Teachers Doing the Work: Thoughtful Planning For Intentional Read-Aloud

Jenn Hayhurst

Burkins & Yaris Quote for blog post

How can we use read-aloud as a springboard to reading, writing and thinking? This was the question that sparked the first of a #G2Great four part series: Teaching With Intention Maximizing Our Instructional Power Potential. Our chat on April 21, 2016 has come and gone but I am left feeling refreshed and renewed as I begin this post. Even though educators came to this conversation from different points in their careers, everyone learns from each other. What does this plurality of thinking offer us? Clarity.  It is that clarity and our ability to respond to our own questions about read-aloud that help us to maximize our professional potential.  

Q1 How can we more intentionally frame read-aloud to increase student engagement in ways that maximize our instructional POWER POTENTIAL?

Takeaways: Real engagement is not show and tell, it is experience and learn:

  1. Read-aloud energizes engagement through student interests
  2. We elevate our students’ status and create relevant experiences
  3. We move away from compliance towards ownership
  4. We create readers who love to read

Q2 What do you look for when using read-aloud as a flexible instructional springboard?

Takeaways: Stories and ideas flood students thinking through read aloud:

  1. This creates an intellectual and social context for learners
  2. Reading aloud opens pathways for communication, to promote deeper understanding
  3. Making room for students to talk, draw, or write is a scaffold to express abstract thinking in tangible ways

Q3 Read-aloud is a powerful framework to build language & vocabulary. What can we do to intentionally enhance those goals?

Takeaways: It is our own questions that help us to grow:  

  1. Begin by starting with texts that you love, then find out what your students love. How do we use this fertile ground to grow relationships?
  2. Instructional planning is organized around meaning making. How do my students learn best so they can access this text?  
  3. Whenever we stop the flow of the story be mindful of the enjoyment factor. How do I use the structure of different genres to select my stopping points and demystify the author’s craft?
  4. Build vocabulary lessons from context to allow students to practice and transfer. How can I use the classroom environment to promote transfer for all students?   

Q4 Peer collaboration and sharing is a crucial aspect of read-aloud. What is your favorite approach to bring readers and books together?

Takeaways: Read-aloud is an experience that we can use to structure meaningful collaboration:  

  1. See students for who they are and let their interests drive them
  2. Plan in options for collaborative learning
  3. Use  kidwatching to gather formative data

Q5 How can we integrate writing so the writing will elevate the academic AND emotional experience of the read-aloud?

Takeaways: When I put these tweets together it’s pure instructional magic:

  1. Reading multiple versions of a story reveals the author’s craft so students can attempt to transfer learning to their own writing
  2. Considering what a student decides to write about reveals their perspective to us while promoting engagement

Q6 Varied flexible reflection options after read-aloud allow us to create a more personalized experience. What options do you offer?

Takeaways: Read-aloud and reflection work hand-in-hand:

  1. Give students options to make a choice for how to reflect: written, partners, groups
  2. Don’t let this dynamic learning end in elementary school.  Middle schoolers need instructional techniques like turn and talk to engage their reflections too

Q7 Based on #G2Great chat tonight, what is one instructional shift you will make so that your read-aloud is more intentional?

Takeaways: Teachers are willing to modify their practices based on their own learning. Professional collaboration allows us to fine tune our practices:

As I reflect on our #G2Great chat on read-aloud I am reminded how important it is to collect students’ thinking through: anecdotal note taking, reader’s notebooks, post-its, and exit slips. I use each of these things to look for patterns in their thinking. This is live data that can help me to differentiate and drive comprehension instruction with even greater intention. My collaboration with Jill DeRosa  a third grade teacher in my building, elevates my thinking around keeping the child at the center of all we do, by asking the question: “Where is the child in all of this?” We responded to this questions in two recent posts, Unlocking Each Other’s Potential and You Can’t Do This Work By Yourself

Each Thursday night #G2Great teachers from all over the world come together to do the work that we need to do to become more skilled at our craft.  To think about ways that will help our students thrive and grow.  Thank you for helping me to think deeper and longer so that I can continue to grow my practice. As each of us grow together, it is our students who reap the benefits of our collective learning.  

Teaching With Heart: Unlocking Growth Through Mindsets and Moves

by Jenn Hayhurst

Picture for Gravity

Springtime makes promises: Yes more light will fill your days. Yes new life will color your landscapes. Yes your world has begun a shift to something new. Teachers are always on the lookout for signs of change. Our work is to learn how to cultivate growth, to understand its process, and to help it thrive no matter the context. We rest our hopes on a small but powerful word – yet.  When teachers use a mindset that embraces the power of yet, they make promises: Yes I believe in you. Yes I will help you. Yes together, we will find the next step in the journey.

So it seems like perfect timing that Gravity Goldberg hosted #G2Great Thursday, March 24, 2016. In her book, Mindsets and Moves, Gravity challenges teachers to honor growth in all its forms. Her work reminds us to make choices that value individual learners and the unique process that each will experience. Learning something new is seldom easy so if we are going to live and breathe a growth mindset our instruction needs to deal with struggle in strategic ways:Q1 Answers

 

Admiration: Gravity’s work celebrates an admiring lens. All students are worthy of  study, and we should regard them with a sense of wonder and curiosity. This beautiful stance embraces where they are and place trust in their potential for growth:

Answers to Question 2The Gradual Release: We offer the support students need and then work to move them toward independence. Students shape the path for learning so that our teaching has relevance. The message was clear that the more we bring students into the process the more meaningful learning becomes:

Answers to Q3Student Centered: Gravity’s work inspired reflection for the intellectual worlds we create for students. Let’s co-construct spaces for wonderment, choice, and demonstration. When teachers are expert learners rather than holders of knowledge, we reach a higher standard of rigor:Answers to Q4

Ownership: The chat began to converge on this topic and our message is ownership is the antidote to learned complacency. Thoughtful planning that supports collaborative work and independence is a sign that teachers are being responsive to students’ needs:

Answers to Q5 ...

Being Strategic:  This is different than teaching strategies. Being strategic demands an authentic  context. Whether it is: selecting a text, discovering new reading territories, or building libraries that promote connectedness. The strategy has to fill a genuine need:

Answers Q6

Problem Solving: Students are meant to be active participants who can articulate what they need next.  We name the challenge and put the learning in their hands.  When we give them time to work it out we are amplifying their learning process:

ANSWERS TO Q7

Feedback: is essential! Chatters agreed that when we take risks and push ourselves to learn more our students get the benefit of an authentic model.  When we provide clear and concise feedback, we help students to think through the process so that they can outgrow themselves:  

Answers to Question 8We invite you take the #G2Great Challenge

#G2Great ChallengeJust as springtime makes promises, we also make promises to our students. Yes, we will help our students find the next step in their growth journey. We are in this together, take Gravity’s advice back to the classroom.

Gravity Slide.with Quote png

Unwrapping the Joy of Read Aloud

By, Jenn Hayhurst

Beautiful Quote

 

 

 

 

 

 On February 4, 2016, #G2Great initiated our five-part series: Holding Tight to Practices that Matter and turned the spotlight on read-aloud

Teachers are living in a high tech, data driven, standards based world.  Rigor and grit are expected from students and there is no time to waste.  Should teachers squander precious minutes of the school day merely reading aloud to students?  After all, what would students actually be doing while a teacher reads aloud?   Besides, we have computer based programs that read to students, so teachers can use that time in more productive ways. Right? No that’s just scary!  There are those who believe the best way to support standards, rigor, and grit is to devote time that might be spent on read aloud to other pursuits.

Teachers who understand best practices in literacy instruction know that nothing could be further from the truth. I do believe that students need to develop grit and that we  are the gatekeepers of rigor. I also believe that reading aloud is a way to achieve both goals. Our brains are hard wired for story.  Just do a quick search on Google and the neuroscience evidence is overwhelming to support this claim.  But really, the only proof anyone needs is to to look out into a classroom full of students who are listening with rapt attention to their teachers. Children of all ages are drawn into complex narratives through a dramatic reading, or ushered into a world of wonder fueled by new ideas to understand the value of read aloud:  

I couldn’t help but feel elated as I read the Storify  from the February 4th #G2Great Chat, Holding Tight to Practices That Matter: Read Aloud.  Educators from all walks of life were extolling the value of reading aloud. Teachers shared links, books, and ways to support the work with gusto. Why would they do that? The only reason I can think of is that teachers are remarkable, unselfish professionals who are motivated by improving the lives of students.  

We are working to safeguard the practices that matter most because they have the greatest impact for student achievement.  Building a community around literature is one way to ensure that we build both community and critical thinking skills.  It seems simple but it’s true that everything begins with a great book.  To that end, there were so many great books that were shared and will, with a little faith, find great homes in classrooms everywhere.  Mary compiled a list of your recommendations and created a fabulous resource  to share ( just click here ) with everyone.  

I am not immune to buying more books than I can scarcely afford. I just bought Lester Laminack’s Snow Day!  It’s a wonderful book and I can’t wait to share it with students.   I wonder what books will be bought or borrowed because of last Thursday’s chat? How will this chat impact the work that happens with students? We constantly inspire each other to be the best teachers we can be because each day we spend with students is precious and we don’t have time to waste.  

There is no question in my mind that the precious minutes we invest in read-aloud is time well spent.

Click here to watch Lester…

Snow Day!
Lester Laminack video detailing how text structures influence read aloud