Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Finding the Right Track with Reading

I have written about my concerns about how there has been a shift in the focus for instruction in reading. I am not going down that path again, so I am going to take you on my journey on how I am trying to shift my thinking.  

Whenever I am confused, disgruntled, or just searching I typically find my answers on twitter or blogs.  For me the digital world is an amazing learning ground because there are so many different perspectives. I love that about connecting with others.  I read blogs and think how can I apply that?  I read a tweet and bookmark it for a future unit.  I participate in #5thchat on Tuesdays (the BEST) chat in my opinion and walk away after an hour feeling like I have been to a conference.  Back to my shift.....

Learning With Joy What's Important? An Annotation Intervention
Either 1. a whole lotta nothing underlined or 2. a whole lotta everything underlined.  When I mentioned my observation, I asked how people know what to underline or highlight in a text: "You underline what's important, Mrs. Taylor."  I was reminded the importance of slowing down and helping students remember what to highlight. In our class we call it (HH = highlighter happy).  

A Year of Reading Visuals in Non-Fiction Here are pictures of our hallway display and some of the students' work. They had a lot of fun with this. As you see, they could use their life and their interests. I'm hoping that when we do more nonfiction writing, they remember that they don't need to do research to write nonfiction!  I was reminded the importance of allowing students to create their own display to show understanding and most of all allow time for fun.

A Teaching Life Slice of Life: Thanksgiving Togetherness As we move from one period to the next, his mood does not lift.  Concerned, because he is usually a rambunctious sort of kid, I catch him on his way out the door to lunch.  Normally, he is the first bounding out of the door, but today he moves reluctantly.John, I ask, is everything alright?  He pauses, thinks, and, just as I prepare to hear of some terrible news, he says, I guess I just miss the Thanksgiving togetherness.  I was reminded the importance of taking time to read my students faces, notice when they are not so rambunctious and most of all ask, is everything alright?

Thinking Stems OLW: Listening When Planning Small Group Instruction Over and over again, you see "Behaviors to NOTICE, TEACH, AND SUPPORT" written on almost every page.  It took me to January of this year to make the connection to my recording tool.  It is simple.  I write NOTICE, TEACH, SUPPORT at the top.  Then, six boxes to record student information.  I do not plan out the week.  I plan out the day.  This form encourages me at the end of each reading group to reflect and reminds me that what I notice is important.  I was reminded to slow down and not plan the week ahead. To take time to notice my students, plan (teach) appropriate lessons and then support their learning.  

A Year of Reading  Classroom Charts  love the story our classroom charts tell at this time of year.  I looked around the room today and loved looking at the evidence of the conversations and learning that have started our year.   I was reminded even when the schedule gets too full and I need to save time don't lose the time to develop anchor charts.  The conversations and the time spent is crucial to introduce the new focus but also to learn about where my students are as learners.

There seems to be a pattern in the blogs that I look back and reflect on.  Remembering to slow down, observe my students as readers, and remember they are 10 years old.  


  1. Maria,
    I've been thinking so much about that shift too. With the new teacher evaluation system looming ahead of us and the emphasis on test scores, it's so easy to fall into the dismal abyss. However, like you, I am trying very hard to stay focused on what is important...slowing down, doing what I know is best for kids, and giving them time. I love your post and there a couple that I have not read, so I'm going to take some time today to read them. Thanks for sharing. Julie

  2. Ooh a couple new blogs to follow- love it :)

    Love this line, too: "observe my students as readers" ... I feel like, for the most part, I've gotten down the writer's workshop mantra of "teach the writer, not the writing," but sometimes I find myself slipping into teaching the reading, not the reader. I bet we'd be able to trade disgruntled woes about that one ;)

    This is a huge challenge for me right now, as we're tackling our shared text, The Outsiders. I just have to keep telling myself that my goal is to move every reader forward, and it's unimportant (maybe even ineffective) whether his/her work with the text looks the same as his/her neighbor's work. Thank you for the reminder!

  3. Oh, I love this...I was feeling so tired today, it's dark and I still have so many memoir drafts to read and comment on, so many reading journals to respond to...but. You are right - our instruction is so much more than just instruction- and it's all that other stuff that makes it rich and worthwhile. Thanks, Maria!

  4. Thank you Julia, Gretchen and Tara for your comments. So many times I write my blog post for "therapy" and when I read comments I am so thankful for the positive words of support and my blogging community.

  5. I love this post. Thank you for slowing down enough to show us how you gather information from lots of sources to inform your teaching!

    (Proud that my NF visuals post is one of your picks! On Friday, I granted myself permission to let the students paint with watercolors as a part of Poetry Friday. The NF visuals are down and poetry will be going up next week!)