TCRWP Reading Coach Institute

Five Day Coaching Institute – January 27 – 31, 2013

Day One – Keynote: Levers for Lifting Teaching and Learning in Schools by Lucy Calkins

Lucy highlights four “levers” that she believes can lift teaching and learning in our schools:
1. Teachers need to collaborate. The time of closing our door and doing it our own way is over.
2. Teachers need to identify and then hold tight to their beliefs. What are our core beliefs? For example, at TCRWP, they strongly believe in the work of Dick Allington, whose research shows that kids must read books that they can read with 95% accuracy and also, they need to read a volume of books. This is then held tight by having leveled classroom libraries and having their students record their reading using logs. We need to know WHY we are teaching something, instead of knowing what to do and how to do it.
3. In order to teach reading and writing well, WE need to work on OUR reading and writing. It is powerful to read a book closely and to work on growing ourself as a reader.
4. Performance assessment and self-assessments raise the level of achievement. When we give feedback, we must begin with the learner having a crystal clear image of what they are to do. Then they need time for repeated practice. Then two kinds of feedback needs to be given: First, name what they did well and tell them to keep doing it. Second, give them next steps. Along with the student getting this feedback, the teacher also gets feedback…”I did a good job because they are doing what I showed” OR “I need to fix this; the students is not getting it”.

Finally, Lucy shared, “None of us can do this work alone. We ARE the conversations you are IN. When we are in a community of practice, we can do this work. We ALL carry the people we live with with us because we can’t do this alone.

While sharing these four points, Lucy shared ideas from the following suggested reading:

She also suggested watching  Simon Sinek’s TED talk.

DAY TWO – PS 29, Brooklyn
Working with Staff Developer, Brooke Geller, we focused on AAA – assess, analyze, and adapt.
Brooke taught a mini-lesson to teach: Readers grow ideas about characters by envisioning what characters are thinking, feeling, and experiencing. She used the beginning of the short story, Stray, by Cynthia Rylant, a chapter in Every Living Thing. 

To ASSESS, during the link at the end, she asked the students to jot on a sticky their thinking about the character, Doris.

To ANALYZE, in minutes, she showed us how to make 3 piles to separate the jots:
1. OK jots that just retell
2. Better jots that retell with a a detail related to an initial idea
3. Even better jot this is an authentic idea.

Here are examples of the students’ work:
1. I see Doris and the dog in the snow. It is cold.
2. I think Doris is thinking “I hope Dad does not take it to the pound.”
3. Doris is thinking “I hope I can keep this dog. Doris is feeling nervous and is happy to have the dog come and is courageous to try to keep it.”

To ADAPT, Brooke conferred with a student whose post-it said: I am seeing Dad rolling his eyes. I think she is thinking dad won’t let her keep it.

She asked the student to underline the words in the post-it that match the teaching point which made her post-it look like this: I am seeing Dad rolling his eyes. I think she is thinking dad won’t let her keep it. Yes, you envisioned and Yes, you added your thinking. Now…

Brooke asked her if this post-it was strong work for her or if she has better work in her reading notebook. She shared a time when she did better work by comparing and contrasting characters. Finally, Brooke’s teaching point to this student was for her to ask as she reads, How can I make this post-it work stronger?

Reflection on AAA: I see the value in using this 3-part system with authentic thinking about reading. It is easy to gather post-its. I see how they can then be sorted quickly and with repeated practice of this, I know it will go even faster. Then I like how the MOST time is spent on adapting our instruction to specifically meet the needs of the student.

We also did a HALLWAY TREASURE HUNT. We had 15 minutes to go off into the hallways of this 5-story school looking for evidence of:
1. Units of Study being taught
2. differentiation being provided
3. engagement in work being seen
When evidence was found, we TOOK A PICTURE. Then we returned and shared our pictures.

Reflection on Hallway Treasure Hunt: I can see replicating this activity with my staff. It is a simple way for teachers to really notice bulletin board displays. Most of what was on display was published writing, math problem-solving work, and art work. I wondered why reading work was not seen? With my group we brainstormed a few ideas that could be displayed to show reading work: post-its can be displayed; scanning a book page with post-it stuck to it; thought bubbles about a book; fiction place mats showing a story map based on book read.

Day 3 – half-day at PS29 and half-day attending workshops at TC
Brooke taught an INQUIRY mini-lesson with 4-graders. Readers, we are going to play a game today and it will be a challenge. First listen to this part of Stray. (she read the part where the dog is kept in the basement during the snow storm). Now look at the 3 post-it note cards I gave to each partnership. Your job is to decide which jot deserves a clap, which deserves a double clap, and which deserves a big cheer. In partnerships, read the cards and decide. Be sure to name the work done on each card to help you decide which is strong, which is stronger, and which is strongest.

The three cards read as such:
* Doris opens the door slowly and notices the dog stretched out on the step. (a clap – just retells)
* Doris opens the door slowly and sees the dog. It is calm and doesn’t bark. I think Doris wants her parents to love the dog as much as she does. (double clap – retells, adds thinking about one character.)
* Doris slowly opens the door and thinks “This is a wonderful dog,” but her parents disagree. Doris’ parents don’t respect her needs. (cheer – retells, shares thinking about an idea and included main char and additional characters.)

As I listened in on the student discussion as they were trying to decide which jot was strong, stronger, and strongest, I was amazed at their precise dialogue. “This doesn’t have any thinking; it is just retelling. These both have thinking.” I can see using this very lesson using Stray once back at my school and then replicating with other jots. This inquiry mini-lesson was so powerful because it gave kids the opportunity to name the work done on a post-it. Then it also lets students see how to improve their work to earn a cheer by following the exemplars.

AT TC: Keynote by Mary Ehrenworth: Raising the Level of Close Reading
Teachers who want to raise the level of their students’ closed reading, MUST be doing this kind of work themselves. Teachers of reading MUST be readers! Mary admitted that she is a good book reader but is not a good “reader” of baseball. What is it that YOU can’t “read” well? For me, it is classical music and facebook!

Mary modeled an activity that we, as literacy leaders, might replicate with our staff.
* Immersion: We listened as Mary read-aloud from Stick, Knife, Gun. She reminded us to assume that EVERY detail of the story matters and so we were to pay close attention. She reminded us to pay attention to the setting and the character names and ages. After giving us a purpose, when she reread, I got so much more out of the story! She continued reading and asking questions as she highlighted the CCS #1-3.

Mary’s BIG MESSAGE: To improve kid reading, start with adults and improve them as readers.

AT TC: Jerry Maraia: Raise the Level of Rigor for your Higher-level Readers
He had us read 2 paragraphs from the beginning of The Hunger Game and ask What is the story underneath the story? Don’t just read it to be a “plot junkie”!

Assessment: He suggested gathering data by using one of the TCRWP Performance Assessments. Then collect the jots, match the responses to the continuum, and ask, where are 80% of my kids falling? Who is an outlier?

Text Bands: How are the bands (NOPQ / RST / UVW) different? You can confer with any book when you know a book’s level and are familiar with the skills used at each band. Be sure to teach the skills that match the reader. If your kids are NOPQ readers, then don’t teach symbolism because that doesn’t occur until level UVW. Ask What big things need to be revised in my unit due to my reader’s levels?

Craft: Reading like a writer. 1. Read the text like a reader. 2. Read text like a writer. Ask What are the moves the author made to illicit mood? How does the text make you feel? How does the author do it? Be sure to notice sentence, phrases, and words.

Writing About Reading: The Reading Notebook makes the reader’s reading visible and is an invaluable tool.

DAY 4: All day at PS29 with Brooke
Two books recommended by Brooke:

Product DetailsProduct Details

Brooke modeled a new kind of  interactive read-aloud structure. Now, with the CCS, the structure angles the discussion to stay in the text.

Brooke also took us to a 4th grade classroom to observe a debate – the students against the teachers! The text used was Stray by Cynthia Rylant. The 3rd graders argues for Doris keeping the stray dog and the teachers argued for Doris not to keep the dog. It was a great structure to have the kids use evidence from the text to make an argument.Plus, it was fun to hold a debate!

After School Workshop: Ryan Canderlario: 10 Books that Make Great Read-alouds
This link takes you to a powerpoint (for a few weeks only) to see all 10 books:

My personal favorite is Z is for Moose!
Z Is for Moose

Ryan also shared this youtube video to inspire us – so cute!

Day 5: Highlights from Three Workshops at TC

Melanie Woods, retired Principal of PS 29 and now working for TCRWP,
shared during a Workshop at the Reading Coach Institute:
Building a community of practice that fosters collaboration and rigor means:
1. building a culture of trust and investment in relationships (with teachers, staff, principal)
2. building a culture of reflection; a culture that values time to process, think, and use data we already have, to plan forward
3. making time with staff to do meaningful work that builds capacity
4. getting behind our teachers as long as it doesn’t compromise what we know to be true and good for kids; Teachers’ opinions matter.
5. that no matter how much expertise you have, you must always position yourself as a learner willing to try things, make mistakes, take risks, and get down and dirty…it is a stance of inquiry that is priceless.
Kathleen Tolan shared during her workshop:
By coming to this institute, you SEE the possibilities. You experience Reading Workshop in classrooms, in schools teaching literacy through Reading and Writing Workshop. That is how TCRWP designed the learning. Without the vision, we can’t know how to do it. We need a picture to know what we are shooting for. We can’t just read about it or hear about it. We need to see it for ourselves!
Now as we leave our week of learning at TC, we return to our schools and begin to plan ways for our school’s staff  to “see it”.
Laurie Pessah shared during her workshop three kinds of LEARNING WALKS:
1. Walk-thru looking at a certain grade level and at a Bottom-line, for example classroom libraries, charts, minilessons, conferring, read-alouds, reading logs, partnerships, etc. As you walk, jot down what you notice and what you wonder. Then reflect on walk as a group and create some next steps.
2. Walk-thru of whole school. She suggested doing this twice a year – Oct and May. Go in every classroom looking for many categories. Again, notice and wonder and after reflection, make school-wide goals.
3. Walk-thru looking at teaching from the point of view of cognitive demand (the work of Norman Webb/Depth of Knowledge (DOK))