July 24, 2016

Looking Forward to Seeing You at ILA Boston

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How are you spending your summer?

Over the last couple of weeks we have had the privilege of spending time with teachers so committed to learning and improving their craft  that they spend part of their summer attending regional conferences and optional professional learning provided by their school districts. The energy at these sessions has been contagious, and we are eager to continue to ride this learning high through the ILA conference in Boston on July 8-11. Will you be there? If you see us in the halls or in a session, be sure to say hello or come over and chat about the ways the conference is inspiring you or stretching your thinking.

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You could even join us for a full day of learning on Friday, July 8, when we will be hosting an all-day pre-conference institute titled Who’s Doing the Work? Teaching for Transfer Across Read-Aloud, Shared Reading, Guided Reading and Independent Reading. We are super excited about this day!  We will be joined by educators from all across the United States–Justin Dolcimascolo, JoAnne Duncan, Gravity Goldberg, JulieAnne Harmatz, Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson, Susie Rolander, and Kari Yates–who have collaborated with us to create a dynamite agenda! The morning will begin with a whole group session chock-full of simple suggestions and ideas for adjusting instruction so that students do more of the work and consequently, learn more.  After this whole-group presentation, we will offer three breakout sessions that explore each instructional context across the gradual release of responsibility (read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading).  After lunch, Gravity Goldberg will talk with the whole group about helping students reflect on their learning through powerful feedback.  Following a short break, there will be additional breakout sessions on topics such as student empowerment and reading interventions. The day will end with a short conversation about the importance of tripwires and a Q and A forum with all of the day’s presenters. In addition to being thought provoking, this day is going to be fun, fun, FUN!

If you’re unable to join us for our pre-conference institute, we hope that you’ll stop by the Stenhouse booth (#1912) on Saturday, July 9th, where we will be signing copies of Who’s Doing the Work? and Reading Wellness from 11:30-12:00.  We can’t wait to meet you and talk with you!

The Urge to Read Aloud: “This Book Made Me Think of You”

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Like most readers of Slice of Life posts, we read books constantly. Almost every day, one (or both) of us reads something that we just can’t resist reading aloud. Kim just read aloud the text below, from Born for This, to Jan because she knew Jan would be excited about. Jan is particularly moved by stories of people spending their lives doing what they love most:

When I asked hundreds of people who found the work they were “born to do” what paths they took to become the acupuncturist, the civil servant, the teacher, or whatever their current profession is, one theme ran through all their responses: the search took time and effort, and the path had lots of twists and turns, but they all kept working toward it. They believed in the goal, and when they encountered obstacles, they found ways around them. (p.14)

Jan, just read the following excerpt from Think Like a Freak to Kim and to their professional learning network in a Voxer group. It was a reminder to both of them that having “expertise” in literacy means that we are particularly vulnerable to inadvertently confirming our own biases–i.e. experts tend to look for evidence that what they think and believe is “right.”

When asked to name the attributes of someone who is particularly bad at predicting, Tetlock [researcher] needed just one word, “Dogmatism,” he says. That is, an unshakable belief they know something to be true even when they don’t. Tetlock and other scholars who have tracked prominent pundits find that they tend to be “massively overconfident,” in Tetlock’s words, even when their predictions prove stone-cold wrong. That is a lethal combination–cocky plus wrong–especially when a more prudent option exists: simply admit that the future is far less knowable than you think. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Smart people love to make smart-sounding statements, no matter how wrong they may turn out to be. (p. 25)

We read aloud to our spouses. We read aloud to our children. We read aloud to students. We read aloud in a number of different Voxer chat groups. We call people on the phone and say, “I just had to read you this … .”

We think that the compulsion to share something is less a product of an excellent text (although we think that is important too) and more a product of knowing someone. Jan knows what interests Kim, personally and professionally. Kim knows the same about Jan. Everything we read, we read with an eye/ear/mind for each other, and when we find something that we know the other will find moving/invigorating/inspiring, we feel like a water-diviner who’s fork-shaped stick has locked in on an underground water source.

Reading aloud to someone, for us, says, “This book made me think of you.” And to the listener, it says, “This person has taken the time to really see me.” For both of these, we are always appreciative, for having someone see, having someone read, and having someone listen are all gifts.

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#WhosDoingTheWork : Scaffolding vs. Carrying

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