Reading Notebook Inquiry

A lot of kids have been asking about reading responses:

  • What makes a good post-it?
  • What should an entry look like?
  • How should I be using my notebook?
  • What if I don’t have a lot to say about what I read on a particular day?
  • What are other kids doing in their notebooks?
First, I want to clarify that we (601, 602, and I) agreed that students should write four entries each week. We didn’t think there should be a page, time, or days-per-week requirement.
Today students found entries in their notebooks that
  • helped push their thinking or showed a change in thinking
  • showed a new or interesting or new way of responding (to the writer)
  • helped them as a reader
  • were fun to make
  • they just liked
They spread the notebooks out and took a “gallery walk” to notice and comment on what other readers in the room were doing.
Here is a selection of the kinds of entries they shared:
There’s a lot of variety here, and I was so excited to hear them talking about what they noticed and admired in each other’s work!
But it wasn’t all self congratulatory- they also talked about what they hope to do more of in future entries. Many of them expressed a hope to show deeper and richer thinking in their notebooks.
This led us to the questions:
  • What are the purposes of our notebooks?
  • How can they help us to read more deeply?
  • If we are already reading more deeply, how can we use our notebooks to help us keep track of it?
We’ll be returning to these questions over the next few weeks.
This is the kind of day that makes me feel lucky to have my job!

Launching our Year, Part 1

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This year brings some firsts to me and my school:

  • First year with 6th grade (and everything that now having middle school means for our eventually K-8 school)
  • First year departmentalized, which means
  • First year for me teaching humanities and
  • First year for my partner, Melissa, teaching only math
  • First year for my students following their own individual schedules
  • First time I’ve had more than one class, and 66 students to know (I know this isn’t many in the grand scheme of things)
  • First time I’ve had an advisory group (11 students)

As part of this, Melissa and I, the two main core teachers for this grade, wanted to start our year in a completely new way, both for us and for the students. I’ll be writing here about our first couple of weeks, mostly copying what we’re sending to parents (sorry, I just don’t want to write these entries twice for two different audiences, but I wanted to have it here to get feedback from the larger world). Continue reading

A Conversation (or 4) About Play

We gathered as a group to talk about play and the effect it was having on our learning and thinking. The first conversation got pretty complicated, and our notetaker was having a hard time tracking our shifting ideas. We opened Popplet, an app to help in just such circumstances, and started a web. We revised the web each time we returned to the topic. This is the final version.
Play white 2

 

I’m going to let it speak for itself for now. 

I’m on vacation!

XO

Poetry Day 9- One Topic Many Ways

Excited by hearing back from Amy about our efforts, Alexis and Sammy decided to explore topics across several different poems. Watching them do this, and conferring with them as a partnership, has enlightened me about ways to guide children in exploring everything poetry can do. When topic is not a variable, it becomes easier for young writers (at least these two), to see how other variables can work in a poem- sounds, mood, rhythm, speed, quiet, imagery, etc. It suddenly becomes more concrete that all of these things work to support their meaning, and that meaning is really separate from topic.

Look:

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Sammy uses her notebook to explore the significance of these cookies. (PEPpercocker. I had to ask)

Continue reading

Poetry Day 8- Through the Poet’s Lens

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I almost missed this. I found it while flipping through notebooks at lunch.

On Tuesday we talked about what it feels like to sit with a piece of writing and work, really apply effort, to find the most honest, precise, exactly-right word for what you need to say. Finding these words is what makes some images sear themselves into our minds’ eyes, or identify so closely with a feeling, though we might not share the experience, or delight in a new way of seeing something.

Kids tried this out, along with other ideas and strategies, over the next few days. Continue reading