look to examine our successes and challenges as Jennifer’s resource guides us in this shared literacy/leadership/learning experience.

Add comment July 12th, 2017

Blogstitute 2017: Sticky note strategies for transitional readers

Welcome to Stenhouse Summer Blogstitute 2017! We are thrilled to kick off our series with this great, practical post from Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak, authors of Still Learning to Read, Second Edition. Share with us in the comments or on Twitter (#blogstitute17) how you use sticky notes in your reading workshop.

Sticky note strategies for transitional readers
Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak

Our classrooms are reading communities that represent a variety of readers who have different needs, a variety of interests, and a range of skills. Transitional readers are in many of our classrooms in grades 3–6. They are making a move from reading mostly picture books to reading chapter books. They have developed some strategies for making sense of texts but many of them lack independence in several areas. Some transitional readers need to be better able to sustain comprehension as they read. For others, maintaining interest in an entire book is a challenge. Our goal is to help them become independent readers of more complex texts by giving them the strategies and tools they need. As they move toward reading books with more complexity, transitional readers need new tools and a variety of new strategies for making sense of the texts they are reading. As they become strategic about making sense of texts they can easily move from the transitional stage to becoming successful readers of more complex texts.

Some simple but effective strategies can make a huge difference in helping students move toward independence. We have found that sticky notes are a helpful tool for transitional readers. They offer a variety of support to readers as they become more independent. Sticky notes are always handy during reading conferences as we support students in meeting their goals. They are also easily accessible in the classrooms so children can use them as they read independently.

 

sticky1

This student was transitioning to longer chapter books. Holding on to a story over several days was a skill that needed some practice. He was discovering that when he opened the book each day and just started to read, he was often confused. During conferences, we focused on strategies to do some thinking before reading each day to remember the story. Using sticky notes to summarize the plot at the end of each day of reading helped support him in this skill. Instead of just starting where he left off, he started each day of reading by rereading the summary so he had a  a clear understanding of what occurred in the story so far. This helped build a solid background when starting a new reading session.

 

sticky2

Figuring out the meaning of unknown words is another common challenge for transitional readers. This student relied on an adult or another student when she came across an unknown word. She would simply ask someone to tell her the word but this did little to build her own strategies for discovering the meaning of unknown words. During a conference, we cut up sticky notes so that she could guess the meaning of a word based on the context of the sentence/paragraph. Then she discovered that if she read on, she could often determine the meaning of a word. This sticky-note strategy gave her the confidence she needed for more independence.

sticky3

Some readers transitioning to chapter books tend to read quickly without really holding on to the story. For this student, sticky notes reminded her to stop and think about the story throughout the book. While she was capable of reading the words on the page, she needed to pause to think about what was happening in the story. Rather than rushing through the book, she needed to develop a strategy for building the meaning of the story as she read.  We spent time during a reading conference putting a blank sticky note on every fifth page of the book. So as this child read, she was reminded to stop and think whenever she approached a sticky note. On the note, she would take time to summarize and/or write her thinking. The visual reminder to stop and think was exactly what she needed to support better understanding of the story.

sticky4

Our students sometimes have difficulty finishing books as they begin to choose longer books. We had a reading conference with a child who was moving between books and never finishing any of them. He knew several books he wanted to read from his book bin. He went through the stack and decided in what order he hoped to read them. He numbered each of them with a sticky note. This simple visual reminder helped him to finish one book before moving on to the second, third, or fourth book in his book bin.

sticky5

Some transitional readers have difficulty sorting out the important parts of a story from those that are not as critical to understanding the text. Recalling the important parts of a story over several reading sessions is an important skill to develop. This student used sticky notes to bullet the two or three things that were most important to remember in each chapter. This gave him something to go back to when beginning to read each day. It also gave him practice understanding the difference between important ideas and small details.

sticky6

For some students, creating a picture as they read is a new skill. Transitioning to chapter books requires students to visualize the story and it often takes some practice to stop and think about what was read. This child is using a blank page in his reading notebook to stop and jot every time he gets a picture in his head from the words alone. Using a notebook or sticky notes to collect simple images is a way to invite students to stop and think specifically about the picture in their head and to build understanding over time.

sticky7

Often students get stuck in one way of thinking and as text becomes more complex, it is important that they do various kinds of thinking in their reading. After conferring with me, these students are sorting sticky notes from a recent read into categories to get a sense of the kind of thinking they tend to capture while reading. They are noticing when they wrote down a prediction, a summary, a wondering, or a thought about a character. At a future conference, we used these reflections to set new goals of trying to capture different kinds of thinking.

Some students prefer using digital sticky notes. This child is using the app Corkulous on the iPad. This app allows students to jot on sticky notes, to color-code sticky notes, and to reorganize the notes for better understanding. Since students are becoming more and more comfortable using electronic devices, Corkulous offers another perspective on sticky notes and how they can support reading.

sticky8

Sticky notes are valuable tools in our reading workshop. Sometimes, in reading conferences, we give students invitations to use sticky notes in ways that support their goals. Then students can use sticky notes independently to build new habits as they go off to read each day.

15 comments July 11th, 2017

See you in Orlando at ILA 2017!

2017 tote bag mockup

We hope to see you soon in Orlando during this year’s ILA conference. You will find us at booth #201 and we are excited to show off our new booth design!

Stop by to browse our titles (including several brand new ones like Strategies That Work, Third Edition; Mentor Texts, Second Edition; and Renew…), and pick up one of our new tote bags. And as always, we offer a 25% educator discount and free shipping on all orders.

Several of our authors will be available at our booth for Meet & Chats – you can see our full signing schedule below and download the full sessions schedule here.

Saturday:
10:30 – Shawna Coppola (Renew!)
Noon – Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis (Strategies That Work, Third Edition)

Sunday:
9:45 a.m. – Ruth Culham (Dream Wakers)
10:00 – Stephanie Harvey & Anne Goudvis (Strategies That Work, Third Edition)
11:00- Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris (Who’s Doing the Work?)
Noon- Katrin Blamey and Katherine Beauchat (Starting Strong)
12:30 – Janiel Wagstaff (We Can Do This!)
1:00- Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli (Mentor Texts, Second Edition)
2:00 – Katie Cunningham (Story)
3:30 – Brian Kissel (When Writers Drive the Workshop)

Monday:
9:30 – Steven Layne (In Defense of Read Aloud)

Add comment July 10th, 2017

A bold choice for a math methods course

When I wrote Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, I wrote directly to readers, and I had specific readers in mind: real teachers, in various stages of their careers, who were ready to learn how to teach math so much better than how they were taught. Before writing it, I’d worked with preservice teachers and their inservice mentors for seven years in a variety of schools. I wanted to write a book that would be useful to both groups, knowing full well that some parts would resonate more with teachers who are just starting out and other parts would grab the attention of experienced teachers. I’ve been hearing from experienced teachers who are finding the book motivating, thought-provoking, and practical, which makes me so happy. I still wondered how it would go over with preservice teachers, though. Would it inspire them, or overwhelm? When Christine Newell decided to use it as the central text in her math methods class last term, I asked her to keep me posted, and we’ve had conversations throughout the semester. I’m so grateful that she took the time to reflect on her experience because it may help other math methods instructors. I have loved reading every one of her students’ letters, and it’s clear Chrissy nurtured a safe climate and taught a wonderful course. She’s started them off beautifully, and I can’t wait to hear how these teachers grow throughout their careers.

-Tracy Zager, author of Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had

A bold choice for a math methods course
Christine Newell

“I didn’t learn math this way” and “I wish I had learned math this way” have become common refrains in the professional development I facilitate. Somewhere in there is generally an underpinning of feeling totally cheated out of this “new math” that feels exciting and rich and actually makes sense. Veteran teachers are being asked to change not just the way they teach math, but their whole understanding of what mathematics is, and preservice and beginning teachers are facing the challenge of teaching in a way they were never taught. Regardless of years of experience, teachers are looking for support to become the math teacher they never had and are being asked to be. Tracy Zager’s powerful book, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms, is the answer to this. After my first read, it’s already dog-eared, tabbed, and annotated, and I’ve been back and forth from favorite concepts to ideas and resources countless times. This is pretty remarkable considering it was released just six months ago.

Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had, by Tracy ZagerI made the pretty bold decision to choose Tracy’s book as the required text for the Math Methods course I taught for preservice teachers this past semester. It was a departure from the content-rich texts that the other instructors were using for this course, Van de Walle’s Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics, and Chapin & Johnson’s Math Matters. To be clear, I love both of these books and find them invaluable resources as I work with teachers, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted my preservice teachers to learn not just about content and pedagogy, but also about the importance of redefining math for themselves and creating “favorable conditions” for all students to see themselves as mathematicians.

Even before the first chapter, Tracy frames the experience for readers by saying that when reading this book, “there is no wrong way, as long as reading it is useful to you.” (p. xv) This is not a trivial statement. It sets the stage for the message throughout the book that math is flexible and creative, that mathematicians explore and believe in their intuition and revise their thinking. This was new thinking for my students. Each chapter zeroes in on an important attribute of mathematicians (read: all students) and offers snapshots from real classrooms where teachers and students are engaging in math in meaningful ways. Balancing content and pedagogy is a constant negotiation for math methods instructors, and Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had offers jumping-off points for conversations around both. For my students, it was an approachable introduction to teaching elementary mathematics for this reason. It enhanced our content conversations by opening up my students’ ideas about what elementary students think and can do, and challenged what they thought was the role of the teacher.

In addition to the mathematical merits of the bookTracy writes in a way that makes you feel like you’re having a one-on-one conversation with her. Many of my students commented that they felt like they “knew” Tracy and the teachers she featured by the end of the book. This gives me hope that once they land in their own classrooms, my students will pull this resource off their shelves early and often. I’ll let my students say the rest. They were asked to write a letter to Tracy explaining the impact her book had on them in this course. The verdict? The book shaped our experience together this semester in profound, positive, challenging, inspiring ways. (Excerpts below printed with permission.)

The impact that reading your book this semester has made on my teaching has been huge. Every single chapter has given me tools, interesting scenarios, and great advice as to how I should teach mathematics in my very own classroom.

Thank you for writing such an insightful book, a book that challenged the norm and made us pre-teachers think “outside the box.”

Your book has taught me so many ways to teach math effectively but, most importantly, how to love math.

I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed each page of your book. Not only did you share such powerful and influential messages, but you inspired me.

Thank you for writing this wonderful book and inspiring teachers to feel more confident in math! It was wonderful to have read this before going to teach first grade because I feel better prepared to teach math.

Add comment June 26th, 2017

Blogstitute 2017 Coming Soon!

Blogstitute 2017

Join us again this summer for our popular Blogstitute series starting July 11 and running through August 1. We will be posting twice a week and you will hear from the following authors:
Jennifer Allen (Becoming a Literacy Leader, Second Edition)
Vicki Meigs-Kahlenberg (The Author’s Apprentice)
Katrin Blamey and Katherine Beauchat (Starting Strong)
Kristin Ackerman and Jennifer McDonough (Conferring with Young Writers)
Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak (Still Learning to Read, Second Edition)
Ruth Culham (Dream Wakers)
Kathy Short (Teaching Globally)
Tracy Zager (Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had)

Sign up here to receive updates when a new post goes live and to be entered into our weekly book drawing!

We  hope to read your comments and questions on the blog and on Twitter: #blogstitute17

2 comments June 15th, 2017

The Your Turn Lesson

GOOD NEW Lynne & Diane

Diane and Lynne

The Your Turn lesson is a solid plan for instruction. Following the gradual release of responsibility model put forth by Lev Vygotsky, the sequence of instruction moves methodically and meaningfully from teacher control to student independence. (Lynne Dorfman)

In a recent post on her blog, Lynne Dorfman, coauthor of Mentor Texts (with Rose Cappelli), Grammar Matters (with Diane Dougherty), talks about how the “I Do, We Do, You Do” structure of Your Turn lessons supports students on their road to independence. Lynne and Diane regularly share bonus Your Turn lessons that you can put to use in your classroom right away:

Your Turn Lesson: The Colon

Your Turn Lesson: Using Transitions

Be sure to check their website regularly for new lessons, anecdotes from the classroom, and other tips and ideas for your teaching practice.

Add comment June 14th, 2017

Opportunities to learn with and from Stenhouse authors

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Some great opportunities this summer to meet and learn with Stenhouse authors:

  • Catch up with Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, Christopher Danielson, Jennifer McDonough, Julie Ramsay, Jessica Shumway, Janiel Wagstaff, Mark Weakland, and Rick Wormeli at the SDE National Conference in Las Vegas July 10-14. Select from various strands based on grade level from K-2, Differentiated Instruction, or Math and find your favorite Stenhouse books at the in conference bookstore. Register on the SDE website.
  • Stenhouse authors Ruth Culham, Franki Sibberson, Pete Lourie and David Somoza, Ruth Ayres, Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan, Lee Ann Spillane, and Debbie Miller will be at the All Write Institute in Indiana, June 22-24:
  • Register now for Debbie Diller’s Summer Institute in Houston, TX, July 14 & 15, focusing on “Growing Independent Readers, Writers, and Thinkers”:
  • Shawna Coppola, author of Renew! How to Become a Better—and More Authentic—Writing Teacher, will be teaching at the New Hampshire Literacy Institute summer program July 31-August 4 in Durham, NH. Her session is titled “Writing, Redefined: Honoring the Compositional Work of ALL Students.” She talks about her workshop a little bit in a recent post on the Stenhouse Blog.
    Click here to sign up.
  • Join hundreds of teachers across the country who are reading Tracy Zager’s new book Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had. The book study will continue through the summer on Voxer and Twitter.
  • Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris will be holding a six-week online class focusing on their book Who’s Doing the Work July 3-August 13. You can also catch them in person in Fergus Falls, MN on Friday, June 23:

Watch this space for new about our authors and signings during this year’s ILA conference!

Add comment June 12th, 2017

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

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