This week I am celebrating different days. Each day this week had something out of the ordinary and it made for quite a lovely week with lots to be grateful for each day. Change brings new perspectives and insights. For this, I am grateful.
On Monday, which just so happened to be Family Literacy Day, my children came to school with me. They had a Professional Day at their school and wanted to come hang out in my classroom. They were involved in lots of literacy activities and did a wonderful job supporting and connecting with my students.
Tuesday afternoon is typically quite busy in my classroom. This week, we worked on having a very calm p.m. We finished art/writing projects and everyone felt very proud about getting all of our art up on the walls. A sample of student art work – gorgeous winter castles.
On Wednesday, we celebrated outside winter play with the FunMobile sponsored by Participaction.
What fun my class had playing outside with our little buddies from Mr. Blanchard’s K/1 class. Lots of activity, much laughter and some creativity with cones . . .
— ParticipACTION (@ParticipACTION) January 30, 2014
On Thursday we celebrated science with Lisa and Nelly, our amazing volunteer scientists from the Let’s Talk Science Program. Students learned how to use different equipment to measure liquids.
@CarrieGelson Hands-on makes science fun! Happy your class enjoyed it. Thanks for posting all the great photos!
— Let’s Talk Science (@LetsTalkScience) January 31, 2014
On Friday I had the opportunity to celebrate my own learning with an amazing Professional Development Day. Pat Johnson and Katie Keier authors of Catching Readers Before They Fall were in Vancouver for a full day of presentations and discussions.
I could write a LOT about things I took away from this session but I am going to try and limit it to my top ten takeaway comments/ideas/questions/inspirations. Note – these come from sessions with both Pat and Katie.
1. If a child is struggling with a word when reading, don’t help by prompting with the same strategy – use a different one. (i.e. if child is sounding out and not getting word, don’t say “try the other vowel sound” – instead, use a meaning or syntax prompt)
2. Be careful about our language – not “This is what good readers do” but instead ” Readers . . . ” when we talk about the habits/strategies of readers.
3. Our assessment should focus on what it is the child does when stuck. What strategies does he/she have? Which does he/she need to learn?
4. Use Reader’s Statements with your students to communicate what readers do. For example: Readers think about what they read or listen to or Readers make sure what they read makes sense I am already thinking about what statements I want to highlight with my students and where to post these in the room.
5. Think about the difference between heavy handed strategy teaching and “spotlighting” certain strategies. Integrate strategies because all readers need all of them. There shouldn’t be a continuum where certain comprehension strategies are taught at certain grades.
6. Don’t skip/rush the shared demonstrations. Children need the “do it with me” time. Some need more practice and explicit support linking back to these lessons as they are developing independence with the strategies.
7. The children who struggle (who don’t have a reading processing system happening) do not realize that other readers have all of these things going on while they read – make thinking explicit in modelled read alouds
8. Really think about what fluency means. It is not just speed and accuracy. It is also phrasing, flow, punctuation, expression, etc. Use text to show how punctuation “tells us how to read it” in shared demonstrations to talk about fluency.
9. Effective literacy programs are anchored in best practices but responsive to today’s world. Think about purposes for reading/writing when thinking about using new technologies i.e. blogging and sharing with school community, wider world, responding to comments, etc
10. When thinking about having children use technologies – think about a shift from children thinking about technology as a toy to using it as a tool. Is what we are teaching helping our students become literate? Help them be creators/producers and not just consumers.
I also loved that in Pat’s a.m. session she referred to one of my favourite blog posts on the Catching Readers blog: Signal Words This is a great post full of ideas about how to assist students learn how to read nonfiction texts.
Wishing everyone a wonderful week!