Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Independent Reading

My firsties Read to Self everyday. We do Daily 5…everyday. We love it. We are seeing amazing results. One of the most important components is Read to Self. Students read independently for 30 minutes. If they want to choose to do Read to Self again they can. The more they read independently, the better readers they become. 
I wanted to share some information about how important this is for the young ins'. 
I believe it's one of the most important parts of our day. I researched some information to share with you. 
Links are in the pictures. 

Why Should Independent Reading Be Encouraged?

When students have a voice in the reading process, they’re learning to contribute to their own knowledge.  Because they can select the books they wish to read, they have greater control over what they want to learn. Students are much more likely to view reading as a priority when they have some ownership in the reading process.
However, this doesn’t mean students can make their reading choices willy-nilly.  There does have to be some structure involved. First of all, the selection must be at their reading level.  No “easy” books during independent reading. “At their reading level” means students should be able to read their selections with 95%-100% accuracy.
Also, students should choose books that don’t need teacher support.  That rather defeats the purpose.  In order to experience improvement in fluency, comprehension and vocabulary, reading needs to be truly independent.

Independent Reading: The Most Critical Lever
Over the past several decades, researchers have consistently found a strong relationship between the volume of students’ reading and their reading achievement.  According to the National Reading Panel, “The importance of reading as an avenue to improved reading has been stressed by theorists, researchers, and practitioners alike, no matter what their perspectives.  There are few other ideas as widely accepted than that reading is learned through reading.”  Below you’ll find excerpts from some of the most widely cited reading research as well as recommended further reading.
  • The amount of time students spent in independent reading was the best predictor of reading achievement and also the best predictor of the amount of gain in reading achievement made by students between second and fifth grade.1
  • Time engaged in reading during the reading period was significantly related to gains in students’ reading achievement.  Because these findings emerged after controlling for prior reading achievement and after controlling for unreliability of the measure of prior reading achievement, we can argue that time spent reading in the classroom contributes significantly to growth in reading achievement.
  • The best predictor of reading achievement is the amount of time children spend reading books on their own.3
  • Richard Allington, one of the foremost reading researchers believes that the research for increasing the volume of students’ reading is so strong that he contends, “If I were required to select a single aspect of the instructional environment to change, my first choice would be creating a schedule that supported dramatically increased quantities of reading during the school day.”4
  1. Richard C. Anderson, Paul T. Wilson and Linda G. Fielding Reading Research Quarterly Vol. 23, No. 3 (Summer, 1988), pp. 285-303 (paid access)
  2. Barbara M. Taylor; Barbara J. Frye; Geoffrey M. Maruyama American Educational Research Journal, Vol. 27, No. 2. (Summer, 1990), pp. 351-362.
  3. Caldwell, K. & Gaine, T. (2000). “‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ and How the Independent Reading of Good Books Improves Students’ Reading Performance.” CA: Reading and Communication Skills Clearinghouse. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED449462)
  4. Allington, Richard. What Really Works For Struggling Readers. Knoxville: Allyn & Bacon, 2006.

At one time many public schools gave students time to read books of their own choosing, an activity based on the common-sense theory that kids will read what interests them, and that kids who can choose what they read will learn to enjoying reading, and, hence, read more. Unfortunately, many schools no longer let students choose any of the materials that they read. Why this is a problem is explained in this post by Joanne Yatvin, a one time Principal of the Year in Wisconsin and a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, who has never been able to kick the reading habit.

By Joanne Yatvin
Consumed by the urgency to raise students’ reading scores, policy makers and school officials have forgotten that children learn to read by reading. Acquiring the habit of turning to books for pleasure or to find out what you want to know does more for reading development than working on decoding words or trying to speed up fluency. Although, ideally, a fondness for books starts at home, reading can become a habit through opportunities to read self-chosen books at school.
One person who understands the importance of the reading habit is Carmen Farina, the new schools chancellor in New York City. She has long supported “balanced literacy” instruction, which includes independent reading. In many places, including New City, this approach to teaching reading has been abandoned in favor of systematic programs that promise to raise students test scores and prepare them for “college and the workplace.” According to several recent articles in The New York Times and other sources, Farina is determined to restore at least one of the key components of “balanced literacy,” independent reading, in city schools.
Back in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, daily sessions of independent reading called “Sustained Silent Reading” (SSR) were popular in classrooms everywhere. In line with recommendations from reading experts, teachers allocated 15 to 30 minutes to it every day. There were no written assignments or tests attached, just the visual and soundless evidence that students were immersed in their reading. Nevertheless, 50 years later it’s hard to find classrooms anywhere that still include SSR. To a great extent, enthusiasm for the practice was undercut by the 2000 report of the National Reading Panel, which found little evidence to support its effectiveness in the few research studies that met their criteria. What the panel did not make clear, however, was that doing research on any practice that had not been converted into a structured and testable teaching method was very difficult, and thus seldomly undertaken.
As a teacher in the heyday of SSR, I can tell you that problems in classroom implementation also undermined its popularity. The main one was that SSR cut deeply into instructional time at the high school level where classes were only 45-50 minutes in length. Ironically, time was also a problem for students, but in a different way. Many of them were irritated by having to stop reading on command just when they were at an exciting or enlightening part of their book. The third problem was a shortage of appealing books in classrooms, especially in high poverty schools where most students didn’t have the alternatives of bringing books from home or buying them.
Today, many teachers and school principals, like Farina, who know the value of the reading habit would like to revive independent classroom reading, but the term SSR is tarnished, and the problems noted above still exist.   On top of that, many policy makers are calling for a longer school day to increase formal instruction. They would certainly yell louder and longer if precious classroom time were once again devoted to independent reading.
Nevertheless, there are ways to get around the inside problems and the outside criticism if school really try. At the elementary level, where classroom time is fairly flexible, teachers can stretch the reading block and even extend independent reading into the teaching of other subjects. At one school where I was principal, teachers had their students reading two books at the same time. One book was teacher assigned and used for group instruction; the other was self-chosen. When students were not meeting with the teacher or working on assignments, they were expected to read silently in their chosen books. Also, the only homework assigned was independent reading, with different amounts of time designated for each grade.
In middle schools or high schools, the easiest path is to make independent reading at least half of every day’s homework by putting strict limits on subject matter assignments. But another possibility is for teachers of the same grade to select different days of the week for a full period of reading. Or schools that still have study hall time might decide that it would be better used for reading than for the socializing or napping that usually goes on. High poverty schools could make the same changes, but they would first have to figure out ways to get more books for students: free ones, used ones, a library grant, creating a school book exchange, or having a used book drive in the community. As someone once said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
If I were Queen of the World, I would decree that all students be given the gifts of time and books they want to read throughout their schooling, and all pre-readers would have an adult who would read aloud to them everyday. Through independent reading children gain a wealth of background knowledge about many different things, come to understand story and non-fiction structures, absorb the essentials of English grammar, and continuously expand their vocabularies. Many also remember visually how to spell words.In a nutshell, the habit of reading does as much, if not more, than Direct Instruction and the rigorous demands of the Common Core. All without boring kids to death or persuading them that they’re dumb.
Have a wonderful day!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tens Holiday Style

Ten is such an important number.
There are many ways to teach, play, learn with it.
One way we reinforce this is through games. One game from Investigations is my favorite.
Tens Go Fish!
I love it! The kiddos love it! Their parents love it!
They can play it with regular cards too. :)

Here are the directions. 
Think about how many different ways you could play. For the younger kiddos and those who need work on lower numbers…make it Five Go Fish!

Head on over to pick up a copy on my TpT store. I am going to have some exciting things happening on my FB page. Maybe some giveaways!!! :)

Have a wonderful day!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Five for Friday

I am linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching.
Five for Friday…woo hoo!

It was the 50th day of school this week. We celebrated by dressing up like the 1950's. Some of my firsties came in with white t-shirts and jeans rolled up, others came in with their hair high in an adorable pony with a bow and a cute little dress.
I LOVE my class!!!

We used The Fabulous Life of an Elementary Teacher's Disguise a Turkey Project!
Some came in as baseball players, a Christmas tree, a wreath, with camo, an upside down butterfly. Their ideas are endless.

When all of the turkeys come in we will be writing about them. We are so excited. :)

We played Roll and Record this week. I put the dice in these containers. I have no idea who came up with this, but THANK YOU a million times!!!

I ordered this from Artsy Couture.
It is amazing. A box and a USB port to go with all the photos we give them. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

Finally, my cousin made two hats for me and a prop for a newborn shoot. I can't wait to wear and use them!!! She is so talented!!!

We have two days of school next week. Thanksgiving activities!!! Woo Hoo!!!

Have a wonderful day!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Math Daily 3 just a little introduction

I am in the middle of my grad course for this semester. I am taking Math Daily 3 from Upper Iowa University. It is the second one I have taken on the Daily 5/3 :)

Math Daily 3 goes along with our program Investigations. It just seems to flow with the whole sequence, schedule, everything.

After teaching the regular mini-lesson, there are focus lessons to be taught and then student and teacher choices.
This is where I start to LOVE it! The kiddos get to choose how they want to work on a strategy or concept taught. Brilliant! Investigations has built-in Math Workshop days and times, so this is going to be very easy for me to utilize in my classroom. The other thing I really like about this is that it is not an additional thing I have to do in my classroom. This will add to my time I can spend with individuals and small groups.

Of course the "Two Sisters" explain it so easily. This is from their website. Chapter 8 in the updated book is dedicated to Math. I think they could write a whole other book on just math. :)

I found some amazing resources on Pinterest. 

I have to set up my Math Board. This is going to take some decision making skills. I am going to have to take something down in order for me to have room for the board. 

I will share my progress with you as the course goes on.
Thanks for reading.
Have a wonderful day!

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shared Reading

We had an amazing speaker come and talk to us about Common Core, Shared Reading, Writing…basically everything in our ELA block.

I would like to talk about Shared Reading today.

This explanation from Reading Rockets really explains what it is and why we use it.
I think I have really gotten away from Shared Reading in the way it is suppose to be used. 
I was using our Read Aloud as a Shared Reading experience and it was really not that at all. I was holding the book, I was the one reading, I was the one asking the questions…see the pattern? :)

I am revamping the way I do Shared Reading in my classroom. We, as a team, have looked through our books to see what we can use as our Shared Reading books. We have our old anthology books. These have many great stories in them. Even though we are not using the anthology anymore, it doesn't mean we can't use the great literature.
I was thinking I would also like to get some of the books up onto my SmartBoard. I am sure we have some kids in the high school who need some community service hours. They could scan them and then read them. Maybe they could even come over and read them live. :) What a great community builder.

I like the simple explanation of how to use Shared Reading.

Here are some really cute finds on TpT.

This is by JK Curriculum Connection.
This product is free, but it's part of a larger product called "Natures Superstars". What kiddo wouldn't be interested in this?

This product by DeeDee Wills is a collection of campfire poems and activities. 
It looks so cute! 
We do a Literacy Campout at the end of the year. We will definitely be using this!

Jennifer Drake has created this book for all sorts of reading. Print it out and every student can have one in their hand. Then you can make a class book together. 
How adorable!!!

Do you have any tried and true ideas that work for Shared Reading? Do you have a lesson you would like to share? Let me know. Thanks!

Have a wonderful day!

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Report Cards

Good Morning!
So, interesting time in school right now. Report Cards, planning parent/teacher conferences, progress monitoring, etc. etc. etc..
I finished with my report cards last Saturday or Sunday, I am not really sure. I worked really hard on them. We all do. I plan out my comments so that they are easy to read and to the point, but not harsh.
Our secretaries print them out on the Wednesday before they are due so that we can check them over. I was sick on Wednesday. :( Then I was sick on Thursday. :( I went in on Friday (finally) to find my report cards printed on the "real" paper. There were NO comments!!! NONE!
I was frantic. Not only was I coming back from being out for two days (I swear it's more work to be out, RIGHT?), but now I had to comment on ALL of them again!!! GRADEBOOK, not a big fan.
After talking calmly to my colleagues (HA!) I searched in all of the "other" folders. Well, there they were in my Social Studies folder. 1. Why are we grading first graders on Social Studies? 2. Why can't they transfer into my homeroom folder? 3. Why were they printed twice with no comments?
Anyway, our secretary had to save all of my report cards again after I moved every single comment over to my homeroom folder. Live and Learn.

How do you do Report Cards? Are they linked to the Common Core? Do they look different in each grade? I am so interested in what other schools do.
Thank you for your input.

Have a wonderful day!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

When You Are Out Sick...

I know many of you have emergency sub plans. This is probably something I should look into.
I try to use my current lesson plans and adapt them for the substitute.
I have been out the last two days. Bronchitis, Sinus Infection, and compromised oxygen (this one is new for me). When I went to the doctor, he said, "Well, it's nice to see you for your bi-yearly checkup.". I get the same thing in November and March.
Anyway…I digress.

I send in my adapted plans to my colleague. She prints them out and hopefully my substitute carries on with them. This past time, I am not sure why, I think we have a ton of new substitutes, my colleague called me and told me that the substitute was having a difficult time with my plans and Morning Message. Luckily, I have a lot of support from my colleagues and they helped the poor substitute out.

My question for you is…what do you do when you are out sick? Do you have pre-made plans? Do you just leave it? We are sick you know?

I am hoping not to be absent again…until March. :)
Your help would be so appreciated.

Have a wonderful day!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Project Based Learning Entry Event

We invited a local expert into our classroom to give us a boost for our Field Guide of Fish in Cazenovia Lake. Dr. Yorks came in with a few fish he and his class had caught the night before. Two of his students from his environmental class came with him to help. I can't even tell you how excited my firsties were to have him in the class.

After the experts explained about the fish that they brought we sat at our tables and made some recordings in our Science journals.
We made a sketch of the fish and wrote some details about it.

Brown Bullhead
The hit of the party!!!

They loved observing!

We even got to put our hands in the containers and touch them, carefully.

Then we put all the fish in front of us and Dr. Yorks and his students answered A LOT of questions.

He showed us some of the fish up close.

What a great entry event for our PBL project.
We are so excited to work with these experts again when they come in to give us some critique on our Field Guides.

Are any of you doing PBL?
What are you doing? I would LOVE to hear!!!

Have a wonderful day!

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