2017 October TCRWP Saturday Reunion

I attended this amazing TCRWP Saturday Reunion October 21st for the first time as a 6th grade reading teacher. My lens for the day was how to support my 6th graders during Reading Workshop. Of course, ALL my needs were met and then some because I got to spend the day with the smartest literacy leaders on the planet! Here are some of my take-aways.

Workshop #1 and #2 – Mary Ehrenhart
(I stalked her and learned from her over 2-hours!)
* MS may have been the time a teacher taught a book a quarter. Instead of teaching a book, plan to teach students as they read many books. Give them choice in what they read and teach them how to read this genre. Use “the book” as you model the teaching points.
* Have accurate expectations of the students. Don’t dumb it down for the new 6th graders to a 6-7-8 Middle School. Instead, take time to find out how they were taught in 5th grade (visit feeder ES in June) and keep expectations high.
* Tell them WHY they are in RW – by being a strong reader, all other subjects will be easier and their stamina to read for long periods of time with grow, allowing them to handle longer state/national test. Also, people who read are different – more empathetic and tolerant and open-minded so read to be a better person!
* Suggested having students pick a Course of Study to keep them reading lots, by picking a genre and series within that genre and reading LOTS and then another and another, studying within this course.
* Have an inviting classroom library with books arranged more like bookstores! Take time to Book Talk books and share book trailers.
* Bands of Complexity is something to study and teach into. Explain the characteristics of Bands of Complexity and  help readers move from one band to the next.

* This was an example of how a RN page might look as you are working on RST character work. By using the removable post-it notes, the reader can move the character traits to rank them or change them in different parts of the book. I liked the way she shared this flexible way to share one’s thinking.img_0046.jpg

*Mary reminded me that as I do my read-alouds, I need to also be adding to my notebook! Duh! But something I haven’t been taking the time to do…YET! I needed Mary’s nudge.

Workshop #3 – Laurie – Raising the Level of RN – Move from Reacting to Analysis

Predictable Problems

  • too much time is spent writing, taking time away from reading which does more harm than good. The RN is the place to practice skills, get feedback and always have the choice as how to place thinking on the page of the NB. Model the TIME so reading time stays strong!
  • Not having a book to think about in their RN – Use Course of Study to get them into a favorite genre or help them find a series at their level or allow a struggler to read the book I am also reading to the class or put students in Book CLubs to have the support of their club.
  • Kids not excited about books – do book talks, have authors visit, make my library look more like a Book Store’s display, do book swaps, hang laminated book covers and then kids can write on it their name that they read it or their review of it, use padlet to share book ideas.
  • Kids don’t know what to put in notebook – show and model LOTS of ways RN pages can look / gallery walks to get more ideas.Charts, sketches, color, poems (give the character a poem!), #jots – lay them all out and ask SO WHY these hashtags and write about that.
  • GIve them a Menu to choose what to write about. This is a blurry photo but the idea is to offer choose and the last column is a MUST DO – include text evidence!


She ended with having us watch a video, one I hadn’t seen before called SNACK ATTACK.  (Click on title to view it!) I loved the process she had me do to write about the reading of the video. She played the first part where the old women is trying to get the snack from the vending machine. Then she paused it and said, “Write a jot about the woman, but make it your worst jot. So I wrote, The old lady is hungry. She is mad when food gets stuck. Then she said, “Watch to make a better jot.” She played the middle part of the video where old lady is sitting on the bench. Then she paused it and said, “Now write a better jot about her.” I wrote – Old lady is strong willed and assertive when she thinks that something that is hers and when what she worked hard to get is being taken away. Then she played to the end of the video and I added to my jot – In the end, she realizes her mistake and shows she does have a heart and feels remorse. My partner wrote – The old lady is like a villain while appearing like the victim – definitely higher level thinking! I loved this process!!! It helped me to start out simple and it easily pushed me to be more complex. I can’t wait to try this with students!!

Workshop #4 – Hannah – Making the Invisible Visible
Writing About Reading is better if only 10% of the time is spent on it – so if they read for 30 minutes, writing about it is 3 minutes. It helped to have her name just how few minutes get spent on this to ensure reading time doesn’t get hijacked.

Writing About Reading is better when you help push the reader past their 1st thought to a 2nd thought. Ex: Take a jot – now expand on it – this helps the writer go deeper.

Writing About Reading is better when you help them move between the 2 ends of the Ladder of Abstraction, remembering that we don’t write to prove but instead, we write to think! Ex: big ideas –> detail —>  detail —> big idea IMG_0053

BIGGEST TAKE-AWAY – “The RN is not to just be a house for your jots” Instead, model ways to lift the thinking in it to be deeper thinking work.

In the Beginning of the Text –
Consider many different ideas – questions you are asking as the reader, the setting, the characters – make a list of all of them and their traits
Goal – not to prove anything yet. Instead, stay flexible, notice lots, it is the beginning so play around with ideas

In the Middle of the Text –
Decide on lines of thinking worthy of pursuing and set up ways to hold on and track this thinking. As you read on, question ideas in light of new evidence, moving past snap judgments.
Goal – set up a system to gather ideas with this lens so that what you continue to notice can help you grow a theory.img_0055.jpg

In the end – solidify your ideas, draw conclusions, reflect on theme/theory, write with claims and evidence.

  • As a reader, I can take notes as I read. However, the true job of the Reading Notebook is that it is a place to take ideas about your reading and now analyze them and show strong, deep, complex thinking work.
  • I can syudy RN exemplars found on TCRWP website together with your students
  • MODEL!!!! As I read-aloud, model how to write about reading in the beginning, middle and end of the book.
  • Help students create a Daily Work Plan – Where are they in their book? How many chapters/pages today? Will they use a tool? What is the thinking work they are doing? FullSizeRender 3
  • Introduce Thought Prompts and model using them:IMG_0058
  • Use Learning Progressions to help readers set goals. Model how they can go back and revise this work to raise it  – more thinking at this level or move toward next level.

I am so grateful that I could train up to NYC to learn from these amazing educators. I did have to watch the clock as I had to rush out to meet up for a family dinner in CT so I couldn’t hear Lucy’s closing Keynote:(   But on the train to CT, I read tweets posted about it. Two stuck with me – Send 4 gratitude emails a week and Take risks in the company of others).

Thank you Mary, Laurie and Hannah. Thanks to your generous sharing, this VA teacher is energized to help my 116 6th graders do stronger work in Reading Workshop this year and many more kids in the years to come!

What are YOU and YOUR students doing in their Reading Notebook?
Did you read an idea here that YOU might try?
Keep reading…..deeply!

2 thoughts on “2017 October TCRWP Saturday Reunion

  1. Oh my gosh! What a goldmine of reading ideas. I feel like I was there with you my friend. That Saturday reunion is such a gift. It seems crazy for me to come back for a day but I think it the ROI makes it worthy. Thank you for your rich notes and reflections!


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