Monday, February 8, 2016


The start of a new quarter brings a new reading class for me. At our school, sixth grade reading is delivered in the content area one discipline at a time, and on my team that means I teach four rounds of memoir every year. For the most part, I really like it: enough time passes in between lessons that I don't feel as if I'm teaching the same thing over and over, but I also have the opportunity to revise and tweak within months rather than years. Plus, as I've written before, every class can be different because individual students react differently to the same material, and in language arts, that's not a problem.

Take today, for example. My students were creating reading strategies posters. They had to read the descriptions of visualize, analyze, evaluate, connect, self-monitor, recall, infer, or question and illustrate the concept without using words. Then they do a gallery walk to "read" the other posters.

Over the last fourteen quarters, I've seen a lot of ways to communicate these ideas, some more effective than others. This morning I took a look at the product two boys were collaborating on. It was a two panel illustration. "He's reading a book," I said pointing to the first side. My students nodded happily. "But I can't tell what he's doing over there," I gestured to the right side of the page.

"He's folding shirts!" one of the boys told me.

I furrowed my brow a moment and studied the poster, waiting for enlightenment. "Is the book about folding shirts?" I asked slowly.

"Yes!" they were excited to confirm my guess.

"Then it's 'Recall', right?" I checked.

"Yeah!" They nodded. "He has a beard in the second picture to show that time has passed!"

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