Literacy Day 1 #MTBoSBlaugust Post 8


I was asked over the summer to participate in cohort for our district’s literacy team.  Sure.  For many years, I have believed literacy to be the foundation for other learning.  Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Last night I was a bit nervous.  But once I arrived, I was able to settle in.  At our table was a diverse group of teachers – social studies, world language, science, math and a curriculum coach, from a 1st year through 20+ years experience, some different ideas and view points. This post is more for my reflection on notes I jotted throughout the day.

Much information was shared concerning the grant making this possible, the district literacy plan and we were given an opportunity to read through our school plan as well.  One of our first tasks was to find a statement in the needs, goals, action plan that resonated with us and paraphrase on a post-it.  It says….  I say… (our reaction / feelings about the statement) and then we shared with someone not at our current table.

We were given a list of 15 recommendations sometimes given to schools as they work to build a strong literacy plan.  As we read the statements, we were asked to color code how we saw this statement…

Personal Strengths      School Strength      Target Area

Upon completing the reading task individually, we were given color dot stickers and asked to walk around the room – where statements had been posted and place the appropriate color on them as we saw fit.  Once the group returned to our seats, and we viewed all of the statements – it was very obvious which ones were strengths or targets for both our middle and high school.  

We had a time of discussion and sharing – wondering, asking questions for insight.

Next task we were asked to flip back to appendix pages, where we found a list of literacy strategies.  We practiced a type of text coding by placing hearts next to ones we used and loved and an N beside ones we had never used.  There were several in the list – that when I read the description, I recognized, but maybe called it by a different name.  Volunteers shared some of those they loved and how they implemented in their classrooms.

To end the morning session, we watched a TED talk by Adora Svitak – who is a literacy advocate.  A few things that stuck with me:

Learning should be reciprocal between kids and adults.

In order to make anything reality, you have to dream first – kids don’t consider limitations when thinking creatively.

Distrust leads to restrictions.

When expectations are low – we will sink to them.

My take-a-way…  it should be my goal to help children become a better generation than mine.

Following lunch we read 8 pages from our text resource.

Implement any text coding we were familiar with.  = resonated with me, ? question about it, * revisit / discussion

We did a table – share of one idea from each.

WE were given an AlphaBlocks paper, which essentially contained empty boxes with each letter of the alphabet.  We were asked to review the reading again, adding words or phrases to each box.

We shared at our table once more…it almost had a scattergories feel to it.

Some suggested the alphablocks was a way to summarize a lesson / unit – I see it as a great review, even of having students revisit their notes.  One teacher say they even used it as a review of say a time period, like American Revolution…students had to write down an event, person, etc.  but then share a sentence of why this was so important to this time in history.

List. Sort. Label. Share.

We then compiled a list of agreed upon words, then sorted them into categories.

Whole group share – with the reasoning of our group labels in the sort with completed.  Very interesting to see the many different, but all correct completed charts.

So many tools we used within this “one” task.

I have done some similar things in math class – brain dump – tell me everything you think you know about ________.    Now, go GIVE ONE, GET ONE.

At your tables, sort your ideas any way you wish, but be able to justify your groupings.

The ABC Blocks almost feel like a stretch for algebra I.  Geometry is more vocabulary rich and I think it would be more purposeful.  But I may consider finding a way to try it in Algebra I.

Frayer Model – though most people were very familiar, our trainers added a layer of giggles to it.  We used some modern day adolescent phrases.  Simply hilarious.  Many of us were using urban dictionary – what was quite interesting though, was the history of where the slang originated.   Most people were texting their kids, asking for some phrases.  It offered some needed belly laughs in during the mid-afternoon slump.

Reader Response – they provided a list of sentence starters to use in response to a given quote.  We were asked to use I agree / disagree with ____ because ____.  I cannot remember the exact statement, but it was about 10 years of research showing that vocabulary knowledge being the single most important factor in reading comprehension.

I was the only one at the table to disagree.  And it was an excerpt from Daniel Willingham’s book Why Students Don’t Like School – I need to revisit the research he shared.  But if I recall correctly – it was supporting prior knowledge and experiences having a large impact.

It was a full day.  My brain was tired.  And though I had seen / even used most of the strategies shared – it was nice listening to my colleagues share their thoughts and experiences.  There were some small tweaks I feel I could make to ensure what I’ve been doing has an even greater impact on student learning.

Our presenters were great – very approachable, not preachy, asking questions, listening.  It truly felt like they were there to be support for our journey.

I am looking forward to tomorrow.  When’s the last time (besides TMC) I had that thought on PD?


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