Archive for February, 2014

Brooklyn, SnOMG!

Genius time...

Brooklyn, SnOMG!

February 12, 2014  |  Teaching  |  25 Comments

There was a time when nothing ever snowed out in NYC. We went to school, to work, to the park… No. Matter. What. Remember the transit strike in December ’05? Snow everywhere. No train. No bus. We still went walked to work. Conversely, I’ve had more snow setbacks this winter than I’ve had my entire career… It has wrecked my teaching calendar, but I’m not complaining. I’ve gotten good at building snow-people with my daughter… The snow has also bought out a nice little productive streak…

As such, this post is more of a resource-share for a group that I’m learning with at the Teachers College Inclusive Classrooms Project. I was preparing something to share with them when I realized that I have not shared much the world in a really long time! So here goes some really cool stuff… I hope to share two major things here:

  1. Some recent resources for teaching literacy/deepening inquiry.
  2. Some simple literacy tips to help with content knowledge and using the above resources.

Some recent resources for teaching literacy/deepening inquiry:

I’ve long maintained that the work of teaching is made so much easier if you are in it with a team. Sometimes that community is hard to build in a single school building or district. In 2014, it is imperative to have a personal learning network (PLN) of people with diverse experiences and perspectives on teaching. When I started teaching you had to go visit someone’s school to learn with them. Today’s technology has allowed us to do this much faster. Social media makes it fun. If you are not already on, you need to be using twitter.

Many people have talked about text selection in our inquiry group, and several of you are studying the impact of book choice on literacy in your own schools. Here is a blog post from a member of my PLN about her own shift into allowing students to choose their own books. Like our work, this post is largely written based on her anecdotal experience. Here is a New York Times write-up on the same issue. If you want more solid research on this to aid your inquiry or curiosity, comment this post, and I can upload more.

  • Teachers always ask me, “How do you know good books for teens, if you have not read them all?” Two years ago, I worked with some students on answering that question. They made me a list of books that they liked, and we arranged the books in order of difficulty (from easiest to hardest according to the students) and by genre. This list should help out a lot if book selection is the way you are leaning. Editors Note: You should be leaning this way. 🙂
  • Read-alouds work well in middle and high school classrooms too… That whole-class novel that you abandoned can be divided and read in excerpts, or you can select texts that engage your students. These are brilliant opportunities to teach and DEMONSTRATE reading skills. Here is a document with engaging read-aloud texts for teens.

You all have asked for more tech stuff. Here is an essential link for the top 50 teacher-tech innovations. (I agree with about 42 of these.) Also, here is a BRILLIANT list of things for Special Educators.

Some simple literacy tips to help with content knowlege.

Many of us talked the last time about making sure that our classes are places where students who are English language learners can be successful. I’ve taught all over the United States, and I’m beginning to believe that to an extent, we are all English language learners… The dialects that we speak at home are often not English. (I, personally, speak fluent Brooklyn. I used to speak Atlanta before the official language of the south became “ATL”.) If this is true, then we’ve got a larger question on our hands:

How can we meet the language needs of ALL the students in our classes?

As I learned to confront this, I realized that as a middle and high school teacher, I knew a lot about reading and writing goals, but I did not know much about actual LANGUAGE goals. Here is a convenient document that breaks it all down. Study it and think about how you might integrate specific language goals into your teaching. What might this mean for any inquiry work that you are doing?