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Posts tagged ‘reading’

“Somebody Wanted But So” makes your kids smarter

I’ve been spending a ton of time this summer working with groups around the country, helping facilitate conversations around reading and writing in the social studies.

It’s always a good day when I get the chance to sit with social studies teachers, sharing ideas and best practice, talking about works and what doesn’t. And the cool thing is that I always walk away smarter because teachers are super cool about sharing their favorite web site or tool or handy strategy.

This week was no different. I learned about a simple but powerful summarizing strategy called Somebody Wanted But So.

Summarizing is a skill that I think we sometimes take for granted. We ask our kids to read or watch something and expect them to just be able to remember the content and apply it later during other learning activities. We can easily get caught up in the Curse of Knowledge, assuming that because we know how to summarize and organize information, everyone does too.

But our students often need Read more

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters book is disrupting my summer reading plans

I love my summer reading list.

You know the one. I put together a list of stuff I want to read over June, July, and August. Of course, not once have I ever been able to actually finish the list. I always get sidetracked by something. One summer, I got distracted and went on a whole Civil War tangent. Last year, it was old presidential election books like The Making of the President 1960.

This year’s distraction?

I just ran across the latest by literacy gurus Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. And I have to be honest, not that familiar with their work. I was part of conversation several years ago that focused on their Notice and Note book. But I was hooked by their current title: Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters.

Beers and Probst begin Disrupting Thinking with a quick story about a company called Read more

The best history books of 2016 and personal professional development

During the glory days of the Teaching American History projects, we handed out books like candy. We’d read. Argue. Reflect. Move on to the next. And I’m sure there were some who didn’t enjoy that process as much as I did. I understand that we all learn in different ways but it’s just hard for me to imagine life without books to read and talk about.

Plain and simple truth? You can never have enough books.

Keith Houston in his recent book titled, wait for it . . . The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time, advises readers to Read more

Take a nap. Catch your breath. Read a book.

Kori Green, newly installed president of the Kansas Council for the Social Studies, shared a great piece of advice yesterday morning. Over at the KCSS Doing Social Studies site, Kori suggested that perhaps the best thing you can be doing this holiday break is . . . nothing.

Well. Not nothing. She did say that it would be okay to “read a book, spend time with your family, take the dog for a walk .  . . Take time for yourself and recharge.” I couldn’t agree more. Teaching has always been difficult and it’s not getting any easier. Some serious mental downtime right about now prepares you for a great second semester.

So if you are actually reading this – I’m guessing most of you have probably already left the building – here’s a bit of some similar advice.

I love the holidays. A Christmas Story, Elf, Home Alone. Chocolate covered coffee beans. Sugar cookies. Lots and lots of sugar cookies. Friends. Family. Christmas lights. Straight No Chaser. It’s all good.

But the best part of the holiday break, of course, is the actual break. So grab a book and make time to actually finish it. Much like my summer list, I try to always have a mini-holiday break reading list.

This year? Read more

Summer reading list? Epic fail. Fall learning? 3 ways it can still happen

It really is a noble goal.

I start each June with the idea of working my way through 4-6 books before September that can help me grow professionally and personally. It’s a habit that started way back during my middle school teaching days and it makes a lot of sense – focus intentionally on finding ways to improve my content knowledge and teaching chops.

Of course, it never really happens. I set aside a pile of books – both print and digital – with the best of intentions. But . . . something always sidetracks me from my original list. One year, I got sucked away into a Civil War blackhole. Some years, it’s just that I was too ambitious with my list. Other times, my list turned out to be less than interesting than I thought they would be and I moved onto other titles.

This year? Pretty much the same result – I went four for seven. The theme this summer, of course, was politics and presidential elections. I did actually get through: Read more

Help students find the best evidence, think historically, and become powerful writers

Sarah Tantillo is the author of The Literacy Cookbook: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction. Several years ago, she wrote a useful MiddleWeb post based on her blog The Literacy Cookbook. On the Cookbook, Sarah shares a ton of great ideas about helping students meet the ELA Common Core Standards.

Her original post described a problem she noticed with many of her students:

“One of the things students struggle with the most — and it’s relevant to every grade and subject — is distinguishing between argument and evidence. This problem manifests itself in both reading and writing.

In reading, students often cannot pick topic sentences or thesis arguments out of a lineup; and when writing, they tend to construct paragraphs and essays that lack arguments.”

She went on to describe six steps we can use to move students from “What’s the difference between arguments and evidence?” to “How can I write an effective research paper?”

She outlines six steps that teachers can use to help students create quality, evidence-based arguments. And while the focus is on ELA rather than social studies, the process is one that all of our students need to master: Read more