Forming hands into conch shells as an echo chamber.
Trying this ... mini cars!
Charting progress after using mini cars.
This is our first day using mini cars. I would recommend rereading the sentence if reading sounds choppy.
Will THIS help?
High Frequency Words
So many sleepless nights this week!
After gathering and carefully examining data from mid-year testing, I can't sleep. I question my lesson plans and teaching moves for a few struggling readers who are still not reading at an acceptable rate. These students remain at the bottom of the class according to AIMSweb data, showing minimal growth in reading fluency.
Reading sounds more like a cadence and lacks expression for some of our second and third graders. Even at an independent reading level, their reading is dysfluent with random pauses and short phrases. It seems that we have tried everything: modeling fluent reading, rereading familiar text, lots of easy reading and even reader's theater. Nothing seems to help.
Turning to Research for Best Practices
How long do I keep trying before giving up? Tossing and turning all night, I'm determined to help these readers. Early in the morning, before my alarm clock rings, I'm at my computer researching sound teaching methods.
I'm committed to apply the research of Lucy Calkins as well as recommendations from Jessica Tobin's Fluency Webinar into our classroom. We're trying Tobin's suggestion of using mini cars to roll smoothly under the words. After a few days of using this method, our readers seem to be more aware of their starts and stops in oral reading and are training their eyes to keep moving through print. On Tuesday, our mini lesson included Lucy Calkin's recommendation of forming student's hands into a conch shell as if its an echo chamber in order to listen to themselves read. As I write lesson plans, a list of best practices serve as reminders: teacher modeling of oral reading, talking with students about the passage to ensure comprehension, allowing students to chart their progress of words per minute, continue phonics instruction with Words Their Way and check on sight word knowledge for each reader. Fountas and Pinnell believe "many struggling readers...have developed deeply ingrained habits of reading slowly without expression." Perhaps sliding my finger over the text while students read, will help as well. Research is clear. Text levels for fluency practice must be at students' independent reading levels. Trying again... not giving up on myself or my readers!
A video was made of the child planting.
The sight word can was our focus for instruction. Kindergartners were mesmerized by this video: David's Kindergarten Sight Word-can:
We made our own video incorporating the same sentence structure. First, students drew a picture of what they can do and wrote: Can I __? Yes I can. Next, we made our own video using our iPad camera and the Vont app showing what students can do ex. planting, drawing, etc. Since the app allows print to be written over the video, we layered the same sentence structure over the video. (Due to privacy reasons, our video is not included in this post.) The kindergartners loved seeing themselves on the video. Hopefully, with this meaningful activity, readers will be able to read and write the new sight word in other texts.
This kindergartner wrote: Can I plant? Yes I can.
This kindergartner wrote: Can I draw? Yes I can.
Appealing for help from early literacy experts. Have you had a student in your classroom that writes from right to left? Which interventions worked? This student writes from the right side of the page to the left. The kindergarten teacher shows the child where to start writing, but after she leaving his side, he reverts back to writing from right to left. Using a dot on the left side of the page to indicate to the child where to start writing has helped, however, without the dot the child is not able to write with correct directionality. He often turns his paper upside down and writes his name at the bottom of the page. At times, the child writes his name upside down. Reversals have improved since the beginning of the year. While reading, books are held upside down. Your suggestions would be appreciated.
"How hard can it be to draw a cookie? I tell myself, Don't give up!"
Lisa Campbell Ernst explained the struggles of being an illustrator.
"I'm going home to write a book!" exclaimed one of our students after Lisa's inspiring presentation. We couldn't contain our laughter as Lisa formed a vivid picture in our minds of her writing experiences as a child. Lisa explained the process of writing a book from the initial stages of brainstorming to the arrival of the published book. Lisa stressed, "YOU are the most important step in the book when you read the book." Students and staff are anxiously awaiting her next book after hearing a snippet of her plans for the characters and the plot.
The Next Step Forward In Guided Reading by Jan Richardson is packed to the brim with interventions for struggling readers. Just as students benefit from teacher modeling, teachers benefit from Jan's clear examples of guided reading routines in over 40 videos. Record keeping forms, word lists, and assessments are also included from Pre A to fluent levels. This is a must-have for guided reading teachers.
Applying the advice of literacy experts Rebecca McKay and Jan Richardson in our classroom using these hands on activities starting with letters from the child's name and using the ABC chart from Zoo Phonics used in our kindergarten classrooms.
Literacy coach, teacher trainer/coach, and national presenter, Rebecca McKay, is author of the book Not This But That No More Letter A Week. Research based early literacy practices of letter learning are critiqued. The book provides purposeful practice of letter knowledge, phonemic awareness and print concepts. Rebeca draws the reader's attention to what is involved in letter learning, and why letter learning can be confusing for emergent readers.
Rebecca lists letters from most to least frequently used. A valuable resource for kindergarten teachers.
The first online meeting was a scheduling challenge, but all students participated. Our first hurdle was engaging the intimidated younger readers.
"How are the characters in the book and yourself alike? Have you had any experiences that are the same?" 6th grade Buddy.
4th Grade readers met with 6th readers one day each week via "Google Hangouts."
Mentors = Friendships
We are amazed at the amount of time the older readers have dedicated to their buddies, sending emails to check on the amount of reading that is being done and challenging them to read more. One student created a poster for her buddy reminding her to “relax” during assessment testing. Three of the older students decided on their own to read with their buddies once a week after school. Of course, all parents were contacted and the meetings are held with teacher supervision.
"Is there a problem in the book? Who is the antagonist, the bad person?" 6th grade Buddy.
"Oh, yeah, I read that one (book). It's really a good book. It talks about growing up," 6th grade Buddy.
We are still in the early stages of this project, so we have little to share beyond the planning. One thing we can say is that our fourth graders would be very disappointed if the program ended.
Teachers supervised peer conferences.
Students decorated tri-fold display boards to represent their favorite book. Boards were displayed to entice other readers to check out these titles. Students included: plot summary, author's purpose, setting, main characters and problem/solution. Many parents worked alongside their child in the classroom and produced exceptional work!
Author In School
Jennifer Dizmang was a hit with our K-8 students and teachers! Jennifer engaged students with her humor and energy. Due to her counseling background, she wanted everyone to understand the power of positive self esteem. Her take away message was "Everyone has their own power because of the choices they make."
Kids shared their greatness and dreams. Some of their dreams included: inspiring others, curing cancer and winning a Nobel Peace Prize. Isn't that a lofty goal for a 4th grader?
Harry Hornacre is a book character who appears to never have a chance in life. He deals with embarrassment, bullying, work ethic, etc. Harry always wins because his heart is in the right place.
Harry's appearance is obviously different for a reason. Jennifer asked brave students to share what they wanted to change about themselves. One student commented that she wished she wasn't ugly. Jennifer responded with a comment about how she viewed the student as being beautiful. The audience erupted in spontaneous applause, confirming Jennifer's response. It brought tears to the eyes of those attending.
One third grader shared,"I want to be an author like you, because your books inspired me."
Adults and students loved the time we spent with you, Jennifer. Thank you!
Budget cuts make author visitations prohibitive, however, due to private funding we were able to continue this valuable experience at our school.
Children's Book Author/Novelist/Professional Motivational Speaker/Counselor
AR quizzes were taken after each book. Only those quizzes with 80% correct questions were counted.
Munchies were provided.
Readers from each classroom passing the MOST AR quizzes were invited to a pizza party the next day with the principal.
All readers received a participation certificate and were awarded time on bouncy inflatables. Winners were allowed extra time on the games. Adults and students considered the event a huge success!
Siblings read together.
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