Wednesday, August 4

2021 Reading Symposium: Nicole Law

Welcome back! 

I hope you enjoyed learning from Nancy Frey and reading my reflection last week. If you remember, my district hosted a three day reading symposium. 

During the reading symposium, half of my morning I spent listening to Nancy. We took a little break, and I raced to complete a Walk At Home YouTube video to get up out of my chair for a while. The rest of the morning, I participated in Nicole's sessions. 

Nicole Law is also a very knowledgeable person, and I loved her sessions, too. My only disappointment was that we ran out of time to learn about the Thrill part of her Skill-Will-Thrill message. 

Knowledge Lunch Menu

There was a study that was done with kids about baseball. The study showed that kids who had a higher background knowledge and vocabulary going into the unit on baseball did much better on the final assessment than kids who went into the unit with lower knowledge. 

Let me show you what I mean.

The fact that the kids who were high in both their background knowledge and reading ability scored the best, that's no surprise. Also, the kids who were low in both scored the lowest. No surprise. Check out the green and blue bars. Surprise! The low reading ability kids scored higher than the kids with a better reading ability, simply because they had more knowledge going into the unit. 

What matters? Background knowledge and the vocabulary you already know. This is why it's important for teachers to teach vocabulary and frontload whenever possible. Knowledge eats reading ability for lunch. I love that quote from Nicole and Nancy!

How's Your FID?

FID stands for frequency, intensity, and duration. 
Frequency: how often are you doing it? 
Intensity: what level are you doing it at? 
Duration: how long do you practice? 

Sometimes, with so many standards to cover and teach throughout a school year, frequency can be an issue. I can't remember the exact number or time frame, but students need to experience a skill or concept multiple times within a short period of time. Then, kids still need to revisit it regularly following that short time frame repetition. If you consider that with all the different concepts we need to cover throughout the year, the task seems nearly impossible. You've gotta be intentional.

At this point, Nicole was talking about questioning and collaborative reasoning. Sometimes it can be easy to not go very deep for time sake. When you want to go deep with students in a conversation, sometimes it takes time to get there. And then once you're there, you want to sit in that space for a while. That's where the intensity and duration come into play. Are we asking the higher level questions? Are we having 1-2 minute discussions or are allowing time for the deeper conversation?

The Will of Reading

My last day with Nicole was spent mostly learning and talking about making learning relevant to students to help motivate their will for reading and learning. Motivation can be a tough nut to crack sometimes. Nicole dropped a few bombs on this. 

Truth bomb #1... Sometimes in an effort to include, the result is to exclude. 

She reminded us that giving students a choice, when possible, matters. Choice matters. It's not always possible, or it's not always the choices they want to choose from, but choice matters. It gives ownership. It's motivating.

I was surprised to hear this next truth bomb because I don't feel like it's said often, but I whole-heartedly agree with it. When we're choosing books and texts and creating lessons for our students, remember that kids have multiple levels of identity

It doesn't have to just be about the way they look, what gender they are, what color they are, or where they are from. Kids have other ways to identify themselves, too. 

Maybe they're a kid who loves space and rockets. Maybe they like cars and mechanical things. Maybe they have lost a parent or close family member. Maybe they have parents who have split apart. Maybe they have multiple generations living in their house.  Maybe they live in a little tiny apartment or on a gigantic ranch. There are so many ways people can identify with a book or text. 

Give your kids an interest survey to try to hit some of those less obvious identities within your classroom and help them flourish. 

I loved this image Nicole shared because there's so much truth in it. I'll leave you with this... 

Side note: You can click on it to go to the original source. The creator (Grant Snider) is actually residing in the same city where I teach! He came to my school to do a presentation for the kids a couple of years ago because he's a dentist who has published several children's books. Pretty cool that his comic found Nancy from San Diego and Nicole from Indianapolis and made its way back to this Wichita reading symposium, where it began!

Just make reading relevant. Help kids choose books that are relevant to them. Relevance is a necessary part of strengthening the will of reading.

I really enjoyed listening to both Nancy and Nicole speak at the reading symposium. If you get a chance to listen to either of them, you should definitely take it. 

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