19 Jun It’s Monday! This is One Professional Book We Know We Will Read Again and Again!! #IMWAYR
As you can see from this photo, the cover of Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading features a word splash exploding from an open book. Before reading, we only glanced at the cover and dove into the chapters. But once we closed the book, we noticed the significance of these words and phrases. They communicate the core beliefs inside these pages and affirmed our beliefs about how children learn.
The cover of Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading inspired us to choose some words and phrases that capture the ideas we want to continue to ponder as we teach and learn alongside teachers and students:
Learning is Messy
Messy is a word near and dear to our hearts – Just look at the title of our data collection form
In Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading, Vicki advocates for a problem-based approach and urges all of us to embrace the “messiness” of reading. She wants students to experiment, explore, problem solve and test out their ideas, and so do we. In her words, “And if we believe that life is messy and complex, then we need to bring some of that messiness and complexity into our classrooms.” (13)
We couldn’t agree more. Learning is about approximating, making errors, experimenting, and testing theories. It is a messy process, and it is during the messiness that we gain insights into how our students think and possible next steps in their learning journey. We must give children time and space in the classroom to construct meaning, take risks, and experience the thrill of figuring things out.
It’s All About Transfer
Transfer is our ultimate goal when we teach. When we construct lessons, we continually ask ourselves, “What are ways we can support students so they know when, how, and why to apply what they are learning when reading independently?” We want students to read deeply and understand that discovering meaning is what reading is all about.
In Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading, Vicki shares some ideas about transfer so that we can design learning experiences that help students apply new learning in novel situations. She begins by cautioning us about the impact of stress on learning, “Stress… includes experiencing bouts of frustration and boredom, which, like anxiety, have been scientifically proven to cause our brains to shut down, preventing new learning from taking hold” (46). As teachers, we have the power to make learning pleasurable and give students choices. Pleasurable learning fosters transfer as readers explore, discover, and feel ownership for their learning.
Vicki also reminds us that transfer takes time, and learners need repetition. Constantly changing learning targets makes it difficult for true transfer to happen. Learning goals need to remain in place for longer amounts of time so students can do the creative and cognitive work required for transfer. That means in classrooms we need to slow down and make space for students to joyfully practice.
Feedback also has a powerful role in helping students internalize learning. Vicki quotes John Hattie as he describes feedback from the student’s perspective, “just in time, just for me where I am in the learning process, and just what I need to help me move forward” (2012, 123).
Vicki talks about the power of text throughout this book and urges us to broaden the way we choose texts. She explains that we typically choose texts that will cause students to productively struggle on the word and knowledge level. She urges us to also select texts that are complex on the meaning level and don’t pose too many problems at the word and knowledge levels. This way children can experience what it means to problem solve through meaning and can learn to put the details together to develop theories. We love the questions Vicki poses to help us select texts:
“What kinds of problems is the reader facing?”
“What kind of text does this reader need?”
“How can we help this reader develop a more complex vision of reading?” (25)
Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading is a book we will read and reread so we can continue to ponder the layers of meaning in Vicki’s words. In each chapter, Vicki helps readers consider new ways to create opportunities for students to think deeply. As we read the vignettes from classrooms, we could hear Vicki’s voice and picture her instructional moves in our minds. Her teaching vignettes show ways to engage and stimulate learners so they can construct their own understanding and experience the thrill of figuring things out. Thank you, Vicki. We love getting a close look at your teaching!
Do you want to delve into this text with other educators? During the month of July, educators from around the globe will post their ideas and thoughts about Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading as part of #cyberPD.
We can’t wait to learn from others as we reread, reflect, and refine our thinking about this amazing text.
Happy Summer Reading!
Tammy and Clare