LiD Activities!

Hi again! For this blog post post I would like to talk about activities you can do for LiD in your classroom!
Last year, my sponsor teacher had the students read a book about their LiD topic and make a LiD booklet about their LiD topic. The booklets had 4 pages. On the front cover, students had to put their name, topic, and draw a picture of their topic. The next page was the “L” page which was where they wrote something that they learned. The prompt was “I learned…” The next page was the “i” page which was where they wrote something interesting about their topic. The prompt was “Something interesting about my topic is…” The last page was the “D” page which was where the wrote a “did you know?” fact. The prompt was “Did you know…” The students completed these booklets over a few days and were able to share them with the class. It was an awesome way to see what they have learned so far.
Another thing my sponsor teacher did was a thing called “LiD-atine” on Valentine’s Day. The students were all sent home with a list of the topics in the class and were told that, if they wanted to, they could bring a picture from a magazine or the internet or an object that has to do with another student’s LiD topic and give it with their Valentine. This was not meant to be a huge thing, just if you had any magazines or pictures around the house you could bring it in. This is a fun and easy way to incorporate LiD into Valentine’s Day.This was the letter that was send home to the parents last year:
For one of the field trips my class took last year we went to the Vancouver Island Public Library on the city bus and the students were able to take out one or two books about their topics to take home. The teacher arranged for students to all have library cards ahead of time (if they didn’t already have one). The teacher also called the library ahead of time and asked that they set out some books on all the topics for the students to look through.
My sponsor teacher also had the students take home a worksheet over Spring Break which asked the students to draw a picture of their topic, find a joke that has to do with your topic (e.g. if your topic is mushrooms you could say “Why does the mushroom have so much fun at parties? Because he is a fungi!), and write one fact about your LiD topic. Then at lunch time throughout the week the students shared their learning with the class.
At the end of the year, students made a diorama about their LiD topic and had a LiD presentation day where parents/guardians or other teachers could drop in and see all of there presentations on display. This is an awesome end of the year showcase of learning. The students were able to show off their handwork and let others know more about their LiD topic! This was the cover of the brochure we got when we went to the celebration!
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Incorporating Computers within Language Arts

Computers, phones, texting and social media surround ourselves and our students everyday. It could be argued that students are free writing -writing by own motivation- more than previous generations. However, with shortened text, emojis and gifs ‘proper’ language can be lost. But, nonetheless we, as teachers, shouldn’t shy away from using technology and computer based writing output. Our students are going to be growing into a technology based world, and computer literacy is a valued skill. Showing students how to use technology to support their language development is the aim of this post.

        For older students, there is an increased focus on annotating websites, reading between the lines and extracting key information. These skills are developed first on paper, with highlighting in the classroom, but you can’t highlight a computer screen. This is where ‘scribble’ comes in. A site supported and co-developed by google edu, it is a youth inspired site that offers the ability to highlight. A chrome extension, it helps filters webpages for student to narrow the sites to more reputable sources, offers them a storage place for their site as well as annotating. This site itself, or the concept of ‘key wording’ is a beginning step in grade 6 and on words. Starting with deciphering keywords on paper and moving to webpages, this extension can help students visualize the key information.

        accelerated reader, a program designed both for students and by students is a great and easy way for intermediate, or even primary teachers to keep track of o students comprehension and fluency in reading. A program that can be purchased by districts, it allows any book to be inputted into the system and have quizzes generated for it. Each novel is assigned points either by teacher or the administrators of the program and it helps give a visual benchmark or goal. Students begin by taking a placement test, which then helps give them a predicted ‘point’ value for where they should be in 3,6 and 10 months. It then can also suggest books for students to read. Once students have read that book they can take the comprehension tests and it logs their points to help show their development. It is an individualized program that helps students develop their own accountability for their reading.

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How to Run Successful Lit Circles

The first step is to make sure every student understands the expectations of what to bring and what happens during a lit circle meeting.

Expectations:

  • Bring your lit circle book
  • Bring a pencil
  • Bring a short description of what you read (“say something blurb”)
  • Bring a positive attitude  🙂

A way I experienced lit circles ran was by having students bring a “say something blurb” to the group meeting.  With this “say something blurb,” it could have connections they had made with the book, a description of what had happened, or a prediction of what they think may happen next.  You may set deadlines for where each student should be at for the next lit circle meeting or could let the students read at their own pace.  If you decide to let the students read at their own pace, there must be a final deadline of when the book is to be completed and the assignments.  At the start of each meeting discuss who has read the least so they can share first and have nothing spoiled for them.  You will have to do a gradual release and after each student shares, they will then return to their desk.  With not giving a deadline for each group meeting, it makes it so the student who has read the most will only have one person to share with.   This is why I would recommend setting deadlines, that way you have the full group participating for the full time.

As each student discusses what they have read, connections, or predictions, every member of the group must then ask at least one question regarding the text.  It may be a good idea to have prompts for the students to use because often they will not come with questions prepared.

Below is a prompt and probes question sheet that could be used:

The teacher may have to facilitate the first few lit circle meetings to get the ball rolling.   After a few meetings, you should hope that the conversations the students are having start to sound more natural/organic and they don’t need the Prompt and Probe sheets as often.

There are many other ways to run the lit circle meetings, this was just a successful way I witnessed in an intermediate classroom.

My next post will focus on assessment regarding lit circles!

-Breanna

 

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How to Get Lit Circles Started in the Classroom

The first step is to pick out books that are all different reading levels.  Depending on the number of students you have in your classroom will depend on how many different books you have to choose from.  I would recommend having at least three to four students in each lit circle group to facilitate a good discussion.  You may have a theme for your lit circles.  I have seen one done with the main focus on residential schools and I thought it was very powerful!  It was great, not only were the students working on literacy skills, but Social Studies was also incorporated.

Once you have chosen the books, it is now time to share them with your class.  With each book give the students a brief summary of what the book is about and the reading level.  After each book is described, it is now time for the students to vote for their top three picks.  Hand out a slip of paper with the numbers one through three, one being your top pick and three being your last pick.  Tell the students you will do your best job to get their first or second pick.

If you are doing lit circles with a younger grade, you may not give them the option to choose their own book.  At the younger age, they may not understand how to pick a good book that is suitable for their reading level.  For lit circles to run successfully, you will need the students to be able to comprehend the story, so they can have meaningful discussions.

After the final decisions are made of who will be in each group, I suggest making a sign-out sheet of which student has which book.  This will result in having no lost books at the end (fingers crossed).  The last step to getting the students started is to decide on which day the groups will meet.  I suggest having the times written somewhere in the classroom for students not to forget what day they are scheduled to meet.

In my next post, I will be discussing how to run a successful lit circles meeting.

*This way of running lit circles was developed by my sponsor teacher last year. (Helen Fall)*

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Early Intervention Program (Reading Recovery)

Early Intervention is extremely important as we all know, yet often times students who are struggling to read find themselves falling further behind each year. Carol Lyons from “Catching Readers Before They Fall” discusses the brain research on children and the evidence suggests that the earlier they are given help the faster they will learn in order to catch up to grade level.

Marie Clay from “Catching Readers Before They Fall” developed a program called Reading Recovery as a early intervention program. The purpose of this particular program is for teachers to focus and work with the lowest 20% of students in their first grade. The program requires a thirty minute lesson once a day to individual children. The success rate for this program is 75% in just 12-20 weeks. This program has been extremely successful because thousands of teachers have bought into it. In the book they note that this includes students who have IEP’s. Reading recovery focuses more on teachers learning a new way of thinking about reading, a way of understanding the reading process. As opposed to main focus being on developing the specific thirty minute lesson each day.

In the text book “Catching Readers Before They Fall” they outline several things that a Reading Recovery teacher knows or does well. The outline is also beneficial for any teacher with struggling readers.

  • Understands the reading process and that each reader must construct it for themselves
  • Plan instruction from observations and assessments
  • Analyze running records with strategic actions in mind
  • Keep the student working just beyond their level of ability
  • Maintain a safe learning environment so that struggling readers do not feel discouraged
  • Know when to prompt, model, and cut back on supports, and when to reinforce specific behaviours; altering the level of support in response to the child’s reading behaviours
  • Teach toward independence so that the child takes more control over their own reading strategies
  • Provide many opportunities for the student to demonstrate authentic reading/writing opportunities. This helps strengthen their processing ability because they are constantly using their systems of strategies.

To sum up this particular early intervention program I thought I would show this video on Reading Recovery as it is gives a very quick yet informative recap of what it is and how it works. This program was developed many years ago now so for my next post I will focus on a more current early intervention strategy for struggling readers.

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Post #4 A Step by Step Guide

Before Reading

Teacher Will:

  • Introduce text ( sell it)
  • Introduce skill focus
  • Walk through gradual release model ( I do, we do, you do).
  • Picture walk with student
  • Read fro a purpose-state a question of what you want your students to look for while reading ( i.e. Why was the princess sad?, or What happened to the fish?, Who is the protagonists?”  etc) – suitable for reader level.

Student Will:

  • Examine Text
  • Listen to the skill focus lesson-ask questions if needed
  • participate in gradual release model
  • Predict/share ideas in picture walk

During Reading   

Teacher will:

  • Listen to individual students as they read. Make formative assessment notes and gather information that will help in further learning and guided reading sessions.
  • Help students when they are very stuck. Remind them of strategies learned to problem solve and De-code text.

Student will:

  • Read text quietly to self (Whisper Voice).
  • Read for purpose. Find the answer to the question stated at the beginning.
  • use strategies learned during mini lessons to help problem-solve and de-code text.

After Reading

Teacher Will: 

  • Prompt students with questions that contribute to a guided conversation about the story.
  • Try asking certain students questions about specific details, and inferencing of the text.
  • Make observational/ formative assessment notes.

Students will: 

  • Participate in conversation of the text.
  • Retell parts if the story.
  • Ask questions to rest of group to spark a conversation or clarify your own understanding.

– ** Guided reading is extra support for all students to help develop their individual skills. Benefits of guided reading shine when students feel engaged and have a positive attitude towards working collaborative, helping others in their group, and being open to learning from others in the group, Including the teacher.  Teaching conversation skills and positive language will make the comprehension conversation at the end so much more rich**.

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Post #4 A Step by Step Guide

Before Reading

Teacher Will:

  • Introduce text ( sell it)
  • Introduce skill focus
  • Walk through gradual release model ( I do, we do, you do).
  • Picture walk with student
  • Read fro a purpose-state a question of what you want your students to look for while reading ( i.e. Why was the princess sad?, or What happened to the fish?, Who is the protagonists?”  etc) – suitable for reader level.

Student Will:

  • Examine Text
  • Listen to the skill focus lesson-ask questions if needed
  • participate in gradual release model
  • Predict/share ideas in picture walk

During Reading   

Teacher will:

  • Listen to individual students as they read. Make formative assessment notes and gather information that will help in further learning and guided reading sessions.
  • Help students when they are very stuck. Remind them of strategies learned to problem solve and De-code text.

Student will:

  • Read text quietly to self (Whisper Voice).
  • Read for purpose. Find the answer to the question stated at the beginning.
  • use strategies learned during mini lessons to help problem-solve and de-code text.

After Reading

Teacher Will: 

  • Prompt students with questions that contribute to a guided conversation about the story.
  • Try asking certain students questions about specific details, and inferencing of the text.
  • Make observational/ formative assessment notes.

Students will: 

  • Participate in conversation of the text.
  • Retell parts if the story.
  • Ask questions to rest of group to spark a conversation or clarify your own understanding.

– ** Guided reading is extra support for all students to help develop their individual skills. Benefits of guided reading shine when students feel engaged and have a positive attitude towards working collaborative, helping others in their group, and being open to learning from others in the group, Including the teacher.  Teaching conversation skills and positive language will make the comprehension conversation at the end so much more rich**.

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To give or not to give

Throughout my practicum experiences and observations in numerous classrooms, I have noticed that there is quite a discrepancy amongst teachers whether or not homework has or does not have a benefit. I believe that it comes down to an abundance of components, not simply the grade level that the student is in. This is inquiry is mainly intermediate focused.

During my last practicum in a grade 4/5 classroom, my Sponsor Teacher did not believe in giving out homework, and she had a very solid argument as to why. However, I know of lots of teachers in grade 5 that do give out homework to their students, so I wanted to research it so that I can form my own opinion on the topic.

Today’s blog post is going to give an insight into the BENEFITS of giving out homework. Here is a list of 10 benefits to it:

10 Benefits of Homework

Homework teaches students about time management.
Homework teaches students how to set priorities.
Homework helps teachers determine how well the lessons and material are being understood by their students.
Homework teaches students how to problem solve.
Homework gives students another opportunity to review the class material.
Homework gives parents a chance to see what their child is learning in school.
Homework teaches students that they have to do things, even when they don’t want to.
Homework teaches students how to take responsibility for their part in the educational process.
Homework teaches students how to work independently.
Homework teaches students the importance of planning, staying organized and taking action.

 

10 Benefits of Homework

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Sharing Assessment with Parents

For my last post I just wanted to share a couple ways to share assessment with parents/guardians in effective ways!

Portfolios:

Portfolios are a great way to keep student’s work in one organized place. The teacher in this video gives each student their own binder where their work goes. She regularly goes through the binders with students and asks them to point out their favourite piece of work and asks why. I think that if your students were also doing peer and self assessment in some kind of written format they (or you) could also easily glue the slip of paper onto the back of the work as well to have everything in an organize place. This teacher also takes pictures of students doing play-based learning which I think is very helpful because I find it difficult to think of ways to assess play-based learning, outdoor learning and inquiry that might not have a product to show.  Another great thing about  having work in one place like this is that it allows for you, parents and students to see growth from the beginning to the end easily. Parents can look through these books and see how their kids are doing and teachers can give examples of things they are excelling at or needing more work on in one, organized place.

Recording students:

This is something that I saw a lot of in my practicum classroom last year. My sponsor teacher would have a few questions that she wanted students to be able to answer at the end of a unit and we would interview them at the end video it on the iPads and upload them onto fresh grade. It worked really well and the students thought it was fun to make videos for their parents/guardians!

This strategy that I found while researching was similar to the interviews but I think it would work well for students a bit older than lower primary. Once students feel that they understand a topic they get a dry erase board, make up a lesson and then record themselves giving the lesson. This seems like an awesome way for students to show their learning in a fun way and as far as I can tell from the video they are pretty independent which saves a lot of time for the teacher (the interviewing took quite a bit of time for us to do). This video also fits in really nicely with my learning because students assess themselves by watching the videos and taking notes on what they could improve on! Teachers can assess students by watching these videos at any time and parents get to see evidence of their children learning.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why aren’t all students successful readers?

Over the past few weeks I have researched my inquiry question on “Early intervention strategies to allow all students to have the ability to be successful in order to develop a love of reading.” Throughout my inquiry I will be using the book “Catching Readers Before They Fall” by Pat Johnson and Katie Keier to guide my research along with multiple other resources.

In order to dive deeper into this topic it is important that we have an understanding of  Why aren’t all students successful readers?

According to “Catching Readers Before They Fall” part of the problem is twofold.

  1. Struggling readers are not applying a reading process system in their minds to make meaning of what they are learning in other words they have not learned how to fix errors or even recognize when they have made one.
  2. Many teachers have not had the opportunity to understand how reading works, which is how a students creates a reading process system in their own minds.

This topic is controversial because oftentimes teachers believe that if MOST of their students are learning to read then they must have developed a successful reading program. Although through my research it is hard to be satisfied with most of our student’s when 20% are struggling. These students need us as educators to understand how to help them build an effective reading process system. We have the opportunity to do this by educating ourselves about the reading process and how to support children as they construct a network of strategies. Often times the problem is these students don’t realize that they have the ability to use different strategies to solve their own errors.

What is a reading process system? you may ask..

When we are reading we are constantly using strategies to make meaning of the text we may visualize what is happening at the same time as inferring about what the character is thinking or feeling. Several processes work together in cohesion to guide us as readers through a story or text. Below is a picture from “Catching Readers Before They Fall” that shows one way to describe the array of strategies that are essential for reading.

For my next blog post I will be focusing on early intervention for struggling readers and how to apply it in your classroom.

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