Posts in The Teaching of Reading
Diverse Texts Resource List: Listacles with Biographies

This fall I am facilitating a training on using diverse texts across the curriculum to help teach comprehension and raise engagement. While preparing for my training, I spent some time looking into activities that use diverse texts regardless of the assigned content area. The text Strategies That Work, 3rd edition: Teaching Comprehension for Engagement, Understanding, and Building Knowledge, Grades K-8 by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis is a great place to start because we all teach comprehension (we want our students to understand what we are talking about) and we all want engagement (attention and participation in the lesson). This lesson sequence uses a reading strategy that involves making lists into short, informal articles (LIST+ARTICLE=LISTACLE). I personally LOVE listacles and use them in blogging all of the time. However, I have not had my students make these short articles as a way to assess their summarization and synthesis skills. The text set I chose to go along with this activity focuses on biographies and narrative nonfiction. I wanted to include this type of text set because biographies connect to ALL content areas, and students can easily search out aspects of a person’s life or accomplishments as they learn the task. I have been busy reflecting on the areas in my classroom and instruction that need attention in regards to diverse texts and representation, and I definitely have some areas that will get my attention first when I enter my classroom for the fall.

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Diverse Texts Resource List: Brainstorming Questions with Princess Books

This fall I am facilitating a training on using diverse texts across the curriculum to help teach comprehension and raise engagement. While preparing for my training, I spent some time looking into activities that use diverse texts regardless of the assigned content area. The text Strategies That Work, 3rd edition: Teaching Comprehension for Engagement, Understanding, and Building Knowledge, Grades K-8 by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis is a great place to start because we all teach comprehension (we want our students to understand what we are talking about) and we all want engagement (attention and participation in the lesson). This lesson sequence uses a current event topic and marries the idea of diverse texts to encourage questioning. Participants will also get a chance to label and categorize questions to lead to further discussion. While I chose a current event topic and this particular text set, this strategy could be applied to a variety of topics or content areas. As teachers, we want our students to question the world around them to become better citizens. The fall is approaching quickly, and I am busy reflecting on the areas in my classroom and instruction that need attention in regards to diverse texts and representation.

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10 Strategies for Reading and Writing Conferences to Try This School Year

In my recent posts, I have declared my two main goals for this upcoming school year are building empathy and prioritizing reading. I want to focus on helping my students try to be better people who dislike reading less. Perhaps, I can also help them call themselves readers as they travel through the school year in my classroom. A way to access this love of reading is through conferencing in both realms of reading and writing. While I have used conferences in the past, this year I want to be extremely purposeful with conferences. I did mentor text warmups this past year, and I want to continue to keep my mentor text routine. I love using mentor texts to empower writers. However, I want to start class each day with independent reading. This will force me to put conferences at the beginning of class; it will become the most important thing we do each day. In order to make reading a priority, I have to show them that it matters. 

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The 15 Diverse Picture Books I Plan on Reading Aloud in My Middle School Classroom to Kick Off the School Year!

For many years,  I lived in the school of thought that my middle-school students wouldn’t want to read picture books. As with many things in teaching, we don’t know until we know. I love reading aloud to my students, and naturally, they love it to because reading aloud goes back to a time when they loved reading as young children. As I could spend a lengthy bit of time here on this post about the apparent lack of love of reading that my sixth-graders come into my classroom with every fall, I will l quote Pernille Ripp from #NerdCampMI: “My goal is to make them dislike reading less.” Reading aloud to my students starts to work on this mission. 

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5 Reflections and 15 Resources to Ignite Your Passion for Diverse Books

This post is inspired by Donalyn Miller after her #NerdTalk at #NerdCampMi on July 8, 2019. She is a warrior and book whisperer for reading in the classroom, but more so, she is also a person who is not afraid to “make good trouble.” She started her #NerdTalk by voicing that she was the teacher who often raised questions to the administration at the end of the staff meeting. While many of her points on reading have helped form the construct of my teaching identity when it comes to reading, I have to be louder about another element that makes up who I am as a teacher. As an advocate for diverse literature in the classroom, it is my duty to be downright rowdy when it comes to putting materials and books in my classroom and in my district’s classrooms. #NerdCamp was a grouping of largely white women, like most of the demographic of the teaching profession, and Donalyn Miller spoke to white educators directly in the call for boisterous and clear advocacy of diverse texts in schools. We all have to be a deafening, strong force when it comes to diverse texts.

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A Diary of My Day at #NERDCAMPMI 2019

#NerdCampMI in Parma, MI may be one of the best educational experiences a teacher can ask for in the summertime. Let me be clear: I was already tired from writing camp and wrapping up the school year. But, something about experiencing NerdCamp for the first time left my heart full and my mind open to possibilities in my classroom as a teacher and in my own life as a writer. It didn’t matter how tired I felt; I was ready to be a nerd.

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Reflection on the Past 10 Days: Teaching at the Third Coast Camp for Young Writers

Each summer I am called back to Western Michigan University’s campus. It seems I can’t leave. I got my Masters Degree in the spring of 2014, and I promptly started working with the Third Coast Writing Project’s Camp for Young Writers. Entering the director role in 2017, this camp has been a huge motivation and drive behind my personal development work each year not only as a teacher, but as a writer. It has also taught me a great deal about teacher leadership. My favorite part about writing camp is that each and every adult, volunteer, and student calls themselves “writer.” It is a community that is a given. What we as teachers often spend some time creating in the fall, just simply happens. It motivates me to create this atmosphere in my classroom year after year. We are all writers, after all.

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Middle School Dystopian Book Club Checklist

Whether you call these types of groups book clubs or literature circles, the idea of building a reading community in a classroom stems from the shared experience of reading. I love trying to weave in book clubs. After reading 180 DAYS: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle last summer, I became inspired to weave these types of book clubs into my teaching more and more throughout the year. It was after I saw them present at the Michigan Reading Association Conference in March that I knew I had to change up how I implement book clubs in my classroom this year.

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