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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.
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[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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