I finally got to read this book by Gravity Goldberg that has been sitting on my book pile. You may know her as one of the authors of Conferring with Readers. I absolutely loved this book. It brought a lot of confirmation to things I already do. It also challenged me to push student independence and ownership of learning even farther. It made me just uncomfortable enough to push my learning while making it easy to understand with real world examples of application.
Gravity starts out by looking at what true independence in the classroom looks like by looking at the role of the teacher, parts of student ownership, and some of the pitfalls we face as teachers. She says, “Until students have that sense of autonomy, they can’t be fully engaged. To do otherwise is to put the cart before the horse.” What an excellent way of putting it. That fits right in with one of Jennifer Serravallo’s first goals in The Reading Strategy Book. Engagement. She also emphasizes that students need to be able to transfer their work to show deep learning. Engagement is needed for this, not just compliance. Often times we look at these to ideas as synonymous. They aren’t. Compliance is doing what you are told. Engagement involves ownership, and ownership involves choice.
To help our students take ownership and really push themselves, we have to shift our roles as the teacher. Typically we, as teachers, manage, assign and monitor students. We are the ones in control. When we shift our roles, the students take on this work. Our roles shift to being “a miner, a mirror, a model, and mentor.” As a miner, we discover what our students are reading and how they are reading those texts. As a mirror we give positive feedback. We model new strategies, and mentor readers as they approximate those strategies, moving them farther along as readers. It’s a different way of looking at and talking about conferring and small group work while keeping growth mindset as lens.
Gravity explores each one of the four roles throughout her book giving real world examples and specific strategies to help you with individual readers, small groups, and whole group formats. As a miner, we need to set a purpose, observe our readers, ask questions about processes, listen, and collect data. As a mirror we need to be specific, name what the student is doing, focus on their process, and make sure the process can transfer. As a model, we give students the why the strategy is important, demonstrate, and review by naming what was done. Finally, as a mentor, we name each step, tell students what to do, focus on what to do instead of the what not to do, keep our guidance clear, and gradually release our students.
Mindsets & Moves ends with lessons to help students become admirers, and suggestions for how to get started. It has them learn to talk about their reading process, set goals, focus on mindset and learn to give feedback. The one thing I absolutely love about this book is the integration of growth mindset into the workshop process. Many times, our students come in with a fixed mindset about what they can or cannot do as a reader. The growth mindset, researched by Carol Dweck, boils down to students can develop better reading abilities through hard work and perseverance. Making this mindset shift with students can be hard, depending on their background and previous experiences with reading instruction. The strategies given in Mindsets & Moves are a great way to start students on this process to be all that they can be. It is definitely a book to put on your professional bookshelf.