Archive | October, 2011

We Give Books!

27 Oct

Books are for Reading

Books are for Giving!

I am forever looking for websites that support digital literacy and promote lifelong readers. This one takes the cake!

We Give Books was created by the collaborative team of Penguin Group and Pearson Learning. The mission of supporting literacy is carried out through their website, as well as their variety of non-profit partner programs and campaigns. Through this organization, students have access to wonderful e-books and have the opportunity to make a difference!

Check out some great e-books for the month of October!

Bug Out!

Many Marvelous Monsters

Check out some great e-books for the month of November!

Two Bad Pilgrims

Pardon That Turkey

According to the website:

“We Give Books is a new digital initiative that enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don’t have them, simply by reading online.” (We Give Books)

This foundation also sponsors Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, an annual event that engages communities across the country in supporting reading. My students and I participated in this great event earlier in the month by reading Llama, Llama Red Pajama with the rest of the nation. The kids felt good knowing they were helping other students become lifelong readers as well!

Learn more about this great foundation here, and be sure to share this great website with your colleagues!

Reading Hats: Which ones do YOU wear?

15 Oct

The big question I ask my students at the beginning of each year is…

“What hats do YOU wear when you’re reading?”

The response is usually one of confusion, or one that shows off their way-too-literal minds (e.g., “My favorite baseball hat, of course!”). The truth is, readers can wear MANY hats when they read! However, with each hat is a different role and purpose for reading. Readers can have many roles and many purposes throughout their instructional day, but the trick is knowing when to put on each hat and what to do once you do!

Readers Are:

  • Chefs
  • Detectives
  • Reporters
  • Problem Solvers
  • Investigators
  • Leaders

Are You a Reading Chef?

As a Reading Chef, your job is to identify story ingredients (i.e., story elements) and “mix” them together to understand a fictional story.

Students as Reading Chefs can read for the purpose of entertainment and the benefits of a good story recipe! Students can then “pass on the recipe” and retell a story using the story ingredients they identified.

Are You a Reading Detective?

As a Reading Detective, your job is to search, find and discover information to fill-in the missing pieces, make inferences, and understand the “Big Picture” of a story.

Students can be Reading Detectives with all types of Fiction stories, not just mysteries. They can learn about characters and story events, and fill in the unknown pieces using their inferencing skills! Through discovery and inferencing, students can put together the pieces of the puzzle and the overall “Big Picture.”

Are You a Reading Reporter?

As a Reading Reporter, your job is to report new information and retell stories to share understanding.

Students can be Reading Reporters for both fiction and non-fiction texts. For non-fiction, students can share their new learning with thinking partners orally, or can share their learning through expository writing. For fiction, students can practice sharing oral retells of stories or writing story summaries to share the events and elements of the story.

Are You a Reading Problem Solver?

As a Reading Problem Solver, your job is to answer questions, examine information and solve problems.

Students can pose questions and read for the purpose of finding the answers. They can also read to persuade an audience of possible solutions for a problem. This hat involves students researching and examining existing information in various non-fiction texts. Students are Reading Problem Solvers during many science experiments and content-area research projects.

Are You a Reading Investigator?

As a Reading Investigator, your job is to explore topics, study information and analyze new learning.

Students investigate content-area topics to build background knowledge for fictional stories, or to learn about a specific topic for a content-area unit. Students use research skills and various non-fiction learning strategies to explore information and develop new learning. As Reading Investigators, students can then analyze their new learning to build- up their understanding of a topic!

Are You a Reading Leader?

As a Reading Leader, your job is read to inform decisions and inspire life choices. 

Students can read for information to build character in themselves and also to guide their life choices. Students as Reading Leaders can read for the purpose of making decisions or to inform opinions.

What other hats do students wear during reading?


Supplemental materials for Reading Hats can be found below!

(More coming soon!)


Building-Up My Toolbox: Self-Monitoring Strategies

10 Oct

This year, I’m working with a challenging group of second and third-graders who are NOT consistently monitoring their reading and comprehension. Some fail to fix-up their meaning-changing miscues, others aren’t stopping to check for understanding, and many aren’t doing EITHER! I’ve been racking my brain to try and come up with different ways to get the students to notice (in their heads!) that something doesn’t sound right, look right, or make sense.

If only I could climb into their brains and turn on that magic switch!

Of course, I always teach an abundance of decoding and comprehension fix-up strategies, as well as the “Big Three” monitoring questions that students should ask themselves while reading, but it doesn’t guarantee that they’re monitoring their reading independently or consistently. A month ago, I noticed they needed another strategy to go with these monitoring questions and the strategies I’ve been trying… and I needed a few more tools in my toolbox!

A sample reference poster I use with my students!

(NOTE: This “Big Three” monitoring questions poster is displayed on the wall behind my teaching table and a copy is placed in their take-home folders. I also have bookmarks to reinforce self-checking for their take-home book-in-a-bags.)

Trying out new tools…

So far, I’ve introduced Click & Clunk, which is a great strategy using small cards to silently signal when they “click” and understand something, or hit a “clunk” and get stuck. However, in order to effectively use this strategy, students need to pay attention and ask themselves the “Big Three” throughout their reading… and not all of them are doing that yet. I’ve modeled, we’ve practiced. I’ve re-modeled, we’ve practiced. It’s still not “clicking.” Maybe in time it will, but when I do my weekly progress monitoring, so many of them are still reading with significant meaning-changing miscues (some of which I can’t believe they don’t notice!).

A presentation I use to teach Click & Clunk (with the cards!).

With the older reading students, I’ve used INSERT – a wonderful comprehension monitoring strategy from Read. Write. Think. Essentially, this strategy involves “inserting your thinking” by placing coded sticky notes or codes in the margins when what you read is: (1) something you already know, (2) something new, (3) something that changed your thinking, or (4) something that is confusing. You can also mark important facts and ideas. This is a great tool to use in conjunction with  Click & Clunk, but I don’t feel the second graders are quite ready to use complex codes and symbols to mark their understanding and thinking.

However, it did get me thinking…

The students love anything having to do with sticky notes, and the older students responded well to placing sticky notes in the margins and “marking up the text,” so… perhaps using sticky notes was my key to unlocking their thinking and monitoring skills! It’s tactile and the students actually have to stop and think to do it.

In an attempt to modify INSERT, I came up with “Show Me Your Thinking!” where I just gave students “happy face” and “sad face” stickies. They didn’t reflect on their knowledge and learning, but instead on their understanding of words, phrases, and pages… similar to Click & Clunk. Each student had to place a “happy face” next to the paragraph they understood (Click!), and a “sad face”  next to the ones they were confused by (Clunk!). This worked even better for the Reading A-Z books that we printed since they could write in the margins and circle/underline their confusions!

Taking it one step further…

Another intervention I later implemented involved a four-step process: (1)  reading to a stopping point (2) recalling text read (3) reflecting on understanding of text, and (4) summarizing understanding of the section. This intervention was an extension to Linda Hoyt’s strategy “I Remember” (Revisit, Reflect, Retell, 2009).

Students in my groups learned Hoyt’s strategy of “I Remember” earlier in the year for practice with story recall and retell. With this strategy, students created stopping points to think back and recall information they just read, and used specific sentence starters to retell what they read. The strategy supports comprehension and reinforces self-monitoring but I added a layer to dig deeper into the process of monitoring our comprehension. For the next step in the process, I asked students to apply the “I Remember” strategy, but to also reflect on their understanding and put it into words. Students were asked to share what they remembered reading and understanding (clicks!) and what they remembered getting stuck on (clunks!). This took the “Show Me Your Thinking!” strategy one step further, as students were asked to put their understanding and confusions into their own words to summarize their thinking. Their “I Remembers…” were recorded on sticky notes or shared with thinking partners. Using Hoyt’s strategy as inspiration, I wrote the following sentence stems on craft sticks for the students to use:

So far, the combination of all three strategies has been working wonders! We’ve been practicing monitoring our comprehension for over 4 weeks now, and I am impressed with the progress that is being made. The students are better able to identify exact points of confusion and exact points of understanding, though some of the second-graders still need significant guidance. The tactile piece of sticky notes or recording in the margins seems more interactive with the text than flipping a Click/Clunk card, and the students seem more engaged. We still use the Click & Clunk cards to indicate when they are stuck on decoding a word, but I have them use “Show Me Your Thinking!” for their comprehension.

What’s next…

My next goal is to build independence with this strategy and have the students internalize the thinking process involved. I eventually want to take away the popsicle sticks and the sticky notes to make the process more automatic. I also would like to see the students bridge this strategy to the classroom and other content-area work. Ambitious for one year? Perhaps… but eventually we’ll get there!

What tools do YOU use for teaching self-monitoring strategies?

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