Notice and Note: Giant Leaps and Baby Steps


sols_blueA few weeks ago I wrote about Notice and Note, the most amazing professional book I have read in a long time.

Here is my update:

1. I ordered five books for the ela department at my school, and I babbled about the signposts to any ela teacher who would give me the time of day while walking down the hall, when waiting for meetings to start, and with them cornered in their rooms. I even wrote babbling emails to the other teachers on my grade level. Two teachers at my school purchased the book on their own. Heinemann, I think I deserve royalties or something of the sort.

2. I convinced my husband he needed to try out Notice and Note with his high school ela students. He’s purchased two books for his department.

3. I tried out the first signpost with amazing results during my NBI class (yes, this was after ordering five books for the department). I did the model lesson for Contrasts and Contradictions (see anchor chart at end of post).

The next day I sent my students with Post-Its to find contrasts and contradictions in the book we’re reading. Here are a few things my students noticed and noted from Milkweed by Spinelli:

  • Enos (I think that’s the character’s name) doesn’t believe in Moms. He told another character that he believes even the women with infants are phonies. I told the student that I wasn’t sure that was a contrast/contradiction for the character because Enos is so negative and doesn’t believe in much good, but I could see it to be a contradiction to what we think is the norm of a child. After that lesson, I read the Q & A at the end of the chapter on Contrasts and Contradictions (perhaps reading the complete chapter ahead of time would have been helpful), I read that with historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy the contradiction lies what is contradictory towards our setting. Interesting and very revealing. What a revealing contrast and an important point to make in teaching the Signposts of Contrasts and Contradictions.
  • Misha stood still while the Jackboots (Nazis) walked by. I asked the student why that was a contrast. She told me that before Misha has followed the Jackboots admiring their uniforms, while wishing to become one of them. Now Misha is afraid of the Jackboots. Wow!
  • Uncle Shepsel ate a rat. Uncle Shepsel is stripped of his humanity, is accepting whatever “food” he is given, and is forced to eat a rat to survive. Another sharp contradiction and insight from a sixth grader.

Even though this is a giant leap and I want to get all the teachers to jump right in with me and read the book and make six anchor charts, I realize that I have to slow down a little. I have to take time to reflect and see the successes and work through the hard parts in order to get buy in from other teachers. More than that, though, I can’t force others to jump into uncharted territory in the way I do.

I remember a few years back a teacher told me that she didn’t care what I read in a professional book. She said she didn’t have time for that and that all she cared about was what I had tried and what worked. I will never be that teacher who doesn’t make time to read professionally nor will I completely understand that mindset, though I may envy it a bit–especially as I am blogging at 1:15 AM. Still what I need to realize as a teacher leader is that I need to assume the role of coach, being sure I can walk others through the tough parts and knowing I can prove what works and what is effective.

As I take my giant leaps finding them inspiring and exhilarating, I must realize that there are so many others who need to approach change slowly with baby steps.

The anchor chart below is  modified from the one in the book made by Jennifer Ochoa. I plan to border my N&N signposts with Caution tape from Home Depot. 20130219-021808.jpg


17 thoughts on “Notice and Note: Giant Leaps and Baby Steps

  1. bookwoman98

    I shared this book with a coach in our building this past week. She’s already leapt past me in implementing the ideas in the classroom and had to order her own copy. I’m a baby step kind of gal, but love being inspired by those around me who plunge right in.
    (I can’t figure out how to link my blog to wordpress –


  2. I am always puzzled how people that have packed lives find time to read, because they know they need it in order to grow professionally, and then there are others who say that they don’t have any time or interest for PD reading. Reading gives excitement and a push forward with teaching. I hope that your colleagues catch your excitement.


  3. Keep going Maya, the teachers will come around when they see/hear what you are doing in your class. If nothing else, your enthusiasm should be contagious.


  4. margaretsmn

    Contradiction: Teachers who want to try new ideas in their classroom but don’t want to read professional literature. You are so much like me, jumping right in before you had time to finish the chapter. What age level does this book work for? I teach multiple elementary grades. My students are all reading independent books. Sounds like this may apply when working on reader response. Thanks for sharing and for your enthusiasm. It is contagious.


  5. The book lists as 4-8, but I think it would be good with younger, especially those who have crossed from learning to read to reading to learn. Look up the book on the Heinemann site–you can read a good bit of it online to see what you think.


  6. I am another teacher who enjoys reading professional books. I understand it isn’t always easy to find time for everything, but not having time to read is like not having time to breathe. When you find a book with ideas that you can’t wait to try, it energizes you. We need that so much these days when there’s such an emphasis on testing. I’m going to the Heinemann site…


  7. Jaana

    Your enthusiasm is contagious! I had to check out the book right away! Will put a note to myself to read more on Heinemann’s site. By the way, your charts are great!


  8. Maya, this is just how I’m thinking about the Tony Stead piece I posted about today. I get so enthusiastic & then a little deflated when the teachers just look at me. Many say they don’t have time, but I’m not sure either how they can NOT do it. Frustrating. I am going right to Heinemann to check this out. I don’t know why I haven’t heard about it, but thanks very much for your shout out!


  9. I definitely need to get this book! I’m no longer in the classroom, but I’m always interested in learning new ways to approach reading and learning. I used to get a lot of blank stares from teachers when I could bring some new text/discovery to the group. And that was always hard, so your comment: “I realize that I have to slow down a little. I have to take time to reflect and see the successes and work through the hard parts in order to get buy in from other teachers. More than that, though, I can’t force others to jump into uncharted territory in the way I do.” really resonated with me.


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