Friday, September 21, 2018

A Glance into "Responsive Literacy: A Comprehensive Framework"

This book is glorious! When my copy of Responsive Literacy: A Comprehensive Framework arrived in the mail, I was happily surprised to see an abundance of vividly colored photographs depicting real classrooms spread across the pages. The authentic examples of anchor charts and student work allow readers to better experience the components of the comprehensive literacy framework more closely. 
Responsive Literacy is backed by decades of research and practice. It was written by literacy leaders affiliated with The Ohio State University Literacy Collaborative, alongside the amazing Patricia L. Scharer as Editor. On page 10, it states, Our goal was to create a reader-friendly book brimming with illustrative photographs, easy-to-navigate charts, and essential understandings to support professional learning and student achievement. The book is geared toward K-6 teachers as a way to increase the effectiveness of literacy instruction, but could easily be expanded to the middle grades.
Check out the topics in the Table of Contents to get a better sense of what this book provides. Take notice of the educational leaders that contributed to the contents of this book. Gay Su Pinnell is among them.
As you've probably noticed by the Table of Contents, the book is divided into six sections containing the essential ingredients of responsive literacy: Professional LearningOrganizing for LearningReadingWritingBuilding Blocks of Language, and A Learning Community. Each section delves deeper into topics, such as the complexities of the language learning, organizational practices for reading, writing and word study, and developing a learning community encompassing students, staff and families.

I have many favorite aspects of this book. One being the mentor text suggestions. The book references an abundance of mentor texts  correlating to lesson examples or ways to implement the texts in the classroom. Another aspect I find helpful is the teacher-student dialogue examples, consisting of ways to support students during writing conferences, for example. 

Furthermore, the book provides readers with an online, password protected site that includes videos of Writing and Reading Workshop Elements with transcripts for all of the videos, in addition to downloadable resources. Below you'll find screenshots of what the site offers. Having access to the site allows readers flexible opportunities to grow professionally, even while at home in pajamas. #mytimePD #myfavorite

As a Literacy Coach and Reading Specialist, I love all things literacy. I feel this book highly promotes enjoyable reading, writing, speaking and listening experiences for students. It's definitely a new favorite I'll be referring back to when planning for literacy instruction and staff development. If you are a literacy leader, a classroom teacher, and even part of an administration team in the field of Education, I highly recommend this book. 

Scholastic never ceases to amaze me with their ability to continually publish invaluable literature to better equip educators with the knowledge necessary to support students. Before you go, read some quotes found on Twitter highlighting the book. Thank you, Scholastic!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Schedule Revealed for the Upcoming #D100bloggerPD Book Study on Ditch That Textbook

The #D100bloggerPD book study schedule for Matt Miller's Ditch That Textbook is ready for reveal, so mark your calendars! Some colleagues in my school district have banned together and are excited to get things underway. The kickoff for the book study starts on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 right here on Literacy Loving Gals. Each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the month of October, a #D100bloggerPD crew member will post a reflection on their chosen chapters from the book. The book study culminates on Reading and Owl of the Above on Wednesday, October 17, 2018.
Feel free to join in on the book study by hopping from blog to blog reflecting within the comments section. I will be hyperlinking each of the crew's posts down below, so once the book study has been completed, all links to the study will be in one place for easy access.

Happy Reading!

Literacy Loving Gals
Introduction & Chapters 1-4

Tales of an iCoach
Chapters 5-9

Word Detectives

The Peak and the Pit
Chapters 15-19

Chapters 20-24

Responsive Literacy
Chapters 25-29

Grammar Mamma
Chapters 30-34

Reading and Owl of the Above
Chapters 35-38 & Conclusion

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Sneak Peek Inside "The Megabook of Fluency" by Timothy Rasinski & Melissa Cheesman Smith

As many of you know, I'm an addict when it comes to reading professional books. The minute a new title is being discussed on social media that piques my interest and supports my ability to implement next practices in literacy with my students, I must get my hands on it immediately. As a teacher, literacy leader and lifelong learner in the education field, I must take charge of my own professional development. Right?

When The Megabook of Fluency by Timothy Rasinski and Melissa Cheesman Smith arrived on my doorstep, I turned into that heart-eyed smiling emoji. The book is just what it claims to be, MEGA, and it's filled with amazing, hands-on fluency practice for students that can be used straightaway. Just as Jennifer Serravallo gives you hands-on strategies to support students with reading and writing, Rasinski and Smith provide 50+ engaging strategies to nurture students' fluency in The Megabook of Fluency! The book even gives you access to an online site with downloadable resources. Cha-ching!

The Megabook of Fluency is not a front cover to back cover type of read, but a handy guidebook of sorts. The format allows teachers to choose from research-based strategies that will best support their students' fluency needs. Check out the Table of Contents!

Melissa Cheesman Smith's wrote an article, Today, Choose Joy: Joyfulness in Fluent Reading, explaining more about her co-authored book. I added an image taken from the article, but click the link above to read it in full. 
Since I'm a huge fan of the book, I've added some quotes and pictures taken from the book, as well as tweets from the authors giving you further insight into The Megabook of Fluency.
  • A growing number of studies have examined the effects of authentic fluency instruction. By "authentic," we mean real reading of real texts for real purposes, to communicate meaning. We contrast authentic fluency instruction with programs that tend to require readers to increase their reading speed (p.9).
  • If fluency concerns are not addressed early, during the foundational years, it is likely that those concerns will find their way into the middle school and high school grades (p.10).
  • Furthermore, because fluency is a foundational competency, difficulties in fluency can also lead to difficulties in content areas that rely heavily on reading (p.10).
  • ...without a solid foundation in reading fluency, other reading competencies, such as comprehension and close reading, cannot develop (p.10).
  • A more common name often associated with repeated reading is rehearsal. Interestingly, the Common Core State Standards refer to repeated reading as close reading (p.12).
  • Research has demonstrated that each time students read a text, their reading improves on many fronts: word recognition, accuracy, automaticity, expression, and comprehension... More importantly, when they move on to a brand-new text to read, their gains "stick" (p.12).
  • Most fluency activities are naturally engaging and even fun (p.13).
  • It is a good idea to provide students with an audience of even just one person for their reading who can provide positive feedback (p.13).
  • Despite a growing recognition of the importance of reading fluency in students' reading development, that message is often lost because of how it is typically understood and taught (p17.).
  • Richard Allington called fluency "the neglected goal of the reading program (p.18)."
  • ...words in print don't just convey meaning; the ways those words are expressed do, too (p.20).
  • Additionally, when telling stories and reading to children, we should take the time to talk with them about how we use our voice to help convey meaning to develop an awareness of fluent expressive reading (p.21).

Discover any worthwhile insights? I certainly hope so. If you're on Twitter, you can track down some additional content under the hashtag #TheMegaBookOfFluency, as well as follow the authors, @MCheesmanSmith and @TimRasinski1. The book is definitely worth owning, so if you don't already have a copy, hop on over to Scholastic or Amazon ASAP!

Enjoy the rest of your summer,

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Peek into Some Emergent Strategies from Serravallo's "The Writing Strategies Book"

Have you perused Jennifer Serravallo's The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers, yet? After getting my hands on The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers back in 2015, I was ecstatic when I heard a writing version of the book was in the works. I waited on pins and needles for it to be delivered, since I preordered months beforehand. Once the book arrived in February 2017, all I could say was Ooh la la! 

Oh, Jennifer Serravallo! What can I say besides she is like no other. If you follow my blog, you know I consider her to be one of the most genius literacy consultants and authors out there. I had the pleasurable opportunity of meeting her in person at a conference I attended at the tail end of the 2016-2017 school year, but was able to catch a few of her sessions at the Illinois Reading Conference this past October. She is an accomplished, yet, genuinely kindhearted and down-to-Earth person. She was willing to sign all of the books I currently own that she has authored, as well as take the time to sign books from the hundreds of others who attended.  
Before moving on, I'd like to preface that much of this post has been sitting unpublished for many, many months. It has been revised over and over, but to no avail...until now. I was going to participate in a comprehensive book study with some of the wonderful members of the #ReadingStrategiesCrew like we did for our previous book study on The Reading Strategies Book. However, for a handful of reasons, we decided to cancel the study. 

Nevertheless, I figured I could share some of the emergent strategies I used with my students and my own kids at the tail end of last school year. Since I'm in a new school this year and in a new role as a Literacy Coach, alongside being a K-2 Reading Specialist, I tested out some strategies that could be used to support kindergarten and first grade students. Praises for Jennifer's work deserve to be sung worldwide!

Since I mostly work with very young students, I tried out a few strategies with my emergent writers from last school year, including my own kids who were in preschool at the time, but have now moved on to kindergarten. I wanted to give you a peek into a few strategies represented in Goal 1.

Goal 1 is Composing with Pictures. There are eighteen strategies within this goal to support pre-emergent and emergent writers. This goal is mostly used to support students in pre-Kindergarten through 2nd grade. However, Serravallo mentions that students throughout the primary grades benefit when they are given time to sketch their ideas before moving into the writing process. 

Below is a snapshot of the strategies reinforcing this goal. Just like Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book, the format is not the typical front cover to back cover type of read, but another handy guidebook to support your instruction. The format allows teachers to pick and choose from researched-based strategies that will best scaffold students. Serravallo states, "I streamlined the language and examples, and I present the strategies in a format that is organized so that the busy teacher can find just the right strategy at just the right moment."  Ahhh, music to my ears.  
For each strategy, once again, Serravallo includes a description and helpful prompts to use with students. Many of the strategies also provide Teacher Tips and samples of Lesson Language to use when putting the strategy into practice. The strategies can be demonstrated to individuals, small groups or whole class. In addition, along the sidebar of each strategy, Serravallo indicates the level (emergent to grade 8), genre/text type, and process(es) in which to focus. I find these to be invaluable features of the book (just as in The Reading Strategies Book) because even a novice or experienced classroom teacher without a writing background can fully support and guide his/her students in writing. This book elicits powerful writing instruction!

In view of the fact I work with struggling readers at school, which often correlates to weak writing abilities, as well as have little ones at home in the early stages of writing, Goal 1 suited me perfectly. An example of Reread Your Pictures to Teach (1.4), Label Your Pictures (1.6) and A Series of Pictures to Show Change (1.13) are discussed in this post. All eighteen strategies within this goal are worthwhile, of course

If you teach young students or have little ones at home who are budding writers, you're aware of how tricky writing letters and words can be for some. Serravallo explains that writing instruction can begin well before students are even able to connect letters into words and words into a piece of writing. She added the work of researchers Ray and Glover stating, "By teaching children to compose with pictures, they can be freed up to create texts in any genre and to understand that meaning comes first, long before they are ready to spend lots of mental energy hearing the sounds in words and writing down what they hear (p.34)."

Reread Your Pictures to Teach   
The Reread Your Pictures to Teach strategy focuses on students orally explaining facts about a chosen topic. Here are the *Who's this for?* stats: Level: emergent, Genre/Text Type: informational/nonfiction, Process: reading writing aloudThis strategy encourages students to retell their *writing* in picture form. Be mindful when thinking about writing children's words for them on their pictures. The Teaching Tip for this strategy comes with a forewarning: 
"Some teachers record students' speech right on their writing/pictures, but many believe this negatively impacts a student's agency and confidence for writing words when she is ready. When an adult writes on a child's paper, this may communicate that the child's attempts at making meaning don't make sense without the teacher's written words, which may undermine her future attempts at writing pictures and/or with words (Ray and Glover 2008)." 
Image from The Writing Strategies Book
After reading about this strategy, my own preschool kiddos popped into mind. At the start of Spring in 2017, they began learning at school all about the the life cycle of a chicken. We took a family trip to the library, checked out a few books, built a little background and then began extending our learning about chickens. Below are some pictures taken in their preschool classroom and at home.
Once my kids learned a bit more about the life cycle of the chicken, my daughter began drawing what she learned and then reread her pictures to teach her father all about it.
To get a better sense of the Reread Your Pictures to Teach strategy for informational/nonfiction writing, here are a few ideal prompts found in the book:
  • What does this picture teach about?
  • Point to a part and tell me what I can learn from that.
  • Do you know other facts?
  • What does this part of the picture teach?
  • Sound like a teacher.
  • Your drawing teaches a lot of facts about the topic!
Label Your Pictures
The Label Your Pictures strategy is self-explanatory. Students draw a picture, then use sounds they know to label their images. Here are the *Who's this for *  stats: Levels: emergent-K, Genre/Text Type: any, Process: draftingThe Teaching Tip suggests students be assessed on letter-sound identification prior to use of this strategy. If students have a strong foundation of letter-sound correspondence, they are typically ready for for labeling. However, the Teaching Tip also forewarns:
"Pushing the conventional writing/print too soon could overly focus the child on getting down words rather than other qualities of good writing such as structure and elaboration (p.43)." 
Image from The Writing Strategies Book
My son, on the other hand, began drawing what he learned and then labeled his pictures to teach his father and me all about his newly found knowledge. His pictures are below.
The Label Your Pictures strategy can be used with any genre. Serravallo suggests using prompts such as these:
  • What sounds do you hear?
  • Say the word slowly.
  • What letters make that sound?
  • Write the letter down, and say the word again?
A Series of Pictures to Show Change

A Series of Pictures to Show Change strategy focuses on students being able to depict how real life things can move or gradually change over time. Here are the *Who's this for?* stats: Levels: emergent-2, Genre/TextType: narrative, informational/nonfiction, procedural, Process: drafting

Image from The Writing Strategies Book
For this strategy, I enrolled some of my willing and eager first grade boys last year who were really into learning about frogs. The book How Frogs Grow found in the F&P LLI kit is what piqued their interest, so I found some other related titles I had on hand. Below are some snapshots of their work, as well as a video of one who wanted to share his learning.
The prompts for A Series of Pictures to Show Change strategy can be used with narrative and informational or procedural genres, so below are some recommended prompts that compliment this strategy:
  • Who's that? What's happening?
  • What did she do next?
  • Can you draw that next part in a new picture?
  • What's the next thing she does?
  • Draw a picture to show what it looks like when it starts. 
  • Draw a picture to show how it changes. 
  • Draw a picture to show how it changes again.
So, there you have it, a few strategies to implement in your classroom with emergent-level students. The book is worth owning, so if you don't already own a copy, hop on over to Amazon A.S.A.P. ;)

Happy Tuesday, folks!

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