Reasons I am Falling in Love with Christopher Lehman

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

     OK, to be honest, I already love him.  But, his newest book title is Falling in Love with Close Reading, so I thought that title was more appropriate.

     I am currently stalking Christopher Lehman's webinars.  I admit it.  I have registered for three in the past month or so.  I attended my first one and was hooked.  I didn't actually get to watch my 2nd one, due to technology issues with Mac, but I did just spend and hour and a half of quality time with him this evening while he presented at UW Madison.  It was rough, balancing preschoolers around dinner time while doing a webcast, but worth it nonetheless.

     Here are some reasons I love him, and you should too.

    He believes that the students need to be the ones doing the work.  They need to read more.  They need to work within the standards.  He thinks that you only get good at things you do.  That being said, he also thinks that we, as teachers, should try some of the tasks that we ask our students to do.  We need to feel what they feel.  We need to do what we ask of them.

     Try reading that passage, but every time you get to the XXXX, don't try to figure it out.  Just briefly pause and keep reading.  Then ask yourself what it was about.  Do it.

     If children are reading grade level texts, where they only can read about 80% of the words with accuracy, that is about what you are going to get from them.  You can plan the best, common core aligned lesson in the world, but it will not matter.  If they are just guessing, they are not reading.  That is what an excerpt of The Hunger Games looks like to someone who can only read 80% of it.  Look at what the students can actually do.  The best planned lesson in the world will fall short if the only one you can do the learning is the teacher.

     He suggests that before you start a lesson, ask the kids to show you what they know about that subject.  A pre-assessment of sorts...  He talked about a teacher who handed the kids a booklet for writing workshop, and said "Show me how you write a story with a booklet."  She then decided that although she could tell that the young child knew how to use a booklet, his pictures were so bad that he was unable to retell his own story.  Instead of just going into the mini lessons in the book, she taught him how to draw people. It was not a mini lesson for the first grade unit, but that would help him retell his own stories, and that mattered more than following the lesson that was supposed to come next.

     He says that he makes promises to the kids.  THEY are his curriculum.  They, not initiatives (like a program or the CCSS themselves) determine what he needs to teach.  He said in times of great change, schools should focus on a few strengths and build upon those strengths.  Focus on the kids, because they are our strength.  The standards are about doing, and the ones that should be doing are the kids.  


     He also talked a lot about building our professional capital.  We need more collaboration with each other.  Every time we talk to a colleague about a student work sample, or a curricular decision, or assessment data, we are learning new things that we can use to support our kids.  We are a community together, figuring out our kids.  He suggested that we use high quality curriculum materials that match the needs of our kids during this common core transition.  If we then look at one or 2 pieces of student work, and revise what comes next in those materials, we are building our curriculum around our kids.

     I have many, many more things to say about Christopher Lehman, and close reading in general, but that is all I have to say tonight.  :)


Character Traits

Sunday, November 3, 2013

     Grades 1-5 are all in the midst of a character unit in Reading Workshop.  This week, I thought I might focus a bit on what a character trait is.  According to,
character traits are "all the aspects of a person’s behavior and attitudes that make up that person’s personality. Everyone has character traits, both good and bad. Even characters in books have character traits. Character traits are often shown with descriptive adjectives, like patient, unfaithful, or jealous."
They have a nice post that analyzes them a bit. 

     If you think about character traits and feelings like the weather in Chicago, it can be a helpful metaphor.  Around here, the day can start sunny, turn into a cloudy, rainy day, and then end with snow.   Those are all examples of a character's feelings.  They change like the wind (quite literally, in this metaphor).  Character traits are more like the climate.  The general type of weather we have in the winter last for a long time.  That is more like a character trait.  Traits don't change nearly as often as feelings, just like climate doesn't change as often as the weather.

    This teacher does a nice job explaining how she teaches character traits, with the common core in mind, in third grade. I especially like the scaffolding she does with her kids.  She has them start with just finding examples of a single trait in their reading.  Then, she moves on to finding support in the text to show the trait using her read alouds first, before releasing it to the kids independently.  They even think about their own traits in the process!  This is hard work.  Giving the kids scaffolded release will really help them become more independent.

     Here is a pinterest board on both character traits and feelings.  Really, they are both lessons on inferring.  Inferring feelings AND character traits are important.  It is just helpful for the kids to know the difference.  There are some good ideas to help with this on the board.

     Have fun exploring character in your classroom!  It will really boost the level of the conversations you have with the kids when they take the time to really understand character traits.

Mentor Texts

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I walked into a classroom the other day during Reading Workshop, and the kids were all spread around the room reading independently.  I had to pick someone at random to sit down and confer with, but that is so hard to do!  Then, I saw it....  A book that I LOVE.  The choice was made for me.  I had to sit down and read with the little girl who was reading The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. I just had to.  Why?  I love that book.

A few years ago, the second grade decided to be our favorite book characters for Halloween.  I chose the little mouse.  I had discovered the book that year, and had instantly fell in love.  I used it to teach inferring characters feelings.  I used it to teach voice in writing.  I used it to teach fluency.  I used it to teach problem and solution.  I used it to teach a variety of compression strategies.  I know that sounds repetitive, but I used it to teach a lot of things.  I didn't realize it then, but it was a mentor text.

Mentor Texts are books that the students have read, know well, and love.  They are powerful examples of good writing that we can use as models for our own writing, or are texts that we can use to practice new strategies with.  Our mini lessons in both reading and writing (and math) can be strengthened by using pieces of texts that the students know well and love.  It will help them really "see" what you want them to see.  This will help transfer to independence with the application of the strategies you are presenting.

What mentor texts should you use?  Well, there are lists everywhere.  The Calkins units provide us with some, and any google search on mentor texts will give you many possibilities.  Just remember- the kids are supposed to know them well.  You can't have 50 different mentor texts that they know well.  Use some texts that you can keep coming back to all year long, for a variety of reasons.  If you are planning to do that, pick books that you know and love, too!  Whether or not The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear is on a list of mentor texts somewhere, I would use it anyway.  

I found two great ways to organize the mentor texts that you find, and I linked them below.  The first one is a Pinterest page, where she had a Board all reserved for her mentor texts.  If you are on Pinterest, that is a great way to manage your resources.  The other is a simple blog list of texts that she loves, with the strategies/skills that she teaches using the book listed beneath the cover.
Use the books you love to make your students love to read and write!

Literacy Nerd Alert

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

     Literacy Nerd Alert!!!!

     I am a literacy nerd.  I like collecting books on literacy, like some people collect stamps, or coins.   I also like talking with people involved in literacy.  I create my own PLN, especially around the building, but I definitely take the opportunity to talk "reading" with any expert I can.  So, here I am with Dr. Howard.  I even have a READ t-shirt.  Yep...  Literacy nerd.

     There are a few things that I would like to emphasize from Dr. Howard's presentation last Friday.  I know that it was all day, in uncomfortable chairs, and before a long weekend.  A lot of things can get lost in translation with all those variables.  She showed some great ways to use the common core in our instruction, and she gave us strategies to close read.  Those things will certainly be beneficial to us as the year goes on.

     In my opinion, however, the most valuable things we can walk away from are some beliefs she has about teaching and students.  They are, in no particular order:

1.  There is nothing new in education.  Just new ways of thinking.

2.  Children are not a letter.

3.  What are you going to say yes to?  What are you going to say no to?

     Like I previously stated, I am a literacy nerd.  I take pictures with random literacy people, and I even had her sign my book.  Do you know what she wrote?

     My dear Hiawatha teachers, I believe in what you do every day.  I believe that you know a lot about teaching the students in your classrooms, and I believe that we as a building work together in honor of children.  Children are not a letter- they are kids.  They deserve the best that we have to offer.  You are the best.  Believe in yourself, believe in your kids, and let's all work together and great things will happen.

     Just be careful... if you ever write a book about literacy, I will make you sign my copy and I will make you take a picture with me.  I promise you that.  :)

Good to Great!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

     Dr. Mary Howard is coming in a week, so I thought you might like a sneak peak at what you might hear on Institute Day.  She wrote the book Good to Great Teaching.  She discusses how we can turn our teaching from good to great, by looking at what we do and reflecting on it.  The tables above are in her book.  Take a moment to read the bad examples, as well as the good/great.

      With the changes in our curriculum with the Common Core, and the implementation of reading and writing workshop, we have to remember to be thoughtful in our decision making.  What are we doing that will make the most difference to our kids?  What do we already do that is successful?  What are do we need to change to be even more successful?  When you read those Calkins units, what are key ingredients to creating successful learners?  How can we help children take charge of their own learning by helping them get engaged and become independent learners?

     Dr. Howard describes Great Work as "taking our teaching to the highest level and offers the most benefit to our students.  Great work happens when teachers cautiously translate research principles into practice so it requires more effort in the early stages.  Those who do great work develop an insatiable appetite and want to savor the experience over and over.  Great work lights up a room with energy and enthusiasm." (2012)

     As we transition to the workshop model, take a step back and look at your kids and their work.  What are they telling you?  Then take a look at your own teaching.  What in your teaching created that result?

     We are certainly putting the effort in during the early stages.  We are on our way to greatness, Hiawatha!


Charlotte's Web

Saturday, September 28, 2013

     This web was in front of my house this morning.  My husband, son and daughter came running into the house to tell me that I just had to see the spider web that was outside.  It was like Charlotte, herself, had spun that web with love.  The glorious masterpiece was a sight to behold, until my four year old walked right through the few supporting strands that connected it to the ground, and in a second the web was gone.  I actually, in a moment where reality blurred with literature, almost forgot that it wasn't Charlotte and I started to tear up a bit.  The moment faded as quickly as it had begun, as my son shouted, "Let's ride bikes!" and started running to the driveway.

     This moment happened a week after I walked into Mrs. Flowers' room and she happened to be reading Charlotte's Web.  I really do love that book.  I had thought of it this summer, when trying to prepare for my close reading workshop.  In my research, I found many references to how important it is for readers to use their prior knowledge and their emotions when reading.  It is very hard to have an emotional response to a book without using your own text to self connections.  If we take text to self away, will anyone still cry over Charlotte's Web?  Will the common core make us all clinical readers, where our own response is not important?  Text dependent questions could take the emotion out of everything.

     I have come to the conclusion that we need to make a connection to the events that are happening in the book, and the emotions that we can relate them to.  Students don't need to tell us, in great detail, all about how they saw a spider web, too.  They need to know how it felt when their pet died.  They need to know how if felt when they were totally alone and friendless on the playground.   They need to know how it felt when someone else cared about their success.  Because, if they did, they would cry while reading that novel.  They would fall in love with a great book, and that love will last beyond Read Aloud time.

     I came into Mrs. Flower's class, and she asked if I would read a chapter to her class so that she could see how I discuss theme.  I was reluctant, because they were nearing the end of the book, and I always cry.  She reassured me that they were still at the fair, so there would be no tears.  But, as we read about how Wilbur and his family felt about the pig next door winning, and how Charlotte had just laid eggs and was now exhausted and sickly, and how Fern had moved on from her primary concern of Wilbur and his life, the themes of life and death and friendship were abundant.  Those third graders and I had a great conversation about more than just the book.  I was blown away with the maturity of the conversation we had.  And then, I got to the part where they made the announcement that there was a special prize for Wilbur and they started to pack up, and knowing that Charlotte couldn't come with to see it...  I had to pass the book to Mrs. Flowers to prevent the tears from flowing.  I held it together, and told the kids that good books make you FEEL.  If the books they were picking for Read to Self did not make them feel anything, they should find something different the next time they book shopped.


     Books can change your life if you let them.  They can reflect your life in many ways.  I am a better person because of the lessons I learned as a kid through novels like Charlotte's Web.  Thank you to my own teachers for those experiences, and thanks to the 3rd graders who reminded me of it again.

YOU are at the Magic!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

     There is so much change going on in the educational world, and with change comes anxiety.  We all want to do what is best for our students, and sometimes we struggle trying to figure out what that is.  What will make the difference that matters?

     I participated in a webinar this week with my new favorite guy, Christopher Lehman.  He co-authored Pathways to the Common Core and has a new book coming out that I am very excited about.  But, he started the webinar with a simple statement that made me fall in love with HIM, not close reading.... (even though his new title suggests otherwise).

     The standards are not enough.  Historical, empirical evidence suggests that standards alone have little effect on American students' achievement.  The standards are not magic.  WE ARE.

     If we ourselves are nervous in our classrooms, with new protocols, new programs, new everything, we are nervous about doing things right and are less effective.  The common core is supposed to help us align as a country, not dictate how we teach.  The standards alone are nothing.  It is what we, as teachers, do with the standards that make the difference.

     Believe in yourself.  Get support from colleagues.  Ask questions.  Teach others.  Use what you know works with your kids.  Follow the standards to improve your classroom instruction, but remember that YOU are the magic.  Believe in the effect you have.  Believe in your students.  Be confident in what you can do, and what difference can be made when you collaborate with others.  Be optimistic that the path we are on is the right one.  We are in this together, Hiawatha.

     And, remember, when you get overwhelmed (daily) and you are stressed out (constantly), find the things that bring you joy.  The pride students have in their new accomplishments, chocolate, and pumpkin spice lattes are the magic recipe for me.  Those things, coupled with the knowledge that I work in a fabulous place that makes a difference in the lives of almost 500 students every single day.  

     YOU are the magic.

Shared Reading/ Close Reading/ ???

Sunday, September 8, 2013

     This week, at 4 different grade level planning meetings, a question arose about shared reading.  While the conversations were slightly different, they all came down to this- What are we supposed to do during shared reading time?

     On our SIP plan, it is written that we have 15 minutes of shared reading time.  It is described here:
This definition of shared reading also incorporates close reading, which is a much more complex type of reading.  Marilyn sent me a blog post about it today, and I thought it was a pretty good read.
Here is the link:

     Why am I sharing this with you?  Because he is right!  Whenever there is a new trend in education, we try to fit the term into our day, assigning a new term to things that we already do.  Shared reading might be something that we already do.  Close reading, however, is not.  I would imagine that close reading will be a new type of reading in most classrooms, and it is a type of reading that our students probably can't do right now.  Before they can tackle that, they need to "run the marathon" a bit more.  They need to get more scaffolding, more guidance, more experience, and more practice.  They need more time.  If we know that, then we can call the 15 minutes that we are doing right now shared reading, and eventually within that time we might get to close read some pieces of the text.

     How can we get our kids into the race?

  • I have been making the suggestion of practicing close reading on photographs or images.  Getting the kids to make observations (use the text details) to infer new ideas (gather meaning from the text) prepares them for the type of thinking that close reading requires.  
  • Use the shared reading time of your day to perhaps unpack the common core standards.  The type of learning that is required in the standards will lead to the possibility of close reading in the future.
  • Model, model, model.  I do, We do, You do.  Remember that if you model some deeper thought now, we might be able to see deeper thoughts from the kids later.  
  • Even though the kids can't really close read just yet, they can do shared reading.  Have it in your schedule now, and as the year progresses so too will the type of lessons you will do during that time.  If we don't reserve the time in our schedule now, we won't have anywhere to put it later.
  • Perhaps use the current shared reading time to build science/ social studies schema using grade level texts.  We have a large ELL population, and giving them shared experiences with background knowledge and vocabulary might be just what they need right now. 
     Remember, don't panic!  We will all get there.  In the meantime, let's keep planning as grade levels on the best way to get to the finish line.  One step at a time...

No, David! Yes, Kindergarten!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

     It was a proud mother moment, for sure.  Mrs. Carrera was so proud of the 1.5 minutes of stamina that her kindergartners had today that she left me a message to see if I could come celebrate it.  Of course as soon as I heard the message, I ran right in there.  She was so proud of her little guys, as was I, but I was soon distracted by the anchor chart in the back of the room.  It was David!  I love David.  I walked over to take a closer look...  and saw PBIS expectations.  I suddenly realized something big.

No, David is a mentor text!

     Think about it... If you start to think about all the things that, throughout the year, David can teach us, you will soon see it as one of the well loved books that keeps coming back, again and again and again.  Let me list a few mini lessons off the top of my head:

  • Fluency lessons:  Just imagine the fluency you can model with all the yelling, text sizes, and punctuation in that book.
  • Inferring character's feelings:  Our little friend David goes through quite the emotional changes through the course of the book.  Just look at his face and body language- they say so much!
  • Themes:  There are few books that teach the theme of compassion and forgiveness like No, David.  Just think about the end of the book when David's teacher gives him a gold star, even after his naughtiness.  Or perhaps when his friends are waiting to play with him, despite his behavior in school.  What a great lesson for our kids.
  • Character Development:  Read a few of the David books together, and you have a character study.  
  • Personal Narrative Genre:  This is an excellent example of a personal narrative.  David Shannon wrote the stories about himself as a child.  What a great way to get kids writing stories that are true about them!
  • Vocabulary:  The reading level for the book is in the first grade band, but there are a few good words that could be vocabulary words.  "NO! It's not my fault! I didn't mean to! It was an accident!"  Ask any young kid to define "accident" and you have a good discussion.  :)
  • 3 Ways to Read a Book:  The text is nice and simple to read, the pictures practically tell the story all on their own, and the kids love to retell this one!  
  • Rereading Text:  Kids are always so hesitant to read texts more than once, but for some reason David allows them to do that.  The David books are often the ones that fall apart due to overuse.
  • Voice:  One of our 6 Traits of good writing is found abundantly in the words of the No, David! books.  
     I walked into their rooms and just saw all the possibilities that lay ahead this year by using that book, over and over again.  Mentor texts can be books that are short and simple, but have enough heart to make them unforgettable to our students.  When picking books for your read alouds this year, think about what they can offer during your mini lessons during Reading/ Writing Workshop.  

     One other nice touch?  Mrs. Surma made her anchor chart with the 3 Ways to Read a Book, and around the three she put a picture of each of her kids WHILE READING.  What a great way to hit home that they are all readers, right from the start.

    Yes, Kindergarten!!!  

Launching Writing Workshop

Saturday, August 24, 2013

     We have been preparing ourselves for Reading Workshop for the past few years at Hiawatha.  With the use of Guided Reading and the Daily 5, we have set ourselves up for an easier transition to Reading Workshop.  When it comes to writing, we are not as close, but there are some things that will help us tremendously.

1.  Use what we know about reading stamina! 
Before you launch into Writing Workshop, do the same things to prepare that we used in reading.  Create an I Chart with the kids so that they know exactly what they are supposed to do during writing, and what you are eventually going to be doing as well.  Then, build stamina.  Time them.  With my second graders, I always started with 7 minutes, because they are mostly 7 years old.  Challenge them to write independently for 7 minutes, and then every day add another minute to the challenge.  Prove to them that they can write by themselves.  If you don't, you will never have uninterrupted groups or conferences.  While they are writing, write yourself. Show them that you are a writer, too.

2. When stamina is low, teach mini lessons that will be useful all year long.
At the beginning of the year, we teach reading strategies that will anchor our block for the year.  Why not for writing, too?  Teach them how to choose their own topics, what to do when they need help, what to do if they think they are done, how to re-read their papers, and how to begin to edit. Christina Betz shared some resources (on Hiawatha Literacy google site) that will certainly help with these things.  Mini lessons on getting ideas are critical.  Have students create an expert list, a ME chart, a know/care/feel chart, a heart map- whatever it takes to help them generate topics that are interesting to them.

3.  Consider using the 6 Traits
When their stamina is low, and you have trouble filling the hour long workshop, doing mini lessons on the 6 Traits might be a very nice use of time.  Not only will it help them see the components of good writing, but it will give your future editing and revising lessons some help.  Plus, it might help you give structure to your individual conferences with kids, and help their future goal setting.  You don't need to follow the entire 6 Traits program to teach the terms Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions and Presentation, nor do you need to teach them all the first week.  But, using them will enhance your Writing Workshop.  

4.  Learn about your Students
While they are building stamina for writing, use their samples to start seeing them as writers.  What do they do well?  What do they struggle with?  What might help them move to the next level?  Use everything they write to help you start to understand what they need as writers.  Their samples give so much information if we look at them a little closely.  

5.  Calkins Units
When your students are able to write independently for a chunk of time, and they are able to come up with their own ideas to write about, then they are probably ready to start the official Calkins units.  Before you start the units, doing some On Demand samples to gather information might be a good idea.      She has an On Demand prompt for each of her units, so don't forget to do that as a pre-assessment when you are ready to begin.

Have fun, and write on!

Off and Running with Anchor Charts

Thursday, August 22, 2013

     While walking around the building this week, I have been so amazed at all the learning that goes on right from the start.  Everything is a "teachable moment" it seems that first week of school.  Everything we do as teachers sets the stage for learning, and watching you all set that stage has been quite a blessing for me.  I have been walking in and out of rooms, getting to see the kids back in action, and seeing you set that stage for the year.  One of the biggest factors in that seems to be the creation of anchor charts.  I wanted to share a few that I think will really make an impact on student performance.

      Miss Ravenhorst has these charts, plus three or so more like it, all in her meeting area.  These charts are interactive, with all students' individual responses posted on the chart.  The purpose for all the charts  in the area were to create a literate and trusting environment.  The charts pictured here are:
"Our classroom should be _____ everyday."
"School is important because ________."
"What do YOU need to do to be successful?"
The power in these charts is amazing, because it is setting a purpose for school.  Summer is over!  :)

     The ever important I chart.  Reading Workshop is nothing without stamina and independence, and one of the best ways to build those is to create and I chart for Read to Self.  At the beginning of the year, there are differences in that across the grade levels.  The first chart was found in 4BEBL.  It was in their meeting area, still on the easel where they created it, not far from their individual book baskets.  Since it is the first week and numbers have not yet been assigned, they marked their book boxes with a post it with names on it. What a great way to get the boxes started while they wait for their numbers to stabilize!  The second 2 charts were found in 1ME.  Mrs. Meyer was creating the I chart with the class, and at this particular moment all they were ready to write was "Sit by themselves."  Quite honestly, that takes quite some discussion all on its own in first grade.  What an important starting point!  Fill it in as the needs of the class allow, and just have them reflect on it as you go.  You can always keep coming back to your charts.

     The last 2 charts came from 3ROWA.  The one was something I had never seen before.  My Reading Life was the title, and the 2 columns are "Worst Reading Times" and "Best Reading Times."  They got it from the Lucy Calkins Building a Readerly Life unit.  The honesty in the chart was what struck me.  We all know that the kids need to know that reading is important, but being honest in saying that reading isn't always easy is quite the statement.  Reading is something that sometimes requires perseverance.
     Their second chart is actually for math!  Mrs. Waszak had created a Math Talks routine anchor chart.  I liked the visuals she put on the chart to help the kids remember the process.  I know that this blog is supposed to be for literacy, but I made an exception for this anchor chart.

     As you create anchor charts with your class, remember what the purpose is behind it.  If you do that, those charts will really matter to those kids, and they will be more likely to use them on their learning journey this year.

First Week Shared Reading

Saturday, August 17, 2013

     Now that the first week has arrived, and now that we have clarified what shared reading could be, I am going to share 2 texts that you could use this week with your kids.  There is no pressure to officially do your daily shared reading activities this week, but if you find that you have some time they might be useful.

Click the Titles below to see the actual text!

What Readers Can Do
This text is a mini book by Douglas Wood.  It just talks about some of the wonderful things that reading allows us to do.  It would be a great motivator when trying to set an initial purpose for reading when building stamina.  It could also be starting points for various written responses.  You could have the kids find books in your library that fit the descriptions in the book, or you could use those descriptions to find books for your read alouds.  "You can go back in time to some long ago day, Be a king, be a queen, be a pirate, gang way!"  I bet there are many books in your library that would fit that description.  I scanned the book into a google presentation that can but used on your Smart board, but I do have a class set of them as well that you could borrow.

The First Day of School
This text is a wonderful poem by Judith Viorst.  I used it with my very first class, since I have always loved her books.  I just remembered how wonderful she is after we went to a play at Emerald City Theater 2 years ago to see Alexander.  I could see you using this text with the kids to discuss their fears, but also to write their own beginning of the year poems.  What were they worried about as the year began at Hiawatha?

2013-14 is going to be a great year!

Shared Reading

Friday, August 16, 2013

     This is a screenshot description from our SIP plan about shared reading at Hiawatha.  It calls for 15 minutes of daily shared reading experiences that use grade level text to close read.

     Shared reading was created by Don Holdaway in 1979 to recreate the storybook experience that kids get while reading with their parents at bedtime.  In the primary classroom, shared reading is often done with big books so that all students can see the text and participate in the reading.  Children often chime in when readings are repeated.  It can be done with whole group, as well as small groups.  Shared reading gives the students a safe environment to practice reading with behaviors of proficient readers.  The text is always supposed to be visible to the students, and with SMART Boards is now often shown in digital books.

     In shared reading experiences, the same text is often read for a number of days.  The first read is usually for enjoyment.  Subsequent reads can focus on chanting, predicting, vocabulary, echo reading, etc.  In the upper grades, the teacher should give a focus for reading, and then ask questions specific to that focus.  If you record a shared reading and share it, children will have a fluent model to listen to at another time.  One of the days, close reading is a good option to improve comprehension.

     Since we are following a guided reading model at Hiawatha, students are reading at their individual reading level most of the day.  The idea of shared reading came up as a way to expose children to grade level text in addition to their instructional level text.  The Common Core suggests that students need to move up levels of text complexity, and this is one way to increase their ability to do that.  The Common Core also suggests that students close read text, where they zoom in on small pieces of text and really "dig deep" for meaning.  Shared reading could give students an opportunity to do this, if they can hold the text in their hand while reading and possibly mark their thoughts as they read.

     In short, the 15 minutes of shared reading a day could look like a variety of things.  One bottom line is that all kids can SEE the text, with the best scenario of them having their own copy.  If you merge the two ideas of storybook reading and close reading, as our SIP plan does, there are many texts you can use.  Big books, poems, picture books, novels, short stories, articles, etc., somewhere within the grade level band.  Students could have the text on their computers, and if they use Preview they can mark the text on their screens.  If they use paper copies of text, they can mark their thinking using pencils or highlighters.

     We will be talking more about this as the year goes on, and examples and PD will follow!