Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ellin Oliver Keene: Words Applied

Last summer, Ellin Oliver Keene was the keynote speaker at The Wayland Literacy Institute. Yesterday she returned to Wayland to present an important focus lesson to K-5 teachers.  She emphasized the fact that immediate application of a learned strategy enables a learner to remember and master that strategy with greater success.

Hence, I’ll use her words from yesterday and immediately apply Keene's wisdom to my class’s reading workshop in the following ways:

  • With rituals, tone, scheduling and discussion, I will deepen my students’ sense that the Literacy Studio matters and will change the way they read “forever.”
  • I will plan focus lessons with greater care so that those lessons last about 15-20 minutes and teach the most important strategies to deepen and heighten students' ability to comprehend text and enjoy literature.
  • Following the focus lesson, students will immediately practice the strategy introduced. Literacy Studio will end with a shared online (social network) or in-person reflection of the theme, “How did I change as a reader today?”
  • I will build more time into my daily schedule for students to practice reading/writing skills and strategies in meaningful ways with wonderful articles, books and texts. To do this, I will integrate social studies and other content areas into the Literacy Studio whenever possible.
  • Small group instruction, “Invitational Groups,” will be flexible and targeted with a focus on skills as needed. I will work closely with my PLC group to carefully create these groups so that students are not left with a feeling that they belong to a “reading level” or group.
  • I will pay close attention to instructional time asking myself, Is this “dead” instructional time or engaging, empowering time that leads to student growth?
  • I will create more time in the Literacy Studio to monitor, confer and listen to individual readers rather than spending the entire time with small group instruction.
  • I will encourage students to read slowly so that they can fully experience the text by seeing a movie in their mind (visualization) and experiencing the sensory images by “smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling” the words and emotions. We will also practice creating this experience for our readers as we write.
  • I wil make more time for read aloud, the chance to model and share wonderful literature.
  • I will continue to think about how I can redesign my classroom so that the learning environment supports the focal points listed above.
Today Keene will model a lesson for all fourth grade teachers. We will have the chance to meet prior to the lesson to discuss her intent. Then we’ll watch Ellen present the lesson to a heterogeneous fourth grade class.  After that we’ll meet again to reflect.  

I’m certain that today’s lesson, in addtion to yesterday’s talk, will change the way I teach reading “forever” thanks to Ellen Oliver Keene and a wise district decision to make this meaningful professional development event occur.