Well… it’s the weekend but the days are beginning to blur together which is a sign that summer is starting to set in! Today I thought I’d share a new professional book that I’m very excited about called Genre Connections – Lessons to Launch Literary and Nonfiction Texts by Tanny McGregor (Heinmann, 2013)
I first became familiar with Tanny McGregor’s work when I bought her first book Comprehension Connections – Bridges to Strategic Reading (Heinmann, 2007) which I was immediately drawn to because of the title! This book was (still is) amazing! It is filled with practical and highly effective launch lessons for comprehension strategies – including “Connecting”, “Questioning”, “Visualizing” and “Inferring” – all the same strategies used in Reading Power. Each “launch lesson” uses an everyday object to teach children the concept of the strategy in a simple way. For example, she uses a lint roller to demonstrate how small moments of your life “stick” in your brain to form your “schema”; she uses a purse of objects to teach the concept of “determining importance”. I particularly love the “salad bowl lesson” where she uses small cut up pieces of paper that have the word “thinking” on them in one bowl and little pieces of paper in another bowl that have “book” written on them. She then “mixes the salad” by combining the pieces of paper into one larger bowl to show that reading combines both the book you are reading and your thinking. AMAZING! She also models the use of anchor charts for all her lessons and there are photos of these charts throughout the book.
Now I have a lot of professional books – some I use a lot, some I have picked things out of to use in my classroom – but believe me when I say I have used EVERY lesson from her first book and they WORK! And they are not just isolated lessons – they are purposeful and meaningful lessons connected to big ideas – and I’m all about big ideas in my classroom. The books only focus on the initial lesson and do not include follow up lessons (you can use my books for that!) but if teaching comprehension strategies is part of your reading program – this book is a must. Her writing style is wonderful; her voice and passion come through and she includes lots of great quotes! (perfect for a quote queen like me! )
I was thrilled to discover her most recent book, just published this year. Using the same simple, practical format and everyday objects, which she refers to as the “concrete experience” to launch concept lessons, Tanny is now focusing on helping students learn about different genres – from historical fiction, to poetry, to drama and nonfiction texts. The layout of the lessons is the same as her first book but she also incorporates both a music and art connection to each genre. Because the book is new, I haven’t tried the lessons yet, but have already put sticky notes on the ones I am going to use in September, starting off with the “seed package” lesson to teach kids about informational texts (chapter 8) ( I was THRILLED to see my Nonfiction Reading Power book referenced!)
So if you have a list of “must read” professional books to read this summer – I highly recommend both of Tanny McGreogor’s.