Friday, February 3, 2017

Worksheets, Fire, and Text

From Stephanie: The Challenge

Looking for a challenge?  Please join me for an “In Text” Challenge.

In Text Challenge: Find it. Burn it. Proceed.

  1. Find one worksheet assignment or task per day that could be done in text.
  2. When you find that worksheet task, set it on fire, and proceed with the lesson in text. J
In a Foreword to Jennifer Serravallo’s book, The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook, Ellin Oliver Keene askes us to evaluate how our assigned tasks give us information about what readers and writers need.
Guide them wisely....

What are we to make of all of these things and these piles of work? We pour through work samples and assignments to realize that too often we’re not sure what the data or information shows. Is good old-fashioned kid-watching and careful analysis of children’s behavior in text enough for us as we guide them wisely and help them find their intellectual power?

What if we expected our students to use a blank piece of paper, note card, marker-board, post-it, or digital representation to record their thinking or their response to an assigned task as a commitment to a more rigorous expectation?
The best worksheet?
A blank piece of paper

The simple of act of providing a blank sheet of paper or more open-ended task asks students to organize their thinking and generate a plan for communicating their understanding of an assignment or task.

Too often our worksheets offer spoon fed plans for information retrieval. Overly arranged, simple formats hinder the heavy lifting required in rigorous and thoughtful work. Giving them the tool to get organized requires the executive functioning to develop a plan for communication.
How do you help your readers and writers find the right "lens"?

Readers and writers are expected to communicate their understanding of the content or task but more importantly know for themselves that they’re ready for our next reading or writing conference.  They begin to act like photographers, adjusting their lenses and finding just the right “scene” to capture, so they can communicate their understanding. Their lens becomes refined and they develop a sense of how craft and skills work in text. Readers make discoveries that begin to jump off the page.
Maybe we need to develop
a healthy fear of the copier!

Seravallo asks readers and writers to communicate a sense of focus, structure, elaboration and convention work.

Below are some examples of skill or task work in text…along with a great clip from Teacher’s College at Columbia University.

Let me know how your work in text is going….And if you’re spending less time at the copier and more time enjoying conferring! 

A Chair for My Mother, Vera B. Williams…
Great page for small moments, developing setting, and use of commas.

Crow Call, Lois Lowry…
Great page for making small moments big, setting, and character development.

Brown Bear,  Brown Bear, What Do You See? Eric Carle...
Predictable text, pattern work, high frequency words, one-to-one correspondence, and sing-song language work.

Click this link for a video from Teacher's College
Reading and Writing Project
Whole Class Instruction--Rereading Texts

Respond to Stephanie at

Have a great week, HSE.  We hope you take Stephanie's challenge: Find it.  Burn it. Proceed!

Your HSE Teaching and Learning Team
  • Jan Combs, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Stephanie Loane, Director of Elementary Education
  • Tom Bell, Director of Special Education
  • Jeff Harrison, Director of Educational Technology
  • Phil Lederach, Director of Secondary Education


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