Studying and Thinking about Powerful Whole Group Instruction: Minilessons, Shared Reading, & Read Aloud K-3
See below for a full transcript of the chat
Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille
One power of reading workshop is the way in which instruction can move seamlessly from whole-group, to small-group, to individual and back again in the span of a class period. Certainly, a reading teacher’s best chance of really moving kids further in their understanding is while working with small groups and individuals, where instruction can be differentiated to meet the needs of the each student. It is not as possible to meet every student’s needs during whole-group instruction. Inevitably, there will be students who are beyond or not quite at the level of whole-group lessons. But these lessons serve a very important purpose, nonetheless. They serve to rally students’ energy around a single, worthy cause. They serve to create classroom community-wide goals for reading and common language to talk about these goals. They serve to get students jazzed up about a new line of thinking, or a new trajectory in their path of work.
Welcome to the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series. This month, we share conversation about the role and necessity of play in learning.
"The skills that are hard to learn, and far more important, are how to get along well with other people, how to control our own emotions and behavior, and how to think creatively yet logically. " -Peter Gray
What is the effect of the decrease in play on children?
Children learn through play by nature; they need play to experiment with problem solving, deal with fear, exercise imagination, learn self control and so much more. In this powerful article from the Heinemann Digital Library, Boston College research professor of psychology Peter Gray makes a strong case for the essential benefits of play. Continue reading →
How do you define play and choice time in early childhood classrooms? According to Renée Dinnerstein,“During choice time, children choose to play in a variety of centers that have been carefully designed and equipped to scaffold children’s natural instinct for play.”
Renée reveals what can happen when you embrace a culture of inquiry, providing opportunities for children to be explorative and creative in their thinking. She believes that, “A child’s engagement is the most powerful asset we have for teaching and learning.” Give your students choice time, and watch them engage in joyful, important, playful, age-appropriate work that will empower them to become lifelong learners.
"The bottom line is when children are at play, they’re not just playing––they’re learning machines, and play is the engine that drives them.” —Renée Dinnerstein
The Writing Strategies Book was released on Monday – February 6th, 2017. To celebrate the book's birthday, author Jennifer Serravallo hosted a special Facebook Live to book talk and take questions from readers. If you don't have access to Facebook, you can watch the video below and The Writing Strategies Book is available now:
Our time in the classroom can be transformative in profound ways. For some, this issue becomes more than dealing with content and students in an ethical way. It expands into a broader realm, that of social justice, as described by Sonia Nieto:
Teachers enter the profession for any number of reasons, but neither fame nor money nor the promise of lavish working conditions is at the top of that list. Instead . . . for many of them, social justice figures prominently among the motivating factors underlying their choice to teach. The urge to live a life of service that entails a commitment to the ideals of democracy, fair play, and equality is strong among many of those who begin teaching. (2003, 91)
Nieto continues, though, to remind us that “teachers are not miracle workers. Nor are they social workers or missionaries.” Instead, “teachers need to understand their roles as involving more than simply attending to the minds of students; it also entails nurturing their hearts and souls . . . to do this without taking on the world of injustice is tricky business . . . an equilibrium that is difficult at best” (105).
When they are motivated, children naturally engage in deep reflection and goal-setting. An example is when they are trying to get better at their favorite sport or video game. They understand exactly where they rank compared to other players. They study other players carefully, trying to emulate their moves. They take in what coaches say, they make small tweaks to improve. They practice, practice, practice. With the right conversations and the right tools, we can teach students to approach their writing with the same level of reflection and goal-setting.