Tag Archives: TCRWP

LOL

14 Aug

I love when kids laugh out loud during independent reading. It warms my heart to know that someone has connected so deeply with a book, and it puts a smile on my face.

Yesterday, during our TCRWP reading training, our afternoon session had teachers as students, watching the skills the TCRWP trainers were modeling for us. Following the mini-lesson, we were given time to read from a book we had chosen. The room was very quiet – everyone was reading or making notes about their book – until I laughed out loud.

The thing is, I was so surprised at my outburst that it made me laugh harder, then snort. In an effort to get myself under control, I put my forehead on the table. I was silent, but it took a few moments to still my shaking shoulders, I was laughing that hard.

The thing is, the paragraphs that got me laughing weren’t really that funny. They were some of Willow’s observations in chapter 4 of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s. What made me react so strongly was that I recognized myself in her description because this is how I dress at home.

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Maybe you don’t see it as funny. You probably don’t dress this way, but when I am home, I wear a t-shirt and elastic waist shorts in the summer, and a t-shirt and elastic sweat pants in winter. I am not yet elderly, but Willow’s matter of fact description of my dress habits just struck me as funny at that particular moment, after lunch, in a reading workshop. I hope my laughter  during class warmed the heart of someone in that room and it put a smile on their face.

Kickstarting

15 Aug

Along with about 60 colleagues and I gathered yesterday to spend the day with TCRWP’s  Mary Ehrenworth. We’ve been fortunate in my school district over the last few years to have Mary come a few times. We have also been fortunate enough to have TCRWP trainers come to our schools for days at a time. I have loved every minute of it. And yet, when the email came a few days ago saying shed be talking about grammar, I can’t lie – my heart sank.

I should have known better.

Here are a few of the many things I learned.

  1. Kids master grammar. Then comes slippage. With exposure to the various ways people write on social media, students unlearn spelling and grammar rules. Mary said that 3rd graders have better skills in some areas than 8th graders, who have greater exposure to social media. We need to teach them to code switch and expose them to a high volume of accurate language.
  2. We can teach grammar in meaning full ways
    • Demonstration – a ten minute mini-lesson, once they have a draft they are invested in
    • Inquiry centers – 20-25 minutes once during a unit, once they have a draft they are invested in, so they can apply the skill to their draft RIGHT NOW!
  3. Extravaganza & Interludes – a way to study tricky grammar in which kids make tools for other units

We spent some time working together to create some Inquiry centers. My teaching partner and I made centers that focused on narrative paragraphs and writing dialogue. We thought the dialogue center would be helpful for that small group of student who wrote ONLY DIALOGUE in their narrative.

After this work, we broke for lunch. Mary packs a lot into a morning.

In the afternoon we looked at teaching verb tense by looking at the movement of time. Mary taught some mini-lessons and we learned ways to have kids create timelines  for fiction and non-fiction, through read-alouds and shared reading.

Needless to say, even though I am sad that summer vacation is almost over,  I am now excited to get back to school and apply what I learned.

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Three down, one to go

20 Aug

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Today is Day 4 of the 4-day  TCRWP writing workshop for middle school teachers. I think everyone who attended is energized and excited about implementing some of these strategies in our classrooms.

It has been good to be the student, to have to think like them, to do the tasks we will ask them to do, and to see how we can teach these ideas.

It’s been hard, too. There’s been some homework, but that isn’t the hardest part. It has been hot here and although my morning sessions have been in the nicely air-conditioned library, my afternoon sessions have been in a stiflingly hot classroom. Emily has been a saint. She teaches in that classroom all day and still has a smile by the end of her last session.

The 6th, 7th and 8th grade Summa teachers have agreed that we will all teach Ray Bradbury in reading. Sixth grade is taking on his short stories, 7th  reads  The Martian Chronicles, and 8th grade reads  Fahrenheit 451. So, when our homework Tuesday night was to choose one of the stories from a packet they provided, read it and jot some thoughts, I naturally chose Ray Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day. Wednesday, we used our notes to learn techniques to have kids write a literary essay. Even though we were writing about several different stories, the strategy worked for everyone.

Good PD…and there was homework!

18 Aug

sol

I am easing out of summer and back into work.

The teachers who read my blog know that this is both practical ( there’s no way to get the room ready during inservice week) and metaphysical ( I need to radically shift my  sense of being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space).

This week, I am helping myself with the transition by attending a four day training. Many people groaned when this offer was made, and I might have grumbled a little. After signing up, I found out that we’d have trainers from the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project and I was thrilled. The group of middle school teachers who signed up are basically getting a summer Writing Institute here in our own district.

Kate Roberts, one of the authors of the book I used for last year’s teacher book club, Falling in Love With Close Reading,  is our most famous presenter.

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She is funny and inspiring and talked to us about the Silent Standard: sharing our love with kids, making them laugh and cry because when we do this, they really listen.

Yes, there was homework and I really struggled to get the story on paper last night. I couldn’t find the rhythm of the story I wanted to tell. When I finally found it, after taking a knitting break to clear my head, the story practically wrote itself.

We also had to read a story (poem in prose?) by Naomi Shihab Nye, Gate 4A. I can hardly wait to see what we do with them today.

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