Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't Bring Napkins...Bring Something Awesome!

Lucy Calkins gave the keynote address/welcome on our first day at CTC Summer Institute for Reading Workshop.  She made an awesome analogy about book clubs/partner reading time, for adults AND kids.  She told us about a time when she was invited to a potluck picnic.

She'd been very busy all week and hadn't had time to make any type of dish to pass at the picnic.  So, on the way there, she bought napkins and other paper products she thought might be needed.  Well, she got to the picnic and saw all the delicious food that had been brought to share, and she overheard people saying, "Who made this?  It's amazing!" and asking each other, "What did you bring?"  She hoped with all her heart that no one would ask her what she brought.  She would have been so embarrassed!

Then she related this experience to book clubs and partner reading time.  We need to encourage our students to read the book carefully, slowly, and thoughtfully.  Then we need to help them learn to stop 'n jot, or code their thinking on a post-it.  In essence, PREPARE for the sharing and discussion and be ready to join in the conversation, like these two boys from my class last year.

Kids who show up to book clubs without having read, or without done any thinking or preparation for what they will contribute to the conversation, are just like Lucy bringing the napkins to the potluck.

This analogy hit home with me.  I always worry about what to bring to potlucks and whether or not others will enjoy it.  What I needed was to come up with an analogy that firsties would understand.  I decided  birthday parties would be perfect.  What first grader isn't invited to birthday parties?  They all have vast amounts of experience with birthday fun, even if just their own special day.  So I'm thinking about telling my class about a time when I was a first grader.  I was invited to my friend Andrea's birthday party. I told my mom that Andrea LOVED Care Bears. (Yes, they were popular back when I was kid, too).  "Just get anything with Care Bears," I told my mom.  Well, my mom was a very busy teacher and mom of three kids, and she completely forgot to get Andrea a present. So, on the morning of the party, my mom informed me she hadn't had time to pick anything up.  Then she said, "I think I can find something," went into her bedroom, and brought out a brand new package of sport socks.  Yes, sport socks.

She wrapped them up and handed them to me. I took them to the birthday party and presented them to Andrea, who, like most seven-year-olds, was greatly disappointed, but said "Thanks" and moved on to more exciting gifts. I was so embarrassed!  I desperately hoped that at sharing time on Monday, no one would ask me what I brought to the birthday party I attended over the weekend!

The Lesson:  Don't bring socks!  Bring something awesome!

I think that kids will be able to imagine the feelings I had as the giver of socks as a birthday present, and if they have a family like mine, they'll know how it feels to receive them too. I think I'll be able to tie this feeling to partner reading time in the fall and to book clubs in the spring.  What do you think?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Columbia Teacher College Reading and Writing Project

Guess where I've been?  That's right!  New York City!  Four teachers from my school spent a week in NYC to attend Columbia Teacher College's Reading Workshop Summer Institute! Our school has been following Lucy Calkin's writing curriculum for almost a decade, and the CTC reading workshop model for almost five years.  Each summer our school sends a handful of teachers to NYC to refine their teaching, and this summer, I got to go!  It was a crazy week; one like I've never experienced!

Day One: Saturday, June 28th
Arrive at LaGuardia airport 10 am, taxi to hotel, drop luggage, walk along the west side of Central Park, bus tour, stop to see September 11th Memorial pools, back on the bus, more touring, mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, out to dinner, back to hotel to collapse.

Day Two: Sunday, June 29th

Leave hotel at 6:30 am, breakfast at Starbucks, subway to Columbia, registration, keynote address/welcome by Lucy Calkins, morning class with Elizabeth Dunford Franco "Constructing Units of Study in Nonfiction Reading: The Methods and Content (K-2)" Advanced, lunch at a Appletree deli, afternoon class with Kathy Collins "Guided Reading and Beyond: Tap the Power of Small Group Instruction (K-2)" Advanced, Closing workshop with Lindsay Mann "Playful Reading: Using Drama, Choice Time, and Songs to Support Growing Readers," subway back to hotel, then touring the city, dinner out, and collapsing back at the hotel.

First Day at Columbia TC!

Day Three:  Monday, June 30th
Leave hotel at 7:30, Starbucks, subway, CTC, same morning and afternoon classes, but new keynote address by Mary Ehrenworth "Learning to Say More, Hear More, and Speak on Behalf of...Argument Protocols in Reading," and new closing workshop with Kelly Neault "Seven Read Alouds to Die For: Great Read Alouds to Live Off of All Year," subway, hotel, touring, dinner, collapse. (You'll notice a pattern, here).

Day Four: Tuesday, July 1st
See day three...
Keynote: Author Jacqueline Woodson "Someone Looked Closely and Saw the Light: An Average Girl's Journey to the Page"
Closing Workshop: Natalie Louis "When Kids Get Stuck: Watching and Thinking About Our Readers to Develop New Methods That Can Move Them Across Text Levels"
That night we saw Jersey Boys and LOVED IT! (And then collapsed).

Day Five:  Wednesday, July 2nd
See day three...
Keynote: David Booth "Why Is My iPad Sitting on a Pile of Books?"
Closing Workshop: Marjorie Martinelli "Growing Independence: A Reading Chart Course from A Chart Master"
Dinner: Rubirosa's in SoHo, walking in the rain, took different subway, got little lost, had a lot of fun!

Day Six: Thursday, July 3rd
Pack up, drop luggage at front desk, check out, Starbucks, subway.. etc., etc.
Closing Keynote:  Kathy Collins "Not-So-Random Musings on Butterflies, Thigh Gap, and Teaching"
Touring the city until about 4pm, then back to the hotel to grab luggage and a cab to LaGuardia.  This is when we found out that some flights were being delayed and canceled, so we checked our 8:25 pm flight, and sure enough, canceled due to threatening weather!  So we were lucky enough to check back in. Our tiny hotel rooms were better than a night in the airport!

Day Seven: Friday, July 4th
Sleep in, pack up again, shopping, saw Matt Bogart from Jersey Boys on the street, tour the American Museum of Natural History, walk in the rain, and then fly home at 8:25pm.  Got to see many fireworks from the plane, which was crazy!  We could see many different shows around Detroit, and the fireworks themselves seemed so tiny!  Arrival at Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport was at 10pm.  So happy to see my family!  This was the longest I've ever been away from them!

My head is just swimming with all I learned during the week.  I'd like to break it down for you by class, keynote, and closing workshop, so check back now and then this summer to read  my thoughts and ideas on each topic listed above.  And if you ever have a chance to go to CTCRWP, don't pass it up... it was INCREDIBLE!