Curling Up with Professional Literature–Am I Sick?

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Every find yourself on a Friday night moved to make anchor charts, engrossed in professional literature that you can’t put down? Yeah–me neither–well, that is until I started reading Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t even watch Stephen Colbert with my husband. I made an anchor chart. I made an anchor chart on a Friday night, really? I was out of control. I was up until nearly midnight reading that book. TMI, the book even went into the bathtub with me.

Reading this book was an Aha Moment for me.  Like I wrote about earlier in the year, my one word for the year is “SACRED”. Well, this book will help me reclaim what I find sacred in teaching. Not only that, but this book will help me as I try to help kids find what is sacred in reading, learning, literacy, and lifelong learning.

First off, I felt like someone was listening to my thoughts. I mean a book about close reading that acknowledges Louise Rosenblatt and the role of the reader’s interaction with the text. A book that says what the reader brings to the text is still relevant in this CC Era.

This book fosters inquiry into text in terms students will understand and apply as they notice and note key ideas/signposts that reoccur in fiction, and this will trigger responses related to comprehension. This book advocates and gives a method for modeling and gradual release of responsibility onto the student when doing close reading. This book shows that close reading is much more than what exists between the four corners of the page–close reading should, according to Kylene and Bob, “suggest close attention to the text; close attention to the relevant experience, thought and memory of the reader; close attention to the responses and interpretations of other readers; and close attention to the interactions among those elements.” Wow…so true. CC readers can rejoin humanity and be relevant once again. Thank you Bob and Kylene for challenging the ideas of David Coleman and giving a sh** about how the reader feels and thinks and about how teachers think and feel as well.

They explain that you need the will to develop the skill and that rigor does not lie within the text itself but in the behavior of the reader. They explain how rigor is the essence of what you do with the text; yes, even reading Wilson Gordon McDonald Partridge can be a rigorous experience. I love the definition they give for rigor, “Rigor is a transaction between the reader and the text and then among readers. The essence of rigor is engagement and commitment. A classroom that respects what the students bring to it, what they are capable of and interested in, and that welcomes them into an active intellectual community is more likely to achieve that rigor.”

This year I have been trudging through the mediocre sample units provided by my state, covering units, telling students what to look for in a text, and directing their reading thoughts straight to the prompt. Like Kylene and Bob write, “New standards, without addressing old problems, won’t change anything.” I remember in past years trying to get kids to visualize, connect, infer, etc. with them responding that they couldn’t connect one bit that story or worse yet with the blank stare of confusion.

Well, I feel like I have been given wings to fly because I feel like I can take the features most easily spotted in fiction (signposts) and use these to teach students how to reflect on their own. I can modify my CC units using these signpost lessons in a way that will free me up from my current role as director back to my natural role as facilitator/coach. This, I believe, will nurture and spark something in students helping them become critical and empowered readers. I think this will work well for all learners, differentiating because they will ask the questions in their own terms. The reader will learn to recognize the signs they read along the way, they will ask their own questions, and they will begin to find ways to answer these questions at their own level (natural differentiation).

Some things I have lost that I value in teaching in this new way, yet Kylene and Bob have shown me a way to reclaim the sacred in teaching.

The 6 signposts they found are based on reading and analyzing several books and working with a bunch of teachers and students. A few of the signposts are on the anchor charts pictured below. The text to the right of the sign is the generalizable language that works from one book to the next. The question in the cloud is the anchor question that a student should ask him/herself, and then, the text below that shows what the answers will tell the student. On that portion I underlined the academic vocabulary. The anchor charts are modified from the ones in the book made by Jennifer Ochoa–I am so thankful to her, too.

Here are a few links if you want to know more:

Sample Chapters, Appendix Resources-http://www.heinemann.com/products/E04693.aspx
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10 thoughts on “Curling Up with Professional Literature–Am I Sick?

  1. I think I will return to read your post again, Maya, it is so full of good information. I love the charts, will use them for myself in talking to others, too. What a great Friday night you had, just different from the usual, right? Thanks!

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  2. Oh my goodness…I’ve been looking for the right prof. book about it all. I’m ordering it today and will be using it with some of my awesome teachers. I love that they shed more light than the head ‘writer’. PS I love the charts and it so cool that you got the energy back. That is what Atwell and Graves did to me many years ago.

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  3. Okay, you got me. I’ve been on the fence, do I need another professional book? Apparently the answer is yes. I was in a session with Beers and Probst two years ago when they were finishing the book. They described the notice and notes that they had discovered when working with kids. Thanks for the thumbs up.

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  4. Thank you for the advice about this book. It is now in my Amazon cart. I am not getting much help from my district other than a basic outline of what to teach. I am looking for any worthwhile help I can get.

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  5. Jaana

    Your post id both inspiring and challenging at the same time! I will have to put your recommendation on my wish list. By the way, love the charts!!!!!!!

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  6. Kylene and Bob were working on tweaking the writing of this book when they were doing p.d. With my district so I am sure that its chocked full of great stuff…I haven’t read it yet, but its on my list!

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  7. Awesome–you, too, curled up with professional literature on the weekend. I am glad to know I am not alone. Keep in touch–I would love to compare how things are working in our classrooms. Make sure you like Notice and Note on Facebook. Also, if you have not already, look at the resources and videos on Heinemann. Good luck with teaching the signposts. Great stuff, I am sure your kids will love it. What grade do you teach?

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