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The Big Fresh September 27, 2014 Walk and Talk

Brenda Power

Walking is good for solving problems -- it's like the feet are little psychiatrists.

                                                                 Terri Guillemets 

I've been reading lately about the craze of counting steps, and it's likely only to get crazier now that Apple has announced a watch with all manner of physical tracking. It seems like every other person I meet these days is wearing a wristband tracking their progress towards the daily "10,000."  While there is no doubt walking is great for physical fitness, it may do even more for lifting the spirits and sparking new thinking after sitting inside for hours.

One of my favorite ways to break routine with students and colleagues in the fall has always been a "Walk and Talk." The activity couldn't be simpler. A brief article, issue, or idea is shared in the classroom, and then we pair up and go outside to walk and enjoy the sunshine while the partners discuss a focus question based on the reading or topic. After 20 minutes, everyone comes back to share insights and next steps.

Even someone on crutches appreciates the chance to amble outside and sit on a bench, soaking up vitamin D while chatting with a co-worker. Students have the opportunity to get their wiggles out, and often that leads to a surprisingly high level of focus on the task at hand.

If it's a sunny day and you want to bring instant joy and appreciation to your agenda, schedule an impromptu walk and talk as part of a meeting or literacy workshop.  Nothing slows down the fast pace of life more than a walk and talk.

This week we look at close reading. Plus more as always -- enjoy!

Brenda Power

Founder, Choice Literacy


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Gretchen Shroeder reinvents a classic high school assignment when she has her students do a  close reading of Hamlet:


Nancy Boyer from ASCD provides a basic primer of strategies and research in Closing in on Close Reading:


This Prezi from Kevin Hodgson on the fundamentals of close reading is concise and includes embedded video. It might be especially helpful for teachers who are visual learners:


This video from the Teaching Channel explains thinking notes, a strategy that encourages close reading in high school:


We have three professional development offerings in October. Our live event, Coaching the Common Core, is at the beautiful Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine on October 18-19. The online courses are Franki Sibberson presenting The Tech-Savvy Literacy Teacher October 1-12 and Making Assessments Work for You with Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan from October 15-26.  The online courses include three on-demand webinars, a DVD, book, and personal responses from the instructors tailored to your needs on the class discussion board. Click on the link below for more details:



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Christy Rush-Levine uses striking texts that inspire multiple readings by her middle school students in Close Reading and Multiple Layers:


Holly Mueller is Using Close Reading to Analyze Propaganda with her sixth graders:


In this week's video, Franki Sibberson's fourth-grade boys lift lines from a favorite novel:


Why save all the most enjoyable literacy activities for May or June? Gigi McAllister is Spreading Out the Fun all year long with literacy events and activities to break up routines:


In an encore video, Katie DiCesare is Digging Deeper with Rereading with her first graders:



That's all for this week!



Brenda Power

Brenda Power is the founder of Choice Literacy. She worked for many years as a professor at the University of Maine and an editor at Stenhouse Publishers. Her publications as an author include Living the Questions and The Art of Classroom Inquiry. She has worked as a book editor and video producer for many of the authors featured at this site.