Wednesday, December 13, 2017

For the Love of Mentor Texts - Teddy Kuhn



Welcome to another guest post in my series For The Love of Mentor Texts here at Teach Mentor Texts. I love to talk about the power of mentor texts to impact our writing but I'm thrilled to have friends share how they use mentor texts for a fresh perspective. Today I'm excited to welcome Teddy Kuhn to to share how she uses cartoons to inspire students to write.

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

*********************************

Elaborating with Cartoons as Mentor Texts

Students can give opinions all day long, usually very strong and sometimes logical opinions.  The point is opinions are natural for humans, we grow up being asked; what’s your favorite? What’s the best? Was that scary? Funny?  So why is it in argumentative essays student writing often feels flat and bland?  If you’re like me, you’ve read thousands of essays where students’ arguments are simple repetitions of an opinion.   And if you’re like me, you write on the paper, “Why?” and “What does this show?” and “Tell me more about this.”


Finally, you get to the end of the stack and instead of being relieved they’re all graded, you’re frustrated because no matter how many times deepening questions have been written, or written “TELL ME MORE”, students just don’t “TELL ME MORE”.  So it finally dawned on me (It took a while) that maybe students don’t know HOW to tell me more or what could be said.  It was time to start really thinking about what elaboration is and what it does because it is more than just more.  


In the early days I began with comic strips straight from the funny pages of the newspaper.  I gave kids a copy, let them read, listen to some giggles and asked “Is this funny?”


We practiced this a lot, with a lot of cartoons, it’s quick and students like it.  Best of all it did help with their writing.  However, with Common Core the standards for argumentative writing became more rigorous and more defined than they previously had.  I needed to step my strategy up, because even though it helped students see what elaboration looks like, it didn’t help them understand what it truly does.  


That’s when George Hillock, Jr’s book Teaching Argument Writing truly saved the day, week, unit, all of it.  This is really a remarkable book! It has become one of my staple professional development books.  Hillocks helped me really understand the components of argument writing and how they work together.  The book helped solidify what I knew, taught me the new language of CCSS and gave me the tools to actually teach it.  LOVE, LOVE this book, find a copy!


Anyways, Hillocks suggests using crime scene cartoons! (Is there anything more satisfying than finding out you were on the right track??) I use Lawrence Treat’s Crime and Puzzlement, each cartoon in this book comes with a brief story that includes more clues.  Share it with students and simply ask, “What happened? Was this an accident?” As students begin developing theories guide them to the picture and ask, “How can you tell?” This time when students are asked for more, I was really asking for a comparison. Students are really answering, “How does this compare to what you know about the world?”


Suddenly their answers will include ideas about how this evidence shows it couldn’t have been an accident because it would be impossible to occur naturally.  And, almost like magic, students are answering, “why?” and “telling me more” using logic, warrants and reasoning, even if they don’t know it yet!  I’ll later use these cartoons and conversations to define the key elements of argument writing.  Students are more likely to transfer this elaboration when they know exactly what that element is, does and sounds like.




Unfortunately, if you do teach younger students these cartoons aren’t appropriate.  I recommend the classic Goofus and Galant cartoons. Ask students which character is doing the right thing and which is doing the wrong.  Then, to encourage elaboration and reasoning, ask students, “How do you know that’s the right thing to do?” Students’ answers will include their experiences and values in comparison with the characters, so even at a young age the elaboration and reasoning muscles are being strengthened!


I recently discovered Zen Pencils and love how they are taking inspirational or thought-provoking quotes and turning them into cartoons. It really brings them to life and helps give readers another lens to consider as they discuss. If you aren't familiar with this site, I definitely recommend it as well.


A big thank you to Teddy for taking the time to share her love of mentor texts!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/11/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I'm still listening to Bad Feminist and it's so so so good. We've been reading Jon Scieszka's Knucklehead as a family and we crack up every night. It's so funny. 

Reviewed Last Week:
I was on a podcast!
Thanks to Renee Powers for interviewing me for her Wild Cozy Truth podcast.
I also blogged about the The Danger of a White Story over at Story Exploratory.
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'll be listening to Bad Feminist and possibly diving into a reread of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. It always puts me into the holiday spirit!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

For The Love of Mentor Texts - Beth Sanderson


Welcome to another guest post in my series For The Love of Mentor Texts here at Teach Mentor Texts. I love to talk about the power of mentor texts to impact our writing but I'm thrilled to have friends share how they use mentor texts for a fresh perspective. Today I'm excited to welcome Beth Sanderson to share how she finds and organizes mentor texts.

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

*********************************

Finding and Organizing Great Mentor Texts


Summer is a time to relax, recharge and read. But teachers never really take the summer off. Twitter and Facebook are filled with posts by teachers sharing a “must read” book or a noteworthy article. If you are like me, you clip articles and save posts, thrilled to add to your classroom mentor text collection.


When September rolls around, however, who has the time to sift through the list of arbitrary articles clipped or Facebook posts saved?


Taking a little time during the summer to consider the organization of your mentor texts will yield a system that puts texts at your fingertips when you need them.


Here are some ideas (along with a few good mentor texts) for organizing:


1. Select one or two locations as a repository for written mentor texts. The single most effective step I have taken to make mentor texts easier to find is selecting two platforms to house my texts. Evernote, a digital organization tool, and Google folders have simplified my teaching world.


Evernote (or its kin Microsoft OneNote) allows you to create digital notebooks filled with individual notes. Evernote is accessible from any device and once installed, is quick to open from anywhere. When you open my mentor text notebook, you will find lists of articles, stories or links organized by genre and/or intended use. Evernote allows you to “clip” or save PDFs from the web into any notebook. Therefore, if I find a digital article I want to save, I immediately file it in the correct notebook.


For example, right now I am revisiting the joy of the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and Textbook. Ordinary Life is a unique memoir written in encyclopedia form and Textbook is her thinking organized into textbook chapters. Both books are written for adults but there are plenty of pages appropriate for the classroom. Her work offers students a whole new world of creative writing. Rosenthal’s website www.whoisamy.com has a complete PDF of Ordinary Life uploaded! In Evernote, I have added pages of the text to several genre notes so I remember the text can be used in more than one way.


If you use Google folders, consider creating mentor text folders by teaching unit or genre to share with your teaching team and spread the wealth.

2. Employ apps that ease article “clipping”. Technology has made saving mentor texts much easier. In addition to clipping articles through Evernote, I use the app Pocket. Pocket is found in the app store or at https://getpocket.com. Pocket allows you to grab articles, videos, images, charts and more from any site. Opening my saved Pocket folder always sparks a note of creativity as I scroll through the gems I may have clipped on the fly while on Twitter or a news site.




In Pocket, you can add tags to saved items, star favorites or sort by type of media (article, video or image). One step worth taking is copying the links for mentor texts and adding them to a word or Google document listed by genre or lesson plan. Otherwise, Pocket will serve as a creative treasure chest like your grandparent’s attic.


3. Make a YouTube channel for videos. Inspiring videos or ads can be the perfect addition to a class lesson. Rather than just writing down a URL or inserting the video in a power point, consider creating a YouTube channel. I can’t believe how long it took me to take this step but now I have nicely organized playlists on my channel built to match my classroom use. The channel can be private or public. When you find a video you want to save, simply hit the plus sign (+) when you are logged in and YouTube allows you to create or select a playlist for the addition.


Some of my favorite videos are:


4.  Have a set of folders, by genre, for hard copies of articles.  I read several physical newspapers and magazines weekly. Reading physical papers allows one to savor stories and find treasure. Additionally, I often clip infographs and small items that I would miss scanning The New York Times online. One recent gem was the cover story in the NYT Review of Books about poetry revision that included edited pages by poets such as Billy Collins.




However, a pile of clipped articles can quickly become a mess. Consider creating a set of folders by genre to house the clips. Then, when you need a piece, finding just the right article is a snap.


5. When creating units or lesson plans, build a playlist of mentor texts on one page. To make lesson plans as flexible and responsive as possible, I like to have a number of mentor texts to personalize the learning experience and help each student find a way into a skill or topic. During lesson planning, consider creating a Word or Google document with your objective and a long list of links to videos, articles, books or stories to serve as mentors for students. Finally, place the “playlist” document in the appropriate Evernote or Google Drive folder for easy access in future units.


As summer winds down, I am reading away. Having a store of strong, well-organized mentor texts has changed my teaching. I can’t wait to see what I find!

Beth Sanderson is an 8th grade English teacher and instructional leader at Swanson Middle School in Arlington, Virginia. When not teaching, Beth goes everywhere with a book in her hand. Her classroom has been featured in The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, the Book Club for Kids podcast and NEA Today. Find her on Twitter at @bbsand.

A big thank you to Beth for taking the time to share her love of mentor texts!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/4/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Ack! I did a lot of writing last week but didn't get to much reading unfortunately EXCEPT I did start listening to Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist and it's so so so good.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm excited to listen to more of Bad Feminist and get back to reading Braving the Wild and Aru Shah and the End of Time!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/27/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I finished Rhyme Schemer and Solo and Ronit and Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin. Woo hoo! I also read a new picture book I heard about at NCTE, When A Bully Is The President and the Zen Pencils book for kids. I've been telling everyone I know about Zen Pencils because it is awesome! 

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm excited to focus on reading Braving the Wild and Aru Shah and the End of Time this week!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Friday, November 24, 2017

What Do You Do With a Chance?

Title: What Do You Do With a Chance? 
Author: Kobi Yamada  
Illustrator: Mae Besom 
Publisher: Compendium Inc 
Publication Date: January, 2018
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: This is a story of a child who isn't sure what to make of a chance encounter-then discovers that when you say yes to new experiences, amazing things can happen. 
What I Think: I'm a fan of having a growth mindset and discussing what it means to have a growth mindset...but that doesn't mean living a growth mindset is easy. Doing something new and taking a risk is actually really hard. In fact, I don't think we talk enough about how difficult it actually is. I love how What Do You Do With A Chance? gives readers the opportunity to think about how hard it is. 

I blogged recently about using my voice to speak up and how hard it was because it's important to see how hard it is. I hope people recognize when they have a chance and that they take advantage of any chances that come their way, but I completely understand how hard it is. 

As a mentor text, I would use this book as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas for personal narratives with kids. Sometimes we don't see how important our experiences are in writing. If students can see how their memories are valued, it helps them see themselves as writers. But also, we don't always want to write about a struggle or how it felt. And guess what? Most often, writing honestly about struggle makes the most interesting stories. 

Snatch of Text: "Then I thought, 'Maybe I don't have to be brave all the time. Maybe I just need to be brave for a little while at the right time.' 
Writing Prompt: Write about at time in your life when you took a chance. How did it go? How did it feel? What did you learn from the experience?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Enticing Hard-To-Reach Writers Blog Tour and Giveaway


     "Do you want to go for a walk?" Ruth stood over me, standing close, an urgency in her voice, like the time was now. 
     "Sure." I stood, making sure my things were settled and followed her outside.
     We were at a Choice Literacy retreat, surrounded by forests with trails and a glistening lake. Ruth and I wandered down a path and into the woods, getting to know each other the further we went. 

     Just this weekend, I walked with Ruth at the NCTE annual convention but this time our feet traveled over the rain-soaked sidewalks of St. Louis. We know each other well now so our conversations are less getting-to-know and more what-do-you-think, what-if, and how-about-this? 

     Even though the kinds of questions we ask each other have changed, the urgency is still there. Ruth is a determined woman and that's one of the many qualities I love about her. She sets the bar high for herself and others and she gets things done. 
     Because Ruth is who she is, this book is a beautiful tribute but also a call to action. She shares how hard the work is, how possible it is, and how necessary it is. Weaving personal stories and professional experiences together in her new book Enticing Hard-To-Reach Writers, Ruth invites us to walk alongside her on this journey of teaching writing. Don't worry, she'll guide the way.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"We are all changing. This is life - constant change. 
The intent is to move toward better versions of ourselves." (p. 29-30)

"Humans are wired as storytellers. Our brains use story to make sense of the world. Unfortunately, the stories children tell themselves are too often inaccurate." (p. 32)

"Our classrooms may be the last place where healing is possible for some students. Writing workshop may be the only opportunity for their voices to be heard." (p. 34)

"When teachers write, we stop creating assignments and begin cultivating a community. Writers thrive when surrounded by people who write. I know this, so I surround myself with writers. I love to talk with writers about writing. I can't believe how different we all are: I write to a word count, but my friend Tam says she'd never do that; I write at home, but my friend Jen writes at Starbucks; I keep a physical notebook full of sketches and lists and maps and notes, but my friend Franki keeps most of her thinking electronically." (p. 48)
(Hey! I think that's me! I'm Jen and I loooooove writing at Starbucks!)

"When we unlock the writing process of ourselves, 
we become prepared to guide students as they do the same." (p. 49)

"It's a misconception to believe that there are writers and nonwriters, 
that some people can write and others can't.
Everyone can learn to write.
Everyone can put words on the page.
And everyone struggles with wanting to not-write." (p. 57) 

"Writing workshop is the best vehicle for students to become the kind of people who are positive world changers." (p. 67)

Links

Be sure to visit all the stops on the blog tour!
11/13 - Clare & Tammy - Assessment in Perspective 
11/15 - Michelle Nero - Literacy Zone 
11/17 - Leigh Anne Eck - A Day In The Life 
11/20-  Mary Helen Gensch - Book Savors 
11/22 - Jen Vincent - Teach Mentor Texts 
11/27 - Julie Johnson - Raising Readers and Writers