What is Your Goal?
In 2019, I'm all about being intentional in my instruction. Since we never have enough time, my goal is to only spend time on what is most likely going to move readers, writers, and mathematicians forward. I am going to audit every minute of class time to make sure we don't spend time on things that aren't likely to make much difference. Unfortunately, basals and textbooks are full of this kind of fluff.
Seeing is believing and that certainly rings true when teaching your students reading and writing. One day several years ago, I had an epiphany about the reason my students weren't exhibiting reading and writing behaviors. I needed to share MY reading and writing life with my students. This included ME reading and writing for the same purposes and using the same skills I was asking my students to use. I immediately changed my lesson plans to include a daily sharing of my own reading and writing life as part of my focus lesson. When I planned a writing prompt or reading response, I wrote mine before I ever asked students to do the task. This helped me think about the mental processes students needed in order to do the task. It also helped me to determine what I needed to demonstrate for my students. This simple change of making time to read and write (model) in front of my students each day transformed my room to be more of a community of learners.
When I started using the 6+1 Traits of Writing 9 years ago, I loved the strategy of RAFT to get students focused on a specific message for a specific audience. RAFT stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. It really helped my students zone in on what was most important. Then as my instruction evolved, I found that RAFT was also an awesome strategy for writing in math.
Fluency is so much more than simply how fast you call words. Fluent readers read with expression, phrasing, and accuracy, demonstrating comprehension. Further, proficient readers adjust their reading rate to match the author's purpose. Fluency research tells us that how we read aloud is an indicator of how we read silently.
A word cloud is an image composed of words or phrases. Individually or as a team, students create an image in which the size of each word or phrase indicates its importance to the overall meaning of the topic or text. Word clouds can be created for concepts, characters, events, and themes across content areas.
Sometimes when we review our students' writing we might feel like it's lacking the "pizazz" needed to make it interesting for the audience. Here is a quick idea to get students adding meaningful adjectives to their writing.
Teaching students to infer is essential to becoming a proficient reader. When we really dig deep into the strategy of inferring, we notice that it is a skill students (and adults) are already doing each and every moment of the day. Making an inference is making a decision or claim about something using the evidence we are seeing or hearing. Whether we are deciding which food you want off the menu (based on what sounds appealing), or deciding if someone is a good friend (based on their actions and words), we are making inferences all the time! Here are some fun activities to engage students in making inferences throughout the school day.
Literary nonfiction, also known as narrative nonfiction, is one of the best genres for getting students to engage in large quantities of reading. But what exactly is literary nonfiction? We hear the word nonfiction and instantly think informational, which is only partly true. The word literary means "narrative" and nonfiction means "accurate". So literary nonfiction is essentially a true story. And who doesn't like a really good true story?
My commute is usually between thirty to sixty minutes each way every day. I've found this is a great time to get in some professional learning time. I subscribe to several educational podcasts. Each day I select one of the latest podcasts or find a speaker on YouTube. Here are a a couple I highly recommend.
Wonderopolis.org is a phenomenal website for students to use to build schema and vocabulary about a wide range of topics. Be sure to sign up for the daily email to get the daily wondering. Just 5 minutes of "wondering" will provide your students with new knowledge and get them interested in new topics for study. Be sure to check out Wonder Ground to get lesson plans and ideas for fostering curiosity.