The world, as we know it right now, is unpredictable. Struggles seem to stretch further than we thought they could. As we all encounter new challenges in education, there is little we can seem to count on when seeking consistency.
Recently, Jennifer Serravallo published a new book titled, Connecting with Students Online: Strategies for Remote Teaching & Learning, and for once–in a really long time–something familiar was in my hands. One thing I can always count on with a book by Serravallo is consistency and structure. She delivered on it in this one too. Let me take you on a tour of your “soon to be” favorite professional book.
Goals and Strategies
Jen lays out six chapters that each consist of a myriad of strategies to accomplish a central goal. As teachers of writers, each of the goals she chose ring true to workshop teaching. Within these chapters, she asks a series of repetitive questions to develop the structure of the text. In a time when we are all full of questions, it is refreshing to hear and see what I wonder on the pages, followed by practical advice. For instance, in chapter two, strategy five, she begins to lay out how important it is to map our daily lessons with goals and strategies in mind. She asks what you might ask, “What does it mean? What are the challenges? How do I do it?” Again, Serravallo comforts teachers with this predictable and approachable structure that allows for quick digestion of material and fast turn-around in our practices. She discusses streamlining content and connecting goals to slim our instruction to a focal point.
As someone who has been working and teaching children for over twenty years, I still find myself losing sight of my focus. In a time when so much is swirling in our minds taking our attention from the most important work, I found Jen’s words felt like a lift back to reality.
Jen dedicates an entire chapter to this goal. I think for anyone who is teaching fully remote, like me, finding ways to build independence is more key than ever. She encourages us to ask students to write every day and share ways we can support families in this effort. I especially appreciated this graphic that explains composing on paper vs. composing on a screen.
She also reminds us, just as we need help and resources, students do too! Jen shares a variety of paper choices we can offer to writers and makes a case for blank paper, important for our youngest writers. She also encourages teachers to “hold on tightly to writer’s notebooks.” I poured over this section. Although this year, I am teaching kindergarten students, I share in this sentiment. When I think about my former third-grade students from last year, I hope they are holding tightly to their notebooks, whether they are in face-to-face classrooms or learning remotely.
Although the book crosses content areas, there are lovely video examples of Jen sharing lessons as well as seasoned teachers in the field of remote education on writing instruction. You’ll find a video of Jen sharing a lesson with students on mentor texts as well as nonfiction writing and summer writing projects.
I always love watching videos of teachers working with kids in real-life ways within real-life territories. The territories we find ourselves in now are challenging, but they contribute to innovative teaching models and the expansion of technology in education. I hope to continue to learn to find the best balance in my remote classroom, and Jen is certainly helping me with this guide on my side.
Are you interested in reading Jen’s newest book? Leave a comment below to be entered in a giveaway thanks to Heinemann Publishing! See the information below.
- This giveaway is for a copy of Connecting with Students Online: Strategies for Remote Teaching & Learning. Many thanks to Heinemann Publishing for donating a copy for one lucky reader.
- For a chance to win, please leave a comment about this post by Wednesday, October 21st, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner and announce it at the bottom of this post by Friday, October 23rd.
- NOTE: You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter this giveaway.
- Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contacts at Heinemann will ship your books out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
- If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – Connecting with Students. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.
*Note: A digital review copy was donated for the purpose of this review and giveaway.
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