Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Long Anticipated Debbie Miller Post

Ah, Debbie Miller, where to begin? First, I not only got to go to a two day conference given by Debbie Miller, but my Lang. Arts facilitator asked if I wanted to go to lunch. "Sure!" I said. Lo' and behold, guess who we ate lunch with? You guessed it, I sat quietly taking it all in, asking little questions here and there, I was in heaven!!!!
Here is what I have taken with me:
(honestly, how can you sum up two days of extraordinary insight, here is just the skimming of the surface. because as i am writing this piece i am coming back and thinking of the thousands of things that i really could have written and shared, they will come out, just later. i may be still pondering them as well!)
Conferencing: she says is the heart of the workshop, but it is also the hardest part of the workshop too! She says when you pull up to a student or group of students be thinking,
What do I know about this student as a reader?
What do I know about myself as a reader?
W hat do I know about teaching reading?
How do they know where my students will be on day four of the week?
She says that basals have good stories in them but they are not all that we should be offering students as literature.
Create anchor charts after the lesson. Use a notebook or a lesson plan and write the important things that are going to go on the anchor chart later. We all know how fidgety kids get while we are writing! (Duh! What a no brainer!)
She also mentioned that there should be a really great balance between surface structure (decoding and phoneme awareness) and comprehension strategies.
allow children to use everything!!!
large poster paper
the freedom to create their own
mostly, just let them lead how they'll respond to what their reading.

And finally, what I noticed about Debbie Miller, the person:
She is small in stature. I am 4'11" and 3/4 of an inch. Debbie is not much taller than I!
She is very soft spoken, not timid, she just has a soft tone about her.
In social situations she is quiet- not withdrawn, an observer really.
Her philosophies, goals, aspirations- you don't wonder about them! She lets you know right up front what she is all about!

Here is the best quote of the whole time spent there. I imagine that it sums up the whole workshop model and all that I believe in as a teacher.

"Each time one prematurely teaches a child something he could have discovered himselft that child is kept from inventing it and consequently from understanding it completely."


Jen Barney said...

dude... she put her hand around you! you rock! so jealous...

Cathy said...

Hi girl!!! Okay, comment made by one of my boys during our writing workshop lesson..."I was thinking the same thing" - Reply made by student - "I'm not going to let you get away with that." LOVE IT!!! I even heard a girl tell another to make it up!

From reading your entry...I feel like I need to become a better observer. I'm too quick to start talking...hmmmm, maybe an entry on my blog should be dedicated to that. Thanks for making me think!

PJ said...

Hi--I too am jealous! I have been wanting to use Debbie's methods for some time and next year I WILL do it! I teach 2nd grade and am wondering if you have any "getting started" tip or if you can point me in the right direction. Thanks for posting!

Kim said...

I love the idea of creating anchor charts before or after the lesson. I used to create them in front of my kids, but it's really challenging to write while monitoring the students that are getting restless. Lately I have been making the charts ahead of time and laminating them to use for the following year. Debbie Miller's photographs in Reading With Meaning have been so helpful in giving me a basis of what to create.