I need to write this post to consolidate the immense amount of learning I have done & process it from my point of view & my place in my teaching, so I can use it next year. I'm thinking of this post as my handful of knowledge from Boothbay, which focuses on the importance of Voice & Choice to Create Engagement. Here's what I took away from these five inspirational teachers.
Literacy - Allowing People To Communicate Their Story
My take on that is that literacy allows people the POWER to communicate their story with many. By validating our students stories and experiences and connecting them to their reading and writing. It can provide students with a chance to reflect on their lives, what's important and has meaning for them.
With that power, of exploring interests, information, and developing ideas comes the PRIVLEGE of empowering students to share their learning in a responsible way. Allowing students to share what they've learned with a wider community is empowering. Who isn't excited when their blog post actually gets a comment? With the availibity of internet people can access and share information like never before. We must keep in mind all that that entails though. Can you say Digital Citizenship?
Soon I'll post an example of a student made video which made a change. Mars actually called the school to ask them to take down the video, but they didn't because they had secured all permissions. Due to the video 22% of all universities in the States now only carry Free Trade Chocolate & Coffee! Power!
We need to allow students to explore areas of their choice & discover the change they can make. Inquiry projects can be a big part of that. Add a final aspect of a video consolidating what they've learned with a call to action, if it applies.
Make sure all Digital Literacy aspects are covered in project so that students can publish their work responsibly.
Also work with parents to allow students to publish in video format or blog format that allows their voices to be shared outside of a closed classroom community, teaching good online citizenship along the way!
Follow Kylene Beers' blog! Smart lady who shares a lot of good resources & makes you think!
Lester L. Laminack
Nobody tells a story like Lester and I've already ordered the books he read to us. I will never read them without hearing his southern intonations and remembering the joy I felt being read to. I can only hope some of this passes through me to my students!
Every year I think of a theme for the library & the school. I was already thinking of Get Lost, but when Lester said it that first night, my body jolted in recognition & locked that theme in place. I want the students in my school to get lost in books that speak to them, to follow ideas that interest them leading them on a journey of learning throughout their lives. I want them to find stories, ideas and people to inspire them, so they can inspire too! That's not asking too much is it?
"Sometimes we need to finish a book...close it...and say, "Wow!"
Allow students to sit with the story. "Come back to it the next day & let the students have insights."
" If a book does not have the potential to revisit, don't read it!"
Build Reading Stamina
Our students need to read more. If we are going to send our students into colleges and universities, so they can achieve their goals, they need to read. Why? They need to build the stamina to be able to read the amount asked of them and not fall so far behind the reading expectations that they drop out. That means our programs need to allow independent choice reading. If we aren't working to provide them with the time to read and exposing them to materials that interest them, who will? If they can't build skills with books they like and choose, how will they ever build these skills with books they are assigned.
I have seen this quote a few times, but it clearly shows the impact of regular reading:
Continue integrating Independent Reading into their program & help them find books they love & set and meet goals to create growth
Explore the Resources section of Penny Kittle's website to find different activities for the Grade 7 level which could support my program, like the Storyboard Anaylsis assignment found in Penny's Readers Workshop Handout. This also helps with my goal of adding more 'drawing as thinking' into my program.
Bob Probst (With Kylene Beers)
Student Ownership Builds Competence
Their focus was that students need to be able to talk through their own reactions to a piece & be given the tools so they can discover the meaning for themselves. This is what we truly want. We want to give our students tools so they can discover the meaning in a piece. We don't want them to think they need us in their back pockets with them.
This is another step on my journey through Accountable Talk which I first heard of last year at #nErDcampMI through Carmel McDonald, and I explored with Ariel Sack's book, Whole Novels. We need to teach the process of talk and discussion as much as we teach reading and writing. This is an area which creates a stronger learning community. It allows them to find support through their peer group, who will travel with them through grades, rather than being teacher dependent. By allowing students to examine their reactions, discuss and build upon their ideas with peers we are enabling students to become independent learners.
Bob & Kylene worked out a simple question to begin this process when students are given a piece of work to analyze. Students read and then look for what surprised you in any text they are reading. I love this phrase as it provides ownership for students. It shows that the teacher trusts they will make interesting observations. It gives the students a chance to explore their reactions, listening to each other to build ideas and concepts. Kylene calls this 'confidence before competence.'
Bob has extended this idea with his exploration of how students interact with text. We were sent off with a little booklet & told to us it to discuss a text. There were 12 pages. We were to discuss the question on the first page and when we were finished with that discussion move on to the next page, never flipping ahead. We didn't get past the second question. Was our discussion meaningful? Were we on topic? Is that what we want for our students? Answers to all those questions are "Yes!" Read Bob's article, Dialogue With a Text, and use his Dialogue Booklet to help structure discussions with your students. I know I will.
Allow students to follow the path their minds lead them to in the exploration of a topic, work with them to develop it and try to publish their findings in a forum that allows their voice to be heard & recognized.
2) Inquiry Projects
3)Op-Ed pieces in response to books,
All can explore a point students connected to & developed through conversation, drawing, personal experiences and references back to the text.
Print off Bob's Dialogue Booklet and use it with a variety of pieces this year to refine students ability to develop their own ideas. Use it in Social Justice unit & with Short Story Lit Circles in the beginning of the year. Provide them with repeated use of the booklet throughout the year, so it is a tool embedded in their response system
Buy Reading Non-Fiction: Notice & Note Signposts & Questions when it comes out in October. Maybe even pre-order now!
Drawing As Thinking
I like writing. I always have...even if it was messy, but not all my students do. Especially my boys and some girls too! I do find that a number of those students who don't write do like to draw and they draw a lot better than I do. They even put time and effort into it, unlike their writing.
I need to integrate more drawing into my program to engage these students...and for other reasons too. Linda categorizes drawing into two different categories: Drawing as Performance & Drawing as Thinking. I have very little to share with drawing as performance, but I can certainly provide more opportunities for drawing as thinking.
I've already integrated many of Linda's basic concepts into my program, based on her book Read Write Teach, but I feel I need more. I want my students to write more and reflect more. I also want them to slow down and observe more. I believe integrating drawing into my program will allow that.
One morning Linda took us through an exercise she does with her students. We outlined the shape of shells she had put on our tables & we played with water colours. She sent us out to find leaves or plants to draw as well, and my drawings were fine, nothing compared to some of the beautiful examples in the room, but they weren't bad & I knew my students would do an even better job.
Something interesting happened when I tried drawing without the object in front of me. I couldn't get the shape, but sitting and focusing, helped me. Linda says that drawing slows us down and makes us notice what we speed through. I saw that. It's a skill in itself, but I want to connect that aspect of drawing to their writing too. I'm hoping that by allowing them to draw it will develop that thinking and noticing aspect in their brain so they can explore and see the world around them a little more clearly. I'm hoping astpects of that thought process will filter into their writing. This is an experiment for next year!
Follow Linda's guidelines & assign a number of pages written with drawings (or not) per week to reinforce that you must reflect a lot to find your good writing and ideas.
Integrate drawing aspects into more written assignments.
Use storyboarding when planning a piece of writing by writing on cue cards.