Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lucy Calkins - Reading

The Chets Creek team with Lucy Calkins on February 11, 2013 in Orlando, FL.  Lucy has taken a semester off from teaching at Columbia University to travel the country and talk about
the Common Core.

The Reading Standards
  • There are 10 reading anchor standards that all the others are based on.
  • #1-3: Key Ideas and Details - What does the text say or suggest.
  • #4-6: Craft and Structure - This includes choices the author has made, authorial decisions.  Nothing is in that text by accident.  Every word, every image is selected for a specific purpose.  This is reading as a writer.
  • #7-9: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas - We need to move toward more and more complex text and looking across the text.  We need to stay "inside the corners of the text."  This is not text-to-self reading.  If the conversation goes into thinking about how this reminds me of... or personal reflection, pull it right back into the text evidence. We just went too far with personal reflection and the Common Core  pulls us back to center.
  • #10 simply says the child is reading and comprehending on grade level.
About reading...
  • Throughout the WHOLE day, half of what the kids read should be non-fiction, but we cannot turn our back on fiction.  Certainly we need to add quality non-fiction to our classroom libraries and we also need to get quality non-fiction in the hands of content teachers instead of textbooks, but there will always be a place for complex fiction.
  • Students should be reading an hour and a half, eyes on print, every day to maintain their reading level.
  • Students should take home at least two books -even six books! - and read from 30-60 minutes beyond the school day. Tell the children that you can't imagine a child that could stop with just reading a single book! Reading has to become a life habit.  If a child is reading the Magic Treehouse series, Level M, and is reading 100 words per minute, he should read a book in the series in 60 minutes.  If he is reading 200 words per minute, he should finish a book every 30 minutes!  We need to seriously ramp up our reading.  How much a child reads is the single most important predictor of school success. The volume of reading that students are doing will raise their ability to read more complex texts.
  • In first grade students should have about 12 books at their level.  They should be able to read for about 50 minutes straight in Readers' Workshop.  First they read independently, then they read all books with a partner and then back to independent reading again.
  • Even though Poetry is not dominant in the Common Core (in fact, it is barely mentioned), we need more, not less.  Using poetry is just good instruction.  Where do you think the short, complex passages are going to come from that need critical analysis when writers get ready to write test questions?
  • It doesn't really matter if you are talking about independent or instructional levels of reading.  Nobody can agree on the percentages anyway.  When a child moves up into a new level they are a little instructional until they become independent, so Teachers College does not put instructional and independent on its levels.

About comprehension... 
  • You need to know that comprehension is complex and that there is no researched magic list of strategies that will guarantee that you get all your students to the standards.  The world has told us that reading is so important that we have become afraid to teach it.  However, there is no one on high that has told us which skills to include in comprehension. 
  • Get used to using full sentences in discussions.  There will be no more one word answers.
  • There is no more "main" idea but several central ideas instead. As you work through the text you see what sticks to those central ideas and then revise the central ideas as you go.
  • John Gardner says there are only two themes.  All stories are either "Man's journey home" or "A stranger comes to town." Who knew?
  • Comprehension is complicated and depending on who you read, different elements are important.  There is no list of comprehension strategies.  Experts can't even agree on what to call each strategy and different people probably depend on different strategies to make sense of text.

About accountable talk...
  • Read Aloud is the opportunity to teach and practice accountable talk - Who can get us started talking about...?  All eye on ___. Turn and Talk about your ideas. Who can add to this? Who can build on that?  Let's keep going with ___'s idea. Can you say more about that?  Do you agree or disagree?  Partially agree or disagree.  Turn and talk about your evidence.
  • Chart sentence and question frames to help students form their comments and direct their discussion.
  • Stress the importance of listening to each other.  If students just keep saying their own ideas without any connections to other ideas that are being expressed, start over, because they are missing the point. Ask the students if they are building on that idea or going to another.  If they are going to another, stop them, and have them instead add on to the previous idea until you have clearly exhausted that topic and are ready for a new one.
  • Setting the expectation in accountable talk models what we want to see in book discussions.
  • Stress the importance of paying attention to certain clues and elements in the story that aid in building meaning and lead to deeper comprehension. Objects matter.  Weather matters.  Names matter.  Every detail an author adds is for a specific reason.

Improving predictions...
  • Prediction is not mentioned in the Common Core although we all know it is an important strategy.
  • Use the whole text. It's not just about what happened on the last page, but what happened so far.  Use what you know about characters.
  • Focus on HOW something is going to happen and not just WHAT is going to happen.

Evidence of powerful teaching...
  • Rituals and routines are firmly established.

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