Videos to use during Writing Workshop

Twitter really is an amazing form of professional development. I discovered this link yesterday:

The Best Video Clips On The Benefits Of Writing Well — Help Me Find More | Larry Ferlazzo’s W…
I discovered his list of four videos: 1. Denzel tells the boy visiting him in jail that writing is his “sword”, more than fists, he uses it to change his world! 2. A blind man’s sign is changed to use more precise words which causes those around him to act differently – so moving!! 3. Famous people share how they use writing in their lives. 4. Regular people share how they use writing in their lives. I plan to use these videos he found to motivate my students in Writing Workshop when school starts in September!!
I replied to Larry with videos I learned about at a workshop at Teachers College posted to my blog here: Videos that Inspire Readers/Writers to Keep Going
I am so glad I follow twitter and can connect with such smart educators like Larry!
I very likely will never meet Larry but thanks to twitter posts and blog posts, he is now a go-to resource for me as a teacher!

2014 July TCRWP July Reading Institute – Day 5

Book Clubs – Mary E.
Mary had us sit with our fiction book clubs right away and handed out an overview of Kylene Beers’ Notice and Notes book. She asked us to skim through our post-its made while reading our club book (I am reading Goldfinch) and decide if any are moments where a character in the book:
* Has an ah-ha moment
* Says a wise thing
* Acts in a contradictory manner
* Asks a tough question
* remembers something that interrupts the story moving forward
or  * notice if events, images, or words are repeated

Her opinion is that Kylene’s technique is a starting point for teaching students how to make annotated notes. She pointed out that a plus is it keeps the student in the text. However, it does not encourage them to respond to why the author had a character act this way, the craft. To help with craft, Mary gave us a handout of fiction techniques and goals that the technique lead. In our clubs, we continued to use these strategies to talk about our book club fiction novel. I do see these being strategies I could use definitely with UVW readers and maybe RST, too.
Mary finished our week together by suggesting 3 ways I could return to my school and share my learning.
* Study Group – teachers choose to join and come together to discuss a topic, return to classroom to try things related to a topic, and return to discuss some more. They may decide to read a text together.
* Workshop – I would ask teacher to come learn about a topic that  I am knowledgeable about and provide time to for me to teach and time for teachers to practice the task themselves.
* Think Tank – a group of teachers who come together wondering about how something will work. They agree to try things out, do research, and meet together to figure out more about the topic.

With all of these ways, Mary emphasized the importance of having the teachers try the work themselves. She used the sports analogy – if you are wanting to get better at running, you do not just sit around the table and talk about running – YOU RUN!
She also suggested a book – Quiet Leadership by David Roth
SS Centers – Kathleen Tolan
NF Read-Alouds –Kathleen showed us a vimeo video of her reading aloud Seymore Simon’s Gorilla. Each partnership had a word bank and a map of Africa to refer to during the read-aloud. What stood out was the engagement of the class as they used the materials during the turn and talk time of the read-aloud. She also guided them through her questioning and think aloud to the bigger question of adaptation. She pointed out that this is a very easy structure to use – 1 book and a ½ class set of materials.
I know for a fact that I haven’t spent much time doing NF Read-Alouds. I always for fiction read-alouds. I vow to change this habit!
Compare/Contract Primary Sources
Kathleen showed us the Paul Reeve’s engraving of the Boston Massacre. Then another image of this event and a third image. In small groups we discussed how they were different and why they were different. Our inquiry led to the idea of bias by the person making the image, the idea of propaganda. She also shared a Cobblestone article related to the Paul Reeve engraving. Then we had a whole class discussion using the images and article as evidence of our thinking.
Finally Kathleen shared the idea of Storytelling. She placed a page of 6 images on the screen and began to tell the story of Paul Reeve’s ride. She pointed out that after she did this, kids began to find more information to add to the storyboard to revise the story. A colleague shared as a possible online storyboard. She ended by sharing a 6th grader’s documentary on the Depression. Very impressive work!
Closing Celebration
The theme was music! Piano playing greeted us as we entered the Cowin Center. Then Ryan’s group came on stage and sang 3 popular songs where they changed the words to celebrate reading.
The words to Roar by Katie Perry became:
I got the eye of the reader, a thinker, meeting with my partner
Cause I am a reader and you’re gonna see me soar.
Higher, higher than a mountain
Cause I am a reader and you’re gonna see me soar.
Oh, oh oh oh oh oh
Oh, oh oh oh oh oh
Oh, oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna see me soar
The words to Room by Magic became:
How you gonna read so smooth?
Don’t you know I’m fluent too?
How you gonna read so smooth?
I’m gonna reread it anyway
Scoop uo those words
Scoop em up, scoop em up
Scope up those words
Yeah, let em hear what you say
Reread those words
Reread them many ways
How you gonna read so
Finally they changed the words to Fancy:
I’m so fancy
I can let it show
I’m growing new thoughts
From page to post it note
I’m so fancy
Make ideas grows
Comp – re – hen – sion ‘bout to blooooow
Then 2 beautiful voices sang For Good from Wicked.
We paused to remember the passing of Walter Deam Myers as Audra read Harlem.
Finally Kathy Collin’s humor had us laughing and ready to head home, grateful for the week together.
Grateful to be a teacher of reading!

I am TRULY grateful to be part of the #TCRWP community!! She off-handley suggested that we return to our towns and stay connected. Maybe I’ll reach out using #TCRPWDC3 or #TCRWPFCPS (my two favorite districts!)

2014 July TCRWP Reading Institute – Day 4

Book Clubs with Mary E.
What a great 30 minute discussion our club had with another book club today!! First Mary had us plan out a 10 minute presentation by prompting us to think about what we want the other club to know and feel about our rainforest topic and decide what we can show them as well as tell them?

Our 4 members decided what we would each share. I was taken by the sentence in the book that said, “Tropical scientist believe that, at the present rate of destruction, there will be no rainforests left by the year 2050.” I shared this fact and pointed out how this is just 37 years from now. I stressed how I plan to still be alive in 37 more years and I want to live in a world WITH rainforests.

After our 10 minute presentation, the other group shared. They had read the same book but interestingly enough, their presentation had no overlap with ours. Instead, they noticed the strong structure of the book Even though I had been reading this book for 3 days, I learned so much more listening to their 10 minute presentation.

Then for the last 10 minutes, Mary had given us another text, Causes of Climate Change by Peter Benoit. Now we were to discuss any connections we saw between this new text and the book we had been studying. Again, such rich discussion based on our reading.

My big take away from being in a NF book club was how my reading and thinking about a nonfiction topic pushed us all to think more about the actions we can take so we can live better. I love that I did so much more than just read the book once or twice and notice all the text features (I’ll admit – my old way of reading NF). Mary got me to read, question, seek more info outside the book, feel something about this topic, and contemplate the actions I can take to be supportive of this topic.

SS Centers with Kathleen Tolan
First Kathleen asked each group to think about a BIG IDEA related to the center work we have done so far, write it on a post-it and put it on the BIG IDEA poster.
We wrote:    Sanctions don’t necessarily work.
Other groups wrote:
Colonial boundaries changed over time.
Slaves were traded as resources.
Access to knowledge is empowering.
Gender determines the future of a colonist.

Then we all walked around the room and revisited the Drumroll Write-Around images we worked with on Sunday. Our task was to notice if any of the BIG IDEAS related to any of the images.  For example, I noticed an image of the Stamp Act and placed our big idea on it. My take-away from this whole class activity was that it helped me to synthesize all the learning I have done so far this week related to Colonial history and now our group is ready to dive into a new SS Center!

Kathleen had us do one more whole class activity – Quotes.
She asked us to read four quotes said by people in Colonial times, noticing who is saying it and when it was said and if any of the quotes goes with any of the Big Ideas. After a small group discussion around one quote, she asked us to pick another quote and write about how it fits with a big idea. She reminded us that finding quotes is so easy – just google quotes!

Finally, Kathleen gave us some questions to ask as we think about planning strong SS Read-Alouds.
What reading skills do we want to emphasize?
What writing skills? What notetaking skills?
What content targets will be covered?
What vocabulary should be in the word bank?
What visuals should be included?
What partner materials need to be xeroxed?

Closing Workshop by Mary E.  –  Reading Work for Strong Readers
Mary pointed out that sadly our strongest readers get the least attention and are the most under taught.

She shared 5 ways to grow avid and powerful readers in Reading Workshop.
1. Series Work – she highly encouraged us all to read at least the first book in a few series, recommending the Spiderwick Chronicles series, the Dragon Slayer series and the Percy Jackson series. Across the series, the characters change profoundly and we can suggest to storng readers to read a series and look for these changes. She had us watch a scene from the Harry Potter #1 movie and then from Harry Potter #5 movie noticing how Harry and Dudlee are in each and how they change. I thought it was brilliant to watch this and notice the change that as a strong reader, I’d need to hold onto across MANY pages as I read multiple books in a series. Work a student can do while reading  series books in RW include:
* tracing the setting and its atmosphere and its impact on the characters
*analyzing what’s happening now and what led up to it
* tracing traits vs emotions and how they shift
*problems that are solved and not solved across books
*how characters change across 100s of pages

Then Mary shared this list of series from the TCRWP website-  Series Course of Study – brilliant list!!

2. Literary Traditions – let kids read the kind of genre they like and lots of it to study it by:
* read 4 historical fiction books and notice the characteristics of the genre
* notice the structure of the genre
* look for archetypes
* look for common themes
When they start a genre study, confer with them and tell them to pay attention to:
* backstory
* objects and symbols
* archetype is a villain or a hero and is the hero traditional, reluctant or an anti-hero
* look for signs of technology and of the age – future, medieval, now with magic or a hybrid

She showed us a video scene from the beginning of Treasure Planet where we could predict the boy would become the hero. She reminded us that if we really know the literary work, we will get why it is unfolding the way it is. Be ready to reread and see if you missed anything.

3. Author Inquiry– have kids read many books by the same author and ask:
* what kind of trouble interests this author?
* what lessons does this author tend to teach?
* is any social history included by the author? For example, Matt Christopher has been writing sports books since 1953. She suggested have kids read his books in publication order and notice how the time period of each book is portrayed. Are athletes and sports’ issues different in books published in different times?
* what is the author craft or what makes this book a book by this author?

4.  Bands of Text Complexity – She suggested working with a group who is moving to a new band to coach them in knowing what to expect. For example a group entering the UVW band could read The Lightning Thief and be reading to see how:
* the characters are not what they seem
* character traits are no longer stable
* problems cascade
* character flaws often affect the big conflict
* power and resistance will be visible in small acts and symbols
* symbolism shifts
A possible book to have kids read at each band:
KLM – Magic Treehouse
NOPQ – Spiderwick
RST – Bridge to Terebithia
UVW – Percy Jackson
XYZ – Hunger Games

5. Critical Literacies – read and note:
* who is included?
* who is invisible?
* who is marginalized?
* who is destroyed / honored?
* how is hegemonic masculinity and femininity portrayed?
* are gender norms reinforced? interrupted? shown alternatively?
* who has the power? resistance?
* how are sexual identities portrayed? racial identities? cultural identities?
She noted that video clips are a great way to introduce critical literacies.

She also noted that this is a favorite book of hers:

Keynote – David Booth
He is an educator from Toronto, Canada and author of:
Literacy TechniquesIt's CriticalReading Doesn't Matter Anymore...Even Hockey Players Read

His dry humor reminded me of poet, Billy Collins, and he had us laughing many times during his talk! He emphasized that we need to teach kids to be literate in ALL text forms they will encounter in their lives. He made a list, with the help of the audience, of what we CAN’T read including sheet music, the stock page, braille and computer coding.

We pointed out that we need to rethink the literacy world. Am I a literacy or literature teacher?
He said our goal should be that our students will say, “It was worth being at school today.”
They WILL say this if we teach them how all texts works!

2014 July TCRWP Reading Institute – Day 3

Book Clubs – Mary E.
Mary had us do a bit more Argument Debate work related to yesterday’s Keynote! First she pointed out that even quiet kids participate when you use this structure because the quiet friend only has to talk to one other person! Also, when she has students write long and strong after a debate, the struggling writers are able to write so much more because they had time to orally practice and hear ideas from their partner. And the stronger students start to add counter-arguments to their writing.

She said the next step after holding many read-aloud debates is to have students start to create their own debate topics. So she asked us to do this using our nonfiction book club books. Our table was reading about the rainforest, others were reading about tsunomi and hurricanes. She suggested debates such as:
* Hurricane are worse than tsunami   VS   Tsunami are worse than hurricanes
* Destruction of the rainforest is worse for natives   VS   Destruction of the rainforest is worse for the world
* Is the effects of a hurricane worse the day after   OR   months later?
* Should ALL be prepared for a tsunami  OR just those areas where tsunami’s tend to occur?

At our table of four, two of us were Partner A and two were Partner B and two AB partners were formed.
She coached us orally by saying: Write down your claim, your reasons, your evidence. You can use Boxes and Bullet notes . Look back into your book for a quote, a statistic, an image. Once we went through the Argument Protocol, she had us write long and strong about our topic. I had SO much to say!!

Then we switched gears into NOTETAKING. Since we are getting ready to leave our NF book club book, she asked us to take 15 minutes alone and decide HOW to best make a notebook page to hold onto the information we read and the thinking we did. She emphasized that it is important to have students make notetaking decisions so when they get to HS and college, they can handle taking notes while reading the dense texts they will be assigned.  I chose to make 3 columns – one with facts about the rainforest, one with the problems rainforests have now, and one with my written reflection related to my reading. Then Mary had us take a MUSEUM WALK so we could see ALL the different ways notes were taken. Two cool electronic pages of notes were created using POPPLET ( and PicCollage ( Museum walks helps us to see the many ways to organize information!

SS Centers – Kathleen Tolan
Kathleen also talked about NOTETAKING today. She suggested modeling HOW to take notes during a read-aloud so students can see different ways modeled. She also emphasized that students must gain independence in this skill. We need to model and then let them decide what works best for them. She shared examples of Boxes and Bullets, Bullets and Boxes, Sketching, a chart, a web, and a timeline.

To help us get good at this, we played NAME THAT STRUCTURE!
She shared a text and we needed to name its organizational structure and why we thought this. Is it cause and effect? How do we know? Is it pro/con, problem/solution, chronological, main idea.details, or compare/ contrast? She suggested and I plan to find examples of text of each structure to add to my ToolKit!

Closing Workshop – Alexandra Roman
Using Drama and Role Play to Engage NF Readers

If anyone looked in on HM Room 140 at 1:30 today, they would have wondered what was going on?! Alexandra taught us how to read NF text and have partnerships Turn and Act. She read a bit about bats. Then Partner A acted as the bat who eats fruit and Partner B as the one who eats insects and soon arms were flapping and mouths chewing!

I am sold. TURN AND ACT is a new directive I plan to use often during a NF minilesson!

Keynote – author, Jacqueline Woodson
She was introduced so beautifully with these words – “With her books, we don’t have to walk through the world alone.” If you don’t know this author, check out her website to see ALL the books she has written:

I got such goosebumps as she recited from memory a part of her book, Locomotion. She spent much of the hour reading from her work, including Feathers, Each Kindness, and her newest book due out August 28th a memoir called Brown Girl Dreaming. (You can order it on Amazon now – )

She is the first person I have heard who uses the SRA kit as a mentor text! She admitted reading the SRA cards in school growing up and to her, they were vignettes,  small moment. When she writes now, she is writing one vignette after another, much like those cards from yesteryears!

She also recalls being read The Little Match Girl and The Selfish Giant, two books that have inspired her writing today.

2014 July TCRWP Reading Institute – Day 2

BOOK CLUBS with Mary E.
We got into our NF Book Clubs where my group is reading The Rainforest (so we named ourselves The Understory!) and Mary gave us a few tips:
1. always think before you start
2. gather your materials so you are prepared to share
3. may need to recall work done prior (previously…)
4. briefly set protocols (timekeeper?)
5. make adjustments as you go
6. keep track of ideas and questions shared
7. allow each to share favorite part

“Remember, we are not sharing our first thought. We are sharing our best thought.”

As groups finish book and prepare to move to another book club book, they can decide what to leave behind with the text set for the next group to have. We decided as a group to add pictures of rainforest plants, video of the Amazon flooding, and Smithsonian articles about the reainforest.

SS CENTERS with Kathleen
My group grabbed the Cause and Effect Center. It was a green folder with 7 articles and a task sheet that said to talk and take notes about the Intolerable Acts. Kathleen pointed out that the Task Card is NOT an assignment. It is a jumping off point for the group. Our group of 6 each took one article and then admitted that we weren’t sure what the Intolerable Act was. One in group said, “I can read my article – it defines it.” As she read, she mentioned the date of the Act and then all began to chime in as to how their article fit. “The Boston Tea Party is explained in my article and it happened before in 1773.” Kathleen gave our group just 15 minutes. During that time we realized:

  • we were involved in rigorous reading, thinking and notetaking
  • it was an inquiry approach; we did NOT know all about our topic so we had to talk it out.
  • all were engaged and motivated
  • we ended with questions we wanted to find the answer to when we return to our center tomorrow
  • THEN we get to change to another center after 3-4 days!!
Then Kathleen showed how we can closely read a SS Video.
First, she shared a map of the 13 Colonies – what do you notice? 
Then we watched a Video about the forming of the 13 Colonies for the first time and talked about how the colonies were formed using the map as a reference.
Then we watched the same video again, this time taking notes on either the people, the groups, the events or the pros/cons of the land. Afterwards, we shared our notes in our group of four.
Then we watched the video a third time, taking notes about a different topic, adding to notes shared by the group member.  
By watching closely (and having a different lens each time) I actively learned SO much. This is a brilliant way to learn SS content material!!
Kathleen said a final task could be to assign a section of the 13 Colonies (New England, Middle, Southern) to a group and they can use all that they know to make a chart to hang in the classroom.
Tips to use to get kids to talk well during a conference:
1. teach the student what their role is during a conference
2. encourage the use of charts while talking about their work
3. show kids one of the conference videos and ask them to notice what the student is doing and what the teacher is doing (she suggested using this one:
and then chart what is noticed
Tips when you, the teacher, are not sure what the conference strategy should be:
1. spy on yourself as a reader and then turn own reading struggles into strategies to teach students
2. get to know the bands of text difficulty (KLM, NOP, QRST, UVW) and teach into skills needed at this level or at next level
3. read a text from each band so you “see” the characteristics
TOOLKIT can have the text band info, cut and laminated and placed on a ring or added into an index flip book, or added to a larger sketchbook reading kit. Also add the text band sentence starters. (Both can be found in the materials we received at the institute!)
Think about WHAT reading levels you have in your class. READ one book from each level and get good at understanding the conceptual work the kids will be doing who read at this level. 
Tips when you are not sure who to confer with:
1. make a conference sign-up
2. Ask kids to place their best post-it on their desk. Quickly read and sort these based on skill level being shown through their writing and decide quickly who to confer with using this data.
KEYNOTE – MARY E. on Argument in Reading Workshop
By using the argument protocol in RW, students learn to support ideas with evidence, deepen logical thinking, learn technical language of arguments, are able to defend position with fluency and grace and learn to not argue to win but to find common ground.
We do this work in READ-ALOUD so all can access the reading level. Mary followed this protocal:
* teacher sets up the argument and partner positions
* a close reading is done and text evidence is gathered by students
* one minute only is given to defend position
* calibrated feedback is given by the teacher
* the cycle is repeated
She read us Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
1. In a partnership, we gathered evidence for The airport is a good place to live VS The airport is a bad place to live and each had 1 minute to state our claim, reasons, and evidence.
2. We repeated this time thinking about theme – When times are tough, all you need is love OR hope. Again we had 1 minute to state our claim, reasons, and evidence.
3. During the final time, we thought about how the author used craft to develop the setting. She did this best using pictures OR using words.