Thursday, March 3, 2016

SOL Day 3: What about the Teacher Talk and Following the Children?

This post is the second in the 9th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge.  Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for their hospitality and support!  Join Us!

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Yesterday I wrote about my reading corner a bit.  It began a thought process on how I'm following and observing children this year.  

To share a bit more about building my literacy block from yesterday, when it comes to implementation, I refer back to resources such as:

Image result for reading with meaning

These two books sit on my desk quite a bit.  I pull them out often to read and refer to ideas.  

In the past years, I've really worked hard to build independence in that first 21 days of school.  Some of my reasoning was based on pacing guides that were required.  Some of my reasoning was based on reading about a sense of urgency and getting kids into reading as quickly as I could.  

Then I joined a school where I could follow the children.  And I took a moment at the beginning of the year to simply observe closely.  I decided to take more than 21 days to set up a literacy block.  I decided not to rush, but to work purposefully.  Because without giving the classroom story completely away, this is what my students needed me to do.

My biggest take away?  Waiting to teach kids about "Just Right Books" until the students were ready was an okay move.  If the students aren't ready for the meta-cognitive speak, it might not be effective for them.    

The story goes like this:  I am letting kids fill their book boxes with any books they wish from my reading corner.  At the beginning of the year, I wasn't monitoring the level of text in book boxes as much.  I was still closely observing and teaching small groups with appropriate text daily.  I was nervous.  But I was allowing them to linger in text.  I was offering guided reading books to reread, settling my mind that they had some accessible text.  I know it's important.  But I also wanted them to love reading!  All along kids were learning to read, yet it was joyful.  Relaxed.  Purposeful.  

And then it happened.  Right before Thanksgiving.  Right in the middle of "Read to Self."

"Mrs. Limback!  I can read this book!"  (And she was right.)

That very same morning, I sat down with my little class and we talked about what Little One had noticed.  That she was reading.  We looked through a basket of books.  Students picked out ones that they could read.  They sorted books out that were too difficult to access at that moment.  From that moment on, the kids were serious about finding books they could read.  

Will I do the same thing next year?  I don't know.  It will depend on the children.  

But I'm so glad I waited this year.  

How do you use teacher talk/meta-cognitive work in the classroom?  



  1. Those are the very best moments. "Hey I can read this book!" That realization. I am so glad you waited and watched for this.

  2. Moments like these just stay with you - they keep us going on the darker days.

  3. Moments like these just stay with you - they keep us going on the darker days.

  4. It seems that waiting while giving all those gems of support is a good thing to do. Thanks for explaining some of what you're thinking, and then doing.