Thursday, February 25, 2010

Harry Potter Book Talk

The Reading Workshop presents another book talk, this one by Kasi for all of the fantasy fans, and especially those that love Harry Potter.  To see all of the book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Great job, Kasi!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ella Enchanted Book Talk

Beth shares a book talk for all of you fantasy lovers. Watch as she describes Ella Enchanted written by Gail Carson Levine. To see all of the Reading Workshop book talk videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

If you enjoy fantasy, fly into Beth's recommended book, Ella Enchanted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hey Kathy Schrock, How About Share and Share Alike?

Recently a site linked to my Student Blog Rubric.  I am always pleased when someone finds something of value on this blog.  In fact, one of the greatest benefits of blogging is the sharing of ideas and opinions among bloggers. All items on this blog, The Reading Workshop are licensed through Creative Commons.  This allows anyone to use anything of value with attribution.

I was  shocked by Discovery Education and the fact of how they limit use. I can't help but wonder how they can post a link to my site and so many others, for all to use, but at the bottom of their site they state:

©1995-2010 Kathleen Schrock. All rights reserved.

And the terms of use state:
Except your own User Submissions, the materials available to you through Discovery Education Media Share are the property of Discovery or its licensors, or of other users of Discovery Education Media Share, and are protected by copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws. You are free to display and print for your personal, non-commercial use information you receive through Discovery Education Media Share. But you may not otherwise reproduce any of the materials without the prior written consent of the owner. You may not distribute copies of materials found on Discovery Education Media Share in any form...

Probably the easiest thing for them to do is just blow me away, never link again, and pretend I don't exist.  However, the just thing to do would be to share and share alike.

So there is no misunderstanding, please feel free to use anything you find of value on this site.  I would appreciate attribution.  Please see the link below to answer any questions.

This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons License.

Travel Team Book Talk

If you are a sports fan, this book talk shares a book you might really enjoy.  Jake is discussing Travel Team written by Mike Lupica.  This is the latest in the series of book talks by students in The Reading Workshop.  To see all of the videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

Thanks Jake for sharing a book with a great story!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chasing Yesterday, Awakening Book Talk

Students in The Reading Workshop are continuing to share their book talks.  To see all of the videos, you can visit The Reading Workshop Book Talk Wiki page.

In this video, Madison shares one of the most exciting books ever written, Chasing Yesterday, Awakening written by Robin Wasserman.

This three book series is filled with adventure. Thanks for sharing Madison!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We Need Jesse Stuart, Right Here, Right Now

I was reading The Thread That Runs So True again recently.  As I read this novel, a couple of Jesse Stuart's thoughts hit home.  He discussed the inequalities of education in eastern Kentucky in the early 20th century.  As a teacher in a district dealing with a building levy failure, and facing the challenge of getting an income tax levy passed again, I couldn't help but wonder how we could have come so far, but have so far to go.

In this autobiography, Jesse Stuart tells of his life as a school teacher in rural Kentucky in the 1930-40's. The book focuses on his efforts to make positive changes in education and the  influence good teachers can have on their students. Many of the stories are funny, others a little sad as he tells of the challenges his students face to become educated.

He states:
I couldn't understand why a child born in the city or town should have a better education than a child born among the valleys or on the hills.  Why shouldn't a boy at Sassafras, Kentucky be as well educated as a boy in Boston or Manhattan?  It seems to me, the democratic public school system needed some democratic reforms. 

As I read this, I thought about the 100 year old building that my students come in to every day.  The one where they walk down three flights of stairs to the basement to go to the bathroom.  Where the floor in the gym has broken tiles and waves like the ocean on a breezy day.  While in every surrounding district, in every direction, student go to school in brand new buildings, with large rooms, and every convenience.

Stuart also says:
I love the state of Ohio because the people move.  They do things.  They don't wait.  They believe in progress.  And at this time it was debatable whether Ohio or California rated tops in the nation's schools.

I love teaching at Laurelville. The teachers I work with are unbelievably dedicated.  The staff wants to be here. And the students are absolutely the best.  They work hard and achieve with amazing success.  

But, after reading Jesse Stuart's stories from 70, 80, and even 90 years ago, I can't help but wonder, where is the equality in education?  Why do students all over the state and the country have new buildings?  Why do students in so many other schools have the latest technologies?  Do the students of Laurelville deserve any less?

Dairy Queen Book Talk

In dramatic fashion, Hadley shares her thoughts about one of The Reading Workshop's favorite books this year.

Enjoy her book talk about Dairy Queen written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Thank you for the exciting book talk of a great read Hadley!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Takeoffs and Landings Book Talk

Students in The Reading Workshop are continuing to learn and progress with their efforts of sharing their video taped book talks.  Our hope is to build a video library that students can browse as they search for a book to read.   

In this video, Hannah Hop shares one of her favorites Takeoffs and Landings by Haddix.

Thanks for sharing a great book Hannah!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Student Book Talks Become Part of The Reading Workshop

Students at The Reading Workshop are going to begin recording book talks whenever they read something that they want to recommend to their peers.  Hannah was courageous enough to volunteer to be the first to have her video posted online.  The videos will be hosted at Schooltube.

In this book talk, Hannah shares Found written by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Great job Hannah!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reading Strategies, Using Prior Knowledge Part 2

Yesterday's class focused on Using Prior Knowledge to help students read and understand their SSR book.  Today in Reading Workshop, we will look at how this skill appears when reading nonfiction.

Good readers constantly try to make sense out of what they read by seeing how it fits with what they already know. As you are reading, think of connections to the text from your experiences and background knowledge.

This article is from MSNBC/Washington Post.

This winter's extreme weather — with heavy snowfall in some places and unusually low temperatures — is in fact a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation.

Read the entire article here.

As you are reading, list facts/information that you know that enables you to comprehend this article.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reading Strategies, Using Prior Knowledge

Imagine picking up a book written in French.  How much would you understand?  How about the same book in English?  Even if there are parts you don't understand, you could get the gist.  This is because you know enough of the words to help you comprehend.

What you know is a key to understanding as you read.  Using background knowledge, or your experiences, help make connections to the text, and then comprehension increases. Good readers constantly try to make sense out of what they read by seeing how it fits with what they already know.

As you are reading, think of connections from your experience to the text. This is the foundation, that will help you understand new facts, ideas, settings, and characters. As good readers read, they think about what they are reading and consider how it fits with what they already know.

New facts or information only makes sense when we connect it to what we already know. Using prior knowledge helps make sense of the text.

As you read today in Reading Workshop, consider what you already know that helps you understand your book.  What facts and information (prior knowledge) are you using to understand the text?
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reading Strategies, Connect with Your Book

Good readers constantly make connections. As they read each paragraph, each page, each chapter, they relate it to their life.

Making connections to things the reader already knows helps understand what they are reading and relate to the characters and events more deeply. The purpose of connecting with text is to help use what the reader already knows to understand new information.

Here are the start to connections.

This is similar to my life . . .
This is different from my life . . .
Something like this happened to me when . . .
This reminds me of . . .
This relates to me . . .
When I read this I felt . . .

This reminds me of another book I’ve read . . .
This is similar to another thing I read . . .
This different from another book I read . . .
This character is similar/different to  another character  . . .
This setting is similar/different to an other setting . . .
This problem is similar/different to the problem in  . . .

This reminds me of the real world . . .
This book is similar to things that happen in the real world  . . .
This book is different from things that happen in the real world . . .

Students, as you read today, what connections did you have?

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A Wimpy Movie Coming Out

On April 2, 2010 the movie based on Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid will open.  For all of the students in Reading Workshop that have read the series, this should be a funny and exciting show as Greg faces all of the challenges of middle school and growing up.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Reading Strategies, Ask Questions for Comprehension

Good readers must get inside the book.  For comprehension to occur, several reading strategies must take place simultaneously.  Students must connect with the book--the characters and the setting.

The reader must visualize, picturing events as they happen.  Predictions must be made, evaluated, revised, and then renewed.  Prior knowledge must be related and compared.  Students must constantly question the story, the characters, and the events.  When all of this happens at once, usually without the reader consciously thinking about it, comprehension happens.

One skill that is particularly important is asking questions.  Students must wonder, examine, doubt, and inquire as they read.

Examples of starts of questions might include:

How will the problem . . .
Why did she . . .
I wonder what will happen when . . .
Does this look like  . . .
Why did that character  . . .
How will she solve  . . .
Where are they going to  . . .
Who will be the one to  . . .
Why did the author . . .
Why didn't he  . . .
If I was there I wonder  . . .

Students, as you read today, what questions did you have?

Dreams for Your Future

This school year is half over/still half to go.  As the new semester begins, take a minute to think about your goals.  This poem, Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes describes facing the challenges to a greater life. 

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

What hopes and dreams does your family have for you? What challenges are ahead of you (stairs to climb)?  What do your parents want to see you accomplish?  How do they picture a better life for you?  Do they see your life ahead half full or half empty?  What successes do they hope for in your future?

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Student Blog Rubric

As the grading period ends, Student blogs must be assessed.  For those striving for excellence, here is the expectation.

Student Blog Rubric

Basis for Scoring

--------------------= =

4 or A

  • Concise (3 -4 paragraphs) with a specific focus
  • Shares thoughts, ideas, or opinions
  • Opening grabs the readers' attention while introducing the point of the post
  • Specific details support the main idea
  • Has a "So What?", theme, lesson, or specific point that attracts the readers' attention
  • Demonstrates detailed understanding of the blog topic
  • Positive tone engages the reader
  • Picture that supports post with attribution
  • Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization is correct

The rest of the rubric can be found at The Reading Workshop Blog Rubric.

For examples of students' blogs that earned a 4, check out these sites:
Hannah's Hideout
Hadley's Planet
Ian's Corner
Bethanie's Word
Hannah's Hangout
Katey's Corner
Kaitlyn's Cave

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tell the Story of Your Street

Chicago author Nelson Algren said, “A writer does well if in his whole life he can tell the story of one street.”  Chicagoans, but not just Chicagoans, have always found something instructive, and pleasing, and profound in the stories of their block, of Main Street, of Highway 61, of a farm lane, of a path sometimes traveled.

The best poems draw us in and make us part of them.  Images bring us into the author's world.  Write a poem that tells the story of your street, path, road—real or imagined or metaphorical.

Thanks to Eye of Amoeba for a link to the University of Chicago's Essay Questions.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blogging for Teachers Made Easy

Roberta Caudill and I had the opportunity to share our blogs and some blogging basics at the Logan Elm Schools waiver day.   Here are some ideas and a few links to help the beginning blogger.

This video by Lee LeFever of Common Craft explains what a blog is, and how it works.

Getting a blog is easy.  All you need is an email address. You can sign up at  Blogger, Wordpress, or Edublogs.  Blogger and Wordpress are free.  Edublogs is free but has ads on it. All are fairly easy to use and have similar features.  One disadvantage of Blogger  is on the top of each page there is a Next Blog link which will sometimes take you to inappropriate sites for a school blog.  You can disable this using HTML code in the layout.

Pictures make a blog much more attractive, draw in the readers, and frequently help make a point.  Three excellent sources for pictures that have Creative Commons License (which makes them legal to use on your blog) are Pics 4 Learning, Wikipedia Commons, Compfight Images.

I prefer Compfight Images because it uses the library from Flikr, but has a filter that keeps the pictures student safe.  You can also choose the picture size.  I prefer the small size--usually around 200 x 200 pixels.   Just save them to your computer (right click and then save as).  Then, click on the image button on the new post tool bar, and upload to your blog.  Be sure to give credit to the photographer.

Whether a blog is used as a means to communicate with parents, as part of instruction, or to improve students' writing skills they are a valuable tool for all teachers.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Poetry for Self-exploration and a Special Kind of Fame

Who are you?  Do you know yourself?  One of the greatest aspects of poetry is the way it helps the writer explore his/her thoughts, ideas, and opinions.  Feelings need to be understood and analyzed in order to express them.  This poem is an example of one author's ideas about being famous.

Naomi Shihab Nye

The River is famous to the Fish

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
if famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole,
not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

What do you want to be known for?  In what way do you want to be famous?  Rewrite the last two stanzas to reflect your view on being famous.

Start by thinking about 2 things:

1.  I want to be known for . . .

2.  I am going to show this by . . .
     The reader will see this by . . .

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Poetry, Just Dig In

Poems are built on ideas, experiences or emotions in a condensed form that makes the reader search for understanding.  The reader should slow down, think about each line and the words in it, and then reread and reconsider.

However, to understand poetry the reader must not go gently, but should attack.  As we begin to spend time in Reading Workshop with poetry/word study, students must overcome their fears and dive into the language of poetry.  Whether it be as a reader, analyzing the work of others, or when revising their own work, students must go full speed ahead.  They need to take the advise given by Eve Merriam.

How to Eat a Poem

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice
that may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

What is Merriam's point?  What about the poem makes you think that?  What thoughts do you have when tearing into her poem?

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