Monthly Archives: July 2017

#cyberpd Week 3- Chapters 7 and 8

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Chapter 7- Creating Opportunities for Readers to Interpret

p. 113- “As teachers, however, our goal should be to help students develop coherent interpretations that are personally meaningful and supported by the text.  And to do that, we need a more complex understanding of how writers convey meaning indirectly through patterns that change and break.”

This is something I tried to work on more directly with my students this year as they came up with theories and adjusted as they read further. Using conditional language made it feel safer for them. Revising thinking was important across curriculum areas. The definition of “rich task”- one we discuss often at our school in math, was helpful to me. I could see ways that our school needs to rethink what we are doing with this. Great that it applies across the content areas! I need to do better making student thinking visible more often. I loved the reminder later in the chapter to focus on author’s craft- third graders often put things on the character, rather than the author! The reminder to release responsibility too early was important to me as well.

Chapter 8- Creating Opportunities for Readers to Consider the Implication of Facts

Ack- the shift from knowing to understanding! I know it often surprises/frustrates me when students do not question what they do not understand. I need to model this with students so that they are attuned to thinking about why the facts matter. I also liked Vinton’s differentiation between planned and prepared is something I need to work more on- ugh, so much to balance!

Short reflections today, but still so much for me to absorb!

 

There’s No Place Like “Home”!

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#sol17- July 18, 2017

I have just returned to Malaysia after a few weeks “home” in the US and as usual, I am confused about where home is for me. I do not have a home in the US, so when I visit I am in someone else’s home (in this case I was at my mom’s, my son’s, my sister’s beach house, the TC dorms, and a hotel for #nErDcampMI). I had a great time, but I was definitely ready to be back “home” in Malaysia. It is interesting living away from my “home” country, as I feel like I lose touch with how things work and always have to ask questions that may seem ridiculous to residents. On the other hand, as I have only lived in Malaysia for three years there is much I do not understand about things here.

As I sat in the airport Thursday night waiting for my flight I got a text from my landlord. I was to sign a lease extension by July 25th and she suddenly needed me to sign within 24 hours. There was no way to do it at Logan, so I replied that I would do it upon my return, but that it might be a few days as I do not have a printer at home. She offered to have a hard copy couriered to me, so I assumed a copy would be waiting for me when I returned. After two flights (one long, one shorter) to get back to Malaysia no document was waiting for me, but I was not concerned because really I had until the 25th to meet my obligation.

Monday morning I decided to do something about getting the agreement printed out so that I could sign and return it to the landlord, but where to go? I did not want to go all the way to school, so I checked with a friend for ideas. She said that the mall near her had a printing place, but suggested the mall next door to me might as well. Later, when I went for to Starbucks I asked at the concierge desk. The woman suggested I check with the photo shop. Sure enough, “Here is the email that you need to send the document to,” she answered as if it was a regular practice. One minute later I walked out with my print out.

Afterward, I reflected that I really did choose the perfect apartment location for me. This mall is next door (which sounds weird, to live next to a mall, but there are soooo many malls in KL). The mall is fairly small- 4 floors, with 10-15 shops per floor, but has so much that makes my life easier. In addition to restaurants, places that I  frequent are: the pet store, the grocery store, a money exchange place, a dentist, a hair salon, a fancy massage place, a place to get manicures and pedicures (only pedicures for me), a hardware store and more. There is also a cobbler who cuts keys for about 75 cents. The photo shop has come in handy before for all the various photos I need for visas. There are other shops for clothes, sporting and kitchen goods, and more. There are few of my basic needs that can not be met next door.

As I write this, my cat is curled up in a ball at my side. There really is no place like home, wherever that is at the moment.

 

 

*** Third graders who keep slicing: Zhi Hong 

#cyberpd 2017

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Week 2- Chapters 5 and 6

Chapters 5 and 6
I am in the midst of a crazy busy summer like many of you (and fly back to Malaysia later tonight), so my reflections are based on pictures I took of my scribbles in the book because the book is packed in my suitcase already. I promise to comment on more posts!

I love the way Vinton starts with the chart listing if we believe this, then we must do… I also like the focus on empowering the students and helping them to see reading as pleasure. Work can and should be fun! Vocabulary is an area I struggle with- the majority (by a lot) of my students are English language learners. I loved the idea of having students underline all the words they already know in a passage to show what little is left to attack. The core practice discussions will help me to be even more intentional. I am always on the hunt for efficient ways to capture student thinking and am using audio and video more. I like thinking of reading as problem-based. The resources as examples of texts we could use are helpful- I would love some video clips too. I like how Vinton supports her ideas with “why this work matters” as it gives me a chance to agree or question-based on my own context. Lots to mull over for sure!

 
I am in the midst of a crazy busy summer like many of you (and fly back to Malaysia later tonight), so my reflections are based on pictures I took of my scribbles in the book because the book is packed in my suitcase already. I promise to comment on more posts!

I love the way Vinton starts with the chart listing if we believe this, then we must do… I also like the focus on empowering the students and helping them to see reading as pleasure. Work can and should be fun! Vocabulary is an area I struggle with- the majority (by a lot) of my students are English language learners. I loved the idea of having students underline all the words they already know in a passage to show what little is left to attack. The core practice discussions will help me to be even more intentional. I am always on the hunt for efficient ways to capture student thinking and am using audio and video more. I like thinking of reading as problem-based. The resources as examples of texts we could use is helpful- I would love some video clips too. I like how Vinton supports her ideas with “why this work matters” as it gives me a chance to agree or question based on my own context. Lots to mull over for sure!

Summer Fuel

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#sol17- July 11, 2017

Packing, traveling to new places, old places, no longer “home”,

Unpacking because home is where you land,

Reading, writing, talking, trying to fit it all in,

Summer has a different rhythm, but still,

There is little time for alone and quiet when you are on the road.

Two more days of this, before the long trip “home”.

This summer frenzy leaves me full- both heart and head, ready to absorb and to save this feeling for the days ahead.

 

*** Third graders still slicing: Zhi Hong

The Planner, My Favorite Younger Son

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#sol17- July 4, 2017

Today I say goodbye to my younger son. I have just spent a week with him at his apartment in Arkansas and because he is moving on to law school in August this may be my last time in Arkansas, so we had a week that combined relaxation, errands (mostly for me), and tourism. We last saw each other at Christmas when we explored Kuala Lumpur (my home for now), Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. When I spend time with him I remember the traits he has that are and are not like mine. I am a planner, but I pale in comparison to my son. Food is important to him- he is a great cook and enjoys good food, so before I arrived he had planned our meals out and the delicious dinners he would cook, mmm!

I have a colleague from Northwest Arkansas who recommended that we visit Eureka Springs if we had time. Curtis was not convinced, as his friends had given it mixed reviews, but after a little pressure from me, we set out on Saturday. I did a little bit of research beforehand, to know that it sounded worth the trip, but of course, he did more!

We left early Saturday with plans for breakfast once we got to town (of course Curtis planned where we would eat breakfast and lunch). We pulled into Oscar’s Cafe . It looked like a neighborhood hangout with a large group of older men enjoying their coffee on the porch, so we headed indoors, where there was plenty of space. We decided to share a breakfast bahn mi, washed down with a tea (for me) and a latte (for him). Tasty! It was a perfect snack to fuel our morning. Next up, a scenic church Curtis had read about.

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The town was full of steep hills, small specialty shops, and local art and artisans. We walked and walked and poked our heads in shops that caught our interest. Our only purchases ended up being at a small shop that makes their own oils, soaps, salts, etc. It smelled great and the bath salts will be a great gift for my mom, while Curtis has already enjoyed his mango coconut wax melt and will enjoy his shower salt. As for me, I have already used my headache and stress reliever roll-ons and keep sniffing my ocean breeze mix. We stopped into a few galleries and chatted with a local artist- lots of talent, and explored the town!

After a few hours of walking (and only half a breakfast to hold us over) we were ready for lunch- Curtis picked another winner, Local Flavor Cafe! The outside space was again crowded and it was hot, so we headed indoors where there was plenty of room. The menu looked great and after much deliberation, I settled on the Santa Fe Pita. Mmmm, it included a half a perfectly ripe avocado, mango-peach salsa, and more- it definitely required a knife and fork.

Cooled down and totally full we got in the car to head home but had one more stop- Thorncrown Chapel. Churches are not usually on our list of must-sees, but this town happened to have two very different ones I am glad we saw.

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Terrible picture (see the link for a better shot! No idea who those strangers are, but we only stayed a minute. 

I usually appreciate Curtis’s research skills, but this day he outdid himself. We had a great day wandering a new-to-us place and I was glad that he got to see it before he moves away.

It is hard to say goodbye knowing that I will likely not see Curtis for a year or more, but I definitely look forward to exploring new places with him in the future.

 

 

***Third grade slicers- Zhi Hong

#cyberpd2017- Week 1

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#cyberpd2017- Week 1

I have to start with a confession- I was hoping that this year’s choice would be one that was already on my summer TBR list. I usually buy my PD books when I am in the US during the summer and suitcase space is at a premium, so although I LOVE summer PD reading I try not to go too wild. Vicki Vinton’s blog is one I love, so I knew would love the book, but did I need to add Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading, to my list? In the end, as soon as the summer’s choice was announced I knew I was in because #cyberpd is one of my favorite parts of summer learning.

I am reading the book slowly because I have so many books on my summer reading list, but here is my week 1 reflection…

Okay, Cathy and Michelle, you were right (of course)- this was a great pick! I notice it is bringing up ideas that I am also reading in The Curious Classroom and Disrupting Thinking. I was sold in the foreword, (heck, even the fact that Ellin Oliver Keene wrote the foreword might have sold me!) when it was mentioned that we should view students as insatiable problem solvers in reading-yes! I feel like the inductive approach she promotes meshes inquiry with reading workshop in a way that speaks to me (I taught in PYP schools for many years, so love inquiry). I also like the thought that this book is meant to challenge us, knowing that we will not agree with everything.

I sighed with relief when it was mentioned that throwing students into texts way beyond their ability to navigate is not the way forward, nor is over scaffolding.

Ugh, the quote from Mahatma Gandhi to start Section 1 (“To believe in something, and not live it, is dishonest.”) is a constant struggle for me-aligning my beliefs, demands from school, and my practice, is not always easy.

In Chapter 1 I liked the point that we have to focus on how pieces fit together, rather than the pieces of a text in isolation. I often encourage students to use the conditional language that Vinton includes on page 7 to help them push their thinking. I am still not sure what I think about not scaffolding my many EAL students a bit in terms of language and background knowledge, but I just seed to be wary of overdoing it. I have seen how much students gain from wrestling with text on their own- and it can be “messy and complex” (p. 13), but worth it.

In Chapter 2I liked the further exploration of reading as a transaction vs extraction and the recognition that staying within the four corners of a text may not be the right thing- I may have cheered here. The text complexity discussion is one that I appreciated too- so much determines how accessible or complex a text is (and in fact this can differ depending on the reader). Grant Wiggin’s voice reminding us of the goal of transfer was important. The focus of planning for the readers, rather than the texts makes sense to me. A reminder to me is to use read aloud to help develop more complexity.

In Chapter 3 the discussion of critical vs creative thinking was helpful. “Think creatively” is one of our school’s schoolwide learning results. I appreciated the emphasis on reading closely vs close reading. I never considered displaying a reading process chart although I often display a writing process poster- I think I will do that this year.

Chapter 4 had me thinking more about the connection between teaching and learning. It also brought me back to a more constructivist approach through inquiry. I think because I have read most of the books that Vinton references it helped me to see the connections she was making. This book is not a quick read, but I like the way it is making me consider my work and looking at shifts I may need to make to align my practice more closely with my beliefs.

I am looking forward to more thinking and learning!