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Read, Talk, Write

Read, Talk, Write
35 Lessons That Teach Students to Analyze Fiction and Nonfiction

Foreword by Harvey "Smokey" Daniels

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November 2016 | 272 pages | Corwin

“This book reminds us why Laura Robb continues to be such an important voice in our field: She looks through kids’ eyes and sees into their futures. Literary conversations don’t just enrich kids days; they offer young people gifts that keep on giving: the ability to take risks, exercise creativity, build empathy, and develop the ability to negotiate.”
—from the foreword by Harvey “Smokey” Daniels

When you get right down to it, literacy comes down to this: read, talk, write. But as every teacher knows, it can be hard for students to see and use these three moves in concert—until now. In Read, Talk, Write, Laura Robb lays out the classroom structures that create the time and space for students to have productive talk and written discourse about texts. With Laura’s guidance you’ll

  • Use short texts by Seymour Simon, Kathleen Krull, Priscilla Cummings, and other popular fiction and nonfiction authors to teach students how to analyze and converse about texts
  • Incorporate six kinds of talk into your instruction, including turn-and-talk, partner talks, and small-group discussions
  • Use the wealth of in-book and online reproducibles to help students facilitate their own comprehension-building discussions 
  • Select from 35 lessons that address literary elements and devices, text structures, and comprehension strategies, and then use them to launch student-led talk about any text you teach
  • Help your readers get in a read-talk-write flow, and know how to move from reading to talking to writing, to bring about deeper thinking
  • Achieve high levels of performance around inferring, comparing and contrasting, summarizing and synthesizing, and other key skills by way of classroom conversations that make these advanced levels the norm
Aim 1. Introduce Students to Six Types of Comprehension-Building Conversations
Chapter 1. Talking About Texts: Getting Started
Lessons and Texts to Take Students From Talk to Literary Conversation

Five Benefits of Student-Centered Talk

Benefit 1: Talk Supports Recall and Comprehension

Benefit 2: Talk Engages and Motivates

Benefit 3: Interactive Talk Becomes a Model for In-the-Head Conversations

Benefit 4: Talk Activates Ideas for Writing About Reading

Benefit 5: Talk Changes How Students Think and Feel About Fiction and Nonfiction

The Research Support

Coming Full Circle With Literature Circles

Types of Talk and How They Fit Into the Lessons

Initiating Talk With Questions and Prompts

How to Craft Guiding Questions

How to Teach Students to Compose Interpretive Questions

Making Student Talk Productive

How to Build Trust

How to Help Students Initiate Discussion

How to Teach Students to Listen Actively

How to Use the Fishbowl Technique

How to Use Smart Notebooks

What’s Ahead

Reflect on Your Teaching

Chapter 2. Lessons for Teaching Six Types of Talk
How Literary Conversations Help Students

Texts for Talk-Based Reading Lessons

When to Use the Six Types

Tips for Managing Literary Conversations

Offer Prompts That Keep a Discussion Moving Forward

Provide a Timeframe

Reflect and Intervene

Set a Signal for Closing a Discussion

Lesson 2.1: Turn-and-Talk

Lesson in Action: Turn-and-Talk

Lesson 2.2: Whole-Class Discussions

Lesson in Action: Whole-Class Discussions

Lesson 2.3: Partner Talk

Lesson in Action: Partner Talk

Lesson 2.4: Small-Group Discussions

Lesson in Action: Small-Group Discussions

Lesson 2.5: In-the-Head Conversations

Lesson in Action: In-the-Head Conversations

Lesson 2.6: Teacher–Student Discussions

Lesson in Action: Teacher–Student Discussions

Chapter 3. Lessons That Build Comprehension Skills in Any Genre
Step 1: Mine Texts for Teaching Topics

Step 2: Plan Lessons

Step 3: Develop Effective Assessments

Ten Top-Notch Short Texts and Lessons

Getting-Ready Tips

Lesson 3.1: Inferring With Informational Text

Lesson 3.2: Exploring Interpretative Questions: Biography

Lesson 3.3: Determining the Author’s Purpose: Informational Text

Lesson 3.4: Why Characters Change: Small-Group Discussion Using a Short Story

Lesson 3.5: Prompting In-the-Head Conversations: Biography

Lesson 3.6: Teacher–Student Talk: Conferring

Reproducible Fiction and Nonfiction Texts

“Coming Clean” by Anina Robb

“Defying Gravity: Mae Jemison” by Anina Robb

“Hoops Tryouts” by Anina Robb

“How Ada Lovelace Leaped Into History” by Kathleen Krull

“How Athens Got Its Name” Retelling by Joanna Davis-Swing

“Isaac Newton and the Day He Discovered the Rainbow” by Kathleen Krull

“Making Scientists Into Climbers” (Excerpt From Secrets of the Sky Caves: Danger and Discovery on Nepal’s Mustang Cliffs) by Sandra Athans

“New Horizons in Space” by Seymour Simon

“Snow Day” by Priscilla Cummings

“Who Climbs Everest?” (Excerpt From Tales From the Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest With Pete Athans) by Sandra Athans

Aim 2. Teach Students to Read, Talk, and Write About Fiction
Chapter 4. Taking the Plunge: How to Talk and Write About Fiction
Exploring and Analyzing Fiction With Literary Elements

Building Knowledge of Key Literary Techniques

Some Key Literary Devices

Encouraging Students to Discuss Literary Elements and Techniques

Characteristics of Fictional Genres

From Talk to Writing

Brief Writing Tasks to Follow Talk

Writing About Reading

Model Lesson: The Importance of Inferring: “Snow Day” by Priscilla Cummings

Reflect on Your Teaching

Chapter 5. Going Deeper: How to Analyze Literary Elements
Offer Students Guided Practice

Moving From Talking to Writing

Literary Elements and Five Kinds of Conflict

Bundling Literary Elements

Teaching Tips for Literature-Based Lessons

Lesson 5.1: Protagonist and Antagonists

Model Lesson 5.1: Teaching Protagonist and Antagonists: “Hoops Tryouts” by Anina Robb

Lesson 5.2: Conflict, Plot, and Setting

Model Lesson 5.2: Teaching Conflict, Plot, and Setting: “Coming Clean” by Anina Robb

Lesson 5.3: Identifying Themes

Model Lesson 5.3: Teaching Theme: “Snow Day” by Priscilla Cummings

Lesson 5.4: Planning and Writing a Summary: Fiction

Model Lesson 5.4: Teaching Summary: Fiction: “Hoops Tryouts” by Anina Robb

Lesson 5.5: Compare and Contrast Notes

Model Lesson 5.5: Teaching Compare and Contrast Notes: “How Athens Got Its Name” Retelling by Joanna Davis-Swing

Aim 3. Teach Students to Read, Talk, and Write About Nonfiction
Chapter 6. Taking the Plunge: How to Talk and Write About Nonfiction
Seven Tips for Inspiring Students to Have Literary Conversations About Nonfiction

Teach Six Kinds of Context Clues

Lesson 6.1: Mining Text Features for Information

Identifying Text Structures to Build Understanding

Lesson 6.2: Teaching Text Structures

From Talk to Writing

Understanding the Structure of Nonfiction Genres

Reflect on Your Teaching

Chapter 7. Going Deeper: How to Analyze Nonfiction
Teaching Tips for Text-Based Lessons

Lesson 7.1: Taking Heading Notes and Finding a Main Idea

Model Lesson 7.1: Taking Heading Notes and Finding a Main Idea: “Who Climbs Everest?” (Excerpt From Tales From the Top of the World) by Sandra Athans

Lesson 7.2: Thinking About Issues: Obstacles

Model Lesson 7.2: Teaching About Obstacles: “How Ada Lovelace Leaped Into History” by Kathleen Krull

Lesson 7.3: Teaching the Problem-Solution Text Structure

Model Lesson 7.3: Teaching Problem-Solution: “New Horizons in Space” by Seymour Simon

Lesson 7.4: Personality Traits and a Person’s Achievements: Biography

Model Lesson 7.4: Teaching Personality Traits: “Defying Gravity: Mae Jemison” by Anina Robb and “Isaac Newton and the Day He Discovered the Rainbow” by Kathleen Krull

Lesson 7.5: Identifying Main Ideas

Model Lesson 7.5a: Teaching Explicitly Stated Main Ideas: “Who Climbs Everest?” (Excerpt From Tales From the Top of the World) by Sandra Athans

Model Lesson 7.5b: Teaching How to Infer Main Ideas: “Defying Gravity: Mae Jemison” by Anina Robb

Chapter 8. Reflecting on the Process of Read, Talk, Write
Four Key Skills

Skill 1: Taking Risks

Skill 2: Creativity

Skill 3: Empathy

Skill 4: The Ability to Negotiate

Writing Is Knowing

Making the Changeover

Take the First Steps

Climb That First Hill

Start Slowly Down the Hill

Continue Moving Along the Path

Picture Your Destination

Make a Teaching Investment With Student Paybacks

List of Top-Notch Books for Instruction and Class Libraries

Bibliography of Professional Materials


"Reading is language, on the same plane as talking and writing. Yet in our pursuit of improving students' comprehension, we sometimes neglect to include enough "talk" and "write" in our instructional plans, Laura Robb understands just what teachers need to get the read-write-talk synergy going in their classrooms, and has done a masterful job of providing us with insight and guidance into making these important connections work for all texts. The result of Read, Talk, Write will be more highly engaged students and deeper levels of comprehension."

Timothy Rasinksi
Literacy consultant and author of The Fluent Reader, Kent State University

"In Read, Talk, Write, Laura Robb helps both novice and experienced teachers create a curriculum of rich conversations that can enhance any reading instructional model. She includes practical resources such as model lessons, checklists, planning guides, and supports for ESL students.  Reading this book felt like I was at a common planning meeting with Laura and we were mapping out student conversation lessons together. What is especially helpful is her clear explanations of not just what to teach students, but how the different types of student conversations benefit readers, allowing teachers to choose talk structures that match the students right now."

Gravity Goldberg
Literacy Consultant and author of Mindsets and Moves: Strategies that Help Readers Take Charge

"How talk develops strategic reading and comprehension, and how it supports composing of all kinds, has been a somewhat neglected topic in both the research realm and in the realm of practical pedagogies.  To fill the gap, here comes Laura Robb with Read, Talk, Write. Laura Robb is a great-hearted teacher and person, and in this book she carefully guides all of us who teach how to use specific kinds of procedures and language to develop student engagement, literacies, agency and independent capacity more robustly."

Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Author of Diving Deep Into Nonfiction, Distinguished Professor of English Education
Boise State University

"Read, Talk, Write offers teachers and students a magical tapestry of collaborative thinking and learning around texts. Laura Robb gently, and with great expertise, weaves reading, writing, listening, and speaking into thought-provoking routines. Teachers are going to love the easy-to-follow suggestions for prompts, lessons, and beautiful mentor texts. This highly practical resource brings the famous “easy button” to the world of text response!"

Linda Hoyt
Literacy consultant and author of the Crafting Nonfiction series and the Explorations in Nonfiction Writing series

“Laura Robb is a genius. She knows our students. She understands the teachers. She has ideas that are research based, adaptable and make sense. She is all about how to make our students succeed as learners and lovers of literacy.. . .

Laura Robb explains that talk supports recall and comprehension, engages and motivates, becomes a model for ‘in the head’ conversations while engaging with a story, activates ideas for writing about reading, and changes how students think and feel about fiction and nonfiction.. . .This book is about teaching students to have accountable and enriched conversations which lead to productive and engaging writing. Read, Talk, Write is not just about students talking with each other about their reading or writing, but it also teaches students how to engage in conversations that will stimulate their brains to ask purposeful questions. Laura Robb reminds us of the importance of purposeful talk.. . .

The author is careful about structuring her book so that teachers don’t ‘dive in the deep end’ without any support. She first introduces each of the six types of literary conversations and how each type builds upon the other: turn and talk, whole class discussion, partner talk, small group discussions, “in-the-head” discussions, and teacher-student discussions (conferring).. . . In addition, throughout the book she generously provides examples of each type, including a detailed description, how to introduce it, prompts and scaffolds to use, assessments, supports for ELL students, and reproducibles. The “lessons in action” (sample lesson) have a brief explanation of the purpose of the lesson, summary of the text, samples of student talk, and reproducibles.”

Linda Biondi

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ISBN: 9781506339573

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