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Mary Lee Hahn
5th Grade Language Arts Teacher, Reader, Blogger, Poet
5th Grade Language Arts Teacher, Reader, Blogger, Poet


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This is a book that is inspiring me to rethink my teaching practices. Not that I need to do major overhaul, but VV has given me plenty of evidence for tweaks that can make my teaching so much more intentional. The only problem is that, as I read, I get lost imagining how this all could work in my classroom (the problems I would have encountered last year and the work I need to do to strengthen community so the same problems won't happen again) and I lose my place and have to reread!

I am in awe of the craft in VV's writing, as well. Do you remember that volume of the Encyclopedia Brittanica with the plastic overlays of different systems of the human body? I've taken to reading each chapter in three passes as if there are overlays. First I read the main text, then add the layer of the Core Practices, and finally layer on top of it all the sections on Steering the Ship and Considering Complexity. These strata of careful thought, insightful research, and perfect examples are a peek into VV's highly organized, creative, and intelligent brain.

Chapters 5-6--My Reflection (what I sticky-noted):

**Chart on page 63 "How Readers Figure Out the Basics" -- good reminders and/or minilesson/small group topics.

**A lesson to teach over and over and over again: "Sometimes writers don't come right out and tell us exactly what's happening." p. 67-68

**The core practice of noticing and naming. (Key word: PRACTICE. I need to get better at this.) p. 73-74 Also on p. 75 -- the importance of naming both WHAT and HOW readers think and make meaning.

**Chart on p. 82 "Steering the Ship" -- teaching moves to support thinking and meaning making

**Bringing in the author -- focusing readers on what an author might be trying to show us about people and life through their story
reminding readers that it was THE AUTHOR who "made it rain for two weeks, just as she made Rob discover a tiger and have a rash on his legs." p. 104

I'm still left wondering how my principal would respond if I posted our goal as "Complex Thinking Across Standards" and only told him AFTER the lesson exactly which standards were covered that day. Also, what change of habits would it take so that I sat down after every lesson and completed reverse documentation of the standards we'd covered?

I'm a fifth grade teacher in Dublin, OH with many years of experience considering and reconsidering my practices. Vicki reminds us, “The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” (Alan Watts), so I'm plunging, moving, and dancing. (All that work we've spend deconstructing standards and teaching the pieces, though... )

I'm looking forward to the rest of the book for insights into planning and teaching in a completely opposite way, all the while somehow remaining true to what my district expects of my teaching of the standards. Right now I'm getting (metaphorical) hives trying to imagine planning for this new kind of instruction with the 30 (highest number I've ever taught at once) learners projected for my classroom this coming year. But I trust Vicki. And I trust myself. In the meantime, I think I'll switch to DISRUPTING THINKING and see what Kylene and Bob have in store for stretching my thinking. :-)

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Soapbox Moment: Graphic Novels are a Format, Not a Genre 

Also, the give-away is here this week -- Drowned City by Don Brown.
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