SWI Class and Coronation

Just finished taking another amazing 5-session Structured Word Inquiry class via Zoom- this time with Dr. Pete Bowers!  I learned so much more about Structured Word Investigations (SWI), especially deepening my understanding of etymological resources, associated bases and “spelling out loud.”  Dr. Bowers, or Pete, as everyone calls him, developed Structured Word Inquiry (2010, with Kirby) and I highly recommend his online course.  He so generously shares his knowledge, resources and practical classroom applications.  You can email Pete Bowers at peterbowers1@me.com for information about his online classes.  His website is a constant source of inspiration, as well!

One of the guiding principles of SWI is to “start where you are.”  That means that I am always going to just try to do my best when investigating words with my current understandings and encourage others to do the same.  So, yesterday, I met a good friend and she was curious about the word <coronation>.  We investigated this word using the 4 questions.  When we explored the historical relatives, we learned that the etymological root of the word <coronation> is related to the Greek korōnē  meaning “curved.”  

How interesting to connect this historical root to the related Latin corona meaning “wreath, garland” and our understanding of not only <coronation> but etymologically related words like <crown>, <coronary>, <corollary>, <crow-bar> and <raven>!  (Source: Etymology Online by Doug Harper)

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Update:  There is a mistake in the matrix suffixing above!  Can you find it?

Update 2:  The base must be <corone>. Do you know why?

Thanks to Pete Bowers for his continuing guidance and scholarship!  See the link at the bottom where I use the mistakes to deepen my knowledge of SWI.  After rethinking my suffixing and then my understanding of the base and suffixing rules, here is the updated matrix.  “Writing out loud” while referring to the suffixing flow chart was key and I will make sure to implement this practice going forward.

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Update:  I realized that I left <corona> off the matrix above!  Below is the updated matrix!

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I could understand that <coronary> comes from the fact that the heart looks like a curved wreath and perhaps <coroner> comes from the doctor who investigates a heart-stopping death but I wasn’t really understanding the connection to <corollary>- an adjacent circle of thought, maybe?  Imagine my delight when I remembered that I have Word Stems: A Dictionary by John Kennedy on my shelf and found this lovely entry for <coron>:

Coron-crown; cornnation (a crowning), coronal (a crown-like top), cornet(a little crown worn by a duke), corner( a crown officer who inquires after the cause of sudden or violent death), cornice (the crowning part of an entablature, or architectural ornament), cor(on)olli (the little flower crown), cor(or)ollary ( gratuitous statement, thrown in like a garland or crown. L. corona

I am so happy that I had the time to puzzle over the connections before remembering about this resource.  I love Structured Word Inquiries because there is such a sense of joy when something new is learned!  Finally, I am able to show my students that written language makes perfect sense!  I am able to invite them to join me on this learning voyage. I love Howard Rosen’s quote, “”Every child has a story to tell.  The question is will they tell it to you?”  Perhaps we can paraphrase that a bit:  “Every word has a story to tell.  The question is will it tell it to you?”  Looking forward to finding the story behind so many words together!

Here is my complete investigation into <coronation>, including some suggested classroom activities.  I am working on a HyperDoc SWI template and would love feedback!  Let me know if there are words that you would like to investigate!

 

 

 

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Family Mystery Reading Nights

One of the most enjoyable home/school literacy celebrations are Family Reading Nights.  Family Reading Nights are organized around a theme or genre, such as “Mystery.”  Our over-arching goal was to cultivate a positive attitude toward reading.  For each individual Family Reading Night, we would also have more specific goals.  For example, for Family Mystery Night, our goal was to introduce students and their families to the elements of a mystery and to share the names of mystery books and series that students in Grades 3-5 might enjoy.

Every Family Reading Night followed the same general schedule as below, except that we didn’t play a games as usual due to the logistics of setting up the mystery..  Here is that schedule that I updated for 2018!  Enjoy!  Here are some pictures from our last Mystery Family Reading Night!

1.      Notify Families Flyer sent home or posted on social media with dates and sign-up info.  We would need a response by a certain date so could have sufficient supplies.
Schedule of Mystery Reading Night Teachers are dressed as detectives.
1﷐  Cafeteria Families would meet in cafeteria.  Teachers would read mystery poems.  Reading Specialist would talk about mystery genre and do several book talks on recommended mystery book series.  Invention of Hugo Cabret” or “The Mysterious Benedict Society” for families looking for read-aloud recommendations
2.      Introduce Mystery Activity

You may want to provide students with props, such as magnifying glasses etc.

The Librarian had purchased a commercial mystery game for groups in 2011.  (If I was doing it now, I may choose a BREAKOUT-EDU or “Escape the Room” activity.)  Librarian explains how families will view an introductory video and then go to different classrooms to gather clues to solve the mystery.
3.     Families visit 6 classrooms in small groups and collect clues, according to a schedule which includes a cafeteria visit for a snack, The principal would sound a bell every 10 minutes so that groups would know when to move to the next classroom.  Teachers would be stationed in each classroom and the cafeteria to assist.
4.      Cafeteria After families have collected all clues, everyone meets back in the cafeteria to discuss/share their solutions to the mystery
5.      Farewell Families receive a list of mystery books, a take-home mystery book and a small gift (ours was a mustache and sunglasses.)

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Response to the the 10/26/18 New York Time article, “Why are We Still Teaching Reading the Wrong Way?”

Response to the the 10/26/18 New York Time article, Why are We Still Teaching Reading the Wrong Way?”and Hard Words: Why Aren’t Kids Being Taught to Read?(APM Reports)

Teaching students about the connection between oral and written language is one of several critical components of reading instruction.  Students in Grades K-2 need to receive systematic and explicit instruction, whether analytic. synthetic or other phonic program, in the graphemes (letter or letter teams) that represent the 44 phonemes or sounds of the English language.  Some students may learn to read without this direct instruction but approximately a third of students will not.  Therefore, systematic and explicit instruction needs to be a part of every K-2 core curriculum.  There also needs to be frequent assessments, both formal and informal, that monitor progress so that instruction may be responsive to student needs during these critical grades.

As a Reading Specialist who has years of experience teaching students to read, the question is not if phonics should be taught but how.  How should phonics be taught in the classroom?   In the NY Times article, the answer to “how” seems to be Dr. Lousa Moats’ LETRS program.

I think such programs can be helpful, especially if teachers and administrators do not have a deep understanding of how to teach reading but nothing replaces a teacher’s deep understanding of how written and oral language works together.

We must also keep in mind that teaching reading can be big business for those companies that make money off of pre-packaged programs and teacher training, such as LETRS and Wilson.  A thoughtful, experienced and knowledgeable teacher will always be able to adapt whatever materials or curriculum in order to personalize instruction to meet student needs.

A knowledgeable teacher could design their own phonics/spelling scope and sequence based on decoding and spelling errors in the classroom. There is also promising research around an approach called Structured Word Inquiry (SWI, Bowers & Kirby, 2010) that layers meaning (morphology) and history (etymology) onto the teaching of the traditional sound/symbol relationships.  SWI rejects the common notion of irregular spellings and sight words and argues that English spelling makes perfect sense.  It also rejects the term “phonics”, preferring to use the more linguistically correct term, “orthographic phonology.” Structured Word Inquiry teaches orthographic phonology – which is the grapheme/phoneme correspondences- but also teaches the “why.”  Why is there a <w> in two?  Why is there not a <tion> suffix?  Hint: act + ion —> action  Why is there a <g>in <sign>.  The answers to these questions emerge through inquiry and the inter-relationship of orthographic phonology, morphology and etymology.

Although impactful evidence for systematic phonics instruction above Grade 2 has not been shown, common sense indicates that instruction continue to be provided in phonics or orthographic phonology, if you are a SWI disciple, as indicated by student assessment (spelling and/or decoding errors).

I would maintain that Structured Word Inquiry could be seen as “systematic and explicit” at all grades.  First, I would administer benchmark assessments to determine reading, decoding and spelling abilities. Since it uses an inquiry approach, I would, as the teacher, “map” what has been taught based on student or teacher inquiry in my plan book or on my living curriculum map.  I would like to develop a digital Structured Word Inquiry curriculum map that gives an overview of what is taught through SWI and that I could attach matrixes, class charts and student work (spelling out loud videos, pre-post writing and spelling samples that demonstrate the teaching and learning.)  Also, it would be helpful to develop case studies of student progress within a SWI framework.

What is to be commended from the article and the documentary is that an educational community came together to better meet the needs of the students learning to read.  Taking time to focus on improving reading outcomes for students through thoughtful inquiry and study is extremely important and should be a hallmark of every school community and teacher preparation program. I can’t agree about some of the claims made about the role of phonics in balanced literacy or the best approach to teaching phonics but we can all agree that sound/symbol relationships must be explicitly taught and that we should work together in our educational communities to thoughtfully inquire, research and update our practice so that we may best teach ALL students how to read.

Structured Word Inquiry: Adding Meaning and History to Phonics Instruction

“Structured Word Inquiry”, developed by Peter Bowers and John Kirby (2010), adds layers of meaning, history and critical thinking to traditional phonics and spelling instruction. It’s also a protocol for deep understanding of content area vocabulary.  Done well, it allows teachers and students to uncover the stories behind words by understanding the history of the word and how spelling and meaning has changed through time.

 

SWI starts with a hypothesis.  It takes any word or words and begins to explore by asking 4 questions:  (from Teaching How the Written Word Worksby Peter Bowers)

 

Stuck on a Spelling?

Investigate with these questions…

  1. What does the word mean?
  2. How is it built? (Build word sums.  Can you peel off any affixes?  Refer to suffixing flow charts for suffixing changes.)
  1. What other related words can you think of? Morphological Links: Use the Word Searcher to find word connected by the base. Etymological links: Look up word origins to find words related to the root of your word.
  1. What are the sounds that matter(What grapheme/phoneme correspondences can you find that fit in your hypothesized morphemes?)

There are two types of SWI: Teacher-Led Inquiry(teacher selects topic or concept to investigate and guides students established strategies) or Inquiry-LedTeaching (a question arises during class and teacher models established strategies for investigating spelling questions.) (Bowers, 2006, 2009, 2013).

SWI in Action: A Teacher-Led Inquiry during Guided Reading

Molly (not her real name), a 4thGrade dyslexic student, was reading The Vegetarian Dragon during our individual tutoring session.  During the reading, she miscued on the word <ventured>, pronouncing it something like <vented>. My next step in a SWI-based lesson would be to ask her to spell the word out loud.  This spelling, if Molly was familiar with all the elements in the word would be announced like this: “v-e-n-t—ure—ed.  This spelling would immediately allow me understand what Molly knew about the graphemes, morphemes and phonemes represented in this word.

( Note that letter digraphs would be announced as a unit.  For example, <bird> would be announced “b-ir-d.”  Prefixes and suffixes are announced quickly, as one unit, as in “un—h-e-l-p—ful—ly”, with bases spelled out as in h-e-l-p.)

See the sheet below for a look at how I guided Molly through the 4 questions:

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I hadn’t known that spelling-out-loud could be incorporated into reading at the time, so instead I made a note of the miscue and created the chart above, based on Scott Mill’s Adapted Frayer  SWI Framework, for our next class.

Molly was captivated by the chart and took great delight in spelling-out the word sums and later, writing-out-loud the word sums on a whiteboard.

Over the next few reading conference and with continued writing-out-loud and spelling-out loud activities, Molly correctly identified not only ventured during reading, but related words like adventurous and venturing, indicating learning transfer.

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This is just the briefest of introductions to Structured Word Inquiry and I hope that I have conveyed the promise and the power of this practice so that you may decide to investigate SWI for yourself.

Last year, I took an online class on SWI with Mary Beth Stevens, a talented 5thGrade teacher and SWI practitioner.   It was very exciting to see the depth of knowledge evidenced by her students about not only words but vowel and suffixing conventions.  This year, I am taking a class with the generous and brilliant Peter Bowers. Thanks to the class, I am refining my understandings of SWI, especially related to the power of spelling-out-loud and writing-out-loud.  I highly recommend both classes.  I am getting so much out of Peter Bowers class and I think it is because I had a solid introduction to SWI through Mary Beth Stevens’ class.

Resources for getting Started with Structured Word Inquiry:

Structured Word Inquiry and Pete Bowers has a wonderfully informative website:

http://wordworkskingston.com/WordWorks/Structured_Word_Inquiry.html

This is an excellent article that highlights how SWI combines meaning, history and explicit phonics instruction:

http://files.realspellers.org/…/Teaching_base_words.pdf 

Mary Beth Stevens’ blog, including her thoughtful and highly recommended article, Outer Beauty Attracts but Inner Beauty Captivates:

http://mbsteven.edublogs.org/2018/07/07/outer-beauty-attracts-but-inner-beauty-captivates-kate-angell/

Geared for younger students, Lyn Anderson’s blog has many wonderful examples of supporting Structured Word Inquiry using word bags and word webs:

http://wordsinbogor.blogspot.com/2014/11/newthe-power-of-one.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BookJoy: Making a Difference

 

IMG_4137I had such a hard decision to make recently!  Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project Reunion and Bank Street Book Fest were on the same day!  Both offer such amazing professional development opportunities for teachers!  I decided to attend the TC Reunion but only after I realized that I could get a list of the featured “Book Discussion” books for the Bank Street Bookfest here.

So excited to peruse this wonderful list last week and find most of the books at my local library.  Here are my five favorites:

We Rise We Resist We Raise Our Voices

Edited by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson

Have you been wondering how to address the very tumultuous and frequently unkind and insensitive rhetoric that has overtaken the political and news realms? Have you wondered how to address your child’s or your student’ fears about the threats to civility or to to our environment or the many other concerns that are seeping  have into their consciousness from the gestalt of life in 2018?

If so, both you and your children or students will find comfort in this book.  It is a beautiful collection of over 50 letters, poems, stories and gorgeous artworks that will help us all address our present day challenges by pondering the advice offered by those who have lived through their own challenges.

This book is almost too beautiful to describe in its power and its many homages to resilience and perseverance.  It does remind us all about the dark days that people in our world have seen and survived, bearing the scars but also the story about how they found their way.

So many gems here including Pat Cummings, “We’ve Got You,” and Marilyn Nelson’s “It Helps to Look at Old Front Page Headlines.”  This is a book you will savor and reach for again and again because it is so true and so inspiring.  Browse the initial pages here.

 

Her Right Foot

By Dave Eggers.  Art by Shawn Harris.

If you thought you knew everything about the Statue of Liberty, I bet you didn’t know about Lady Liberty’s right foot!  This is a book for every classroom, especially as we, as a country grapple with immigration.  A light-hearted yet profound book.

 

Grandad Mandela 

By Zazi, Zibeline & Zindzi Mandela.  Illustrated by Sean Qualls

This biography of the great Nelson Mandela is told in a question and answer format between Zazi, the daughter of Nelson Mandela, and Ziwelene and Zindzi, his grandchildren.  A perfect mentor text for any leadership or biography study.

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

By Megumi Iwasha.  Illustrations by Jun Takabatake

This charming beginning chapter book begs to be read aloud and shared.  It could kick off a letter-writing unit with great excitement or lead to discussions about how we deal with our own misperceptions and those of others about ourselves.  The title of the first chapter is “A Bored Giraffe Writes His First Letter.”  Need I say more?

Little Leaders

Bold Women in Black History

Written and Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Vashti Harrison has written a book highlighting the lives of forty black women that made a profound difference in America and the world.  Each two page spread includes a biography of women such as Shirley Chisolm, Rosa Parks or Dominique Dawes, etc. and a charming illustration of each women as a girl.  What a great way to make history accessible!  Each biography includes interesting anecdotes from childhood and beyond and details the challenges each women faced and how they were overcome.  The concise and well-written biographies would be a perfect text for Guided Reading for some students in Grades 2-4.

Hope you find much pleasure, happiness and/or wisdom in these wonderful books!

 

 

Inspire Writers with SCBWI “Draw This”

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https://scbwidrawthisimscared.blogspot.com

 

Just got an email from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) that had a link to their monthly art contest based on a prompt.  September’s “Draw This” prompt was “I’m Scared” and as I scrolled through all the amazing entries, I thought that our students may absolutely love to be able to select one of these images as a springboard for narrative or essay writing.  The artwork is so diverse and inspiring.  My favorite was Katia Wish’s art and I’ve already started trying to write a story about it!

October’s prompt is “Girl Power.”  Happy viewing and writing!

The Global Read Aloud 2018 Starts Today!

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https://theglobalreadaloud.com

One of the most exciting literacy projects for any home or classroom is The Global Read Aloud. Started 9 years ago by esteemed educator, Pernille Ripp, it asks that participants read, discuss and share their thoughts about books over a 6 week time period.  This year’s selections are:

Picture Book Author Study Julie Flett, Monique Gray Smith
A Boy Called Bat Elana K. Arnold
Amal Unbound Aisha Saaed
Refugee Alan Gratz
YA: Love, Hate, and Other Filters Samira Ahmed

I am so grateful to Pernille Ripp for providing yearly lists of inspiring books.

I just finished reading A Boy Called Bat and it is a charming story of the very endearing Bixby Alexander Tam. Bat, as he is nicknamed, struggles to relate to others.  He has a supportive family and school community but there are bumps in the road as he navigates sibling dynamics and friendships. At the heart of this story is his relationship with a stray baby skunk that his mother, a veterinarian, has brought home.  Read this book if you enjoy heartwarming stories of growth, realistic depictions of family dynamics, an example of a compassionate “village” in action or are animal lovers.

Amal Unbound is one of those special books that you can’t wait to share with others.  It tells the story of a girl named Amal whose family faces economic hardships in Pakistan.  Amal’s burning desire is to become a teacher and school is her passion. One day, Amal’s life is upended when she incurs the wrath of the powerful scion of her village’s ruling family. Her life changes in that instant and she must endure being thrust as a servant into this powerful family’s home. This book will resonate with Malala fans, the real life heroine who risked her life to attend school.  I appreciated the window it offered into life in Pakistan, including many references to traditional foods and customs. Most of all, this book is a story of resilience and a reminder that reading a book is a privilege.  Highly recommended.

I am reading Refugee for the GRA18 and am looking forward to this story about children fleeing their native countries (Nazi Germany, Cuba, Syria) in 3 different time periods.

I hope you are inspired to participate this year!  The best part of the GRA18 is the community, who generously shares their thoughts about the books and also their teaching ideas.  Please see Pernille Ripp’s blog for more information, including a link to teacher resources and a request for self-selected donations to organizations that support the themes of these books.

The Quickwrite Handbook by Linda Rief

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Image: Henemann

What are quickwrites?  They are quick 3 minute bursts of writing done in response to poem, short text, question, picture or video.  They can be used to get students thinking about a topic, theme, genre or author’s craft.  The writing springs from the pen and the only rule is to keep writing.  The writing could mirror, be inspired by or pick up on a thread of an idea.  What happens when you give students three minutes to write is that students create writing “nuggets” that may be mined later and developed into longer pieces.  They become more confident and fluent writers.  Sometimes, in those three minutes, they create magic.

Here is a poem that emerged from a quickwrite done by my student after listening to George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From.”    We had been studying several notable civil rights heroes and students where asked to imagine where they were from.

Where I’m From…Martin Luther King

By Kristine, Grade 4

I’m from a southern church

With “White Only” signs

That made me feel sad.

I’m from a mother

Who told me,

“You are as good as anyone.”

I’m from a place where

I wanted to play with my white friends

But their mothers said, “No,

Because you are black.”

I am from sadness.

I am from a place where

A white man said to Rosa Parks,

“GO TO THE BACK OF THE BUS!”

Rosa said, “No!”

I am from a place where

I will make a world where

“…little black boys and girls

will join together

with little white boys and girls.”

Having seen the power of quick writes, I am always on the lookout for new inspirations to add to my collection.  Linda Rief, the patron saint of quickwrites, has published a new book, The Quickwrite Handbook:  100 Mentor Texts to Jumpstart Your Students’ Thinking and Writing.

Each mentor text (short poem, short text or picture) is accompanied by some suggestions to share with your students, such as “write about anything that the piece brings to mind”, “borrow a line and write wherever the line leads” or asking them to respond to the piece’s central theme (“Think of a time you did something you probably should not have done, but did it to impress someone else.(p.84)”

Student writers’ work is featured alongside professional writers and “interludes” show examples of final drafts that emerged from quickwrites.

I am looking forward to exploring these quickwrites during my own morning writing time and then sharing them with my students.

Webinar Review: Fountas and Pinnell: Levels are a Teacher’s Tool, not a Child’s Label

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Reading levels, to my great dismay, have escaped the bookroom and teachers’ notebooks and found their way into classroom libraries, progress reports and even children’s vocabulary, as in “I’m a Level Q.  What are you?”

Fountas and Pinnell presents a webinar to address this growing problem.

Reading levels, those letters from A-Z in the Fountas and Pinnell Text Level Gradient (or numbers in the DRA System), are a way to communicate the difficulty level of a text based on text characteristics.  Those characteristics include genre, text structure, content, themes, language and literary features, sentence complexity, vocabulary, words, illustrations and book and print features.

Reading levels are a tool that teachers use to match books to readers and to measure achievement and progress.  It was never intended as a labeling system for classroom libraries.

Levels, according to Fountas and Pinnell, were also never meant to be shared on report cards or progress reports.  In the webinar, the emphasis is on communicating with parents/caregivers in a manner that better reflects the range of each student’s literacy learning.

We teach reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, reading comprehension) throughout the instructional contexts of Read Aloud, Shared Reading, Guided Reading, Book Clubs and Independent Reading.

Leveled Texts should only used in the context of Guided Reading where “teachers select texts that expand thinking within, beyond and about a text” based on individual needs. Leveled texts allow a school community to share a “vision of progress over time.”  Fountas and Pinnell emphasize that “the level is not the most important thing about the book.” The most important thing about a book is that it be a high quality selection.

Book Club books should not be selected by reading level but be “student-selected, age-appropriate, grade-appropriate, complex texts that expand thinking about, within and beyond the text.” Book Club books can be read independently or with audio support.

For Independent Reading, students should receive careful instruction in book selection but always have control over the books that they select from the classroom library.

Sharing progress in reading should be done without sharing levels. Fountas and Pinnell suggest sharing examples of books that students had read in the beginning of the year and then share current books that show the development of more complex understanding. They also suggest sharing as examples of books that students will hopefully be able to read at the end of the year.  It is important to communicate how literacy learning is a part of all instructional contexts.  Teachers can show examples of student written response to texts by sharing Reader’s Notebook entries from Read Aloud, Shared Reading, Guided Reading, Book Clubs and Independent Reading.

This webinar has inspired me to rethink how I can better communicate student reading achievement and progress with parents/caregivers.  Information can be shared about a reader’s reading identity, response to reading and book log analysis within a narrative that addresses decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and written expression. Perhaps stronger connections may be made between the goals of Guided Reading and the other instructional contexts. Sometimes, I send a student off with a sticky note and have them explain their reading strategy/goal to me with a reminder to use the strategy/goal during all reading that they are doing at school and at home.

If parents ask about levels, teachers should explain how that levels are a tool for teachers to guide instruction and used in one context of instruction. Educators should share a fuller representation of child’s literacy learning beyond levels.  Again, the Reader’s Notebook, including book logs, reading responses and artifacts of talking about books, can be a vital tool for showing literacy progress.

Parents are entitled to know if their student is reading below, on or beyond grade-level expectations but that information should be conveyed without sharing instructional levels.  Teachers should make note of a range of information beyond reading proficiency relative to grade level, such as progress, stamina, engagement, risk-taking, time spent reading per day, participation in oral discussions and written response to reading.

If a child asks about levels, the teacher should emphasize that those levels are a teacher tool that helps the teacher choose books for one part of the day. The teacher should emphasize that the child is engaged in many types of reading activities throughout the day, including at home reading.  Teachers should help a student build a reading identity, based on the type of books/genres a student enjoys reading while exposing them to a range of literature. Teachers should understand the importance of choice reading where students get to choose a book that they want to read.

The webinar ends with a focus on the importance of classroom libraries, emphasizing that libraries must reflect the “interests, topics of study and diversity of the world” and be culturally responsive.  Each child should be able to “find themselves in (their classroom library’s) books.”  They reminded us of the need to administer interest inventories and have a balance of fiction and nonfiction, including Science and Social Studies texts.

Fountas and Pinnell ends this webinar by asking us to measure not only what children can read but the extent to which our students love to read.

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 9.31.03 PMImage: Fountas and Pinnell Twitter: https://twitter.com/FountasPinnell

This is a clarion call to all educators to resist the limiting labels of levels and embrace a more robust communication about what it means to be a reader.  Due to the explosion of classroom libraries organized by reading levels and the communication of those levels to students and families, this is truly a timely topic.

Thank you to EdWeek and Fountas and Pinnell for making this thoughtful webinar available, at no cost.

What are your thoughts about the use/abuse of reading levels?

Resources:

Fountas & Pinnell Webinar: Levels Are a Teacher’s Tool, NOT a Child’s Label”

Watched on September 6, 2018 (4pm-5pm)

Link to on-demand:https://event.on24.com/eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=reg20.jsp&referrer=&eventid=1811831&sessionid=1&key=2DFD07384EED77F8D137CD210DE67ED8&regTag=&sourcepage=register#

Transcript will be available by September 10thby logging into the Resources panel on the video console.

Webinar will be available on edweek.org

Blog Post http://blog.fountasandpinnell.com/post/a-level-is-a-teacher-s-tool-not-a-child-s-label

“Guided Reading: The Romance and the Reality.” The Reading Teacher (Volume 66, Issue 4, December 2012/January 2013)

Available Electronically: https://www.rtsd.org/cms/lib/PA01000218/Centricity/Domain/797/guided%20reading%20F%20and%20P%20article%20%202012.pdf

A chart from the Riverview School District (Duvall, WA) that serves as a reference for a teacher to communicate progress based on grade level expectations instead of using level letters or numbers:

http://rsd407.org/curric/elemglance/readingbenchmark/DRA-BookLevelChart.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

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Smarter Faster Better
, by Charles Duhigg, is a book that will get you excited about productivity! Using powerful anecdotes (worth sharing in your next keynote address) from the worlds of theater, movie-making, poker, aviation, medicine, education and business, insights are gleaned into the factors that impact attention, motivation and productivity.

One of the most immediately useful ideas, drawn from the author’s own experiences, is how to create a more productive to-do list. If you are a busy person that gets a lot done each day but never seems to find the time to work on your “heart’s desire”; that book, painting or trip that never seems to materialize- then this is the book for you. Duhigg walks you through the steps needed to make your “stretch goals” a reality using “s.m.a.r.t. goals.” Duhigg’s updated to-do list is simple to implement and will allow you to complete more creative projects.

As a teacher, I most resonated with the chapters of the book that emphasized the importance of choice and voice in impacting motivation and productivity. Businesses mentioned in the book found greater success as executives gave voice to employees that were closest to problems and allowed them agency to find solutions. These sections served as important reminders to infuse choice and voice for all students in every day’s learning in order to increase student motivation, engagement and achievement.

As a writer, I was inspired by the chapters about the creative processes that gave birth to “Frozen”, a Disney movie, and the iconic play, “West Side Story.” The depth of struggle, despair and time that went into each of these projects was very comforting, as well as the torturous path that led to creative breakthroughs. In light of the intimate description of the work behind the genius and artistic vision, I will now look at a blank page or a storyline that isn’t working with different eyes.

As a team member, the sections about the importance of people being heard, respected and allowed to speak freely, as well as the importance of having norms for successful team interactions is not a new message but bears repeating.

Smarter Faster Better was one of those audiobooks that soon made me sorry that I hadn’t bought the hardcover to keep in my bookshelf and pull out for ready reference! However, being able to listen to all those wonderful anecdotes, learning that I could clip and bookmark audio clips for future reference and finding the book’s end notes in the Resources section of Charles Duhigg’s website, eased my pain.

In a world where we all have never been busier while getting less and less done, Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg gives us not only hope and inspiration, but practical solutions to make our lives more productive, and most importantly, more meaningful.