Posts Tagged ‘Dynamic Teaching’

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Not really, but I didn’t get the DigiLitSunday post up this morning.  I have my excuses.  Don’t we all?  But the basic reason was self-doubt.  I battle this as much as anyone. Even some of my favorite authors go through this, so why would I expect anything different of myself?

I’ve been trying to keep up with #cyberPd.  This group is reading and responding to Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton.  This week’s posts are around chapters 7 and 8.  I just now finished chapter 7, so I didn’t do all of my homework.  I was reminded by a friend that this is a self-made assignment and if I don’t want to do it, nobody will care.  That is true, but then I had to re-assess why I am reading and writing in the first place.

I want to be a better reader, a better writer, and a better teacher of both reading and writing.  I believe that I should practice what I preach.  So, for better or worse, here I am.  If you did write a digilit post, link up below.  It’s not too late.

Chapter 7, Creating Opportunities for Readers to Interpret, begins with this epigraph:

We search for patterns, you see, only to find where the patterns break.  And it’s there, in that fissure that we pitch our tents and wait.  –Nicole Krauss

Readers do not build interpretations on what is obvious in a text.  We sit in the fissure of broken patterns, wondering, questioning, testing out our theories, and peeling away the layers the author has set up for us.

I feel I have done a disservice to my gifted students in not helping them understand that we don’t always understand.  Julieanne Harmatz wrote in her reflections about Chs. 7 & 8 that we must embrace confusion as part of learning.  Vicki Vinton shows me how to honor my students’ thinking and hold onto it in order to promote engagement, a sense of agency, and ownership.  They need to understand that not knowing is part of the thinking process. And what’s wrong with going back to the text to re-read?

Have you ever had an Aha moment while reading, and turned back to say, “Oh, that’s what that was about!”?   Of course you have.  Because that is how authors grab us and make us want to read more.  By focusing on the process rather than the product (test, essay, whatever), we can mold our students into problem-solving thinkers.

Reading is a transactional act.  The text comes alive in our minds when we interact using our own interpretations and our own hearts.  Then a story becomes real and meaningful.  We can encourage this flexibility of thought within our classrooms.  Vicki Vinton helps show us how.







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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts


CyberPD got well underway this week.  All over the globe teachers are reading and discussing Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton.  I began reading this book back in June and wrote about my first impressions here. 

I understand Vicki’s frustration with the way reading is being taught.  In order to meet the Common Core Content Standards, we have whittled down the process of reading to extracted strategies.  These strategies help teachers deal with gaps that tend to follow children through their learning career; however, they deny the full process of reading, the experience as a whole.

I am also reading Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.  I find the theories in both of these books parallel.  The two books profess that we have taken out not only the whole meaning making process from reading instruction, we have also removed the joy.

Joy of reading is the only thing that will create lifelong readers.  By moving students through the act of reading without addressing how the text makes them feel, we rob them of the experience of seeing themselves in a book or becoming empathetic with someone who is different.

Vicki Vinton professes that we should shift the focus of reading instruction away from text dependent questions to the actual thinking that the reader does.

If our ultimate goal is truly independence, we need students to do much more thinking that highly scaffolded approaches ask of them…students build their identity and sense of agency as readers when they’re the ones doing the work. (p. 23)

At the end of chapter 2, I have highlighted an entire bulleted list of things to remember when planning for more complex reading and thinking.  I paraphrase the list here.

  • Reading is an education of the heart.
  • Meaning is the purpose of reading.
  • Consider how much the author hasn’t said explicitly, problem solve.
  • Help students build their identities as readers.
  • Every student is more than a level. Consider social-emotional needs as well when recommending books.
  • Nothing replaces your own personal judgement about what students need.

As a teacher of gifted students, I find the strict strategy based curriculum does not meet the needs of my students.  My students need more from their reading experiences.  They do not need to be confined by levels or forced to read material that doesn’t interest them.  They rebel against these strict practices.  Vicki’s ideas reflect my own philosophy of teaching.  I know as I continue to read, I will find more connections and ways to enrich the experiences of reading for my students.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

My email inbox is filled with ways for me to improve myself from reading recommendations to Enneathought (how to improve my personality and spirituality) to Choice Literacy.  It was this month’s Choice Literacy email that caught my eye and my idea for this week’s DigiLit topic.

This quote from Atul Gawande was the epigraph to Matt Renwick’s letter.   Quoting from the Gawande’s book Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, Matt outlines 3 ways for us to be better as teachers.

  1. Don’t complain
  2. Write something
  3. Change

These three directives immediately resonated with me.  This school year has ended, and I was having lunch with a colleague in our gifted department.  She said, “We have to do better next year.”

We then began a long discussion of how we could.  One way is we are going to meet together even if we don’t get paid.  As the years have gone by, the education budget has gotten smaller and smaller.  We were once able to meet weekly to plan for the next year and get a stipend.  Does the stipend matter?  Not when we are talking about doing our best for the kids.  We will meet anyway.

I am reading Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton.  Vicki challenges our current thinking about the teaching of reading.  She calls for a change to embrace reading as the complex act that it is and teach the whole child-reader. I am convinced this book will not only improve my teaching, it will improve me.

The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. –Alan Watts

Summer break is a time to rejuvenate and renew what we believe about our own lives as well as our selves as teachers.  This year was my thirtieth year in education. Yet, I’m not best yet.  I continue to talk, write, and change to meet my own needs and those of my students.  Won’t you join me in doing the same?

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