Archives for category: Reading

1 Do you want your students to easily create discussion-worthy questions while reading complex texts?

Is the “release” portion of the gradual release of responsibility taking much too long?

If so, try a couple of these student-friendly (and teacher- friendly) strategies designed to provide students with …

…techniques that inspire quality, student-driven discussions,

…the structure to inspire content-rich observations, and

…the ability to transfer skills across content areas.                                              

                                             THE PROBLEM

Close reading experts like Douglas Fisher, Kelly Gallagher, Kylene Beers and Bob Probst all promote “reading with pen” as an effective technique to help readers uncover layers of meaning.

The challenge for the classroom teacher, however, is that students with a wide range of reading proficiencies are expected to tackle the same tasks – even when their skill sets vary greatly.

So teachers have to scramble to find ways to 1) differentiate instruction to accommodate multi-level learners or 2) simply teach to the middle-level learner.

The first option is time-consuming for the teacher and the second is frustrating for partially-proficient and advanced-proficient readers alike.

So which annotation strategies are beneficial and accessible to all students?

                                             THE SOLUTION

Let’s look at few strategies that will help kids – at any reading level – uncover discussion-worthy portions of complex text.

#1 Annotation Codes

Most students enjoy text coding so find a set of grade-appropriate text codes which require students to mark key sentences, phrases, and words that will help crack the code in difficult passages or analyze an author’s purpose.

2 You can download the code key I give to middle school and secondary students here for free.

#2 Response Stems

Post response stems around the room which, by design, guide students to create questions that will lead them more deeply into text. An alternate way to help students respond to the text is to have them create a deck of sentence stems which they will use as reference tools throughout the year.

res Here are a few sample stems which support the Common Core Standards:

Key Ideas and Details (Standards 1-3) The most important… The evidence I found…

Craft and Structure (Standards 4-6) I figured out the meaning… It was easy to picture…

Integration of Knowledge (Standards 7-9) The difference between… If I could give advice…

A full set of response code posters and reference cards is available here.

#3 Post-It Tags

Have students place Post-It Notes directly onto the text while the teacher reads aloud. Completed tags will be used during a class discussion or to guide a pair-share session.

Students may be given different color Post-Its so they can tag the text for different skills (e.g. pink Post-It holders tag sections worthy of craft analysis and green Post-It holders tag favorite parts).

This is a great way to differentiate instruction and to provide students with focus during reading.

3 My favorite sticky tags are the 3 x 3 Post-It Brights because they make the assignment seem a little more special.

                                               EXTENSION

Once students are comfortable annotating and discussing readings using response stems, annotation codes and Post-It Tags, they will be ready to create outlines, paragraphs and essays which will demonstrate their understanding of the text and clarify their thinking.

These writing pieces may also be used as formative or summative assessments.

One way to help students move from simple annotation techniques to more sophisticated ones is to give them a guide (or a cheat sheet) that will help students examine more difficult aspects of a text. Get Free Instant Access to Close Reading Cheat Sheets here. 

When your students are ready to use their close reading skills and annotations to write a paragraph or compose an outline for an essay, consider using a Close Reading and Annotation Tool Kit like this one:

co Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are. Janice Malone – Owner of ELA Seminars – ELAseminars.com

EdExpo Collage
During the last week of February, some of the most dedicated and friendly members of the education community descended on EDexpo in Atlanta, Georgia.

Teachers, store owners, and vendors from around the world attend this annual event to learn about the latest teaching trends and to preview the newest educational products.

I was there to host an information session on “How to Speak Common Core” for sellers who carry Common Core products, and to create a Top Products Pinterest Board showcasing some of the toys, tools, and resources from the show.

The English Language Arts Products I Loved

#1 Exploring Nonfiction Cards by Edupress

Common-Core-Exploring-Nonfiction-HSL_i_EP3681A

These cards are not only visually stunning, but they are chock full of engaging content. The 24 grade-level, core-aligned readings (which include all 5 nonfiction structures) are followed by discussion-worthy comprehension questions, text-dependent writing prompts, and academic vocabulary activities. These cards are currently available for grades 2-6. I plan to use them in K-12 workshops since the content is universally appealing. I hope Edupress considers creating similar sets for primary and secondary grades.
Note: The Exploring Nonfiction Cards also received an Eddy Award – a distinction reserved for the top three products of the year.

#2 Stella Writes Series by SDE Resources

Stella_Writes_Series

The Stella Writes Series, written by Janiel Wagstaff, is a set of K-2 picture books which entertain students while teaching the fundamentals of opinion, informative, and narrative writing. The half literature and half writing manual format equals a whole lot of fun for young readers and writers. Each writing genre is presented through the eyes of an enthusiastic second grader named Stella.
Note: One of my favorite parts of the opinion book is the hand-written rough draft that is included at the end of the story followed by another draft which is labeled “I made a few changes. Can you find them?” Brilliant.

#3 High-Interest Mini Mysteries by RP Publications

mystery

I don’t know about you, but I have always been a sucker for a good mystery. I used to schedule Solve-A-Crime Fridays to sharpen my students’ abilities to make inferences. My middle schoolers couldn’t get enough of them! But the materials in this High-Interest Mini-Mystery Binder take inferring to the next level. Each mystery is paired with an informational text, designed to build students’ knowledge (e.g. a map and image of the story’s setting is included in the nonfiction text). What I love about the format is that these are the kind of paired texts that hook struggling readers and challenge proficient ones.
Note: The reading levels of the 28 units range from 2nd to 6th grades, but the interest levels range from 2nd through high school.

Visit my Pinterest site to view more amazing products from the show here:

pin bd

Bloggers’ Choice Products

For the second year in a row, 50 teacher bloggers were recruited and flown in for the event. Their job was to compile a master list of 10 Best-in-Show products after visiting the new product pavilion, examining hundreds of educational resources, and talking to product designers. Angie Olson – the owner of the Lucky Little Learners blog – posted the final list here.

If you ever get a chance to attend an EDexpo event, be sure to do it. It is one of the classiest venues I’ve ever experienced.

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Share Point: Okay, now here are two questions for you:
1.Which new product would have been your #1 choice for top product of the year? and/or
2. Give us a link to a product that is your #1 favorite (e.g.Shop Bell: http://amzn.to/18GAOaM).

Local Teacher Stores: Find Edmarket Dealers near you here: http://www.edmarketdealer.com/search/local/

Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

About the author: Janice Malone is a teacher and owner of ELA Seminars. Website: http://www.ELAseminars.com.

Close Reading

What is close reading?

Close reading is a strategy which requires students to read and revisit short, complex passages. Its purpose is to help students uncover layers of meaning that lead to deep comprehension.

 

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has endorsed close reading as a teaching strategy to help young readers “stay in the text” to determine the meaning of words, to examine key phrases, and to identify important statements.

 

 

What are the basic steps for conducting a close reading session?

 

The four basic steps for conducting a close reading session are:

1. Read a short passage – using a pencil to mark words, phrases and sentences.

2. Share notations with others.

3. Reread with a purpose.

4. Respond to a discussion-worthy, text-dependent question.

 


Do close reading passages have to be short?

 

Yes. Short pieces allow students to digest and analyze challenging passages in a single class period.

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Should background information be provided before conducting a close reading activity?

 

No. When students read a passage for the first time, they should approach it with a sense of discovery by formulating questions and making observations. As students self-select interesting words, phrases, and sentences from the text, they learn how to uncover meanings of unfamiliar words, determine an author’s tone, and identify key points independently.

 


Why are students required to read the same passage multiple times?

Students read once to get the gist of the short text. During the first reading, students mark the text or make notes in the margins.

Before asking students to reread the text, the teacher gives students a purpose for reading in order to take them more deeply into the text. This strategy helps students to process information which is intended to change perceptions or build knowledge.

The final look into the text requires students to show what they know by finding information that will be shared or recorded.


Do the architects of the Common Core State Standards provide a framework for conducting a close reading?


No. Close reading strategies vary depending on text complexity, grade level, and learning objectives.

However, close reading always involves three things: rereading, annotating, and finding text-dependent evidence.

 

How does close reading support the Common Core State Standards?

Students activate nine of the reading standards during a close reading activity.

Standards one through three require students to read text in order to identify central ideas and supporting details.

Standards four through six ask students to examine how the passage was written to help establish a reading/writing connection.

And standards seven through nine invite students to compare, contrast, and assimilate new knowledge.

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Are there close reading “cheat sheets” available?

Yes. You can download a set of close reading reference cards here:

Close Reading at a Glance Reference Cards

Close Reading at a Glance Reference Cards

Download “Close Reading at a Glance” reference cards at  http://elaseminars.com/images/CLOSE-READING-AT-A-GLANCE.pdf

For more information about close reading, visit http://bit.ly/1jn06uD and http://bit.ly/1fdAi3m

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Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

 

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About me (Janice Malone): I’m a teacher, an in-service provider, and the owner of ELA Seminars. For more information, visit www.ELAseminars.com.

 

Share Point: Okay, now here’s a quick survey question for you:

Do you think close reading strategies hurt or help the quest to nurture lifelong readers?

Type HELP or HURT in the comment section below.

 

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