Lakeview Staff Newsletter - July 6
4th of July
Fast forward [I won't say how many] years and, living in Milwaukee county, my kids have never purchased or set off their own fireworks. Trust me ... nothing we set off was anything that exciting, but my daughters were absolutely giddy about the experience of buying the fireworks, making the showlist, and setting them off Saturday night. And I got to relive a favorite part of my childhood through them.
Welcome to our new Special Ed teacher!
Teacher's College Institute
• Lucy Calkins opened the conference with a keynote, of course. I expected to hear a call to action about reading and writing. I was wrong. Lucy gave 873 people in a Zoom call a very heartfelt talk about losing her father in January and her husband in March. Here's a Lucy quote: "We just need to do everything with more love and more intensity and more joy than ever."
• I can't tell you the number of times presenters throughout the whole week emphasized Interactive Read Alouds that are planned and executed well. They were described as "the engine that pulls the entire reading workshop". Over and over, presenters flat out said to stop working so much on mini-lesson planning and spend that time on IRA and Small Group planning.
• Incorporating the Bands of Text Complexity into our daily work was a recurring theme. Here was the money quote from Brooke Geller (the main author of the 3rd grade mystery unit): "As teachers, we don’t read books to/with students to look at single characters or plots or anything else. We read them to consider characteristics that are common to a variety of texts that are within the same band." Another presenter said "If you teach to a book, when the book ends, your teaching ends." This is how we keep our focus on teaching readers rather than books. We teach transferrable skills that lead to independence, which means saying things like, "When readers encounter a text like this, they often find ..." or "One thing that readers do when they encounter a text like this is ..." Other suggestions were using Bands of Text Complexity as a conferring tool and to see if our students' writing is as sophisticated as what they are reading. A lot of focus on using Read Aloud books to help pull students across the "gap" between bands of text complexity (purposefully executing meaty read alouds using books at Levels K, N, R, and U).
• A lot of very timely emphasis not just on books that showcase diversity, but on reading as an act of resistance and liberation, connecting mind, heart, and action. Teachers who do this "become the 'armor' that students of various cultural groups need to not just survive, but thrive" (Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul). I have lists of books and I will be placing an order to continue the work that Janet began for us last year to increase our collection of #OwnVoice authors and Black Joy books.
• A reader should be growing one reading level every six weeks. [If you gulped when you read that, you're not alone - I did, too. Read it again and let it sink in.] It makes sense when you think of one year's growth and the growth across K-5.
Padlet for transitional series texts - series that are at the lower end of a band of text complexity.
• Some other quotes:
"Reading floats on a sea of talk" - a reminder of the importance of partnerships and class discussion.
"The Units of Study grow as teachers grow" - this work gets deeper as we deepen our expertise.
"We have to have real relationships with our kids - several small group and conference interactions per week" (Lucy C.)
"Series readers often become lifelong readers! Getting kids into series is important."
"By the way … every level is an instructional level." (also a Lucy quote)
"Nonfiction helps us figure out who we are. The universe is full of things to care deeply about and nonfiction brings that all to us."
"The banner under which UoS rests is 'Teachers make decisions'."
And ... if you're feeling especially interested in any of the above, here is a link to my entire 72 pages of notes. When I re-read my notes after the conference was over, I made anything that seemed especially important to me into red text.
One last thought - I highly encourage you to go back and re-read chapter one of "A Guide to Reading Workshop". You probably don't have it at home right now. I just looked and I don't even think it's in your online resources, so I scanned it into this file for you (the highlighting is not my own). I re-read it this week and found it incredibly empowering. I'll bet you a China Chef lunch that, knowing all you've learned over the last few years, if you return to this chapter, you will find it equal parts affirming, empowering, renewing, and heartwarming.
Thanks for all the work everyone does to help our students fall in love with reading! We are firmly on the right track together for our students.
Good to Great
1. What are you deeply passionate about doing?
2. What can you be the best in the world at?
3. What drives your economic engine? [sub "achievement engine" for us]
When an organization knows their answers to these 3 questions and is disciplined to stay focused on those answers, breakthrough growth occurs.