by Stacey Shubitz, September’s Guest Blogger
A powerful way for teachers to embrace diversity is through the careful selection of mentor texts. All students deserve to read mirror books, in which they can see themselves, and window books, in which they can learn about others. This means teachers must have books that represent a variety of religions, races, and sexual orientations on classroom bookshelves during all months of the year, not just the ones with special designations (e.g., Black History Month, Women’s History Month).
Children need exposure to books that mirror their life experiences. Classrooms with minority students need books with minority protagonists. Children with same-sex parents need opportunities to access books with other children who are navigating the world with a family that looks different than the “mom, dad, 2.2 kids, dog, and white picket fence” scenario most books often show. When children see their lives mirrored in books, it allows them to feel safe, thereby giving them permission to write freely about their own lives in the texts they compose. Read more
By Tricia Ebarvia
Speaking on a panel at the NCTE Annual Convention last fall, author Cris Crutcher commented, “Reading Shakespeare is an academic exercise. It’s not one that’s going to get me to love reading.” Though I disagree with him about Shakespeare―I think studying Shakespeare can give us tremendous insight into who we are as human beings and speak to us in profound ways―his remark did give me pause. How many of the things we assign―books, writing assignments―are no more than academic exercises? Read more
If you or your students find grammar a dull or tedious subject, then Grammar Matters is a must have for your professional bookshelf.
At the Philadelphia Reading Council’s Fall Event at St. Joseph’s University, Lynne Dorfman and Diane Dougherty engaged educators in a “let’s talk, let’s practice, let’s learn” style workshop to model ways of delivering grammar instruction using mentor texts. From prepositions and participles to pronouns and punctuation, Lynne and Diane led participants through activities, conversations, and Your Turn Lessons that highlighted the importance of teaching grammar and conventions of writing in ways that empower students, enable them to become more confident and proficient in their writing and communication skills, and embark on a lifelong journey of loving the sound, the power and the importance of words.
We are celebrating the one year anniversary of the PAWLP blog, and what a year it’s been! To celebrate our one year “blogiversary,” we’ve collected some posts from this past year that may be particularly useful to teachers as a new school year begins.
So in case you missed them, here are a “baker’s dozen” – thirteen blog posts with some practical tips and inspiration. We hope that you enjoy reading our blog and encourage you to comment, ask questions, and share your own experiences. We would love to hear from you! Read more
By Lynne R. Dorfman
Women’s roles are constantly changing! As you are reading this blog post, there are women making history and baby girls being born who will be future history-makers. It is important to deliver more than half of the story as we discuss leaders, activists, agents of change, and everyday heroes with our students. While some might think that stereotypes and prejudices have vanished into thin air, they haven’t. Consider the Kappan article published this month,” Deconstructing the Pyramid of Prejudice” where author David Light Shields claims that stereotypical behavior in schools about the sexes are “…as common as pencils.” Read more
by Lynne R. Dorfman
The beginning of the year is a perfect time to choose a multitude of favorite texts to share with students as read-alouds. These selections serve as mentor texts that you can return to again and again for many purposes over the course of the school year. First, begin to introduce these texts as read-alouds. The rich talk that accompanies a read-aloud creates a comfort level and interest in the text, and often, in the author as well.
These mentor texts help students take their first steps as writers in your classroom. They provide gentle nudges to try out new strategies, organizational scaffolds, or write in the persona of another – to name a few. Kelly Gallagher urges us to do more than model. In Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling & Mentor Texts he explains: “Beyond teacher modeling in the classroom, my students benefit immensely from closely examining writing from the real world. … Yes, it is important to show students how the teacher writes, but it is also of paramount importance to provide students with mentor texts so they can see how other writers compose.” Read more