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Thursday, July 30, 2015

An excellent article based on an analogy between close reading of text and community..along with some great ideas for building community in the classroom. Courtesy of Choice Literacy.

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
July 18, 2015 - Issue #441
Close Reading the Community

Everyone in this world is somehow connected. So why not just be nice to everybody?

                                                                             Richard Simmons

It was one of the days in our classroom where we had visitors observing our reading workshop.  This happens often but on this day, we had over 10 visitors. The room was crowded, but my students had learned to ignore the visitors and go on with their learning.

I did a minilesson while the teachers in the room watched from various spots in the room. After the minilesson, I sent the students off to read and wove my way to a table in the back of the room where I planned to meet with students. I pulled out my plan for groups and conferences and opened Evernote on my iPad so that I could take notes on the meetings.  It was at that moment that I realized I had forgotten my reading glasses, and I couldn’t read or write well without them.

This was not a one-time occurrence. It was a fairly common thing for me to lose my glasses in the classroom.  Normally, I just go back to where I left them or yell out, “Has anyone seen my glasses?”  Did I mention that there were over 10 visitors in the room? Or that they were spread around the room so it was a bit crowded? I couldn’t easily make my way back to the rug area and I certainly was not going to yell out for my glasses. So in that moment, I decided to pretend I could see and do my best to make sense of my blurry plans.

I called up my first group and sat down to get started.  Gabe suddenly appeared next to me, quietly slid my glasses onto the table and walked away without a word.  After the wave of relief that came over me, I realized what this moment said about our classroom and the way we took care of each other. Gabe noticed me and that I needed something. He did not even need a word of appreciation from me for his thoughtfulness. That is what community is about.

We talk a lot about community and do lots of “community building” activities to start our school year. But a true community is one in which people notice each other, and they want what is best for each other.  Gabe showed me that morning that our classroom was one where we helped each other to be our best selves.

In their book Falling in Love with Close Reading, Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts write, “We see the ritual of close reading not just as a method of doing the academic work of looking closely at text -- evidence, word choice, and structure, but as an opportunity to bring those practices together to empower our students to see the subtle messages in texts and in their lives.” Gabe noticed my subtle messages, read the situation, and quietly and gracefully did what needed to be done.   Close reading at its finest.

This week we look at building classroom communities in the early days of school. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Franki Sibberson
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy

Franki Sibberson has worked for over 20 years as a teacher at different grade levels and school librarian. Franki is the co-author with Karen Szymusiak of many books and videos on teaching reading in the intermediate grades. You can keep up with Franki on the popular blog she writes with Mary Lee Hahn, A Year of Reading.
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Keri Archer explains how Classroom Jobs Build Community in her kindergarten classroom:
Jennifer Schwanke uses Book Hooks as a way to build a school-wide community all year long through favorite books:

Franki Sibberson (at her A Year of Reading blog) describes how Conversations About Community in Third Grade are launched at the start of the year with read alouds, videos, and conversations:
Our online courses in July include Jennifer Schwanke's The Principal's Role in Evaluating and Supporting Literacy Instruction (July 23-27) and Supporting Teachers in Writing Workshops (July 29 - August 9) from Ruth Ayres. To view descriptions or register click on the link below:
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Today I am posting two articles, courtesy of ASCD. They both reflect important trends in education - neuroscience and social-emotional skills - and involve meta-cognition. Enjoy!

Schools tap neuroscience to help students succeed

School districts nationwide -- from Indiana to Georgia to Kentucky -- are incorporating principles of educational neuroscience into teaching and learning. Trends include teaching students about brain plasticity, incorporating relaxation into the school day and applying the "growth mindset" to instructional resources and professional development. District Administration magazine online (7/17)
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Social-emotional skills predict later success, study finds
Children laughing

Young children's social-emotional intelligence may correlate to success later in life, including fewer substance-abuse problems, according to a study of nearly 800 children over two decades. The findings suggest a need for emphasis on social-emotional learning in early-childhood programs, said lead author Damon Jones. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (7/16)
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Monday, June 29, 2015

This article supports all of Costa's work on the integration of the emotional and intellectual parts of the mind. Well worth the read. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief

Study: Whole child program boosts reading, math scores

(THOMAS SAMSON/Getty Images)
Schools in 22 cities participating in the "Whole School, Whole Child" initiative were about twice as likely to see improvement in math and language arts scores, according to a study. The City Year program includes teacher support, reading and math tutoring, attendance and behavior coaching, and social-emotional activities. Education Week (tiered subscription model) (6/9)
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I am posting this article here beause I think it is a strong argument for modeling for students the importance of knowing how to learn and think and applying it to life. It is not something that just happens in school. Enjoy! Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief

Why educators should keep learning during the summer

(Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Educators should model learning and innovation for students -- even during the summer, English teacher Mike Saenz writes. In this blog post, he discusses his plans for summer learning and professional development. "It is imperative to convince our students that being a learner and innovator for life is fun, rewarding and life furthering," he writes. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (6/15)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Each one of the nonacademic factors listed involve ways people think and react...each one unique. As educators we need to be aware of the situations our students are living in so we can help them identify their patterns of thinking and consider all options. Well worth the read. Courtesy of ASCD SmartBrief.

Survey: Nonacademic factors affect achievement

Students testing
Nonacademic factors are some of the top barriers to student learning, according to a recent survey of the 2015 state Teachers of the Year. They identified family stress, poverty, and learning and psychological issues as key obstacles. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (5/19)
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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

At last...teaching/modeling the process ... the metacognitive piece ...before the child is expected to work independently. Bravo!! This is applicable to all grade levels. Courtesy of ASCD Smart Brief.

Read-Aloud Project helps build early literacy in Nev. district
Some elementary educators are using reading aloud and "text-dependent" questioning during story time to help meet Common Core State Standards and build students' literacy skills. A Nevada district has adopted the Read-Aloud Project in all of its elementary schools. Education Week (tiered subscription model) (5/13)Bookmark and Share