Monday, November 26

Sticky Notes + Reading Material = Increased Comprehension

Something magical happens to students' brains when they are given sticky notes to use while they are reading. I have used this sticky note strategy for lessons in all subjects. It is because of this magic that every year I buy a VAST amount of sticky notes. 

If they are reading textbook material (Science, History, Geography), students can take notes on stickies, ask questions, make connections or summarize different chunks of the material. 

If students are reading fiction such as novels or short stories students can use the sticky notes to make chapter notes, flag interesting passages, ask questions, make connections. 

Sticky notes are also a great assessment tool. Have students read a section of something, then have them ask a question about the material they just read. The teacher can collect these sticky notes and quickly see who has understood the material and who needs some more assistance.

I wanted to keep my students accountable for their independent reading practice time, but I needed a system that did not require a lot of set up and could be assessed quickly to find the immediate needs of the students. I gave every student some sticky notes. Their mission was to flag any connections they made while reading these non-fiction articles. They were to write their connections on the sticky notes. Once they have read a few articles independently I collected all their connections. 

I created a simple organizer of the four types of connections and had each student write their name on the top of the organizer, then stick all their stickies under the correct connections heading. I could now quickly see who could make deep text-world connections and who needed help moving beyond text-self connections.

Leave me a comment on how you use sticky notes in your classroom or during lessons. I love to get ideas from my readers and follow teaching colleagues. 

I also created these free graphic organizers to help support your students during their silent reading. The spaces on the organizers were specifically designed to leave enough room for sticky notes. Click on the image above to download these free resources for your classroom. 

Tuesday, November 13

Intermediate Guided Reading

A challenge teachers face when working with middle school students during guided reading, is ensuring the material meets their interests and reading levels. I have been on the look out for really good guided reading ideas. 

Here is a list I have come up with thus far:
  1. Editorial Cartoons - teach a whole class lesson on this form, read a background article during read aloud/shared reading then in small groups try to understand the meaning of the cartoon. This works really well for working on Inferring skills.
  2. Newspaper articles from your local newspaper, national newspaper or online. Today an article at the top of Google News Reader is about their Google Doodle, which is celebrating The Canada Space Arm. Woot! This links directly to the Grade 6 Space curriculum with some fun pop culture thrown in. Who doesn't love Google Doodles?
  3. Literacy program guided reading materials - publishing companies spend lots of time and money on their guided reading sets so take a moment to flip through these resources to see if they meet your current class' needs and interests.
  4. I am lucky that the schools I have taught at subscribe to a monthly current events service called "What in the World" by Lesplan. What in the World Resource This resource which can be ordered on paper or digitally (digital always gets my vote) contains: four current high interest newspaper articles, one political cartoon relating to an article, news photo assignment plus crosswords, quizzes and a map. This resource comes at two different reading levels to help you differentiate. I use these articles during my modelled/shared reading and my guided reading program. If your school cannot afford to purchase this resource you can also check out their monthly free articles on their main website Lesplan Website
  5. Another current events resource is The Canadian Reader created for Grades 3-5. It contains very similar things to What in the World resource but at a younger reading level. 
  6. Student book club choice - have students group together and select a novel to read together. As the teacher you can help guide their choice, but ultimately they can choose something that interests them and keeps them wanting to read daily. 
I would love to hear what resources you have used for guided reading or what resources you have seen others use. 

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, November 8

Making Real Connections - the real deal

Getting students to move beyond literal reading comprehension can sometimes be a challenge. Our next major literacy focus in my classroom is Making Connections. We are moving beyond text-self connections (boy in book has a dog, I have a dog as well) to the other three types of connections text-text, text-self, text-world. 

Our big idea is "What makes a Global Citizen?". We will be reading a variety of texts to help spark engagement among the class in a social issue. 

Making Connections Anchor Chart
Before any reading can be done we needed to discuss how to make good connections. I spent the weekend thinking about many previous making connections anchor charts, and I wanted to try something different. I have been inspired by the plethora of anchor charts on Pinterest and wanted to give mine a little flare. I got the idea of a thermometer. I just hope my students relate temperature warmth to good ideas. This should not be a stretch as we live in Canada and the temperature is dropping, daylight hours are slim and summer vacation memories are far away. 

Here is to hoping that a visual prompt will inspire my students to dig deeper and find those rich connections that will help them understand the text that much better. 

What visual cues do you use in your classroom to help students make good connections to their reading material? Leave us some ideas in the comments below.

Try this FREE Book Thoughts Graphic Organizer to get your students thinking about their reading.