Slice of Life Tuesday: My Goals for Reading Class

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My conversation with a student today went something like this:

Student: “I hate reading.”

Me: “Wait, I know that’s not true. You like reading texts from your friends, right?”

S: (giggle)

Me: “You like reading Facebook posts, right?”

S: “Yeah, but I don’t read them; I just look at them.”

Me: “Wait. You understand what the message means when you look at it, right?”

S: “Yeah.”

Me: “Then you must like reading!”

S: “OK, I don’t like assigned class reading.”

Me: “We’re going to change the way reading class looks to you. I promise.”

My goals for reading class this year:

  1. I want my students to like reading.
  2. I want my students to read during reading time.
  3. I want to help my students become better readers by reading aloud, by helping them comprehend by using strategies that make sense, and by guiding them to talk and write about their reading.

Hopefully, we’re on our way!

 

Slice of Life Tuesdays: Reasons I Will Read Picture Books in My Middle School Classroom

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Slice of Life Small LogoPicture Books in My Middle School Classroom

I spend time in class reading aloud, and the most enjoyable moments come from sharing picture books. My current classes gather in the meeting area and students listen intently, sometimes even applauding at the end. Why do I do this? I cannot possibly list all the reasons here in this brief post (there are so many!). Using picture books in middle school and upper grade classrooms has recently been a feature topic in many research and education articles. I add my two cents here:

  1. Picture Books are short and teach lessons within a tight time frame. No need to expand on this one —  I have 45 minutes in a class period. The more I can cram in, the better. Why not cram in the good stuff — the stuff that teaches and engages students at the same time?
  2. Picture Books are fun! Students enjoy listening and responding. Teachers enjoy sharing the love of reading in this simple manner. Baby books? Not anymore!
  3. Picture Books teach the standards, in overlapping, spiraling, content lessons that teachers can revisit many times during the school year. These mentor texts help students to identify, connect, discuss, comprehend, and respond to curriculum goals in all subject areas:

Perspective/Fitting In: Gaston (DiPucchio), I Don’t Want to Be a Frog (Petty).  “Living Your Dreams/Finding What You Want in Life” is our current theme for our reading workshop assigned textbook.

PBFittingInThemeProbSolution

Perspective/The World Around You (Science): Look Closely Inside the Garden, Look Closely in the Rainforest (series by Serafini)

PBNoticeSurroundings

Problems/Solutions: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Barnett), 14 Cows for America (Deedy)

 

 

 

 

 

Using Figurative Language/Personification/Perspective: The Day the Crayons Quit (Daywalt), Voices in the Park (Browne), The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs (Scieszka)

PBPerspectives

 

 

PBArtTheme/Discussion: Fox (Wild)

Art Appreciation/Analyzing Visuals: 14 Cows for America, Fox

 

 

PBHistoricalEvent

 

 

 

Historical Events (Social Studies): Blizzard (Rocco)

PBBiographyBiography/People/History (Social Studies): When Marian Sang (Ryan), More Than Anything Else (Bradby)

 

 

 

 

As you can see, picture books can be used in classrooms to create awesome opportunities for learning and loving reading. Have fun sharing your favorites!

 

 

Reflections from the All Write Institute — #4

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To Lunch…and Beyond! Reflections from the All Write Institute — #4

The lunch session took me by surprise. I didn’t want to miss the session called “From Boring to Enjoying”, but I was hungry, so I ate some wonderful food catered by a local BBQ. After filling up and meeting with some blogging buddies in person (!), I headed off to see teachers from Fort Wayne, IN talk about how they used Notice and Note strategies (Beers/Probst) in their classrooms to make reading come alive. The speakers were wonderful, entertaining, and knowledgeable.  I loved hearing how they used journals, Edublogs, and stations to keep students interested in reading. “Tabletop Twitter” sounded engaging — a way to have kids respond to reading or writing — a way to collaborate and also have some fun.

One of my main goals next school year is to get students started with blogging. I have found blogs to be a fulfilling way to spend time with writing, and it’s social, academic, and fun! Students can write stories, poems, reflections, and share their views — all from the comforts of “home” (school classroom). Blogging also allows for differentiated instruction and small group work; I can have students easily save their work without losing papers, etc. as well. If there’s one thing I am learning as a veteran teacher, it’s that technology is available and useful, and I need to work with more technology in my classroom.

After lunch, it was time to talk books! This was my favorite part of the day! Tammy and Mary Helen were also wonderful, animated presenters that shared their favorite books for mini-lessons and read alouds.  Although many of the books were geared towards the primary grades, I know for sure I will be using many of them in my middle school classroom next year. Why? Because research (and my own experience) shows that reading aloud to students works. Many higher-level thinking skills are used in reading these books, yet they are easy to read (so students can focus on craft and not so much vocabulary), and teachers don’t have to use more time than a mini-lesson to make teaching points (time management). Plus, these books are engaging! (What administrator isn’t looking for that?)

For example, Pitter Patter by Martha Sullivan, shows different ways to say Hello (kids love “different ways to say…”), has information about the water cycle (meeting the standards), and provides extra activities with interactive apps (centers or at-home extension). I love books that include extras at the end. “For more reading, go to…” This keeps students engaged after the school day is over.  Another engaging book is I’m a Shark! by Bob Shea. This incredible author is a favorite in schools, and this book includes connections to life, grammar/spelling reminders, and figurative language (also meeting the standards!). One book I have not used before, but I will this fall, is Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin. I learned about the “Power of 3” many years ago in writing workshop, and the students always love the lesson when I teach them this “magic”. This book has voice, which some students find difficult to write. Also, everyday happenings CAN be stories, which students learn quickly in writing workshop. We work on personal narratives first in our curriculum, and Dragons…can help us, I’m sure!

Sharing books and joy is an amazing way to spend time, not only in the classroom with students, but also during a summer PD institute! I was inspired; as I left the room, the only question I had was, “I wonder how much money we are allowed to spend this year on books?”