Wendy's Writing Project Blog

A Lesson About Lessons June 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 7:20 pm

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This week’s posts are dedicated to summing up my experiences at All Write 2012.

One should never have to choose between Katie Wood Ray, Donalyn Miller, Franki Sibberson, or others. I walked away with something from each session I attended, but know that I missed out on so much more. At this point, I really regret missing Patrick Allen’s talk on synthesis. I could use his pointers to wrap my head around all that I learned, particularly with Franki Sibberson’s talk on Planning Minilessons for Reading.

Franki gave us a sneak peek at some material in her forthcoming book Planning Minilessons do out this fall. She believes minilessons should be…

–designed to support independent readers by building strategies, skills and behaviors
–based on previous learning
–supportive of the bigger picture of building a community of readers
–active in involving student thinking and engagement
–based on the needs of the current group of students
–as long or short as needed (instead of a prescribed time)
–organized in a way that is friendly to the teacher (she adds schools and districts, but I decline to recognize that as being important)
–grounded in best teaching practices
–aimed at teaching the reader, not the book
–designed by those doing the teaching, not corporations

Franki’s talk supports my current shift of thinking beyond the curriculum or what the corporations put in front of me to use. If you look at my plan book from last year, you would notice that I fell back on what Pearson offered my students instead of what my students may have needed. I’m not saying it is all that bad, but I would argue that it doesn’t always go into enough depth or circle back to the bigger picture of supporting lifelong readers.

Curriculum and standards cannot be dismissed, and Franki showed an example of vertically unpacking the common core in a realistic way and phrasing it with simple vocabulary. It leaves me both hopeful that the daunting task can be accomplished, and longing for that process to be over. I am further frustrated that we have to work harder to interpret something that is suppose to bring consistency.

If I added 13 titles to my reading list from Mary Helen and Tammy’s session on Top Book Picks, I added three times that from this session. Her list of mentor texts for different strategies, behaviors/habits, genre, and literacy elements will be very useful. Her inclusion of exploring the elements with video and wordless books provides great opportunities for differentiation.

If you want to learn more or follow Franki’s work, you should check out her blog, A Year of Reading.

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