Tuesday, July 12, 2016

3 Literacy Mistakes I Have Made

This month's topic for Compelled Tribe is inspired by a tribe member, Jon Harper's radio show, My Bad!  Jon challenged us to his "MYBad leadership challenge - Mess up, fess up, and share with us on My Bad"  Today I am sharing 3 literacy mistakes I have made and how I learned from them.

Weekly spelling tests
Chances are if it is something you did when you were in elementary school, it might be time to reconsider its purpose and effectiveness.  Every child taking a weekly spelling test over the same words does not meet each child's needs.  Simply memorizing words will not have a long lasting effect.  When I administered spelling tests every Friday to the class, many students did not remember these words throughout the school year.

Instead: Children need to be involved with interactive, differentiated word work.  During my literacy block, students select word work based off their assigned color group.  Possible activities include magnetic letters, dry erase boards, Wiki sticks, rainbow writing,  Lego words.  Students work with different sets of words throughout the school year based on readiness.  Remember to not have too many stations out at once.

Leveled Library
In a past experience, the teacher had a large leveled library, but limited choices for students. Students were to only select a certain number of books from the leveled library since they were a "good fit".  Naturally, I thought that there needed to be emphasis on leveled libraries.

Instead: When I meet with students during guided reading or conferring, we read books on their level.    Levels are meant to guide our instruction, not be a "tell all" about a reader.  Guided reading is the time to focus on student's goals and strategies.  Students keep a few leveled books in their book bins, but they also have a book shopping day each week to pick books from our classroom library.  Choice is a huge motivation for students and I love seeing their excitement over books.

My new learning came from:
Kylene Beers

Reading Logs
I struggled with this.  In the past my team and I collected reading logs each month and recorded which students turned in their log with the required parent signature.  I wondered what purpose was this serving.  How was this helping my students?  Student's get tired of recording which books they read and parents don't like the hassle of signing them.

Instead: I conference with each student.  I ask each student how I can help on their reading journey.  The accountability falls within the conference and goal setting.  During read to self, I observe which students are engaged in their reading or trying to find distractions.  I also check their book boxes to see if they continuously have the same books.  Yes, kids are allowed to have favorite books they enjoy re-reading, but they also need to explore new books throughout the year.  As a class we discuss many books with each other.  Students recommending books to each other is powerful!
 Students are expected to read and I can tell if they do through conversation.  I understand some students are motivated by prizes, but my goal is to instill a lifelong habit of reading in my students.  Students can remember books from our conversations.

My new learning came from:
Angela Watson
Pernille Ripp

Growth mindset plays a huge role in my classroom.  As teachers, we need to have the same mindset that it is ok to make mistakes, as long as we learn from them and move forward.