We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit.
I was driving home when I heard the radio spot for 5-2-1-0. Instantly an image of Luke Perry and Shannen Doherty from the 1990s TV show Beverly Hills 90210 popped into my head. As I listened, I realized with relief this was not about the pains and problems of rich kids at West Beverly High, but something much more important.
What does 5-2-1-0 stand for? The campaign focuses on bringing awareness to healthy choices for children and families:
- Aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day
- Aim for 2 or less hours of recreational screen time every day
- Aim for 1 hour or more of physical activity every day
- Aim for 0 drinks with added sugar every day
Wow, I thought, I was more like 3-3-.5-1 yesterday. We’d had orange juice, an apple and carrots for the day, a little more screen time than what was suggested because we watched a movie, only 30 minutes of exercise, and I drank a 7UP to get through the last meeting of the day. Over the next week though I found myself incorporating more veggies and longer workouts into my routine. Because 5-2-1-0 was so explicit, I was clear on what I needed to do to improve.
Fast forward to a conversation with a teacher who said she wanted her first graders to “write more.” We were looking at a piece of writing filled from top to bottom with sentences like, “I play outside” and “Slides are fun.” I asked the teacher what more she wanted.
“I want them to go on a little more in each sentence.”
“Like?” I prompted.
“Like ‘I like to play outside on sunny days’ or ‘Slides are fun because they go so fast, I land on my rear.’ Writing like that.”
“So you want them to add phrases to tell more information and use conjunctions like ‘and’ and ‘because’ to build more complex sentences?”
She paused and then said, “That’s exactly what I want, but I haven’t told students or showed them in a clear way. I keep telling them to ‘write more’ and they keep giving me more writing in the same style.”
Being explicit about healthy living or quality learning helps everyone. Asking ourselves and others, “What do you mean by that?” and “What’s that like specifically?” gets us to the concrete actions we can take to grow.
This week we take a closer look at nonfiction in classroom libraries. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Heather Rader is an instructional coach in Washington State. Her Choice Literacy publications include the book Side by Side: Short Takes on Best Practice for Teachers & Literacy Leaders and the DVD On the Same Page. You can find her “Coach to Coach” blog at www.heatherrader.com.
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Here are two features from the Choice Literacy archives to help you look at the ways you organize nonfiction in your classroom library, as well as the depth and breadth of books available:
Andrea Smith finds value in organizing a classroom nonfiction library with students when she moves to a new room:
Tony Keefer highlights some of his favorite nonfiction books for boys:
If you’re looking for short texts to add to your nonfiction collection, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project has compiled many free digital nonfiction text sets to download and use:
You’ll find great suggestions for Nonfiction Wonder Inducing Read Alouds at the There’s a Book for That blog:
For Members Only
Franki Sibberson launches a new month-long series this week on Curating a Nonfiction Classroom Library:
Our latest cluster is on Nonfiction Writing and features contributions from Ann Marie Corgill, Linda Karamatic, Beth Lawson, Heather Rader, and Franki Sibberson:
This week’s video is a minilesson from Sean Moore’s second-grade classroom on finding topics in writing notebooks:
Katherine Sokolowski has suggestions for organizing and hosting a Mock Newbery Club in the weeks before the award is given in late January:
Middle school teachers Megan Ginther and Holly Mueller focus on winter in short texts as the theme of their December Literacy Contracts in the latest installment of their year-long series:
If you’re interested in more videos and feature articles on nonfiction reading and writing across the curriculum, there are dozens available in the Content Literacy section of the website:
That’s all for this week!