Content Literacy Building Knowledge Across the Curriculum – Stephanie Harvey
- To build foundations of knowledge we have to offer children variety; topics, genres, levels. We may be picking the focus that children will study but they will have choice. This is what Richard Allington calls “managed choice”.
- Setting up classroom structures that support collaborative learning is also important to this process. A gallery of choices stemming from songs to expository text and narratives show children that there is a lot to learn and this is sophisticated. This provides a space where students can gather, observe and discuss a plan for their learning.
- Stephanie Harvey demonstrated this work through videos. In the videos, it was clear that the classroom teacher used these structures and it allowed us to observe how students work. The students were engaged, collaborative, and were working with clarity. They were intrinsically driven.
What this means:
- We left there thinking of ways we could expand on this idea of managed choice. We just completed a biography unit of study and students read texts within the span of their person’s life. Students explored text sets including digital text, pictures, poems, informational text, picture books and articles relating to their person and the times they lived in. Our next step would be to explore using lyrics and primary sources to integrate more content in student learning. We both were accepted into The Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute so there will be more to come about this.
- This was a confirmation of the work that is already going on in our classroom. It is easy to have some doubt when your classroom is bustling and kids are working independently. While this can sometimes be challenging, it was great to see that it is being valued by experts in our field.
- As we watched the videos, you couldn’t help but be struck by the reality and power of this type of learning. Open ended questions generate discussion within this managed choice and serve as a springboard for next steps in their own learning. Questioning was not the task it was a scaffold to build momentum for their own learning.
Closing – Creating a World We Believe In – Lucy Calkins
- This was the most inspirational part of our day. Imagine thousands of teachers leaning in with rapt attention. Lucy was talking to every one of us and what she did so well was she tapped into our shared values; ”You don’t give up your Saturday if you are not committed to the work.” Our overwhelming sense was we were in this together.
- We build community through story and Lucy shared the history of the Saturday Reunion as she reflected on the story of her life and how it was interwoven to the narrative of the project itself. As we listened to her tell the story, we realized that we participated in that past and it was our shared history. The bicycle race, Mo Willems, Patricia Polacco and Linda Darling Hammond and we began to reminisce along with the crowd.
- They call it a Saturday Reunion because it is a time for us to come home. To feel “less weird” because: we aspire to be more than what we are, we don’t shirk away from hard work and we are willing to take a risk.
What this means:
- We strongly believe that it’s all about what you value. Our values are deeply connected to the kind of thinking that goes on in the project. We believe in balanced literacy and workshop. This is not an easy road. We come to the Reunion Days to be with others who think the way we do. To get strength to go back into the world and fight for what we value for children.
- It is really generous that the project opens their doors to share their best thinking with all of us and we respond by sharing ours. It is like we are sharing the pen and writing this history together. We are sharing all of our stories together in an attempt to create a narrative of excellence.
- Why do we keep coming? It is refreshing to not have to justify our passionate stance, to be surrounded by people who understand our sense of urgency. These Reunion Days are joyful times for us that we look forward to. This time we recruited someone new, Tom who is a brand new ENL teacher. We will encourage him to come back as he crafts his own story of what his professional life will be.