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Classroom Tip: Standards and Readers Theater for Fluency

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Spice up Spring Reading Fluency!

How do you continually keep students engaged in practicing reading fluency?

Reviewing your instructional practices

The Common Core Anchor Standards for reading stress the importance of oral reading fluency and comprehension.  Many districts schedule specific assessment times during the school year such as fall, winter, and spring.  Click here for a link to the Common Core’s Anchor Standards for Reading.  Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading

Engaging your students with a focus on reading

Teachers must be innovative and use varied methods to keep reading a priority. If you have not introduced Readers Theater activities in your instruction now is a good time.  Readers Theater will help reengage your students in practicing reading fluency.

Students need to hear fluent reading in order to improve their own oral reading.  Research by Young and Rasinski suggests that a student’s oral reading fluency is directly related to his silent reading comprehension.  “Students who read with expression when reading orally tend to have good comprehension when reading silently. Conversely, students who read with little or inappropriate expression during oral reading are more likely to have poor comprehension when reading silently.”  Young, C., & Rasinski, T. (2009, September). Implementing Readers Theatre as an Approach to Classroom Fluency Instruction.

Reader’s Theater plays are a fun and simple way to involve your students in reading aloud.  There are many resources available online as well as in print.  The plays are easily adaptable for a whole class or small groups.  Click here for a list of plays including the number of readers needed for each.

Your students could create a few poster boards for scenery and perhaps some small props. Voila, you have a mini stage production!  Remember, the goal is for students to be engaged and excited to read their part.  Practice and repeated reading are integral steps towards their “big performance”!  This activity also encourages discussion about being a good audience member and cast member through teamwork!  Through Reader’s Theater, your students will be building classroom spirit and respect for others, which are two important goals teachers have for their students!

Readers Theater is just one of many resources offered in CLOI’s Increasing Fluency course. Our graduate course presents valuable material for all grade level teachers, reading specialists, literacy coaches and speech and language pathologists.

Additional Resource for Reader’s Theater

Here is a link that provides details of how to choose a script that has natural discussion as well as scripts that will help students with literacy behaviors.

Reading Rockets. Reader’s Theater: Giving Students a Reason to Read Aloud. Retrieved from: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/readers-theater-giving-students-reason-read-aloud

 

Phonological Skills: CLOI Classroom Tip

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Strong Phonological Skills

The Common Core Anchor Reading Standards for K-5 begin with phonics and phonological awareness skills that build systematically grade by grade.  By grade 5, the expectation is that students are able to use phonics and morphology knowledge to decode unfamiliar words both in and out of context.  Students will master these skills at varying rates.  A teacher needs to meet each student at his/her individual competency level and provide appropriate instruction.

Click here for the Common Core Anchor Standards Foundational Skills.

Many classroom teachers do not feel prepared to identify phonemic awareness and phonics skill levels in their students.  This task of evaluating may be daunting with some student populations.

Listed below are a few ways to check your students’ phonological skills:

Phonological skills typically develop in a predictable progression. This is significant, as it offers the basis for the instructional sequence for teaching concepts from simplistic to complex. Table 1 outlines and defines phonological awareness concepts ranging from basic to advance.

Table 1. Phonological skills, from most basic to advanced

 

Phonological Skill Description
Word awareness Tracking the words in sentences.

Note: This semantic language skill is much less directly predictive of reading than the skills that follow and less important to teach directly (Gillon, 2004). It is not so much a phonological skill as a semantic (meaning-based) language skill.

Responsiveness to rhyme and alliteration during word play Enjoying and reciting learned rhyming words or alliterative phrases in familiar storybooks or nursery rhymes.
Syllable awareness Counting, tapping, blending, or segmenting a word into syllables.
Onset and rime manipulation The ability to produce a rhyming word depends on understanding that rhyming words have the same rime. Recognizing a rhyme is much easier than producing a rhyme.
Phoneme awareness Identify and match the initial sounds in words, then the final and middle sounds (e.g., “Which picture begins with /m/?”; “Find another picture that ends in /r/”).

Segment and produce the initial sound, then the final and middle sounds (e.g., “What sound does zoo start with?”; “Say the last sound in milk“; “Say the vowel sound in rope“).

Blend sounds into words (e.g., “Listen: /f/ /ē/ /t/. Say it fast”).

Segment the phonemes in two- or three-sound words, moving to four- and five- sound words as the student becomes proficient (e.g., “The word is eyes. Stretch and say the sounds: /ī/ /z/”).

Manipulate phonemes by removing, adding, or substituting sounds (e.g., “Say smoke without the /m/”).

Table Retrieved from: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/development-phonological-skills

 

Nonfiction Reading Strategies

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Strategies for Reading and Writing Nonfiction

The majority of what we read throughout life is nonfiction, for example, news articles about upcoming storms, manuals to figure out

why the mixer stopped working or street signs that help us get to where we need to go on a daily basis. Teaching nonfiction to students can be very difficult. There are so many moving parts: structure, dictionary usage, and recognizing text features. For example, let’s think about reading the kitchen appliance manual that was mentioned earlier. It will take you quite some time to read the whole manual to figure out why the appliance stopped working. To make the process easier and more efficient, you are most likely going to refer to the table contents to determine where to find troubleshooting information. This skill is one your students need to learn. Click the link to find fun ideas to teach students how to read and write nonfiction. http://www.classroomnook.com/2017/02/teaching-nonfiction.html

The Common Care State Standards (CCSS) as well as other state standards have set expectations to increase the amount of nonfiction a student reads. Teachers are required to know the most suitable practices that aid students in accessing their knowledge and understanding of nonfiction reading and writing. Teachers can improve students’ access of text and increase learning by utilizing many strategies. One such strategy is rereading. Deeper understanding and learning occur with multiple opportunities to interact with the text. Students can then use this deeper knowledge to demonstrate their learning by expressing themselves verbally and in writing.

Nonfiction Reading Strategy

In order for students to become immersed in text, teachers must know the most effective techniques that will allow students to demonstrate understanding. One expectation is for students to support claims with specific evidence from the text. In order for them to master these skills; teachers will need to help them build skills incrementally.

Here are three ways students can substitute their personal view for text evidence:

  1. Analyzing imagery for specific clues. Some students may have to review a picture multiple times for any clues to the meaning of the text, this takes practice. This is one part of “close reading” (currently a hot topic in education.) as students must learn to read a text closely and be able to recognize the concepts in the text.
  2. Reasoning allows students to make interpretations and draw conclusions. This requires critical thinking skills. Students must determine what is both explicitly and not directly stated in the text.
  3. Forge connections between knowledge. Students need to link between distinctive knowledge and text. It is more likely for students to develop deeper knowledge with increased text encounters while reading a variety of texts that include a vast range of topics and genres.

 

Freebie, Reading, Reading Comprehension, Teaching Strategies. 5 Ideas for Teaching Students How to Read Nonfiction. Retrieved from: http://www.classroomnook.com/2017/02/teaching-nonfiction.html

 

Classroom Tip: Reading Fluently to Improve Comprehension

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Classroom Tip: Reading Fluently to Improve Comprehension

As end of year testing approaches, students are asked to read passages with fluency and comprehension. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for informational text requires students to master specific skills.  Click here to review the Informational Reading CCSS for 5th grade.

Student Strategies

Students must be able to read nonfiction passages silently and fluently when taking standardized tests.  Fluency is critical for comprehending each important fact in the text.  Below is a list of strategies for students to employ while taking assessments:

  • Read each question carefully.  Use 2 fingers to track underneath the words, so that you see and read each word.
  • Underline any boldfaced words.  They are important!  The test maker gives you that clue by writing them in bold font.
  • If a list of items is given, underline and write a number above each one.  (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).  This will help your brain remember how many items or points there are.
  • Use your hand to cover the text below the line you are reading.  This allows your eyes and brain to focus on one line at a time.
  • Read each question before writing anything.  Questions could relate to one another.  Circle important task words such as explain, compare, or support.  If the question asks for 3 reasons circle the number 3.
  • As you write your response, re-read the question.  Read your completed answer and make sure you have answered the question.  If you were asked for 3 reasons, did you write 3 reasons?

Commonwealth Learning Online Institute (CLOI) offers an excellent course titled, Developing Comprehension with the Common Core State Standards.

Additional Resources for Reading Fluently to Improve Comprehension

Click the link to find Reading Comprehension worksheets to practice comprehension and fluency, which are essential building blocks for academic success.  Reading worksheets and  Reading comprehension worksheets.  Both links listed cover a variety of reading topics that will engage students.

Bonnie Terry’s Improving Reading Fluency with 5 Minutes to Better Reading Skills is a great book for all grade levels that provides an effective approach to improve reading fluency. This is a highly suggested guide for teachers if you have students that are struggling to read. Click the link to watch a quick video of how reading drills can improve reading fluency. https://www.bonnieterrylearning.com/video/improve-reading-fluency-5-minutes-better-reading-skills/

Check out how much fun the kids have and just how simple it is in Celena Marie’s Video. Click here https://youtu.be/kX6W8jl37ko

 

 

 

 

How To Get Students To Ask More Questions In The Classroom

By | Educator Resources

CLOI Classroom Tip: Developing Student Questioning Strategies

Why ask Questions?

Teachers ask questions for many reasons, including:

  • To have the student actively involved in the lesson
  • To increase enthusiasm or curiosity
  • To gauge students’ preparation
  • To check on any accomplishments of work
  • To build critical thinking skills
  • To evaluate prior lessons
  • To foster perceptions
  • To assess accomplishment or mastery of goals and ideas
  • To inspire independent learning

 

Overall, research shows teaching that involves questioning is more effective than teaching without questioning. An important finding is that questions that allow students to concentrate their attention on significant elements of a lesson will have better comprehension than the students that focus on rare or interesting elements. A teacher may fluctuate his or her reason in asking questions during a single lesson, or a single question may have more than one resolution.

Click the link to help with your next lesson. https://beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu/issue/energy-and-the-polar-environment/questioning-techniques-research-based-strategies-for-teachers

Here is an activity that teachers can adapt.

Activity:  Students create questions based on a given text that was read by the class. The students develop sets of questions that range in complexity, and their goal is to “Stump the Scholar”.  The “scholar” could be the teacher, school librarian, or principal invited into the classroom for this activity.  It’s a chance for students to show their expertise and hopefully ask a question that is too hard for the scholar!

This activity can be adapted to every grade level, K-12.  It provides a welcome change of pace for students who tire of the traditional answering of questions when reading is completed.  It requires active engagement with the text and its FUN!  Have a Stump the Scholar contest in your grade! Seek out staff or other adult volunteers that will join in!  Your students will love it!

The question sets include literal, inferential, and evaluative types.  Students practice with each question style. This exercise promotes critical thinking, deep engagement with the text, as well as speaking and writing skills.  Students can work alone, in pairs, or small groups.  This can be a formative assessment performed while a longer novel or informational text is being read or a summative assignment to review an entire text.

Commonwealth Learning Online Institute (CLOI) has developed a unique course titled Developing Comprehension with the State Standards.  Our course contains excellent resources including this neat classroom activity.  Relevant Common Core Standards: This activity relates directly to many of the Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading.  The link to this section of the standards is: Here.

Additional Resource for Questioning Methods

The following online resource can help you learn more about effective questioning methods and implement them in your classroom.

School Improvement Research Series: Classroom Questioning
This document from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory summarizes research findings on questioning techniques.

 

 

Tips To Improve Close Reading Skills in the Classroom

By | Educator Resources

Close Reading

A major focus of current State Standards and the Common Core State Standards is improving students close reading skills.  How do we do this?  Burkins and Yaris of Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy define close reading as “Rereading for the purpose of recognizing details and nuances of text that may go unnoticed during a cursory first read so that new understanding and insights may reveal themselves”.  This definition assumes the reader will read the passage more than once.  For many students, the concept of reading a text one time, let alone more than once is unheard of.  Students will often substitute skimming for fully reading assigned text.  Our students need explicit modeling of close reading techniques.  Teachers must demonstrate how close reading conveys a deeper understanding of the material that leads to greater success when asked to perform a task related to that text. Here are some practical tips you can use with both fiction and nonfiction text.

Quick outline for Close Reading Activity

  • Begin with a short passage.
  • This can be one page from a class novel, a poem, or one subtopic in a textbook chapter.
  • For demonstrating close reading, it is easier to see the techniques applied in a brief text.
  • Set up for success by pre-teaching new vocabulary.  This gives you a sense of your students’ background knowledge while helping them to read more fluently.
  • Read and re-read the text 3-4 times using variety of purposes
  • Different methods should be used such as read-aloud by the teacher, choral reading, and partner reading.
  • Explain the reason for each reading of the text.  For example,
    • The first reading is to get acquainted with the text and use the newly learned vocabulary in context.
    • The second reading may be to develop questions based on the subheadings in a nonfiction text.
    • In a fictional passage, the purpose may be to note a particular literary device that the author uses such as simile, metaphor or hyperbole.
    • The third reading can be to clarify questions and answer them with text evidence.
    • The final reading would be to develop the main idea of the text, supported by the details gathered from the first three readings.

Explicitly model proper note taking.

  • Older students are expected to take notes when reading but this is a skill that must be taught.
  • In younger grades, note taking can be a combination of oral discussion, questioning, and recording on a KWL chart.
  • As students move up in grade level, a two-column format such as the Cornell Note taking method allows for easy organization of the material so that the notes become an effective study tool.
  • Students often mistake highlighting every word and/or writing an extraneous amount for good note taking.

Click the link below for students in younger grades. KWL charts keep students’ thoughts organized and their minds focused on the task.

https://teacherstrong.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/classroom-kwl-chart.jpg

Click the link below to find a Cornell Note Taker that will allow students to use as an effective study tool.

https://www.template.net/design-templates/print/cornell-notes-template/

 

How Teachers Maximize Their Professional Development in the Classroom

By | Educator Resources

Classroom Tip: How to Maximize Your Professional Development

A teacher’s most precious resource is time.  We constantly seek ways to use our time wisely.  One guaranteed time saver is linking your professional development (PD) commitments to your teaching practice.  The buzzword for this is job-embedded professional development.  Let’s explore the term.

The U.S. Department of Education explains that the phrase “job-embedded” “connotes a direct connection between a teacher’s work in the classroom and the professional development the teacher receives.”

Job-Embedded PD & Connecting with Your Peers

When a teacher can envision how a course or seminar will fit into his or her classroom environment, the PD takes on greater meaning.  An immediate and strong connection is made between the new knowledge and its practical application.  Teachers are true innovators!  We love to bring new ideas, strategies, and tools for our instruction.  When PD is clearly job-embedded, the teacher can practice the course material in the classroom, analyze its outcome, and discuss its efficacy with the course members in real time.  This is a wonderful opportunity for each one of us to view our own grade level from a different perspective.  In this era of Common Core, with its emphasis on “college and career readiness”, it’s helpful for us to remember that every teacher, K-12, contributes to a child’s successful school career.

The checklist below will guide you in planning your professional development for this academic year. It can be very helpful to take a course with a colleague.  It automatically gives you time to discuss students of concern and coordinate plans of action.   When a community of teachers takes PD together, they can build a stronger vision of achievement for the student body based on their shared experience.

Activity – Reflect on your 2018-19 Professional Development Plan

Professional Development Goals 2018-2019 What is required by your school/district?  What are your personal goals?
How many PDP points do I wish/need to earn in 2018-19?
How many graduate credits to I wish/need to earn in 2018-19?
What needs do I see among my students after an initial screening and one+ month of class work?
After personal reflection, what skills can I develop to enhance my classroom practice this school year?
What are the curriculum priorities of my school and district?  How do they align with my own needs and my students’ needs?
When is the best time for me to schedule PD?  

Commonwealth Learning Online Institute (CLOI) and Job-Embedded Skills

CLOI courses offer practical, job-embedded, in-depth courses covering a wide variety of reading topics.  Our courses contain a wealth of material including assessments you can use with your students.  Many of our courses offer the opportunity to evaluate an assessment with one of your students, analyze its results, and discuss it online with professional peers.

 

 

Strategies for Reading and Writing Nonfiction

By | Educator Resources

The majority of what we read throughout life is nonfiction. For example: news articles about the upcoming storms, manuals to figure out why the mixer stopped working, or street signs that help us get to where we need to go on a daily basis. Teaching nonfiction texts to students can be very difficult. There are so many moving parts: structure, dictionary usage, mentioning subtitles, and recognizing the different text features. For example, let’s take reading the kitchen appliance manual stated earlier. It will take you time to read and figure out why the appliance stopped working. So, you are most likely to refer to the table contents and see where and if you can find the problem to make things easier.

The Common Care State Standards (CCSS) as well as other states have set expectations to increase the amount of nonfiction a student reads. Teachers are required to know the most suitable practices that will aid students in accessing their knowledge and understanding with nonfiction reading and writing. Students show their understanding by expressing themselves verbally and in writing. Teachers can aid students through accessing the text and demonstrating learning utilizing many strategies. Deeper understanding and learning occur with multiple opportunities to interact with the text.

Nonfiction Reading Strategy

In order for teachers to get students immersed in text, teachers must know the most effective technique that will allow students to demonstrate understanding. Students are expected to support claims with specific evidence from the text. In order for them to master their skills; teachers will need to help them build these skills incrementally.

Here are three ways students can substitute their individual view for text evidence:

  1. Reading Pictures to gain insight for specific clues. (This can take time as every student learns at a different pace). They may have to reread the picture for any missing clues, so they have to be committed and practice. This can also be categorized as “close reading” which is a hot topic in education, as students must learn to read a text closely and be able to recognize the idea of the text.
  2. Reasoning allows students to make interpretations and draw conclusions so that they are able to utilize reasoning effectively. (This requires critical thinking). They need to be able to determine what is not clearly specified in the text.
  3. Forge connections between knowledge. (They need to link between distinctive knowledge and text). It is more likely for students to bring forth natural ability of text encounters, if they read from a variety of texts that includes a vast range of topics and genres.

 

References:

Freebie, Reading, Reading Comprehension, Teaching Strategies. 5 Ideas for Teaching Students How to Read Nonfiction. Retrieved from: http://www.classroomnook.com/2017/02/teaching-nonfiction.html