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What's the Best That Could Happen?: New Possibilities for Teachers & Readers

What's the Best That Could Happen?: New Possibilities for Teachers & Readers

by Debbie Miller


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What if...

Every year, beloved teacher and author Debbie Miller commits to trying something new. She asks a "beautiful question" that pushes her to see new possibilities and put children at the center of her teaching. She asks, "What if we did it this way?"

"When we do, we're present in our teaching," she says. "We're strong enough to set aside judgment and discomfort and choose to focus on how to make things better."

New opportunities for teaching and learning

In What's the Best That Could Happen?, Debbie confronts a challenge all teachers face: the feeling of being stuck and the fear of trying something new. She explores how questions help us look beyond the limitations of what we've done and discover powerful new opportunities for teaching and learning.

Each chapter digs into a question about teaching from Debbie's work with teachers and children across the country:

  • What if each day's teaching focused on children's agency?
  • What if we made what children make and do our priority?
  • What if our classroom environment and routines offered choice?
  • What if we owned the units we're asked to teach?
  • What if read aloud sustained children's independent thinking?

You'll find practical insights and critical understandings that will benefit you and your children. More importantly, you'll learn to ask your own beautiful questions, grapple with the messiness that surfaces, and find answers that inspire something new and worthy in your teaching.

Join the What's the Best That Could Happen? Facebook group:

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780325093116
Publisher: Heinemann
Publication date: 08/16/2018
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 220,307
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Debbie Miller is a teacher, author, and literacy consultant. She taught in the Denver Public Schools for thirty years and now works extensively with schools and districts on long-range planning and development of literacy programs. Debbie is the author or co-author of many resources for teachers, including Reading with Meaning, No More Independent Reading Without Support, and the forthcoming What's the Best That Could Happen? Follow Debbie on Twitter @millerread

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xii

Introduction: We Can Do This xiv

Asking Beautiful Questions xiv

Paying Attention to What Doesn't keel Right xv

Asking, "What if?": Creating Space for Possibility xvi

Chapter 1 What If Each Days Teaching Focused on Children's Agency? 1

Second Grader Emiliano Tries a New Strategy

Finding Our Way to a Beautiful Question: The Disengaged Child 1

What's the Best That Could Happen? Agency Fosters Engagement 2

Imagining New Possibilities for a Child 9

Conferring to Support Access and Choice 11

Paying Attention During Independent Work Time 14

Conferring to Inquire and to Offer Community 20

Postscript 23

Chapter 2 What If We Made What Children Make and Do Our Priority? 25

First Graders Remember and Retell

Finding Our Way to a Beautiful Question: Workshop Planning 25

What's the Best That Could Happen? Meaningful Work 30

Planning for What Children Will Do First 33

Planning for What Teachers Will Do During Work Time 42

Figuring Out What to Teach 47

Haying with the Sequence 52

The Classic 56

The Liftoff 57

The Have-a-Go 58

The Let-Them-Read 59

The Skinny 60

The Double-Time 61

The Shift-the-Share 62

Taking Ownership 63

Chapter 3 What It Our Classroom Environment and Routines Offered Choice? 67

Fourth-Grade Boys Develop Their Own Routine

Finding Our Way to a Beautiful Question: Frustration over Supplies 67

What's the Best That Could Happen? Managing Their Own Work 70

Being Intentional in Our Language 73

Cocreating Routines 82

Pencils 83

Sticky Notes 86

Where Children Read, Write, and Talk During Work Time 92

Designing Agentive Environments 94

Chapter 4 What If We Owned the Units We Are Asked to Teach? 101

Kindergartners Explore the Characters of Mo Willems in a "MOseum"

Second Graders Learn Economics Through the Perspective of Consumers

Finding Our Way to a Beautiful Question: The Units We're Given 101

Are These the Right Goals? 108

Which Texts Work Best? 114

How Will We Know When We're Done? 118

How Can This Happen Within Daily Workshop? 124

What's the Best That Could Happen? Perfection in Imperfection 131

Chapter 5 What If Read-Aloud Sustained Clildren's Independent Thinkin? 135

Kindergartners and First and Third Graders Bring Their Thinking About Books to the World

Finding Our Way to a Beautiful Question: The Wisdom in Children's Thinking 135

Expecting Brilliance 139

Please, No Pullouts 146

Finding Time for Read-Aloud 150

Reading Aloud for Joy 153

Teachers and Children Thinking Aloud 156

Thinking Aloud as We Read 156

Inviting Children to Think Aloud 157

Inviting Children into the Story 158

Listening in to What They Say 160

Handing Read-Alouds off to Kids 160

What's the Best That Could Happen? Being Inspired to Act 162

Conclusion: in Pursuit of Beautiful Questions 173

References 182

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