Margin Notes

COMPREHENSION: THE SKILL, WILL, AND THRILL OF READING

Jan
21

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey are the authors of many of my favourite books about teaching literacy. They are the authors of many of the “Visible Learning” books (with co-author John Hattie). In my opinion, their book “Developing Assessment Capable Visible Learners K-12” is one of the best books written about formative assessment and feedback. The reason I enjoy their books so much is that they mesh the research with practicality. Plus, they always challenge and expand my thinking!

Their latest book, Comprehension: The Skill, Will, and Thrill of Reading (with co-author Nancy Law), is no exception.

In this book, the authors lay out their case for why reading instruction needs to move beyond teaching the skills of reading – to also include the explicit teaching of the will and thrill of reading comprehension.

If you are a teacher of literacy who is looking for ideas on how to…

…get students excited about reading.

…teach critical literacy.

…increase student talk.

…have students question any text they are reading.

…encourage students to take action through reading and understanding.

I would highly encourage you to read this book!

Fisher, Frey and Law’s research-based ideas about cultivating the thrill of reading in our students rests with them being able to answer one simple question:

“What does this text inspire me to do?”

Well, I pondered this question and was inspired to write this review!

Learn more about Fisher and Frey here.

Here, Nancy Frey is speaking about reading comprehension at the South Australia Literacy Conference in February 2020:

https://youtu.be/qwfyXO-VLZU

If you are interested in more resources about teaching reading and viewing, may I also encourage you to check out the ASD-W Margin Notes Literacy K-12 SharePoint – Reading/Viewing Page.

Happy learning!

PICTURE BOOKS FOR EVERYONE

Jan
19

Picture books provide for teachers the perfect tool to build students’ vocabulary, understanding of story structure, and character traits, but beyond that they also provide teachers the perfect platform to introduce areas of study far beyond that of developing literacy skills.  Discussion of complex ideas like cause and effect, self-esteem, bullying, or mathematical concepts can all be initiated through the use of picture books at any age. You are never too old for picture books, and given how busy teachers are, why not consider combining multiple purposes through a read aloud?

The following texts are new releases that teachers of all grade levels will enjoy having as part of their classroom library.

Because by Mo Willems and illustrated by Amber Ren provides a joyful journey through a series of seemingly unrelated and insignificant events that bring a young girl face to face with a life changing moment.

 

 

 

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James uses easy to read text to highlight the strength, courage, and worth of a child. Strength can be found in a painful fall, courage in making an effort, no matter how small, and it all contributes to recognizing our own unique worth.

 

 

 

 

A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade and illustrated Veronica Miller Jamison celebrates the life and perseverance of Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician featured in the movie Hidden Figures. Katherine exhibits strength and the unwavering recognition that how she and other women are and have been treated is wrong… as wrong as 5+5=12 or 10-5=3.

 

 

 

I Didn’t Stand Up by Lucy Falcone and illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon is another example of a seemingly simple text that will facilitate thoughtful discussion about bullying. The illustrations like the text provides powerful context for the topic.

EGG OR EYEBALL? BY CECE BELL

Jan
12

Cece Bell, author of Newbery Honor Book, El Deafo, has taken the stage with her new, “Chick & Brain” series for children learning to read. Egg or Eyeball? is the second book in Cece’s series. Not only is she the author of this book geared to generate many laughs from its readers, but she also boasts the illustrator title for this series too!

What I particularly love about this title and the previous book, Smell my Foot, is that Cece captures the audience with comedy about manners gone wrong with the characters Brain, Chick, and Spot.

So, what is this mysterious discovery?  Chick and Spot say it is an egg with supporting facts, and Brain says, “eyeball.” Sit down, relax and judge for yourself. You may be surprised with the outcome!

OUR FAVOURITE READS OF 2020

Dec
17

As we say goodbye to the year, and with Christmas just around the corner, we thought we would share some of our favourite middle level, young adult, and picture book titles from 2020!

MIDDLE LEVEL READS:

YOUNG ADULT:

PICTURE BOOKS:

LUCKY STARS BY ARON NELS STEINKE

Dec
10

Lucky Stars by Aron Nels Steinke is the third book in the series Mr. Wolf’s Class. Steinke teaches 5th grade and was inspired by the everyday goings on in his own class.  This series of books features the same animal characters that students are sure to see themselves in or their classmates.

In Lucky StarsMr. Wolf’s students are writing personal narratives and Sampson is struggling to think of any events in his life worth writing about until one morning, he and Margot take a bike ride and he has an accident that lands him in the hospital. After that he thanks his lucky stars that he’s going to be okay and has a sensational personal narrative to write. 

Written as a graphic novel Lucky Stars is recommended for students from grades 2 to 5 and for those who enjoy realistic fiction with some great humour 

WISH BY CHRIS SAUNDERS

Nov
24

Author and illustrator, Chris Saunders shares a tale of true kindness, and friendship through a compelling story about Rabbit who has unexpectedly been granted three wishes.

His touching story takes you on a journey with Rabbit who has never had a wish before as he seeks out the advice of others of what they would do if they were granted a wish. Rabbit selflessly grants each of his friends wishes giving him more than he expected when his friends then share their wishes with him.

BOOKS TO CELEBRATE “WORLD CHILDREN’S DAY” ON NOVEMBER 20th

Nov
12

Since 1954, the United Nations has marked “World Children’s Day” on November 20th. The intent of this day is “…to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.” (source) Originally called “Universal Children’s Day”, November 20th marks the day that the “Declaration of the Rights of the Child” was adopted by the UN Assembly. 

This day is worthy of celebration! It provides an opportunity for us to have important conversations with our students about their rights and responsibilities as children and citizens of the world. 

UNICEF CANADA has created a poster-sized version of The Convention on the Rights of the Child  written in child-friendly language that you can share with your students. You can click this poster to find a printable version. (More resources are listed at the end of this post) 

Picture books (click on the books for info and resources):

And one more suggestion!

“Where Children Sleep” is a photo essay by James Mollison. You can view many of the images on his website, which you can access by clicking on the book cover. I love this book so much! It is such a simple concept. He visited different parts of the world and took pictures of where children sleep. It demonstrates so well the economic disparities that exist in the lives of children around the world.

More resources:

https://plan-international.org/child-friendly-poster-convention-rights-child

https://www.un.org/en/observances/world-childrens-day

Happy “World Children’s Day”!

DEAR SISTER BY ALISON MCGHEE AND JOE BLUHM

Nov
10

If you have not had the pleasure of reading, “dear sister” by Alison McGhee this is a must have for your classroom library.  It would also make a for a great read-aloud with your class to spark engaging conversation and storytelling.   

Inspired by her own children’s letters to each other as they were growing up, Alison McGhee takes you through “brother’s” journey of surviving the “not so joys” of life with a little annoying sister.  Anyone with siblings or close younger relatives can relate to the trying times of constantly being pestered, hounded and needed at the drop of the hat when you really want time and space to be alone. 

Joe Bluhm, the illustrator captures the authors narrative precisely with his illustrations depicting the perfect annoying little sister. 

The book written as a collection of letters throughout  “brother’s journey” from childhood to adulthood mixed with the loss of a special friendship and finding himself to realizing that having a sister all along was just what he needed after all. 

WE WILL ROCK OUR CLASSMATES BY RYAN T. HIGGINS

Oct
29

We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins is the companion book to the #1 New York Times bestselling book We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. Penelope has returned as the only T-rex in her class who is (believe it or not) often overlooked.  Since learning that she could not eat her classmates, Penelope has made many friends at school.  However, being a T-rex, as you can imagine, makes it difficult for Penelope’s classmates to “see” her rather than the dinosaur. The thoughtful use of both traditional narrative text and speech bubbles will allow children and teachers to share this book in a variety of ways. Possibilities to consider include using as a reader’s theatre or mentor text after sharing as a read aloud.  However you decide to use this text, I am sure you will agree that Ryan T. Higgins has once again crafted a delightfully funny story about  the fear of trying something new, self-doubt and the power of support and friendship in overcoming that fear.  I bet the ending will make you smile too.

I HATE READING: HOW TO READ WHEN YOU’D RATHER NOT BY BETH BACON, AS TOLD BY HER KIDS, ARTHUR & HENRY

Oct
13

In this short and visually appealing text, Beth Bacon shares the strategies of young readers who work hard to “get out of reading”. Readers of this text will be entertained and probably won’t be able to keep from laughing out loud, which makes it a great read in and of itself, but the fast pace of this book and the short amount of time it takes to read from cover to cover, will help build confidence…and may leave students thinking that maybe reading isn’t so bad!

 

Here are some sample pages: