Fiction and Nonfiction: Smart Lesson Planning

► What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow? Fiction, Grades 3-8
What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow? Nonfiction, Grades 3-8
By Gravity Goldberg and Renee Houser
(Corwin Literacy, 2017 – Learn more: Fiction and Nonfiction)

Reviewed by Pam Hamilton

Time…you don’t have enough of it, and so you try to make the most of what you do have. And you want resources that enable you to make the greatest impact with that time.

But what do those resources look like? A book filled with lesson plans that you can use the next day or something based in theory that will inform your teaching decisions along the way? Well, what if I told you that you can have both?

These two newest books from Gravity Goldberg (co-author of Conferring With Readers and author of Mindsets & Moves) and Renee Houser (co-founder of Growing Educators) are must haves for intermediate/middle grade literacy teachers!

Literacy tools to put students first

Goldberg and Houser – both former staff developers at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project – have perfectly combined theory and practice to help teachers put students first in their decision-making process. Best of all, they’ve provided the tools necessary to assist teachers in making those decisions become a reality right away.

Although each book (fiction and nonfiction) focuses on a different genre, they share many of the same features, which is helpful for teachers as they move between books.

For instance, each book begins with a Quick-Start Guide for Easy Access. This section lists the features of each chapter and gives a brief explanation of how they work. The authors explain that you can read the book in order or you can focus on one part at a time, depending on what you want to work on.

Lessons backed with support materials

Included within each chapter are lessons to teach tomorrow, explanations for why you would teach this lesson, what you need to teach this lesson, tips for how to teach this lesson, and what to do next. The authors offer glimpses of different students and how they would proceed based on what they know about those students. First and foremost, teaching decisions are always about the student!!

Each chapter contains a Self-Reflection Questionnaire. Part of the process of changing our practice is becoming more reflective of what we do and why we do it. These questionnaires are included to assist teachers in building on strengths and setting goals for their teaching.

Also included in each chapter are Teacher Tip Boxes to give a bit more guidance; Intentional Moment and Your Turn Boxes to help you reflect on your current practices; Clipboard Notes with assessment tools you can use right away; and Video Link Boxes to step into the classrooms with the authors and see the lessons in action.

In the videos, the authors explain their moves to help us in making our own teaching decisions. The videos are accessible by QR code, or you can access them by visiting the Corwin website. There is also a video viewing guide available on the Corwin website.

In the appendices, the authors include a rating system for choosing books in each genre. They also share some of their favorite fiction and nonfiction titles and include “If you Liked…You Might Also Like…” suggestions. They include charts that they use to analyze student work when making their decisions for what to teach tomorrow, with explanations along the way that will enable you to use the charts effectively when working with your own students in your own classrooms.

Engage all students in the learning process

Dr. Russell J. Quaglia of Quaglia Institute for School Voice and Aspirations states in the foreword:

This book, and its companion volume, is about valuing student voice in a way that enriches the self-worth of each and every student, meaningfully engages all students in the learning process, and ensures that students understand the purpose in their learning.”

These are two books that are going to get a lot of use, and I know I’ll be recommending them to every teacher I meet!

Pam Hamilton is an intermediate literacy coach in Middlebury, Indiana. In her 23 years of teaching, she has also taught first and second grades, Reading Recovery, and Title I Intervention groups. She lives in northeast Indiana and enjoys being a lifelong learner.

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