23 Mar Slice of Life: Wait For It … #SOL19 #TWTBlog
I slowly turn the page. I look at the page. I look at them. I look back at the page. I read the words as I shift the book towards them so they can see what is happening with their characters. I watch their faces and listen for a response.Wait for it. Wait for it.
I continue reading adjusting my pace and modulating my voice to match the scene unfolding. I turn the page, this time letting them see it first. And there it is.
I pause making certain they are experiencing what I am noticing.
Readers do you feel it, do you hear it? Right when I turned this page there was a ripple of conversation. You are bursting to talk to each other. That’s what readers do. You seem to have a lot to say, turn and talk it out with your partner.
Reading aloud is one of my favorite things to do with elementary students. It is magical, fun and rigorous at the same time. In my partnership work with schools, we often think about how to choose books, how to layer books, and how to use a book to nudge students’ understanding of an element, device or craft. We spend time choosing books that will resonate with our students and help us teach our curriculum. While we plan how we might use each book, I urge teachers not to overdo it.
When it comes to read aloud in elementary school, I prefer not to plan out where I will model or the pages I will have them turn and talk. As I read the book to myself, I am certainly aware of my responses and my thinking and I use this to think about how a conversation about the book with the students might go. But that is as far as I go. I plan the books I will read aloud, but I don’t plan the conversation.
I want elementary readers to experience authentic response and a purposeful need for a partner. I don’t want turn and talk to be simply part of a lesson, something we plan by placing a post-it note. I want turn and talk to be something students want. Last week at the TCRWP reunion, Annie Taranto reminded us that it is a human trait to need each other. We need a community of others when we do hard things. Turn and talk is not part of a lesson it is what readers do – we think, feel, wonder, and strive to understand with other readers.
I hear again and again …
–the turn and talk is boring
– they are simply reporting out not growing ideas
-they are not talking long
-they seem to just be going through the motions
As I observe what is happening, I am wondering if the problem is the talk or the need to talk. It is hard to have something to say if you don’t have anything to say. It is hard to talk about what you are wondering if you are not. How can you grow an idea if you don’t have one yet? I worry we are spending so much time planning how we want the read aloud to go and teaching students how to have more accountable talk, that we are missing a big part of the equation – the readers themselves. They are the ones who have to have a need to talk, wonder, think and feel with other readers.
For me, the first step is making sure the opportunity to talk is purposeful and meaningful. Getting in the moment with a group of readers and waiting for them to respond. I know they will let me know when they want to talk to someone. Typically, they just start doing it. Rather than calling their attention back, I notice and name what they are doing and let them do it. As the teacher, I need to give up control so they can drive the process. If they are in a habit of turning and talking on command, then I think we need to break the habit of reporting out before we worry about their level of talk. I think kids need at least four weeks of experiencing authentic opportunities to think with other readers.
I do this by finding books I think are
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