Monday, August 3, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 1 Reflection

I recently found out about and joined a social media book study hosted by the #ReadingStrategiesCrew- of which I have a connection because one member of that crew is a fantastic Reading Specialist in my school district- Berwyn South District 100 in Berwyn, IL. Her name is Colleen is she's amazing- as evidenced by her blog:, which you should definitely check out for so many reasons. The most important reason to check out her blog is because she has the first post of this #ReadingStrategiesCrew social media book study and it's also where I got the idea for the format of my post (and borrowed some pictures- thanks, Colleen!).  So without further ado, let's get to the book study!

The book chosen for this book study is titled The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers By: Jennier Serravallo. This text, published by Heinemann in 2015, is an epic resource of 300 strategies designed to serve one purpose: developing skilled readers. As a Reading Specialist, I live this goal everyday and so was obviously very excited when this book came in the mail last week. 

The introduction to the text is amazing- it's one of those books that makes you remember your passion for helping struggling readers and the back-to-basics logistics of building knowledge from the ground up. As I was reading about deciding which goal to begin with, I came across this sentence: "The first step is to make sure that you are matching the right goal to the right reader." (Page 2). I love this. Sometimes I feel like I, with the best of intentions, fall back on things that I know or that have worked with readers- so this is where this differentiation reminder is so important. Not every kid is the same. Not every reader is the same. Education is not a one size fits all, so as that education compartmentalizes into the aspect of reading, we must also not squeeze a child into a one size fits all plan at that moment either.

Also in the introduction, she discusses goal setting with students. This is so important to me. Having spent 6 years in middle school and with older, struggling readers- I found that this goal setting meeting is so vital to the effort and mentality of the student. They must know the facts. It's as simple as that. Show them the assessments. Show them the notes you took. Open up everything and share it with them. Teachers are not the gate-keepers of this knowledge. How will students get better if they do not hold the ownership reins in their own education? Serravallo talks about how goal setting (and management) can be difficult in a large class, and she offers this tip: "In order to manage the various goals in your classroom, you may consider creating a visual reminder for each individual reader so they can remind themselves what they are working on." (Page 8). This is an excellent idea and I'd be more than happy to help any teachers in my school with this task at any time they'd like.

Now moving on to real reflection for today- which was the first "chapter" or in this case goal. This section is Goal 1: Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers.  There are 20 strategies for this goal, as seen below, taken from page 22. 

This selection of strategies for this goal are amazing- and that made it increasingly difficult to pick just three to highlight in my reflection. I did narrow it down- but it is important to note that all 20 strategies are amazing and deserve some time of your own- because as we know- this pre emergent and emergent time in a early readers' life is so vital and important. Don't let any of these great ideas pass you by!

As you can see, the three strategies that I chose to reflect upon are 1.2: The WHOLE and Teeny-Tiny Details, 1.9: Back Up, Revise, and 1.16: What I See/What I Think. Like I said above, it was tough to pick just three- but these spoke to me just a little bit more than the others. Keep reading below for my thoughts on each strategy!

First Up: Strategy 1.2: The WHOLE and Teeny-Tiny Details (Page 25)

I chose this strategy, because as Serravallo points out in the Teaching Tip, it "helps students internalize an important nonfiction structure of main idea and key details or "topic sentence" followed by facts." (Page 25). As I mentioned above, I taught middle school for 6 years before switching to become an elementary reading specialist and I can speak first-hand to the struggles that students have determining the main idea and key details of a text. The struggle is real, people! If we can begin assisting students with this task when they are at the emergent level, think how much farther along we will be in the game when that same student is a 6th or 7th grader! The idea of that truly brings a smile to my face! 

The visual above is a great way to illustrate this strategy and one that I think will really resonate with student who are struggling with this sometimes abstract notion.

Next Up: Strategy 1.9: Back Up, Revise (Page 32)

I fully acknowledge that I am saying these are all my favorites, but this strategy really is high up on my list. We all know that, as young readers, it is so important for them to realize when something doesn't exactly sound right. That's what this strategy is here for. As Serravallo points out, "It takes amazing monitoring comprehension and inference skills to say "Wait a second!" and back up to tell the story based on what you see on future pages." (Page 32). What I love is that it gives kids the credit for making this monumental step in their reading lives- something that can sometimes be overlooked or passed by without an appropriate celebration! Check out the visual:

It makes total sense- but more than that, it's simple. Emergent readers can totally get it, recreate it, and learn. And like I said before, always looking at things from an upper grade student mindset, this is yet another skill that is fantastic to teach now instead later. I think of it as "emergent" instead of "emergency"!

Lastly: Strategy 1.16: What I See/What I Think (Page 39)

I'm going to be honest now. The opening sentence on the description of this strategy is "Reading is thinking." (Page 39) and that is so obvious and beautiful that I just had to pick this as one of my favorites! It just makes sense that we want emergent readers to stop and think about what they see. Then add verbalizing their thoughts on top of it and it makes this strategy all the better!

Plus, the visual for this strategy (shown above) is so nice and simple and I love not over-complicating things when it comes to emergent readers- or any for that matter!

So that's all for today. Again, this reflection is part of a book study put on by the #ReadingStrategiesCrew and you can view the first post at Literacy Loving Gals and check out Alecia at My First Grade Happy Place on Wednesday, August 5 to continue the learning with Goal #2! I know that's where I'll be!

Feel free to leave any questions or comments below! Thanks for reading! Want your own copy of the book- follow this link to get your own on Amazon:


  1. You did such a fabulous job, Kristin!! Thanks for the shout out and support. You're the best! The #ReadingStrategiesCrew is grateful to have you join us. I love how you're able to put the middle school spin on the pre-emergent and emergent strategies. I hope you'll keep posting and sharing your insights! I'll be back for more as well. :)
    Literacy Loving Gals

    1. Thanks! I know I went a bit crazy beyond just commenting on yours- but I knew unless I tried to really dig into this book (just like your post) that I wouldn't truly get as much out of this book study as I potentially could. Thanks for letting me steal your formatting and giving me so much help along the way!