Leap Into Literacy Grade 3

February/March 2019 Newsletter

Great Idea- The DIY Memory Bracelet from Gail Boushey of The Two Sisters Publication

Sometimes, when conferring with students, she would write a word or phrase on the palm of the student’s hand. Then throughout the day, whenever she see them, she asks, “What is written on your hand?” or “Tell me what you are learning.” It is a way to condense learning and remember it through repetition. She got the idea from a DIY memory bracelet she had seen on the Today Show. The parent would write something she wants her children to remember, like their homework or lunch money, and then wraps the paper around their wrists. She transferred the idea to the classroom.

She uses different colors of paper cut and ready to loop around a wrist with important learning to be shared throughout the day or at home? Here are just some examples of what the bracelets could be used for:

  • sight words

  • spelling words

  • letters

  • strategies

  • math concepts

  • reminders to get new books from the library

  • questions for parents

  • invitations to parents for conferences

You can make them or purchase them on Amazon. It’s a new way to remind and reinforce learning

The Art of Complimenting

Excerpt from Blog Post by Lanny Ball...

"Oftentimes, we are so committed to moving our kids forward as writers that we don’t feel like there’s the time to stop and pay a writer a specific compliment. During writing workshop, we pull up next to a writer. We research. We converse a bit. But how many of us all the while are really thinking, “I’ve got to get to the teaching part of this conference… I’ve got so many kids to confer with and give feedback to today!”? And compliments aren’t really true feedback anyway…are they?

Actually, compliments are feedback. In fact, feedback tucked inside a really good compliment can be some of the most powerful feedback we can offer. Someone once said, “If you want to light someone up, acknowledge him or her.” As teachers of writing, we aim to light up our students. We strive to fill them with light that acknowledgement, a sense of accomplishment, and writerly independence can provide. Compliments offer a wonderful way to generate the kind of light inside our students that can sustain them as writers for years to come.

That said, there are some specifics we might consider when it comes to complimenting our writers:

  • Causal statements– Be wary of the phrase, “I like how you…” In his seminal book Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives (Stenhouse, 2012), Peter Johnston reminds us that when we employ such phraseology in our compliments as “I like…,” we unwittingly place ourselves into a position of judgment. He argues that we really ought to strive for “process-oriented” feedback” versus “person-oriented” feedback. That is to say, we as teachers want to consider focusing our feedback on a process—in this case, the writing process. As teachers, we are in the business of nurturing agency within our students. Saying words like, “I like how you used flashback here. Good job with that!” while well meaning, communicates a message to the student that her job as a writer is to please you. Alternatively, consider such phrases as, “Look how you used flashback to help readers learn about some important background to the character. It really helped me understand why she made that decision!” Delivered in an enthusiastic tone, this will likely be interpreted as a compliment.

Johnston calls this a “causal statement” and argues that these types of statements

(typically phrased as, “You did this…with this consequence”) lie at the heart of building agency within our students.

  • Tuck in some teaching- A good compliment contains some teaching inside of it. When we deliver that compliment, whether it is to one writer or a group of writers, consider working to tuck in a little teaching that is transferable to future pieces of writing. For example, I recently worked with a sixth grade writer on moving from summarizing to storytelling in his narrative writing. One day, I noticed him revising his draft to contain more internal thinking. “Wow, Spencer (not his real name),” I began, “look how you help your reader begin to see the real meaning in your story, that ‘thinking before you act’ is so important! You wrote your inner thinking right here where you think about the importance of wearing a helmet, and then again here when you think about what your mother had always said. This is one way writers get their messages across, by writing an internal dialogue—and look how effectively you’re doing that!” This compliment definitely lit Spencer up, as I saw him smiling from ear to ear. But it was also meant to teach or reteach some important content about narrative writing.

  • Compliments are paragraphs—A compliment begins by “listening for the gold” as it has been called by Lucy Calkins. And once you have heard or seen a writer do something you would like him to continue to do as a writer, try gushing a bit about it! I often try to do this in a few ways: (1) Be specific about what the writer did in his current writing piece. And tone matters here—I try to include some real enthusiasm when I do this! (2) Mention this particular move as a worthy technique that published writers often make; (3) Discuss the payoff this writing move or behavior will have for both him and a reader. Yes, complimenting in paragraphs takes a bit more time. But consider the rewards for your writers!"

Visit A Reading or Writing Lab Site

Please remember that we continue to support your visitation to your colleagues' classrooms through our reading and writing lab sites. If you would like to visit a colleague, just reach out to your building's RDT. Think about an area of focus for your visit in order to make your time in your colleague's classroom meaningful and purposeful.

Happy Visiting!

96th Saturday Reunion at Teachers College

The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project's 96th Saturday Reunion will be on March 16, 2019 from 9-3. During this free professional development opportunity, over 125 workshops will be led by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, Amanda Hartman, Laurie Pessah, and all TCRWP staff developers. Some of the topics include managing workshop instruction, developing state-of-the-art classroom libraries, raising the level of book clubs, teaching K-2 kids to write persuasive speeches and reviews, and writing about reading. Consider spending a Saturday at this very valuable - and fun - learning event!