Last Wednesday I hosted Workshop Wednesday during team times. The invitation was specifically sent out to the English teachers but everyone was welcome as always. The email informed the staff the topic was Independent Reading. This meeting is voluntary so I always let staff know ahead of time so there is no surprise. I was pleasantly surprised myself when my content teachers showed up as well. Their attendance really showcases how dedicated they are to the new reading culture in our middle school.
Last year there was not consistent Silent Sustained Reading, Independent reading, or choice reading. It doesn’t matter what the label was, but there was not enough time or support it seemed to pull it off.
It was decided with the new block scheduling this year there was time to implement Independent reading time. Now is the time where teachers have tried various components and how to differentiate for their classes and students. I am so proud that all of the teachers who keep the choice piece sacred. All the decisions made were around that central idea.
The purpose of the meeting was to celebrate reading in our building and the culture they are all perpetuating. It was also to make lists of what was the reality of the reading time and what we want to make consistent across the school. To make a school wide definition decided by the teachers – not anyone else.
It was a great discussion about conferencing, book talks, reading identity, first chapter Friday and what it looked like and sounded like in their respective classrooms.
We talked about what they needed and how to make reading spaces more inviting.
There was celebration about reading memories, students asking for more reading time, and books disappearing because the students want to read them so badly.
Taking inspiration from THE ART OF GATHERING by Priya Parker, I had my version of “15 Toasts”. I had silly plastic champagne glasses with sparkling water. Everyone had a toast to make in the area of a reading memory or the first memory they had of reading. One teacher shared she sat in the back of her third grade classroom because it was where the bookcases were and she could snatch books and read no matter what subject was being taught. There was one book that she loved so much she stole. She still has it! After the meeting she came to show me the book!
I also incorporated the Google Jamboard which I had never used before. It is designed to be used on an interactive white board but I just used the post it note function for everyone to share something exciting going on in their classrooms. I hope to foster some relationships between teachers to visit each other’s rooms and share ideas that are working.
I am excited for the conversation when I can get all the stakeholders together and make some decisions for the achievement of our teachers and the students!
DOK (Depth of Knowledge) is a scale for questioning I utilize with teachers and students.
Level 3: Strategic Thinking Characteristics
Requires deep knowledge
Students encouraged to go beyond text
Students asked to explain, generalize, or connect ideas
Students must be able to support their thinking, citing references from the text or other sources
Items may involve abstract theme identification, inferences between or across passages, application of prior knowledge, or text support for analytical judgment about a text
2 Strategies for increasing the rigor and use of questioning
Have students write their own questions relevant to the content of the class using DOK question stems.
Not only is this a great creation exercise for students but it also hyper focuses their attention on the content and what is important to know. The students find out quickly that higher level questions are not always the easiest item to write!
DOK 3 Sentence Stems
How is ____ related to ____?
What conclusions can you draw _____?
How would you adapt____to create a different____?
How would you test____?
Can you predict the outcome if____?
What is the best answer? Why?
What conclusion can be drawn from these three texts?
What is your interpretation of this text? Support your rationale.
How would you describe the sequence of____?
What facts would you select to support____?
Can you elaborate on the reason____?
What would happen if___?
Can you formulate a theory for___?
How would you test___?
Can you elaborate on the reason___?
Questions and ideas should be the ax that breaks open the frozen sea within us.
2. Plan your questions ahead of time and WRITE THEM DOWN
No matter how many years you have been teaching this is a strategy worth trying. If you formulate several questions before the lesson using the higher levels then your mindset is changed and you will move forward from the higher level questioning rather than go back to more knowledge or surface level questioning. When we meet students where they are we sometimes rely too heavily on the knowledge-based questions or DOK 1 that only have one answer.
My teachers are working on this concept today! I hope that you find it helpful or at least a reminder of a practice you haven’t thought about in a while! As a coach, I have offered to visit classrooms and script just the questions the teachers are asking so we can analyze them later. We often don’t realize the questions we are actually asking!
This is the first week of school and the year is already filled with abundant amounts of adventure and confusion!
This is the email I sent to my teachers 2 weeks before school started:
Good summer to you!
I am sharing a Google Doc with each of you individually with some questions to answer. I will be sharing a separate doc with my own answers as well.
One of my goals is for us to have the most powerful and dynamic working relationship. In order to respect everyone’s learning styles, I am sending this doc this week. I know some of you like to marinate a little longer than others.
I will send it again closer to starting school! I want to meet with everyone for about a minimum of 10 min to talk about the year either through tech or face to face. I will be sending a schedule Aug 13th.
Have a great rest of the summer and I am looking forward to hitting the ground running.