Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Slice of Life- A TC Staff Developer Visit

On Tuesdays, Stacey at twowritingteachers.wordpress hosts the Slice of Life. Feel free to participate either by slicing yourself, or reading and commenting on some of the great posts that are linked up to her blog.

I always feel lucky when we have one of our Teachers College Staff Developers come and work with teachers in our district. Yesterday and today, Christine Holley is working with our primary teachers. Because she stays in a hotel close to where I live, I give her rides to and from our schools. She thinks that I'm doing her a favor, but it's really me who gets the perk because I love to listen to any and all of her thinking about literacy and the work that they are doing at the Reading and Writing Project.

Yesterday, Christine previewed the Looking Closely non-fiction writing unit with our kindergarten teachers. I was the designated keyboarder, so I didn't take many of my own notes, but some of my favorite take-aways from our work were:
  • Inspire young children to notice the world around them. When they notice closely, they have things to write about.
  • Wonder with children and teach them the language of wondering to use orally and to use in their writing. I wonder...I notice...could it be...maybe...what if...are all such important sentence starters to push children to think more about the world that we share.
  • Model the joy of sharing our thinking and recording our thoughts whenever possible.
  • Teach children to talk to each other. Speaking and listening are in the CCSS, but, more than that, speaking and listening are critical life skills for developing relationships.
  • Help children develop strategies to have their writing become more and more readable, not only to other people, but also--especially also---to themselves!
In the afternoon, Christine worked with kindergarten teachers about close reading. "How are we planning our read alouds and our shared reading with proper turn and talks so that we can have kids asking what part of the texts made you say that?" she asked. My favorite line of the day, though, was "the only reason we read is to find meaning." Love that. What other reason is there to read?

As I sift through my notes from yesterday's afternoon session, there will be more to come, but for now, that's enough. 

Enjoy the day,


  1. Mmmm. Your visit with Christine sounds wonderful.

    I've been doing a lot of noticing and wondering with my daughter, trying to use the language you suggested. I wonder...I notice... are ones I use. I need to add could it be...maybe...what if... Why not model them all? (Yes, I know she's still a few months shy of three!)

  2. Just copied this into my notebook: Wonder with children and teach them the language of wondering.
    Thank you for sharing today, Melanie.

  3. You are so lucky to be able to have great visits like this. I love the idea of making sure our young students learn to wonder. It is sometimes so difficult to move the older students back into that world of wondering, but this post sparked my thinking about how to get 8th graders using those sentence stems more often. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Lucky you! I am so looking forward to more thinking and learning from you. I think we need to get all ages to notice the world around them. I'm still learning how to notice.

  5. I'm completely jealous! Your take-aways are so insightful. Inspiring our students to notice the world around them is so important but can be such a challenge. Can't wait to read more!