Celebrating Learning at TCRWP Summer Reading Institute

I’m home, unpacked, and  the laundry is done after a week at Teachers College Reading Writing Project’s Summer Reading Institute. Anyone who has ever attended one of these institutes knows you get more than your money’s worth in learning and inspiration during the five-day experience. Cries of “that is so cool” — “I love this” — “have you read..” — “did you see this….” surround you. It is not only a gift to learn from the TCRWP think tank,  it is a privilege to be with the attendees.

celebrate link up

To celebrate this week on Ruth Ayers link up, I thought I’d share a little what I learned from Kathleen Tolan in her session titled The Intersection of Guided Reading, Strategy Lessons, and Book Clubs. The essence of this session was how the work we do in small groups should be assessment driven, flexible and fluid. The lines for guided reading, strategy group work and book club instruction blur  to meet student needs.

Simply put, we pull students for small group instruction when students aren’t getting what they need from the whole group lesson. When planning these groups we should aim to:

  • Minimize our talk — Nudge don’t give
  • Maximize student’s opportunity to work and work with each other
  • Move students to own their own learning by having them identify what they are doing well and what they are shooting for

Manageable bits of teaching is key. Students can only take in so much and you only have so much time. Keep your time with small groups to 10 minutes.

Use reading tool kits with mentor texts designed to highlight specific skill work and exemplar responses to show how readers might respond to a text. Have artifacts ready to leave with the student to refer to later and for you to reference when you check on their progress. Have cards or charts with character traits and feelings on them.

Use your read aloud in strategy lessons. Students know this text, so it’s a quick way to illustrate your teaching point. This way you minimize the time demonstrating and maximize the time students are working.

The strategy group lesson shifts the paradigm of the mini lesson. When you have a small group in front of you, you give the teaching point quickly and do very little demonstration. You set students up to do the work. As they work, you coach in to what they are doing and nudge them toward the skill. Don’t give it to them.  Students need to do the work, struggle a bit and figure it out.

Put post its in the first half of books for the work you want students to stop and notice. This supports clubs and strategy groups by giving students a clear picture of the kind of work they could do. As students read on past the post its you planted, encourage them to plant their own post its. Their response to your post its and the post its they place show their thinking about the book and their transference of the strategy.

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Let students read aloud a text together. What students hear and picture when reading is not the same. If we allow our kids to read aloud together, particularly when they are struggling for meaning, we are allowing them to read closely, to construct meaning together and teach one another.

Allow students to be mentors for each other. This happens when students talk about their reading and have a very clear idea of their goals. To do this we want to make sure that students have examples of expectations of work they could be doing in text and then allow them to identify their strengths and have conversations about it. Imagine having students going back and naming what they did well in the text. Constructing their own continuum of responses and working to get better and closer to what is expected.  Students need to be teaching each other. Pushing each other on their thinking. They need to be talking back and accumulating information. If we have more kids teaching each other, more kids are digging deeper into the text.

Kathleen said, “Reading skills are like a chain link fence. They all link together.”

This  tweet from Jenn wraps up the session beautifully.

If you want to know more about what happened last week at TCRWP’s institute, check out the twitter feed #tcrwp and Fran McVeigh’s blog here. 








5 thoughts on “Celebrating Learning at TCRWP Summer Reading Institute

  1. Thanks for sharing, Julieanne. Glad you had such a great week. I like the idea of the post its given so students will remember the questions to use. Often, the teacher “telling” what to do is not enough, & this follow-up from a small group meeting will help. Have a good weekend!

  2. I appreciate everyone who has been kind to share their take-aways from different conferences and retreats. There is always something for me to ponder about. “Allow students to be mentors for each other” – I wonder why I like to use it in math but not so much in literacy.

  3. Thank you for sharing your learning. I love the sentiment and thinking behind those simple words “Nudge, don’t give.” Going to share this post with my Teacher Librarian who works with me in Reading Workshop with my class.

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