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.Read More
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.Read More
Can you hear me clapping? Can you hear me screaming in happiness? If you can't, imagine one excited English teacher from Kalamazoo, MI that is proud and excited her district is approving thousands of dollars in research to help infuse the curriculums and classrooms in it with diverse literature in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Currently, I am working on a team of teachers to read, research, and review hundreds of diverse texts.Read More
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.Read More
…The same call for inclusivity in the beauty industry is also in the same call for the materials that we put in front of our students. This necessity drives the movements behind #WeNeedDiverseBooks and a call for diverse classroom libraries. We have to make materials available to our students.
I bring up this description of skin tone though as a conversation starter for how skin color is often depicted in works of fiction. If we focus on diverse literature, it is important to look at how characters are being represented on the page. How are our students able to describe themselves? What descriptions do they see while reading? What is included in our weekly read aloud? These questions impact the makers of stories in the publishing industry, and they impact the strategies we are using to teach our children. These questions are necessary to bring up and think about in terms of engaging with my young writers that need to have access to mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors in our classroom.
This post outlines different strategies as they are observed in 16 different middle-grade and young adult works of fiction. I am using mentor texts here to show my young writers that the works of published authors are not only accessible but can be unlocked to show them how to write. This post will give a great starting point to the young writer that desires to describe their character AND also make connections to that character’s background, culture, or identity through the use of skin tone identification.Read More
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.Read More
Give me a bookstore, a library, or a fellow reader’s bookshelf, and I will browse with wild glee. I love books. The sight of a bag full of books simple makes me happy. Reading has been something that has found its way back to me time and time again. Even when life seems too busy or too full of commitments. I always make my way back to reading. Using the 10 criteria that I outlined in a previous post about diverse texts, I wanted to write up a blog post about 30 book recommendations I would make right NOW to any middle school English Language Arts teacher to add these middle-grade fictional texts to their classroom library. I useRead More