When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.
It was a gorgeous summer night on the waterfront in Maine, and I was part of a large crowd enjoying a concert by a famous eighties pop star. He was well into his sixties, and the clear bright sound of his melodies rang out over the audience. It wasn’t till halfway through the concert that I noticed that the young singer standing to his side and about five feet behind him was never singing in harmony. Instead, her voice was enough of a match to the pop star’s so that it amplified him subtly, enhancing and deepening the quality of the sound. I was surprised at the discovery. We all know that harmonies are beautiful, but amplifying a singular voice can also be potent.
This week we feature articles from Choice Literacy that you’ve amplified over the past year, by reading them and passing them along to others in wide networks. It’s our annual Spring Break edition, with the 10 most popular articles featured from April 2016 through February 2017 in the newsletter. I suspect if you look closely at them you’ll see your own teaching and learning style reflected in the pieces. Many express doubt, vulnerability, and the daily slog of teaching and learning. But they are also infused with optimism and humor. Thanks for making the voices of these authors stronger. I hope they have amplified yours, too.
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
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Ruth Ayres considers what’s essential in writing workshop routines:
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris look at how many “just-right” books as defined by teachers may be about as inviting as a gift of a package of underwear on Christmas morning for many children. They give guidance for redefining “just-right” books to include student engagement:
“Why do you always say ‘Happy reading!’ to us?” This question from a first grader leads Katrina Edwards to develop visual support tools for building stamina during reading workshops in her first-grade classroom:
Franki Sibberson provides a series of questions to help you focus on what students need in classroom and school libraries, as well as how those needs might be changing:
Katie Doherty helps her middle school students make choices for independent reading in Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover:
Out of all the convention errors you might focus on in a conference, how do you make a choice? Heather Rader gives examples of how she navigates the tricky terrain of conferring over conventions with students:
Katherine Sokolowski explains how she spends her time during the first days of literacy workshops in her fifth-grade classroom surveying students to learn their reading histories:
We’ve all experienced that moment in a parent conference. You finish your spiel, which includes assessment data, charts, and an anecdote or two about the child. And when you’re finished, the parent asks, “But how is my child doing?” Melissa Kolb explores the reasons why there can be a mismatch between our sense of useful information in parent conferences and a parent’s expectations:
Struggling readers often do a lot of word work, which can be rote and mind-numbing. Grouping Struggling Students for Word Study is a case study by Shari Frost of a more thoughtful approach:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan describe seven different strategies they’ve seen in schools for fostering more collaboration among teachers assessing students:
That’s all for this week!