With so much information in the book, in the chat and in the questions we ask our authors, I have decided to begin with Shelley’s motivations in order to understand the end goal.
What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?
I was concerned that some of the hallmarks of the writing workshop had gotten lost amid overwhelming curriculum mandates. I hoped to remind teachers about the joy of exploring new ideas. I hoped to re-energize the writing workshop for students and teachers alike.
My biggest goal was to inspire teachers to create their own meaningful, joyful, and accessible writing challenges for their students and to do so in the company of their colleagues.
Shelley Harwayne, email, 1/26/2022
These words caused me to reread this response again. So much wisdom and so many hopes and dreams for the writing workshop to achieve! And what about the “hallmarks of writing workshop”?
The quote below was shared before the chat began. Read through it and think of the students in front of you. Is this a description of your students? Yes/No? And then is it a description of engagement or compliance?
Does that sound like your students? Are they curious? Do they wonder? Do they share with others? Last week in #TCRWP Supper Club, Tyrone Howard shared that our students come to us in kindergarten as question marks and exclamation points, and yet they leave elementary schools as periods. That curiosity and excitement has died out. Or has it been worn out day after day and year after year?
Think about some kids you know. Are they still curious?
Think about some teachers you know. Are they still curious?
And are they joyful?
Let’s move onto the second question we ask authors: “What do you want to stick with readers?” Let’s see what Shelley hopes for!
What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?
I hope teachers will participate in all the writing tasks that they ask their students to accomplish.
I hope teachers will find ways to keep up with children’s literature and share that responsibility with their colleagues.
I hope that teachers will recognize that there are many benefits to introducing shorter genres.
I hope teachers, (and their administrators), realize that there are many ways to achieve curriculum goals.
Shelley Harwayne, email, 1/26/2022
So let’s dig into those hopes that Shelley has shared by looking at tweets from Shelley and #g2great chat participants.
Teachers will participate in all the writing tasks that they ask their students to accomplish.
TIP: Writing and also reading like a writer is important. Check out Jill’s wisdom, (ShelfieTalk), in these two tweets. I can’t wait to try this tomorrow when I’m reading.
Teachers will find ways to keep up with children’s literature and share that responsibility with their colleagues.
Teachers will recognize that there are many benefits to introducing shorter genres.
Teachers, (and their administrators), realize that there are many ways toachieve curriculum goals.
Where do you see these four “take aways” in your school or life? Which ones are essential? Which ones are you going to work on? How will you continue to work on matching what you need and want in your school environment for your students with the hallmarks of writing workshop? It doesn’t have to be a perfect match. How closely are those hopes aligned? How can you increase that alignment?
To emphasize those hopes, here is the final author question Shelley was asked about a message from the heart for every teacher.
What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?
Long to be surprised. Create the kind of writing workshop in which you are surprised by students’ topics, their areas of expertise, their questions about the world, and the words they use to share their ideas and information. Long to learn, as deeply as you long to teach.
Shelley Harwayne, email, 1/26/2022
In closing . . .
What was the message from nature that I alluded to in my opening paragraph? That perfect alignment? Expertise, Skill, Passion, Surprise and Joy are needed by teachers and students alike in writing and in life. Both groups must remain curious and adventurous. Both groups must continue to read, write, talk, and think with other groups of people. Both groups must continue to be surprised by life around them. Joyful learning does NOT occur in a black hole. It requires a collaborative willingness. Joy; where will YOU find it? Joy; where will YOUR STUDENTS find it?
Melanie Meehan’s TWT Blog about Above and Beyond the Writing Workshop – Link
Study Guide for Above and Beyond the Writing Workshop – Link
Online Resources for Above and Beyond the Writing Workshop – Link
There is this question I have seen asked many times over the years, “Is this a lesson your students would buy tickets to attend?” Now setting aside that I am not a fan of the question I think the root of it is something we often ask ourselves as teachers, “Will the class find this work, this lesson, this activity engaging and meaningful?” This is a question I ask myself whenever I plan. I don’t want them to have to buy a ticket, the classroom is their space just as much as it is mine. How are we going to charge them for coming in? That said we want them to want to be there.
With all of that in mind, we were lucky this week for our #g2great chat to welcome back Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher as they shared their thinking and joined us in conversation around their new book 4 Essential Studies: Beliefs and Practices to Reclaim Student Agency. I have read many of Penny and Kelly’s books. Separately both Book Love (Kittle) and Write Like This Gallagher have heavily impacted my practice. Their joint effort 180 Days: Two Teachers and Their Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents informs my daily classroom practices. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share my thinking and that of chat participants this week.
As the chat began we reflected on what beliefs and practices guide our efforts to reclaim student agency.
This question really made me consider my own students. This week our semester ended. I am heartbroken because it was really the most fulfilling semester professionally as I turned over so much of the decision-making to my students. We leaned into choice. We explore multimodal and multigenre creation. Students crafted beautiful artwork in response to texts, digital compositions to present their identities, the writing in some instances felt as though it transported me away from all the noise and I could just sit in the peace of their words. As kids sat with me to discuss a grade they thought best demonstrated their work and achievement many shared they too were sad the course was over but they were grateful their last English class allowed them the opportunity to explore who they were as writers.
As our conversation continued we shifted to the topic of engagement vs compliance. How do we see these things as different? What does it look like in our classrooms and how does student autonomy help us with this shift from students completing work because they must to completing it because they want to?
As students joyfully crafted pieces for their final assignments they all spoke to the difference between the multigenre project they were interested in and the Critical Analytical Essays that are so often pushed in High School. The kids were the first to ask,
When am I actually going to need to analyze a novel in my life outside high school unless I am an English major in University?
Literally all my students
I didn’t have an answer for them. The only thing I could say was, we do it because we have to. The government (who required the test) canceled it because of Covid. We could move away from it and towards work, which they were more invested in. The engagement was evident and the excitement over the project led to some really incredible writing and other work that the kids were all proud of.
Ultimately my students felt like they were in the driver’s seat and this sense of ownership over their work helped them to create.
As we focus on providing students the autonomy to make their own decisions in writing and reading we still need to model for them the pathways to success. Providing options and ideas to help build their thinking around. As Penny says above we are the bridge.
A new semester starts for me this week. A new opportunity to learn from an amazing group of kids. I hate to say that I gave my students the autonomy to make their own decisions because I don’t think it is mine to give. I think by providing a space for them to see the power that they have as text creators. The ability that they have to make decisions to move their work in one direction or another, my students found themselves as writers. I am hoping the process repeats itself in its own unique way with this new group of students coming in.
The #g2great team is so grateful that Kelly and Penny joined us this week. Grateful for the wisdom in 4 Essential Studies: Beliefs and Practices to Reclaim Student Agency and the message that our students potential is infinite, sometimes we just need to get out of the way.
On Thursday, January 20, 2022, the #G2Great chat included a new format for this seventh year of its existence. Periodically this year we will have chats labeled as “Blast From the Past” as the following graphic explains.
Before this post begins to deepen our common understanding of “engagement,” let’s visit the term literacy and some basic concepts.
What is literacy?
Jill’s definition in this tweet comes from the International Literacy Association. Her question about creating space for students to develop these skills across all disciplines is equally important as it deals with “across the day.”
The goal has not been to say that every teacher is a teacher of English/Language Arts (ELA), but instead to say, “How do historians read, write, talk and think?” “How do scientists read, write, talk and think?” “How do musicians read, write, talk and think?” The questions remain the same across the disciplines.
Who is responsible for literacy?
Students need experiences during the school days and years that build upon each other. Their work needs both coordination and collaboration on the part of teachers. An example of this would be in the formatting of student work. The issue is not whether “all students need to use APA format to write formal papers” but what formats do our students need to be exposed to as well as use in order to be aware of the possibilities they will encounter in life. As teachers have these discussions prior to reviewing course expectations, students will be less confused about differing course requirements across disciplines, days, and years.
How can we support literacy learning across disciplines every day?
And let’s not forget what literacy instruction across the day is NOT!
Engagement: What is it?
Many definitions as well as misconceptions surround “engagement.” Ellin Keene has a remarkable book Engaging Children that was part of a chat here.
Her description is included in Mary’s tweet.
Judy Wallis adds another dimension to engagement.
And Jennifer Scoggin and Hannah Schneewind in Trusting Readers include opportunities for studying student engagement as well as Classroom Indicators for Engagement. (link and here)
Engagement in Literacy Instruction
Engagement is NOT about cutesy games, fancy fonts and big displays for visitors. Engagement is NOT about entertainment. Engagement is NOT about compliance. Those issues were mentioned in 2015 and remain true in 2022.
What IS Engagement?
Four key factors were highlighted in our #G2Great conversation.
Curiosity and Enjoyment
Both Visible and Invisible
Engagement in Literacy Instruction Across the Day is a relevant topic in 2022. How this will be accomplished and what it needs to look like will best be constructed by the teachers in their own school buildings. Some important criteria include: maximizing time in meaningful, continuous text, teachers sharing their own authentic experiences, and teachers modeling engagement. The collaborative conversations around definitions of literacy, coupled with teachers’ experiences with examples of student engagement including modeling, will set the stage for increased literacy learning for ALL. A timeless topic that deserves to be revisited on a regular basis and must also include voices of students: Engagement in Literacy Instruction.
Whether you attended the #G2Great Blast from the Past chat or not, think about your current understanding of “engagement.” When are you most engaged? What does it look like? What does it sound like? How can you ensure those possibilities for your students or faculty? What will you do differently? How will you make sure that students have a voice? It’s 2022 and time to take a serious look at the engagement of the students in your care!
One needs only to look at the state of education to understand why this is an essential topic. At a time when mandates and controlling political initiatives are at an all-time high, educators are being held captive by demands for obligatory acceptance. The ease for companies to tout their suspect wares for a hefty price has burgeoned out of control, exacerbated in a pandemic where the ‘learning loss’ narrative masks a hard core sales pitch. This is complicated in that those with control of the purse strings often have little if any educational background but are motivated by a personal agenda. Add growing self-proclaimed experts with a cause and a rally cry of “The Science of Reading” and we find ourselves caught in a political tsunami. Suddenly our coveted seat at that professional decision-making table has become a dreaded seat at a decision-taking table.
These challenges have put up one roadblock after another for educators who desperately want the freedom to make decisions in honor of children. This freedom can be the difference between a grab and go mindset vs informed choices driven by a responsive view of the teaching/learning process. It would be illogical to argue whether teachers deserve a seat at that decision-making table knowing that our ability to make decisions that are grounded in deep understandings is the tipping point to our success as professionals and to the success of our students’ as learners. Therefore, in this post, I won’t argue our right to have a seat at that table, but why that seat and the freedom to make decisions comes at a price. So let’s pause so that I can approach this topic with a connection to my life experiences.
I have been a frequent visitor to Honolulu, Hawaii for years, working with schools before lingering awhile to soak in the island beauty. During these visits, I’ve taken countless lessons to become a surfer. I use the word “surfer” loosely since I’m not known for the much-needed grace and balance that actual surfers possess. Since a picture really is worth a thousand words, my visual collage below reflects one of my early surfing excursions. As you can see, my style seems to spread terror across the Waikiki waters, as evidenced by the horrified face of my instructor coaching me from behind the scenes and the ill-fated man ahead of me about to be mowed down by a little old lady perched on a wobbly piece of wood devoid of brakes. In my defense, I failed to notice him because I was too busy celebrating a long awaited prone position but I am very happy to announce that no human was harmed during my early learning attempts.
Video of early surfing lessons with what I learned about teaching link
So why do I share this? After five decades in education and long-time work with schools across the country, I believe that it’s important for us to relive what it feels like to be a novice now and then. Committed learning even when it’s hard illustrates the “price” we pay for the professional freedom we say we desire. I owed it myself and those around me to do all I could to learn how to surf so that I could gain new understandings and skills over time. Although I have definitely improved after countless lessons, I’m not sure that I’d want to be in the same ocean with me given my still shaky status that continues to this day. Without lessons and the patient support of coaches, I suspect that my face may well have appeared on the front page of the Honolulu Star Advertiser newspaper that day.
Surfers are no different than teachers. A skilled surfer is like a skilled teacher in that both recognize their obligation to their chosen field to respect the rights of those they serve by paying the price of unwavering commitment to learning and the rewards of our efforts: Knowledge. Experience. Dedication. Determination. Practice. Study. Collaboration. Patience. Reflection. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Both surfers and educators dedicated to their profession work for years to hone their skills in a never-ending quest. And just like teachers, surfers understand that each surfing experience and those who share the water with them are unique and different, thus requiring different responses for each situation.
I began teaching in a special education room in small town Missouri in 1972. Nary a resource or wise piece of advice was ever offered to me in that first year. I entered my tiny special education room armed only with my love for children and my determination to become the best teacher I could possibly be. Knowing now what a negative impact rigid adherence to programs can have, I consider it my good fortune not to have been tethered to shallow “stuff”. My enthusiasm, my willingness to learn, and my steadfast desire to do right by my kids kept me in a perpetual state of inspired learning. Yes, I was uncertain often in those early days. Yes, I made many shaky choices. Yes, I had to change direction often. But those early missteps set me on a path to seek better choices. In those early years, I embraced my imperfections and saw this as a gift in the form of a gentle nudge to the new thinking I needed. My success as a teacher was reflected by the success of my learners which earned me the right to sit at the professional decision-making table. I am still joyfully paying that price all these years later when my learning means as much to me now as it did then. If we stop learning, we are doomed to stagnate and our children are doomed to pay that price.
These are hard times in education folks. Teachers everywhere are being told what to do and how to do it, what not to do and what to do instead, and even how to think (or how not to think even when they know better). But in hard times where politically fueled mandates and directives have taken over our schools, it is more important than ever for us to lead the life of responsible professionals driven by a quest for knowledge and the research and experience that feeds that knowledge. I cannot repeat often enough that this is the price we pay for a seat at the table. We talk about teacher agency, but agency comes with responsibility to the learning that prevents us from mindlessly reaching for a script or shallow activity just because it’s there. We read. We study. We explore. We question. We discuss. We research. And then we do it all again. Seth Godin reminds us that “Nobody dabbles at dentistry” so we refuse to ‘dabble’ as educators and instead work to “be extraordinarily good at whatever it is that we do.” If we truly desire professional freedom, we must first make a commitment to professional knowledge in the name of our own growth process.
Yes, I believe that schools have a clear responsibility to create a culture of professional learning that would help us all to do that, but the ignorance of schools for not doing so does is not a free ride for professional responsibility. Even if we find that our seat at the professional decision-making table is under lock and key, we have options if we so choose to explore them:
• Don’t wait for permission to take your place at the decision-making table; take that seat armed with references that show that you belong there. Become a dedicated action researcher who seeks evidence of learning in action. The seat is there but you may have to show that you deserve the trust of others first.
• Build a mini professional decision-making table and invite some like-minded others who are equally determined to make decisions for students. Explore the real life informants of living breathing humans and what this tells us about next steps decision-making Start a revolution with a team to support you.
• If these things don’t work, then create an intimate table for one where you have a space to use your knowledge to awaken your freedom to make choices. You may be surprised how your determination will inspire and entice others to join you. Change often with begins with one person. Be the one!
With each tick of the instructional clock, we can lift students to great heights of learning or hold them cognitive hostages in an instructional dead end. Great work doesn’t happen by chance, it’s a conscious choice we make using a new mind-set that forever alters our thinking. (page 93)
As I type these words, many educators are being forced into that instructional dead end and told that that are incapable of making decisions so therefore they need a fail proof fidelity box to follow with a vengeance. For some, this may seem like a blessing but for most of us it is a travesty of injustice to our role as professionals and to children who depend on us to behave like professionals.
There is a dangerous power game in progress in far too many schools and it is forcing teachers to play follow the leader in a mindless version of what teaching is all about. We can play this game and succumb to the pressure of power plays, or we can pick the battles that matter most based on our growing knowledge of research, children and meaningful assessments that help us to make the best possible decisions. Combine this with reflection that turns our teaching inward, and move us from teaching as an act of mindless DOING to teaching as an act of responsive THINKING. When we take time to internally ponder our own choices and how those choices support or hinder learning, we then embrace a higher professional purpose that can lead us to change. I’d say that’s a lofty goal that is well worth the effort.
Yes, professional freedom comes with a price, but the payoff is priceless.
When each January arrives to boldly mark the start of a new year, it awakens a sense of eager anticipation for all that stands before us and precious days ahead just waiting to be lived. Like other new years that loom large in our view, 2022 brings promises of hope for what could be at a time when the world has given us challenges like we have never known before. While Covid 19 is not yet in our rearview mirror, a new numerical combination of 2-0-2-2 beckons us to dream of better days ahead.
Your #G2great co-moderators including me, Fran McVeigh, Brent Gilson and Jenn Hayhurst share that same sense of hope and possibility as we enter 2022. But each new year also brings an added meaning to each of us. Every January since 2015 we turn our attention to the chat created on January 8, 2015 with a ten-week study of the book that inspired it: Good to Great Teaching: Focusing on the Literacy Work that Matters (Heinemann 2012). That ten-week exploration has led us to one joyful knock on the anniversary door after another that inspires us to gaze back across the years and contemplate brave new conversations ahead.
To launch #G2Great Year 7, we celebrated a topic that has been our heart and soul from the beginning: Lifting Our Professional Voices in a Collective Gathering Space. Admittedly, we are selfishly motivated since we personally long for a space where we can think, wonder, and explore alongside dedicated educators. We would love to think that all teachers reside within a schoolwide community of learners, but we know that this is not reality for many educators. Invitational discourse has been the driving force of #G2Great chat since its inception and that vision continues. We embrace collaborative inquiry and have experienced its impact in action each week. We are honored to step into 2022 armed with our own curious wonderings along with those that each of you carry into our chat.
Since we were very intentional about crafting our anniversary chat topic for 2022, I’d like to highlight it from a twitter perspective: Lifting Our Professional Voices in a Collective Gathering Space. In this post, I’ll reflect on what drives our commitment to allocate time and energy for collective professional growth using twitter as our platform and how this can support shared learning and the continued professional growth we all desire.
Acknowledging our Professional WHY
We can’t discuss professional learning and our dedication to lifting our own voices in the company of others without sharing why we made a choice to bring #G2Great chat to life for seven years and counting. As professionals, we are fueled by our desire to deepen our understandings about the teaching/learning process and the research that supports and enriches those understandings. We know that no program or quick fix solution will ever be a worthy substitute for growing knowledge. We have seen blind faith in products lead to dependency as publisher fueled tethers distract our view and blur the lines of our professional responsibility to children. We created #G2Great chat in January of 2015 because we recognize resources with a strong research foundation can support our thinking, but it is flexible professional decision-making grounded in research supported knowledge that matters most. This inspires us to use #G2Great as a social media platform where we can merge our collective voices to build a dual lens of reflective practice through our eyes and yours. Ultimately, we know that our goal is to sharpen our view of thoughtfully responsive instruction.
Priya Parker beautifully illustrated our #G2Great WHY in The Art of Gatherings: How We Meet and Why it Matters. Our commitment to using social media as a gathering space around a particular topic affords opportunities to make sense of our educational world within a learning community. Through the process of lifting our collective voices each week, we put our hopes and dreams on display in fast-paced twitter conversations that can serve to extend and strengthen our beliefs and understandings on invitational thinking playground we created for that purpose.
Expanding our Professional Growth Reach
Seven plus years ago, social media was barely a blip on my priority radar screen, evidenced by the twitter eye rolling reflecting my disdain. But then one day I was invited to lead a twitter chat. After one “No thank you” after another followed by more eye rolling, I reluctantly agreed. As it turns out, this hour chat was life-altering and when Jenn Hayhurst and Amy Brennan invited me create a chat around my book a week later, I didn’t hesitate. A twitter convert suddenly emerged from the ‘not me’ ashes.
What changed? Suddenly, this eye-rolling gal from Oklahoma who spent most of her time alone on the road could engage in professional conversations with educators from all over the world no matter where I happened to find myself. Even after all these years co-moderating #G2Great chat, I still feel a sense of anticipatory elation each time I sit in front of my computer ready to engage in celebratory discourse with new friends and old. The chats we collaborate to create each week are the gentle nudge we need to revisit, reflect, and often revise our thinking and that nudge explodes in technicolor view on Thursday nights at 8:30 ET. I never cease to be amazed by how much I feel supported as a professional during the course of our twitter ponderings alongside others. New acquaintances have blossomed into trusted friendships across the years, and the generosity and dedication of educators has been overwhelming.
An Insider’s Perspective of a Twitter Chat
While I have certainly been twitter blessed over the past seven plus years, this seems like a good time for you to see the impact that our twitter chat is having on other professionals. As you read the inspired tweets from our #G2great chat last night, I hope that it just might entice you to join the conversation.
I’d like to take a moment to depart from sharing tweet collections and celebrate one new #G2Great friend. This week, fourth grade teacher, Laura Reece, joined us for her first twitter chat. I am still inspired by her enthusiastic joy!
Last night Laura’s enthusiasm was a reminder that if we are going to ask our students to step into discomfort for the sake of learning, we should be willing to do the same. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your belief in your own professional responsibility to your students and sharing your love for teaching with us.
My Final Thoughts
I’m so grateful for the conversations and collaborations I have engaged in over the years. I am so grateful for that memorable day I chose to leave my twitter eye rolling days behind me and venture in to the power potential of the chat conversations we have come to cherish. Yet, I’m always surprised that so many educators have never experienced the gift of passion-fueled twitter dialogue that is only a reach away and accessible twenty-four hours per day.
As I come to the close of this post and the beginning of another year of engaging conversations, I’d like to pause to send a note of appreciation to each of you who join our chat on a regular or occasional basis. YOU inspired us to create #G2Great in January 2015. YOU inspire us to look forward to another year each January since then. YOU are the reason we stepped happily into year seven. YOU heighten our desire to explore the topics, authors, and twitter style discussion that we are grateful to support. All of our planning for each chat is done in YOUR honor because you ARE #G2Great and YOU motivate each of us to imagine new professional conversations as we lift our voices across another year.
Thank you for infusing professional passion into our #G2Great chat.
PAST ANNIVERSARY CHAT ARTIFACTS
Just as I have done in each anniversary post in the past, I’d like to share the artifacts that lovingly reside in our Wakelet home awaiting others to follow across 2022 as well as the 271 blog reflections that extend and support each one. We look forward to adding more as we chat across 2022.
What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?
We started our teaching journey in NYC public schools with bilingual and multilingual students across monolingual and bilingual programs. Most of the professional development workshops, curricula, and texts for children were in English. There were many professional texts with strategies for “ELLs” and we had a problem with the deficit framing of children who were already navigating multiple languages, cultures, and schooling. Our questions and concerns took us to develop research studies on teaching with bilingual and multilingual students. Our dissertation advisor, Ofelia García recommended we write together and so we did! We were motivated by our own experiences with learning English while developing our Spanish, our teaching, and our research. We were motivated by our families’ resolve and support that were crucial in making sure we had the connections with them and our language practices. consider the problem when we center on white, monolingual, dominant language practices.
We hope this book also opens doors for other bilingual and multilingual educators to write about their teaching experience, with support from publishers.
Dr. Carla España and Dr. Luz Yadira Herrera (11/11/21)
Knowing where you are on your teaching journey is really important for us all. I have had the benefit of years of professional learning and practical experiences that have made me the teacher I am today. I love teaching children to be curious about words, how to read, and how to write. I love making them feel important and wise. I am crystal clear as to why I am a teacher and I actively work at understanding my role in today’s educational landscape. For me, an educator working and living on Long Island NY, the context of that landscape has been shaped by a recent report from the LEAD Coalition showing that multilanguage learners in New York schools (many of whom live on Long Island) has grown 20 percent over the past 10 years.
That’s a fact, and speaking anecdotally, I find I am working with more children who are bilingual or are beginners to learning English altogether. What can I do to be responsive to these students? I believe my power is unlocked by becoming unabashedly self-aware. I need to learn more about them and their needs. I am a monolingual teacher who is diving into learning more about translanguaging:
Translanguaging is when a multilingual person’s full linguistic repertoire is used and honored, instead of trying to keep narrowly focused on a single language.
It occurs to me that I have a lot in common with many of my students who are new to learning English. When it comes to having an understanding for translanguaging I am a beginner too. In that spirit I write this post adopting a beginner’s mindset.
Following Students to Learn More
Embracing the Process to Grow My Practice
What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?
We begin our book with a Critical Bilingual Literacies framework that informs the lesson sequences. We hope that teachers will embrace a CBL framework as a way to grow in their planning and teaching.
Constantly self-reflect on language ideologies while engaging with texts, classroom experiences, and research on bilingual practices.
Practice a pedagogy that focuses on all participants’ “unlearning” the notions of linguistic supremacy that uphold Eurocentric notions/ racialized language hierarchies (Alim and Smitherman 2012).
Analyze linguistic practices, literacies, and power.
Celebrate bilingual Latinx linguistic practices and plan content (curriculum, texts) and methods from the perspective of the bilingual learner.
Dr. Carla España and Dr. Luz Yadira Herrera (11/11/21)
After spending an evening with Dr. Carla España and Dr. Luz Yadira Herrera (and all of the #G2Great PLN) I have strengthened my resolve to continuing to learn more about translanguaging and to put that learning to practical use:
I am going to learn from my students, by letting them lead the way so I may learn more about them.
I am going to continue my work as an intentional teacher who uses what I am reading in professional texts and my classroom experiences to plan for the future
I am going to embrace where I am right now in this learning process while continuing to grow my practice for the future.
We at #G2Great believe it is every teacher’s mission to continue to strive for greatness. We believe that our work is never done because when you strive to know more, to be better than you were the day before that means pushing ourselves to look for our blindspots. On that note, I’d like to end this post with Dr. Carla España and Dr. Luz Yadira Herrera words.
What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?
This is life work. As much as we love supporting teachers with curriculum development, sharing frameworks for teaching and planning lessons that center bilingualism and multilingualism, there is still some deep processing of our own ideas about language learning and minoritized languages that we cannot ignore. There is a lot of unlearning we must confront, especially as many of us are products of systems that have propagated myths and harmful ideas about bilingualism, multilingualism, and the Latine community. Our book is a way for us to welcome teachers to join our conversation and to be in this journey in community with us.
Dr. Carla España and Dr. Luz Yadira Herrera (11/11/21)
Words matter! Within this book you will see these words a lot: whole, grow, multilingual, translanguaging, strength and bilingual. (Word count from preview copy: 37, 39, 141, 220, 326, 695) The authors deliver with their focus on: multilingual, translanguaging, strength, and bilingual when discussing the needs of students at the emergent stage of learning an additional language. It will be important for you, the reader, to deepen your understanding through Cecilia and Laura’s viewpoint.
A translanguaging vision of reading posits that reading starts with the person. In other words, the multilingual person does not read in one language or the other, but rather brings his or her whole linguistic repertoire and social repertoire to the text. Reading cuts across named languages, modalities, and experiences.
Rooted in Strength: Using Translanguaging to Grow Multilingual Readers and Writers ( p.68)
This is a book about teaching for teachers that will help put bilingual students at the center of instruction. “You don’t have bilingual students in your classroom?” you say. Well, it is highly possible that you will eventually have students who identify as bilingual sometime in the future. Start planning now for your response. Your response to the ideas in this book will help you grow and practice seeing the “whole” in the multilingual folks in your own community. This book is bigger than just a “teaching book”. It’s an invitation to continue growing and learning both professionally and personally.
We asked Laura and Cecilia to respond to some questions in order to ensure that we included the author’s view of this text. I feel compelled to begin with this one which is usually the third and last one.
What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep inmind?
Teaching is an intellectual journey that pushes us to confront and renovate our understandings of students and their families. When we center instruction on emergent bilinguals as whole people, we do just that – we engage in the difficult, but rewarding work, of equity-based teaching. Every teacher can do this! It’s about having an open and curious heart and mind. Meaningful change in literacy instruction starts with the recognition that emergent bilinguals need to come to our classroom whole (with their languaging practices & socio-cultural histories). A translanguaging stance challenges us to embrace a radical departure from too long held deficit views about bilingualism. There is great power and potential for innovation and creativity when we build on the strengths of emergent bilingual students. This book is for all teachers who count emergent bilinguals as part of their classroom communities, those in general education, English as a new language, and bilingual education.
Many professional books are vying for your attention. Full disclosure, this is an infomercial. If you are seeking more because you have worked on individual skills or mentor texts, this book will give you ideas to consider, implement and reflect on their use as you encounter bigger views of instruction AND assessment for emergent multilingual students. You will be amazed how you can focus on and celebrate what students CAN do with an open and curious mind. The following quote is about writing, but it’s also true of reading. The deficit perspective has got to go!
A second author question that we use at #g2great …
What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?
This book emerges from our professional and personal experiences as educators of emergent bilinguals. First, we were frustrated that most of the professional literacy texts we read, always kept emergent bilinguals at the margins. We wanted to bring them to the center of all literacy instruction. We also wanted to bring a stance – translanguaging – which has become more known across educational circles – into active dialogue with teachers in a way that would be practical and inspiring.
We wrote this book knowing that for teachers, one of the greatest pleasures is to see their students deeply engaged in using reading and writing as tools for thinking, expressing, wondering and knowing. As new teachers we always looked for strategies to engage our emergent bilinguals – students who use two or more languages in their daily lives, in rich, thoughtful literacy practices. We also wrote this book with equity in mind – we know from experience that all pedagogy needs to be rooted in the fact that emergent bilinguals’ full participation as readers and writers is fundamental to any classroom where all students deeply engage in literacy.
Our hope with the book is that teachers see themselves as capable and excited to teach emergent bilinguals and that they understand how all students’ language practices are a key element to their success. We also want teachers to feel empowered through translanguaging pedagogy by understanding how they can shape literacy learning experiences through their deep knowledge of children.
Over 20 % of Americans are multilingual and are speaking more than one language at home according to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (Link) That compares with 56% of Europeans. Some experts propose that over half of the world’s population is multilingual. To be competitive in the world proficiency in another language or two may be required.
In the past many educators have been led to believe that teaching English as an additional language requires extensive training beyond a classroom teacher’s repertoire. Cecilia and Laura posit that it’s not about the specific skills of a teacher, but more about their own mindset, beliefs and actions.
The third and final question for Cecilia and Laura …
What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers willembrace in their teaching practices?
First and foremost, literacy instruction for emergent bilinguals must be focused on the whole child. If we are truly committed to literacy instruction that is transformative and equitable the identities and full capacities of emergent bilinguals need to be recognized, incorporated and built upon as essential to all literacy instruction. It matters that we take a stance of strength and that we normalize our students and their families languaging practices.
Additionally, literacy and literacy instruction are never neutral. As teachers we have the power to privilege certain identities, histories, and language practices, while silencing others as substandard.
The theories we hold regarding how emergent bilingual children develop as readers and writers impact and inform our instruction in powerful ways. We need to create opportunities to value and to build on each and all of our students bi/multilingual resources.
In Conclusion …
As a result of reviewing Cecilia and Laura’s answers and the post this far, you have had more opportunities to interact with these words: “whole, grow, multilingual, translanguaging, strength and bilingual.” Maybe you are confident in your knowledge and are now at the curious stage. What might be some next steps? Being rooted in strength may be easy for educators with a growth mindset. But let’s shake the cobwebs off and dig, and dig, and dig. You might consider where and how to begin using this list as a guide.
Be reflective. Take time to pause, to consider, to reflect, to review your status quo. Begin with your own knowledge of these words individually: “whole, grow, multilingual, translanguaging, strength and bilingual”.
Consider the impact of your increased knowledge for students in your classroom, building, district, and community.
Place one student at the center and consider the whole of your knowledge about what that child can do.
Study translanguaging principles (Chapter 1). Collect some translanguaging models with a range of formats. How will translanguaging solidify the strengths of the student from #3 above?
Study the possibilities for a multilingual learning environment (Chapter 2). How will the student from #3 thrive in this environment?
Deepen your understanding of reading and writing assessments that are always double jeopardy for language learners (Chapters 6 and 10). What new information would be available about the student in #3?
Study reading and writing (Chapters 3-5 and 7-9). How is your new learning increasing the effectiveness of the student you are planning for from #3?
Grab a friend as a thought partner and get started! Your students will benefit!
My appreciation for CIM began with a book that I’ve referenced many times over the years: Interventions that Work: A Comprehensive Intervention Model for Preventing Reading Failure in Grades K-3 by Linda Dorn and Carla Soffos (2011, Pearson). In the preface, Adria Klein describes this 2021 book as a “completely revamped and expanded” follow up to its predecessor (page xiii). Having read both books, ‘revamped and expanded’ feels like an understatement since the pairing of the CIM book and Resource Manual offer in-depth detail enriched by forms, charts, examples and over fifty videos quickly accessed by QR Codes.
These dramatic revamped and extended additions deepen our understandings. Interventions that Work focused on grades K-3 but that reach is extended to the upper grades detailed in Chapter 8: Comprehension Focus Groups for Increasing Comprehension Power (pages 127-123). Chapter 9 is another important addition with Strategic Processing Intervention for Students with Reading Disabilities (pages 144-157). These new chapters along with refined descriptions of the layers of interventions, the Language Phase embedded across layers and added research on the transfer of learning will magnify the CIM implementation process.
With these gifts in mind, I suddenly find myself thinking back to the rocky Response to Intervention (RTI) journey launched by IDEA 2004. I have been quite vocal about the many missteps of RTI, which I detailed RTI from All Sides: What Every Teacher Needs to Know (2009, Heinemann). This meandering RTI path is riddled with the deluded premise that we can buy our way to success through programs disseminated and mandated across a school or district. Add to this stunning fallacy the disconnect between interventions and instruction and the flawed data collection systems leading to flawed decision making, it shouldn’t be a surprise that our children have become the RTI sacrificial lambs.
Unfortunately, the most critical components of the intervention process have been glaringly absent in traditional RTI approaches, thus contributing to one failed effort after another. After seventeen years of missteps, we have been afforded an opportunity to leave those failures behind us and change the very face of RTI moving forward. The CIM book and Resource Manual combined will show us how to accomplish that if we are willing to read this book pairing and heed the wise advice of Linda Dorn, Carla Soffos and Adria Klein.
When Carla and Adria asked me to write an endorsement for The CIM, I was honored. From the first time I had learned about CIM, I was certain that it was the much-needed shift in thinking we needed to alter our RTI course. In my endorsement on the Stenhouse website I wrote:
“The Comprehensive Intervention Model renews my hope for the future of educators who are wise enough to put the authors’ sage advice into glorious schoolwide action in honor of children.” Mary Howard, 2021
The HOPE I refer to is lovingly woven across each page of the CIM reference duo. Linda, Carla and Adria help us to re-envision the intervention and instructional process in a way that will later our RTI success trajectory. Since I can’t do justice to the brilliance flowing generously across CIM, I’ll condense this post to four central features of CIM that “renew my hope” in very profound ways along with a quote from the authors that highlight each feature. As you read, note that each of these four features are needed in combination as they work in support of and in coordination each other.
ONGOING PROFESSIONAL LEARNING
As soon as my copy of the CIM arrived, I took the authors advice to begin with Chapter 10: Implementing the Comprehensive Model for Literacy Improvement (pages 158-175). This chapter opens with the Ten Principles of CIM Professional Development Design followed by examples of districts that have applied these principles. The very heart and soul of CIM is reflected in the quote above. There are no programs to buy. There are no quick fix solutions to be forced into action. There are no scripts to follow. There are no data fueled devices that blind us to the needs of children. In every word, the authors demonstrate deep respect for teachers and the important role that knowledgeable educators play as “agents of literacy improvement” who are given the instructional support and coaching over time that is at the center of our efforts.
COLLECTIVE COLLABORATION AND COORDINATION
One of the biggest missteps of the RTI process to date has been a pervasive view of interventions the as support offered beyond the general education setting. The quote above acknowledges that any effective RTI design is grounded in the idea that the classroom teacher is at the forefront of our efforts. The authors emphasize that if an intervention is deemed necessary, it is always seen as “in addition to” rather than “instead of” support. The classroom teacher is the first line of defense so intervention always occur within a spirit of collaboration and coordination. This requires collective responsibility as illustrated by the CIM as a systemic approach to RTI designed to create an intervention and instructional culture from a schoolwide and districtwide level. Without this, we rob children of important learning opportunities by using interventions as a substitute of daily instruction rather than using them to supplement instruction.
MULTI-TIERED SYSTEM OF SUPPORT
On page 170 in Figure 10.5 shown below is the most effective intervention design framework that I have ever seen in any RTI Model to date.
The authors write “A decision-making model with layers of instructional support and degrees of intensity provides a framework for meeting the unique needs of students with reading problems.” This four-section triangle may look like other RTI models at first glance, but it is distinct in design and intent. The layers are shown as least to most intensive from the bottom up. The least intensive is Core Classroom Instruction provided by the classroom teacher with most intensive Targeted Interventions at the top where SPI specialist Strategic Processing Interventions are provided by a SPI specialist. Two layers in the center provided by CIM Specialists inxlusw tier 2 with Classroom Small Group Interventions followed by tier 3 with Supplemental Interventions. These draw from the “portfolio” of intervention options described in chapters 5 through 9. This extended design highlights collective responsibility where collaboration and coordination are central to our efforts.
EVIDENCE-BASED DECISION MAKING
Educators have long experienced the ebb and flow of ever-present obsession with standardized test scores and numerical data linked to suspect programs. The CIM refocuses our attention to the child by emphasizing that multiple assessments with careful analysis help us uncover “evidence of the student’s knowledge, thinking and problem-solving” as we discover the patterns that begins to merge across assessments. This positions assessment as a thread that connects instruction and interventions within the context of active engagement in learning. With the support of learner-centered data that includes thoughtful kidwatching, we draw from varied informants that can lead to evidence-based decision-making on behalf of the children in front of us rather than what is too often purported to exist beneath a color coded spreadsheets. Combined with the joining of professional minds in ways that supports our shared understandings from unique perspectives, we have a responsive teaching design at its finest.
TWITTER STYLE GLIMPSE OF CIM FROM THE AUTHORS’ WISE EYES
During the #G2Great chat, Adria and Carla merged their reflections on our eight chat questions. I have spotlighted this incredible shared thinking below.
MY CLOSING THOUGHTS
As I come to the close of this post, I am once again inspired by authors Linda Dorn, Carla Soffos and Adria Klein. What they have accomplished in this paired resource will change the way that we think about the RTI process. No detail is seen as too small and every possible support that schools could need to initiate the CIM has been included across the book with other learning opportunities available to teachers beyond those resources.
Filled with gratitude , I pause to reach for this exquisite professional gift and my thoughts turn to Linda Dorn. I am fortunate to be one of many educators who has been inspired and informed by Linda Dorn. Lost in this moment of appreciation, I suddenly recalled an email correspondence from Linda dated December 23, 2010. I had been sharing the CIM widely, but after teachers had expressed concern about the requirements I wrote Linda for clarification. She quickly responded, explaining that teachers can implement CIM at two levels. While the first level does require specific training, Linda added:
However, because we realize that most teachers are unable to access the university training, we want to ensure that anyone who wants to implement the CIM has this opportunity. In these cases, we encourage schools to use the professional texts and DVDs as resources for implementing their RtI process. Some schools may have RR; others will not. And if teachers are interested, they can attend professional development summer institutes on the CIM in different parts of the country, including the CIM university training centers.
Linda’s response reflects how much she believed in giving teachers access to the principles and support that I am now holding in my hands (those “DVDs” Linda mentioned are now accessed directly in the book). The first level of extended training is certainly preferable, but Linda’s words ensure that CIM is within reach of every teacher inspired to make this important shift. That’s not surprising given Linda’s contribution highlighted in a Stenhouse tribute:
“Linda was the primary developer and lead trainer of the Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy Model, a nationally recognized model that uses literacy coaches as agents of change… She believed that school-embedded professional development is critical for supporting teachers in new learning.”
Those words come alive in the CIM book and resource manual. Linda Dorn’s dedication to CIM and the teachers and students who would benefit from it was so strong that she continued to work on this book while she was battling cancer. Following her death on 9/17/19, co-authors and dear friends Carla Soffos and Adria Klein stepped up and worked tirelessly to ensure that this book would one day be in the hands of educators everywhere. That long-awaited day has come.
As I type these words with the CIM perched lovingly within reach, I think about the many books written by Linda Dorn that are my frequent companions on my bookshelf. What better way to honor Linda’s legacy and the principles that guided her professional life than to put those principles into glorious schoolwide action in honor of children. This exquisite book will show us how to bring Linda’s legacy to life in classrooms everywhere.
With deep gratitude to Linda Dorn, Carla Soffos, and Adria Klein for making this possible
An Archive of the October 21st chat can be found here
By Brent Gilson
This week the #g2great community was blessed to have Lorena Germán join us in conversation around her new book, Textured Teaching: A Framework For Culturally Sustaining Practices. Lorena’s practice includes the groundbreaking work as part of the #Disrupttexts team. Beyond that, alongside her husband Roberto, they have established The Multicultural Classroom, and last year Lorena released The Antiracist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook. All of these tools and the community that she has helped build beautifully led to the message of Textured Teaching. With all working towards building a stronger, more just community, anything is possible.
Our chat began with a simple and powerful question.
“isn’t about saving but empowering.”
There was something about this question that I think set the tone for the whole discussion. As we seek out to build community, are we doing it intending to save? Which I feel assumes a savior stance that teachers should be actively pushing back against, or as Lorena suggests are we seeking to empower our students? Our community? And how are we doing this with love?
I think about my practice, moving away from grading everything, moving towards student-driven creation, moving away from rigid due dates, moving towards flexibility, moving away from being the deciding voice, and moving towards the power of community decision making and ownership. A few months into this school year, this question has made me pause to ponder these thoughts. To reflect on the community I am building in the class that I hope will start to step outside of it. As the chat began to take off, Lorena asked us to consider the pillars, our core values for teaching.
I have focused much of my thinking and philosophy for teaching the last few years on a statement Dr. Gholdy Muhammad made once in a session she was speaking at,
I couldn’t help but think of that when asked to consider my core values, and as we see from other responses to the question, the answers were all variations of having our students as the focal point of our work. It starts with our students but most certainly can’t end there. Textured Teaching incorporates four traits: Student-Driven and Community Centred, Interdisciplinary, Experiential and Flexible. Throughout the chat, the idea of community continued to come up. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how important the community aspect is and why this book is so essential for education, especially at this time.
Covid-19 has drastically changed the way we teach. Two years ago, we were more connected to members of our community. You smiled at each other as you passed in a hallway. You gathered for community groups, sports, and other events. You knew your neighbours. The immediate impact of Covid in both schools and communities has been a distancing. Before, many teachers rarely had to think about ways to include community. Now, we have a series of hoops to jump through for a visitor to enter a classroom. And this disconnect doesn’t stop in schools. Communities have fractured. When we look at things like the Anti-CRT movements, the increased prevalence of censoring books and teachers that would dare teach critical thinking to their students, we see that community itself is under attack. Before, teachers might not have had to be as purposeful in their community involvement and empowering their students; now this work is more important than ever. Lorena gives us a supportive framework to begin to address these issues first within our schools and then outside of them.
There is so much work to do. Many brilliant educators like Lorena have started to provide tools to better meet the demands of the day. We need to pick them up and put them to action.
Remember folks, Small Steps Count. So, one at a time, forward.
#G2Great chat celebrates 7 years on 1/6/22. Your chat co-moderators often contemplate new chat designs for twitter style dialogue. This week, we decided to draw inspiration from the continuing challenges of this pandemic and its impact on our shared love for attending National Literacy Conferences. If COVID-19 had not thwarted our plans, #G2Great chat would have taken a break this week to attend the International Literacy Conference in Indianapolis, IN. Unfortunately, ILA shifted from an in-person conference to varied virtual opportunities. We know that this decision was not taken lightly and we are grateful that ILA chose to put our safety first.
Since we had already planned to take this week off, we decided this afforded us a wonderful opportunity to try something new. We had discussed using a SLOW CHAT format in the past, so we thought that this was the perfect time.
WHAT IS A SLOW CHAT?
For those of you who have never participated in a SLOW CHAT on Twitter before, some background information would be helpful:
In a typical chat, we gather at our #G2great hashtag on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. and share 7 to 8 questions across the night that are answered in real time. If you have ever taken part in our chat, then you know that this format makes for a fast-paced process of reading and responding to questions while engaging in conversations around those ideas.
By contrast, a SLOW CHAT is literally meant to slow down this pace using many variations that may span across one or several days. A few questions are asked at key points during the designated time and educators respond to questions at their own pace rather than during a live chat hour. Our one-day SLOW CHAT began in the morning with initial thoughts from your co moderators I share at the end of this post followed by five questions we posted every ninety-minutes during the day as we checked in across the day. Since we plan to do this again, putting our first SLOW CHAT into action was a wonderful learning venture that we can draw from in the future.
And so, in the spirit of our first SLOW CHAT I give you our first SLOW BLOG with five twitter takeaways that captivated my professional heart.
SLOW BLOG TWITTER TAKEAWAYS
Our deep desire to embrace curious learning in our lives has a much broader purpose. We cannot expect that our children will engage in and beyond our schools as curious learners unless we are willing to model a curious spirit each and every day. Our actions (or lack of) speak volumes.
Engaging in collaborative dialogue with other professionals on a regular basis gives us a lifeline to collegial support. These inspired interactions help us to fine tune, adjust and add to our thinking from both sides as we learn in the company of trusted others.
We make our own learning a priority not just for the sake of learning but in honor of the children that learning is dedicated to. The tipping point is when we carry our learning with us and make professional decisions that will lift learning to the highest heights in their name.
It is admirable for each of us to value professional collaboration, but the goal is to create a culture of collective collaboration that spreads across a school. Every child deserves to experience professional joy in action no matter where that learning takes place or with whom.
We all need a safe space where others support and fuel our learning. While we hope that this comes from within a school, it can also span across great distances. Used thoughtfully, social media can offer a safe haven where ideas, passions and curiosities can flourish.
COVID-19 pandemic has altered the landscape of our professional and personal lives in many challenging ways. Yet, there were also many blessings as we have traveled along a meandering path of uncertainty. Conference cancellations have been difficult for those of us who thrive on professional gatherings, but it also nudged us to explore options for learning together. These new learning doors have compounded our unwavering thirst for professional learning in any capacity. Yes, the pandemic altered where, when and in what way our learning happens. But our determination to hold tight to the WHY of professional learning has strengthened our commitment to celebrate our learning through this new lens. Fueled by Collective Curiosity and Collaborative Conversation was the perfect title for our first SLOW CHAT since it reflects a way of life that we are proud to lead on a daily basis.
We want to thank those of you who joined our first #G2Great SLOW CHAT. We believe deeply in collaborative professional JOY and we know that invitational discourse is possible in any form. Here’s to more SLOW CHAT in the future!
SLOW CHAT reflections from your #G2Great co moderators