Student engagement is a huge concern among most (if not all) educators. This means students are actively involved in the learning process. Research definitely supports the notion that higher incidents of engagement result in increased achievement (Marzano, etc.). Attached is my guide to student engagement strategies for reading / ELA lessons. Many of these strategies also will apply to math, social studies, or science lessons.
What strategies do your students use to fix their reading? As teachers, we want our students to recognize when something doesn’t look right, sound right, or make sense — and FIX IT! But, do they use the same strategy over and over again — or worse — not even try to fix a mistake? This post will begin a series about good fix-it strategies (for any age reader) and prompts teachers can use to encourage students to use them. Keep reading for a FREE prompting guide, poster, and bookmark to use in your classroom.
The fix-it strategies I will share are based on the three cueing systems in reading: Meaning, Structure, and Visual. When students make errors in their reading, the errors fall into one of these 3 categories.
In this post, I will focus on the MEANING system, which in my opinion is the most important one. After all, the ultimate goal in reading is to comprehend or make meaning. When a reader comes to a hard word, is he/she only trying to sound it out? Or are they thinking about what makes sense and sounds right? Hopefully, a little of each. A good reader looks at the letters, combined with the structure and meaning of the story to decide what that tricky word could be.
I’m sure you are familiar with this scenario. A child sees this text: She went to the store to get some milk. But, the child reads it as: She went to the story to get some milk. And the child keeps on reading, oblivious to their mistake. After all, the word does look like story.
Which one of these prompts do you think will help the child fix their reading most efficiently?Continue reading →
Teachers realize the great benefit of working with smaller intimate groups in reading. By doing this, the teacher is able to tailor reading instruction and text levels to the needs of the students. This is a valuable time for students as well as the teacher. However, organizing a schedule and the activities for students who are not meeting with the teacher is very difficult. Then, if there is a large class (which seems to be the norm now), how can 20 students realistically be properly engaged for 45 minutes while the teacher meets with 5 . . . and move from one station to the next orderly, clean up after themselves, and do this all rather quietly?
So I have developed 6 different options which will enable the teacher to conduct small group instruction, while the other students are occupied productively. Click here to get a full description of them all, with charts and illustrations to help visualize how they are organized.PDF Center Organization Ideas For more help, search for my previous posts on Guided Reading Literacy Stations. And if you have questions or suggestions, by all means — click the comment box!!
Option #1: Traditional rotation method — students rotate every 15-20 minutes and visit each station every day (including the teacher table).
Option #2: This is a semi-flexible schedule. Students start off with a must-do desk assignment(s), followed by reading practice. Then they choose a work station. Each day is a different station. Continue reading →
Teachers often ask me for suggestions on ways to engage students more, especially during whole class reading lessons. Student engagement is vital, isn’t it? Robert Marzano is a well-known educator/speaker whose research shows that students in highly engaging classrooms outperform their peers by an average of almost 30 percentile points. Students today have a higher need for interaction or they check out. What does engagement look like? The student . . .
participates in discussion
stays on task
listens to others
is aware of what is going on / alert
reflects on learning
does more work than the teacher
enjoys the process
applies new strategies
and . . . learns!!
What does lack of engagement look like? The student . . .
looks bored, sleepy, uninterested
can’t keep up
talks to their neighbor
fiddles with items in their desk
has a wandering mind
has a tired, frustrated teacher (because he/she is doing most of the work)
misses important information
hears the teacher do all the talking
has to be reminded to pay attention / follow along
I read an interesting article titled The Eight C’s of Engagement: How Learning Styles and Instructional Design Increase Students’ Commitment to Learning by Harvey F. Silver & Matthew J. Perini (linked here:The Eight C’s of Engagement). They are: Competition, Challenge, Cooperation, Connections, Curiosity, Controversy, Choice and Creativity (pages 9-11).
Individual white boards (having specific procedures ensures productive use)
Multiple choice hand signals positioned in front of the student’s chest (1, 2, 3 or 4 fingers or finger-spelling sign language for a, b, c, d)
Partner share: This takes modeling, observation, and practice to make it productive so students know quickly who their sharing partner is, what voice level to use, how to listen, how to take turns, how to summarize or recall what your partner said, how to help properly, etc.
Sorting activities: Prepare cards which can be grouped according to your specs such as…
Sort the verbs (or adjectives) according to the character who exhibits these actions (or qualities).
Sort words to emphasize story elements: the characters, the setting, problems, actions, etc.
Sort words into a Venn diagram template while reading a compare / contrast article.
Complete a graphic organizer together as you read and discuss the story. Notice that different text structures require a different way to organize the information.
Fold it note taking: Students fold a blank sheet of paper into 4-8 sections to take notes, show examples, or illustrate desired elements. Teacher directs note-taking by modeling or telling what to put in each section.
Technology – video – interactive Smartboard activities or tools
Post-it-notes: Students use post-it-notes to mark critical parts in the story. Focus on one objective at a time. Even more powerful — connect to a skill you are working on.
when new characters are introduced
on a confusing part or a question
to mark an “A-ha!” moment
on the part that shows a problem in the story, plus write what it is
to mark changes in time, indicating a sequential structure
to recall who and what periodically throughout the selection
to write an important detail, especially with a descriptive structure
Teach students to ask thoughtful questions about the text instead of always waiting for the teacher to ask. Asking a question is much like having a conversation with yourself. Students can write questions on post its, a book mark, an index card, or on a piece of butcher paper hung in the classroom (for multiple questions).
Is there a word you don’t understand?
Are you confused or curious about something?
Do you have a question about the author’s purpose?
What is something you wonder about?
Do you need more background information?
Can you turn a heading or subheading into a question?
Instead of questioning students after reading, give then a purpose to read a paragraph, page, or set of pages before reading. (Example: Read ahead to find out ______).
STOP ROUND ROBIN READING! What can be done instead?
Partner read: Teach how to do this properly. For example if partner A doesn’t know a word, how can partner B help without always just telling them the word? How much does each partner read? How to ask each other questions, or summarize as they read? How to stay engaged with your partner? How to share a book if needed?
Project the story on the screen.
For a story heavy with conversation, read the characters speaking parts. (I love the books Freckle Juice and Snot Stew for this!)
Read short specific excerpts. Example: “Find the part which tells how _____.”
For poetry, find poems that can be read in two voices. Partner 1 reads 1st line, couplet, or stanza, Partner 2 reads next set. This is also great fluency practice!
In small group, students read silently while teacher “taps in” to listen to one read at a time.
If there is patterned text (ex: Gingerbread Man), choral read those parts.
Provide more than one option for the assignment – – students are likely to be more engaged if they have a choice.
Make a “scoot” activity in which students move around the room to answer posted questions.
Matching: Students each have a card and must walk around the room to find their matching partner. Switch cards with someone else and repeat. Connect to the story you are reading.
word – definition
synonym – antonym
sentence – missing verb
fact – opinion
character – quote
affix – root word
Become a vocabulary expert (get free pdf attachment click here):Each student thoroughly researches one word from the vocabulary list (definition, synonym, antonym, use in sentence, pronunciation, part of speech, and illustration). They become the expert about that word and teach it to others.
Cooperative groups – each person should have a role:
Summarize a page, set of pages, or chapter.
Give an opinion.
Sequence main events.
Illustrate the story elements of a fictional selection.
Search for a specific number of interesting details (they get a choice in what details to include, plus they must debate or rate how interesting the detail is). Let class vote on which detail was the most interesting.
Prepare work stations (learning centers) to review, expand concepts in a game or interactive format.
Four corners: Pose an open-ended question with 4 possible scenarios. Post each in a different corner. Students go to the corner that matches their opinion and discuss with others who think the same way they do. Then meet with group with opposing opinion for a friendly debate.
Connect phonics, spelling, or word work lessons to the story by searching for one of these categories of words:
verbs (you can even specify past tense, present tense, past participles, action, etc.)
contractions / compound words
by number of syllables
words with embedded little words (ex: yesterday)
Make a poster of text features to go along with a story or article that didn’t have any.
For stories with very few illustrations, describe a mental picture of what could be going on. Compare and contrast those mental pictures (by illustration if needed).
Graphics provided via Microsoft Office clipart (creative commons)
Here is a resource I think early childhood educators will love. Click on the link and it will take you there. If you subscribe to this sight, you will have access to dozens of free activities. Looking for activities dealing with letter sounds, blends, digraphs, cvc words, sight words? This is where you will find them. They are perfect for small group instruction, individual, or centers. I will also add this link to my reading resources.
A child’s concepts about print (CAP) shows his/her understanding of how to orient text and their readiness to read. Click on the following link for a printable version of this CAP article. The last page of the article is an assessment which I found on MS Clip art (free). It was designed by Jen Jones @ www.helloliteracyblogspot.com. Click here for a free copy of the following 2 CAP posters (8.5 x 11″ each).
CAP Poster – page 1
CAP Poster – page 2
Concepts about Print include:
Author and illustrator
Front and back cover
Where to start reading
Directionality: left to right, top to bottom, return sweep
One-to-one correspondence (voice-print-match)
First and last part (of sentence or story)
Difference between letter, word, and sentence
Capitals / Upper case vs. lower case letters
Punctuation (Please call them by their correct names – not “Mystery Mark” or “Happy Mark”)
The third cueing system is the use of visual cues (V) to decode words. This means the reader is mostly focused on how a word looks. A best-case scenario is when the student is cross-checking by using meaning, structure, and the visual aspects of the word to make a correct response. See previous posts regarding Part I (Meaning) and Part II (Structure).
If a child mainly relies on this visual cueing system, he/she may become slower and lose comprehension because he/she is so focused on the pronunciation and not the meaning.
In an earlier post from “Listening to Your Students Reading Part 1,” I referred to this sample sentence: Jack and Jill had a pail of water.
If the child said pill or pal instead of pail, then that child was primarily using visual cues because those words look very similar. Unfortunately, neither of those examples makes sense. Continue reading →
The second cueing system is the use of (S) Structure or Syntax of our English language. Much of a child’s knowledge about language structures comes as a result of speaking or listening to how language naturally sounds. A reader attempts to make it sound right. Here are 3 possible scenarios:Continue reading →