Margin Notes

TRY THIS TOMORROW: MEANINGFUL FLUENCY PRACTICE, ONE OF LINDSAY KEMENY’S 7 MIGHTY MOVES

Feb
01

7 Mighty Moves: Research-Backed, Classroom-Tested Strategies for K-to-3 Reading Success by Lindsay Kemeny, is a treasure trove of actionable strategies educators can try tomorrow. While Kemeny’s focus is on critical foundational reading skills for K-3, many of these strategies extend beyond grade 3. 7 Mighty Moves helps educators to think about how they can effectively address all the strands in the reading rope across the day. Kemeny shares her ongoing learning journey, revealing the adaptations she has made and the practices she has abandoned in a clear and engaging manner.

Within Move 6: Focus on Meaningful Fluency Practice, many of Kemeny’s strategies are adaptable for adolescent readers. She challenges educators to incorporate the practice of repeated oral readings combined with listening to fluent reading. Notably, Kemeny emphasizes the impact of reading a passage four times, stressing it has a greater impact than reading it only once, twice, or thrice. Techniques like echo reading, choral reading, and partner reading are highlighted as engaging methods that afford readers ample opportunities to both listen to and practice fluent reading. Kemeny emphasizes steering clear of ineffective practices such as round robin or popcorn reading, underscoring the importance of respecting readers’ emotional experiences while reading aloud.

I love that Kemeny included one of the most authentic oral rereading strategies that all readers may enjoy, regardless of age, the performance of a text for an audience. Various types of text can be adapted for Readers Theater: poems, dramatic dialogues, short stories, fables, folklore, and humorous texts with multiple voices, graphic novels, and comics, etc., as these are all great opportunities for repeated reading practice. Picture books and children’s literature featuring engaging dialogue are also recommended, provided they serve the readers’ individual needs.

Check out this group of adolescent readers performing The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs as well as this great collection of Readers Theatre scripts: RTscripts – Dr. Chase Young (thebestclass.org).

Kemeny challenges educators to implement different ways readers can engage in reading aloud in safe reading environments. What meaningful fluency practice strategies are you currently implementing in your classroom?

Kemeny, L., & Archer, A. L. (2023). 7 mighty moves: Research-backed, classroom-tested strategies to ensure K-to-3 reading success. Scholastic.

TRY THIS TOMORROW: ONE BOOK, MANY WAYS

Nov
09

TRY THIS TOMORROW: One Book, Many Ways

Mathematizing Children’s Literature: Sparking Connections, Joy and Wonder Through Read Alouds and Discussions written by Allison Hintz and Anthony T. Smith challenges educators to explore a “story several times from different perspectives and do so with the goal of listening to and honoring children’s thoughts and ideas”. They implore that we “lead with beautiful and interesting stories and use those stories as context for inviting learners to think as mathematicians.” (Hinz & Smith, 2022, p.4). They challenge educators to think about approaching stories with a mathematical lens and creating a space for learners to share their noticings and wonderings in ways that cultivate thinking and talk, sparking curiosity, joy, and wonder.

I was inspired to extend that to approaching stories with many lenses: as artists, composers, scientists, citizens, inventors, explorers, readers, and writers. Hinz & Smith (2022) disrupted my thinking around collecting stories with a math theme, or an art theme but looking at illustrations and words within texts as a focus for investigation.

  • How can one book be used in many ways across learning areas and layered across curriculum?
  • How can we return to the same picture book or the same text in different ways?
  • How can we use read alouds in a Middle or High School math or science class to springboard thinking and discussion?
  • How can we help our readers approach stories with curiosity and wonder?

The watch and wonder theme in the picture book, one boy watching, written and illustrated by Grant Snider is the perfect book to practice this idea. Snider beautifully illustrates a boy’s journey to school and all that a student riding the bus might see, hear, and feel.

Perfect for all ages, Snider will have you reminiscing about your own school bus journey of days gone by. Snider’s illustrations, short text and watch and wonder theme makes this a perfect book for returning to a read aloud repeatedly to focus on or investigate a feature of the story through many lenses.

We asked author Grant Snider for some words of wisdom for educators who share his book with their students and his response echoes Hinz & Smith’s theme in their book: that inspiration for thinking can come from anywhere if we take the time to practice curiosity.

I wonder how can we explore our current collection of read alouds with a learning areas lens and think about how one illustration, one sentence or one beautifully written paragraph can be used across the learnings areas?

 

Hintz, A., & Smith, A. T. (2023). Mathematizing children’s literature: Sparking connections, joy, and wonder through read-alouds and discussion. Hawker Brownlow Education.

Snider, G. (2022). one boy watching. Chronicle Books.

 

ODDER BY KATHERINE APPLEGATE

Oct
24

My first interaction with the book Odder by Katherine Applegate (author of The One and Only Ivan) and illustrated by Charles Santoso, was listening to the audio version – the sweet voice of Otter 156 telling her story. This little otter will capture your heart and immerse you in a story about identity, friendship, family, loss, courage, rescue and rehabilitation and conservation. Odder is inspired by the work of The Sea Otter Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium that works to protect and conserve sea otters and their habitats. Throughout the story we learn about sea otters’ charismatic and playful nature, swimming abilities, strong family ties, fascinating abilities to use tools in their habitats and the joyful but threatened lives they live. The emotional impact of the poetic form will help readers connect with Odder’s character and themes through a memorable experience. After my listening experience, I knew this was a book I had to get my hands on. Whether you listen to Odder or read the words, I promise you will fall in love with her story.

TRY THIS TOMORROW: THE GIFT OF STORY

May
25

John Schu primes readers with personal reflection of the books of their heart within the first few pages of his book, The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life. I love the following questions that Schu uses during his school visits where he shares his love of stories.  

“Is there a book that changed your life?  

Is there a book that feels like a best friend to you?  

Is there a book that you have read so many times that most of it is tattooed to your heart?  

Is there a book that everyone in this room should know about?  

Is there a book that calms you and helps you find your way back to joy? 

Is there a book that helped you understand yourself or a classmate better?  

Is there a book you wish you could give to everyone you meet?” (Schu, 2022, p. 2) 

Book love and joy is something we must sustain and sometimes reclaim throughout the year in our reading communities. These questions are a wonderful resource to add your toolbox for supporting your readers to reflect on their own book love. Sharing “the book of your heart” is a powerful way to exchange book love between your readers. Try it tomorrow!  

TRY THIS TOMORROW SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A RIVER

Apr
13

Sometimes I Feel Like a River helps us explore our connection to the natural world. This beautiful collection of 12 short poems captures the essence that our feelings are as innate as the natural wonders around us. This journey through a range of emotions universal to all human experience helps readers discover the connection between emotions as a natural part of our lives and the natural world. The author leaves us with the words to attentively experience and explore the world around us through a mindful nature walk.

This newly published book has tons of potential as a mentor text for repetitive interactions while also exploring and connecting with our own emotions and the emotions of others. Daniel’s words and Bisaillon’s illustrations are the perfect springboard for a sea of talk as readers are supported to make connections, notice, wonder and take to heart the essence of the author’s message. Daniel’s invitation for “A Mindful Walk and Roll” is the perfect short poem for students to read, discuss and carry in their pocket as they explore the outdoors no matter the season. I get excited just thinking about the short poem’s students could then write after studying the authors craft, exploring their own emotions and the natural world around them. Why not even explore creating their own illustrations using soft and wax pastels, cut paper, colored pencils, gouache, charcoal or even digital art like the illustrator to capture the wonder point that inspired their own Sometimes I Feel Like a … poem. Take it further and create a collective picture book for your readers to share with younger readers in their school community.

HANDS BY TORREY MALDONADO

Mar
21

Hands, written by Torrey Maldonado, is a story that every teacher must read and have in their classroom library. When my colleague returned from NCTE with a signed copy, I was elated. I placed it on my book stack with the promise to get to it right away. But life happened and obligatory reads took over. My advance reader copy got buried in my stack waiting for me to find the time it deserved. On this languid Sunday afternoon, my advance reader copy, no longer advanced, found its way into my hands and it did not leave them until I finished this story written from the heart.

Trevor’s experience with his family and friends and finding himself through that turmoil will speak to every student in every classroom. Hands sheds light on the quiet strength of the student falling asleep during class who feels like they are in an impossible situation and doing their best to hold it all together. Trevor Junior’s current reality is a mirror for students that need hope that they too can respond to their challenges in ways that empowers them. His experience speaks to the capacity of human connection and that we can seek advice and help from those in our lives who will help us make the right choices, from our “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” as described by the acronym in the author’s note:

“Fight for me

Respect me

Involve me

Encourage me

Nourish me

Develop me

Stand by me.”

I love how Maldonado ingeniously threads how hands can be used to in many ways throughout each chapter: to express ourselves, to interact with the world around us, to create, to care for others, to communicate our love for others, to fight, to hurt and harm others. This aligns beautifully with Maldonado’s exploration of the different implications of the word promise throughout the story and how it too can be used to give hope but also make us feel hopeless. How fitting is it that Maldonado’s inscription on the inside cover is a promise of the impact of educators, “Our world is in your hands.” I hope you get your hands on a copy today!