Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What I'm Reading Wedneday! - Reaching Struggling Readers

I have to admit.... Writers Workshop has been kicking my butt this year (and my students!).  Although we have followed the Calkins model of workshop for almost 10 years, we were using the mini-lessons provided by our ISD and supplementing with some of our favorite Teachers College authors.  This year, we began using the Units of Study for First Grade in order to better focus on the goals of the CCSS.  There is a set for each grade:
Link to Publisher & Resources
The expectations are REALLY high for my first graders.  One area that I've been struggling with is the assumptions that are made about what my class should already be doing.  Unfortunately, we do not have universal preschool in Michigan, so only about half of our in-coming kinders come in with that experience.  This trickles into first grade.  The gap is coming together, but it is a slow process at times.   Our kinder teachers are often starting with basic letter identification and student name recognition.  The bar is set high for those students who need to catch up.  They have been working harder than they have ever needed to.  Some are discouraged and need some serious motivation, in addition to the basic skills of writing.  The ranges of ability are very wide!  I'm close to our kinder teacher, so I knew that this was coming :(  I recently found this little gem in an effort to motivate my struggling littles: 

Amazon Link to Book

What I love about this whole series (there are others on many topics), is that they are all about 100 pages and they get TO THE POINT.  They are designed for teacher to use immediately in their classroom.

Here are some of my "a-ha" moments:
  • Childhood is one of the few times in our lives that we have to do things that we are not good at.
  • We need to share the emotions of the writing process in order to support the student,
  • Be on the lookout to be impressed by our students, especially the ones who do not feel very impressive.
  • Share the struggles of adult, published writers.  many will share this on their website/ blog.
  • Think about the physicality of writing (my hand hurts).
  • Resist the urge to give them a topic, but rather teach them where they can gather ideas for their writing.  Teach independence that will cross over in all types of writing.
  • Writing is one of the few times that students are never "done".  They still need that sense of closure and accomplishment.
There are MANY more, but it's best to just read the book your self :)

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I, too, am a Michigan teacher using our ISD's Units of Study in is TOUGH!!! Our school is nearly 60% free/reduced lunch, and while that is not an excuse, it certainly makes teaching challenging...I'm going to take a look at the book that you recommended. Thanks!