I'm sure you all know Tanny McGregor. She is the wonderful author of Comprehension Connections - a book I have used and loved for the past four years. If you don't have this book as a go-to on your shelf, hop on over to Amazon right now and score your own copy. I promise you won't regret it, no matter which grade you teach.
Yup, I got my book signed. I'm that girl. :)
Now, as I said before I have used her book for the past three years and have taught almost every lesson out of it. I'm well versed. And yet, her workshop was fabulous! So much of what she said resonated with me and it always feels good to hear someone confirm your beliefs and philosophy around teaching. I took home many new ideas and words of wisdom to teach by. Tanny was beyond personable and so down to Earth.
Here are few tidbits from my notes:
- "Using concrete objects is like teaching through metaphor."Whenever you find a way to introduce a new idea or concept in a concrete and visual way, students will be more successful. We teach math and science with concrete tools first, why not reading?
- "I am going to demonstrate the invisible process of reading while making it visible." Isn't that a cool idea? That's why we think aloud - to make the invisible, visible. Well said!
- Be careful not to release responsibility too gradually. Make sure your students are actively involved in the lesson. Don't just worry about the questions you are going to ask. Will the kids be able to ask questions? When will the kids talk? When will the kids start trying things out and taking on responsibility for their learning.
- "How you spend your time in class reflects what is important to you." As soon as she said this, I starting thinking about how I spend my days. Do my daily activities always reflect what I believe to be important? Do I cut out things I know to be valuable to give more time to the tested subjects? Unfortunately, I have done so in the past. Classroom meetings have been sliced out of the schedule and I'm always trying to find more time for read aloud. What a good reminder when we are being submersed in testing and more testing. It's definitely time to make parts of my day
more sacred and non-negotiable. Teach the child, not the test.
- Inferring is Scooby-Doo thinking! We all CAN do it and it's fun! She reminded us that people are really good at inferencing and many jobs require. For example, police and detectives have to follow clues to solve cases, football players have to infer what their opponent might do and even dogs make inference all the time. Talk about great real world examples to share with the kids.
Artful Reading, features paintings from the past and present that show people reading. The simple text goes over the where, when, and why we read. McGregor suggested using this at the beginning of the year to set the stage for reading instruction.
Trainstop. The book follows one little girl's journey on a train while she looks at the scenery. There is a lot of substance to these books and provides much for kids to talk about. I plan on adding a few more of Lehman's books to my collection too.
Here is another great book to add to your collection for inferencing. Both a book and a song, Halley Came to Jackson is about the true events of seeing Halley's Comet. Some were lucky enough to see the comet in 1910 and again in 1986. What the song doesn't tell you is that the baby on the cover is the woman at the end. Ready, set, infer!
There was so much more to the workshop, but this gives you a little taste. I'm telling you, if you ever have the opportunity to go see her - DO IT! She is returning to my district later this year to work with teachers and literacy coaches. Everyone keep your fingers crossed that she will end up at my school and in MY classroom. Wouldn't that be amazing?!
For more great reading resources, go to ReadingResource.net or if you don't feel like clicking around, click HERE and to directly to the activities that go with McGregor's book. There are FREE templates that go with lessons from the book as well as additional lessons that other teachers have come up with. It is a great resource.
More good news is that she is working on a second book to come out Spring 2013. I can't wait. I wish I could pre-order right now. Her focus for the next book is introducing different genres in concrete ways. Um... yeah... love it!
Finally, thank you Tanny for a worthwhile workshop and sharing your love of teaching reading with us. Both myself and my students have and will continue to benefit from your book and your ideas.