Monday, August 31, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 9 Reflection

Welcome back! If you're on the same schedule as I am, you just finished your first week of school- and so I'm sending you a big, virtual high-five for making it through what I consider to be one of the most exhausting weeks of the school year! If you're more than one week in- you're probably really tired and if you haven't started yet, I'm sure you're in the pre-school year hustle and bustle.  What I'm trying to say is that, no matter what point you are at, you're probably exhausted from giving everything you have to make this school year amazing for your students. I'm really thankful that even though you're super busy and have so much on your plate that you're finding the time to check in to my blog and catch my latest Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo reflection. Today we are already on Goal 9- but if you missed any of the previous posts, check out my full blog here and use the navigator on the right to get to all the previous posts.

As you can see, this week we are continuing with Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction- but this goal focuses on Determining Key Details. I think this goal is spot on- devoting an entire goal to determining the key details in a nonfiction text might seem like a lot until you've actually tried to teach it. This can be so tricky for students- and more challenging- it's tricky at all levels. Because the quantity and quality of said important details changes as the student's level increases, this is like an always changing rule for them to learn. It's tough- but with the strategies in this chapter, it can definitely be made easier for students. 

As Serravallo explains in the opening, "Determining key details is the different between taking a highlighter to every single word in a textbook, and highlighting just those facts that align to your purpose for reading, or that align to what the author is trying to say." (Page 247). I feel like so much is being said here. First- who doesn't know a kid that, when given a highlighter, turns the whole page yellow with what they swear are all important facts?! I know so many of those kids- from elementary to middle school- the desire to paint a page highlighter is never far from a student's mind. Second- when thinking of this as "only highlight the facts that align to the purpose" this brings up two issues. One- and most importantly- you must have the purpose outlined for the students as to what they are looking for and two- the student must know the purpose. That was a short sentence with a whole lot of punch in it. Making sure students know the purpose for learning is an immense battle sometimes but the more clear with are with our outcomes and expectations the better students will be able to accomplish them. 

Another awesome point that Serravallo makes is when she says, "Evaluate the quantity of details the student can provide as well as the quality- the student will ideally provide multiple details, from across many sections/portions of the text, that strongly relate to the main idea/topic." (Page 248). This goes along with what I said above, just a little bit deeper. Make sure you are not just checking for how much they noted- but if those notes are valuable and critical to their understanding of they text. If not, you might need to teach them to slim down. 

First up is 9.2: Reading with a Sense of "Wow" and I picked this one because I love the notion that we are always approaching text with the anticipation of learning and being "wow'ed" by something. I think sometimes kids forget that we aren't just giving them nonfiction text to torture them- but really because they can learn- and love to learn- something from it! 

Plus, look at that adorable visual! Isn't it so appropriate that the kid is opening his brain up to new facts and knowledge! Yes, I admit, that I only really love this because I am a cheesy teacher. However, the more we buy in and the students see us buying in- the more they will participate. If we really, truly act the message of "you can learn so much from this" to students, they will want to learn. You just have to make it exciting and important to them.

Next up, 9.13: Important Versus Interesting. I'm going to jump right to the visual on this- frankly because I wish I had this hanging in my classroom for the last 8 years and am making one to hang up right now (that's how much I love it!).

Oh wow can I remember the millions of times that I have had to remind kids that just because they like the fact doesn't mean it's important to the text. I love the smaller left visual- do I file this in Important or Cool? That is genius! Now, we can make sure students know that we appreciate them finding things they like and relate to in a text- but just not all of it is important to our "school" understanding of the text. Plus, you can use the visual on the right side to organize your post it notes. If you have a kid who loves to use post-its (even for not vital information), let them go crazy with their post it notes but when they are done, give them this two column chart and have them organize their notes. Then they can visually see which are just "cool" and which are important to their understanding. I will definitely be using this strategy this year!

Last up is 9.17: Following Procedures and I picked this one because I like the simplicity of it and think that if you understand how to follow a recipe or procedure that you will be much better off in life in general because you understand how to follow directions. Being able to follow something step-by-step and then have an end product is an awesome checks-and-balances system for students who have trouble focusing on the tiny details. 

Let's say you have a student who is struggling to focus on the small facts of a story and only seeing the end result or big picture- when in fact you need them to determine the key details. Try using a recipe and explain that if you just focus on the end result, let's say cookies, you might forget about all the things that went in to making those cookies. You might not know about the milk or the eggs or the flour. Come to think of it, I actually don't think I've ever made cookies from maybe I should follow my own advice here! But seriously, recipes and procedures are great ways to slow down student thinking and get them to focus on all the important parts- because without those parts, you won't have edible cookies. Err...I mean...quality understanding of the text!

That's all for today! Check back Wednesday for the last of the Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction series which focuses on Getting the Most from text Features.

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to write me below with any questions or comments that you might have!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 8 Reflection

Welcome back! If you've been following since the beginning, we are past the half-way point of The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. Today I will be reflecting upon Goal 8: Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction- Determining Main Topic(s) and Idea(s). If you are interested in reading my reflection on any of the previous 7 goals, you can check those out by following the links below.

As you can see, I just finished up the span of the book focused solely on comprehension of fiction and I was very excited to move on to nonfiction comprehension. As a student, I didn't totally love nonfiction. I never wanted to read it in place of an exciting story or courageous tale that would take me away from everyday life. But now, as an adult, I lean more towards nonfiction (mostly about teaching reading, let's be honest!) and lots of historical fiction that has it's roots in nonfiction. Don't get me wrong- I still love the occasional fiction novel- but let's just say I am making up for lost time with nonfiction right now! 

As Serravallo was discussing why this goal is important, she said two things that really stood out to me and were helpful to my understanding of this goal. First, quite simply, she explained that, "Learning how to understand what a section of a text or whole text is mostly about is critical to comprehension." (Page 218). I love this because I think it is such a great starting point for comprehending nonfiction. Students need to get the 'gist' or as she puts it, what the text is mostly about. If we cannot start there, the comprehension that follows is going to struggle. 

The next snippet from the text is one of my favorites from the entire book so far. I think it speaks volumes. Serravallo says, " The work of the reader becomes more challenging when the topic is not aligned to a student's prior knowledge. Students at any grade level often need support in the form of strategies." (Page 219). Hello, purpose for this book! Nice to see you there! This is so smart and sometimes overlooked. When approaching a nonfiction text with a class, it's incredibly unlikely that all students will come at the topic with the same background knowledge- therefore it is undeniable that your class of students will need strategies to overcome these differences and assist in overall comprehension. It's just good practice. See, I told you that quote was great!

As you can see, the three strategies I chose to focus on are 8.6: Survey the Text, 8.19: Consider Structure, and 8.22: Tricks of Persuasion. Each of these strategies have nice, clear guidelines for helping students comprehend nonfiction text and as usual, it was tough to pick just three- so it's safest to just go buy the book and check them all out for yourselves!

First up is 8.6: Survey the Text. I love this strategy because it is pointing out the obvious. As Serravallo explains, "Survey the text by glancing at the big things that jump out at you visually- heading(s), title(s), and visual(s)." (Page 227). This is important because so many times students just open up a book and start reading- missing so much information! If they would just take a moment to 'survey the text' they would find out so much!

Also helpful with this strategy is the visual- my favorite part being the fact that the text is in black and the 'pop-out' information is in color- a huge HEY to students to check them out! When teaching, I explain to kids that if the published paid all that money to put that fancy chart or visual on the page- you better look at it! Sometimes that sinks in a bit more with them- especially the older kids!

Next up is 8.19: Consider Structure. I'm not going to lie- the fact that this strategy takes up two pages did play a factor in my selecting it for reflection. I mean, really, in a book of all one page strategies- if Serravallo thought this one to be so important to give it TWO pages- it must be good! Let's jump right to the visual for the reflection on this one.

I feel sometimes like we throw a million graphic organizers at kids. So many that it's impossible for them to know which one to use and when. I think it would help if we pared down the list of available graphic organizers and focused on just a few and *most importantly* how to use those few properly. The four shown above in the visual would be a great place to start with this plan. 

Last up is 8.22: Tricks of Persuasion.  I love that Serravallo states, "Nonfiction isn't always just straight-up facts. Sometimes, the author is trying to convince you of an idea as well." (Page 244). I think this is an important point to make to students who simply think they should take in nonfiction without a discerning eye. Check out the visual:

This is so great- not only for creating well informed consumers of knowledge- but also well informed members of society. The tricks posed on this poster are helpful for many different aspects of life- and you know me, I just LOVE when reading applications so seamlessly transfer over to life! We really can learn so much from books! 

That's it for today's reflection. Be sure to check back on Monday, August 31 for my reflection on Goal 9: Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction: Determining Key Details. 

As always, thanks for reading. Be sure to comment below so we can become PLN buddies or I can answer any questions you might have! See you Monday!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 7 Reflection

Thanks for stopping by to check in on my reflections of Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book! Currently, I am on Goal 7: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction- Understanding Themes and Ideas- but you can find all the previous goals in my blog here. Just use the navigation bar on the right side to look back at past posts.

As I sit down to write today's reflection- it just happens to be the first day of school! I must say, this is one of my favorite days of the year! I just love when the school is full of kids and seeing all the smiling grown-ups outside, as well, beaming with pride. Hearing the hallways full of noise and excitement is just plain awesome. Anyone who tells you otherwise is missing the joy of education. 

Today's goal is the final installment in the "Supporting Comprehension in Fiction" series of goals and it focuses on Understanding Themes and Ideas. When talking about why this goal is important, Serravallo explains, "It takes imagination, inference, determining importance, and ability to synthesize all that happens in a story to try to understand the ideas that are hiding." (Page 190). Obviously, based on the massive amount of information packed into that one sentence, it is clear that this goal is not one to be overlooked. I also like that Serravallo points out that, when dealing with themes, there is some wiggle room of interpretation. She explains, "I think that interpretation needs to be rooted in the details of the text, but that it's really also about the interaction the reader has with the text. This means that two different readers reading the same story may interpret theme differently, because the prior knowledge and experiences that each of them has is unique." (Page 191). I think, as teachers, we all know that each of our students' are different on the surface and even a little bit deeper. But sometimes, I know me for sure, we forget to remember that every inch of them is different. Their thoughts, feelings, prior knowledge, experiences, and so on. This makes for very different and individual learners and we need to realize that when teaching. It could make a world of difference for how these kids show us that they are learning. 

And one last point that Serravallo makes when determining when to use this goal with a student- she says, "I would choose this goal for a student once the student has demonstrated an ability to understand plot and setting, character, and vocabulary with relative consistency and when the student is ready to do more deep, critical thinking about his or her stories." (Page 192). I think that AND and everything that follows it is SO important to considering when thinking of giving a student this goal. They have to be ready for both facets of learning- not just the first. Many students have a consistent understanding of plot and setting, character, and vocabulary- but the ready for critical and deep thinking part is not always there. Make sure the students are prepared and ready before setting them forth on this goal.

First up is 7.7: Mistakes Can Lead to Life Lessons- and I chose this one mostly for the visual of the anchor chart- so let's look at that right away.

As you can see- it is a nice clean visual to use with students to organize their thoughts. I like when we make things simple for students when the ideas are more complex. The first column is nice an easy to fill out- and even the middle column is not too difficult. This allows them to save their deep thinking energy for the final column and really focus on what lesson the character might be learning. 

Next up is 7.16: Stories Teach Us About Life Issues and I chose this one because simply I like the fact that Serravallo reminds us that books = life. There is a real correlation and the more we read the better humans we will become. 
Students come to us with a lot more than a backpack and a (sometimes reluctant) smile. They have a whole life that we don't know yet and for some kids, reading can be a great place to get lost and find themselves. Good, bad, or otherwise- we get a room full of students who will be looking to find themselves. Books can really help with that. I know it did for me. 

Last up is 7.18: Character Change Can Reveal Lessons. I chose this strategy because sometimes students get lost thinking about characters. They think that as long as they learned who the character was in the beginning (their traits, etc.), that they can stop figuring out the character and start figuring out the story. If that happens, they miss a huge chunk of understanding! The character will change and that will tell us so much!

This visual is great because of the "So..." at the bottom. Usually students just focus on the beginning, sometimes they focus on the end, but rarely do they bring their thinking all the way to the so....and this is where we find the lessons! We just need to train students to dig deeper with their thoughts and make this path of thinking second nature.

That's all for today- tune in on Wednesday for Goal 8: Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction: Determining Main Topic(s) and Idea(s) and I, for one, cannot wait to dive into the world of nonfiction reading strategies!

As a side note, if you aren't following me on Twitter- now is a great time to do so! Just follow @MrsKRichey and you'll be kept up to date with my new blog posts and many other helpful teaching reading/tech/paperless tips! 

Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 6 Reflection

Another Wednesday, another reflection on Jennifer Serravallo's amazing The Reading Strategies Book! Today I will be focusing on Goal 6: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Thinking About Characters. If that sounds familiar to you, it's because this is the second of three goals that have to do with supporting comprehension in fiction. If you missed the first post (or any previous posts) follow these handy links to get you to them now!
As most of you who are teachers who are reading this, you are, like me, just getting back into the swing of school or just about to start. For me, this book study has helped me shift my focus back onto school mode and really dig deep into the goals I want to accomplish with my students this year. It's helping me to really 'sharpen my saw' and get prepared for all the different types of students that come my way. I think that might be what I love the most about this book. Serravallo never once says "This is the best reading strategy to use!" and that's because there is no one perfect solution. You have to know the student, know the task, and then find the right fix to apply to the situation. Just like you wouldn't give a leg brace for a broken arm, you wouldn't give the same blanket strategy to every kid in your classroom. That's what makes this book so amazing- it has a strategy for everyone! 

Today's post revolves around Goal 6: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Thinking About Characters and for my reflection I chose 6.9: Text Clue/Background Knowledge Addition, 6.13: Yes, But Why?, and 6.21: Piling Together Traits to Get Theories.  As Serravallo states in the introduction to this goal, "The challenge to readers' ability to understand characters is that unlike people, literary characters are constructed. Readers need to pay attention to details that the author includes to figure out who the character is." (Page 162). I love this point that she makes because I think sometimes, as humans, we just simply try and relate to the characters and get to know them. Well, characters aren't like us. They are constructed by an author. We can't apply the same rules of understanding them that we apply to understanding our friends. In some ways- it's easier to think about it this way. If all we have to do is follow a constructed pattern that the author sets out- that's amazing! I wish my 4 year old came with this constructed pattern so I'd know what he's thinking!!  Another key point Serravallo makes is that, " have to know about the text level to understand what to expect of a reader's response." (Page 164). What she's saying here is that a reader at level A is going to have a much less complex and constructed response on character than a reader at level X and we need to adjust our expectations accordingly. That's just a great tip to always remember.

First up is 6.9: Text Clue/Background Knowledge Addition. I chose this strategy because I love the idea that we should always be using our background knowledge- but in conjunction with the text clues. This is like I said above- we can think about what we know as people (our background knowledge) and apply it to the character....BUT we must follow the text clues in order to fully put the pieces together to make our character judgments. We can't rely on only one of those things (background knowledge or text clues), rather use them both to create the best theory possible.

Plus- look how awesome that visual is! I love the bottom where it has the "math-like" boxed equation. Sometimes just looking at something like that will help it click for a kid- so the equation, the short prompts, and the sentence prompts all in one is amazing!

Next up is 6.13: Yes, But Why? The reason I chose this one is simple, and I think Serravallo says it best when she says, "Understanding a motivation(s)- why it is that the character does what he or she does- helps you understand more about the kind of person he or she is." (Page 178). Like I said, it's simple, but oftentimes the simple things can be overlooked so I like this visual anchor chart to help remind the students.

I think that having this strategy up as an anchor chart will be really helpful to the students who simply read through things and hope it comes together to make sense. This will give them steps of what to do when it isn't always making perfect sense- plus the added bonus of extra synthesizing during the day never hurts anyone!

Last up is 6.21: Piling Together Traits to Get Theories. Since I chose this one mostly for the visual, I'll post that right away so you can see what I mean as a reference it.

I really like the vertical organization of this strategy. For me, it helps keep my thoughts moving along to where I want them to go and I think it will help students see that their thinking is not necessarily complete when they just give the character name and one trait. They can do more with the information and develop their theories as to what these traits really mean about the character. As Serravallo puts it perfectly, "Craft a theory about your character by compiling all the smaller ideas you have. Look across character's traits, wants, desires. Pile them up. State a bigger theory about who the character really is or what she or he really wants, not just in one spot but as a pattern across the text." (Page 186). I couldn't have said it better myself!

That's all for today! Check back on Monday 8/24 for the next reflectn (and last in the supporting comprehension fiction series) of The Reading Strategies Book which will be Goal 7: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Understanding Themes and Ideas. Be sure to comment or share my post if you see something you like! Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 5 Reflection

Welcome back! Today's post is a bit of a new experience for me- because instead of writing it from my couch or kitchen table during my two kids' nap time- I'm sitting at my desk! Yes- it's that time of year- back to school! For most people, I think they dread this time. But for me- I kind of secretly love it. Keep that between you and me, ok? I just think that seeing all the faces of the kids when they come in and seeing their excitement cancels out my desire to get an extra hour of sleep. I mean, I have a 4 and 2.5 year old...who's sleeping in anyway? So yeah, I love this time of year. The freshly cleaned school, the empty hallway that signifies the calm before the storm, and even the commute back to work. This is why we got in this business: for the kids. So instead of dreading it, welcome it back with a positive attitude and I promise that this year will be amazing!

For those of you who have been following my posts, I am now on to Goal 5: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Understanding Plot and Setting from Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book. If you missed ay of my previous posts, just click back to my main blog or follow these easy shortcuts!

Now that we got that out of the way, on to Goal 5! For me, the meat and potatoes of this goal comes in the subtitle: Understanding Plot and Setting. This sounds so simple. Sure, just know what's happening in the book and you'll be fine. But it's so much more complex than that and we need to teach students that even though its a complex task, it doesn't have to be a difficult task. Understanding  the plot and setting of a fiction book is the foundation for understanding so much more- so we need to spend the time on teaching this the right way every time. As Serravallo says, " To help student's achieve that lost-in-a-book, engaged sort of reading that makes reading enjoyable, they have to understand what's going on." (Page 130). Students need to get it. Sometimes as teachers, we make the mistake of assuming that just because they are reading it, that they get it. They might understand the surface issues or happenings in the book- but we really want them engaged and digging deep into the book to understand the whole thing

 This brings me to my three focus strategies from this goal- which as you can see above, are 5.3: Summarizing What's Most Essential, 5.8: What's Your Problem?, and 5.25: Double Plot Mountain. There were 28 very good strategies to choose from in this section, but I think that the three I listed give a nice, comprehensive overview of what we need to keep in mind with students when teaching fiction.

First up, 5.3: Summarizing What's Most Essential. This kind of echoes back to when I was talking about students not totally being able to pick out the most important details in the text. This strategy is similar because it stresses the importance of only getting what is essential. As Serravallo explains, "When summarizing, remember to tell what's important. Tell it in the order it happened. Tell it in a way that makes sense. Try not to tell too much." (Page 136). That really is the perfect explanation of what we are looking for in a summary from students. Oftentimes with younger gets, I get too much. With older kids, I get too little. The flip chart, shown below, really helps keep the focus of the summary.

As I said above, I like the concise nature of this flip chart- it keeps everything in perspective for the students. I also have to come clean here- I LOVE flip charts! Just flat out love them. I definitely grinned when I came upon this in the book! You can be sure I'll be trying this out this year!

Next up is 5.8: What's Your Problem? First of all, the name is so fun. I can just picture myself with a group and asking, "Hey! What's Your Problem?" as a cue for them to think of this strategy. I am going to jump to the visual right away for this explanation because I want you to focus on the 3rd column and I'll explain why I think it is so important to this strategy- and what sets it apart from so many others.

Notice where it says "What does it connect to?" in the third column? I love that. Let me explain. So many times we just ask students to think about the problem in a story. As if thinking and identifying the problem is enough. It's not. I'm guilty of this too- that's why I think if we visualize this anchor chart and keep in mind the connection- it will help all of us remember to take our thinking that extra step. As Serravallo explains, "Think about it the problem is connected to the overall theme of the story or a social issue within the story." (Page 141). I mean, wow! What if we took that extra 5 seconds every time we identified a problem to think that one step further? Imagine the possibilities!

Last up, 5.25: Double Plot Mountain. I should be honest here and admit that I love plot mountains. I'm not totally sure why- maybe it's because I have had success in the past getting students to comprehend better using them, but they are one of my go-to visuals when teaching plot. So imagine my glee when I stumble upon a DOUBLE plot mountain! *Side note: Isn't teaching funny? It seems like such an obvious concept. If you love one plot mountain, make two! But we don't always think like that on our own- that's why we need each other and to always keep learning. I'd have never thought of this- but from picking up this book and social media book study, now I know it, will use it, and students will get better. I just LOVE that this is how effective and connected teaching works. 

I love how this visual separates two different important strands in the story- Joey's home life and Joey's school life. Normally, we would try and combine both those lives onto one plot mountain and inevitable miss something important. But with two, you can include all the important details while have the synthesize where the information goes as you learn it. So much thinking is happening here- it's amazing!

That's all for today- be sure to check back on Wednesday for Goal 6: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Thinking about Characters. Until then, happy back to school week!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 4 Reflection

At this point in the book study, I am beginning to feel like I am one with the #ReadingStrategiesCrew! I can't thank them enough for hosting this book study because it is forcing nudging me to spend my last few days of summer/beginning of the new school year actively involved and intrigued in sharpening my saw. I am getting better, my students will get better, and hopefully I can share this knowledge in my school and across my district and then truly everything is better. It's sappy- but I just love this. I'd love to do something like this of my own in my school/PLN- and maybe after this book study is over- I can look into starting one of my own. Just the thought is exciting!

With that said, I am back here to post my reflection of Goal 4: Teaching Fluency of The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. I say it every time, but seriously, buy the book. If you're a reading specialist, teacher, or just flat out come in contact with students- this book will help! Buy it!

(If you want to check out my previous reflections, find them here: Goal 1, Goal 2, and Goal 3.)

There are so many wonderful snap-quotes from this goal- and I'd be crazy not to highlight a few of them here right now. One of the first lines that jumped out to me, Serravallo points out when talking about why teaching fluency is important, "Try to read a text in a staccato, word-by-word, monotone fashion and you will soon discover you understood and remember very few if any of the words you read." (Page 104). But similarly, she points out that reading eloquently is not always the key either. She explains, " It's important that in our attempts to teach children to read fluently, we don't send the message that reading is just about performing." (Page 104). I love this juxtaposition. It's not one or the other. Lots of factors combine for good fluency and it is important that we teach students that there is no one right path.

Now comes the moment that I am pretty sure Jennifer Serravallo and I might share a brain. I started teaching in the time of AIMSweb CBM's and MAZE tests and these were heavily focused on timing students. I take full responsibility for administering those tests and thinking I was doing the right thing- because really I did have honest intentions- but as I grew as a teacher and my mind grew as a Reading Specialist, that just seemed wrong. Here's how Serravallo puts it, "I'm not a fan of determining fluency as a goal by holding up a stopwatch as kids read because I believe that children often start to view reading aloud as performance and they stop monitoring for meaning, invalidating the assessment overall, or they feel pressured and the results are skewed by their anxiety." (Page 105).  YES YES YES YES YES YES YES. Again, I am guilty. I did this. I thought it was right. But I have learned the error in my ways and have become such a better thinker and teacher because of it. It just makes more sense. If we want to know how kids are reading, just LISTEN to them and don't freak them out by making them feel like the globe is going to explode after some arbitrary time limit is up. My only stray thought on this is that, at some point, if a student has been reading for sooooooo long that even I forget what the beginning of the text was, I am reluctant to say the student is fluent at that level. But that's just my current thought- and that could change too. That's the beauty of education. If you are willing to grow and change and become better- you can. It's all up to you!

Here's my three focus strategies for this goal- 4.5: Say Goodbye to Robot Reading, 4.12: Fluency Phone for Feedback, and 4.18: Partners Can Be Fluency Teachers. Again, check out the book because all of them are amazing- but I just felt a little closer to these three.

I love this strategy because it signifies a time as readers move from finger under the word matching to phrasing and fluency. So right about after levels A-C, we start to see students using this strategy and we need to be on the lookout for when students are ready for this strategy. It's also day to implement- check out the visual:

It's pretty clear. Start to chunk the sentence into phrases and you will begin to sound less like a robot and more like a fluent reader. It seems simple but it is a huge step in the right direction to a lifetime of successful, fluent reading.

I have to focus on the visual right away for this one- because it really is the whole strategy!

This is a fluency phone! They're amazing. You can buy them from lots of places or even make your own out of PVC pieces. My mom, who is owner/educator at Learning Trek Academy (a reading readiness/early literacy program for children ages 3 and up in the Northwest suburbs of Illinois), uses these homemade fluency phones and the students love them. She began this fantastic program in 2003 and has used these phones as a fun tool to help students really 'hear' themselves as they read or talk. It's pretty adorable to watch, actually! 

I chose this last strategy because this one, and some others in this goal, focus on using partners. I love the idea that students can reach out to one another for help with their learning journey. Plus, as you can see below, the anchor chart for this one is fabulous! So helpful and easy for students to understand! It's a idea of the past that the teacher is the only person in the room who can provide and inspire learning. We are all in this together so we must use one another for help, encouragement, and even positive feedback!

That's it for today's reflection! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! The next reflection, on Goal 5: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction, will be posted on Monday, August 17! Be sure to come back and check it out! And don't forget to check out the other postings from the members of the #ReadingStrategiesCrew! Thanks again to them for starting this online book study!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 3 Reflection

Hello, again and welcome back! Today I will be sharing my reflection of Goal 3: Supporting Print Work in The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. Check out my Goal 1 or Goal 2 reflections, if you missed them! 

I have to say up front that Goal 3 was by far my favorite so far! As I was reading, I couldn't help but find myself nodding along to everything and marking/taking notes on nearly everything. I just really connected with this goal. In discussing why this goal is important, Serravallo days "In order to construct meaning from a text, children need to read words correctly, integrating three sources of information: meaning, syntax, and visual." (Page 76). Maybe it was all the running records that I had to do in college, or maybe the fact that I actually really loved doing them, but with this as the opening sentence to the goal- I was jumping up and down with joy. This is the meat an potatoes of reading that I love. Yes, I'm weird. I LOVE running records. I just know how valuable they are and the results are easy to discuss with older (some younger but there's a limit) students and they are just plain often. If I had a dollar for every MSV I coded, I'd be able to buy everyone reading this their own Serravallo book...and more! 

As if that wasn't enough, Serravallo goes on to state a fact which is probably my most favorite line of the book so far. She says, "Sometimes, as children are learning to read, they overemphasize on one or two of the sources of information or use each inconsistently. This affects their accuracy rate and often ultimately limits their comprehension of the text." (Page 76). AHH I LOVE THIS! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. We cannot think that reading is a one pronged activity. All three (meaning (or semantics), syntax, and visual) prongs are totally necessary for reading. But here's what I believe happens- I think that students start their early reading by relying on just one or two of these, and especially if they are struggling readers, the glob onto these 1 or 2 prongs and ultimately leave out the other 1 or 2. Now they are missing an entire aspect of reading and it's detrimental for their long term success. I've definitely seen this happen in my years working with older students and therefore I am always looking for this in younger readers now. 

She goes on to talking about Running Records (Clay) which I practically lived and breathed during my last two years of college (Thanks, Illinois State University!), and other forms of assessment that can be used to find and code these errors that students are making as they read. But Serravallo says, "Regardless of what you use, it's important to look at the assessment given and analyze the pattern of errors and self-corrections to learn about which of the three sources of information the student uses sometimes, consistently, or not at all." (Page 78). Maybe this is why I am so crazy about data and the meticulous keeping of said data. It quite simply holds all the answers. We can learn SO much from just looking and coding student running records and we have that data coming out our ears with all the in class, in group, and assessment reading that we do. I don't think I can physically empathize how important I believe the quality use of data is to excellent reading instruction. It's just so powerful and I'm glad this goal really supports that belief. 

Now onto my three focus strategies from this goal.  I selected 3.1: Check the Picture for Help, 3.6: Try, Try, Try Again, and 3.10: Juggling All Three Balls. As you read above, I obviously love this goal and it was (as always) hard to select just three, but I did, and you will see below just how much I love each and every one of them!

The first strategy I selected, 3.1: Check the Picture for Help, is a nice, basic strategy for our early readers. It's a great strategy for specifically levels A-C- but I love that Serravallo gives a warning for readers as they get above Level C. I've always said that you can't replace reading. Just breezing through a book by looking at the pictures is not reading. Is it a valuable step to learning to read: ABSOLUTELY! It is a skill that students should learn and do: ABSOLUTELY. But at some point, nothing is going to replace the real reading. You can imagine my sheer joy then when I read, "For children reading at Level C and beyond, however, this is an important strategy to balance with explicit strategies to decode the print such as 3.17 and 3.18 in this chapter (Stahl and Miller 1989)." (Page 80).  YES!!! I love that Serravallo explains that this strategy of looking at pictures is important, but acknowledges that as readers get older, they will just need more. 

One quick note about the visual for 3.1 I have to say that for ELL's, this is not always helpful as they might not know the word or the picture- so this strategy might not always be the best to choose for newcomers or struggling ELL's- I'd probably be sure to have a hand in the book selection if your goal is to support ELL's with pictures. Patterned text might be a better place to start with those readers.

Next up is 3.6: Try, Try, Try Again, and I'm going to put the visual up right away here because that's mostly what I love about the strategy! 

 When working with struggling readers, I sometimes use popsicle sticks with a picture clue on the end to trigger a thought in my reader. For example, and much like the visual, an ear would be on the end of the stick. This was meant to trigger them to think, does that sound right? I had a bunch of different cues and I could use them in varying levels of support with my students. Eventually my goal was that I did not need to hold up or push a stick to them to get them to notice that they made an error- rather they knew it themselves and were able to self-correct based on a suggestion that I would've made. This was a great way to teach independence while reading but also being there for support in the early stages. That being said, this visual as an anchor chart in the classroom would be spectacular!

Last up for this goal is 3.10: Juggle All Three Balls. As you probably have figured out, I just simply love any strategy that incorporates all three (MSV) into it. I just feel that it is so important that we never lose sight of the fact that all three components (or prongs, as I referred to them above) belong in our reading instruction. 

I also love that the visual is so plain and simple to read. The message is conveyed perfectly and would be easy for any level of students to understand. This is simply a clear and concise strategy for all readers to learn and use regularly.

That's it for today! Be sure to check back on Wednesday 8/12 for the next reflection on Goal 4: Teaching Fluency! I hope to see you soon!