“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you're going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.” Stephen Covey
Often, I am asked, “Where do you start a writing lesson?” Educators will toss out ideas like brainstorming, thinking of the perfect sentence, or perhaps a great grabber lead. You should see the expressions on their faces when I say - “Nope. None of those answers are correct.”
You see, the first step in accomplishing any task is to understand the task at hand. Yes, I know that is a given. It’s simple. Many say, “We already do that.” But - do you? I would whole-heartedly agree that the intention is there to understand the task at hand, unfortunately, in my years of experience in the field, students rarely do.
Stephen Covey said it best - “To begin...
A few years back, our company did a nationwide poll with K-8 teachers about writing. A staggering 87% stated they felt “uncomfortable teaching writing” or there was a “mystery behind teaching writing.”
I wasn’t completely surprised. Every single time I conducted professional development workshops, I would ask teachers about the obstacles they faced teaching writing. The 87% from the poll paralleled the level of feedback I received in those workshops.
Nothing will ever replace “face to face” professional development. I love getting a group of teachers in a room and talking about writing. I love watching their reactions when they have those “ah ha” moments about the writing process. You see, I don’t think PD should be about me lecturing and throwing out theories and what I did in other classrooms. I like to customize PD workshops to fit the literacy needs of a school and show teachers step by step how to...
Are you asking the right questions?
By Darren J. Butler (c) 2023
ARE YOU ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?
The second step in my RIP close reading strategy is “Interpret.” The word “interpret” prompts us to ask questions about what we’ve read so far.
I advocate for students to read passages in smaller chunks. If they follow the “read” step to the letter, the brain is more likely to remember where important information is in the overall passage. Think of it like the GPS on your phone. You can drop a pin on a location you want to go back to. When a student close reads with expression, observes the punctuation, and makes the reading process “active,” the brain will automatically drop pins to remember the location of stand out details.
This is where the “interpret” step fails if you don’t complete the “read” step properly. Several years ago, I was asked to come into a high school and help a...
ARE YOU LISTENING?
The first step in my RIP close reading strategy is “Read.” The word “read” seems incredibly simple, but in fact, we all know - it’s complicated.
When a student starts to read, there are many things happening all at the same time. Word recognition, sounding out syllables, comprehension of word meaning, fluency and much more. But what causes the brain to understand what is being read? My belief in close reading comprehension relies on how students read the words in their mind or aloud. I discovered that if they read like a “zombie robot” with no expression, reading comprehension is pretty much out the window. However, if students read with expression - in their minds or aloud - reading comprehension soars. Every single time.
How do we foster that skill? How do we get them to read like an actor performing an audio book?
It begins with the title of our article - “Are you listening?” As the...
If you're listening to the audiobook of Radcliffe's Christmas Gift, this is your LAST track. "HARK!" is the song that Jessica wrote and performed at the pageant.
My dear friend, Jan Fincher, wrote this song for the audiobook. It's a take on the traditional carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
HARK! by Jan Fincher (c) 2004
Chapter Eight of Radcliffe's Christmas Gift by Darren J. Butler
NOTE: The last track - HARK! will be released on Friday, December 9th. It is the vocal music track of Jessica and the kids singing the song that Jessica composed for the pageant. Enjoy!
"Hark!" words and music by Jan Fincher based on the traditional carol, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"
Radcliffe's Christmas Gift (c) 2004