Margin Notes

TRY THIS TOMORROW: POETS RESPOND

Apr
15

 Every Sunday, Rattle posts a new poem to their Poets Respond collection. Each poem has been written in response to a public event that has occurred during the week. Most of the posts also include a recording of the poem being read aloud by the poet. The archives include weekly poems dating back to 2014. 

I can think of a number of ways to share these poems with students: 

  • as quickwrites and mentor texts, 
  • in text sets related to current events, 
  • as models for students to use when they write their own Poets Respond poems, 
  • as an opportunity to submit their work for consideration. 

If you incorporate Poets Respond, let us know how it goes with a message in the comments. 

TRY THIS TOMORROW: CRITIQUE OF THE WEEK 

Apr
13

If you have been looking for a mentor text for how to ask for and give feedback or for what discussing poetry can sound like, look no further than Rattle’s live video workshop, Critique of the Week. In each episode, a Rattle editor does a live critique of 1-2 poems drawn from the week’s submissions, thinking aloud and annotating while incorporating viewer feedback from the chat box into their reflection. In some cases, the submitting poet has requested feedback on a specific aspect of their writing. 

The archives of Critique of the Week can be accessed on Rattle’s YouTube Channel. 

Here are some ideas for using Critique of the Week into your writing workshop: 

  • Share clips as models for discussing the content, form, and craft of poetry. 
  • Incorporate excerpts into mini-lessons on such topics as: making our thinking visible to others, expanding on thinking with evidence from a text, annotations, and “what we talk about when we talk about poetry.” 
  • Invite students to reflect on whether they agree or disagree with the critique and why. This would be a terrific way to reinforce the concept that there is no single “correct” interpretation of a text. 
  • Ask students to respond to the questions: How can these ideas enhance my understanding of poetry/writing poetry/writing in general? How do these ideas make me a better reader? How do they make me a better writer? 
  • Name and discuss some of the thinking moves you notice the host using in their critique. 

If you’ve used Critique of the Week in your classroom, we’d love to hear about it in the comments! 

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! 

TRY THIS TOMORROW: FILM CLUB

Mar
18

In the newly-developed literacy curriculum developed for our province, text is defined as “not just the written word—other examples include an oral story, a musical score, a piece of art, a mathematical equation, a dance, a chemical formula, a game, a network of linked web pages, an advertisement, a video, an outfit.”

We celebrate this expanded definition of “text” because it encourages us to reconsider not just what forms and genres students are exposed to, but also to reflect on what it means to read and to compose.

Film Club is a fantastic resource for teachers curated by The New York Times Learning Network. These short documentaries, many of which have running times shorter than 10 minutes, can be incorporated into high school ELA classrooms just like any other short text. For example, they can be used as:

  • quickwrites
  • mini-lessons
  • small-group and whole-class discussions
  • critical thinking prompts
  • mentor texts
  • building background knowledge
  • part of a theme-based text set
  • self-selected independent reading

Reflect on what percentage of texts your students consume. How do you incorporate texts such as these short documentaries? We’d love to hear your strategies in the comments!

TRY THIS TOMORROW: JOT NOTES

Mar
09

If you are familiar with Jennifer Serravallo’s The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K-2/ 3-6you will no doubt have tried some of the many assessment tools she suggests, helping you understand deeply what students know and can do. 

One such assessment tool is called Jot Notes and is used to determine what students understand in their comprehension of text. Jennifer states “what meaning students are making in a text is one of the trickiest parts of assessing reading.” She suggests having students write about, speak about, or answer questions about their reading to make comprehension visible and to allow students’ individual needs by offering a variety of ways in which they respond 

Jot Notes are a quick and easy way for students to respond. We may ask a student to stop and jot as they read independently or pause during a read aloud at predetermined places and ask students to jot a quick note, reaction, question, reflection, or idea on a sticky note or in their reader’s notebook. For example, if you are assessing the students’ abilities to visualize you may ask them to describe what they are picturing or to assess inference and how characters change over time, you may ask students to describe what kind of a person the character is at the beginning and at the end of the book.  

A tip that teachers have shared with us to help save time is to ask students to label stickies with their name and the date before the read aloud or independent reading, this allows teachers to collect and file them in a students’ reading profile quickly and easily.  

Try this tomorrow! 

Image is page — Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K-2 p22 Heineman 

TRY THIS TOMORROW: THE FLIP FOLDER MULTISENSORY WORD STUDY TECHNIQUE

Feb
25

In Richard Gentry and Gene Ouelette’s new book Brain Words- How the Science of Reading Informs Teaching we are introduced to the flip folder technique of word study for grades 2-6As teachers it is so difficult to navigate the myriad of word study activities crowding the internet, not knowing if any of the ideas presented will be effective. This Look-Say-See-Write-Check-Rewrite multisensory procedure is research based and helps students’ study and learn words. 

 Gentry and Oulette outline the steps in using this approach as follows: 

(“Brain Words”, p.111)

  1. Students place a sheet of paper under the flaps and write their word study words in the left-hand column under the Look-Say-See flap. The paper under the other two columns is left blank. 
  2. Have students open the first flap and look and say the first word. The students then close the flap and try to picture it. 
  3. Next the students lift the second flap and write the first word from memory. They then lift the first flap and check the word for correct spelling. 
  4. Lastly, after closing the first two flaps, the students lift the third flap and rewrite the word for additional practice and then they check it again with the first flap 

If you are interested in learning other techniques and procedures that are grounded in research to teach reading and spelling, then you are sure to love Brain Words. You will find many practical classroom activities for daily teaching that you can try tomorrow!  

GET THEM TALKING

Jan
28

Student-led book talks can develop oral language skills and increase student motivation to read. Lucy Calkins in her book The Art of Teaching Reading (2007) shared that the books that mean the most to us are the ones we discuss with our friends and peers. Providing time for students to share book talks in the classroom will allow them to have this same experience.

Book talks are brief, enthusiastic oral descriptions of a book that a student has read. They are also given with the intention of encouraging others to read the book.  As adults this is something we do naturally, but how do we create the conditions to have our students do this as naturally as we do ourselves?

This very idea is explored in a 2016 article,  “Get Them Talking! Using Student-Led Book Talks in the Primary Grades,” by Alida K. Hudson in The Reading Teacher, volume 70 (2).

According to our Atlantic Canada English Language Arts Curriculum Grades K-3, …”children in the early years should be able to express thoughts and describe feelings or experiences, express opinions, and listen to the ideas and opinions of others” p. 24 In addition, “students should be engaging in informal oral presentations” p. 25 …and as well, “regard reading/viewing as sources of interest, enjoyment, and information” p. 27.  Alida Hudson’s concise article lays out the steps to creating this possibility within our classrooms.

To begin, it is important to remember that implementation should be done over the course of several weeks with a  slow, gradual release of responsibility to the students. Alida Hudson suggests the following process:

Step 1: Model, Model, Model

Search the internet for videos of young students giving book talks and pick ones that are good examples.  Share these with students at the beginning of reading time each day for about a week.  After the first cuple of days also begin to ask the students to discuss with their neighbor what they noticed about the books talks. Guide them to see that the book talks all idenify the title and author of the book, discuss the main character of the story and the main idea. Also share during this time that adults often share and recommend books to each other that they enjoy. This helps them understand the purpose of the book talks – to get others to read the book!

Step 2: Direct Instruction

After taking the first week to introduce book talks to students, begin providing direct instruction. After reading a book aloud to your class explain how to prepare a book talk and what information is needed. Consider the creation of an anchor chart like the one shown. The chart will provide the scaffold students need to practice the conversation they will be having about their book. As the teacher, you can then model giving a book talk using the anchor chart with a book you read previously.  Repeat modeling book talks for several days using the chart.

 

(“Get Them Talking! Using Student-Led Book Talks in the Primary Grades”, by Alida K. Hudson in The Reading Teacher, volume 70 (2). )

Step 3: Practice Makes Perfect

Once direct instruction is completed have students prepare book talks in small groups using texts that they already know well and on which they have background knowledge. Each student in the group prepares one section of the book talk.  Have the groups prepare different book talks over several days ensuring each student has a different role each day. To build independence begin working with students in small groups during reading workshop to develop their own complete book talk.

 Step 4: Present

Once some students have their book talks prepared, they take turns presenting. They hold the book with one hand and their written book talk paper in the other to speak.  When finished, celebrate, and allow a few questions. Continue meetings with students in small groups to prepare their book talks until all have had their chance to share. Students should now be prepared to move forward on their own preparing future book talks. You may even want to consider one day of the week as the “Book Talk” day.

Step 5:  Model, Model, Model and Accommodate as Needed

Throughout the year periodically model book talks and reference the anchor chart.  Consider pairing students reluctant to talk with a partner to book talk a text that they have both read. To support EAL students or other learners provide sentence stems and opportunities to practice prior to their turn to speak to the class. Another modification could be to allow a student to share with you verbally their book talk while you transcribe. When it is their turn to present, you could share the book talk for them as the child holds the book. Enrichment opportunities might include book talks to be delivered during an assembly or via the morning announcements or video recordings for other classrooms. Challenge students to consider giving the book talk from the perspective of one of the characters.

Book talks are not limited to any one particular type of reader or text.  Simple modifications to the process shared will allow students to book talk nonfiction.  Instead of sharing story elements, share the main idea and key facts. Books talks address speaking and listening, reading and viewing, as well as, writing and representing outcomes at all grade levels.  In addition, book talks build community in the classroom by allowing students to learn about each other as readers. Student-led book talks are an authentic activity that can be part of any classroom.

To Read the whole article try the ILA search on the International Literacy Association website (if you have a membership) or use the Ebscohost Link .

Hudson, Alida K. (2016) Get Them Talking! Using Student-Led Book Talks in the Primary Grades. The Reading Teacher, 70 (2), 221-225.

 

TRY THIS TOMORROW: PROJECT ZERO’S THINKING ROUTINES TOOLBOX

Jan
14

Project Zero, hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, describes its mission as “to understand and enhance learning, thinking and creativity for individuals and groups in the arts and other disciplines.” You can learn more about Project Zero and its focus on making thinking and learning visible through thinking routines and protocols, documentation, and artifacts here.

Project Zero’s Thinking Routines Toolbox is an extensive collection of routines “designed by PZ researchers to become one of the regular ways students go about the process of learning. Routines are patterns of action that can be integrated and used in a variety of contexts. Educators might even use more than one routine in teaching a single lesson. Routines don’t take time away from anything else educators are doing; instead, they enhance learning in the classroom.”

The toolbox organizes the routines into categories based on the kinds of thinking they will inspire, such as Perspective Taking and Digging Deeper into Ideas. By selecting an activity and clicking on the title under “Resource Links,” you can access a printable one-page description of the routine that outlines its purpose, describes possibilities for applying this routine, and offers tips for launching it in the classroom.

The routines make students’ thinking and learning visible in multiple ways, including writing, talking, drawing, and movement. They are easily adapted to any grade and learning context and are a powerful way to scaffold students’ explorations of various texts, topics, and concepts. This toolbox is filled with options for facilitating authentic discussion and helping students develop the essential skills of critical thinking, close reading, and questioning texts and their world.

 

WORD STUDY: LOOK, SAY, TRACE, COVER, WRITE, CHECK

Dec
15

Oh, the great debate on learning to spell!  Here is what we know: memorization alone by writing the word repeatedly is not the answer. We have come along way from the days of spelling tests and spelling bees to the advantage of all our learners. One thing we do know is that words are tricky and, while it is important for students to learn to spell, we must do better.  As educators, we need to change our thinking and teach our students strategies to learn to spell words.

Miriam Trehearne is a bestselling author and has written several teacher’s resource books for Grades K-5.  In her Grades 1-2 Teacher’s Resource Book, Miriam shares the importance of supporting students in what they know about a particular word, identifying what is tricky about the word and a strategy to help support the students in remembering the word.

Miriam, suggests that guiding students when asked, “Teacher, how do you spell….” with questions such as, “Show me what you know about the word,” or asking “How does it start,” encourages students to practice effective spelling strategies and allows teachers to coach their students to use the spelling prompts they have learned as they attempt to write the word.

Here is a great visual that Miriam provides in the teaching resource on page 226 that you can provide for your students to support them in their spelling: