Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Quick Tips List for Developing a Literate Community

So you are getting ready to plan for your FIRST unit of instruction Building a Literate Community. What does that mean, anyway? Is literacy only about reading and writing? The short answer is: No. Literacy consists of 5 components:  Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Viewing To build a fully functioning “Literate Community” you must intentionally plan lessons and teach to develop your students in all five capacities. How might you do this?
To being consider how you will grow your literate community, begin with the end in mind. What do you want for your students at the end of this year? What can you set them up for prior to going more deeply into specific instructional focuses within the upcoming units. Here’s how.

    • Think about the ways you want your students to encounter and interact with text, writing opportunities, media, and engage in discourse (a.k.a. conversation: dialogue and discussion).
    •  Design lessons that build in a way that will support your growing readers in thinking about ALL types of text.
    • Offer opportunities for students to hone there skills to summarize or retell a text you read as a class (to build your classroom community, or a mentor you will return to later in the year), make predictions before and within a video you are showing, consider the most important point of the text or story, ponder the author’s main points of a nonfiction text or video clip, play around with the author’s message, make connections to things in their life.
    • Throughout the day or over the course of the week, have kids write in a variety of modes (We are beyond the days of ONLY writing our personal stories at the start of the year. Some of our students thrive when they can write about their passion for parrots or offer opinions on interesting topics.)
    • Introduce mentor texts so students can hear the great writing BEFORE they analyze the text they will encounter later in the year as a reader and writer.
    • Establish shared discussions (turn and talk, table talk, share square, etc.) throughout the day.
    • Develop a sense of quality writing by reading a variety of examples and non examples and having them talk about the writing to decide how it “measures” up to the standards they wish to write up to as a writer. This will pave the way for rubrics.
    •  Reintroduce Stoplight (Step Up to Writing) in your language and in theirs by encouraging students to "slow down and tell (reason, detail, fact)" and "stop and tell more (explain or give an example)" as they share orally about a topic. 
    • Handwriting should be neat, but
      writing can be messy. There is no formal
      way to "do" the writing process
    • Consider courteous writing and the impact of expecting it right from the start in ANYTHING they write. From Kindergarten forward, students have been expected to capitalize the first letter of a sentence, use ending punctuation, and spell word wall words correctly (for goodness sake, they are up on the wall!). The expectations extend from there. The responses you accept showcase the rigor in your room- how do you measure up? 
Now that you're ready to try out these tips, along with your own great ideas, keep in mind the "mess of success" Though you may waver from the end you have in mind, struggles occur along the way, yet every single day is chance to know better and do better. And as Ellin Keene once said, "it's in the struggle that we come to understand." Best of luck to you as you build your community of literate learners!   

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