I’m sure we can all agree that the clock is our #1 enemy! There is just so much to do in a day and throughout the year, that it almost seems impossible to get it all done, but somehow we do! I know, personally, I think, “Oh, this skill is so easy, they’ve already got a good base and I can skim it…” then I find that they don’t get it and I spend twice as much time covering it. I have to remind myself that the “beginning matters”!
While reading about the wordless picture books, I kept thinking of the book Goodnight Zoo by Peggy Rathmann, and how my 2-year old will look at the pictures and point out different things to me. While, he is pointing out literal things to me, old students could easily practice inferring and other skills. The Benchmark Literacy series that 4th grade has, also comes with poster sets that contain very little, if any, words, that could also be used like the wordless books. I plan to use more of both in the upcoming year!
I also need to give more time for purposeful talk! I struggle with this because of my personality. As I’m also reading about Number Talks in Math class, I see that even if they don’t get right to the point, that they need the time to talk it through and then get there, but back to the time issue how much time can we spend letting them talk their way through it? It’s going to be a tough transition, but I will get there!
OPPS! I gave the wrong title to the book.. It's Good Night, Gorilla. Not Goodnight Zoo.
You may already be aware of this, but just in case (After the county Reading Institute last week I'm working really hard on not assuming things!) Reading A-Z offers wordless versions of many of their books.
I really enjoyed reading this chapter. I have the sense that the author is authentic and deeply cares for children and learning. I appreciate her candor in presenting the challenges of time and large agendas for students to learn. I have used videos, raps, and slide shares, posters from our new reading series to begin lessons and inspire student talking and thinking in lessons. I think this chapter is providing the "permission" for me to give this part of the lesson its due time and worth. I am excited about thinking of lesson beginnings and look forward to reading about the stems for talking to see if they will work with my fourth graders or inspire me to come up with stems to use in lessons this year.
I love the examples you shared, Doug. Launching the lesson is a process that merits our time as we model thinking and release the thinking to our students.
My keyword take aways: THINKING--TALKING--LEARNING
I want to use the "turn and talk" ("eye to eye and knee-to-knee") strategy for giving more conversations into my library lesson instruction.
Giving time for purposeful talk is a priority.
Brittany, I love the example your toddler picking out so many new details from the wordless picture book. Tanny McGregor makes a valid point that wordless books provide a rich, authentic place for readers of all ages to rehearse strategic thinking.
I look forward to sharing this learning journey with you all.
After participating in the Summer Reading Institute and reading chapter 1, I realize I need to incorporate more thinking and talking into my language arts instruction. As the TLC teacher in 3 different collabs, with 20-30 minute "switches", I felt there wasn't enough time for the students to think and talk. I do most of the talking. I now realize how important it is to make time for students to think and talk. I saw firsthand how beneficial this time was for me during the Reading Institute, so why wouldn't I want my students to experience this?
From this chapter, I got a deeper understanding of concrete experiences. Oftentimes, I skip this part when introducing concepts and strategies. I think this would be great for my lesser skilled readers. I teach eighth grade and feel that I need to cover so much so quickly. I assume that the "beginning" of the concepts have already been introduced.
I think I have a place to start with my struggling students. It involves less talking by me and more talking by students! I see a new way of teaching in my readers workshop's mini lessons. While they are in a small group, they can have discussions and make decisions and comments on the topics at hand based on level!
I read this book fairly early (and a bit too rapidly!) in the past school year and began using the turn and talk - especially with the primary students. Good readers make connections and these kids want to share the connections them make after hearing a story. It's also a great way to introduce topics and give the kids a chance to realize they do have something in common with the material being shared. I need to get into the habit of writing the turn and share into my lesson plans - with the older kids as well.
I loved the first chapter of this book and how it reminds us that beginnings do matter. In working with the lowest readers at my school I have seen how true this is over the years. We not only have to help them fall in love with school….even though things are already hard for them….but we must make learning meaningful and fun for them. Many of our lowest readers do not have a solid foundation or prior knowledge about many of the things that they are being exposed to. If we, as teachers want them to fully understand and grasp new concepts and ideas, we must first help them to feel comfortable in the learning environment. The chapter talks about making things concrete and real for our students…..this is the best way to help them feel comfortable with new ideas and learning.
I love this quote from page 4, "With the clock as our enemy, we push forward, thinking more about the end result than the essential solid beginning. We need to change our thinking minds. Sustained, meaningful beginnings are not a waste of our precious instructional time."
I agree with this quote…we must think differently about our teaching. Helping our students to feel comfortable in the classroom with new learning and thinking must become a priority. This means that we do have to work against the clock and take the time to see the bigger picture, not just focus on the ending point. This means that we must provide concrete examples first and then move forward with our students based on their needs and background knowledge. We also must allow them time to talk with one another to reflect upon their new understanding in order to make room for new learning. Putting time into my lesson plans that allow for more thinking and talking is definitely going to be a goal of mine.
I am loving the ideas in this book already and I hope that I can keep these ideas in mind this coming year as I plan for my students! :)
Kimber TateCoordinator of English, Reading and Libraries