One of my favorite classroom questions is asking students to spell love, and then eliciting "T- I- M- E." I love this idea that we express our love and caring for one another by spending time together. I think this is so true, even at school. Struggling students often don't feel connected while at school. Once a student thinks they aren't liked or don't belong, it becomes difficult for them to engage in productive group activities and accept feedback meant to move them forward.
Students need to constantly build schema, or background knowledge, that will help them connect to new topics and ideas about the world. Reading nonfiction is one of the best ways to help students do this. It is important to note however, that informational texts can often be one of the most difficult genres for students to comprehend. Because of this young readers need to spend a lot of time processing informational texts. One way to immerse students in nonfiction texts is to invite them to participate in information circles.
As we are in the midst of MOY (Middle of the Year) screenings, we are seeing areas of growth and need on our classrooms. If your students are in need of grapho-phonemic skills, here is a quick game to use in your word work block.
I LOVE using Chick-Fil-A Table Topics cards to get students talking and writing to explain!
Interactive Read Alouds Using Semantic Impressions:
Good readers start making inferences about a text before they even open the cover or read the first line. Illustrations, words, and schema are all contributors to helping a student build conceptual knowledge before they dive into the actual text.
Many struggling readers can't answer this question. They think reading is hard or boring or simply done because "you have to do it". What we can help them understand is that we read to change our heads and our hearts. We read to add to our schema and understand the human condition, and we read to help ourselves make decisions.
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.