Thursday, November 29, 2012

Summary Writing in Nonfiction Unit Part 1

This week, we started working on writing summaries for the nonfiction articles we are reading.  I think it is always important for students to know and understand the purpose for WHY they are doing something so our first minilesson started with turning and talking about what they think of when they hear the word summary and why they think we write summaries.  I recorded their responses on the anchor chart below.  I also think it is important for teachers to write and model their own writing for students so I wrote a few summaries so I was ready to model the process for the students and share my own writing work with them. 

To demonstrate the process of summarizing, I first modeled how to annotate an article to identify a main idea and important details to include in a summary.  While starring/underling the important parts of the article, I thought aloud about why they were important.  I told students to be on the lookout for the main idea and important details as I read aloud my summary for the article.  Students turned and talked to identify the main idea and important details in my summary and we labeled those parts on the Smartboard.

On our class chart, we also marked the parts with different colored post-its (yes, I love to color code  like my students - I wonder where they get it from?) Then students had a turn to practice writing their own summaries for another article and used my summary as a mentor. They mimicked the process I went through by annotating their text to identify main ideas and star/underline important details.  They used their annotated text to write their own summary.

Students are enjoying summary writing and comparing their summaries with their writing partners to see if they have similar main ideas and important details.  They are also learning from one another and now using their classmates' summaries as mentors instead of only mine.  We started a bulletin board yesterday to display our chart and summary examples that students are proud of and that can be used as mentors for classmates.
Today we started writing summaries with two main ideas so stay tuned to hear more about that! :)

Happy writing and summarizing! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writing Workshop Essentials

When I started my new position in August as our district's Writing and Social Studies Coordinator, I began to look for a one page document that listed the important components of a writing workshop. Since I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, I consolidated several into the following list. I'm still not sure that this is complete and I'm open to feedback, but this is the combination of some of the lists in Lucy Calkins' books, conversations with colleagues, and observations of powerful classrooms. I envision using this as a checklist for setting standards, expectations, and goals for workshop instruction.

Writing Workshop Essentials

o   Environment
o   Writing supplies area includes:
§  Pencils, markers, erasers
§  Post-its, index cards, envelopes
§  Spell-check machines, dictionaries, thesauruses
§  Mentor texts
§  Staplers, paper clips, tape, push-pins
§  Evidence of demonstration texts and teacher writing

o   Meeting area includes:
§  Chart paper
§  Author’s chair

o   Mini-lessons:
o   Link to the unit of study
o   Contain a clear and concise teaching point
o   Include active engagement
o   Link to independent work
o   Stay within the 10-minute guideline

o   Workshop routines are evident through:
o   Writer’s notebooks for grades 3 and up with appropriate quality/quantity
o   Writing folders for grades K-2 with appropriate quality/quantity
o   Writing folders for work in progress for Grades 3-up
o   Charts on the wall that serve as instructional tools and are evidence of strategy instruction
o   Solid 35 minutes of writing block to allow for conferring and small group work
o   Writing partnerships
o   Students’ understanding and use of mentor texts
o   Mid-workshop teaching point
o   Evidence of publication and movement through the writing process
o   Daily end of workshop shares:
§  Occur in the last 5 minutes
§  Provide evidence of the mini-lesson teaching point

o   Conferring includes:
o   A system of note-taking
o   Management that supports a no-interruption policy
o   Evidence of Compliment-Research-Teach-Challenge strategy
o   A balance of individual, partner and small group conferences

This is what I have so far and I am really interested in feedback, as well as ideas on how to use it.

Happy writing,

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Monday! What are You Reading? Narrative/Hybrid Nonfiction

Thank you Jen and Kellee for hosting this weekly!  To see what others are reading and recommending, or to participate, be sure to check out their blog Teach Mentor Texts :)

We are currently in our Nonfiction Unit in reading workshop so a lot of my reading has been dedicated to nonfiction texts of all types, including narrative nonfiction.  I have been planning which narrative nonfiction texts to read aloud to my class this week (I have many favorites!) and I came across A Nations Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt De La Pena and Kadir Nelson. 
It is a beautifully written picture book biography that I immediately added to my pile of texts I am reading aloud this week.  This book tells the story of  the 1938 World Heavyweight Championship fight between American boxer Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling.  It captures a moment when Americans set aside their racial differences to unite against a common enemy at the beginning of World War II. This historic fight symbolized more than just the world heavyweight title, but also the country's war with Germany.  I know that this book will become a mentor text in our classroom for writing workshop as well as reading workshop because it is such a powerfully written text.  I can see using this as a mentor text for word choice, voice, and how to include backstory in writing pieces. I know I will also refer back to this text during our historical fiction unit in reading workshop and in our conversations about strong characters.  This text is not only beautifully written in verse, but also has gorgeous illustrations by Kadir Nelson.  His illustrations always bring the story to life for the reader.  

I also read Gentle Giant Octopus by Karen Wallace. This text tell the story of a gentle giant octopus while also weaving in information about octopuses through the story as well as in italicized words on the bottom of the pages.  It has an introduction about octopuses and an index in the back. This is not only a good example of narrative nonfiction, but also of hybrid nonfiction because it gives the reader information in both a narrative and expository structure.  This can also be a mentor text for students as they write their own informational texts and want to try out writing in a narrative way and using a "PBS" voice to teach their readers about their topic.  

Happy Reading! :)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

So many of my book recommendations have been from the weekly shares on Thank you to Jen and Kellee for hosting and thank you to all who contribute their reading lists! To see what others are reading, head on over to the website and link into all of the reading recommendations.

One of the books I read was This is Not My Hat by Jon Classen. What a great book for teaching inferences to young students since so much of the story is relayed through the pictures! It's also a terrific mentor text for younger students to show them how important details in pictures can be.

I also read Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon, which I heard about from a post by Stacey Shubitz. I can't recommend this book highly enough as a mentor text for primary writing workshops. Ralph can't think of a story within a writing workshop classroom and the comments and resolution are funny and spot on.

Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole is a beautiful picture book. Enough bloggers have written about it that I ordered it and I'm glad I did. There are no written words, a parallel to the plot, but the pictures tell a powerful and poignant story. Additionally, I loved the author's note at the end and his invitation to people to create their own stories from the pictures.

Check, Please! (Frankly, Frannie) by AJ Stern is a book that I could see appealing to younger elementary students. Frannie has a great voice, a unique way of making up words, and ultimately, a strong understanding of the power of her words and writing. The restaurant review that Frannie finally writes is a great example of persuasive writing to share and talk about with students.

Professionally, I have been reading Franki Sibberson's The Joy of Planning. Melanie Swider recommended Franki's book on an earlier IMWAYR post. I completely agree with all the accolades this book has received!

Happy reading!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Partner Conversations in Nonfiction Unit: Part 3

This is the 3rd post in a series about our Nonfiction Unit.  To read my previous posts, click below: 
During our nonfiction unit, students still read their fiction chapter books so I have students meet with their partners in the middle of reading workshop, instead of at the end, to clearly split up the nonfiction and fiction reading. For example, after the mini-lesson, students go off to read their nonfiction texts.  After about 15-20 minutes, I pause them for a mid-workshop teaching point that leads them into their partner conversations.  In our classroom, we have Partner 1 and Partner 2 identified in partnerships so each day I alternate between having one of the partners do the teaching, while the other actively listens and asks questions to deepen their understanding and thinking.  After talking for about 5 minutes, I have students end their conversations and switch to their fiction reading.  During this unit, some partnerships have chosen to read nonfiction texts on the same topic or the same text, while some have chosen to read texts on different topics, but read the same fiction chapter book.  

During their partner conversations, they use: 
  • their texts to open up and point to specific information
  • their reader's notebooks to share information and thinking they jotted in their notes 
  • the post-its they used to mark important places in the text. 
I have modeled how to use the text and notes during a conversation to actively involve and teach their partner as well as how to be an active listener and ask questions to deepen your partner's thinking and learning.  We also have numerous fishbowl conversations, where partnerships model a conversation in the middle of a circle and we listen, watch, and notice what they are doing to have a powerful conversation.  This helps students see what a successful conversation looks like and the visual helps them be able to try out those conversational moves and strategies in their own conversations.  

Below are some photos showing the partner conversations in action: 

Happy Reading, Writing, and Talking about Nonfiction! :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Independence and Repertoire: Part 2

In a recent post, I wrote about developing independence for student writers. One of Teacher's College staff developers, Emily Smith, had used independence and repertoire in a sentence together and I have loved thinking about the two terms together.

For me, a writer's repertoire is all of the skills he/she has and the ability to use those skills across genres in order to add depth to various types of writing pieces. One of the problems that I see in classrooms is that students don't  always internalize lessons and make the skills their own; I love to see explicit teaching that what we teach during one unit is completely applicable in other units, as well. Here are some of the repertoire skills I have been thinking about:

1. Backpacks
Melanie Swider wrote a post earlier this year about writing backpacks, emphasizing the fact that students need to have writing territories. If a child is a soccer player, chances are he/she has narrative, persuasive, and informational ways to write about soccer. If he/she has a sibling, there are probably several writing opportunities across the three genres. So many times, we hear that students have nothing to write about. Developing notebook pages of writing topics offers students an increased repertoire of what to write about, a part of the writing process that can really muddle students. I created this chart as an example of how we can teach students the repertoire that they don't always know that they have.

2. Maintaining focus and purpose
When students understand that thesis is to essay as heart/climax is to narrative, their sense of repertoire develops. Just as their essay should weave in ideas and evidence that support a central idea or claim, their narratives should drive the central plot. The more that they understand the purpose, the more they develop this key skill of their repertoires.

3. Elaboration
Again, we should be developing elaboration skills across genres as closely related entities. If a student can use quotes and conversation in narrative, then he/she should have that skill available for argumentative and informational writing. If a student has learned how to capture and ground readers with strong narrative beginnings, that skill should show up in other genres. The list goes on, but the idea stays the same.

4. Conventions and grammar
The more that we can teach students that conventions and grammar exist in ALL types of writing, regardless of the content area, the more that they develop these skills and the repertoire to use them. If we teach them that spelling, conventions, and grammar offer power to writers, then students are more likely to develop mastery of these skills and strategies, developing an increasingly sophisticated repertoire of how to express themselves.

The more that students can take a step back and understand that the skills they learn in one unit apply to all of the units, the more that they build repertoires for themselves. One other chart that I have designed was with the Common Core in front of me, thinking about the sub-skills for each type of writing. It's easy to see the repetition of the skills as you look across the rows so it can become clearer to students how to apply skills that they have learned across genres of writing.

More than anything, thinking about repertoire reminds me that students learn more powerfully when they understand the "whys" behind their learning.

Happy learning, teaching and writing!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Note-Taking Examples from Students in Nonfiction Unit: Part 2

This is the 2nd post in a series of posts about our Nonfiction Unit.  To read my first post, please click here.  

In my previous post, I shared a photo of our class bulletin board where students post note-taking examples that their classmates can use as mentors.  Below are a few close-ups of some note-taking examples that students have posted so far. These are the forms of note-taking that students chose to use while reading their text during independent reading or while actively listening during read aloud.  I taught and modeled various note-taking strategies and we have practiced how to choose a form of note-taking that best organizes the information.  We learned that note-taking is a tool and that we need to choose the best tool to match the text we are reading, just like we choose a hammer to put a nail into a wall or a staple remover to remove a staple in papers.  

As students use different forms of note-taking, they are posting them on our bulletin board and sharing their reasoning behind using the form they chose.  They are learning from one another and using each other as mentors - such powerful learning! You will notice that students use colored pencils while they take notes - this not only gives them the ability to color-code, but also inspires them to take notes and write in their notebooks!  They use colored pencils throughout their reader's notebook, not just for note-taking in our nonfiction unit, but throughout all units and all sections of their reader's notebook. 
This student chose to use a flow-chart to show the Problems/Solutions in their text

This student chose to create organized boxes to jot down information about her topic

This student chose to use a T-Chart to clearly show the differences between Dolphins and Sharks as we read Shark or Dolphin? by Melissa Stewart 
This student chose to draw the life cycle of a penguin as he read about the sequence in his text

Happy Note-Taking! :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
So many of my book recommendations have been from the weekly shares on Thank you to Jen and Kellee for hosting and thank you to all who contribute their reading lists! To see what others are reading, head on over to the website and link into all of the reading recommendations.

As is frequently the case, I went to the bookstore to find a couple of specific titles and they did not haven them...However, since I had an hour to use up before having to pick up a daughter, I found many other books to read and enjoy.

Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon is an adorable book about a penguin befriending a pinecone. A somewhat unlikely relationship, I know, but one that could inspire classroom conversations about good friends and even some habitat and agricultural lessons.

My No, No, No Day by Rebecca Patterson reminded me a lot of Harriet,  You'll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox or Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It's another good title for showing students that if they must write a bed-to-bed story, they really need to establish a unifying strand. In this case, the main character's day got worse and worse because of situations that most young children can understand!

Charley's First Night by Amy Hest is a cute book about a puppy's first night in a new house. Since MANY of the on-demand personal narratives I read had to do with getting a new puppy, this might be one to pull out during next year's Personal Narrative unit.

The last one I'm sharing tonight (although I did read several more!) is I Have a Dream, a picture book of Martin Luther King's speech with amazing paintings by Kadir Nelson. I would use this book to honor Martin Luther King, but I would also use it to teach principles of persuasive writing. What an amazing speech to read and re-read, as well as listen to since this book comes with a CD, as well!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone, and Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Independence and Repertoire: Part 1

When I was talking to one of our Teacher's College staff developer, Emily Smith, she talked about building independence and repertoire for students as they work through the writing process. Since then, I have been thinking about what that means for all genres at all levels. What are the tools that students have that help them build independence, confidence and skill? What are the tools that we can offer students that help them to understand the skills that they acquire and the pathways that exist for generalization? Although I at first envisioned this post as a single one, I have decided to break it into two parts; the first part is about tools for independence and the second part will be about building repertoire for students.

1. Charts
Kristi Mraz and Marjorie Martinelli who are the authors of Smarter Charts wrote a great guest blog post at If you missed this post, I highly recommend reading it because they write all about how to create, use, and retire charts in classrooms. For me, I think that charts increase accountability for students. If students participate in the creation of the chart, have daily access to it while doing their work, and understand that the charts have answers to frequently asked questions, then students learn that these charts build independence. The charts are a step along the path of gradual release. Another powerful post I recently read is on the blog, To Make a Prairie by Vicki Vinton. Thinking about some of what Vicki wrote makes me really want to see students involved in the development of charts and also moving in the direction of not needing the charts. While I love to see charts evolve, remind and inspire children, I also love to see them retire as students become independent.

2. Goal-setting
I am looking forward to the release of the new units of study from Lucy Calkins and Heinemann Press due out in March 2013 because I know that one of the emphases will be on students setting goals for themselves. When Emily visited our fifth-graders in October, she taught students about checklists that they can use during their writing process; they could use these checklists not only to evaluate their work in progress, but also to set goals for themselves. Many of our students have continued to use the checklists and monitor their goals. I think that it is SO important for students to learn to set goals for themselves because by doing so, they take ownership of their learning and they build independence. 

3. Mentor Texts
Mentor texts are my favorite teaching tool and I think that the more we can get students to recognize craft moves, the more that we can get students to use those craft moves in their own writing. As a writer, I can't tell you how many times I have heard that the best way to improve my writing is to read. And read. And read. When we model to students how to study craft moves and writing impact, mentor texts become important tools for students to build Independence.

4. Partners
That old saying about teaching a man to fish comes to my mind whenever I think of writing partners. It's a lot of work to teach students how to be effective partners. They have to learn their roles, how to listen, how to recognize and evaluate good writing, and how to give meaningful feedback. However, how useful partnerships can be for busy teachers! If the goal is to lift the level of student work and we can get students to help us do that, what amazing independence we are building in our classrooms!

5. Writer's Notebooks
I'm saving the most important tool for building independence for last...the more that we can teach students that their notebook is a source for topics, revision, strategies, quotes, characters, conversations, and many other lessons we teach, the more independently students will cycle through the writing process in all genres.

As an elementary coach of several grades, I love the all encompassing aspect of independence and repertoire. Students build both during and throughout grades and the more that we explicitly teach these skills, the better for students as learners.  "Your job, students, is to take these skills that I teach you and apply them to all types of your writing on your own, without me." What an important message to send to all students of all grades and levels. The second part of this post will be about building repertoire for students and I'd love to hear about other ways that you are teaching independence and repertoire to your students. Please feel free to share in the comments.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Peek at the Nonfiction Work in our Classroom: Part 1

This month, we began our nonfiction unit in reading workshop and have been learning new skills and strategies as nonfiction readers.  This is the first post in a series of posts I will be writing about nonfiction.  Below are two of my charts that identify the teaching points of my minilessons so far in this unit.  Each day, I add the teaching point onto the chart and give examples from my demonstration and the students' examples from their turn and talks/stop and jots.  I then hang up the charts above our meeting area so we can consistently refer to what we have learned and how we are building onto our learning.  I do this type of charting for each unit of study.  

Last week, we worked on first determining a main idea of a text  and supporting it with specific details from the text and then moved into determining multiple main ideas for one text.  The students have enjoyed delving deeper into nonfiction texts by asking, What is another big idea this text is teaching me? What's another possiblility for what this text might be saying? 

This week, we have been working on choosing a form of note-taking that best matches the text structure and will best organize the information we are learning.  For example, when reading a text that is comparing two topics, we can use a t-chart or venn diagram; when reading a text that is describing one topic, we can use boxes and bullets or a web; when reading a text with sequence structure, we can create a timeline; and so on.

I have also created pages in my sketchbook that I use for mini lessons, conferring, and small groups, that support this important note-taking work we are doing as nonfiction readers.  Below are some examples from my sketchbook.
In our classroom, we have created a bulletin board that is dedicated to highlighting student examples of note-taking while reading nonfiction texts.  Our bulletin board is divided into sections based on various text structures and note-taking forms.  Students post their examples for their classmates to use as mentors as they explore and try out using different forms of note-taking.

Happy Nonfiction Reading and Note-Taking! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday is Technology Day! Pinterest

I hesitated to explore Pinterest for various reasons. I didn't understand it. (Disclaimer: I still don't understand parts of it.) I was spending enough time on Flipboard reading posts and twitter feeds. I had a pile of books that I wanted to read. Jessica Johnson, who is one my favorite people to follow, wrote a post about Pinterest over the summer and I put it on my mental to-do list, but I really didn't explore it until a few weeks ago. I waited too long.

As an instructional coach, I am always looking for ideas to share with teachers and there are infinite ideas for sharing on Pinterest. People create "boards" out of pictures or images from the internet and the boards can be of any topic. You can search by topic, by person, or by subject to find pins; one great pin leads to another leads to another leads to a great new blog leads to a great new website. You can find "pinners" who you especially like and follow them.

For me, I have been using it to organize the charts that I create and see so that I can use them as coaching tools. I have started boards for various grades for specific units and genres. While I keep a traditional  paper notebook of charts, Pinterest lets me manage and develop a digital chart collection. I'm trying to manage my Pinterest fetish so for now, I am limiting myself to only literacy boards, but I'm sure that in due time, I will expand my board topics into other areas of my life. If you haven't dabbled in Pinterest, I highly recommend it as a limitless way to find inspiring lessons and ideas for your classrooms and any other aspect of life that you want to explore.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Monday! What are You Reading? Nonfiction Texts by Melissa Stewart

Thank you Jen and Kellee for hosting this weekly!  To see what others are reading and recommending, or to participate, be sure to check out their blog Teach Mentor Texts :)

Last week, we began our nonfiction unit in reading workshop so a lot of my reading lately has been focused on nonfiction - I love finding new nonfiction titles to add to my classroom library!  I love finding nonfiction texts that will engage my students through the text features, structure, photos, layout, and of course an interesting topic!  Some of my many favorite nonfiction authors are Seymour Simon, Nicola Davies, Steven Jenkins, and Bobbie Kalman.   One of my favorites, Melissa Stewart, is going to be presenting at a local workshop in CT this week!  If you live near the Hartford area, click here for information about the upcoming event.   Since Melissa Stewart's workshop is this week, I read many of her books this weekend and began looking for new ones to purchase.  Some of my favorites from this week are: 

This is one of the many titles in her "How Do You Know?" series that includes topics such as: Butterfly or Moth?; Frog or Toad?; Insect or Spider?; and so on.  This series is perfect for teaching students how to read nonfiction texts written in a "Comparison Structure."  They are also great texts to model note-taking strategies, such as a T-chart or venn diagram, when reading a text that compares two different topics.  

National Geographic Readers: Deadliest Animals by Melissa Stewart
This book engages the reader right from the introduction by surprising the reader that the African Lion is not actually the deadliest animal after all and there are many surprising deadly animals.  Each page focuses on a different animal which lends itself perfectly to teaching students how to identify a main idea and support it with details.  Students are definitely going to love listening to the amazing facts about these deadly animals and looking at the detailed photos.  

I have always loved the National Geographic Readers and was pleasantly surprised to find out that Melissa Stewart is the author of a few books in the series.  Dolphins is a high interest book with great text features.  There is not a lot of print on each page and the print is large so it is easy to read.  The National Geographic Readers series has books on a variety of topics, levels, and written by different authors.  

Happy Reading! :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

CCSS and #rwworkshop on Twitter

Thursday is the day that we dedicate to technology. Twitter is a resource I use all of the time to connect with other educators and share ideas. 

Last night, I participated in a twitter chat about workshop instruction and the Common Core State Standards. Kellee Moye and Mindi Rench facilitate the monthly reading and writing workshop twitter chat every first Wednesday at 9pm ET. If you're not on twitter, this might be worth taking the plunge. 

Kellee and Mindi posed questions throughout the hour and I am sharing the questions and some of the answers. If you want to read more about it, you can visit the archive at I had never visited this wikispace until tonight and believe me, a person could spend A LOT of time there--enter at your own risk! 

Question: How do we keep the love of literature/reading while still being as rigorous as the standards?

Here, the conversation emphasized and re-tweeted Kate Roberts' comment:

Kate Roberts@teachkate@iChrisLehman A2 First step: Love what we do, what we show to kids and the work they produce. Our <3 shld get as big as the rigor #rwworkshop

We also talked about data and the importance of using data to inform instruction. Christopher Lehman was the special guest of the night and one of my favorite tweets was from him:
@MelanieMeehan1 YES! "DATA" is not a monster out of a computer print out. It's what we gather, live, every day in workshop

I think that we all agreed that workshop instruction involves constant and continuous assessment so that we differentiate our lessons, conferences, and small group instruction. Assessment is not exclusively for accountability; it is to also to check for understanding and guide instruction.

Question: What part will poetry play in #rwworkshop as we transition to #CCSS?

@kelleemoye Poetry is great way 2 explore the deeper, critical reading CCSS is looking for. Short pieces lend to rereading #rwworkshop

was one of my favorite tweets of the conversation. Another common belief is that poetry offers pathways to the common core because poetry can be within any of the three genres--informational, narrative, or persuasive. Poetry also offers strong opportunities to teach students about figures of speech, skills that are embedded in the standards and it offers struggling readers opportunities to read and re-read, increasing and improving fluency.

Question: How will technology play a role in workshop and #CCSS?

Tech does need to be more than just a fancy add on. Let's use it to let kids collaborate, create & share! That's college ready! #rwworkshop
Q5: Tech can provide important means for authentic writing and teach critical reading skills. #rwworkshop
Technology is a way to engage students to the learning of the future. #rwworkshop

These were only three of the many tweets about technology and the CCSS. Many of the others reflected the belief that educators should be embedding technology into our daily practices and facilitating students’ explorations of it whenever possible. These practices will increase the rigor in classrooms and serve as clear pathways for students to meet the expectations of the CCSS.

Conversations about the reading and writing workshop continue throughout the month because people use the hashtag. #rwworkshop. Anyone is welcome to "listen" or "chat." Comments and tweets are always welcome!

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
So many of my book recommendations have been from the weekly shares on Thank you to Jen and Kellee for hosting and thank you to all who contribute their reading lists! To see what others are reading, head on over to the website and link into all of the reading recommendations.

Over the weekend, I was preparing for our district's professional development day tomorrow. Since I will be facilitating the new Opinion Unit for our second-grade teachers, my eight-year old nephew and I read several books and worked on finding places where we could make evidence-based statements. We had fun! These books are not new books for me, but the thinking and pushing for evidence with a second-grader was new to me.

We read Harriet, My Darling Child, You'll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox to debate whether Harriet's mother over-reacted. (Jack didn't think so, but I did!) If you missed Harriet when she was first published, I highly recommend this book for teaching focus and for encouraging debate.

We also read Poppleton in Winter by Cynthia Rylant and debated whether Cherry Sue was self-serving or a good friend. Who knew there would be so much text evidence to support either theory??? We also created a chart of supporting and refuting text evidence for the statement that Poppleton was a creative pig.

I went through some of the other books that we use as mentor texts to develop more statements that could lend themselves to opinion writing. Here's a chart that I am working on:

Statement to Debate

Sophie dealt with her anger responsibly
The Chalk Doll by Charlotte Pomerantz
The mother had an unhappier childhood than the daughter.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The boy was a good enough friend to the tree.
Koala Lou by Mem Fox

Koala Lou should not have participated in the olympics.

I'm looking forward to continuing this thinking with our teachers tomorrow and if anyone has more to contribute, by all means! Happy reading!