Tuesday, October 06, 2015

A Day With Chris Lehman: Falling in Love With Close Reading

On Saturday, I attended The Literacy Connection workshop with Chris Lehman. Wow! What an amazing day. I know I can't capture in words how amazing the day was but I wanted to share the highlights. If you have not had a chance to hear Chris Lehman or to read his books, I would highly recommend it. He is an important voice in literacy education and he shares his understandings generously. It was a great way to spend a Saturday in early October.

I am so lucky to teach in Central Ohio. Being part of the Literacy Connection and this group of teachers from Central Ohio who is passionate about literacy learning is such a gift. And so many of these teachers are Dublin colleagues. I feel lucky every day to learn with such an amazing group of people who care so much about what is right for kids. We always have a great time learning and thinking together.

I started my day picking up coffee at the brand new Starbucks that is only a mile or so from my house! I already love this Starbucks and the feel that I have when I walk in there. As busy as they were since they are newly opened, they didn't hesitate when I asked about providing coffee for the teachers. So happy to start all my days here, especially rainy Saturdays when it is still dark! Picking up the coffee here was the perfect way to start the day!

I always love the beginning of the day at these events.  Reconnecting with friends and colleagues and having a few minutes to chat over coffee before the session begins is always important.  Saturday morning there was so much energy in the  room as we knew what a great day we had ahead of us. Lots of people had some time to chat with Chris and to each other.

And if you missed my tweet--Dublin librarian, Marisa Saelzler found the perfect dress for the event. A Lularoe dress that perfectly matches the cover of Chris's book, Falling in Love with Close Reading! (You have to zoom in to see the perfect fabric!)

The day started off with Peggy Oxley welcoming the crowd and introducing Chris. If you don't know Peggy, she is the woman who has run this organization for years.  Her vision for teacher learning and how The Literacy Connection can support that is amazing.  

And of course there were books! Cover to Cover came with so many great new titles.  I showed some control and only bought a small stack. Some great new books that I am excited to share with my students soon.

I can't possibly summarize all that I learned on Saturday, but the day was exactly what I needed when I needed it. Chris's whole message was perfect for early October. Chris gave us so much to think about. Here are some of the quotes I kept throughout the day--quotes that I will revisit over the next few weeks:

"Joy is grounded in good literacy."

"Reading closely is a very natural thing for our kids to do."

"Close reading is about discovering new meaning through looking at details."

"For close reading to go well, reading needs to go well!"

"In close reading you are trying to discover things you didn't notice before."

"If we are asking kids to close read, it has to be a text kids can read successfully by themselves."

"Our kids need access to a lot of books that they can read with strength and that they are interested in reading."

"Nothing's magic in education except your relationship with your students."

"If we develop a structure, it will become a habit which will lead to independence."

"The purpose of the structure is that we can make it more sophisticated over time."

"Young readers need a lot of time to talk and develop the oral language to talk about their thinking around ideas."

"Ultimately, good reading work is good life work."

"It is so important that we are really good kid-watchers. We need to see what our kids do well and build on that."

"Effective literacy instruction requires knowledge of what book levels require readers to be able to do to gain meaning."

Chris Lehman will be back for another day with The Literacy Connection in March. I can't wait to learn more from him then!

**On a related note, if you haven't been keeping up with all of the great work Chris is doing with The Educator Collaborative, I would go check it out. Great Think Tanks and all of the session from the September Gathering are archived and free. Lots of great PD by amazing people.


  1. Thanks for this post, Mary Lee. I think Chris is spot-on about close reading. The elementary schoolers I work with really enjoy the challenge of close reading a poem -- it lights up their brains!

  2. What a great list of quotes! I want to print them out and keep them next to my desk. Thanks!


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