Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Who’s Doing The Work in Mrs. Sadler’s 2nd Grade?

Things are changing in my classroom this year.  The main instructional format for literacy is changing and it is all from reading the book Who’s Doing the Work by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris.
The concept is one that's easy enough to grasp…kids should be doing most of the reading, thinking and responding in reading…true.  But they don’t, not in my case anyway.   I feel such a sense of urgency to get through a curriculum map that I don’t wait long enough, I give TOO much support and kids just don’t know what to do when they are on their own.    I am doing the most of the work you see...In order for my students to become efficient readers, who make good use print and meaning strategies, things have to change.  
Enter Next Generation Literacy.  

There are a few hallmarks of next generation literacy I want to highlight
1.  Student Agency
2.  Gradual Release of Responsibility
3.  Beginning with the end in mind.
Understanding these hallmarks will prepare you to embark on a professional path for growing proficient and independent readers and children who learn to love reading in a way I never imagined.  

-Student Agency-  When students become agentive readers, they are reading for a particular result, in this case being independent and proficient readers.  It is our end game, it is the students end game.  No child wakes up and says “Hey!  I want to have a hard time with the what I am reading today in Mrs. Sadler’s class!”  

-The gradual release of responsibility- Are  the instructional contexts with which children engage.  The gradual release goes form Read Aloud, Shared Reading (at all levels) Guided Reading (which will truly surprise you!), all the way to independent reading.  It becomes a beauty of a dance indeed!

-Beginning with the end in mind- Goes back to agency, our end game of moving readers to an independent place, reading proficiently so we can guide them to more challenging texts and the process begins again!  

Students have been programmed to depend on the teacher for so much when we are teaching them to read.  And that is fine for them to do this…we are their teachers after all…But when I think of just how much reading instruction my second graders have had coming in, I know they have strategies, they need to allowed to use them without my interference!  I think of it more as coaching...Burkins and Yaris compare Next Generation Literacy with learning to dance. 

Where do you begin?
In order to move into Next Generation Literacy, I feel like you need TWO things to GET STARTED. 
1.  An analyzed running record
2.  Access to a good quality, engaging children’s literature.  

“I know what level my students are on, I should be able to jump right in!” was my first thought.  But then I read this line from Who’s Doing The Work…”Next Generation thinking considers HOW students read as much as WHERE in the text gradient they read.  The fact is, the Guided Reading Level tells us very little about what each student DOES when they read, it just tells us where the student should be given instruction.  But even then, it doesn’t really tell us how to instruct those students.  Only the student can tell us that and that information can only be uncovered by listening to students read and analyzing what they do.  Fountas and Pinnell even say that we need to move beyond just the level and focus on the process.  (J. Burkins, K.Yaris, WDTW 2016)

This is my daughter’s running record
. Riley's running record
I already know this text is a frustrational level text for her due to her accuracy rate.  Lots of errors, but what I am loving about this running record is although she isn’t self correcting/self monitoring often, its there.  She is heavily reliant on print strategies to get her through a text.  I know she  will need to fill her tool box with an arsenal of print strategies but then she is going to have to work on USING them more often.  You won’t find me prompting her all the way through a guided reading lesson, no way. When she stops and says nothing and looks to me, I will simply ask her, “what are you going to do?  When she says “I don’t know”, and she does, I'll simply remind her to think about what she knows and remind her she has a notebook of strategies to help her out.  I will create a group of students who have similar instructional needs and within a few levels on the text gradient.  

The next need I had to address what my embarrassing lack of engaging children’s literature and of what is most current for kids.  I have been a teacher for 16 years.  I have been a teacher mom for 7 of those years.  I used a basal.  Basals are not the enemy.  But kids cannot learn to read by a basal alone Smile  My basal houses a WEALTH of resources that I can and do access. I am a busy teacher mom with no desire to reinvent any wheels Winking smile  And to the credit of the publishing companies, they have done a great job of including quality, engaging texts for students.  Its a great way to get multiple copies for students to put eyes on for shared, guided and independent reading.  However, not all texts are created equal and you have to use your professional judgment and your knowledge of your students to discern if what you are selecting from your basal is of quality in craft and content as well as engaging for your students.  Will it make them think?  Will it move them?  Will it cause them to question?  Can you glean instructional content to teach your standards or to create teaching points?
I can’t do these things with every single story in my basal each week.  Likely, no teacher can.  I have to beef up my classroom library with different genres and formats.  I will reach out to our library/media specialist and ask her to find great titles, I have already reached out to our children’s librarian at the public library to pull together some current titles that are browsed and checked out often to kids and other teachers.  We have a university near by (I am alumni!!  Go Colonels!) which I can also utilize this as they garner the best reviewed and most current children’s literature!  I am going to really utilize my scholastic teacher bonus points this year.  I will ask for books when I am asked by parents “what do you need for your classroom?”  We have a growing book room at my school that I know is underutilized.  The bookroom and I are going to become close friends!  (In an effort not to make this the longest post in history, I am putting together a companion post on some of my favorite to teach with books and hopefully, you all will add to my list!)

In order to focus on students’ reading processes and engage them to keep reading, these are great first steps in Next Generation Literacy.  I feel like I am seeing my reading life through new and refreshed lenses and will finally be making a more profound impact on the reading lives of my students.  And that is exciting stuff!  

Check back in a month when I will be highlighting Read Aloud...the first rung on the ladder of gradual release of responsibility.  
Until then!


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