Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Talk About Understanding

Ellin Oliver Keene - I'd never heard of her, but I looked at the description for her session at the International Reading Conference in Chicago on April 30th, and I REALLY wanted to see her.  (She co-authored Mosaic of Thought!) She began talking very quickly and was so animated, I immediately fell in love. She sounded just like ME! However, her session was about s-l-o-w-i-n-g down, listening to others, using particular vernacular, and getting students to understand text better by doing these three things.  (I took copious Evernote notes - if you want them, email me at and I'll send them.)

Her session was only an hour long, so I had to hurry and purchase her book - Talk About Understanding. What I should have done is hurry and READ her book, but it sat on my dresser for almost a month.  I started reading it yesterday...

Best quote so far -
     To understand deeply is to experience intellectual engagement that itself spawns more voracious learning, which leads to more lasting comprehension.  It's a delicious cycle (Keene, 21).

Yes, go ahead and read it again, looking for that deeper comprehension.  Ah... now you've got it!  I love thinking that our genius hour provides for these opportunities for learning, and wanting to learn more.  What a "delicious cycle"!!

I'm cutting this short today... just wanted to leave you with that quote.  Now I've got to go read chapter 3 - "From the Inside: Integrating strategy instruction and narrative outcomes." I really want to jump to "Part 2: Words that Matter," but feel if I do I might miss something! Part 2 looks like what Ellin Keene talked about at the IRA conference.  Thank you, Ellin!  You inspired all who attended!


  1. Great post! Read MOSAIC OF THOUGHT years ago, and it changed a lot of my thinking about teaching reading. I'll check this out - thanks for sharing!

  2. I was at the same conference and purchased her new book as well.
    I agreed to model this for a first grade group and was able to use the DVD that came with the book. It is fascinating to watch this author put her research and writing into practice.
    Thanks for sharing the quotes!