Margin Notes

TRY THIS TOMORROW: TWO-PAGE SPREAD

Jan
20

In Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher’s new resource, 4 Essential Studies: Beliefs and Practices to Reclaim Student Agency, they discuss using two-page spreads as a way to generate student thinking and prepare for discussions about their reading. They begin by giving students no more direction than to ask that students use the two pages to bring evidence of what they were thinking as they were reading. They then used student models to show different ways readers might show their thinking. 

Here are some examples: 

Students used lists and categories.

Students used sticky-notes in their books and transferred them to the two-pager. 

Students organized their thinking with different colors of sticky-notes. 

Students wrote notes and highlighted the main points. 

Students took the guiding questions and created their own charts of character, quotes and craft. Making thinking visible is an essential part of any classroom. I love that these authors discuss how this same thinking model can be used in other content areas, such as this one on anatomy.  

Some students may require support with such an open-ended activity and this resource provides other options that are more guided, while maintaining the goal of student-generated talk. Here are some guiding questions that might help students get started on their two-page spread: 

  • Find a gossipy moment in the book. 
  • Identify the turns in the book. 
  • Discuss a critical decision made in the chapter or book. 
  • Capture a shift in your thinking. 
  • Discuss a minor character of major importance. 
  • Pick a passage and read it the way the author intended it to be read. 
  • Identify and discuss the most important word in the passage, chapter, or book. 
  • Annotate poetry 

You can find more student spreads under “Book Love workshop handouts” on http://pennykittle.net  

Kittle, Penny, and Kelly Gallagher. 4 Essential Studies: Beliefs and Practices to Reclaim Student Agency. Heinemann, 2021.

NOTICE AND NOTE: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst

Oct
28

Kylene Beers and Bob Probst are two educators who have influenced my teaching greatly. Their book “Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading” is, in my opinion, a game-changer when it comes to strategy instruction. The pair, through many years of thinking, observations, teaching students and having conversations with each other, developed a set of “Signposts” that upper elementary to high school students can use as strategies for close reading.

Here are Kylene and Bob discussing their book:

In my role as a Literacy Coach, I have co-taught the six Signposts in many classrooms, and I can attest to the fact that they work! Students embed these strategies and use them in their own independent reading. They are also fantastic tools to support students as they discuss their reading in small groups and for book club discussions. Students can also use them to respond to text.

If you are looking for mini-lessons for strategy instruction, I encourage you to check out this book. The Signposts are strategies that students can use throughout the school year to support reading comprehension. More information about this book and the authors is available here.

FIGHTING WORDS BY KIMBERLY BRUBAKER BRADLEY

Sep
21

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a beautifully written middle level novel about two sisters who learn that speaking their truth may be what allows them to start healing from a childhood shattered by abuse and neglect. The story begins with Della (10) and Suki (16) being placed in foster care after an attempted sexual assault on Della by their mother’s ex-boyfriend, the one they were left living with when their mother was incarcerated. Fortunately for the girls, they are placed with Francine, who becomes the ally the girls so desperately need – even if they don’t realize they do.

This novel shines light on the effects of childhood sexual abuse and the lengths siblings will go to protect one another. Although Fighting Words is not always easy to read, it is an important read. The characters and the story created by Brubaker will surely open up important conversations about topics often shied away from, and in doing so, will help with the stigma around sexual abuse while offering hope to survivors. Although this title is not a memoir, the author is one of these survivors.

My greatest hope after reading this novel is that it finds its way into the hands of the students who need it most.

SPOTTING FAKE NEWS AND TEACHING MEDIA LITERACY

Jun
24

In a democratic society, one of the most important things we can teach our students is the ability to spot fake news and think critically about the media they are consuming.

Below, I’ve compiled some excellent resources for teaching and learning about fake news.

Tips for Spotting Fake News:

MediaSmarts.ca is the gold-standard (and it’s Canadian). On this site, you will find lesson plans and tons of resources.

This is a great infographic I found for evaluating a news article. (click the picture to go to the website)

Websites and videos that can act as practice material for spotting fake news and websites:

Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Spaghetti Harvest in Ticino

Introducing the Screen Cleaner App

And a card game for teaching media literacy!

WISHES, LIES AND DREAMS BY KENNETH KOCH

Apr
27

 

Kenneth Koch was a professor of English at Columbia University and a celebrated poet. He is the author of numerous books of poetry and other published writings. His book, Wishes, Lies and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry, was originally published in 1970. This book, which is co-authored by the students of P.S. 61 in New York City, documents his journey teaching students to write poetry.

I really enjoyed reading this book and, despite the fact that this book is 51 years old, it is charming and sweet. It would be a great mentor text to use with students. There are so many poems in this book!

His ideas for teaching students poetry certainly hold up in the present day. In fact, Anne Elliot and Mary Lynch, authors of Cultivating Readers, use his “I used to…Now I…” formula for an activity on p. 117 of their book.

Wishes, Lies and Dreams is full of great, quick lessons that would be easy to replicate in today’s classroom. I would recommend this book if you are a teacher who is always looking for new ways to incorporate poetry. I can guarantee that you’ll be inspired!

Find out more about the book here.

 

POETRY RESOURCE ROUND-UP

Apr
06

We’re celebrating Poetry Month by sharing poetry ideas for April and all year long. Here are a few favorite sources of inspiration for High School classrooms:

Made with Padlet

Let us know what your go-to poetry resources are by dropping them into the comments below.

APRIL IS POETRY MONTH 

Apr
01

This month, we’ll be sharing ideas for celebrating poetry during April, and all year long! Follow along as we share resources, classroom ideas, and reviews. What better way to launch this celebration than by sharing some of our favorite poems about poetry and writing? 

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins 

Prompts (for High School Teachers Who Write Poetry) by Dante di Stefano 

Some Like Poetry by Wislawa Szymborska 

Digging by Seamus Heaney 

The 1st Poem in the Imaginary Book by Sarah Kay 

For the Young Who Want To by Marge Piercy 

How To Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam 

Unfolding Bud by Naoshi Koriyama 

Johnnie’s Poem by Alden Nowlan 

Poetry by Pablo Neruda 

If you have other titles to share, please drop them in the comments. Happy Poetry Month! 

BUTTS ARE EVERYWHERE BY JONATHAN STUTZMAN

Mar
16

What child doesn’t lose it when they hear the word “butt”? Jonathan Stutzman is sure to capture any student’s attention with his triumphant celebration of the tushee. 

Although the subject matter of this book is comical, children will learn more about their “hind-end” than they realize!  Who knew these powerful muscles had such purpose or that, as Jonathan would suggest, “The gluteus really is the maximus!

This over the top hilarious book is sure to bring a smile to anyone that reads it and evoke much followup conversation.

CELEBRATE #IREADCANADIAN DAY FEBRUARY 17th

Feb
11

I Read Canadian Day is “a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people. This is a day dedicated to ‘reading Canadian’ and will empower families, schools, libraries and organizations to host local activities and events within the week.” source

 

The ASD-W Literacy Team would like to encourage all ELA Teachers K-12 to promote I Read Canadian in their schools. What a great way to celebrate the richness and diversity that Canadian Literature has to offer.

Teachers can sign up their school and find a Tool Kit for Educators here.  As you will find, the tool kit is chock-full of activities, book lists and advice on how to book author’s visits. Additionally, there is a Tool Kit for Librarians. Please share this information with school librarians!

Happy reading (Canadian)!

 

GUEST WRITER LAURA NOBLE RECOMMENDS ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL BY ROBIN HA

Jan
26

When we use graphic novels to teach and connect with our students, we’re using several art forms – colour choice and representation, the written word, drawing, symbolism, and collaboration. Graphic novels facilitate conversations about character growth and development that some students may not understand through just the written word. Here, we can interact with our characters and literally see them transform on the page itself. Almost American Girl is the perfect graphic novel to show how all of these elements can be beautifully stitched together to show a story about immigration, love, and growing up.

Almost American Girl is Robin Ha’s illustrated memoir that depicts her immigration story from Korea to Alabama as a teenager in the 90’s. Robin is taken away from everything that was important to her – the culture, the food, her friends, and her comic books. With a headstrong mother who is doing what she believes is best for her daughter, we watch Robin struggle with learning English, making friends, and growing up.

Ha’s illustrations and use of language is creative, sentimental, and heartbreaking. We watch her character unfold as she gains English skills and new friends. We see how immigrating to a new country and not knowing the language can cause harm and how a school experience can be ruined by an undertow of racist comments and belittling classmates.

Ha finds ways to connect with others in her community, but soon after she is told that her new stepfather is mistreating her mother, so they move yet again. Part of the appeal of Almost American Girl is the relationship of Ha and her mother. Their relationship is strained like many parents and teens, so while this graphic novel may be a mirror for immigrant students, it may also touch a soft spot with students who are finding that their relationship with their parents can often be rocky.

This book would serve so many young audiences, but I recommend it to every teacher who has/will teach a student that has moved to their school from a different country. Learning about the experience of immigrants is an important aspect of learning about language and culture, and this book does this beautifully. You will root for the characters and wish them well, feeling like Robin Ha is your best friend by the end of the book.

 

 

Laura Noble teaches English and Writing at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton. She is an avid reader of true crime, realistic fiction, and feminist literature.