Margin Notes

TRY THIS TOMORROW: THREE TOOLS FOR TALK 

Jun
23

In their resource, Breathing New Life into Book Clubs: A Practical Guide for Teachers, Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen guide educators on how to use book clubs to create a culture of reading.  

When students are placed together to carry conversation, the discussion might begin with the question “What do we talk about?” One response suggestion in this resource is to offer the three tools of talk. This strategy can help learners who struggle to find ideas worth sharing along with those who have ideas but need support to start a conversation. 

What’s on your mind? 

This question can start a conversation with any thought, sticky-note or quote to break the silence and teach learners that their ideas are valuable. It might be a thought about a character, an important event, an interesting detail etc.  

Audacious Questioning 

All group members can ask questions that may or may not have answers. The questions could be why something happened, what others predict will happen next, help to clear up confusion or ask about an event. Students can write sticky notes with questions as they arise in reading and bring them to the discussion or ask as the discussion progresses. 

Author’s Moves 

Once students learn to read like a writer, they know how to see the craft moves of an author. Students can discuss these moves together. They could talk about the structure, the language, the perspectives, the theme etc.  

Once you introduce, model and practice the three tools for talking, you can individualize feedback and support to groups when you notice which area they are leaving out of discussions or support them in including a variety of subtopics in each branch. 

If you are interested in learning more about starting, running and assessing book clubs, this title offers a practical guide to your teaching. The mini-lessons, tracking suggestions and immediately applicable advice is invaluable. 

Cherry-Paul, S., & Johansen, D. (2019). Breathing New Life into book clubs. Heinemann Educational Books. 

 

 

JENNIFER CHAN IS NOT ALONE BY TAE KELLER

Jun
21

There are just some authors who are an immediate “yes”. Tae Keller has become one of those authors for me, ever since reading her Newbery Medal winning novel “When You Trap a Tiger“. So, when I found out that she had a new middle grade novel coming out on April 26th, I pre-ordered it. And, let me tell you, it does not disappoint.

Mallory, the narrator of the story, is so real and raw. I love how we are privy to all of her thoughts, insecurities, and feelings. She is a complicated character and is not simply “good or bad”. The shame and guilt she feels over her actions and those of her friends is written with sensitivity, and I certainly felt empathy for her- despite the fact that as a parent and a teacher I wanted to tell her to give her head a shake many times.

This is a story of bullying, aliens (yes, I said “aliens”), being the “new kid”, standing up for what is right, and speaking up for others EVEN when it makes you stick out. This novel would be an amazing read aloud for a grade 6 or 7 class.

I highly recommend you add this to your TBR stack of summer reads. And if you haven’t read “When you Trap a Tiger”, add that one too!

PROMOTE A LEAP, NOT A LOSS: SUMMER, HOLIDAY AND WEEKEND READING

Jun
16

As educators we want to ensure that our students have daily time to read each day when they are with us at school.  To keep this momentum, it is important that we consider ways to set students up to read at home on weekends, holidays and of course over the summer.  With summer fast approaching teachers may want to consider the following suggestions from Intervention Reinvention by Stephanie Harvey et al, on how to prevent the phenomenon known as “summer slide”.  These strategies may be especially helpful when brainstorming ways to support our more vulnerable learners who according to research experience higher degrees (80%) of stalled learning over the summers break.

  • Consider having students make a vacation reading plan. Have children plan ahead and get them talking about what they would like to read and prepare copies of books/ebooks, and teach them how to access books at the public library. Photocopy calendar pages and conference with students to support their interest and reading plan.

  • Consider sending students home with books that were carefully book matched to their interests using books from your classroom library.
  • Consider organizing book swaps before the school year ends. Put out a call for gently used books and book match with your students and set up a display letting families know books are available and that they are welcome to what interests them.
  • Consider promoting book ownership through giveaway promotions. Studies have found that book ownership when paired with a summer reading programs has more impact when no strings are attached (Allington, McGill-Frazen 2010). Students build home libraries of high interest books and pride in book ownership.
  • Consider keeping the school library open over the summer. Advertise it as a one-time special events or exclusive offer. It may be easier for students to access the school library rather than the public and even if students have been sent home with books, allowing access to the school library with allow them to refresh their stack. Perhaps a new interest has popped up over the summer, and accessing the library allows them to continue that interest.

Get together with colleagues and the school administration to discuss these ideas or brainstorm  other out of the box ideas to support students over the summer.  Plan for a leap and not a loss!

To learn more about Intervention Reinvention and other reading volume interventions strategies click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROTATING CLASSROOM LIBRARIES

May
26

Last year the ASD-W Literacy team asked literacy teachers of grades 6-12 to complete a reading volume survey. That survey provided our team a multitude of valuable information.  One piece of data that resonated with me was the fact that 80 of the 84 respondents shared that they use personal funds to purchase books for their classroom library. We know that classroom libraries are recommended to include 20-30 books per student and that these titles need to appeal to a diverse audience and include selections accessible for all students.  This need for books can creates a financial burden for many teachers who want to provide students with rich reading experiences .

Given this reality for teachers, may I suggest a strategy to stretch both personal and school funds.  The recently published, Intervention Reinvention by Harvey et al suggests that teachers share books with colleagues to “maximize classroom library resources and ensure that every student has access to a range of appealing and varied texts” p. 144.

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • By knowing your own library well, you can decide which topics, genres, or formats are needed to rotate to supplement your own library.
  • Connect with colleagues in your building and reach out to see if they are willing to collaborate and rotate books.
  • Identify rotating books with a sticker on the back or inside cover.
  • Organize rotating books in bins or a separate shelf.
  • Check out the school book room. If titles are available here, ask the administrator if these can be part of a rotating collection.
  • Finally, don’t forget to borrow from the school and the public library.

Curating a diverse well stocked classroom library is a huge challenge. Working with colleagues can stretch and strengthen your resources and knowledge of texts.

To learn more about Intervention Reinvention and other reading volume intervention strategies click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY- HIGH SCHOOL EDITION

Apr
07

Poem In Your Pocket Day (PYID) is celebrated every year during National Poetry Month.

From the League of Poets website:

“On PIYP Day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, coffee shops, street corners, and on social media using the hashtag #PocketPoem.”

I was thinking about all the digital options available for accessing poetry and how our phones can fit in our pockets and then it occured to me that selecting a poem on a social media platform and then sharing said poem on your socials is literally “a poem in your pocket”.

Here are some fantastic sources for poetry:

Button Poetry

Button Poetry is very active on all social media platforms, including TikTok and Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. If you click the link above and then scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can find all the links. They share amazing spoken word poetry on TikTok.

Poetry Foundation

Publishers of the magazine POETRY. They are active on instagram, and have a podcast called “Audio Poem of the Day”.

Brett Vogelsinger

Brett is a high school ELA teacher, and each year in March he tweets and blogs about poetry – leading up to Poetry Month. You can find this year’s tweets here.

Poets.org 

Poets.org is active on Twitter and has a poem-a-day section on their website. They tweet using the hashtag #poemaday

League of Canadian Poets

On their website, you will find selections of poems for Poem-in-your-Pocket Day for the past 6 years.

PIYP Day 2021 / 2020 / 2019 / 2018 / 2017 / 2016

With all these options, I can guarantee that your students will not only find a poem that speaks to them, but will be excited to share that poem to the world. And, don’t forget to use the hashtag #pocketpoem!

 

APRIL IS POETRY MONTH 2022

Apr
05

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.

Made with Padlet

If you are looking for more inspiration to launch a month of poetry, these might be helpful:

4 Reasons to Start Class with a Poem Each Day by Brett Vogelsinger (via Edutopia)

10 Reasons to Begin Reading Poetry by Rebecca Hussey (via Book Riot)

Poetry Critic Steven Burt’s TED Talk Why People Need Poetry

How Poetry Can Turn A Fear of Literature into Love by Jason Reynolds

Grant Snider’s Comic Understanding Poetry

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

Happy Poetry Month!

DECOLONIZING YOUR BOOKSHELVES

Feb
17

In their new book, Intervention Reinvention: A Volume-Based Approach to Reading Success, authors Stephanie Harvey, Annie Ward, Maggie Hoddinott and Suzanne Carroll advocate teachers create and curate what they refer to as, “…robust, vibrant, and diverse classroom libraries”(p. 29). One way they propose to curate this library is to actively engage in decolonizing your bookshelves.  Classroom libraries need to reflect all students and the authors provide an abundance of research to support this stance.

As early as 1965 the Saturday Review article, “The All-White World of Children’s Books,” by Dr. Nancy Larrick, stated that though integration was the law of the land, most books children saw were white.  This lack of representation, she when on to say, “ …harms children of color by depriving them of opportunities to see themselves in books they read and in how they imagine their futures”. Almost 50 years later in 2014 author Walter Dean Myers published an op-ed in the New York Times, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?”. In 2016 and 2019 Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen, an associate professor at St. Catherine University and illustrator David Huyck published what is now a will known infographic displaying data collected about the representation of children of color in books published prior to 2019.

In February 2020, author, and educator Zaretta Hammond wrote, “Revisiting Your Library: Decolonizing, Not Just Diversifying”. She argues that while teachers are ensuring more books with brown faces are in their libraries, these books often still perpetuate black stereotypes.  For example, books that portray buses, boycotts, and basketball or only storylines that examine the challenges of inner city living.  She goes on to explain that while having books around a ‘Black Lives Matter’ theme and social justice is part of the black experience, it is not the only part.  Black life and lives are diverse and the books that reflect their lives should show this diversity.  Hammond offers the following three reflective questions to determine whether a book is worth including:

          • Does the book go beyond the typical themes about characters of color?
      • Do the children of color look authentic?
      • Are the texts, especially fictional stories, ‘enabling’?
(David Huyak, in consultation with Sarh Park Dahlen – Released under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)

Consider taking time to ask these questions of the books in your library and decolonize your shelves. Once finished, if you are looking for titles to add to your collection, check out our virtual bookshelves.

To learn more about the book Intervention Reinvention: A Volume-Based Approach to Reading Success, click here.

 

 

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.