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

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

FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
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?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Imaginative Story Outline

Here is the imaginative story outline I have been using this year with my students. Once students have finished with the template, they are ready to write their story!

I got the idea of using a template like this from our special education teacher at our school. He uses a similar outline his students every time they have a big piece of writing. He get just amazing results. Here is an example of a story that one of his 4th grade students wrote this year. This ESL child started the year barely able to write a sentence! Students write 5 paragraph essays and stories that are interesting and easy to read.

To use the template, you should first print it on regular paper and then use the enlarge feature of the copy machine. You can then enlarge the copy to 11 by 14 paper. This way the students have a lot of space to write in their ideas. Plus, the students enjoy having special large paper for their story outline!

Enjoy and feel free to share with anyone who you think could use this.

Imaginative Story Template

Online classes I offer for teachers through

FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life

Friday, June 1, 2012

Make your own comics project

The end of the year is the perfect time to try out new ideas and have projects to keep students engaged. This is one project that we are working on in the classroom. When students have extra time and have finished their assignments, they can work no the comics project. As they finish, we put all of the comics in a binder to share.

Here is a link to a document that you could use or modify. Feel free to take this idea and share it with your colleagues or change it in any way that works for you.

Make Your Own Comics Project