About this episode
Welcome to POPCAST, Episode 11! In this episode, Jeff and Travis welcome Whitney La Rocca, coauthor of Patterns of Power, to talk about the forthcoming Patterns of Wonder and how it can be used to build foundational skills for grades PreK–1.
Meet Jeff and Travis
For over thirty years, Jeff Anderson has inspired writers and teachers of grades K-8 with the power and joy of writing and grammar. He has written eight books for Stenhouse Publishers. He also writes middle-grade novels. Travis Leech is currently a middle school instructional coach in Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, TX. He has thirteen years of experience in education, including teaching middle school English Language Arts and as a gifted and talented specialist. Follow Jeff and Travis on Twitter.
Read the transcript
Jeff: Welcome to POPcast.
Travis: A Patterns of Power podcast.
Jeff: Discussing grammar in the context of the reading and writing connection.
Travis: I'm Travis Leech.
Jeff: And I'm Jeff Anderson.
Travis: And we're today's hosts for Episode 11.
Jeff: We're going to be talking with Ms. Whitney La Rocca about how the Patterns of Wonder is the same and different than the Patterns of Power. Now, you hear that Patterns of Wonder and you're wondering what that is. We're going to talk about that today, what the Patterns of Wonder is, and we're going to talk about how it can be a foundational skill for the kids in pre-K 1 and 2. So we're real excited to have Whitney here today.
Jeff: Thank you for coming, Whitney.
Whitney: Sure. And it's actually Pre-K 1... Pre-K and kindergarten 1.
Jeff: What did I leave out?
Jeff: I didn't mean to leave you out, kindergartners, I love you.
Whitney: It's really for emergent writers and so... We usually see emergent writing in pre-K, kindergarten, and even first grade, but we could see it in second grade as well. And even students who are entering our country, learning the language, they're in that emergent writing place as well. Right?
Jeff: Cool. Nice. We're so glad to have you here today. Emergent writers!
Whitney: I'm excited to be here.
Travis: I'd love to start by just asking you what got you interested in starting Patterns of Wonder?
Whitney: Well, with Patterns of Power, written for grades one through five, we had so many kindergarten teachers saying, "Well can we use this in kindergarten? Can we use this in kindergarten?" And so many kindergarten teachers were using Patterns of Power in kindergarten, but as a literacy coach and one who has this love for emergent writing and what students are doing to compose language before they're conventionally writing, Jeff and I just were talking, and I was saying, "There needs to be something different for emergent writing. Yes, we can still use a process that's very similar to Patterns of Power, but it needs to be developmentally appropriate for students who are not yet conventionally writing." And that's how Patterns of Wonder really came to be.
Jeff: Well the title, it's kind of a funny story... We had been calling POP for Patterns of Power. We'd call it POP like the POPCast. And when we originally were thinking of the K pop. The K Patterns of Power, we were calling it K-pop, but there are reasons why you may not want to call it that if you have teenage children.
Travis: That's pretty popular.
Jeff: It's already taken. Then all of a sudden I wanted it to be kapow. And the editor of this book, Terry Thompson, was "Well, what about Patterns of Wonder?" and I wrote Whitney right away. We were "Yes, this is it!" So it really just comes from wanting to have a really fun kapow.
Whitney: Well, if we think about children at age four and five and six, they're just so full of wonder and curiosity and we really want to just build on that wonder and curiosity and get them excited about what authors and illustrators do in their books and transfer that over to their own writing that they produce.
Jeff: While I worked on this book, Whitney was the lead author and she has a favorite quote she likes to throw back at me. So tell him what the quote is that I wrote...The control freak wrote.
Whitney: So I was writing the book, but of course Jeff was providing input throughout and there was one point where I got a text message from him that said, "You're the lead author so you decide" and I took a screenshot of that text message and I printed it out and hung it in my office. I was so excited.
Jeff: And you don't know when the control freak lets go, magic happens. So she's gone from, with a preposition to a coordinating conjunction to and, to lead author. So Whitney, we are so glad that you did this project today. You were the one for this emergent writer project.
Whitney: Well, I am honored to have taken on this project because my love is emergent writing and I definitely found this to be a passion project, for sure, as I continued my research into what young writers are doing and just composing their language in general.
Whitney: How are they orally sharing their stories when they just have scribbles on the page? I was excited to see how we can tie our Patterns of Power process into this work as well.
Travis: Oh yeah. So we have listeners who are probably quite familiar with Patterns of Power. So just to talk about the similarities and differences with Patterns of Power and Patterns of Wonder, let's first start off talking about how are these two books and processes alike.
Whitney: So they both follow this process of taking a mentor and looking at it and having conversation around it. The difference is we're wondering about what authors and illustrators are doing rather than simply noticing. And I don't want to say simply because there's so much there when we notice as well. We're still building wonder and curiosity around our noticings. And I found when I do this with young children, their wonderings turn into noticings anyway, so that ties very nicely.
Jeff: But I love how it's like, the question is so different. It's just, "What do you wonder?" Cause they have all this wonder in the world. Everything is new, everything is interesting and exciting. And we make it about that instead of a grammar rule, or this is something you have to do. This is something you can explore. And as you always say, what's the subtitle of the book, Patters of Wonder?
Whitney: That's what I was going to bring up, I'm so excited. So it's "Inviting Emergent Writers to Play with the Conventions of Language."
Jeff: Play, play, play.
Whitney: What I love about it is Patterns of Wonder builds on... We take the playfulness that we already have in Patterns of Power around language and bring that into developmentally appropriate way of play with our youngest writers, our emergent writers. And we build on the play that they're doing in our classrooms and they're in their centers and their dramatic play in their conversations just in general, but they have lots of movement and just ways to play around with taking those risks without worrying about right or wrong.
Travis: I love... We need so much permission to play in school, right? That this is a great opportunity to do it.
Jeff: It's safe, it's social, it's constructivism. It's all the good things that are happening in the classroom. It's not... It's weird cause it's counterintuitive because in a way you're just throwing them into it. But in another way, you're very careful and orchestrated about how you just-
Whitney: It's extremely intentional.
Jeff: These experiences and these conversations...So I hear one of the ways they're really alike is there's a thread of conversation throughout the entire process.
Whitney: There is. And we have the compare and contrast as well as the second step in the process-
Jeff: But it looks different, doesn't it?
Whitney: It does. Rather than pulling a sentence from tests that we do in Patterns of Power, we're actually looking at picture books. So we are looking at the illustrations in the picture books as well as the words. And so it's a bigger view because our emergent writers are not necessarily writing words yet that we can read that we can understand what they're saying. And so we're making meaning from both the pictures and the words. And so how, what have the authors and illustrators done here to help us make meaning that they can turn around and do in their own writing? So the compare contrast is also using pictures and words. So it might be a teacher created piece of writing that has a picture, you know, with some labels or a picture with a sentence, or it's another page from either the book that we're using or another book.
Whitney: So, and then I think probably one of the biggest differences between the two is Patterns of Power is... We use the standards to kind of organize the entire book.
Travis: Oh sure.
Whitney: Well, in Patterns of Wonder, we're bringing in standards, but we're also bringing in concepts about print and we have threads of standards to where we organized it based on the phases of writing. And I believe our next episode is going to be about these developmental phases of writing and how we've organized Patterns of Wonder. So it's organized differently than Patterns of Power, the book itself, but the process is essentially the same.
Jeff: So the developmentally appropriate part of this is partly because it's organized around the phases rather than just the study?
Whitney: Right. So if we have students who are scribbling on their paper to make meaning we have lessons that are designed for those writers, or if we have writers who are stringing letters together, we have lessons that are more specific to those writers. So it's definitely based differently on where they are with their writing processes as they're moving into conventional writing.
Whitney: And we still have the invitation to imitate as we do in Patterns of Power. And then the biggest difference is we then move into some time for play. So, the fourth step of the process...This is my favorite step.
Travis: Would this would be parallel to the invitation to apply?
Whitney: It's very much like Apply, but it's before the Celebrate. So we imitate together. We have some time to try it out together and then we just move it into play. So we might turn around and do some imitations together. I mean independently or with partners, we might put this into some centers. If we do centers in our room, have them do some movement, have them do some other kind of generating of writing and depending on what it is with concepts about print, learning or letters and, and finding the different punctuation marks in books around the room, we have a lot of different ideas for play for that step. So we want that play to go across a few days to give them some time to just play around and see how it works with them as they create more writing. And then we end our process with celebrate. So it's a shorter process, but we still recommend that two weeks to give them plenty of time to play.
Jeff: Could you go over the steps of the process again in order?
Whitney: Sure. Yes, so we have the Invitation to Wonder.
Jeff: Which is like the Invitation to Notice
Whitney: So we put up the page from the book or a page spread from the book rather than-
Jeff: So it's larger? Yeah. And they talk about pictures and do you provide pictures in the book that they can actually display?
Whitney: In the resource book we actually do. When we were able to use interior spreads, most of the publishers gave us permission to put those interior spreads into the Patterns of Power resource. So if you don't have the picture book, you will have the resource book. So-
Jeff: You mean you can put it under your document camera and you've got a full... Did you make it a full page in the book? Please tell me it's going to be rebound. I know the answer.
Whitney: Yes, just like Patterns of Power, spiral-bound very simple. And there's even some that are designed where the teacher can design it or it's designed for you to use as well for the compare contrast. So Invitation to Wonder, Invitation to Compare and Contrast-
Jeff: Same but different in the way that we do it.
Whitney: Yes, Invitation to Imitate together. We have the imitate together.
Jeff: So it's a little more teacher-led so that there's more scaffolding for the kids because they may or may not be at that stage yet.
Whitney: Right. Either through shared writing or interactive writing and then Invitation to Play for a few days and then come back together to celebrate something they did during that play.
Jeff: Oh. So they get to come back and celebrate something they did during the play? That's really exciting.
Whitney: So celebrating the play, we're celebrating their tries, what they were able to produce and compose, whether that's through pictures or words or both in the celebration.
Whitney: And then we can always put it back into the play and let that linger a little longer as well. It doesn't mean that when the celebration is over the lesson itself is over and we're done moving on.
Jeff: Do you have to, do you have to let it linger?
Whitney: You don't have to, but I have a feeling I have... A lot of teachers will just put it back into their centers is even they start something new so it can continue to spiral and work with them.
Jeff: Wow, Cranberries.
Travis: Yeah, that was a good throwback. Thank you. Do we know when this wonderful title is coming out into the world?
Jeff: Oh, that's such a good question.
Whitney: Well, we know it's in the fall.
Jeff: Okay. The fall of what?
Whitney: 2021. So it is this fall. Yes, it is this fall. We are hoping for October. So we'll see. It could be November just depending on how the publishing goes with all of that. So production there's a lot of steps a book has to go through in production.
Jeff: There's actually some stuff now where sometimes things are a little behind because of COVID and other things. But we have to do that spiral-bound, which takes a little longer too, but you want a spiral-bound and there should be some pre-order up late in the summer on Stenhouse.com, that's -
Travis: Oh, that is S-T-E-N-H-O-U-S-E.com.
Jeff: Thank you for sponsoring us, Stenhouse publishers.
Whitney: I actually had another thought too. Well, the focus phrase, focus phrase... We do have focus phrases and Patterns of Wonder as well, but they are also scaffolded depending on the phase of writing that we're working in. So if we are...We're going to learn more about phases of writing, but for the scribbles phase, we're going to use words like instead of IUs, it's I tell, right? Because we're going to focus a lot on oral language in the scribbles space. So that is something I do love about patterns of wonder is the focus on illustrations, but a high focus on oral language and building that oral language where we can still teach about nouns and adjectives and all the fun grammar things without using the terms through oral language and inviting students to use these things in their oral language as a precursor to the written word.
Jeff: And as Whitney mentioned, this is going to be our next show in two weeks on the language development and what emergent writers need and that scaffold and the phases. It's going to be really interesting. What's going on Travis?
Travis: That's the music, I think. We've already gotten to the end of this episode. Thanks so much for being with us today.
Whitney: Sure thing. Have happy to be here. I love you guys. I love Patterns of Power and now this podcast just makes it even more fun.
Jeff: Well, we're glad to have Patterns of Wonder as part of the Patterns of Power family for K through 12 solutions.
Travis: And we'll continue chatting with Whitney in our next episode. So we hope to see you then.
Jeff: Thanks for listening.
Whitney: Thank you.