A Toast to Provocations & Spirited Discourse: The Book Is Out!

4360243 – ender corks popping open a bottle of champagne

It’s official! Today’s the day Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading is released into the world. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that than by sharing some words from the fabulous foreword the great Ellin Keene wrote for the book!

I first ‘met’ Ellin when I read the original Mosaic of Thoughtthe seminal book on teaching comprehension that she wrote with Susan Zimmerman, and I was profoundly affected. Even now, in fact, I can clearly recall how she walked me and her other readers through her reading of Sandra Cisneros’s gorgeous but elliptical prose poem  “Salvador, Late or Early.” Not only did her insights about the piece inform my own understanding of it, but she did something remarkable that I’d never encountered before in a professional book: She not only shared what she made of the piece but what she didn’t make by bravely admitting to when, as she wrote, her “understanding diminished” because “the images were coming too fast for [her] to keep up with.”

To me, this was real writing about real reading, with all the real messiness of meaning making captured—and anyone who knows my work can only imagine how much she’s inspired and impacted that. So I was beyond thrilled when she agreed to write the foreword, where she brings the same level of authenticity, insight and honesty she brought to Mosaic of Thought.

Right up front, for instance, Ellin acknowledges that Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading is “a provocative book—in,” she adds, “the best way.” To me, that means seeing a provocation not as an act that threatens us but as something that inspires thinking, questions and ideas, which is how it’s viewed in Reggio Emilia schools—and closer to home, at the Opal School in Portland, Oregon. There teachers frequently design provocations by setting up an array of enticing materials or situations that beg to be explored and manipulated, like this:

I think, though, that texts can be provocations, too. Consider, for instance, the fifth graders I wrote about who wrestled with “Louisa’s Liberation.” Or take a look at all the thinking that was sparked when third graders encountered the cover of Cecil, the Pet Glacier and were simply invited to share what they noticed and what they were wondering about:

To see a larger imagine, click here

Tinkering, an off-shoot of the Maker Movement (and yet another X-Based Learning approach), also uses the idea of provocations, which you can see written side-ways on the far-left side of the chart—just before the learner’s nudged to take a risk and plunge in:

Of course, that stepping off a cliff of into the unknown can, indeed, feel threatening. But Ellin speaks to that aspect of provocations in her foreword, as well. She confesses that while the book affirmed many of the ideas she’d been toying with herself, she didn’t find herself wholly agreeing with every premise or claim I make. But, she writes:

This is exactly what I think we should experience in reading a professional text. It should challenge some of our long-held ideas about practice. It should cause us to think about our craft in new ways—and we should feel ourselves pushing back in others. When you sit down to discuss the ideas in this book, I wish nothing more than that those discussions are dynamic (see title of the book!!) and argumentative (in a civil way, of course!) and inspired provocative. I hope you and your colleagues are stirred and inspired and that you experience a great deal of cognitive dissonance. Are we really a profession if we don’t spar a bit? Are we engaging in spirited and informed discourse if we don’t?

Leave it up to Ellin Keene to say exactly what I’m wishing for, too: that the book will inspire lots of spirited discussion, questioning, ideas—and, yes, even push back—in a way that, as one of the “Louisa’s Liberation” students said, is “hard but fun.” To support those kinds of discussions, I’ll be setting up a Facebook page for Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading in the next few weeks. But for now I’d like to raise a toast that I hope you’ll join me in, to a rich, robust exchange of ideas and lots of dynamic thinking!

16524922 – two champagne glasses ready to bring in the new year

24 thoughts on “A Toast to Provocations & Spirited Discourse: The Book Is Out!

    • And I’m so excited to hear what you think! And you guys have one coming out, too, from Heinemann – right? Sounds like we need a celebratory drink in St. Louis if not sooner!

  1. Congratulations!
    Congratulations!
    Congratulations!
    I’m hoping my copy is already in the mail!
    Here’s to deep thinking, provocations and lots of conversation (and admiration)!!!

  2. Temporarily out of stock. That’s a good sign!?

    Michelle Rooks 6th Grade English Language Arts, JHMS 307-733-5167 (cell)

    “A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

    ________________________________ From: To Make a Prairie Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2017 5:56:45 AM To: Michelle Rooks Subject: [New post] A Toast to Provocations & Spirited Discourse: The Book Is Out!

    vvinton posted: ” It’s official! Today’s the day Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading is released into the world. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that than by sharing some words from the fabulous foreword the great Ellin Keene wrote for the book! I first ‘” Respond to this post by replying above this line

    New post on To Make a Prairie [http://s0.wp.com/i/emails/blavatar.png] [http://1.gravatar.com/avatar/a85833aa82fe56bce5395db376228f42?s=50&d=identicon&r=G] A Toast to Provocations & Spirited Discourse: The Book Is Out! by vvinton [https://tomakeaprairie.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/champagne-bottle.jpg?w=560]

    4360243 – ender corks popping open a bottle of champagne

    It’s official! Today’s the day Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading is released into the world. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that than by sharing some words from the fabulous foreword the great Ellin Keene wrote for the book!

    [https://tomakeaprairie.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/mosaic-of-thought.jpg?w=268]I first ‘met’ Ellin when I read the original Mosaic of Thought, the seminal book on teaching comprehension that she wrote with Susan Zimmerman, and I was profoundly affected. Even now, in fact, I can clearly recall how she walked me and her other readers through her reading of Sandra Cisneros’s gorgeous but elliptical prose poem “Salvador, Late or Early.” Not only did her insights about the piece inform my own understanding of it, but she did something remarkable that I’d never encountered before in a professional book: She not only shared what she made of the piece but what she didn’t make by bravely admitting to when, as she wrote, her “understanding diminished” because “the images were coming too fast for [her] to keep up with.”

    To me, this was real writing about real reading, with all the real messiness of meaning making captured—and anyone who knows my work can only imagine how much she’s inspired and impacted that. So I was beyond thrilled when she agreed to write the foreword, where she brings the same level of authenticity, insight and honesty she brought to Mosaic of Thought.

    Right up front, for instance, Ellin acknowledges that Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading is “a provocative book—in,” she adds, “the best way.” To me, that means seeing a provocation not as an act that threatens us but as something that inspires thinking, questions and ideas, which is how it’s viewed in Reggio Emilia schools—and closer to home, at the Opal School in Portland, Oregon. There teachers frequently design provocations by setting up an array of enticing materials or situations that beg to be explored and manipulated, like this:

    [https://tomakeaprairie.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/materials-provocation.jpg?w=560]

    I think, though, that texts can be provocations, too. Consider, for instance, the fifth graders I wrote about who wrestled with “Louisa’s Liberation.” Or take a look at all the thinking that was sparked when third graders encountered the cover of Cecil, the Pet Glacier and were simply invited to share what they noticed and what they were wondering about:

    [https://tomakeaprairie.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/cecil-the-pet-glacier-w-knowwonder.png?w=560]

    To see a larger imagine, click here

    Tinkering, an off-shoot of the Maker Movement (and yet another X-Based Learning approach), also uses the idea of provocations, which you can see written side-ways on the far-left side of the chart—just before the learner’s nudged to take a risk and plunge in:

    [https://tomakeaprairie.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/tinkering.jpg?w=560]

    Of course, th

  3. Congratulations, Vicki! So excited to have a new book to provoke our thinking about how to create the conditions that bring greater understanding to the world. How generous of you to link to Opal School’s work – and how wonderful that it places our name next to Ellin’s, just before she’ll be here for our April workshop.
    Here’s to your achievement!

    • Thanks, Matt! My hunch is that much in the book is stuff you & all my Opal friends already know, do and believe in. Knowing that Ellin will be there soon reminded me of my own visit a few years ago, especially of listening to Opal teachers’ workshop presentations, which prompted me to jot down a huge question in my notebook: Is my work big enough? I tried to address it by ending each chapter in the 2nd section, where the classroom examples are, with a feature called “Why This Work Matters.” Still not sure if it’s really big enough. But it was a step in that direction. Have a fabulous time with Ellin & know how much I value–and have learned–from you & Opal.

  4. I am looking forward to a new professional read, especially one that is not afraid to tackle the complexity of teaching reading head on. I am so lucky to have had time to work alongside Vicki for two years and can’t wait to read and discuss this new book! Congratulations on this publication Vicki, you are an inspiration.

    • Thanks so much Jaquie! You’ll be getting yours as soon as I get back from Bangkok. I so hope you get to read it with some of the colleagues I got to work with, who jumped into the work as fearlessly as any single group of teachers have!

  5. Toasting you and your new book and now, better ways to help kids become strong, engaged, interested and careful readers who actually love to read while learning more. Bravo. Cannot wait to read your new book!

  6. Looking forward to reading this! Is the book currently
    available in Canada? and if so, where might I be able to locate/order a copy?
    Many thanks!

    • Hmm . . . I just checked amazon.ca and see that it’s not available yet, but my earlier book on reading through Heinemann, What Readers Really Do is. So my hunch is that it will be at some point. In the meantime, though, I think Heinemann will ship one to Canada, I’m just not sure how much it will cost. I will, though, try to ask when I’m back from Bangkok.

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