Tag Archives: Vicki Vinton

Standing on Shoulders


By Jennifer Serravallo

The Writing Strategies Book started shipping this week. I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the positive responses and enthusiasm from so many. Before you all get this book in your hands, though, I need to get something off my chest:

This book would not exist were it not for a community of friends, mentors, colleagues and teachers—giants—whom I’ve been lucky to know. I want you all to know them, too.

My most immediate teacher and mentor around the teaching of writing is Lucy Calkins. I first read her books in college, leaned on them heavily throughout my years in the classroom, and eventually was lucky enough to spend years with her at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Her contributions are deep-reaching—not only in writing curriculum and workshop methods of instruction but also as a mentor to so many who have gone on to inspire others. If you asked Lucy, though, she’d probably tell you she stands on the shoulders of her mentors, chief among them Don Graves. I came to Graves’ books, such as Writing: Teachers and Children at Work, many years after being introduced to Lucy’s books, but through Lucy, I was learning from this work years before going directly to the source.

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The Teacher You Want to Be: Vicki Vinton on Importing Reggio’s Practice

We could begin, for instance, by seeing books themselves as rich provocations, rather than as tasks or assignments to be dispatched and completed, since every good book invites its readers to consider what it might mean. And since a provocation, by its very nature, is intended to spark thinking along with both curiosity and puzzlement, we might also want to reconsider some of the practices we implement when reading—such as doing a picture walk, reading a back blurb, or providing a brief summary or background knowledge for the text—which, in the name of making a book more accessible, often have the unintended effect of dampening a child’s curiosity and puzzlement by simply revealing too much. Instead, we could use that curiosity and puzzlement to set students up to explore— to notice and question and develop ideas, which they could then test out and revise, just as Laura, the preschoolers, and the five- and six- year-olds did. And to get a more concrete feel for what this could actually look like, read the following example from a New York City public school class of third graders I had the chance to work with.

—Vicki Vinton

The Teacher You Want To Be: Essays About Children, Learning, and Teaching, edited by Matt Glover and Ellin Oliver Keene, will release October 22nd.

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The Teacher You Want to Be: Vicki Vinton on Critical Thinking

Like independence, freedom, and innovation, engagement and critical thinking are things we say we believe in and want our children to experience, but once again, our practices don’t always support those goals. And if I were to hazard a guess as to why that happens, I think it has to do with a lack of trust. Like time, trust seemed abundant in Reggio—trust in children, trust in teachers, and trust in the process of learning itself—while it often feels lacking here.

All the measures and rubrics we’ve put in place, for instance, to hold children and teachers accountable suggest a lack of trust, as does our obsession with standardized testing as the only means of assessing whether students are actually learning. The predominance of packaged curricula—which turn teachers into lesson deliverers, not designers of learning opportunities—also points to a lack of trust in teachers’ judgments and own critical thinking abilities. And the focus on children’s deficits—what they can’t do, rather than what they can— combined with the excessive use of scaffolding suggests we don’t actually trust that children can do a lot without us.

Vicki Vinton

The Teacher You Want To Be: Essays About Children, Learning, and Teaching, edited by Matt Glover and Ellin Oliver Keene, will release October 22nd.

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Your Heinemann Link Round-Up for the Week of September 13–19


Welcome to the Heinemann Link Round-Up. Like apples from a tree, these links are ready to be picked and baked into a crisp. Enjoy them!

These links are interviews with educators, posts from our authors' and friends' blogs, and any interesting, newsworthy item from the past seven days. Check back each week for a new round of finds!

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At MiddleWeb, Glenda Moyer reviewed the second edition Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Learning by Pauline Gibbons.

Eavesdropping on second graders in science class, we hear students doing experiments in small groups, preparing to present their results to classmates. Gibbons notes how the teacher “leads from behind,” asking questions to encourage generalizations, giving students more time to think, recasting student responses, modeling alternative forms of appropriate language that facilitates writing in the last stage. Explicitly teaching vocabulary, she modifies her sentences to include literate talk, which can serve as a “bridge” to more formal wording that is appropriate for writing later.

Click through to read the full review

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Rebekah O'Dell and Allison Marchetti, coauthors of Writing With Mentors, will participate in the #ELAchat Twitter chat on September 29 at 7:00 p.m. CST.

Click here for more information

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On her blog To Make A Prairie, author Vicki Vinton wrote about beliefs, books, and being true to yourself.

To begin that work, we collaboratively created a Statement of Beliefs, a document that captures a baker’s dozen of tenets that reflect the group’s jointly held beliefs about how children best learn and how, therefore, teachers and schools need to approach teaching. For each of these thirteen beliefs we provided a more in-depth explanation as well as a description of practices we currently see in many schools that reflect a very different—and we think problematic—set of beliefs. Then with the help of Heinemann, we invited educators and thinkers from across the field to write essays that would in someway connect to one or more of these beliefs.

Click through to read the full post

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That's it! Be sure to check back next week for another round of links. If you have a link or a blog, be sure to mention them in the comments below. You can also email them to us or tweet at us. We're pretty available over here. Cheers to your weekend!

*Photo by Elizabeth Lies