Margin Notes

APRIL IS POETRY MONTH 2024

Apr
02

April is Poetry Month and Margin Notes will be featuring ideas for celebrating poetry this month…and all year long.

We’ve updated our Poetry Month Resource Round-Up. You can access it here.

For more inspiration, enjoy Pamela Spiro Wagner’s How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual, Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins, and Understanding Poetry by Grant Snider.

You will also find poetry ideas in our Craft Studio and Try This Tomorrow posts.

Happy Poetry Month!

INCORPORATING GRAPHIC TEXTS IN FIRST CHAPTER FRIDAYS

Mar
14

We love the practice of introducing texts, topics, authors, and genres to students by reading the first chapter aloud. First Chapter Fridays are a wonderful opportunity to end the week with reading joy. It’s also a strategy that, when planned with intention, can support most aspects of the curriculum. This post is part of a series that will introduce ideas for leveling up your First Chapter Fridays without diminishing its central purpose of engaging readers. Read the previous posts here, here and here.

Because one of the goals of First Chapter Fridays is introducing a wide variety of texts, you can easily add graphic texts and comics into this routine by projecting the first few pages for the class to view while you read. Of course, it’s important to remember that graphic texts are a form and not a genre, so within this category you’ll find a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction options.

Here are some suggestions for incorporating graphic texts in First Chapter Fridays:

  • Use the text like any other to support word study, vocabulary, comprehension, and criticality/text analysis. Revisit portions of the text in targeted mini-lessons.
  • While reading, stop and model your use of specific strategies to comprehend the combination of words and pictures.
  • Introduce some of the unique and specific features of graphic texts. This is a good source of basic terms and concepts.
  • Invite students to take a closer look at a portion of the text by using a variation of the NY Times Learning Network What’s Going on In This Picture prompts: What is going on in this excerpt? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can you find?
  • Use See, Think, Wonder, Parts, Purposes, Complexities, or other protocols from Project Zero’s Thinking Routine Toolbox to explore portions of the text in more detail.
  • If possible, compare the graphic version with a print version and invite students to articulate their personal preferences, analyze decisions made and the impact these have on the reader, etc.

 

TRY THIS TOMORROW: EXPLAINERS

Feb
08

When Taylor Swift announced her forthcoming album, The Tortured Poets Department, swifties around the world celebrated. At the same time, ELA teachers sent up a cheer because their mini-lesson for the next day had been written.

We all know that learning about grammar happens best in the context of authentic writing, and I loved every minute of following the social media debates over apostrophe usage. (Taylor, if you’re reading this, please incorporate a semicolon in your next album title.)

Literary Hub quickly posted the explainer, Is the phrase The Tortured Poets Department grammatically correct? This is a fantastic explanatory mentor text that can be used specifically as a model for students to write their own grammar explainer or more generally as an example of explaining something using an “if this, then this” structure.

Here are a few other options you might add to build an inquiry unit about explainers:

Quanta Magazine has an archive of Explainers that combine videos and articles to explain detailed scientific and mathematical concepts and phenomena. These can be shared as complete texts or you can pull out specific passages to demonstrate craft moves like word choice, use of context clues, and examples to support readers’ understanding of technical language.

Life Kit from NPR is a podcast that offers” how-to” advice from experts. Most episodes are shorter than 30 minutes and cover a wide range of topics, including 5 Simple Ways to Minimize Stress, How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Caffeine, and Popular Myths About Sleep Debunked. Life Kit episodes blend relatable examples and anecdotes with research presented in an accessible way and most of them conclude with a helpful recap.

Randall Munroe has created a playlist of short videos based on his books, What If? I and What If? II. The videos are under 5 minutes and combine words and images to answer such questions as “What if Earth suddenly stopped spinning?” and “What if NASCAR had no rules?”.

 

SUPPORTING WORD STUDY WITH FIRST CHAPTER FRIDAYS

Dec
07

We love the practice of introducing texts, topics, authors, and genres to students by reading the first chapter aloud. First Chapter Fridays are a wonderful opportunity to end the week with reading joy. It’s also a strategy that, when planned with intention, can support most aspects of the curriculum. This post is part of a series that will introduce ideas for leveling up your First Chapter Fridays without diminishing its central purpose of engaging readers. Read the previous posts here and here.

Word study instruction focuses on close investigation of words. Students explore patterns in words and learn how to apply word analysis strategies to read unfamiliar words. Word study supports both reading and spelling.

Here are some suggestions for supporting word study with First Chapter Fridays:

  • Preteach some vocabulary words that are essential to students’ comprehension of the chapter by identify their word parts or patterns.
  • While reading, stop and model your use of word-solving strategies when you encounter unknown and complex words.
  • Identify a word from the chapter with a specific affix. Discuss its meaning and invite students to brainstorm other words they know with the same affix. Discuss the similarities and differences in meanings.
  • Revisit portions of the text in a targeted word study mini-lesson. Possible areas of focus include word-solving strategies (dividing into syllables, root words and origins, background knowledge, context clues), using syllable patterns to decode longer words, and recognizing morphemes and how they affect word meaning.
  • Invite students to select a word from the text to add to their Language Field Guides.

GLOSSY: AMBITION, BEAUTY, AND THE INSIDE STORY OF EMILY WEISS’S GLOSSIER BY MARISA MELTZER

Nov
28

When Emily Weiss, founder of the cosmetics company Glossier, was a high school student in Connecticut, she got a job babysitting for a neighbor who worked for Ralph Lauren. Her belief that it “just can’t hurt to ask” led her to inquire about the possibility of an internship and soon after, she was interning in the women’s design department. Weiss’s boss at Ralph Lauren was so impressed by her, that she recommended her for an internship at Teen Vogue. And her boss at Teen Vogue was so impressed that she recommended her for a role on the MTV reality show The Hills. These backstories set the stage for the combination of entrepreneurship, drive, connections, and never letting a possible opportunity go unexplored that led Emily Weiss to launch Glossier as a start-up in 2014 and lead its growth to an expected 275 million dollars in sales this year.

Weiss had been writing a beauty blog called Into the Gloss and saw the potential market for her own products. After securing initial angel investors and venture capital funding in 2013, Weiss started Glossier the following year with only 4 products and the slogan “Born from content; fueled by community.”

Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier by Marisa Meltzer is much more than a business biography. It also explores the challenges faced by women in leadership roles, examines the phenomenon of influencer marketing, and analyzes the problematic and diminishing nature of the term, “Girl Boss.”

SUPPORTING VOCABULARY WITH FIRST CHAPTER FRIDAYS

Nov
16

We love the practice of introducing texts, topics, authors, and genres to students by reading the first chapter aloud. First Chapter Fridays are a wonderful opportunity to end the week with reading joy. It’s also a strategy that, when planned with intention, can support most aspects of the curriculum. This post is part of a series that will introduce ideas for leveling up your First Chapter Fridays without diminishing its central purpose of engaging readers. Read the previous post on Supporting Fluency with First Chapter Fridays.

Vocabulary is fundamental to reading comprehension. We learn the meanings of words indirectly through oral and written language and from direct instruction.

Here are some suggestions for supporting vocabulary with First Chapter Fridays:

  • Preteach some vocabulary words that are essential to students’ comprehension of the chapter by.
  • While reading, stop and model your use of vocabulary strategies to solve unknown words.
  • Use a Knowledge Rating Guide or a Vocabulary Prediction Chart for complex vocabulary in the chapter.
  • Revisit portions of the text in a targeted vocabulary mini-lesson. Possible areas of focus include how morphology affects meanings of words, use of contextual clues for solving unknown vocabulary words, figurative language, and shades of meaning.
  • Select a short passage and ask students to identify which word they think is most important and then discuss their choices in small groups.
  • Invite students to select a word from the text to add to their Language Field Guides.

FASHION CONSCIOUS BY SARAH KLYMKIW AND KIM HANKINSON

Oct
31

In Fashion Conscious: Change the World with a Change of Clothes, Sarah Klymkiw closes her “Letter from the Author” with this message to readers:

“It’s my hope that after reading this book you will continue to love clothes as much as I do, but with open eyes to the impact that our clothing choices have on people and our planet. I hope that you will feel empowered to demand answers to questions and take action. We have the power to collectively change the world with a change of clothes.”

Fashion Conscious raises readers’ awareness about the impact of “fast fashion” on the environment and on the garment workers making the items. It encourages shoppers to be aware of the “greenwashing” phenomenon in which companies claim to use environmentally and ethically sound practices but don’t actually deliver them. Until I read this book, I had no idea that producing just one white cotton t-shirt can use up to 2,700 litres of water depending on where and how the cotton is grown or that a single polyester item can take 200 years to decompose in a landfill.

In the UK, over a million tonnes of clothes are thrown away while 15 million tonnes of clothing make their way to landfills in the US. In light of these staggering statistics, readers are given actionable strategies for shopping more mindfully and for reducing the need for purchasing new items by mending, redesigning, organizing clothes swaps, and thrifting.

In addition to being incredibly informative, Fashion Conscious is a wonderfully illustrated information text that includes graphics such as decision trees, flow charts, timelines, step-by-step procedures, Q & A interviews, and useful resources.

Overall, the authors of Fashion Conscious remind us that we wear our values: “clothing choices matter because everyone’s individual actions collectively add up to make a big difference.”

SUPPORTING FLUENCY WITH FIRST CHAPTER FRIDAYS

Oct
12

We love the practice of introducing texts, topics, authors, and genres to students by reading the first chapter aloud. First Chapter Fridays are a wonderful opportunity to end the week with reading joy. It’s also a strategy that, when planned with intention, can support most aspects of the curriculum. This is the first post in a series that will introduce ideas for leveling up your First Chapter Fridays without diminishing its central purpose of engaging readers.

Fluency is the ability to read text accurately and smoothly. Fluent readers read text with automaticity and prosody or expression. They also adjust their reading rate depending on the text.

Here are some suggestions for supporting fluency with First Chapter Fridays:

  • Reading aloud provides a model of fluent reading for students. You can enhance this by using a document camera to project the text for students to follow along while you are reading.
  • While reading, draw attention to places in the text where you monitored and adjusted your pace or expression.
  • Revisit portions of the text in a targeted fluency mini-lesson. Possible areas of focus include reading the punctuation, reading phrases smoothly, adjusting pacing to match form and purpose, and using dimensions of fluency (intonation, stress, pausing, phrasing, tone, & volume) to convey meaning.
  • Use a short section of the text for choral reading.
  • Invite students to reread a passage with a partner and discuss possible ways the reader’s expression could alter the meaning.

YOU NEED A MANIFESTO BY CHARLOTTE BURGESS-AUBURN

Sep
26

What is a manifesto?

A personal manifesto is the Swiss Army Knife of self-awareness. Your manifesto can give you the confidence to take risks that are important to you and be persistent about pursuing goals you actually care about. You can use it to synthesize new ideas and knowledge, react to change with coherence and consistency, inform your intentions, be authentic with others, and avoid situations that lead to regret. Your manifesto can be the life raft you build to keep your head above the waters of change, travel the oceans of new technology and complexity, and work your work a little wiser every day.

Why do you need one?

You need tools to navigate the sea of change. You need the advice of a teacher, the hard-won knowledge of your own experience, the wisdom of a guru, the challenge of a goal. Some compass to carry with you on the crowded path of living. You need a manifesto to recruit yourself into exercising your power as a creator and change maker. To filter the signal from the noise. To know—not just what you can do, but what you should do, what you must do, and how to do it.

In You Need a Manifesto: How to Craft Your Convictions and Put Them to Work Charlotte Burgess-Auburn demonstrates how to use the tools of design to create your own manifesto. She outlines a five-step process for crafting a manifesto that is both “a statement of purpose and a script for action”:

  1. Commence- begin by actively examining your values and beliefs.
  2. Consider- become familiar with your goals, values, ethics, and biases.
  3. Collect- deliberately look for manifestos, guidance, prescriptions, and other texts written by people who have gone through their own process to distill wisdom out of their experiences.
  4. Curate- explore different frameworks and formats to organize collected statements into a manifesto.
  5. Cultivate- turn your manifesto momentum into a bridge for your community.

Developing a manifesto is a deeply personal process that begins with intentional and deliberate self-reflection. You have to commit to examining our goals, values, and beliefs before you begin to craft your personal statement. Collecting and curating are also invitations to reflect as you identify what resonates with you and why. Although the first four steps are completely individually, step five opens the many possibilities for manifesto creation to move from the individual to the community.

Not only would developing a manifesto be a powerful activity for teacher teams and staffs to undertake to establish shared beliefs, values, understandings, and opportunities for learning, there are many possibilities for adapting this for the classroom:

  • launching it as a getting-to-know-you and community-building activity at the beginning of the year
  • practicing using mentor texts by noticing and naming specific qualities and characteristics of manifestos gathered during the collection process and then articulating how the mentors informed the process and final product
  • establishing a practice of using a writer’s notebook as a tool for collecting and curating by capturing and writing beside the manifestos gathered for inspiration
  • engaging in partner, small-group, and whole-class discussing throughout the process to share what worked, what didn’t, new discoveries, next steps, etc.
  • annotating the final product by responding to prompts such as: Why did I choose this format and content? What examples informed my manifesto and why? What does the manifesto reflect about me? What did I learn about myself in the process?
  • self-reflecting over time by considering: How is my manifesto guiding me as a learner? How is it reflected in my actions, interactions, and the work I create? As my values, beliefs, and goals evolve, do I need to update my manifesto?

You can find lots of manifestos online, but here are a few to get you started:

How to Craft a Brand Manifesto (Guide + 10 Examples

How to Create Your Own Manifesto: With 3 Gorgeous Examples to Inspire You

The Agile Manifesto

Lululemon

Spotify

The Expert Enough Manifesto from Coding with Empathy

How to Live by Charles Harper Webb

Like the other titles I’ve explored in this series of Stanford d. school guides, You Need a Manifesto is readable, colorful, beautifully designed, and inspiring. You can read my review of Design for Belonging by Susie Wise here.

DESIGN FOR BELONGING BY SUSIE WISE

Sep
19

In Design for Belonging: How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration in Your Communities, Susie Wise explains the importance of belonging:

Belonging helps us to be fully human. It gives us permission to share our talents and express our life force. It enables cooperation, collaboration, and the ability to work across difference. It emboldens our creativity and our problem-solving abilities. When people feel like they belong, they are able to be their best and do their best.

According to Wise, we can all design spaces that help people feel they belong, and she represents this intersection of belonging and design as “belonging + design = new ways of bringing people together, or new ways of people being together.”

Belonging means that we feel accepted and that we can show up as our authentic selves; we also feel that as a member of the community we can raise issues and challenge ideas. In contrast, othering is treating people who belong to a different group or community as inferior.

We can shape belonging and avoid othering by using what Wise calls the levers of design. These levers are tools that help us move toward the goal of creating spaces where people feel safe to participate fully. They help us experiment with new ways of engaging with others.

  • Space: cues us to what, how, and who we can be
  • Roles: because they are designed as part of systems, they can be redesigned to create belonging
  • Events: designing an event is crafting the experience, so belonging must be a through-line
  • Rituals: help us focus on personal, interpersonal, and communal meaning-making
  • Grouping: to foster belonging, be specific about what you hope to achieve by designing group structures
  • Communications: be aware that all communications send explicit and implicit messages about who belongs and who does not
  • Clothing: can act as a symbol of belonging
  • Food: is sometimes an opportunity for coming together
  • Schedules and Rhythms: can play an important role if they are designed to support people and their needs.

No matter what role we play, we can be reflective about whether or not our interactions create belonging or othering. When we become aware of the levers of belonging in our own communities, we can begin to use them with intention. Although this book is not specific to education, there are countless spaces educators can apply these principles to design and redesign spaces within our classrooms and school communities to foster belonging.