Tag Archives: Dan Feigelson

Heinemann 2015 Resolutions, Part 3: Dan Feigelson

We asked the Heinemann authors who published a book in 2014 to provide a resolution for 2015. We hope these resolutions–or edulutions–spark a note of self-reflection while lifting you to continue your good, vital work into the new year. Over the next two weeks as we share our education resolutions, we’d love to read your edulutions. Share them with us or follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #Heinemann15. Cheers for a happy new year!

Today: Dan Feigelson.

Reading Projects Reimagined: Student-Driven Conferences to Deepen Critical Thinking

“It goes without saying that if a kid leaves 4th grade—or 8th, or 2nd—without mastering the 4th—or 8th, or 2nd—grade reading standards, a teacher hasn't done his or her job. But at the same time, when kids leave school there is no little grownup sitting on their shoulder, telling them what to think about when they encounter a complex text. Shouldn't we devote at least some of our time teaching kids to come up with their own ideas about what they read, rather than only answering clever comprehension questions from adults? My hope for the new year is that as a field we begin to take seriously the idea that kids should be taught—in school—to recognize, name, and extend their own lines of thinking about books. Here's to freedom of thought!”

-Dan Feigelson author of Reading Projects Reimagined

Video: Teaching a Student to Read Like a Writer

In author Dan Feigelson's book Reading Projects Reimaginedhe shows us how conference-based reading projects can help students learn to recognize, name, and extend their own ideas about text. It is helpful to think of such conferences as opportunities to match a child's thinking to a particular comprehension strategy. 

In today's post adapted from the book, we see Dan conferring with 6th grader Ella. In response to her ideas and noticings, Dan and Ella agree on an assignment to help her practice reading like a writer.

Click here for a sample chapter of Dan Feigelson's new book.

 

Understanding What a Conference-Based Reading Project is Not

In author Dan Feigelson's new book Reading Projects Reimagined, he shows us how conference-based reading projects help students learn to think for themselves. In today's post adapted from the book, Dan describes the common perception of "reading projects" and how conferring focuses student thinking.

Reading Projects Reimagined by Dan Feigelson

The term “reading projects” conjures visions of dioramas, posters, and shoeboxes, and (often) work that looks suspiciously like it was done by parents. In the end, we get a product that may be beautiful to look at, but does little to make the child a better reader. Worse, all those hours spent choosing the right marker or the most attractive font takes time away from actual reading. If we accept Allington’s assertion that “Kids need to read a lot if they are to become good readers” (2006), it follows that any activity they spend time on in reading class—other than reading—had better be worth it.

So what is the difference between conference-based reading projects and those more traditionally assigned in reading classrooms? Probably the most common work assigned to children learning to read is answering questions from a teacher or a program. While skillful questioning is certainly important, true comprehension instruction involves students coming up with—and extending—their own ideas.

It’s not as if the importance of students tracking their individual thinking has gone unrecognized. In many classrooms, students jot their thoughts on sticky notes as they read and stick them on the relevant page. This has the dual advantage of providing the reader with a concrete way to record and connect his or her thoughts, as well as giving the teacher a window into what the child is or isn’t understanding (Tovani 2011). The problem is that in many classes students get carried away, to put it mildly. Some readers end up with more sticky notes than pages in the book they are reading. Consequently, their thinking becomes unfocused or lost entirely.

A conference-based reading project prioritizes students’ emerging thinking and helps them focus on a particular idea. It not only pushes them to go deeper, but also gives them work to do to practice following and extending a line of thinking.

Click here for a sample chapter of Dan Feigelson's new book.

Coming up with your own ideas

Reading Projects Reimagined: Student-Driven Conferences to Deepen Critical ThinkingIn author Dan Feigelson's new book, Reading Projects Reimagined, he shows us how conference-based, individual reading projects help students learn to think for themselves. Feigelson raises an important question about the larger goal of reading instruction: while it’s our job as reading teachers to introduce students to new ideas and comprehension strategies, shouldn’t we also teach them to come up with their own ideas? In today's blog, Feigelson looks at how a reader makes meaning.

Coming up with your own ideas

In order to sustain comprehension and stay interested in longer and more complex texts, most readers go through some version of the following three-step process:

•           First, we notice something worth thinking about.

•           Then, we keep track of it as we read.

•           Periodically, we stop to reflect on it. We think about what we have learned, we make connections, change, or add to our original idea. And sometimes we discard our line of thinking and replace it with a different, more interesting one. Whichever way it goes, our ideas at the end are not the same as our ideas at the beginning.

This last step is the biggest shift for most student readers. Children seldom realize that they are responsible not just for thinking as they read, but also for their thoughts changing and developing along the way.  So if this is what a skilled reader does in his or her head to make meaning—if it is in fact an authentic, independent reading experience—it follows that a teacher would want to spend time in reading class teaching students these steps.  

Click here if you would like to read a sample chapter of Reading Projects Reimagined or learn more about the book.

Asking a student to “say more” leads to ownership

Reading Projects ReimaginedIn author Dan Feigelson's new book, Reading Projects Reimagined, he shows us how conference-based, individual reading projects help students learn to think for themselves. In today's blog, Feigelson demonstrates how to get a student to “say more” about a book.

The video below was shown during Feigelson’s NCTE14 presentation where he shared two strategies a teacher can use to help students recognize, name, and extend their own lines of thinking about their reading. First, choose the most interesting thing a student says and ask them to say more about it, and ask it more than once; second, name the type of idea they are having so that they can take it to the next book, and the book after that. In the video, we see Feigelson demonstrate these strategies with 6th grader Silas. When he names what the young reader is doing, Silas responds by saying more. This process deepens his thinking and gives Silas a feeling of ownership. Take a look:

Reading Projects Reimagined by Dan Feigelson

Reading Projects Reimagined by Dan Feigelson

As you can see, the resulting, rigorous reading project is based on the student's own idea – he has a hand in negotiating the assignment, thus giving a feeling of ownership. Click here if you would like to read a sample chapter of Reading Projects Reimagined or learn more about the book.

Understanding What a Conference-Based Reading Project Is

In author Dan Feigelson's new book, Reading Projects Reimagined, he shows us how conference-based, individual reading projects help students learn to think for themselves. Feigelson raises an important question about the larger goal of reading instruction: while it’s our job as reading teachers to introduce students to new ideas and comprehension strategies, shouldn’t we also teach them to come up with their own ideas? In today's blog, Feigelson explains how to let students know what is expected of them during a conference.

Understanding What a Conference-Based Reading Project Is

Although a conference-based reading project is based on a student’s thinking, the teacher plays an important role in helping to recognize, name, and extend that thinking. The trick is to match individual students with appropriate work to do that will make them better readers and to do so in such a way that they buy in and feel excited.

Most people are more invested in a task when they feel a sense of ownership. For this reason, we want the lines of thinking students explore in their projects to be their own. This is easier said than done; many children aren’t even aware that they are having thoughts as they read, let alone be able to name what they are, or tell a big idea from a small one. The teacher’s role is to help them recognize the ideas they are having, and how to extend them in order to come up with new understandings. “I am not in their heads, nor should I be in their heads,” reflects Joanne Searle, a fifth-grade teacher at Manhattan New School. “I have to take what they’re starting out with and help them shape a project that grows their own thinking.”

As with any effective pedagogy, it is always a good idea to let kids know what is expected on

1. Notice something in the text that you find interesting—and talk about it! For example

•           what a character is like, or what she does

•           something you agree (or disagree with)

•           something you like (or don’t like) about the way the author wrote it

•           a part that seems especially important.

2. Keep track of it as you read, and see how your idea grows or changes. Use

•           sticky notes

•           graphic organizers

•           reading notebooks

•           margin notes.

3. Look back and (briefly!) record your thinking. Once you are done, sum up what you  think. You might do this by

•           writing a few sentences

•           choosing a few sticky notes that go together and writing a few lines about why

•           making a timeline

•           making a diagram, web, or some other graphic organizer.

The teacher’s primary job in a reading conference is to help the student recognize and name his or her own idea. To do this well, we must develop our own ability to listen for and name what children are noticing and thinking about as they read—in a way that is bigger than just the one book. If a student is retelling the plot of a Judy Blume book and commenting on Peter’s complicated relationship with Fudge, a teacher might point out that he or she is paying attention to places where a main character seems to be feeling opposite things—an important thing to do in any narrative text.  

Click here if you would like to read a sample chapter of Reading Projects Reimagined or learn more about the book.