Quick PD Idea based on Serravallo's "Understanding Texts & Readers"

Here's a quick idea based on Jennifer Serravallo's new book, Understanding Texts & Readers: Responsive Comprehension Instruction with Leveled Texts. The amazing ladies over at Tiny Tips and Teeny Tales shared an Instagram post about a Text Bands PD they were going to present. I was able to take the idea and run with it, so my staff may also benefit from the book's contents. Thanks, Ladies!

The images below show a simple chart that explains the characteristics of Plot/Setting, Characters, Themes/Ideas, and Vocabulary/Figurative Language at each text band ranging from Level J to Level W. The chart shown is geared toward fictional texts. I'm optimistic the contents can better support teachers in conferring more productively with students because they will be able to see how the demands placed on the reader change as the complexity increases. I'm hoping to create a similar chart dedicated to informational texts. Coming soon!
Enjoy. :)

Sneak Peek into "From Striving to Thriving Writers: Strategies That Jump-Start Writing" (& Giveaway!)

I've been a huge fan of Stephanie Harvey for many years. It all started with her book, Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement. Since then, she's among a handful of literacy gurus I admire and closely follow to gain perspective from and to become better equipped in best and next literacy practices. Last year, I read her (and Annie Ward's) book, From Striving to Thriving: How to Grow Confident, Capable Readers and raved about their suggestion to *table the labels* to empower children to grow as readers. 

When I got wind of a new Striving to Thriving professional text hitting the shelves, I was interested in taking a peek. I learned much from the first book dedicated to striving readers, including more on the complexities of language learning, but I also had many personal beliefs validated. When my copy of From Striving to Thriving Writers: Strategies That Jump-Start Writing arrived, I was instantly able to see its value.

Stephanie Harvey, Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger joined forces to write the book. On page 6, it states, This book is about helping our students harness the power of language to accomplish their own purposes for writing: to tell a story, to investigate an issue, to prioritize information, to persuade a reader, and to generally inform. 

If you were to peek into the Table of Contents, you'd notice 27 writing frameworks designed to differentiate for and support striving writers, as well as to improve and integrate writing across the curriculum. The frameworks are divided into three parts: Learning About Language, Learning Through Language, and Using Language to Learn About Self
Each framework provides a suggested starting grade-level (Kindergarten through 6th and up) and focus skills. For example, the first three frameworks listed in the picture below are for 'Kindergarten and up': Picture This, Refrain Again, and Scaffolding Into Sharing. Depending on the framework, the focus skills covered may include Persuasive, Descriptive, Research, Vocabulary, and Figurative Language. Take note of Sara Holbrook's tweet below about the grade level suggestions for the frameworks. Teachers know their students best! :)
In order for students to become better equipped writers, they need to write... A LOT...and OFTEN. Voluminous writing is the key to moving writers forward. Holbrook and Salinger discuss 3 ways to support writing in volume: 1. Embed writing in all content areas. 2. Pre-write to get it right. 3. Take it one version at a time. Click HERE to learn more.
The book provides readers with an online, password-protected site that includes downloadable resources available to help educators support students with voluminous writing. The resources include graphic organizers ("GO sheets") for students to use during the pre-writing stages, as well as professional videos of the writing frameworks in action to view firsthand. Having these resources at the tip of our fingers can allow the frameworks to be implemented straightaway. The videos allow readers flexible opportunities to grow professionally, even while at home! Below are a handful of screenshots depicting the online resource site. 

The authors caution in their tweets below that GO sheets are not worksheets, but engaging and valuable outlines for students!  
Below is a peek into the first framework: Sentence Variety Pack: Crafting Engaging Text. You can get a better sense of what the book offers, including online slides to support implementation of the framework, lesson extension ideas, sample stages of students' writting and assessment checkpoint rubrics. Jackpot! 
There is so much more to the book than I've briefly overviewed. I look forward to putting these frameworks into practice with students in the upcoming weeks. I highly recommend you snagging a copy for yourself! Additionally, there's a blog post written by Larry Ferlazzo in Education Teacher Week titled Writing Frames Are The Recipes of Writing. Within the post, Holbrook and Salinger answer the following questionHow can we use "writing frames" and "writing structures" without students feeling like they always have to do formulaic writing? If their response interests you, click HERE to read more. 

Leave a relevant comment below for a chance to acquire a free copy for yourself! :)
P.S. Check out the authors on Twitter, @saraholbrook, @michaelsalinger, and @Stephharvey49, as well as the content linked to the hashtag #FromStrivingtoThrivingWriters! They're visible and welcoming!

Happy Writing & Happy Thanksgiving! 

#D100bloggerPD "Ditch That Textbook" Book Study!

Welcome back for another #D100bloggerPD crew book study! I always take pleasure in starting our book study kickoff with an introduction of the crew. We consist of an assortment of Berwyn South School District teacher and administrator learners who enjoy blogging, are smitten with social media and make use of our PLNs as an irreplaceable source of powerful content, hence the hashtag #D100bloggerPD. We devote ourselves to staying globally connected. The crew embraces change, strives to better ourselves professionally, desires to join forces with our PLNs to share what we learn, and aims to inspire others (#D100inspires) because we are better together.

This #D100bloggerPD book study is dedicated to Matt Miller's Ditch That Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom. If you want to lead your students in educational practices that are innovative and engaging, read this book. It's yet another invaluable book published by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc., and highlights Matt Miller's journey in creating a classroom where great learning experiences happen for students.
The book is divided into four sections: Why Go Digital?, Ditch That Mindset, Ditch That Textbook, and Ditch That Curriculum. My post for the book study kickoff consists of a portion of section one: Why Go Digital?, which includes the Introduction and the first four chapters: Chapter 1: Free Access, Chapter 2: Boost Your Efficiency, Chapter 3: Use Technology to Defeat Insecurity, and Chapter 4: Empower Students to Find Their Passions. The chapters are brief, to the point, and filled with stories, advice and tips based on Miller's classroom experiences, so it's an effortless and fun read. Ready to dig in? :)
In the introduction to his book, Miller claims "...this book is about evolving and finding better ways to teach (p.2)." He assists in equipping our proverbial tool belts with practical, hands-on ideas that incorporate technology to globally connect our students to the world. Most likely, we all have the desire and the power to unlock the doors to fully engaged students. However, first, we must get uncomfortable, jump into the unknown, seek more advantageous ways to engross students in learning, and, of course, take risks.
On page 5, it states, "Ditch That Textbook is designed to be a support system, toolbox, and manifesto. It's a collection of ideas, considerations, and suggestions to help you free yourself as an educator to create the classroom and the teaching style you want." Let's take a look at Miller's DITCH model, which will help you get started in revolutionizing YOUR classroom.
Why Go Digital?
Chapter 1: Free Access
Miller started out the chapter by jumping back in time with a scenario of aspiring to connect with John Dewey, the groundbreaking educational thinker and reformer from the 1900s (p.9). Miller went on to explain the lengths it would have taken him to have a mere dinner conversation with Dewey back in 1904, when Dewey was at the University of Chicago. The duration of time necessary, including the hypothetical traveling and boarding expenses, were all considered. Needless to say, it would have been quite a laborious effort for Miller to have had a professional conversation with John Dewey.    

Nowadays, however, we live in a digital world. We have access to technology, which provides an unrestricted ability to globally connect with others at a much faster rate, including researchers, authors, educators and groundbreaking educational thinkers. Using Skype, Google Hangouts, Voxer, FaceTime, and many more, are all possible from the comforts of our own home. As teachers, it is our obligation to harness these platforms, not only for our own professional development, but to apply within the classroom to better expand students' digital citizenship skills, and more fittingly prepare students for the future.      
The best thing, of course, is that connecting worldwide is FREE (for the most part). Students are now able to move from local to global connections at the touch of a button. They can learn from classrooms around the world, not just peers in their school. Take a peek below at some valuable quotes from Chapter 1Free Access. The gist? Get out there and try something new, alongside your students!
  • These previously impossible connections can revolutionize education-- if teachers are willing to give them a shot (p. 12).
  • Instead of testing a new idea or tool, "paralysis by analysis" takes hold. We overanalyze new options, mull over all of the things we don't know, think about how students will react, and then we don't act! (p. 12).

Chapter 2: Boost Your Efficiency
Who wouldn't want to be more streamlined when it comes to preparing lessons for the classroom? This chapter justifies how technology can make life much more simple by working smarter and faster, not harder
Teachers now have the power to digitally distribute files and information with students through the use of Google Forms and Documents, as well as get assignments auto-graded with Google add-ons like Flubaroo (p.15). Miller stressed that, though we may love it, teaching is not our entire identity. It shouldn't consume our lives. Using technology to our advantage in the classroom, then getting out in the world to enjoy life with family and friends, is a wise decision. #agreed ;)
Chapter 3: Use Technology to Defeat Insecurity
This chapter proposed a way to provide support to students who may be weary of contributing their opinions and thoughts aloud in class discussions. Backchannels, or online discussion spaces, give a voice to every student. Using them is a worthwhile way to encourage students to privately contribute to classroom discussions, until they become comfortable in outwardly sharing in class.      
Miller discussed a particular student, named Kay, whom he had a difficult time connecting with and getting to participate in class. Only after various failed attempts was Miller able to find a way for Kay to express herself through the use of TodaysMeet.comHe claimed it to be a simple and easy-to-implement backchannel to get his students engaged in discussions and to ask and answer questions. Regarding his student, Kay, Miller stated, I wish I would have given her more alternative opportunities to showcase her genius in my class. Our best course of action is to allow those 'I wish I would have...' moments to motivate us to improve for the next round of students (p.19). So true!
On another note, unfortunately, is no longer up and running. I'm so sad about this! I thoroughly enjoyed using this backchannel platform with my students because it displayed students' thinking in real time. (Click HERE to learn more about how I use backchannels with my kiddos.) 

However, don't fret. There are many alternatives out there, including Padlet, Flipgrid, Twitter, Google Docs, and now Yo Teach!, known as "the new alternative to TodaysMeet." A thank you goes out to Mona, an iCoach in my district (who is also part of this book study), for sharing a tweet about Yo Teach!  
Chapter 4: Empower Students to Find Their Passions
Miller describes how students are certainly capable of "playing school" and having ways of being compliant, such as studying for and doing well on tests and completing all assigned activities, worksheets, and more. However, students also seem to be graduating ill-equipped for real life, even if they are able to graduate at the top of their class.   
It's time to stop the old-fashioned sit and get mentality of schooling and start developing engaged, innovative, self-starting students. That is what future employers desire and seek to have in the workforce. Students who are able to tap into the ample resources available at their fingertips and the eagerness to explore those resources. Fostering creativity and cultivating students' imaginations will give them the drive to find their passions and purpose in life. We've all come across people in uninspiring jobs, but would we want that for our students? Of course not. Take a peek below at some constructive quotes from Chapter 4Empower Students to Find Their Passions.
  • Students everywhere are drowning in busywork: worksheets, workbook pages, and repetitive, simplistic activities. For decades, students have been stuck in the 'do what I'm told' mentality (p.22). 
  • When teachers determine to ditch their textbook mentalities, practices, and curricula, they often find it easier to help students discover what motivates them (p. 24).
  • When you use the Internet and online tools to expand the scope of your class, you can open your students' minds to new possibilities and empower them to explore what drives them (p.25).

Thanks for stopping by Literacy Loving Gals to support the kickoff of the #D100bloggerPD book study. As the study continues in the upcoming weeks, the hyperlinks to each #D100bloggerPD crew member's post will be added HERE, to keep Matt Miller's tips from Ditch That Textbook in one spot. Click the image below to access Miller's Podcast to dive a bit deeper into his content. There are over 100 podcasts. #impressive :) We hope you continue to follow along with us! Next up, Tales of an iCoach with Chapters 5-9. 

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!

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