Archive | November, 2012

Exercise Your Mind and Fluency!

24 Nov

So you completed the Fluency Boot Camp… now what? 

Fluency is a reading skill that requires maintenance and practice, especially for students who struggle with fluency.  After explicitly modeling and teaching the components of oral reading fluency, be sure to schedule time for practice and reinforcement throughout the school year.

Fluency Reinforcement Activities

It is important for students to practice their fluency skills on a regular basis! Reinforce the components of fluency through weekly/monthly activities, or “Daily Fluency” activities.

Some activities I recommend are: 

  • Weekly Poetry (model/echo/choral read)
  • Readers Theater
  • Fluency Passages (charting wpm progress each week)
  • Fluency Speed Drills (using lists of words, phrases, or sentences)
  • Phrase-Cued Passages (or passages where students mark their OWN phrases using scoop lines or phrase marks)

NOTE: Resources for all these activities can be found on my Fluency Boot Camp blog post. Even though I use the activities during the 1-Week Boot Camp, many of the activities can be modified, repeated, and revisited throughout the year.

NEW! NEW! NEW! 

My newest favorite resource I’ve found are these printable Dolch Sight Word Sentences by School Sparks. Each week I introduce a new sentence list (levels go from Pre-Primer to 3rd Grade) and I have my students draw in the scoop lines. They then read them each day, following the scoops with their fingers, to build up their automatic phrasing and reading rate. These are also great for developing automaticity with sight words! (If you like those, you’ll also like the Noun sentences that are available for printing if you scroll toward the bottom.)

Exercise Your Mind & Fluency

Perhaps you want to do more than integrate poetry or readers theater into your ELA block once a month, or perhaps you’re looking for a daily practice for some of your students beyond sporadic speed drills? Use this poster below to remind students that just like physical exercise, DAILY mental exercise is JUST as important.

This past month, I started something new with my students called “Daily Fluency.”  This is a follow-up to my Fluency Boot Camp, and every day the students complete a “Daily Fluency” Activity sheet that incorporates reading pace, phrasing, expression, attention punctuation, and a “Fast Finisher” extra! These activities take about 5 minutes total to complete and act as great “warm-ups” for getting my group started. At the beginning of each month, I model (or re-model) each task, including the “Fast Finisher” extras. We usually complete one sheet together, especially in the first few months! The students have a menu in their folders as a reminder of the activity expectations:

Students complete these activities using whisper phones or with partners. The goal is for them to be able to complete them independently, but the first few days I’m always around to offer coaching or support. The students pick up on the tasks quickly and soon you’ll hear them practicing fluency on their own!

I try to incorporate comprehensive “Daily Fluency” activities consistently with my fluency groups every day, but sometimes I’ll supplement with other warm-up activities before we get started with our planned RtI interventions. I use a lot of poetry, speed drills, and readers theater, so sometimes I’ll let them practice those as a warm-up. On those days though, I’ll send the “Daily Fluency” sheet home with the students in their fluency take-home bags.

As far as resource management goes, my RtI students who do “Daily Fluency” each have their own “Daily Fluency” Folders to collect all their daily activity pages, goal sheets, reflections, and rubrics. They have a separate folder for fluency passages and other Fluency Boot Camp activities we revisit throughout the year.

Remember… you should only use these AFTER your students are 100% familiar with the four major components of fluency… after modeling each explicitly AND practicing them together in depth.

Download a Sample!

If you’re interested in incorporating “Daily Fluency” into your classroom, check out the sample shared below. An activity menu is included, as well as a printable folder label and two activity pages (one from each month).

NOTE: This sample is appropriate for students in grades 1 and 2, though I use it with my struggling 3rd graders as well. (Depending on your student population, you could use it for your high-flyer Kindergarteners, too!)

(Download your FREE 4 page sample by clicking here or the image below!)

Check out the COMPLETE Daily Fluency Activity Pack for the months of November & December. Packets for each month will be available soon! 

Check out the COMPLETE Upper-Elementary Daily Fluency Activity Pack for the months of January & February. Packets for each month at this level will be available soon, too! 

DailyFluency1_Upper_JanFeb

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales

I’m offering 20% off at my Teachers Pay Teachers store Monday 11/26 & Tuesday 11/27, in addition to the 10% off from TpT! (Use Promo Code CMT12)

I’m offering 25% off at my Teachers Notebook store Saturday 11/24 – Monday 11/26, in addition to the 10% off from TN! (The discount will be applied automatically – no coupon code needed!)

Happy Teaching

S.T.O.R.Y. Extensions!

17 Nov

Earlier this month, I blogged about a mnemonic I use with my 2nd and 3rd graders for teaching story elements. This mnemonic is part of a larger strategy called “Picture It!,” developed by Victoria Naughton (2008). Each letter of S.T.O.R.Y. represents a story element, and students can use the graphic mnemonic for identifying and visualizing the common features of fiction texts. Learn more about this great strategy here!

S.T.O.R.Y. Poem

Many people make up a silly stories or poems to increase retention. I am one of those people. 🙂 According to Brain Training 101‘s article How to Improve Your Memory, “A mnemonic device, such as a poem or a song, can help you retain complex information that normally would be difficult for you to remember.” I use strategy poems and text structure poems a lot with my students to improve their long-term memory, especially for strategies or skills that involve steps or a sequence. I love, love, LOVE Naughton’s acronym of S.T.O.R.Y., so to help my students remember it, I created a poem for S.T.O.R.Y. to help students remember the five story elements.

S.T.O.R.Y. Extensions

Retelling

In addition to using S.T.O.R.Y. to identify story elements, I also use this great mnemonic for retelling. In the beginning, students can use their individual graphic organizers to guide their story retell, but then I model using just the letters in S.T.O.R.Y. to guide my retell.

The students created prompt cards (using pink index cards) to keep in their take-home reading bags and use with their independent fiction books they take home. The letter representations are listed on the backs, but I encourage them to peek only if completely necessary!

For my kinesthetic learners, I sometimes have them visualize the letters of S.T.O.R.Y. on each of their fingers to guide their retelling of the story, similar to 5 finger retelling but using the S.T.O.R.Y. acronym.

I created this card-stock 5-finger prompt (below) for students to use as a guide, along with the poster (above) that’s in their folders!

NOTE: If you teach younger students, Kindergarten or 1st Grade, you may want to consider putting letter stickers on each of their fingers at first, until they can picture the imaginary letters on their fingers. I use the same glitter stickers that are shown below on the students’ actual fingers!

Text Coding

Once students are independent with using S.T.O.R.Y., I show them how they can use the visual representations of the letters to “code” or mark where story element clues are listed in texts. This is similar to thinking tracks for comprehension, but students record the letters S.T.O.R.Y. instead of comprehension codes. For printable books (like Reading A-Z books), students can record the codes right in the margins of the text. For actual book they can’t right on, students can use sticky notes with the graphic symbols of S.T.O.R.Y. (one letter per sticky note) to mark places it in a book where the story element clues are listed.

Below is a coding example using a Reading A-Z book! Students underline the clues and evidence for each story element in the printable book and use stickies to mark the pages they found clues. Sometimes I’ll have my students just write the S.T.O.R.Y. letters in the margins, but stickies allow them to find the places more easily, acting as markers for each page when the book is closed.

Text Coding helps students with constructing story summaries. Students can follow their S.T.O.R.Y. markers to record all the elements in their summaries. You may even want to consider connecting S.T.O.R.Y. with teaching students how to write book reports, even student book reviews (leaving out the R and the Y of course!).

Connection to Reading Hats

Sometimes, I like to teach S.T.O.R.Y. with my Reading Hats unit, and have the students pretend they are all Reading Chefs who need to gather and mix together the ingredients of a fiction story. Identifying and “mixing up” all the “ingredients” of a story (story elements) helps them comprehend and cook-up a wonderful story. I then love to show all my talented Reading Chefs how they can use their OWN ingredients to write stories of their own! This is a wonderful opportunity to connect their reading and writing skills!

Supplemental Materials

Interested in downloading the poem and retelling poster?

(Click here or on the image below!)

Happy Teaching!

Article Resource: 

Naughton, Victoria M., (2008). The Reading Teacher, 62 (1) pp. 65-68

Want to purchase and read the “Picture It!” article?

If you are interested in reading the research behind the “Picture It!” strategy or want to learn more, the article is available in a few locations.

  • Find it on ERIC here
  • Preview/Purchase it on JSTOR here
  • Purchase the article through the International Reading Association‘s publication’s website (or become a member to access it for free!)

Introducing Fiction Text Structure with S.T.O.R.Y!

7 Nov

Introducing Fiction Text Structure with S.T.O.R.Y (MsJordanReads).
S.T.O.R.Y.

A few years ago, I was looking for a fun and engaging way to teach Fiction Text Structure to my struggling readers, when I came across Victoria Naughton’s strategy, “Picture It!” (2008), in my copy of The Reading Teacher. Naughton was recognized for her hard work in research and publication with the Shaw Fund for Literacy 2009 award by National Louis University (NLU). Although she recommends it for all grade-levels (even high school), I use it with my 2nd and 3rd grade RtI groups.

Essentially, this strategy “uses pictures and other visual elements to enhance comprehension” (Naughton, 2008). Each letter of S.T.O.R.Y. represents an important story element of fiction texts, graphically and mnemonically. Students use this visual story map to support their understanding of a fiction story, picturing the different story elements and sketching them on paper.

S – Setting

T – Talking Characters

O – Oops! A Problem!

R – Attempts to Resolve the Problem

Y – Yes, the Problem is Solved!

(Above is a sample bookmark one of my students made using the schematic representations that Victoria Naughton recommended in her article! See a preview of her suggested sketches here!)

Strategy for Classroom Use

Students are different in their learning styles – some are visual learners, while others are auditory or kinesthetic learners. Since I try to address various learning styles within my intervention groups on a daily basis, I figured this strategy would be perfect for teaching story elements! The mnemonic device is helpful for students who have difficulty remembering the five story elements, and the “picture it” step is perfect for those who need a visual image to support their comprehension of each element.

Introducing S.T.O.R.Y.

I always use the I Do It! – We Do It! – You Do It! teaching model when introducing new decoding or comprehension strategies to students. Struggling readers benefit from the explicit, scaffolded instruction that’s part of this model. During the “You Do It!” stage, I make observations and take anecdotal notes for pieces of the strategy that I may need to reteach. Students try this strategy with their own leveled books and use the teacher and shared models of the graphic organizers as a reference throughout the independent practice.

Teacher Modeling –  “I Do It!”

Last week, to introduce S.T.O.R.Y., I chose the simple and popular I Can Read! series book, Marley and the Runaway Pumpkin. After teaching the visual mnemonic device to my students the day before, we reviewed the different “ingredients” that make up a fiction story. The students then followed along in their copies of the book, actively listening for story “ingredients,” as I read the story aloud all the way through. With a think-aloud, I read the story a second time and modeled  my thinking process as I identified and recorded the story elements from the text.

To bring in the visual element of the “Picture It!” strategy (Naughton, 2008), I then modeled how to draw a quick sketch to go along with each of the story elements. I modeled this visualization sketching process for Marley and the Runaway Pumpkin using information from the story element chart (pictured above). I showed the students how I closed my eyes and tried to picture the setting and “talking characters.” I visualized the problem, resolution, and solution and talked them through my internal thinking process. My visualizations were then recorded using quick sketches on a blank graphic organizer.

(Sample image of my blank student graphic organizers!)

NOTE: For the graphic organizers, I always have the students add the visual component to the letters (S.T.O.R.Y.) on the left column so they can make the graphic connection between the letter and what it represents (i.e., setting, characters, problem, resolution, solution).

The students LOVE this strategy and truly benefit from the mnemonic of S.T.O.R.Y. to help them remember the different story elements. Since learning this strategy, we have used this acronym in so many other ways!

S.T.O.R.Y. Extensions!

Check out my follow-up post called “S.T.O.R.Y. Extensions!” where I share additional ideas for using Naughton’s acronym S.T.O.R.Y. with your students. Some examples include text coding, retelling, and a connection to my Reading Hats unit! Feel free to subscribe to my blog using the button on the navigation menu (to the right) so that my posts can be delivered right to your email!

Article Resource: 

Naughton, Victoria M., (2008). The Reading Teacher, 62 (1) pp. 65-68

Want to read the “Picture It!” article?

If you are interested in reading the research behind the “Picture It!” strategy or want to learn more, the article is available in a few locations.

  • Find it on ERIC here
  • Preview/Purchase it on JSTOR here
  • Purchase the article through the International Reading Association‘s publication’s website (or become a member to access The Reading Teacher archived articles it for free!)

Happy Teaching! 

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