Monday, February 18, 2013

Slicing Connections - And some links


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              The first thing I need to acknowledge is that last week I left out an important thing that happened at the literacy conference I attended a week ago.  I was walking in the lobby, on my way to another session when this person, whom I’ve only seen pictures of, came towards me.  I had to say it, “Is that you, Carol?”  It was! Carol Wilcox, of Carol’s Corner, who wrote last week about a new friend, ME, so nicely.  We spoke for a little while, then had one other time to visit, but that was all for now.  We did discover we live fairly close to one another, and I know we’ll connect some time, but it was just lovely to see Carol in person, to ask about her sons whom I’ve read so much about, and be happy to hear their news, too.  I am looking forward to more!
         More connections are what I want to share about today. 



 At the conference I focused on non-fiction as much as I could, and the first session I attended (after the keynote) was with Tony Stead, author of publications on teaching reading and writing, including Is That a Fact?: Teaching Nonfiction Writing K–3; Reality Checks: Teaching Reading Comprehension with Nonfiction K–5; Good Choice!: Supporting Independent Reading and Response K–6; and Should There Be Zoos?: A Persuasive Text. 
          Also, one teacher with whom I work has asked me to help plan a non-fiction genre unit with her students, helping them improve their approach to this genre as well as do better in their research.
          And today, Cathy Mere, of Reflect and Refine, has joined two of her own blogger friends to host a non-fiction picture book 10 for 10 day, TODAY, where others link up to post their favorite non-fiction picture books.  I’ve joined the fiction picture book day before and discovered so many wonderful books that I couldn’t refuse this one.

           Thus—connections!  I was so impressed with the words Tony Stead spoke. For your information, he shared that all the appendices of his book Good Choice! are free and online.  You can find them here!  Included in these are some handouts from what he calls RAN (Reading and Analyzing Non-fiction).  It’s similar to a K-W-L chart, but Tony’s idea takes it a bit further. 
              The chart itself is here.    He suggests taking large pieces of paper where the student has plenty of room to write, drawing the chart, and then folding it up when it’s time to store it for another time.  Headings include Content, What I think I know, C (for check-marked confirmed), M (for misconceptions), New facts, and Wonderings.  I haven’t tested it with students, but think that the idea of actually having a place for students to confirm information with a simple checkmark means a good reminder as they move through the research.  The sources are kept on another list.
               One further idea shared by Tony for organizing this was that the teachers in his school used blue and red folders for the research.  These are the sentences telling the meaning of the colors:  “If it’s red, it’s still in my head; if it’s blue, it must be true.”  He stressed that this is still one more way for students to remember to check facts, not just continue with what they “think” is true. I am willing to give this a try, perhaps tweak it as I work with it.  I liked the way each part of research was stressed as important.
             Please let me know if you’ve used this method before, or what you are using for non-fiction.  I understand it takes much direct teaching in each part of the research, and if you have some special ideas you’ve used, I’d love to hear them.

          And, you can access my contribution to the 10 for 10 favorite non-fiction picture books here, on another post.  As an overview, they are able to show students that information can be communicated in a beautiful variety of ways.

photo credit: Ravages via photopin cc

31 comments:

  1. It's amazing how people keep coming up with new ways to support the learning of students. The ideas never stop. I am happy for your meetings and connections.

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    1. Thanks Terje, I hope you get some use from them!

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  2. I love the RAN chart and the way you get so excited about learning new things. Thanks for sharing--I am going to try out the RAN chart soon.

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  3. So glad that the conference went well, Linda, and that you were able to meet Carol - what a happy meeting that must have been! And thank you for sharing what you learned, too. We're reaching the end of our unit, and I have so much to think about and review for next year. I like the structure of RAN chart, too - our kids need lots of guidance with this unit.

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    1. I know you've been doing a long non-fiction unit, & that it takes so much direct teaching. Perhaps this will work into another time? Thanks Tara.

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  4. Thank you for the link and the great suggestion about organizing informational texts!

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    1. You're most welcome, Anita. I'm excited to see where this leads!

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  5. Linda,
    This is a resource I will have to return to. I just finished up a nonfiction unit, and had trouble with a student who insisted he knew the information. He didn't have a source. I think the chart would've helped me tremendously. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I think it's very clever Margaret, & want to see if we can make it work. Thank you!

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  6. I LOVE your connections Linda. I hope we get to meet face-to-face. I'm going to that June conference in Indiana, I think. You?
    Bonnie

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    1. Going to try, Bonnie. I'm in the mess of getting my old house ready to sell, etc. I hope I'll be free of some of those kinds of things by then. I know some slicers are going! What fun it would be!

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  7. Such great connections! I spent a whole day with Tony Stead 10 years ago and he introduced the RAN to me. Since then I have promoted that structure over the KWL with teachers. The teachers love it. I think a key is having the focused content on the left side. It directs the kids thinking as they create the what I think I know. Now I must head to your other post for your nonfiction choices.

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    1. Elsie, I am thrilled that you've used this & recommend it so highly. I was much enamored when he spoke, & now am sorry I didn't know about this earlier! Thanks much!

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  8. I was so excited to hear that you heard Tony Stead in person. I love using RAN with our students and it has been very successful at our school from kdg through 5th grade. Of course, the little ones are doing it together for the first couple of years. Thank you for the folder also sharing the folder idea. I will suggest to my friend who I've been including with this year. xo

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    1. So I am excited too that you use Tony's RAN concept with success. I'm embarrassed that I didn't know about it sooner! Thanks for sharing with me!

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  9. So cool! I know I struggle with my students when they are sharing what they know about a topic. So many times they ask "can I just put it in if it's something I already know?"

    I keep guiding them to verify it in a source before putting in into a presentation - but they still don't quite get it. To them, if they "know it" then that's good enough!

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    1. Yes, & we also have students who are knowledgeable enough to "add" logically to the info, just not verify it. It's a challenge to show them to dig deeper in order to substantiate the information. I'm excited to try this method of keeping track. Thanks, Maria.

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  10. Thanks for the great links! I LOVE Stenhouse Publishers- you can preview and read so many entire books online there. Currently I'm in the middle of Word Nerds, and it's full of ideas for vocabulary study and the celebration of words. I looked at your non-fiction list and bookmarked the link to Reflect and Refine, and I can't wait to see all the lists of non-fiction and to go back and check out the fiction lists, too.

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    1. You're so welcome! I think I'll be reading and listing all week long! Cathy has other lists too-FYI!

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  11. The chart looks neat! Thanks for sharing all these good ideas, as always! I am constantly amazed at your passion for your work and the ideas you share!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. This latest came straight from the conference-very fun to see new things that sound so good!

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  12. Thanks for sharing the appendices to Tony's book with us. I saved some of the forms to my electronic files.
    I've used some online notetaking charts, but my students loved taking notes last year with notecards. We used colored cards for source cards and then white cards for notetaking. My sixth graders found that taking notes on note cards by subtopics and then organizing the notecards before writing was a great system.

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    1. I had some middle school students (when I taught) use notecards too. It's what I used in high school & college & the ability to re-order the cards is terrific. Thanks for telling me what works for you Ramona!

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  13. Thank you for these great links! I love Tony Stead's work--Reality Checks is an old favorite of mine. How neat that you ran into Carol! Sometimes it's tricky recognizing people and I enjoyed how you wrote your thinking and question out. I can hear it! More and more it seems our world is shrinking --what an unexpected delight to share some time with her in person.

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    1. So funny that all this time I missed about Tony Stead-just too many others I guess. I will be researching more of his work for sure! So glad to hear you have used some of his ideas too, Lee Ann. And-it was great to meet Carol. I hope things can settle down so we both will have more time. Thanks!

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  14. Sounds like the conference was great in many ways - from wonderful workshops to wonderful connections!
    Thanks for the links - great handouts.

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    1. Thanks Beverley, I hope you find more than one of them useful!

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  15. Great post, Linda. I think this conference will keep your engine full of ideas for a long time. How wonderful that you connected with Carol! I'd love to know more about the NF book-writing process. I appreciate the links you posted from Tony's talk.

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    1. It's so interesting! I do know most of these things, have been reading many of the current writers about teaching for a long while, but I am much in love with tweaking what goes well so that it is better. I guess that's what makes me love teaching. Yes, I loved the conference! Thanks, Laura!

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  16. I have been getting behind in my reading of nonfiction lately, Linda, and I feel so remiss about that. It's been quite awhile since I've joined Nonfiction Monday, I hope I can remedy that soon. :)

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Having a conversation is a good thing!