Start a Reading Revolution in Your Classroom!

How often do your students make true connections to what they are required to read in the classroom?  Do your students react with boredom or frustration when you want them to read?  If so, consider flipping your class through the power of blogging!

There is so much value in what we want our students to read, but sometimes it can be a battle to get them to engage in a successful reading process.  There are many ways to transform reading in the classroom, and one exciting way is through flipped blogging.

A flipped classroom is one where students engage in learning at home in order to have an understood foundation of a topic before returning to the classroom.  Once they return to the classroom, they participate in project-based learning that supports and extends the learning they did at home.  Flipping the classroom with reading as a focus allows students to read in the classroom while the teacher models successful reading strategies.

Overview of the process:

  • Students choose any work of fiction appropriate for their reading level
  • Students read in class 3-4 times a week for 2.5 weeks.  They must read actively, but get to choose their method: index cards, post-it flags, bullet points in their notebooks, etc.
  • At home, students write their blog using the Writing to Learn method.  They have the freedom to craft posts on topics of their own choosing.
  • Every day that they read in class, students blog about the experience at home.

 (Sztabnik, 2014)

Flipped Blogging

For more information, please visit

Start a Reading Revolution: Flip Your Class With Blogs

What Does Reading Mean To You?

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.”
–Frank Serafini

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”
–Kofi Annan
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“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
–Maya Angelou

“The more that you read, the more things you know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go!”
–Dr. Seuss

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
–James Baldwin
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Use these quotes as a jumping off point to discuss the importance of reading with your students and colleagues!

A Review of Effective Teacher Interviews: How Do I Hire Good Teachers?

Effective Teacher Interviews: How Do I Hire Good Teachers? (2014) answers the question with research and an interview-creation process that is user-friendly and a quick-read. This newly released ASCD Arias-formatted book equips and informs readers to construct an interview that is fair, legal, and focused on getting additional information about job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities. The process starts with aligning the interview questions to the job description, continues with writing items to solicit information about past performance (experience-based questions), and eventually concludes with a job offer.

Additionally, Effective Teacher Interviews: How Do I Hire Good Teachers? includes a section on performance interviewing. This is an extra step in the process that is rarely done because of the additional time involved. When a performance interview is added as part of the interview process, there is an opportunity to gain additional insight into candidate’s qualifications.  A performance interview must not be a surprise to the applicant and may be prepared in advance and delivered onsite or as a recorded submission.

For example, candidates could be asked to design and teach a lesson that engages students on the impact of major U.S. waterways on exploration, settlement, transportation, and trade. The interview team establishes the criteria in advance. Evidence of appropriate and challenging student engagement involves students setting learning goals, applying meta-cognitive strategies, using collaborative learning, generating graphic organizers and products, providing feedback and other high-yield strategies, all items found on the SURN Indicators of Student Engagement Tool that is informed by the work of Dr. John Hattie (2009). In this scenario, neither of the two finalists gave unsatisfactory performances. An unsatisfactory performance would have been well-behaved 6th graders neatly coloring and labeling a map of the U.S. waterways. So review the two bullets below and determine who did a better job given the performance task?

  • Candidate A hooked students with a 53-second video about Lewis and Clark’s dog (Seaman) on the expedition, used maps, and had well-organized note-taking sheets about the exploration of several waterways. She moved around the room spot-checking progress. Students listened and took notes.
  • Candidate B used the Jigsaw method. Each expert group gathered information about a particular waterway’s impact on exploration, settlement, transportation, and trade. In their home group they shared and organized the information to compare and contrast the different waterways.

Candidate A had outstanding teacher pedagogy; however, the lesson missed the mark of engaging students, though it did demonstrate the teacher’s expertise at designing a coherent lesson. Candidate B’s lesson design focused on the students acquiring, disseminating, and organizing key information within the context she established. Articulating the criteria by which the lesson would be measured in advance ensures fairness, reduces bias, and focuses the reviewer.

Key take-aways from the book are to plan and structure the interview with care and accountability.

  • The interview is dynamic and responsive to the interactions of the people involved.
  • The interview is a distributive leadership opportunity where you engage your interview panel in contributing to the decision-making process for a new colleague. Training the interview panel will enhance the effectiveness of the interview.
  • The research informs interview design with the inclusion of experienced-based queries, behaviorally-anchored rubrics to assess the quality of responses, note-taking space, and sample quality indicators.
  • The book’s layout with bold headings, bulleted lists, examples, and an Encore section summarizing the hiring process as a “Get Ready, Get Set, Go” contributes to its reader-friendliness.

 

SURN Assistant Director, Jennifer Hindman, Ph.D. wrote Effective Teacher Interviews: How Do I Hire Good Teachers?

 

SURN Literacy Study Group

The SURN Literacy Study Group is a group of literacy specialists and other educators from SURN school divisions who meet monthly to explore strategies to enhance literacy and literature teaching at all levels. Led by Dr. Denise Johnson, Assistant Professor at The School of Education, LSG participants take part in discussions surrounding the do’s and don’ts of teaching reading and writing. Highlights of the group from past years include: designing professional development for teachers, coaching, writing conferences, informal assessments, and reading and writing across content areas.

What do current SURN Literacy Study Group participants have to say about the group?

“I loved being able to connect with others around the area to discuss topics and to gain knowledge of how other divisions are addressing similar issues/structures”

“This group has helped me to grow as a literacy leader and go “beyond my comfort zone” in advocating for “best practice” and “research-supported pedagogy.” It promotes a climate of trust where district representatives are able to discuss challenges and what strategies/practices could best help meet these challenges. This group of professionals is diverse, edifying, resourceful, and supportive.”

“I also think the sharing of resources is invaluable.”

Some key topics to be addressed this year include:

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Does your division have a representative attending the Literacy Study Group this year? If the answer is no, what are you waiting for? Email surn@wm.edu to make the most of your SURN experience!