Student brilliance: “rose-colored schema”

Rose coloured glassesInstead of a general reading response, I ask my students in Culturally Responsive Teaching to complete CSQs–claim, support, question–on their reading.  Because the work of culturally responsive teaching often means knowing yourself, your position on various topics/issues/challenges, and confidence in those positions, it isn’t enough to summarize a reading.  I spend the first 3 or 4 responses getting most students to actually stake a claim. Then we build depth in their support and thoughtfulness into their questions.

But there are usually at least a few students who, though their own life experiences, already have a well-developed sense of cultural responsiveness.  I’m gifted with a few this semester and one, in her second CSQ, coined a term I’m going to chew on for awhile: “rose-colored schema.”
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Culturally Responsive Teaching

I teach a class with that title.  How cool that my program has a class with that title? Given that UIW is a Hispanic-serving institution, and most of our preservice teachers go to work in schools where the majority of the students are children of color, the class begins to give them the language, strategies, curriculum, and support for teaching in a culturally responsive way.

Also, the content of the course isn’t tested like the assessment and pedagogy classes are.  The content in those courses factors heavily in the Pedagogical and Professional Responsibilities certification exam.  I have more freedom because CRT isn’t PPR’d.  So, I can talk about testing influencing curricular and instructional choices because I navigate that particularly convoluted map as well.  Specifically, this lack of testing means I can choose a really cool book, have my students listen to podcasts (This American Life for life!), and do book clubs.

The course isn’t without its challenges, of course. Continue reading

More Mentor Texts (always)

I know, I haven't talked about why I love Giraffe Can't Dance.  Trust me, it's great.

Too many great books to talk about.

More wonderful work with classroom teachers and we’re continuing to talk about finding mentor texts–texts that are at the instructional level of the student, engaging, and include the ‘thing’ that you’re trying to teach the student about writing.   That’s a tall order so, naturally, teachers look for support.  There are a litany of books written for teachers about mentor texts, many of which are great, and publishing companies sell supplements to their textbooks that  include mentor texts, most of which are terrible.  All those books have a real challenge, though:  mentor texts need to arise organically from readers deeply engaging with reading and wanting to turn their writing into that type of thing they’re reading.  Just because a published author–or me–says that a books is a great mentor text doesn’t mean that it will work for any teacher in any classroom with any group of students.

That said, I want to help.  So I’ll offer a few picture books that I use as mentor texts.  Picturebooks are great because the text is often short, the pictures can support student comprehension, and the writing is usually phenomenal because very few words have to do a lot of work.  If you teach secondary students, the bonus of picture books is that they hearken back to a time when students liked reading and being read too (I didn’t spell it wrong, look!).  And, as long as you do it often and select high-quality ones, they won’t feel talked down to.

Below the fold: perspective, genre, ellipses, and lists.

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