Thursday, June 12, 2014

Notice and Note Post #4

I am linking up with some great bloggers to talk about the book Notice and Note by Beers and Probst.

Check out these blogs and follow the links to read others' responses (or link up your own).


Do Text-Dependent Question Foster Engagement?
Wow, I guess I've been living under a rock (or in a Kindergarten classroom) for the last few years because I did not realize that the standards "virtually eliminate text-to-self connections."  
I appreciated the history of the approach to teaching reading because it shed some light for me on why the "whole language" approach to having conversations about books that  I was taught in the late 80s and early 90s was such a difficult idea for some people.  And why saying that "the meaning doesn't emerge until each reader brings his thinking to bear upon it" was such a shift in thinking for so many.
And, I laughed out loud when I read "But we're not a nation of moderation."  That's so completely true.  We tend to go overboard in everything we do, and we swing from one extreme to the other so much that it is dizzying! So, now we are all supposed to embrace the idea that we can only use questions that can be answered from within "the 'four corners' of the page."  Wait, just a little bit and we'll be back to the other way of thinking!  OMG- the decision makers in education frustrate me so much sometimes!
But, I appreciate the authors saying that they disagree with this stance.  I loved their way of teaching text-dependent questions.  I think it makes a lot of sense, gives students a nice scaffolding to get where they need to be, and puts the learning, ultimately, in their hands.  I think it's a great sample of close reading, and really gets to the heart of the piece of RL1 (for grades K-3) that talks about asking questions.  
Lots of things to think about in this section.  The biggest for me are a couple of the Talking With Colleagues... questions at the end of the section.  Specifically, I need to reflect on the last two.  What happens to engagement if I set aside text-to-self and text-to-world questions to focus on text-dependent questions?  and Can we be an intellectual community if the students depend on me to ask the questions?

Must Everyone Read the Same Book?
I feel like I am going to get on my soapbox a little in this post (and put on my Mom hat too), so forgive me if I ramble...
A little background on my background.  I've been teaching K-1 for the last 6 years.  Prior to that (and prior to the extreme push for high stakes testing) I taught in the upper grades 3-6 mostly.  So, I come from a background with the older grades, but a background that doesn't have the pressure of high stakes testing looming over our heads.  Also, I went through college in the late 80s and early 90s and went to Arizona State University which was HUGE in whole language.  We had Maryann Eeds and Ralph Peterson who were bigwigs in the whole language movement (at least in our part of the country).  So, when I taught in grades 3-6 we did a lot of book studies- we read novels whole class or in small literature circles.  I chose the books, but students make their choices based on my options.  My students had a lot of experiences with everyone reading the same book- that shared book experience.  Students also did Readers' Workshop etc...  I definitely see the value of that shared book experience.  It's something that bonds a classroom of readers together when we all experienced that same things through a story and we all had the same conversations about life lessons, characters etc..
So, I agree that, at some point, everyone should read the same book.  Not all the time, but it definitely has huge advantages to have that shared experience.
Now, this is where my mom hat comes on... My son goes to my school and I am hugely disappointed with his experiences so far (he'll be in 6th grade next year).  I asked him about it (we had a great conversation in the car on the way back from California) and he hasn't read any books whole class in his school experience.  Last year, his teacher started reading Wonder whole group, but she didn't finish it.  He read Out of the Dust in a small group, but they didn't finish it.  He says he didn't read any books whole/small group in 4th grade and only one in small groups in 3rd grade (How to Eat Fried Worms).  My son loves to read, but he loves to read his type of book- mostly dystopia fiction or adventure.  He would never, on his own, pick up Tuck Everlasting or Esperanza Rising or  Maniac Magee or Bridge to Terabithia.  It just makes me sad that he might not experience those books in school because his teachers chose not to read books whole class.  Now, I know that that there are probably a million reasons why his teachers didn't read books whole class, and I don't fault them.  I blame the system that cares more about test scores than diving into an amazing book and have rich conversations about the stories.
Okay, I am off my soapbox now- sorry about that.
I am moving from Kindergarten to 3rd grade next year... this section makes me think a lot about how I am going to deal with this idea.  Am I going to be the teacher that doesn't allow students to all read the same book (at least once in the year) or can I be that teacher that makes these amazing conversations happen?  And, if I can make it work and we can all read the same book (at some point during the year) what will I need to do specifically for my students to differentiate that experience for them so everyone- voracious reader, reluctant reader, struggling reader- has a great experience?

So much to think about!

Happy Reading,


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