Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Day with Adrienne Gear - A Look Back

On Wednesday,  June 6th I was lucky enough to spend the day learning with Adrienne Gear.  If you're not familiar with Adrienne she is the author of Reading Power, Writing Power, and Reading Power - Non Fiction.  Her focus is to get students to THINK while they read and write.  Her books are very clearly written and easy to follow. The information found in them can be used at every grade level.  If you haven't already read them I highly recommend that you do.

We started our day with the very clear reminder that we are responsible for providing specific direct instruction around teaching reading, no matter what grade we teach.  Yes, the Kindergarten/Grade One teachers play a big role in teaching children to read for the first time, but every K- 7 educator must continue to reinforce those skills.  We looked at when we do reading in our day and how most times can include a direct instruction lesson.  

In her book Reading Power Adrienne talks about the Power to Connect, the Power to Question, the Power to Visualize,  the Power to Infer, and the Power To Transform.  In my head the Power to Connect has always referred to connection to self, connections to text, or connections to the world. My students are pretty good at making these types of connections as they read.  But her thinking has changed a bit and so now the connections have more to do with connections to memory, connections to fact, or connections to imagination.  The connections are more about using different pockets of your brain to help you learn to read - the memory pocket, the fact pocket, and the imagination pocket.  By focussing on the different parts of the brain our students will better understand where the learning is coming from.   

Adrienne shared a story about a student that was always making connections, but not  related to the story. For example this student would connect to the colour of the book character's shirt when it had absolutely nothing to do with the information being shared in the story.  By redirecting this student to make connections from the memory or fact pocket of the brain instead of the imagination pocket  this student was able to be more engaged in what was really happening in his story.  I loved this analogy as I certainly have taught my share of students over the years that like to hang out in their imagination pocket in the brain.

All this talk about brain pockets helped spark a discussion on metacognition which is something I'm trying to get my students better at doing. It's one of my big goals for next year - to get my grade one students to become more aware of their thinking, think about their thinking, and articulate their thinking. Through Adreinne's reading power we learn that connecting, questioning, visualizing, inferring, and transforming are the thinking tools associated with reading.  You need to use your brain to do all of those things. It's about having your brain interact with the text through one (all) of those avenues.  If you are just reading  text, and not connecting or questioning, or visualizing, or inferring, or transforming you are having a one sided conversation with a book - the book is talking to you and you aren't part of the conversation.  However if you connect, or question, or visualize, or infer, or transform while you are reading you are having a two way conversation with the book. You are interacting with with the book.  

Adrian showed us a baby bib visual with BIBB written on it - Bring It Back (to the) Book - as a way to help our students make connections that are related/connected to the stories being read.  It's a visual to help those students that make too many connections in the imagination part of their brain.  A connection in this context is suppose to help you understand a book better.

We talked about deep thinking questions - those  whose answer is not found in the book.  She referred to those type of questions as scuba questions because you have to go a little deeper to get an answer. It's an invitation to think. She also talked about snorkelling questions with answers right on the surface. She also talked about cloud questions, those that take us too far away from the text.  Her descriptions were clear and I know I can easily transfer this to my grade one class.  I also know this will totally help me with my goal of increased metacognition next year.

There was also some learning around non fiction text features and how they help the reader to access, locate and find, organize, clarify, and find important facts.  These text features help you find information. We also learned the difference between a prediction (what you think is going to happen next) and an inference (what you think is happening RIGHT NOW).

Adrienne also told us about her weekly OWI. This is where she puts up a picture first thing Monday morning and her students have to write down three things that they see in the picture (observe). Then they have to  write down two things they wonder about.  Finally they have to write down one possible answer to one of their questions (infer). They have to observe, wonder, and infer or OWI.

While I've written a fair bit here this really is just a very small snapshot of what I learned that day.  If you're still curious, which you really should be, you must get your hands on a copy of Adrienne's books. I can assure you you will NOT be disappointed. You should also check out her website and her reading power resources.

So I'm curious are you an Adrienne Gear follower? What do you do to encourage/teach  your readers to be more engaged with their reading?


  1. So many amazing strategies!! I am so intrigued by the brain pockets, scuba questions, and OWI. These are going to easily mesh into what we already do, but also take it to the next level for our students! I see OWI as a strategy we can easily incorporate into our Brain Breakfast in the morning. Ann and I are very excited to dig deeper into Adrienne Gear's resources. (We had already been browsing her non-fiction book and Ann actually immediately ordered Reading Power after reading this post!)

    Have you read Comprehension Connections by mcGregor? I love her suggestions for teaching Metacognition...

    It sounds like this workshop was so much fun, and I enjoyed reading about your experience! Thank you for sharing, Karen :)


  2. Celina, Adrienne is great and I'm so glad you have some of her books. Well worth the read and easy to implement at any grade level. Read the first book Reading Power first. The non fiction book builds on that. Writing Power is her newest book. While I haven't read it yet I'm quite certain it is very good too.