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Friday, September 28, 2012

Answering vocabulary questions! Strategies that work

When teaching students to answer vocabulary questions, they need to have a strategy! But before they can use the strategy, they need to know what type of question they are answering. 

The four main types of reading comprehension questions are:
  1. Vocabulary
  2. Right There or Find the Fact
  3. Clue Word
  4. Main Idea

If a question does not fit into any of the four categories, then they will have to have some specific knowledge in order to answer it. If they lack the knowledge, all they can do is try to eliminate poor response choices and then guess.

Teaching the Strategies
All students should be taught to approach each reading test selection like this:
  1. Read the questions before reading the selection.
  2. Highlight the key words taking special notice of the “buzzwords” if there are any.
  3. If a question refers to a specific paragraph, star that question and immediately find the relevant section of that paragraph. Check to see if the correct answer is “right there”.
  4. Write the type of question it is: vocabulary, find the fact/clue, main idea
  5. Then, read the selection.
Reading the questions before the selection clues the reader in to what they are going to read and what to pay attention to. Highlighting keywords like those boldfaced gives the reader a deeper understanding of what is being asked. Writing the question type lets the student focus on what strategy they will use to answer the question. The following strategies are applied AFTER all the above steps have taken place.

Vocabulary Questions
It does not take much to identify this type of question. They typically refer to a word that is already underlined in the text and ask what it means. After writing that the question is a vocabulary question, students should:
  1. Find the word in the selection.
  2. Write the sentence replacing the vocabulary word with a line.
  3. Re-read the sentence four times. Each time replacing the word with another response choice.
  4. Decide which substitution makes the most sense in the context of the story. Choose that one.



Special thanks to Jonathan Steinholf who wrote this sequence of lessons up. 


Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:


RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   

Friday, August 31, 2012

Using the Olympics to teach procedures

Around the first week of school is that time when you will be practicing procedures.

Here are some ideas on how to make practicing procedures FUN!


  • Olympic Visualization! Since the Olympics have just finished up, you can let students know that most great athletes practice or visualize their routines in their mind. And they sometimes go through their motions with gestures to help them visualize. So, instead of asking students to take out their pencils and put them away, chance it up and visualize and gesture doing to activity. Why? Beyond the fun factor, it will be faster and help the actual procedure move faster. 
  •  Olympic Commentary! As the students walk through the procedure, give corrective feedback on what they are doing correctly and what they can improve. Table 3 has the chairs pushed in and are walking to the line. Oh no, table 1 is forgetting to push in their chairs. I wonder if they will remember. . .
  •  Olympic clock competition! This is a favorite activity that you can use throughout the year. Get out your timer and, once the students know how to do the procedure correctly and slowly, have them work on beating their time. You can even keep a score board on your whiteboard for their best times. Make it a game to improve.
  • Olympic Judging! Students love this one. You choose one student who has two award slips (whatever your school uses). As the class does the procedure they look for a boy and a girl that did a good job to give a compliment. Make sure to talk about not giving a compliment to your friend.

Remember, practice the procedures now so you can have fun for the rest of the year.



Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:


RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING 
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT 
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   
EDITING MADE EASY: Strategies For All Writers 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lesson plans for Preparing Students for Testing

Why would I give you lesson plans from the beginning of the year to prepare students for testing? Because when you know what you want students to learn by the end of the year, it helps you plan to get there! These techniques are applicable for students in grades 3 and higher.

I actually started doing more test preparation earlier in the year after watching a video on Standardized Testing at Whole Brain Teaching.

The video talks about having visible strategies for teaching students to answer both math questions and reading questions. Additionally, it shared that we should start doing 10 minutes of teaching strategies for reading and math questions starting at the beginning of the school year.

Here are some of the lesson plans I use in the beginning of the year that were collaboratively created at my school. Thanks again for everyone who helped in creating this document!

Lesson plans and rationale for teaching reading comprehension strategies

PS: All of the teachers who used these lessons at our school and the Teaching Comprehension Lessons had 1.5 years to 2 years gain in reading this last year!

PPS: Feel free to share the lessons with anyone who might find them helpful. In return, please let 4 other teachers know about this website if you choose to use these lessons in your classroom.

Lesson plans 


HOL online classes I offer:



RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   


Friday, August 17, 2012

Homework rubric

Instead of grading homework, I am planning on using a rubric this year. Clearly, I'll look to see how students are doing with the homework, but grading it doesn't make than much sense. Some students do the homework with their parents, others don't get assistance at home.

Here is a copy of the rubric that I am thinking of starting the year with:

Homework rubric



ExceedsMeetsClose to meetDoes not meet
CompletionCompletes all required HW, plus does 3 sessions on IXL.com and writes a 3 paragraph story.Completes all required HW to the best of your ability.Does not complete 1 page.Does not complete more than 1 page.
HeadingIncludes name, number and date page was finished.Includes name, number.Includes only name.Missing
NeatnessWriting is done to the best of your ability, is neat and paper is not wrinkled. Writing is mostly neat.Writing is a bit messy. Some words are hard to read.Writing is very messy. The papers are torn or all wrinkled.




I was going to print a copy of the rubric to the front page of the packet each week and so I can circle off how the student is doing. I think this is a nice balance between grading everything and just having it be credit/no credit.

On top of that, the students should be able to circle in pencil what they think their grade should be, and I can go over with with a highlighter. This gives students a chance to reflect on their grade and take more ownership over the process! 

Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:


RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to school jitters

You would think that after 11 years of teaching I would be calm at the beginning of the school year. Not so. Even after 11 years in the classroom, I still get nervous. Maybe you do to?

Here is what works for me to calm the beginning of the year jitters:

1) Plan, plan and plan some more.

I really like to plan out my first hour to the minute and the first day in 30 minute increments. Yes, even after 11 years, I still write out a minute by minute plan for the first hour.  If you haven't seen it, WBT has a great video on what to teach the first hour of school. It is program 532 in the videos (and completely free at wholebrainteaching.com.)

I always have some back-up plans as well. In the past, I have had a crossword search with the name of each child in the class. This is a backup activity in case something comes up and I need to keep the students busy. I recommend having some backup activities ready to go in case a new student suddenly arrives 30 minutes into the day or you are told at 1:50 that you need to make the bus tags for your students before 3 pm (happened last year) or an activity just goes much faster than you expect.

2) Positive self-talk

I can work myself into a state with negative self-talk. . .  I know that I am going into negative self talk when I hear myself saying SHOULD. "You should have your classroom set up by now." "You should have all of the copies for the first week." "The bulletin boards should look nice for the first day."

Talk back to the negative self-talk.

Yes, it would be nice if the classroom were already organized, but I can handle this.
It would be preferable to have all of the copies done, but I am just going to focus on the first day right now.

3) Relax and continue to rejuvenate

The first day will be here soon enough! So, continue to enjoy the summer while you still can. Get out and pick some flowers from your garden. Go to a you-pick and enjoy some fresh fruit. There is still plenty of summer to enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

R2L: Perfect HW Template video 1

Here is a short video that I created that demonstrates writing sentence summaries as part of the R2L reading process.

I hope you enjoy this video:



As a review from my previous post on homework:

The research is actually pretty clear. Students gain very little when they do homework. Actually, according to a meta study by Hattie (1992) that reviewed 110 experiments on homework, it only raised achievement by 1%.  So, there are better ways for you to be spending your time.

How much time do you spend making and grading homework? I suggest that you create a simple template that you can use over and over.

What does raise achievement?


  • Teaching students summarizing strategies and having them write summaries also raises achievement by 35%. 
  • Reinforcing effort raises achievement by 20%. 
  • (All of the statistics were taken from Classroom Instruction that Works.)
You will see that my template uses these results and focuses on what will make the biggest difference. Feel free to save a copy and edit it any way you want. If you use this template for your classroom, please share this website with 3 other teachers. Perfect Homework Template

For my readings, I recommend short non-fiction passages. There are many great books out there. One I really like are the Teacher Created Resources Daily Warm-Ups. Of course, you can use any resource you want. What I like about these books?
  1.  There is one reading for each day of the year.
  2. There is both a non-fiction and mixed non-fiction/fiction book.
  3. They have a reading level index at the back.
  4. The topics are all interesting! (according to me and my students that is)
  5. It is very little prep time for me, but gives high returns for my students.

Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:

RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rewards and Timing of super improver wall stars

This last year I implemented the super improver wall with great success. As students showed improvement, they received a star next to their name on the super improver wall. Here is a picture and more information about the wall: http://luria-learning.blogspot.com/2012/02/super-improvers-wall.html

Some activities were automatic stars. For example, my weakest readers knew that they could get a star for beating their scores in super speed 1000 and that they would have a chance to practice with me or a volunteer a few times a week. We would work till they earned a star. This was incredibly motivating.

Students could also earn stars for improving their test scores on their weekly math and vocabulary tests. I would have to say that this did not motivate students quite like the super speed 1000, and I now understand why.

Timing!

An interesting article on the timing of rewards from edweek.com shows that students actually do better when the reward is linked very closely in time to the action. Actually, if you give the reward first, and then have the student earn the reward, students will work even harder. They don't want to "loose" the reward that you have already given them.

With super speed 1000, I was able to put their name on the board to show that they were going to earn a reward immediately. While it might not have been posted on their chart till later, they still received the immediate gratification of seeing their name go up.

With the vocabulary and math tests, it took me longer to see if they had improved, graded them, and then eventually put up their stars. Sometimes I might not put them up for 2-5 days. And because I gave the tests on Fridays, the weekend would add a few more days to the wait.

I'm not sure what the solution to this would be. I was almost wondering if I could put on the board - Your star this week - with the student's name and their score that would have them earn a star. Then, if they didn't make it I would erase the star. What do you think?

Friday, July 27, 2012

R2L: Difficulties in remembering what was read

My students can’t seem to remember what they’ve read. How can I help them?
   
 Sometimes our students who struggle the post are not able to recall facts about what they are reading. Here is a fun extension you can use in a small group to help students with short term memory issues or difficulties in recalling what they have read.

Objectives: 1). Students will be able to remember more of the details from the non-fiction texts they read. 

Materials: Each student given a passage to read that is 1-2 paragraphs. With time, you can increase in the complexity and length of the passages.

1) Chorally read the passage together.
2) Read sentence 1 out loud again. You can either call on a student or read it out loud yourself.
3) MODEL: Model covering up the sentence and then remembering one detail from the sentence. As you state the detail out loud, count on your fingers. (Showing the number 1) Encourage your students to mirror your motions.
4) WE DO: With a partner, have the students reread the sentence again, cover it up, and tell their partner one detail.
    a) Read, Cover, Count
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the next sentence.
6) After you complete steps 3 and 4 with the whole paragraph, MODEL covering up the paragraph and retelling as many details as you can remember. Have the students count on their hands as you tell the details.
7) YOU DO: Partners reread the paragraph and then count details out loud, trying to remember between 5-8 details per paragraph.
8) Repeat this process with the next paragraph. 

HOL online classes I offer:

RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   

Friday, July 20, 2012

R2L: Helping students expand their vocabularies

My students are struggling with vocabulary. What should I do for them?
Here are some optional lesson extensions. Once students learned the process, I started doing vocabulary flooding every day before reading the passage. I’ll give you some background on vocabulary flooding and explain the whole process. This is a great way to challenge both your TAG students while at the same time supporting your ESL and SpEd. students!

Vocabulary extensions - Vocabulary Flooding

Background on Vocabulary Flooding:

    1. “Vocabulary learning takes place when students are immersed in words. Just as teachers have begun to use the phrase ‘flood of books’ to talk about situations where students have many and varied opportunities to read, (Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding, 1988), so the phrase ‘flood of words’ is an important issue for general vocabulary development. Reading to children has been shown to extend not only their recognition of new words but also their ability to use these words in their own retellings,” (Eller, Pappas, & Brown, 1988; Elley, 1988).
    2. An average of 2 minutes per reading lessons is spent on explicit vocabulary instruction (Roser and Juel, 1982).
    3. As students are exposed to more complex non-fiction text, vocabulary has a greater impact on passage comprehension than decoding skills (Biemiller 1999).

  1. PREPARATION - Before reading the passage highlight one word that you think is a key academic word for students to know.
  2. Do a Google search for images to find a good image that relates to the key academic word.
  3. Use a thesaurus to choose 8-10 words related the the vocabulary word. I like to use www.thesaurus.com or www.visualdictionary.com, but you can use any online or print thesaurus you prefer.
  4. TEACHING - Post a picture on the wall and link the new vocabulary word with a concept students already know. “A FAMINE is when people are very hungry and do not have enough to eat.”
  5. Write the word on the board. Then, have student say and spell word, and say word again.
  6. Add related words with a sentence for each word. “A PAUCITY of food means there is not enough food to go around.”
  7. Write the new word on the board. Then, have student say and spell word, and say word again.
  8. Follow these steps for the 8-10 vocabulary words.


After I do an image search, I place a sticky note on the word with the words that I am going to be teaching.

After teaching the words and the passage, I will allow a student to create a poster of the words that have been “flooded.” This is a great extension for your fast finishers or those who need a challenge. 

HOL online classes I offer:

RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   







R2L: Frequently Asked Questions

R2L: Reading to Learn


FAQ

Why should the students chorally read the passage first?
The rational for the choral reading is that weaker students who do not know how to pronounce the words are able to hear the passage one time through, supporting their reading fluency.

Is it really necessary to take this long to read just 3-4 paragraphs?
With time, you will be able to skip or shorten some of the steps. For your ESL and SpEd students, this protocol works extremely well. This protocol is also very effective for students on grade level, or students reading text that is above their current reading level.
I find that for some of my Gifted and Talented students they like having the option of doing the assignment with the whole class or on their own and then doing a challenge activity. Often, though, those students enjoy the conversations that are involved in the reading process.
Personally, at the beginning of the year another teacher explained a similar process to me. I honestly thought that it was too much work. Half way through the year, though, her students had made over a years worth of gains, where as my students were just on track to make regular gains. After seeing the results, I started talking with her and decided to her model in my classroom.
I adapted what she did to make sense for me, and it has been extremely powerful. I encourage you to adapt this so it works for you and your students. This new version is what I am sharing. Thank you Gaelle Harris for being willing to let me share this with other people and for everything that you do for your students!

Where can I find good reading passages?
On the next page is an example of a passage I have used with my students. You can find passages on the Internet, in your reading basal program if you have one, through Minute Readers. The most important thing is that the majority of the initial passages are non-fiction. As adults and college students between 60% and 80% of what our students read will be non-fiction. For this reason, I encourage you do to a similar ratio in R2L time.

Why do you particularly recommend non-fiction for students behind grade level?
You can have a very interesting text that is written at a 2nd grade level, if that is what a 6th grade student needs. The non-fiction passage will not appear “babyish” because it is on actual facts and information the student hopefully finds interesting. It is much more challenging to find fictional stories that are 3-4 paragraphs, but are not insulting to children who may be more than 2 years behind grade level.

How difficult should the reading passages be?
    The first times you teach the base lesson, choose reading passages that are either at the students independent reading level, or slightly below the independent reading level. The purpose for choosing easier passages is so that the effort is on the process, not the reading.
    Once students understand the process, I generally try to choose a passage that is 1-2 years above the current reading level of most people in the group. If anything, error on the side of a too challenging text. Because you are scaffolding the instruction and the reading, you can truly challenge your students.

Can you give me an example of what the finished paper looks like?
    On the next page is an example from one of my students. You can see where she writes her summary sentences and how she completed the independent portion of the exercise. 


HOL online classes I offer:


RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   

 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flipping the Classroom

I have been flipping my classroom this last year with some great results. Actually, here is an article that was written about flipping the classroom in low-income schools. (I was interviewed for part of the article!)

One of the amazing impacts flipping had on my students was really engaging them in the classroom. This, along with Whole Brain Teaching, have made a huge impact in student achievement in the areas of math and science!

From the report:

Promise of the ‘flipped classroom’ eludes poorer school districts

By Sarah Butrymowicz
 


When Portland, Ore., elementary school teacher Sacha Luria decided last fall to try out a new education strategy called “flipping the classroom,” she faced a big obstacle.

Flipped classrooms use technology—online video instruction, laptops, DVDs of lessons—to reverse what students have traditionally done in class and at home to learn. Listening to lectures becomes the homework assignment so teachers can provide more one-on-one attention in class and students can work at their own pace or with other students.

But Luria realized that none of her students had computers at home, and she had just one in the classroom. So she used her own money to buy a second computer and begged everyone she knew for donations, finally bringing the total to six for her 23 fourth-graders at Rigler School. In her classroom, students now alternate between working on the computers and working with her.
So far, the strategy is showing signs of success. She uses class time to tailor instruction to students who started the school year behind their classmates in reading and math, and she has seen rapid improvement. By the end of the school year, she said, her students have averaged two years’ worth of progress in math, for example.


“It’s powerful stuff,” she said, noting that this year was her most successful in a decade of teaching. “I’m really able to meet students where they are as opposed to where the curriculum says they should be.”


Other teachers in high-poverty schools like Rigler also report very strong results after flipping classrooms. Greg Green, principal of Clintondale High School in Clinton Township, Mich., thinks the flipped classroom—and the unprecedented amount of one-on-one time it provides students—could even be enough to close the achievement gap between low-income, minority students and their more affluent white peers. Clintondale has reduced the percentage of Fs given out from about 40 percent to around 10 percent.

To read more of the report, here is a link to the rest of the article:

http://hechingerreport.org/content/promise-of-the-flipped-classroom-eludes-poorer-school-districts_8748/

Are you interested in learning about how to flip your own classroom? I'm working on a class through HOL on flipping the classroom.

HOL online classes I offer:



RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Green Marker / Red Marker

I wanted to share with you a writing system called Green Marker / Red Marker. You may find that watching the video at WholeBrainTeaching.com on the system will help you understand it better than this post! Consider this post a delicious appetizer before the main course!

If you are like me, you find that writing is very challenging to teach. Some kids barely write anything at all, while other kids have well developed skills. When writing an essay, 3 paragraphs or 5 paragraphs, students must correctly do a whole host of mini-skills that they may or may not possess.

In this last three sentences, I did the following:
  • spelled the words
  • capitalized
  • put in spaces
  • decided when and where to start and end the paragraph
  • decided how many words were in each sentence
  • thought about where to put commas
  • included an appositive phrase
That was just in three sentences! It is no wonder that writing is difficult to teach.

Here is where green marker / red marker becomes a life saver. You let students know that they are going to focus on one skill today. Maybe that skill is using spaces. Then, as students write for a set amount of time, like 10 minutes, you walk around the classroom marking their papers. You put a dot or line with a green marker when a student correctly uses spaces between words. Also, you put a dot or line, with a red marker when the student incorrectly uses spaces between words.

You just make two marks for the skill! After you make the line or dot, you teach the child to respond with an "OK" or "Thanks."

Here is an example:

Today I went berrypicking with my family. We ate more raspberies than we piked. I liked picing the berrys a lot i had fun.
I have marked this paragraph with one red mark and one green mark. The marks were focused on spacing. In the beginning, you would ignore the spelling, capitalization and other errors. With time, you would ask the student to focus on neatness, capitalization and spelling etc. But at first, the student would just start with mastering one skill!

I encourage you to continue the meal after this little appetizer! Do check out the free video on this writing method at wholebrainteaching.com!

Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:


RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life  


Friday, July 6, 2012

R2L: Perfect Homework Template

I wanted to share a simpler homework template I use with my younger students. The perfect homework template is great for older students. If you teach in 2nd - 4th grade, you might like this template better.  (Similarly, you could use this template for older students who have weaker skills.)

First, lets review the research. (I know, maybe not the most thrilling reading in the world, but I'll make it short and sweet. And . . . while maybe not thrilling, it is so important to make sure that what we are doing with our precious time will bear the fruit of learning!)

The research is actually pretty clear. Students gain very little when they do homework. Actually, according to a meta study by Hattie (1992) that reviewed 110 experiments on homework, it only raised achievement by 1%.  So, there are better ways for you to be spending your time.

How much time do you spend making and grading homework? I suggest that you create a simple template that you can use over and over.

What does raise achievement?

  • Teaching students summarizing strategies and having them write summaries also raises achievement by 35%. 
  • Reinforcing effort raises achievement by 20%. 
  • (All of the statistics were taken from Classroom Instruction that Works.)
You will see that my template uses these results and focuses on what will make the biggest difference. Feel free to save a copy and edit it any way you want. If you use this template for your classroom, please share this website with 3 other teachers. Perfect Homework Template

For my readings, I recommend short non-fiction passages. There are many great books out there. One I really like are the Teacher Created Resources Daily Warm-Ups. Of course, you can use any resource you want. What I like about these books?
  1.  There is one reading for each day of the year.
  2. There is both a non-fiction and mixed non-fiction/fiction book.
  3. They have a reading level index at the back.
  4. The topics are all interesting! (according to me and my students that is)
  5. It is very little prep time for me, but gives high returns for my students.
HOL online classes I offer:



RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   

Friday, June 29, 2012

Read2Learn - Introduction Lesson for Reading Comprehension

Many teachers who are showing a TWO year gain in reading in one academic year do this whole process 1-2 times every day for the entire school year and assign this for homework. 


 BEGINNING LESSONS: Reading to Learn

How do I help students read and understand non-fiction text?

Here is my basic lesson plan template for helping students understand non-fiction text. I recommend that you find non-fiction texts that are 3-4 paragraphs in length as you begin this process. With time, your students will gain skills and be able to use longer and longer texts.

Objectives: 1). Students will be able to remember more of the details from the non-fiction texts they read.  2) Students will be able to summarize information in complete sentences about non-fiction texts.
Materials: Each student given a passage to read that is 3-4 paragraphs. With time, you can increase in the complexity and length of the passages.
Sentence frames: The _________ (first, second, etc.) paragraph ____________ (details, explains, describes, informs).
  1. Give students the passage. Ask them to sit on the floor or somewhere away from pencils.
  2. Students chorally read the whole passage together.
  3. Students orally reread the first paragraph two times. Have one student read two sentences and then call on another student to read the next two sentences. Do not go in order around the circle!
  4. The first time through the paragraph call on stronger readers and the second time through the paragraph call on your weaker readers. Because the weaker readers have chorally read the whole passage and heard a stronger reader just reread the paragraph, they are normally able to read the sentences fluently.
  5. I DO- Teacher models a summary sentence using a sentence frame.
  6. WE DO-Next paragraph – repeat steps 3 and 4 for the next paragraph.
  7. Teacher models a summary sentence using the sentence frame. Partners face each other and also state a summary sentence of the paragraph.
  8. YOU DO- Next paragraph – repeat steps 3 and 4 for the next paragraph.
  9. Partners work together to come up with a summary sentence for the paragraph. Have different groups share their summary sentences.
  10. Writing - Students return to their desks, and by themselves reread the passage and write a summary sentence for each paragraph. They then answer 3-4 multiple choice questions and one open response question.

Remember, most teachers who are seeing good results (an average of 1 1/2 to 2 years reading growth in a single school year) do the reading process one to two times in class and also assign this for homework each night.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Till June 30th "Spring" special Renewing Ourselves is $200

The following courses are being offered at a reduced tuition
                          from April 1st - June 30th, 2012
                                                                       
           Click on the course title to access the course description and registration page. 
                                 

                        DISTANCE  - GUIDED INDEPENDENT STUDY             

Renewing Ourselves & Our Teaching
Regular fee: $310                     Special fee:  $200
Credit Options Available:          3 Quarter Credits, 30 WA Clock/OR PDUs
Instructor:                                 Sacha Luria
Subject Area:                            Education




Our best teaching comes from bringing who we are (our passions and creativity) to what we do. But this kind of authentic, heart-centered engagement with our work is hard to maintain in the face of the energy-draining demands of today’s education system that appears to focus more on test results than on the humanity of teachers and their students. We need time to reconnect with ourselves and find new inspiration within the subjects we teach.

This course will help renew participants’ enthusiasm for their work by reflecting on their own teaching journey and exploring the stories of other teachers.  Throughout the course, participants will keep a journal in which to make several (or more frequent), weekly entries.

Participants will have time to reflect upon what has meaning for them and to examine how to make that inspiration come alive again in their teaching. Accounts from the lives of teachers from our text – Stories of the Courage to Teach –  (which is based on Parker Palmer’s work) will be our mirror. Many of the teachers featured in this anthology have, at various junctures, been on the verge of exhaustion, and the book is, in many ways, a sustained meditation on how they have sought to regain their emotional and spiritual strength.
Four inspirational films (all available from Netflix) will offer time for further reflection.  They can include a number of movies chosen from Dead Poet’s Society, Freedom Writers, Hoosiers, Stand & Deliver, The Great Debaters, Mr. Holland’s Opus and Remember the Titans, or others of your own selection.  Text $5 or less from amazon.com.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Your summer reading - getting that classroom library ready!

This year I am moving schools and grades. Instead of teaching 4th grade, I will be in a 2/3 blended classroom. One of the exciting things about a new grade level, is setting up the new classroom library.

What will just right books look like for this new group of students? Which books should I prioritize?

Here is how I am going about the project:

  1. Talk to students about what series books are their favorites. Why? Because I want to get my students hooked on reading. I remember as a child reading tons and tons of books by the same author. One year it would be one author, another year it would be someone new. I had my 4th graders tell me about what books they loved when they were in 3rd grade and chatted with some second and 3rd graders at my old school.
  2. Go to your local independent bookstore and ask for some suggestions. Why? Well, on top of supporting the local book store, the advice you can get there is priceless. While I'm at it, I of course buy a few books too!
  3. Look at best seller and award lists. Why? Well, if it is popular, it's because kids are reading them. Here is a list of some award winning children's books of 2012: Award Winning Books
  4. Read a bit every week. Why? It is much easier to recommend a book to students that you have actually read! 
  5. Talk to your local librarian. Why? Need I say that librarians are amazing and know things? I think not. (I guess I just did, but so be it!)

Of course you don't actually have to read every book that is in your classroom library! But, it helps to have read at least a chapter or two of each of the authors, if not one book by each of the major authors you have.

Enjoy your summer reading!

Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:

RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Is your classroom set up for introverted students?

School and most of the world is set up for extroverted students. We grade students on classroom participation (which generally means talking and participating verbally), on how well students give speeches etc.

These days I notice that there is a big push from the administration at my school to have lots of cooperative learning in the classroom. Obviously there is a place for all of this. We also need to think about all of our students.

What about the 25% of children who are naturally introverted? Should we encourage them to come out of their boxes? Should we encourage them to be louder or participate more? Is there a place in our classrooms that can honor their differences?

Before we go on, I will admit that I am extremely introverted by nature. I have learned to act outgoing and extroverted, but it takes much energy. I am happiest working by myself or one on one. In school I was very introverted and hated the lunchroom (its noise etc.).

As an adult, I have the flexibility to decide where I eat, who I work with and to create a life that helps me recharge and be successful. I can take a nice walk by myself at lunch time to "recharge" my batteries and be ready to be "on" and to teach in the afternoon. (Extroverts, by contrast, are like solar panels. They got more energy the more they are around other people.)

From my point of view, which is of course quite personal, I think we need to both nurture and honor introverts. We also need to help very shy children come out of their shells. Introversion is not being shy. Introverted students need to let the world see their light and hear their ideas too.

What are some of the advantages of being introverted?

  1. Introverts tend to work well by themselves for long periods of time.
  2. Introverts tend to build strong long term one on one relationships with people.
  3. Introverts are often independent.
  4. Introverts frequently have a powerful ability to concentrate, even in chaotic environments.
  5. Here is a fascinating TED talk on the power of introverts
Being shy is very different from introversion. I will write more on the differences in another post. For now, take a moment to think about how your classroom can be more welcoming to the introverts in the room.

  • Do you have a place where they can work by themselves sometimes? 
  • How do you help your introverts recharge in the middle of the day? (I can guarantee that going to recess, running with a ton of children from a bunch of different classrooms and then eating in a noisy cafeteria is not recharging for your introverted students.)
  • Do you give students quiet think or write time before asking them to share on occasion?