Friday, October 9, 2015

leave 'em hanging

"...finally arrived at Grandmother's door."

and that's the end of
part 1.  tonight, while you're waiting
to fall asleep, you

may find Little Red
lifting the latch of your dreams.
all the better to

be continued

HM 2015 (c)

The Diamond Miners are in the midst of comparing points of view in different versions of well-known folktales--you can guess which one we're exploring this week.  We read slowly, we stop and start, stop and restart, check for comprehension ("BING!"), break the story into Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  I'm finding that at the accomplished age of seven, children are susceptible to relying on what they already know and are prone to "unhearing" new information.  That's why Lon Po Po has been so gripping--familiar but different, and what's a gingko nut?

From an Education Week article on how we pose our questions to support deep interpretation: "teachers often read through a chapter or text selection completely before starting a discussion....As part of the training course, they are learning to plan stopping points where the text is ambiguous and launch questions that get students thinking about what is going on. "We want to teach kids to not just start at the beginning and read all the way through," Matsumura said. "A good reader is thinking about what they are reading as they are going through."" Well, duh.

But my goal is "never a duh moment."  I can't assume that even the high flyers in my class are coordinating all the moving parts that deep comprehension depends upon. We teachers and writers do it easily, but precisely BECAUSE we are skilled and effective literacy practitioners, it can be hard for us to slow down enough to elucidate this "behind the scenes" thinking we are doing as we read.

So again, there is no way I can get through 6-8 texts in a week, and the ones we do spend precious time with better be really good.  So thanks, Trina Schart Hyman, for Little Red Riding Hood, and thanks, Ed Young for Lon Po Po, and thanks  Wilhelmina Harper for The make us want to work hard to be deeper readers.

The roundup today is with Laura at her spiffy new-look blog at Writing the World for Kids--go lift the latch on her door and see what's hiding inside!


  1. "Never a duh moment." Thanks for the reminder that our little ones need the stop and talk time. Sometimes I worry that I interrupt the story flow when I stop. But with this talking time, we become readers together. Nothing better than that.

  2. I like "all the better to/be continued" very much :-)
    "are prone to "unhearing" new information" -- I was surprised by this. You are a great observer.
    One more phrase that struck me: "effective literacy practitioners." Thanks for the food for thought, Heidi.

  3. I watched a lesson yesterday from the teacher with whom I'm working, leading a discussion of why & where we stop when reading, the questions we ask, etc. I will share your wonderful poem with him. Cliffhangers abound in literature, but sometimes the stopping is just to question more. I'd love to see you & the students in action, Heidi.

  4. Fascinating, Heidi. A session I attended at ILA (I think) talked a lot about this. It's so hard to balance wanting kids to read for enjoyment and wanting to strengthen their reading comprehension skills so they can enjoy a lifetime of reading. Both are necessary. Love your poem, especially: lifting the latch of your dreams. Lovely!

  5. P.S. Your Mister Linky link at my blog leads to an error page, so you might want to leave another link?

  6. I'm skeptical. I think that an uninterrupted reading simply for the enjoyment of story is preferable. It most certainly can be followed up by a second discussive (is that a word?) reading. Picture books, being short, can be read multiple times. Or am I not understanding what it is you're doing? (Always a distinct possibility!)

    As Laura noted above, "lifting the latch of your dreams" is a great line!

    1. Diane, I used to think as you do and actually teach my class a "Nooooooo Interruptions!" rule for the first reading. And depending on the text complexity and vocabulary level, I might still do it that way, for the complete experience. With poems, I certainly do the first two readings "whole-cloth" and then we go back and go back again.

      But when your class is full of children for who English is a second language or who have, even at 7, relatively little literacy experience under their belts, a pure enjoyment-of-story experience is already interrupted by general bewilderment. And that's what I'm talking about when I say that we can't assume that because of our awesome readaloud skill that they actually GET what's going on, or what questions should be occurring to them. Many children don't realize that their reading is supposed to make sense! They don't know that they should ASK when they don't know a word, or that confusion is a flag to stop and think, to go back, to ask a question. And that is why our kids who leave K reading "above grade level" on baby texts get to 3rd 4th and 5th and do not become proficient readers. I'm trying to make sure that doesn't happen to mine. : )

    2. Thanks for the explanation! And it makes perfect sense.

  7. Heidi, my theory in the classroom is 'do less best'. Don't apologise for not getting through a set number of tasks. Seep up the good in those that you do and make them rich learning experiences. (And I love your little poem to start!)

  8. I'm going to take Kat's advice to heart and embrace my failures to keep up to someone else's pace with a "do less best" attitude! YAY! (Great take-away on a Sunday morning before lesson planning!!!)


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!