Thinking about Theme Pays Off

Mar 6, 2013 by

Last week I started thinking more about theme after spending time in a 2nd grade reading workshop.  In my previous post I shared a helpful video clip that helped me think about teaching this abstract concept to young readers.  Well, that thinking paid off yesterday when I was hanging out in a 6th grade writing workshop.  The students were in the middle of a unit on literary essay.  They were writing a practice essay about the short story “Papa’s Parrot” from Cynthia Rylant’s Every Living Thing.  This is a story about a boy named Harry who was once very close to his father, but as he approached adolescence, began drifting away from his father to spend more time with his friends.  When his father bought a parrot and began talking to it, Harry became...

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Share Your Reading Life

Mar 9, 2012 by

Are you an avid reader?  Many teachers are.  Some of us grew up with books and others became lifelong readers later in life.  If you are one of these people, do you use this to its fullest advantage as a literacy teacher?  If not, I encourage you to start!  When we share our reading lives with students we can: become reading role models for them model our own reading processes connect with our students as human beings, not just as teacher-student draw on our own experiences and use that information to teach during mini-lessons and individual conferences get kids excited about reading and the list could go on… This past week I’ve had two opportunities to share my reading life with some fourth-graders.  Their class just formed historical fiction book clubs.  On their first...

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Physical Therapists and Conferring...

Mar 5, 2012 by

I’ve been thinking a lot about conferring again.  I’ve recently read a couple of books on the topic and have decided it is an area I want to focus on for the rest of this school year.  Several posts ago I shared my epiphany about how much the daily work of a teacher is like that of a doctor in Doctors and Conferring.  Today…more thoughts on this topic.  My doctor ended up sending me to a physical therapist.  While having my neck manipulated by the PT, I told her I was going to write this blog about her.  She was sharing with me how much she loves the work she does and how her philosophy of treating patients has changed over the years.  She said, “I used to prescribe a pre-determined plan for my...

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Do Conferring Notes Really Matter?...

Dec 2, 2011 by

I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked this question.  Teachers who ask this are not questioning the value of conferring itself, just the notetaking that comes during/after the conference. Typical reasons I hear against notetaking: “If I spend time writing notes, I end up conferring with fewer students.” “I don’t know which is the right form to use or the right way to do it.” Even before I was immersed in workshop teaching, I always believed that it was important to keep anecdotal notes on my students.  That doesn’t mean I was good at it, but I did do it.  I am here to tell you that there is not one right form or method, but I do believe that notetaking is a non-negotiable.  Here are a few of my...

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This Seals the Deal!

Oct 17, 2011 by

I will continue to add to the series of blog posts on the importance of student choice in writing, but today I feel compelled to share on the topic of technology in the classroom. Recently I have been thinking seriously about purchasing an iPad.  It started about a year ago when a friend showed me her new toy.  With her new iPad she had constant access to her Kindle, her e-mail and Facebook, her to-do lists, and more.  I thought that was pretty neat but just couldn’t justify purchasing a new device when I already had a Smartphone that could do most of what she showed me.  But I still thought it was pretty cool! This school year, as I have attended many meetings, I have often found myself in the minority (sometimes the...

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Conferring Toolkit

Nov 12, 2010 by

Has the following ever happened to you?  You are conferring with a writer in your classroom.  You do your research by asking, “How’s it going?  What are you working on as a writer today?”  You pinpoint a teaching point that you would like to teach this writer.  Then you go blank.  You’re not sure how to teach it off the top of your head.  You know there must be a good mentor text you could use to demonstrate your teaching point, but you can’t put your hands on it at the moment or you don’t even have a title in mind.  So you make some half-hearted attempt to teach or you cop out all together and say, “Good job, keep working, thanks for sharing your writing with me today.”  A wonderful teaching opportunity is...

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