Probst and Beers

Navigating Our Nonfiction Books with Notice and Note Signposts

As you read in my last blog post, my students have started reading their self-selected nonfiction books.  Our first in-class reading day was last Thursday, April 11.    To help my students jump into their books with some purposeful annotation that would not overwhelm them, we reviewed both the Notice and Note nonfiction signposts as well as the fiction since some students are reading literary nonfiction.  I crafted a double-sided bookmark, and we reviewed each signpost strategy as students added the following shortcut/hashtag annotation codes to use on their “baby” sized sticky notes:

During our class reading time, students were asked to annotate any three signposts they noticed and to flag the sticky note next to the passage where they saw the signpost.  While students could annotate more than three, three was the minimum, and students needed at least three unique signposts.  These signpost annotations have been part of our informal book club meetings today, and it has been interesting to hear students discuss and even debate some of the signpost choices within their groups.  I like this method of integrating the signposts into our active reading work because it is enough to nudge student thinking without overwhelming students with the act of annotation.

Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

A few weeks ago my students completed a Book, Head, Heart set of reflections as a formative assessment and reflection for their day of in-class reading of their choice library books.

I borrowed this strategy from Bob Probst and Kylene Beers; you can read more about BHH in their book Disrupting Thinking.   Once they completed composing these reflections, I wanted my students to have a way to share their responses.  I turned again to the incomparable Sarah Brown Wessling for a conversation strategy, and I decided to go with converSTATIONS for three of my four classes (1st period did an indoor version of the Walk and Talk Partner Talk--see the end of this blog post for more information).  You can learn more about this strategy here at the Teaching Channel and over at Cult of Pedagogy, but I assigned 3-4 people per table and used the following conversation structure to help students talk through their BHH reflections and talk about their books/reading on January 18.

I designated on person as the one who would remain at their table area and 2-3 members who would rotate to the next table group to engage in the next round of conversation.    The result was meaningful discussions with all table members participating, sharing, listening, and learning.

 

 

This seemingly simple strategy is flexible, easy to modify and implement, and results in rich conversations while giving students the opportunity to hear many different voices and ideas.

For my 1st period who did the indoor Walk and Talk Book Chat, we used the BHH reflections as a the basis of the conversation with a partner as well as annotations they had completed as part of the in-class reading.

 

What are your favorite strategies for mixing movement and generating rich student discussions?

PD Session for Teachers: Helping Students Generate Questions for Inquiry and Deeper Thinking

Our school district returned on January 2 to begin a new semester, and our first day back was one with a focus on professional development.  At my school, four sessions were offered for our faculty that touched on each area of our school improvement plan.  My principal asked me to lead a session on helping students formulate and dwell in questions to address our goal of nurturing an academically challenging environment.  It was a fun day getting to lead and learn with my fellow 6th, 7th, 8th, and Connections teachers in my building.    Here is an overview of the 45 minute session I presented four times (one for each grade level/area):

  1.  Learning Activity #1: Question Flood with a “Write-Around” Activity (with chart/tablet paper and markers) Using HOTS questions with a variety of “texts” across multiple subject areas; teachers worked with their table groups to read their text and collaboratively generate HOTS questions using the HOTS question stems.  We also explored how to incorporate HOTS with other mediums, including sticky notes and chart paper or even your dry erase board in your room.
  2. Activity 2: Three Big Questions (Probst and Beers) with a variety of texts across subject areas; will also share how we used these in our “birds of feather” interest reading clubs.  Teachers had an opportunity to practice this with the text set at their table.
  3. Strategy 3: Developing Deeper Research Questions/Questions for More Inquiry with Question Lenses :  I shared how you can use Ann Marlow Riedling’s questions to help students individually or collaboratively use questions lenses to “explode” and explore a topic or text.
    Real world examples from my own practice include:A.  Example 1:  Read more here and here.
    B.  Example 2:  Read more here ; here is a completed student example from Grade 7.

The resource page I shared with teachers is available in this Google Document; the slideshow is embedded in the Google Document as well.  I have been thrilled and humbled by the positive feedback and number of teachers from all subject areas who have already implemented these strategies in less than a week!

Here are some scenes from the workshop:

Scaffolding Student Prep Work for Birds of Feather Reading Club Meetings

In my last post, I outlined how I organized a topic tasting, how birds of feather interest groups were formed, and the planning that student groups did collaboratively to divide and assign readings within their topic area from the text set.  In today’s post, I’ll share the prep work we did over four days to get ready for our reading club meetings we held today.

Prep Work by The Teacher

I began by crafting a reflection/noticing handout for each article.  The first two reflection/noticings handouts for Articles 1 and 2 were similar though there were some differences in the final reflection pieces.  You can view the handouts in this folder in Google Drive.  It took me awhile to get my groove, but I wound up organizing the prep packets with these materials:  the three article prep sheets, the roster of reading assignments I copied from the groups (green sheet 1), and a copy of the original planning work by each group.   You can also watch this short video explaining how I organized their work (my ultimate goal was to have a neat and consistent order to the packet  because it will eventually go in the students’ literacy portfolios (note:  I thought I had the phone in landscape view when I filmed, so I apologize for the vertical format).

Handing the Keys to the Students:  Steps to Success

We began by reviewing our reading assignments (in the packet) and our timeline:

This timeline was ambitious, but with only 10 “pure” instructional days from the time we returned from Thanksgiving break to our next holiday break, I had to push students a little to make these deadlines.  Thankfully, most students met the work plan for each day; some students came to the “War Time” academic makeup time last Thursday to catch up.  I collected student work–finished or not–each day so that students would not lose their work.  In addition, collecting their work made it easier to have their materials laid out at the beginning of class the following day and maximize class time.

 

I also incorporated some warm-ups into the activities for Days 2 and 3, including a think and write as well as a sharing of HOTS (higher order thinking skills) questions to create a gallery inquiry.

Yesterday students had the first half of the period to finish any incomplete work.  We then used the last half of the class to:

  • Highlight three questions/statements from each prep sheet (total of nine highlights) that we wanted to bring up for conversation today.
  • 1st and 4th periods used tiny sticky notes to mark a passage in each article that we might want to bring up for discussion.
  • 5th and 6th periods used tiny sticky notes to mark three passages in the third article only (the common read) for discussion.
  • Reviewed our reading club manners and etiquette as well as expectations for interacting and participating.  The list students brainstormed became the basis of their self-assessment they will complete tomorrow.
  • Reviewed their “emoji discussion cards” they could use if they got stuck on what to say or sentence starters for responding to peers.  As I will share in my next post, these worked like a charm!
  • We also reviewed the discussion structure to expect for the meeting.

 

 

At the end of the period, I collected all their work so that I could easily distribute it today for our reading club meetings.  In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about how I structured the reading club discussions and tips for helping students new to book or article discussions be confident and successful as well as our self-assessments we’ll complete and final products we’ll create.