Seeing the Matrix: The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

There is a scene in the movie The Matrix, where Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, sees the “matrix” for the very first time. The codes and numbers that govern actions become transparent to him, and with ease he is able to deflect punches, fight bad guys, and gaze handsomely into the distance while doing so. (30 bonus points for anyone else who knows what “Keanu” means in Hawaiian.) The rules of the world have become visible, and with access to that knowledge, Neo becomes invincible.

There have been countless times when we have claimed to “see the Matrix,” learning to knit, figuring out a tricky yoga pose, finally assembling that blasted piece of ikea furniture. For many, “seeing the matrix” has become shorthand for suddenly understanding an underlying principal that had seemed magical, or in more common vernacular, for finally “getting it.” Now we have Jennifer Serravallo’s new book, The Reading Strategies Book (available here) to demystify what makes for powerful reading instruction, and make “the matrix” of teaching reading accessible to us all.

The cover and a sample from the table of contents

The cover and a sample from the table of contents

Jennifer’s book is as visually stunning as it is accessible. She outlines thirteen goals of reading instruction, from engagement to fluency, word solving to comprehension for both fiction and nonfiction, and lays out many many many many strategies to help any child, K-8, achieve each goal. Each strategy has its own page with tips on whom it might help, how you might teach it, prompts you might use, and even a visual cue for a child. Every. Single. One.

Have you wondered how to engage kids whose minds wander?

~There are strategies for that.

Have you wondered how to help emergent readers make sense of books when they can’t yet read   the words?

~There are strategies for that.

Have you wondered how to help children wrap their brains around the idea of synthesis?

~There are strategies for that.

Goal 2

We have been fortunate enough to work alongside Jennifer when we were colleagues at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. The depth of her knowledge about readers and the art of reading always blew us away and left us often to exclaim, “I wish I could borrow your brain!”

That is exactly what reading this book is like: borrowing the brain of a master reading teacher, one who has an idea for every challenge, a possible answer for every question, and a good idea when you have none. Better yet, Jennifer’s book teaches you how to develop your own expertise. Jennifer’s book doesn’t just teach you about reading, it teaches you how to think about readers.

~The strategies are sound teaching.

~The suggested visuals are clear and engaging.

~The lay out is practical and accessible.

~The book is pretty much genius.

sample pages

Kristi says: I am entering my fifteenth year of teaching (while never aging a year–it’s miraculous, really) and I am a confident teacher of reading. Within the first 15 pages, I had already used 15 post-its to mark pages, jot thinking, and reflect. New teacher, seasoned teacher, teacher of reading, teacher of humans, this book is important and valuable for every single one of us. See the matrix, become a better teacher for the kids you see every day.

Marjorie says: As I read each strategy I thought of a child who would benefit, not only from the language of the lessons, but the visuals Jennifer has included as well. This book is going to become a permanent part of my conferring toolkit. The organization by goals also helps focus attention on readers, not levels, which makes this book a powerful teaching tool.

Once you have had the pleasure of reading The Reading Strategies Book, leave your thoughts in the comments below. We give it four thumbs up!

Happy charting!

Kristi and Marjorie

 

(Keanu means “wind over the volcano” and it must be true because I read it in Seventeen magazine 25 years ago ~Kristi)

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Chartchums Live! (or as close as we can get)

We have received numerous requests to visit schools and to present workshops to school districts, but our day to day life in schools makes this difficult to happen as often as we would like. So we have joined with Heinemann to offer our workshops online as a digital course that anyone can sign up for anytime, anywhere, and access is good for one year from signing up.

The amazing team that brought this course to life!

The amazing team that brought this course to life!

We planned the course with the hope that it would help teachers deepen children’s engagement with charts by teaching how charts can build independence and agency, communicate information efficiently and effectively, and help in setting and achieving goals. There are numerous photos of charts and you can see us “live” through videos of us interacting with children and charts through minilessons, small groups, and conferring and the “pièce de résistance” (at least for us–Kristi and Marjorie) are the chats between the two of us that introduce each session.

Discover new ways to create and use charts with your kids that are based on the science of memory, moving your charting work from good to great.

The course explores the following:

  • Understanding the philosophy, theory, and research behind charting
  • Learning to plan and prepare different types of charts
  • Designing charts using language, visuals, and different tools and techniques
  • Teaching with charts
  • Exploring charting across the curriculum

To catch a glimpse you can view some short animated video clips through the following link: Chart Tips Live

The course can also be taken for CEU credit. You can go to the Heinemann website for further details: Smarter Charts

We can’t wait to interact with you through this Digital Campus course  and to continue to share all that we are learning with you.

Happy Charting!

Marjorie and Kristi