gallery walks to celebrate reading work

this week we focus on gallery walks as a way to celebrate reading work. as the name implies, this type of celebration is structured like a museum gallery walk and is an idea that we’ve borrowed from mary ehrenworth, a staff developer at tcrwp.

during a gallery walk, students open their reader’s notebook to a page that they are particularly proud of and leave the notebook out at their seat. we sometimes place large post-its in at each table for gallery walkers to leave feedback. once all the notebooks are out, students travel around the room looking at the work that other students have done. we ask that students travel quietly and provide written feedback on each notebook that they read.  when the walk is over, students return to their seats and look over the feedback that they’ve gotten from their peers. we will also provide positive feedback (compliments) to students during this time as well, and travel around the room with students.

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when met with struggle, focus on strategies

we’re sure that many of you are like us and have hung on carol dweck’s research on the benefits of a growth mindset for your students  – benefits for them as people, as learners, but also benefits for your classroom community – and looked for ways to help foster this kind of growth mindset in your kids.

in a recent article we read, dweck addressed some of the misunderstandings of her research around mindsets. one area that stood out to us was the dangers of praising the effort when a student is struggling or failing. dweck said, “teachers were just praising effort that was not effective, saying “wow, you tried really hard!” but students know that if they didn’t make progress and you’re praising them, it’s a consolation prize. they also know you think they can’t do any better. so this kind of growth-mindset idea was misappropriated to try to make kids feel good when they were not achieving.”

it’s well-intended, and feels good, to offer a student who’s struggling, and even failing, some praise, often in the name of boosting her confidence. dweck got us thinking, though, that we certainly don’t want to be encouraging our students to continue doing things that won’t lead them to growth or success. our goal is to have students accept challenge and failure as a chance to grow and do better, to see challenge and failure as a chance to change and improve.

what, specifically, can we do to support students who are struggling? what feedback or prompting is beneficial for us to give?

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winter break reading resource

almost there! the holidays are, literally, just around the corner. we know how important it is for our students to maintain their reading lives over the break.

so, we’ve just discovered that fable learning   has opened their digital library for free from 12/16/16-1/3/16! we’ve taken a quick browse and there is a pretty expansive library available. they also have flyers to send home to your families in both english and spanish.

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celebrating reading

if you’re a teacher who uses the writing workshop model, chances are that you build a day into your writing unit of study for a celebration. celebrating is an important part of the writing process – and a step that we include on our writing process anchor chart. while there are, of course, plenty of types of writing that never get shared with anyone beside the writer, celebrating the work we’ve done and sharing our writing with others is important. it gives us a chance to reflect on our work and acknowledge the work and growth we’ve done as writers. it also helps to make our writing more purposeful, as the celebration is often the first chance to share the writing with its audience.

but, what of reading?

we believe that reading work and reading growth is also something to be celebrated, and that time needs to be built into our reading units of study for this just as it is for writing.

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teaching through inquiry

this is the third posts in a series on ways to vary the “teach” part of your mini-lesson, and this one will focus on using inquiry as a teaching method.

inquiry requires a bit of a longer mini-lesson or an entire writing workshop period, which can feel hard to devote time to very often, though teaching through inquiry is often really engaging and also gives your teaching more traction. so, our feeling is it’s worth the time that it takes! to try and balance the time demands with the benefits of inquiry, we often have the goal of including at least one day of inquiry in our writing workshop during each unit of study, and most often use inquiry when studying mentor texts (which could fit into any part of the writing process)  and punctuation.

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teaching through explain and example

this is the second post in a series on ways to vary the “teach” part of your mini-lesson, and this one will focus on using “explain and example.”

explain and example is a great method to choose when you’re trying to lessen the time you’re spending during a mini-lesson. rather than showing exactly how you might do the work, you’re using work already done ahead of time as an example, and explaining how it was done.

you might, of course, decide to follow up with more support or demonstration in a small group or conference for those students who would benefit from it. explain and example might be especially effective when the work isn’t completely new to students, but it’s building on something, so that they have some context already and sense of how it would look to do it. you’ll also give students a chance to practice some part of it during the active engagement, so you’ll be able to see who might benefit from more support or a step by step demonstration as a follow up to the mini-lesson.

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