Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday- First Grade Readers

This week I didn't get to my new books, but was focusing on one that I read last summer.  I read books MANY times!  Each time, I highlight in a different color.  It's amazing what new gems you can find with a second, third, or even fourth read.  Many times, my view changes with what I am experiencing with the particular class (or my frame of mind!).

I've been looking toward next year and what I can do differently... I pulled a favorite to help with my first month of teaching Readers Workshop for the fall.

I really liked the conversational writing style that Parsons uses in her writing.  I felt like she is right there with me at Starbucks brainstorming lessons.  She really understands the mind and development of a first grade student, along with the expectations that we have for them.

Each unit has a set of goals and desired outcomes that she has set for her students (and mine!) in these four areas:
  • making meaning
  • decoding
  • habits
  • community
Stephanie starts out by envisioning what her community of readers will be like each day- setting up a culture of readers with ideal conditions in the first chapter (Becoming a Community of Readers).  This is a perfect compliment to Kathy Collins' work and the Sisters' Daily 5 routines.  It's all about going slow in order to get routine, so you can move faster later (focusing on learning, rather than behavior).

My favorite concept from the book is "reading wide-awake" for comprehension (in Reading with a Wide-Awake Mind).  I just have to share this part... so eloquent!

"The magic is not in the book, no matter how good a book it is, and it is not in my head.  The magic of reading happens somewhere between these two places, and feels to me like a current flowing in both directions.  The thoughts, experiences, feelings, responses, and ideas that I bring to what I read are just as important as what is inside the book." (Parsons, 71)

Here are the other units of study:
  • Making Sense of Those Little Black Marks
  • Bringing Books to Life
  • Reading to Learn
  • Sounding Like Readers
  • Planning for Independence and Summer Reading
I hope you love Stephanie's work as much as I do!

Do you have a book you'd like me to review or was wondering about before purchasing?  Leave me a note and I'll try to help!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday- About the Authors

I will start by saying that I am a "workshop teacher" for reading and writing.  I follow the format originally published by Lucy Calkins out of New York and is now a HUGE movement across the country.  The premise is teaching the writer, not the writing (my big a-ha moment!).  We treat children writers as authors and guide them through the process that a published adult writer uses in their work. The format looks like this:
  • Mini-lesson (10 minutes in first grade)
  • Individual writing time (gradually increases with student stamina, up to 35-40 minutes in first grade)
  • Partnerships (after thoroughly modeled) if desired- some teachers do not, but I do :)
  • Share Out (about 5-10 minutes) to highlight a student who is using the teaching point in their writing
After reading The Art of Teaching Writing years ago, I was looking for a more day to day model to specifically address our youngest authors.  This year I read About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray. 


I completely devoured the book, writing and highlighting all over it!

The book is divided into three sections:
  • Building a Strong Foundation
  • Understanding the Teaching
  • An Overview of Units of Study

Throughout the book, there are actual student samples that illustrate the conference that the teachers were having with their students.  I always love looking at another class' work! 

Here are a few other BIG IDEAS that hit me while reading:
  • "If we told students what to do all day long, we'd be teaching them to think of themselves as people who should wait to be told what to do." (Wood Ray, 19)
  • We need to teach students how to manage their work by time and not by a task (keep writing/ working until time is up).
  • Make share time as a reinforcement opportunity by having a student show "something smart" that they tried (writer's moves).
  • Setting expectations for when a child may move on to a new piece of writing.
  • Set up a class library with copies of students' published works.  Continue to celebrate the authors in the room. 
  • Use an "immersion phase" to discover and examine mentor authors' work.  Read a book as a reader, then as a writer.  What do we notice?
  • Create anchor charts that will develop the writers' independence, as a class (not decorate the wall for the entire year).
  • Words matter!  Use precise language and choose mentor texts wisely in order to get the most bang for your buck (time to teach/ learn).
  • "... our most important goal for children at the end of first grade is that they will come to see writing as a continuous process of decision making." (Ray, 120)
  • Confer, confer, confer!
    • Keep detailed notes of conferences in order to learn what needs to be taught next or for strategy groups.
    • Research the child's work (What are the doing successfully?  What are they just now ready to do nextWhat do they say they are working on or struggling with?)
    • Teach students to be articulate about their work and have meaningful conversations (Tell me about what you are working on.). 
Okay, that is ALL I am going to tell you... you need to go out and get this book.  Beg, borrow, but please do not steal :) 

Come back and tell me if you enjoyed it as much as I did!