Sunday, June 30, 2013

Warming Up for July Reading Institute at TCRWP with an E-mail to Kathy Collins

Hi Kathy,
It is so great to hear from you.  I am in search of some of some of the items, but below are thoughts re: the questions that you posed in your e-mail. I am looking forward to a great week! Do you have a twitter handle - mine is @rscalateach. Thank you for reaching out and giving me this space to reflect.

Best,
Ryan

1) Where do you teach and what grade will you be teaching next year? How long have you been teaching?  If you're not a classroom teacher, what is your role in your school?
I teach in East Hampton, NY in a K-8 school known as Springs School.  It can be found at www.springsschool.org.  I have been teaching since September 2002 so this upcoming year will mark my eleventh year as a teacher.  I have taught fourth grade for the past ten years and will be teaching 3rd grade next year.  This will be the first time I am attending a primary advanced section at a summer institute.  

Also, this upcoming year will mark the third year that I will be serving as a Literacy Co-Coordinator K-8.  Therefore, while I will be attending with a teacher’s hat, I will also be attending with the Literacy Co-Coordinator hat so that I can provide additional support for our K-2 teachers. 

I aspire to work as a staff developer with the TCRWP in the near future.  I was fortunate to find the project early in my career, and the TCRWP has been a source of knowledge and inspiration throughout my career.   We are an affiliate school with the project and our staff developer, Colleen Cruz, works with us several times across the year in grades 3-5.  In addition to our work with Colleen, we will have the support of a staff developer at K-2 next year.   I have had the privilege of hearing several of your keynotes over the past ten years, and love the blend of humor, inspiration, light-heartedness and wisdom embedded in them.  I am looking forward to spending the week learning alongside you and am delighted to be part of this group as we dig into this topic together.

2) What are your questions/concerns/issues about writing about reading/response to reading that you would like us to think about during our work together? Or what is your point of interest in this topic?
The idea of writing about reading has always been of interest to me and I want to study closely the possibilities of what this work might look like at the primary grades, in that, teachers at K-2 in my school have expressed the challenges of having kids use post-its, stop and jot and write about their reading in these earlier grades.  

I want to be able to support these teachers and show them the value of this work. 

The following are some questions that I have re: Writing about Reading and Helping Readers Craft Authentic Responses to Reading:
1. How can we ensure that writing about reading enhances the experience and is worth the time that it would take from reading?

2. What are some different options we can share with readers for managing the materials that support the work of writing about reading (think marks, post-its, charts etc.)?

3. At what point (grade), would we introduce readers to keeping a reader’s notebook? What are some of the differences between how K-2 readers would use the notebook to support their reading life versus 3-8?

4. Which (and how do the) components of Balanced Lit could support the writing about reading work students are doing (reading workshop, interactive read aloud, shared reading, guided reading)? How can social structures (reading clubs, partner work) support and further the writing about reading students are doing?

5. What are the horizons within the reach of K-2 readers in terms of interpretation and deeper reading of texts? What would a continuum of growth look like across the grades so that teachers could have a sense of what aspirations we might have for writing about reading across the grades?

6. One of the biggest challenges of writing about reading is that it often lacks audience with the exception of the teacher or a reading partner, what are some authentic genres for writing about reading that we can use with our K-2 readers?

7. What are some portable tools that we can make/use to support writing about reading in conferences and during small group work?  How can we design our classroom environment to support independence in writing about reading?

8. Technology is currently something I am very invested in so I am curious about how (and if) we can use technology and social media (Twitter, GoodReads) to support even our youngest students in responses to texts?   

3) What kinds of things do you need as a learner when you're participating in professional development?  In other words, what would help to make our five days together work really well for you?
I appreciate multiple opportunities to share thinking with partners and small groups of teachers. I like to leave these sessions with something to bring back to the school and artifacts that document some of the learning that we did, along with artifacts that I can use in the classroom to support students with their own writing about reading work.  

I learn through ‘doing’ so I appreciate a balance of seminar, and workshop where we have opportunities to plan and lead (practice) mini-lessons, conferences, small groups that will support student’s writing about reading.  

Summer is the perfect time to nourish our own reading life so I also value time spent reading both adult and children’s literature so that I can practice the work and speak to it as an insider, but also just to have the gift of enjoying stories and sharing our thoughts, questions, and insights about books with others.

4) What are your teaching strengths and struggles?
I think that a strength that I have is that I love getting to know students and connect with them as individuals, learning their interests and bringing that into our lessons, and conversations to boost engagement and motivation (but also just because I love getting to know the kiddos as 'little people'). 

I also have a deep investment in and ever-growing knowledge base of reading and writing workshop. I love to read, but I feel sometimes I am a bit unbalanced and read a lot of professional literature, when I should be reading more adult and children’s literature (reading for the sheer love of it).

I think that I can tend to take myself and the work we do too seriously and so sometimes I forget to find ‘the fun’ in my teaching.  

I feel like the pressures are so HIGH these days that sometimes it crowds out purpose and intention – almost causing me to lose sight (at times) of the reason I do what I do in the first place.

5) What are you looking forward to this summer?  
This year was one of the toughest of my career and I am looking forward to recharging my batteries and learning alongside like-minded colleagues.  I am attending the July Reading Institute and August Writing Institute.  I look forward to sunny weather, spending time at the beach and cherishing the time to read, write and spend time with family and friends.  

I hope to walk into the school in late August both refreshed and raring to go with fresh ideas and insights that will make me a stronger teacher than when I left school in June.



From: Kathy Collins 

To: Kathy Collins 

Sent: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 5:38 PM

Subject: 2013 July Institute on the Teaching of Reading

Greetings, Everyone!

My name is Kathy Collins, and I'll be your section leader for your morning advanced section at next week's reading institute at Teachers College.  Our section title is officially, Writing About Reading:  Using Talk and Writing to Lift the Level of Comprehension.  I'm revising the title slightly to:  Responding to Reading: Teaching Children to Make Meaning and Find Significance in their Texts, Their Talk, and Their Ideas.  I will cover topics and details around 'writing about reading' but I also want to take a wider view of what is gained when K-2 children to respond to texts in a variety of ways. 

I'm really looking forward to our days of working and thinking together.  In looking over our roster, we have so many educators working in diverse roles in settings from all over the world.  It will be so wonderful to put our minds together to consider how to make response to reading (especially writing about reading) work for all learners...and all teachers!

In an effort to plan for days that will be closely tailored to your needs and interests, I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind answering a few questions:

1) Where do you teach and what grade will you be teaching next year? How long have you been teaching?  If you're not a classroom teacher, what is your role in your school?
2) What are your questions/concerns/issues about writing about reading/response to reading that you would like us to think about during our work together? Or what is your point of interest in this topic?
3) What kinds of things do you need as a learner when you're participating in professional development?  In other words, what would help to make our five days together work really well for you?
4) What are your teaching strengths and struggles?
5) What  are you looking forward to this summer?  

Also, could you bring the following to  Teachers College, if possible ? (I know that some of you might be far from your schools at this point.)
a) an artifact from your classroom that means a lot to you or that represents you as a teacher (or a sketch/photo of an artifact)
b) a photograph (or a few) of your classroom and of a part of your school that you love (if possible)
c) your favorite read aloud book (picture book, chapter book, anything goes, as long as you and your kids LOVED it)
d)  a grown-up book you're reading 

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider these questions and list of items.  If you are able to respond before the institute begins, that would be great! I wish you smooth travels.  See you next week!

Warmly,
Kathy Collins

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