Welcome back, readers! First let me say that I am very sorry that this post is a day late! I explained in my last post (read it here) that it was a crazy week for me with my husband having shoulder surgery- but it was also an adorable week because my kids started preschool yesterday. So between taking a half day to get them to school and then getting back to my own job after a few days off- it all just got away from me. But hey, considering we are on goal 12 or 13- I am pretty impressed that I stayed on track this long! So even though these pictures are not reading strategy related, they are incredibly cute and I feel the proud-mommy need to share them with you all.
This first one is of both of my kids- Brayden, who is 4 and Olive, who is 2.5. They really don't totally like each other this much- but they can at least turn it on for pictures!
Here's Olive. She's our little ham. The world needs to watch out for her; she's fearless and determined while being adorable silly at the same time. This is her first ever day of school- and it's safe to say she was very excited! No tears at all!
Here's Brayden. He's our shy, tender-hearted little boy- who, when his sister isn't making him crazy, is pretty much the sweetest, nicest boy you'll ever meet. This is his first day of Pre-K and his second year of school. He went last year as a 3 year old- but didn't go to 2's like his little sister.
As you can see, both share a deep love and admiration for Paw Patrol!
Now that you've met the reason why I am a day late on this reflection- let's get right to it! Today we are here discussing the next Goal in Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book which is Goal 12: Supporting Students' Conversations: Speaking, Listening, and Deepening Comprehension. As Serravallo puts it, "When kids talk well about books, the conversations can be invigorating, engaging, and enlightening. When they don't go well, kids get bored and off task and time is wasted. What kids most often need is instruction into how to talk well, period, and also how to talk well about books." (Page 324). I love that this quote really explains that kids do talk. They talk a lot, actually. We just need to focus on giving them the right strategies to talk about books in the right ways. If you think about it, 50% of our job is already done. The kids already talk. Now just spend 50% more time making sure it's about the right stuff and it will be 100% awesome!
Here's another long quote- but again, this really explains perfectly what's happening here. Serravallo says, "There are two sides to the productive conversation coin. First, students need to have a hearty repertoire of conversational skills. Second, they need good stuff to talk about, meaning that their comprehension of the text and the depth of their thinking can impact the conversation." (Page 324). This. Is. Perfect. Just reread it and think about it. We have to teach them how to talk properly (hence the upcoming strategies), but we also have to give them meaningful things to talk about. We, as the teachers, are not without responsibility in this task.
As you can see, this week's focus strategies for Goal 12 are 12.2: Listen and Respond, 12.10: Sentence Starter Sticks, and 12.20: Power Questions. Remember that there are so many more strategies in the text- for readers of all levels and for skills of all types. Be sure to check them all out because your needs and likes might be different than mine!
I listed both pictures right away for this strategy because I think the visual does a fantastic job of explaining what is happening with this strategy. As much as this goal focuses on getting students talking, we must also be sure they are listening (now and always!). This strategy really helps student be good listeners to their peers and then construct their responses. I also like that this strategy comes with the nice little symbols for each prompt. This way I could nod to students as I am walking around the room and this would act as a reminder queue for them to be sure they are doing the same with their partner.
Next up is 12.10: Sentence Starter Sticks. I have to admit, I love manipulatives. I don't use them as much as I'd probably like to because I kind of have a rule about not making the learning about the manipulative rather about the learning- but there are absolute times when they are needed. Let's say you somehow have those kids who really don't talk (having taught middle school I don't think this is really possible) but if you do, these sticks would definitely come in handy! Just bring the cup over to the students and have them select a stick and start talking. This is great, too, because you control where the conversation begins- which is a very powerful tool.
I also chose this because I used to use a strategy where I taped little visual cues for reading on the end of sticks to help my struggling readers. I would tape an ear on the stick and hold up that particular stick if I wanted the student to ask themselves if it sounded right. Or I'd tape a magnifying glass and hold it up if I wanted the student to look for clues in the sentence to try and figure out the word. I loved those sticks and students did too. Eventually I didn't need to hold up the stick, they would say, "Oh, what does it sound like?" and eventually they would just internalize the strategy altogether. Mission accomplished!
Last up is 12.20: Power Questions. As Serravallo explains, "Power questions are often ones that begin with why and how and won't have a simple yes-or-no answer. Think about what you wonder- about the book or about another person's ideas- and consider sharing your question, not just a statement." (Page 347). I like to think of power questions with the following "mom" scenario. If I just ask my kids, "How was school today?" they can get off easy with a one word answer. But if I make it a power question, maybe something like "Tell me something that made you think at school today." and poof, I'll get a much more magical answer.
I also like how in the visual it breaks down types of questioners- so students can remember that they don't always need to be a "detective" and sometimes they can be a "judge" and this will help differentiate their thoughts and responses.
That's all for Goal 12! Be sure to check back on Tuesday 9/15 for the final goal reflection from Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book which is Goal 13: Improving Writing About Reading.
As always, thanks for reading and be sure to add your thoughts/comments/questions in the space below!