This is a slam dunk for the education community – Holbrook and Salinger have created a masterpiece collection of text and lessons that bridges what is essential for teachers to teach, and what students yearn for to be motivated with text. Their extensive work with students over the years, all across the globe, have merited them the experience of knowing what kids need to learn to be successful, and how kids learn to feel like real readers and authors.
In my work with fluency, we know that shorter texts allow students to work with words and phrases in a meaningful way that elevates not only fluency with opportunity for repeated readings, but also to more deeply delve into vocabulary and comprehension. These lessons are designed in a way that entice kids to learn with meaningful guidance from the authors for the teacher. When students are given large chunks of text to decipher, it leaves little room or time for students to be curious about word meaning, as the task may seem overwhelming. With the way these text and lessons are constructed, teachers have digital resources at their fingertips to focus on valuable literary lessons with abbreviated text coupled with comprehensive, research- and standards-based core literacy skills and strategies. These lessons are specific with an activity that improves teachers’ ability to know what to teach and students’ ability to know how to learn and improve with provided guidance and models.
While many programs guide teachers with too much, the work of Holbrook and Salinger in RWS allows teachers specific reading, writing and speaking work with open guidance to differentiate for our students. This is a resource for today’s modern classroom – digital, easily accessible, and… fun!
5th Grade Teacher, Author of The Megabook of Fluency
As I edited Sara and Michael’s beautifully sequenced lessons, it was clear that they had spent years on the project. In their roles as performance poets, visiting classroom poets, writers, and speakers, they traveled to many classrooms and took advice from teachers on the ground who work with English language learners to bring their poetry and teaching methods to life.
In my twenty years of teaching, I can say that kids learn best when a few things happen:
1. teachers come ready (and excited to teach) with engaging materials;
2. students are given opportunities for creative expression in multiple modes (writing AND speaking) and feel safe saying what they need to say;
3. students are given support where needed and freedom when they are ready to soar; and
4. students can co-construct their learning both in the classroom, with peers and teachers, and at home, with family–and have opportunities to reflect on learning goals and celebrate progress.
These students will come home bursting with pride each week to share their learning with family and have FUN because of the thought Sara and Michael have put into the sequence and design.
They remind us that language isn’t just for the page. We learn through expressing our voice–so often, the “speak it” is left out, but for English language learners, it’s imperative that they have the confidence to raise their voices.
The flexibility of this resource is a virtual poetic life raft for teachers and students alike.
I’ve done my share of school visits and I know that our heroic teachers are overworked. What RWS does to help them is lay out the curriculum in an easy, accessible manner so that teachers can support their students in reading and speaking, as well as providing them with comprehensive lesson plans that will free them up to go deeper into the work.
For me personally as a performance poet and actor, rehearsal is everything. I need to rehearse so that when I perform the words are as familiar to me as my arm. Does rehearsal make me more fluent in connecting to the text? You bet it does. And I feel this will work the same way for kids, too.
Cheers to the team of Holbrook and Salinger!
Charles Waters is a children’s poet, author and educator who has performed across the country. He is the co-author (with Irene Latham) of CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship and DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A – Z.
A member of SAG-AFTRA, you can find performances of his 140+ poems on YouTube.
Before I was a writer and a children’s book author, I was an educator in a bilingual program. Back then, the goal was to transition the students from Spanish to only-English in a very short two years. Unfortunately, there was no follow-up or reinforcement in subsequent grades for those English language learners.
Here is an enrichment resource I would have welcomed! Read It! Write It! Speak It! incorporates the components for language acquisition and application for all children. The bonus is its continuity and reinforcement through seventh grade! It engages children, encourages risk taking, and affirms success through the joyful and fun genre of poetry.
Here’s an opportunity to integrate vocabulary, writing, and conversation into your classroom with two incredible writers who have worked with thousands of English language learners in the U.S. and around the world. I hope you will take a careful look.
With great respect for your dedication to our children’s literacy,
Pam Muñoz Ryan
Pam Muñoz Ryan, M.A.Ed., has written over forty books for children and young adults including the novels ESPERANZA RISING, ECHO, BECOMING NAOMI LEÓN, RIDING FREEDOM, PAINT THE WIND, THE DREAMER, and MAÑANALAND. www.pammunozryan.com