Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 13 Reflection

I can't believe I am about to say this- but this is the final reflection from Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book! We made it to the end of this fantastic online book study! The first post was on August 3 and we are finishing on September 15- a nicely spaced series of posts all reflecting on fantastic reading strategies from a fantastic author. Since this is the final post, and maybe you are just joining in, I am going to link all the previous posts in this one- just to make them easy for you to find from one place. So here they are from 1-12:

Which bring us finally to Goal 13: Improving Writing About Reading. You didn't think we'd get through this whole book without a goal focused on writing, did you?! If you've been waiting for it, here it is!! I love that this strategy was saved for the end because, obviously, writing has been incorporated into the whole text but now we just have a really distinct focus on it at the end. As Serravallo states, "Teaching children to write well about their reading is about teaching them that their thinking about books matters. It matters enough to take the time to write it down." (Page 350). I just love that quote. Any time we are teaching a child that something they do matters is a great moment. And I feel like we should attach more of this value to the everyday doing of kids because we really need to send the message to them that their education does matter. That we pick out tasks and lessons and skills for them to do that are valuable and will make them more valuable. Everything is deliberate in the plan and organic in the outcome. It's up to them to show us how awesome they are and that we know they can be that kind of awesome. That's a message we should send to kids more often.

As you can see, the three focus strategies that I chose for this reflection are 13.4: Buying Stock in Sticky Notes, 13.13: Lifting a Line, and 13.16: Character Connections Web. Many of the strategies in this section of the book focus on readers at a Level M or higher, so I tried to pick at least one strategy (13.4) that is good to use with any level of readers. 

First up is 13.4: Buying Stock in Sticky Notes. First thing I thought about this sticky note strategy was that it would be great to use with an earlier strategy from the book. If you look back at my Goal 9 reflection, you'll see 9.13: Important Versus Interesting where you can use lots of sticky notes as you read but then separate them into important and interesting when it comes down to thinking and writing about the text. That strategy would pair nicely with this one!

As you can see, when the student is reading and they have a thought, they stop and jot it on a post it note. Then they can reflect on those post it notes and think about what to write from there. Using 9.13 strategy comes into play when you don't have to check every single "jot" because some are just interesting and not exactly important. While I don't always recommend combining too many strategies with students (keep it simple!), sometimes when they mesh nicely together it can really help with scaffolding their understanding and help them tremendously!

Next up is 13.13: Lifting a Line. Admittedly, I did kind of pick this because of it's unlucky 13.13 nature, but it's also a really sound strategy to use with readers around Level N or above. When I was younger (and even now), I loved quotes. I love finding parts of texts that really stand out and speak to me and typically, for me, that was a great springboard for writing. I could put a quote at the top of the page and write/reflect on it for the assignment. This strategy is helpful for those students who the thoughts don't always come flowing easily. 

Here's how it works. You read a text, find an important line, and then write your thoughts. It's as simple as that. If we start teaching kids to simply get their impactful thoughts on paper, they will start to write more freely and easily. Once they get their initial thoughts down, you can then prompt them for more and more and turn the initial quote response into a complete written response. A nice (tricky) way to get good, solid thoughts in writing from students!

Last up (and really last!!)  is 13.16: Character Connections Web. I'm going to jump right to the visual for this one because I think it helps to see it as I talk you through it. 

As you can see, they write the names of the main characters on the page (and post-its, if you really did buy stock!) and then they commence the connection making! If you have this page set out from the beginning, you can always reference it when you learn or sense a connection. I like this idea of having a safe space for these connections because you are more likely to write them down here instead of brushing them off and forgetting about them later. It will be important, when using this strategy, to remind students that everything they write doesn't have to be right in this case. They might sense a connection, write it down, and have to alter it later. Be sure to teach them that this is called learning- not a mistake. Once students become proficient with this activity, they will absolutely more likely be able to make character connections in the future. 

Well that's it! I want to thank @LitLoveGal1 Colleen and the #ReadingStrategiesCrew for starting and inviting me into this amazing social media book study on Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book. This has been an awesome experience and I have learned so much. Being a lifelong learner is so important to being a teacher and this is just one easy way to dedicate a little time to bettering yourself. 


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