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Reading Ladders - Teri Lesesne

The Hawaii Council of Teachers of English (HCTE) sponsored "Professor Nana," Dr. Teri Lesesne (rhymes with insane) for their fall workshop this morning at Mid Pacific Institute in Mānoa.

Neither the $50 fee nor the fact that this was a gorgeous Saturday and we were in a 1/2-day workshop was enough to dissuade the packed cafeteria of teachers. If you LOVE, LOVE, LOVE YA and tween books like I do. . .if it's your guilty pleasure. . .if you read YA books in order to find something one of your reluctant readers will devour, then Professor Nana is the ultimate source in YA books. I first saw her in San Antonio for a literacy workshop with Kylene Beers. I have followed her blog The YA Goddess since 06, and whenever I'm at NCTE, I make sure I go to at least one of her sessions. It's true that her power points are always on her slide share account, but I always get more insight when I watch her because she book talks some of the covers that are in her slide show.

In between teaching my 9th graders and reading for my doctoral class this semester, I'd love to discuss some manaʻo from her book, Reading Ladders: Leading Student from Where They Are to Where Weʻd Like to Be (Heinemann). The gist of what I got from today's talk was that reading ladders combine elements of thematic units, vertical alignment and planning, as well as horizontal alignment and planning. It's a way to scaffold instruction as well as a way to keep students motivated to read, so that with the less secure readers, you take smaller steps.

I think this concept of having the next book ready for students, and planning horizontally and vertically around reading is one of the pieces that is missing in unsuccessful SSR programs. It's just not enough to tell the kids to read. It's not enough to take them to the library. We need to read aloud to our secondary students, and we need to carve out some time to talk books. We need to think schematically (and thematically) about books. Now if only we could get paid to read for pleasure.

Mahalo to Anna Lee from HCTE for letting me know about the workshop. They have more fabulous speakers coming: November 6, 2010 Stephanie Harvey and Smoky Daniels (Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action); February 12, 2011 Ralph Fletcher (Pyrotechnics on the Page: Playful Craft that Sparks Writing)


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