Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.
If one of your favorite activities is walking outdoors, you might enjoy The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley. Before I read this book, I was happy to amble along during my walks, relieved if I didn’t stumble over a tree root on a trail. Reading this book has added so much to my strolls. I notice ordinary things like the color of mud, or birdsong, and what that says about the season or weather.
My favorite section of the book is on rainbows. Before reading the book, rainbows just felt like an occasional stunning and unexpected gift. They still are, but now I can look at a rainbow, and based on the time of day and how much red is in it, predict if there will be rain. And if there’s a lot of red in the rainbow, the raindrops will be bigger and heavier.
The book made me think about how much of the writing at this website is about reading the “natural signs” in literacy workshops. They are all around us in any classroom, but you have to look closely and think deeply to make predictions or even change course. For example, taking a status of the class at the start of a reading or writing workshop can give you a quick record of what’s being read or written, and it’s also a source of instant accountability for students to demonstrate they are working on something.
But the status of the class can also be a great sign of where your class is headed in their reading, how community tastes are evolving, and how you can steer the work. Is there a cluster of students reading the same author who might benefit from a focused genre study to expand their horizons to new authors? Is there a child who has mastered how-to writing, and might be ready to lead the class with a minilesson?
Some elementary teachers I know swear by greeting every child each morning at the threshold to the classroom and looking them in the eyes. That momentary connection tells them who is joyful, who is troubled, and even who might be physically under the weather. And most important, it tells each student they are seen and appreciated before they step into another day of learning.
The problem in classrooms is that there are so many signs to read, and not enough time to read them. It’s no different from a walk on a trail—do you focus on the birds, the sky, the flowers, the mud at your feet? By choosing one specific thing to focus on—when children are entering the room, when you take a status of the class, responses at a morning meeting—you can give yourself an entry point for reading and understanding your students in deeper ways. All classrooms have “weather”—it’s just a matter of learning how to read and predict it over time.
This week we consider how teachers can use the status-of-the-class tool to read the climate in literacy workshops. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Maria Caplin explains how a digital status sheet saves minutes every week that add up to extra hours of instructional time over the year.
Gretchen Taylor finds streamlining research check-ins in her middle school classroom is easy to do when she uses a simple online tool to eliminate a mountain of paper.
Lanny Ball shares a variety of ways teachers can use checklists in literacy workshops.
We’re launching two courses soon to help you get organized for the new school year. Gradual Release of the Classroom Library with Bitsy Parks will help classroom teachers design minilessons and strategies for introducing students to the classroom library over time. Getting Organized for Literacy Coaching with Ruth Ayres will help new and veteran coaches design thoughtful coaching programs. If you’re a Choice Literacy member, you’ll receive 20-40% discounts off the course fees.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Dana Murphy finds that adding page numbers to her status-of-the-class list for reading makes all the difference in assessing students’ growth and needs as readers.
Franki Sibberson uses status of the class each day as a window into her fledgling reading community.
In this week’s video, students in the first-grade classroom of Bitsy Parks lead a morning greeting at the start of the day. It’s a quick activity to check attendance, build reading skills, and help students learn the names of classmates in the community.
In an encore video, Melissa Kolb explains the social and academic value of morning sign-in for preschoolers.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Nothing takes the wind out of a coach’s sails more than flat PD sessions. David Pittman realizes the problem sometimes isn’t what is offered, but when it is provided. He works to create a calendar for the year that reflects the ebb and flow of teachers’ stress levels.
In this quick video, Cathy Mere shares some advice for new literacy coaches.
Steven Handel explains why checklists are so powerful, and gives some simple strategies for creating your own.
What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.
That’s all for this week!