Curriculum Tip: April 2, 2013

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Taking a Break

It’s spring break here, and I was just thinking about how great it is to have some time to read for fun. No homework, no lessons, no projects. Just reading. Research concludes that any time spent reading helps one to become a better reader. What are you reading?

Spring Break Book List — Feel free to share your list with us!

Life of Pi (Martel)

The Happiness Project (Rubin)

Liar & Spy (Stead)

The Last Lecture (Pausch)

My Beloved World (Sotomayor)

Curriculum Tip: March 19, 2013

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Thoughts on Oral Reading Fluency 

Recently, I was teaching an oral reading (fluency) lesson that led me to a teachable moment: never mistake “expression” in oral reading fluency with “volume.” As we practiced using modeling and choral reading, I noticed the students becoming increasingly louder with each line of a poem. After a few minutes of this shared practice, there was nothing but yelling — not at all fluent reading!

I stopped the class. I asked why. They told me. “You said to read with expression.

Ah, yes. But…Expression does NOT equal “loud.” Expression does NOT equal “high volume.” Expression does NOT mean “yell.”

Through a little conversation with the class, I found that most of the lessons about expression that I had used in the past were scripts or passages where a character was mad, or was yelling to save some other character from danger. ¬†Although these characters’ words were excellent models to introduce fluent reading with expression, I never did include other expressive passages in the practice phase, such as whispering to quiet a baby, trying to talk while gasping for air after a track meet, or growling to express controlled, mounting anger.

So the tip of today comes straight from my classroom: In oral reading fluency, “expression” and “volume” are not the same.

HAVE A GREAT DAY! (But don’t yell.):)

Curriculum Tip: March 12, 2013

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Reading aloud is one of the best ways to engage your students in reading class! Reading aloud helps students:

* to listen to fluent reading and build comprehension

* to focus on strategies of reading without having to worry about decoding (best for struggling readers)

* to enjoy reading time and bond with a great reader (you!)

Consider reading aloud to your students at least 10 – 15 minutes a day. My favorite read aloud books are picture books that students sometimes overlook because they think they are “baby books.” But look closely — these books are full of figurative language, intriguing words, and wonderful lessons about life and learning. Ask a middle school student to sit on the floor and listen to a good book. They love it!

Best read aloud recommendations: More Than Anything Else (Marie Bradby), Pink and Say (Polacco), The Tiger Rising (novel by Kate DiCamillo), and my holiday favorite, A Season of Gifts (Richard Peck).

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