SHORT TEXTS are EVERYWHERE!

We LOVE lists.  We love making them.  We love living off of them.  Sometimes lists can feel stressful (too many things to do!) while other times they can make us feel productive (checking things off that we’ve accomplished.)   Look at this cute list!

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This is one of Julie’s favorite lists, written several years ago by her son who was home sick from school.  Julie remembers his Motrin had kicked in and he was feeling better and antsy. Julie had some work to do so she suggested he create a list to keep track of his day.  Julie recalls him checking things off one by one, even the rest time. She has fond memories of his two-part plan of either playing or resting from 3:00 to 4:00 depending on how he felt.  Julie’s son used his list to keep the day moving. He wanted to have a plan in place and he smiled with a sense of accomplishment as he checked things off as the day progressed. Not only did Noah create (produce) this list, he also read it (consume) which made this short text meaningful to him.

Lists are just one example of short texts. There are SO many and they are EVERYWHERE. Here are just a few:

  • Poem

  • Short story

  • Picture book

  • Infographic

  • Podcast

  • Script

  • Song Lyrics

My friend and colleague, Elizabeth Keim, and I are are working on a new project focusing on using SHORT TEXTS with students across the grade levels & subject areas.  If you, or anyone you know, would like to weigh in and share ideas and perspectives, we’d love to hear what you have to say!  

PREVIEW THE QUESTIONS & SUBMIT YOUR RESPONSES HERE

STAY TUNED—we have a new book coming out focused on SHORT TEXTS later this year!



Everyone Deserves a Thinking Partner...Especially Students!

Last week I wrote about a simple truth— we are smarter together. I also stated that learners, of all ages, deserve a THINKING PARTNER or multiple THINKING PARTNERSHIPS. If you want to read or re-read some of the big take-aways that thinking partnerships inspire, click HERE.

Everyone deserves a thinking partner…especially students! Facilitating a process where kiddos find THINKING PARTNERSHIPS has additional big take-aways, including some of these:

  • creating independence during reading & writing workshop

  • providing student-to-student support structures during workshop and across the school day

  • nurturing of new friendships & collaborations

  • increasing small group work (pairs, trios, 4-6 students) based on interests, inquiries, passions, habits, and needs.

Creating THINKING PARTNERSHIPS is the fun part! Finding different partnerships for different reasons to team up to support one another is important because one size fits all or one person fits all doesn’t work. Take a look at this planning grid—it can be used to drum up conversation and create connections for students to work with one another!

Reminder: Helping students revisit this planning grid regularly and switching up thinking partnerships often will increase the big take-aways listed above.

If you’d like to read more about Thinking Partners, check out Chapter 2 in my book What Are You Grouping For? How to Guide Small Groups Based on Readers—Not the Book.

THINKING PARTNERS—YOUNGER STUDENTS

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Everyone Deserves a Thinking Partner!

Truth—we are smarter together! Learners, of all ages, deserve a THINKING PARTNER or multiple THINKING PARTNERSHIPS. When we think together, there can be so many big take-aways, including some of these:

  • promoting risk taking and trust

  • igniting thinking to get ideas on the table before, during and after a learning experience

  • provoking divergent thinking by pairing learners who may bring out new ideas by working together

  • building new relationships OR building up existing relationships

  • creating a culture of continued learning and revision

Creating THINKING PARTNERSHIPS is the fun part! Finding different partnerships for different reasons to team up to support one another is important because one size fits all or one person fits all doesn’t work. Take a look at this planning grid—it can be used to drum up conversation and create connections for teachers to work with one another!

THINKING PARTNERS—TEACHERS

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Giving Students Opportunities to Hold Their Thinking Builds Tracks in the Snow: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned that kiddos’ tracks in the snow can be anything that makes their thinking visible— anything kids write, talk about, make, create, design, or do. When they write, talk about, make, create, design, and do something, they are creating evidence of their thinking—tracks in the snow!

I’m a big believer and doer of student choice—especially in the ways that they hold their thinking and in the ways they share what they know with others. But, while giving choice, it’s also important to model different ways to hold thinking so that students have different go to strategies and techniques. This idea comes from the oldie but goodie, sketch to stretch.

TRY THIS: As kiddos are reading something (could be a short text or something longer ) ask them to noodle around about images that come to mind. This might be an explicit image —a picture on the cover of a book or visuals described across the pages of text. Or, it might be an implicit image —gained by the reader by inferring from the text or connecting text to one’s own experiences. Once they have an image (or two if they prefer) ask them to draw a large outline of the image. Then, as they read. think, and talk ask them to write words, phrases or sentences inside or along the border of the image.

Here’s an example:

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THE BIG TAKE-AWAY: Holding thinking in this way gives readers a space to make their thinking visible in short bursts and it serves as a great reference for them to use when talking to others about big ideas and/or places in the text that were confusing.

For more, check out Chapter 4 in What Are You Grouping For? How to Guide Small Groups Based on Readers—Not the Book.

Giving Students Opportunities to Hold Their Thinking Builds Tracks in the Snow: Part 1

Have you read that great book by Wong Herbert Lee, Tracks in the Snow? It’s a sweet story about a girl who follows her tracks in the snow, only to realize that the tracks she was following were her own from the day before. Just like the girl’s tracks led her to the place she wanted to go (home), when kiddos’ create tracks in the snow, it can lead them to great places.

What are examples of kiddos’ tracks in the snow? That’s simple because it’s anything kids write, talk about, make, create, design, or do. When they write, talk about, make, create, design, and do something, they are creating evidence of their thinking—tracks in the snow!

While kiddos ultimately should have a voice and choice in how they show their thinking, sometimes giving them structures to get their ideas off the ground can be beneficial. Take a look at this example.

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If you are interested in seeing a few more, here are a few more response stems that you could consider using during your workshop time. You could also use these as Exit Tickets if that is a structure that you harness in your classroom.

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A great way to lift students' thinking is to model/show them how to use these types of responses through a shared text or read aloud experience. Co-constructing a few together will have big payoffs as students work independently. If you are interested, . And, if they don’t meet your students’ needs, please revise them!

For more, check out Chapter 4 in What Are You Grouping For? How to Guide Small Groups Based on Readers—Not the Book.

Sometimes a Note Catcher Gets Talk Moving!

Note catchers…I LOVE them. Well, to clarify — I love them when they aren’t collected for a grade or effort points and I love them when they aren’t used to “ding” kids for what they can’t do. Put another way, I LOVE note catchers that help students (and teachers) collect ideas and hold their thinking.

Note catchers are a great tool to get talk moving. That’s because the act of writing, before we share, gives us a dress rehearsal for what we want to say and how we might want to say it. Note catchers make our thinking visible. They are valuable because they become a place holder for our thinking, making our sharing (or talk) with others more efficient and effective.

If you are interested in an example, take a look at this note catcher. Maybe you’ll ask students to respond to something they read using this type of note catcher or maybe teachers will hold their thinking after reading a professional article. But, remember the important step of giving them time to share the ideas they collected on the note catcher with others.

Give this a whirl and see what you think — revise it and make it your own to fit your needs and purpose. Have fun!

Click here!

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Re-Imagining Small Group Reading -- Course for Graduate Credit!

Interested in…

  • Re-imagining flexible, small group reading opportunities?

  • Investigating tools & actionable steps essential for starting and sustaining small groups?

  • Earning 2 semester hours of graduate credit?

  • Learning at your own pace?

    • 8 online sessions

    • complete at your own pace

    • anytime between now and mid-August, 2019

If so, join me by checking out this RE-IMAGINING RDG GR 3-8 Course.

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3 Ways to Re-imagine Small Group Reading Experiences

I had the pleasure of writing a blog post for Corwin Connect this month focused on 3 ways to re-imagine small group reading experiences. You might also find our book, What Are You Grouping For?  How to Guide Small Groups Based on Readers—Not the Book (Corwin, 2018) helpful. Small group reading opportunities might be just what you are looking for if you are a:

  • Grades 2-8 classroom teacher

  • High school teacher who is curious about supporting readers through small groups

  • Tier 1 or 2 response-to-intervention (or instruction) teacher

  • Special education teacher differentiating reading instruction across grade levels and through inclusion

  • ENL (English as a new language) teacher who want kids to bolster their reading and speaking skills at the same time through language-rich, collaborative small group experiences

  • Instructional coach, curriculum director, or building administrator

Check out the Corwin Connect blog link!

http://corwin-connect.com/2018/10/3-ways-to-re-imagine-small-group-reading-experiences/

Thank you #G2great Learning Community!

What a week filled with blessings!  We were invited to be guests on the 8/23/18 #G2great Twitter chat. The chat focused on ideas captured in our new book, What Are You Grouping For? How to Guide Small Groups Based on Readers – Not the Book (grades 3-8) Corwin 2018 where we re-imagine small group reading instruction that goes beyond grouping by students' reading levels.  Tucked inside our book, we outline five teacher moves that position students as the center of decision-making in different, dynamic ways.  We also position students as decision-makers for their own reading lives.  One way we do this is by considering flexible groupings for students based on their:

  • interests
  • passions
  • curiosities
  • needs
  • wonderings
  • worries
  • newly found connection with another classmate
  • something going on in the world now or in the past
  • author
  • and...so many more!

Maybe you are thinking back to your own childhood and how you were grouped for reading instruction?  Our reasons for grouping will challenge what you knew as an intermediate learner.  Yes, that's right...that means NO more squirrel, seahorse, or blue bird reading groups for the purpose of trying to get the next "level".  As Mary Howard referenced in a twitter post (to which I have added on):  Let's make sure that we don't raise another generation of readers who associate their literacy journeys to letters, numbers, colors, animals, or percentiles.  Instead, let's fuel students' reading lives with texts they want to read, alongside peers who are going to nudge them to question, build inquiries, make meaning, and grow.

The #G2great learning community deepened our thinking about small group learning opportunities for students. If you are interested in learning more from this great chat, check out the WAKE.  Thank you to Mary Howard, Fran McVeigh, Jennifer Made Hayhurst, and Amy Kruger Brennan for their kindness and support in helping champion our work!  

An extra thank you to Mary Howard for an amazing gift.  Her blog post combines the best of gifts--a synthesis of the #G2great Twitter chat and highlights from our book.  Thank you, Mary, for your time, energy, compassion, and passion in keeping students at the center of our collective work and for supporting us as we re-imagine small group learning opportunities for the kiddos near and dear to our hearts.  You've helped bring the JOY of our work into the world and we are grateful!