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Teacher Talk

Welcome to Teacher Talk, where our authors 'talk' early literacy with teachers. You'll find practical classroom strategies and tips from real educators, as well as personal stories and innovative approaches to improving your teaching practice.

  1. Recalibrating the Focus of Teaching Reading to Engagement and Motivation

    Any Volunteers to Read an Engineering Textbook?
    Re-evaluating Text in the Classroom

    We are still in an interesting place in our field when it comes to student assessment and this culture of accountability. Whether we want to admit it or not, there has been some significant changes to our teaching practices. Decisions are being made, top down, bottom up, and even sideways, as everyone searches for the magic pill for what is best for children and teachers.

    Unfortunately these shifts, although well intentioned, have siphoned out the FUN in some of our literacy teaching and learning practices. Yes, F-U-N! FUN! It’s time for an intervention! Bring the fun back! Some of the teaching practices in our elementary schools look like middle and high school classrooms which can cause some of our early learners to sometimes not respond positively to reading and writing.

    Books should be relevant and engaging

    Sometimes, we, educators, are the first contact in exposing our readers to the idea of what it means to be ‘a reader’. We are the initial hook to get our readers excited, engaged and motivated about reading and writing. The next hook is the text that they are presented with to read independently, or shared, or with guidance. Our books should be relevant and engaging to support a reader’s motivation, and their identity as a reader. A variety of texts can help readers identify who they are as a reader. For example, they will begin to identify what genres they enjoy, who is their favorite author? Illustrator? and what do they appreciate about the author’s style of writing that they would like to use in their own writing?

    That is why Flying Start to Literacy has a rich collection of texts that readers will enjoy! You will notice that in this series readers will be exposed to fiction and nonfiction texts that spark their interest in many different areas. Additionally, readers strengthen their oral language and talk deeply about text such as Amazing Salamanders and Salamander Surprise or Clean Energy and Surviving the Earthquake. You can already hear your readers excited voices as they talk about slippery salamanders and rumbling earthquakes!

    So as stated earlier, BRING THE FUN BACK with great books! Once readers see reading as a pleasurable and engaging activity they will read often authentically. Thus, readers will strengthen their literacy processing system and their abilities to talk deeply and write deeply about text.

    Text selection plays an important role in supporting student engagement and motivation.

    With your colleagues, have an in-house audit of your text collections. Then rate them with your own rubric to identify the level of fun your text ignites. Try not to focus on what text are your favorite, and get input from your readers. Take informal anecdotal notes on your readers’ level of enthusiasm during interactive read alouds, shared reading, small group reading and independent reading. Reflect on your collective data and plan accordingly.

  2. Reading - Does that makes sense? No, Really, Does it?

    Text is meaningful We have to explicitly teach them to come to print with the position that this text is meaningful and I, as the reader, need to interact with the text. David E. Rumelhart, a psychologist, developed the Interactive Reading model, which highlights the importance of readers integrating meaning, semantics, syntax (structure) and the visual information as they process text.
  3. Uh oh, not the "R" word... Running Records!

    Records of Reading Behavior

    Going Beyond the Checkmarks and Other Conventions of Running Records to Understand Students' Reading Behaviors.

    You know how when you play the telephone game, you start with one message and by the time you get to the last person the message changed dramatically from the original message. Well, that is what has happened with running records. Running records are an observation tool that has dramatically morphed into an assessment tool. Marie Clay created running records to be used as an observational tool to get a snapshot of how students process text. Clay's book An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (2000) emphasizes that the qualitative data, the analysis of the running record (MSV) is equally as important as the quantitative data (accuracy rate, text level, etc.) to inform instructional decision-making.

    In order to support our readers in strengthening their literacy processing system, we have to take note of what sources of information our readers are using and neglecting. It's the MSV part of the running record that, let's confess, sometimes get neglected.

    'M' for meaning.

    Is the reader using or neglecting meaning?

    Does the student's response make sense?

    'S' for structure.

    Is the reader using or neglecting the structure of English?

    Does the student's response sound right?

    And lastly, 'V' is for visual, the print.

    What visual information is the student attending to or neglecting?

    Does the student's response look right?

    Additionally, we take note of other reading behaviors, such as, is the student monitoring and self-correcting, are they searching for information to help them at point of difficulty or do they skip over the word, appeal to the teacher, and so forth.

    Once we've analyzed our running records we now have juicy and informative qualitative and quantitative data on our readers to guide our instructional decisions. We get to know our readers beyond the text level and have more information to ensure our small group teaching is precise, concise and tailored to students' specific needs. That is why our Flying Start to Literacy resource includes a running record (with MSV :) ) for every text pair in the collection. It's a tool included to support teachers and students as they work together to strengthen each student's literacy processing system.

    Running records is a tool used to observe student reading behaviors to guide instructional decision-making.

    Have a running record analysis party with your colleagues and discuss your readers beyond the text level and focus on MSV, the student's reading behaviors.

  4. Bilingual Education Program Models

    One Way Dual Language

    A dual language program model in which students are Spanish speaking and are learning English as a second language. Most of the One-Way Dual Language programs in Texas are composed of students whose dominant language is Spanish, thus the “one” in the program name. In other parts of the country some One-Way Dual Language programs are composed of students whose dominant language is English and are learning another language.

    View the full article -  Bilingual education program models from Vivian Pratts by clicking the link below...

    Bilingual Education Models, Okapi Educational Publishing

    Vivian Pratts, Education Consultant

     

  5. Guided Reading Success: Recognizing high-frequency words

    The key to success for beginning readers is recognizing high-frequency words

    One of the first hurdles a beginning reader must overcome when learning to read is being able to instantly recognize high-frequency words. The 100 most common high-frequency words make up 65 per cent of all written language. If students are to become confident and fluent readers, they need to recognize these words automatically. So how do students acquire this vocabulary? We know from our own experience in the classroom that beginning readers need to read these high-frequency words over and over again so that they are committed to memory and are instantly recognized. Research supports what our experience shows.

    Recently, I was taking a Guided Reading lesson with a group of eager prep students - Jessica, Tom, Danni and Luke. The group was reading a Level 2 book about a girl exploring a park. The students had no problem holding onto the pattern of the text. And, inspired by the engaging photographs, they had lots to say about what the girl was doing and what they liked to do in a park. We were off to a good start.

    We were re-reading the book when all of a sudden Danni’s eyes lit up. She pointed to the word play in the first sentence. “That says play,” Danni said. Then, she pointed to the word play in the second sentence. “And that says play.” It’s always a joy to witness a young reader make a discovery like this - Danni had worked out that she could recognize a word, that she could actually read! The pleasure I got from this small incident was twofold. I was pleased in my role as her teacher. But I was also pleased because I had had a consulting role in the development of the book she was reading. During the publishing process we paid great attention to the supportive features that would assist students as they learned this foundational vocabulary.

    We wrote books in pairs; each pair of books sharing the same high-frequency words but in different sentence structures and text types. We repeated the high-frequency words many times both within each book, and across several books. We made sure that there was a low ratio of unfamiliar words, and those words were highly supported with pictures, and by the pattern and the context. We introduced the high-frequency words gradually and systematically. It is always a great feeling to see a book do what it should – provide systematic support to beginning readers, as well as interest and excite students.

     

    Guided Reading Success

    Lyn Reggett is a literacy and publishing consultant currently working in the United States and Australia. Lyn began her teaching career in New Zealand where she taught mainly in elementary schools and became one of the first Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders in New Zealand. In the United States she has worked extensively as a consultant in elementary and middle schools particularly in New York City, Seattle, San Diego and Sacramento. In Australia she continues working as a coach, believing that coaches need to be working actively in classrooms, as well as leading professional development sessions. She has been associated with Eleanor Curtain Publishing since 2009, pursuing her interest in, and passion for literacy teaching and learning. She works as part of a talented and dedicated team to develop and produce high quality books for students. One of the joys of her job is to field test this material in schools, where students enlighten and teach her.

    Lyn joins an outstanding lineup of Presenters at the Third Annual Balanced Literacy Symposium.

    For further information and ticketing, see Balanced Literacy Symposium July 2019 

  6. What does Guided Reading look like at Grades 3-5?

    Guided reading Grades 3-5 contains some of the elements of guided reading in the primary Grades (K-2). When working with students at higher Grades (3-5) the teaching approach needs to take into consideration that the texts will:

    • be longer in length
    • have less familiar content
    • become increasingly difficult.

    The teacher’s role is first to support students in developing the strategies and skills to read these texts. And second to teach the students to transfer their increasing knowledge and understanding to texts they will encounter across the curriculum.

    Establishing the strategy focus

    While the teacher may initially introduce the text and establish the focus, most of the reading the students do will be done independently or with the support of a partner. When the students meet with the teacher for their small group lesson, the teacher’s role is to encourage the students to talk about their thinking and prompt them to respond critically to the text. Students in the group are expected to engage in high level discussions with the teacher acting as a facilitator.

    Help students to synthesize

    A graphic organizer for students to use as they read provides a framework for the students to record and keep track of their thinking. The graphic organizer not only holds the students accountable for their independent work, but it is also a very useful tool for the teacher to assess the strategies and skills that have been taught.

    Below is an example of a graphic organizer that could be used for students to track their thinking when comparing and contrasting information within a text.

    Example:

    Graphic Organizer


    Assessment

    Can students use information they have gathered to form their own opinions about a topic?

  7. Starting a New Shared Reading Book with Kindergartners (Video 1 of 7)

    Join literacy consultant Debra Crouch as she shares a big book with a San Diego Kindergarten class. This introductory session focuses on meaning and cognition of Which Pet is Best?

    Watch how Debra models her thinking about how the book works.

    Most conversation happens as whole-group discussion, until the turn-and-talk at the end of the book.

  8. Deepening Meaning: Returning to the Book with Kindergartners (Video 2 of 7)

    This follow-up reading's focus is about deepening meaning of the book. Debra again models her thinking and invites students to turn-and-talk several times during their second reading of Which Pet is Best?

    Students join in reading the text aloud with the teacher as they choose.

    Debra uses a pointer to track the print by moving fluidly under the text, as all students in the class have one-to-one match established.

     

  9. Building Vocabulary During Shared Reading with Kindergartners (Video 3 of 7)

    In this installment with Debra Crouch, she and her students revisit the text to focus on vocabulary —specifically, describing words. Students discuss numerous describing words in the book.

    With each word discussed, Debra reads the sentence on the page to establish meaning, discusses meaning of the vocabulary word, and then rereads the sentence to put the word back into context. Students join in reading the text aloud with her as they choose.

     

  10. Word Study: Returning to the Shared Reading Text (Video 4 of 7)

    Before the video begins, Debra had students draw and write a response to the book: write about a pet you think is best. After collecting the students’ writing, Debra examined their writing to determine an appropriate teaching focus for word study.

    Debra determined that the word study focus would be to encourage students to ask themselves, “Does the word look right?” after they write a word. Several children had or could have used the word “because” in their writing. So this became the example word for their new strategy.

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