Navigating The Literacy Continuum to Guide Responsive Teaching

by Helen Sisk, Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative Faculty

 

helen-siskTeaching in a responsive manner requires us to think reflectively about literacy growth by noticing and analyzing student talk and written work. We reflect on why students respond in certain ways and know how to help them take on next steps in building a complex and flexible literacy processing system. It takes a skillful teacher to do this effectively.

One tool that can guide our decision-making is The Literacy Continuum: A Tool for Assessment, Planning, and Teaching (Fountas and Pinnell, 2017) It is a valuable resource to support us in observing what students know and understand as readers and writers and it informs our teaching. It is organized around eight literacy learning continua that span grades PreK-8. Not only is it aligned with literacy standards, it includes detailed descriptions of student progress over time.

The Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative at Lesley University is excited to offer an introduction to this continuum during our summer institute for teachers of grades K-6: “Navigating the Literacy Continuum to Guide Responsive Teaching,” This institute is an opportunity to delve into the new, expanded edition of the Literacy Continuum, and learn how to use it as a guide to observe, plan, teach, and reflect on literacy teaching.

The reading focus in this institute includes extending teacher and student talk for effective processing during interactive read aloud and shared reading. Two other components that further address comprehension include guided reading and writing about reading.  All of these literacy elements will be explored.

The writing focus begins by understanding the continuum of word study and how it progresses over the school year and across grade levels. We will study student writing to develop purposeful mini-lessons and the talk surrounding teacher-student conferences to identify strengths and next steps to address in teaching.

Come hear Irene Fountas discuss the Literacy Continuum and its impact on teaching and learning. Work in small groups with literacy trainers and other teachers to refine your practice and expand your knowledge about the teaching of reading and writing.

We hope to see you here at Lesley University for our Summer Literacy Institute, July 10-13, 2017. Register now!

Technology Paves the Way for Wider Audience

By Guest Blogger Meenoo Rami, 2015 Literacy for All Keynote Speaker, Author, and Teacher

In late February, Pew Internet and American Life Project published the How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and Their Classrooms report. The results aren’t surprising:

  • 92% of teacher respondents say the Internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching;
  • 69% say the Internet has a “major impact” on their ability to share ideas with other teachers; and
  • 67% say the Internet has a “major impact” on their ability to interact with parents and 57% say it has had such an impact on enabling their interaction with students.

It’s commendable that a majority of teachers are finding ways to bring digital tools into the learning process and help students “access content.” But now we need to work with students to create content as well.

Douglass Rushkoff, a prolific writer on the topic of technology and society, asks: “The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it?”

Yes, our students need information literacy skills. But they also need the ability to code, curate, and create content to share with a wider audience. When students can reach an audience of more than one (their teacher), they can get feedback from variety of sources, become more invested in their work, and gain valuable skills in the process.

So what does taking students’ work public look like? Check out some examples:

Mrs. Paluch’s Room

Mrs. Paluch, a third grade teacher in a charter school in Philadelphia, is making her students’ work public as they uncover the country of Brazil, complete a unit on fairy tales, and help out their kindergarten buddies. Parents, grandparents, and colleagues can catch a glimpse of the teaching and learning that is happening in this third grade classroom. Knowing that others will “see their work” motivates students and helps teachers like Mrs. Paluch reflect on their practice.

Monmouth County Vocational School District Student Showcase

Sarah Mulhern Gross offers a glimpse into an entire school community, pausing to highlight excellent student work. On this blog, you will find examples of student writing, artwork, presentations and much more. Carving out a space to give student work a digital spotlight emphasizes the point that students are writers and creators and not just consumers of content.

Stash Photo

During the second quarter, my students at the Science Leadership Academy produced a teen magazine called Stash. After examining articles after which they could model their own work, they created their own teen magazine, covering topics such as music, art, time management, and Philadelphia’s food scene. My students learned about everything from research to writing to design and layout. So far, more than 2,000 people have clicked on our magazine and examined the students’ work.

What are some examples you’ve seen lately that make students’ work public in compelling ways, motivating learners and letting community members know what actually happens in the classroom?

Meenoo Rami is the keynote speaker on Monday, November 16 at the 2015 Literacy for All conference in Providence, RI. Her keynote is entitled Teacher Practice in a Connected World (Grades K–8). She is also speaking on Monday from 10:30 am-12:00 pm and again from 1:30 pm–3:00 pm. The title of both of those sessions is Empowering Your Students (Grades K–8).

Discovering Cool Web 2.0 Tools to Enhance Literacy Teaching and Learning

by Cindy Downend

Now that summer vacation is here, why not spend a little time discovering some really exciting web tools that are great for engaging both students and teachers in literacy learning?   Here, in the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative, we have been encouraging one another (and the teachers with whom we work) to integrate some web 2.0 tools into our teaching.  We have learned so much from one another, the teachers with whom we work, and notables in the field like Troy Hicks, Julie Coiro, and Nancy Anderson.

As we discover these new web tools, we have been highly intentional and purposeful in the way that we use them in our teaching.   It’s not about just using a 2.0 tool because it’s cool and flashy.  We really spend time thinking about how each particular tool may strengthen our teaching and make it easier for students to grasp the concepts we are presenting.

Listed below are just a few of the web tools that we have tried out and how they’ve been used.  I highly recommend that you visit the Edublog Teacher Challenge Blog.  This blog lists 26 different web tools, gives a definition and overview of each of their uses, provides a “teacher challenge” to get you started, and has many videos that support your experimentation.

So, happy experimenting and please share with us how you have been using web tools for your literacy teaching.

VoiceThread allows you to create an interactive slideshow using pictures, videos, documents, or even Powerpoint presentations.  You or your students can record video/audio that allows you to describe each slide in more detail.  But that’s not all…Viewers of your VoiceThreads can leave responses and comments to your VoiceThread.  This tool is excellent for supporting writing workshop.  I have seen it used for publishing a class poetry book, students created informational texts that they narrated, and one first grade class published their interactive writing about a class field trip to the zoo.   VoiceThread makes it really easy to share published works with families!

Wordle creates a “word cloud” that helps to interpret the meaning of the words by assigning font size according to how frequently the word appears in a text or is typed into the Wordle text box.  We have used Wordle for brainstorming and as a reflection tool at the end of a professional development session.  Below is a Wordle that was created during a session on reading fluency.

Glogster is a Web 2.0 tool used for creating an online interactive poster.  Glogster makes it easy to combine graphics, backgrounds, videos, pictures, sounds, text and even hyperlinks into really interesting online posters.   Glogster is a fabulous alternative to the traditional classroom poster project.