Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Study: Interactive Think-Aloud Lessons

Welcome friends!  Today's book study is a personal FAVORITE of mine because I have been stalking following this author for many years now.  Insert Lori Ozckus.
I know, right!  She is a doll.  But more than just good looks she has a magical presence that she brings to the classroom that I just can't get enough of.  From the very first conference I attended on her Reciprocal Teaching, I was HOOKED. 
After feeling that MAGIC, I created my special Critter Cafe using beanie babies as a tool for keeping strategy learning fun and engaging.  She definitely was part of that inspiration!
Beanie Baby Comprehension Strategies Poster Set
Last spring I read another LORI fave that helped me debunk and clarify many aspects of Close Reading in the Classroom.
And this month, I am again mystified by her "stage presence" 
with "Interactive Think-Aloud Lessons!"
This is book is OFF-THE-HOOK Awesome!  I have already cleared room off on my teaching counter because this baby will have special place there all-year-long!
Chapter 1 is rightfully titled, "Ready, Set, GO! Engaging your students with interactive think-alouds and lessons.  Current best practices in comprehension strategy instruction should include:
*Comprehension strategies that can be taught to improve reading comprehension.  
*Comprehension strategies include connecting, predicting/inferring, questioning, monitoring/clarifying, 
summarizing, synthesizing, and evaluating.
*Think-alouds are an effective teaching technique for making thinking public and improving comprehension.
*Students should work collaboratively to discuss texts.
*Genre matters.  Students need instruction in using comprehension strategies with both fiction and non-fiction texts.
*We need to teach comprehension to all grade-levels, including primary.
*Multiple strategy instruction is most effective since readers use more than one strategy at a time to comprehend a text.

Lori goes on to introduce THE SUPER SIX of comprehension strategies-
1. Connect (Making connections, thinking deeply, and enjoying reading more)
2. Predict/Infer (Making Sophisticated Guesses and Mastering the Strategy that separates the good and poor readers)

3. Questioning (Deepening comprehension and providing motivation to read)

4. Monitor/Clarify (Staying on track, Problem Solving, and Engaging with the Text)

5. Summarize/Synthesize (Determining Importance and Order of Ideas while strengthening responses to literature)

6.  Evaluate (Judging the Author, Text Ideas, and Our Own Reading Performance)

Lori teaches the SUPER SIX using a gradual release of responsibility model that makes her lessons extremely engaging.  Her interactive comprehension strategy lesson framework  looks like this:
A. Introduce the Strategy (Briefly tell what the strategy is, when to use it, and why the strategy is useful to readers.)
  1. Ask the students what they already know about the strategy. (It is important to tap into and build on students' prior knowledge about the strategy).
  2. Define and explain the strategy.
  3. Engage Students. (hand motion/gesture/music/drama)

B. Model the Strategy through Interactive Think-aloud 
  1. Teacher is reading and thinking aloud using strategy talk.
  2. Students are using hand motions and gestures to share their   
      understanding

C. Support Interactive Guided Practice
  1. Teacher circulates, coaching 
  2. Students are doing THINK PAIR SHARE with partners or small groups on the same text or different text to locate and discuss new strategy.

D. Provide Independent Practice
  1. Students will practice using the strategy and may record their responses.

E. Wrap Up the Lesson
  1. Students will reflect on how the strategy helped them with their reading today.
  2. "The strategy......helped us......because..........

On page 38, Figure 1.3 is a rubric that Lori created for Evaluating strategy use.  Oh.My.Word.  I absolutely LOVE this rubric, so much so, that I created one to use with my first graders this year!


Chapter 2 begins with something really fun to try on the first week of school.  Lori calls it a "strategy dump."  Since our students use multiple cueing strategies to solve unknowns, This is the perfect opportunity to introduce each strategy, (and prop) to get kids thinking about which ones they already use when reading and which strategies might be new.  The trick is selecting just the right read aloud book that affords you the perfect venue for modeling these strategies together.
Lori provides TONS of read-alouds and matches them with each of the 8 strategies to take the guesswork out of the equation for us!

Chapter 3 is my favorite because this is where Lori weaves in the POWER of Metaphors!  When we use metaphors in our teaching, we help students learn by linking a new idea to a more familiar one.  Metaphors help anchor the abstract thinking that goes into reading. Metaphors help us make reading comprehension, an otherwise invisible process, more concrete for our students.(Insert the Props and critters!)  Lori provides a menu on page 56 of each comprehension strategy paired with a "character" and a "prop".
For example, Paula the Predictor, is a fortune teller that makes powerful predictions when she reads.  She has a crystal ball that she rubs when making predictions so the kids are making this gesture as they make predictions before reading.
Here's my Paula the Predictor anchor poster!
Lori has done the work for me and provided a lesson plan template to follow on pages 63-64 that help me introduce a new comprehension character for each of the 8 strategies.
Then she really went and outdid herself by creating a two-page "cheat-sheet" of all 8 characters/strategies/what to say/when to say it!  Needless to say, I already have this cheat sheet laminated and ready to go!

Chapter 4 moves into SHOW IT, SAY IT and using hand motions and strategy starters to scaffold the language of comprehension.
Lori shares her knowledge of how using gestures throughout lessons can build meta-cognition and independence.
Pages 74-78 contain detailed photos and demonstrations of how the kids "do" the gestures and hand motions for all 8 of the strategies.
Lori then created 8 AMAZING anchor charts for each strategy that have the "lingo" for students to use when discussing each strategy as their using their gestures.
My ALL TIME FAVORITE page in this book?
Page 82.
HELLO Comprehension Strategy Bookmarks!
These are the best bookmarks I have ever seen for teaching these comprehension strategies with thinking stems included!
My heart is fluttering!

Chapter 5 shouts out LIVE ACTION as students use drama and music to support the strategies!
Who knew learning could be so fun!
 This entire chapter is dedicated to helping teachers get dramatic results with drama and engaging students throughout comprehension lessons using drama.
On page 85, Lori gives a great example of how to incorporate drama throughout an interactive comprehension lesson.  Some of these dramatic props include funny faces, nifty noises, "bewitched scenes", Turn and interview, charades, lights-camera-action!, mannequin, puppet charade, and an overhead projector shadow show.  On top of that, Lori references Musical references for each of the comprehension strategies and uses them as "theme songs" during lessons!

PART II of this book is a Handy Reference Guide with AMAZING lesson plans to use for each of the 8 comprehension strategies.  These lessons are so incredible that I made this handy little reference page to keep as a reminder when I get ready to do my lesson plans this year.  
My Reflections:
Lori Oczkus is an exceptional teacher, author and mentor.
I feel like she is on "my page" and I am totally on "her page!"

This book is recommended with TWO THUMBS UP and your students will THANK YOU for it..... I promise!
If you really enjoyed this book study,
STAY TUNED!
I have more comprehension goodness coming next week with this fabulous treasure-
Time for your feedback!  I would love to hear your comments on this book study and any fun tips or suggestions you may have for future readings!
Happy Learning!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Want to WIN Speakaboos for your classroom? Enter today!

Social Media is so much fun!  In the few short weeks I have joined Twitter, I have met some really amazing new friends!  The networking with teachers from across the globe is mind-blowing.  I feel like my professional development is growing exponentially through these media outlets.
One of my very first "tweets" reached a new friend Daniel from Speakaboos.  We chatted through emails and suddenly I was signed up and ready to go with a Speakaboos Class Subscription for the new school year.  Let me just tell you that this is an AMAZING find for my Daily 5 "Listen to Reading" time.
My kiddos will have, over the course of this year, 175 books to read online.  And these aren't just random stories.  WE're talking classic fairytales and all of our favorites!  What I love most about Speakaboos is each student has 3 options to read each text:
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Read with Some Support
Read with Full Support
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Study: "Teaching Reading in Small Groups"


Readers, I have been bitten by the Book Study worm this summer and it feels FANTASTIC!
One very special recommendation popped up at the iTeach First conference last month in Vegas.  
Jennifer Serravallo
Her name: Jennifer Serravallo.  Her specialty?  Strategic teaching in small groups and delivering top-notch conferring tips to our youngest of readers.  Sounds awesome, doesn't it!?!
After prepping my reading area and getting in my comfy zone, I dove into the book and read it- in it's entirety-in 4 hours!
I found myself nodding yes, and shouting out, "Oh Yeah!" every few minutes!  Jennifer has delivered a master piece on small groups, which of course is not the same as guided reading...
Intrigued?
Chapter 1 begins with her push of getting past traditional reading groups and guided reading.  She revolves her thinking around small group instruction with a key focus on "The Five Tenets"
*match the individual reader
*teach toward independence
*teach strategies explicitly so that readers become proficient and skilled
*value time spent, volume, and variety of reading
*follow predictable structures and routines

In Guided Reading, students are:
*practicing reading at their instructional level
*practice in a text selected by teacher
*structure includes book introduction, reading with coaching, and teaching point(s) or discussion.

In Strategy Lessons, students are:
*practicing at their independent reading level
*practice reading in a text self-selected by student
*structure includes connection, explicit teaching, active engagement, and a link to students' reading.

Chapter 2 explores the formation of small groups and making the invisible VISIBLE through assessment.  Jennifer reminds us that what happens inside a student's head (invisible) needs to be brought into the light and made visible through multiple assessments at the beginning of the year.  Her assessments include:

*Assessing ENGAGEMENT through engagement inventories, book logs, and reading interest surveys.
*Assessing FLUENCY through shared reading, running records, individual conferences, and partnerships/clubs.
*Assessing PRINT WORK STRATEGIES through running records and individual conferences.
*Assessing COMPREHENSION through reading portfolios, writing about reading, conversations about books, minilesson active involvements, and individual conferences 
*Assessing CONVERSATION through whole-class conversations, partnerships, and clubs.

Chapter 3 is all about ENGAGEMENT and helping children WANT to read.  Jennifer gives practical examples on:
*The Urgency of the Engagement Problem
*Mentoring Readers into Developing a Reading Identity
*Talking UP Books in Clubs
*Small Groups to Self-Monitor and Fix Up Disengagement
*Self-Assigning Reading Goals for Purposeful Reading
*Sign Up Seminars to Energize Learners

Chapter 4 is using Guided Practice Towards Independence.  This is where Jennifer answers WHY Strategy Lessons are so important to teaching reading in small groups.  She provides a structure for her strategy lessons:
1. Connect & Compliment: Tell the children why they've been pulled together, reinforce a strength, and state the strategy for today's lesson.
2. Teach: Provide a brief demonstration, shared practice, example, or explanation.
3. Engage: Coach the students in their own self-selected independent reading books, or, when you're not sure their book will provide an opportunity to practice the strategy, prepare a text for them.
4. Link: Invite students to continue working independently, applying and reapplying the strategy practiced in new contexts.

I love page 106, Figure 4.3 on how Jennifer decides HOW MUCH SUPPORT to give each reader prior to practicing with coaching.
Degrees of Support:
*Lean (state the strategy only)
*Medium (provide explanation/example of strategy)
*Medium-Heavy (practice strategy together on shared text)
*Heavy (offer a demonstration of the strategy with think-aloud)

On page 113, Figure 4.4 BLEW my mind!  Jennifer compares strategies with reading tips.  I totally changed my thinking after reading over these!  For example:
The Skill: Visualizing
The Strategy: Read what the text says.  Imagine yourself to be in the place. Use what you're experiencing, including all of your senses, to add your mental picture.
NOT a strategy:  "Picture the place"  

Chapter 5 dives into "Talking about Books" and improving partnerships and clubs.  Jennifer values and supports book clubs and partnerships.  How can we make our youngest readers more responsible for their learning? Jennifer suggests creating menus for each partnership that can be added to as children learn new activities.  (I envision many of the Read to Someone bookmarks and prompting task cards that I use during Daily 5 would work great in this section).  

Next in Chapter 6, Jennifer unveils Reading with Fluency and Expression using Shared Reading, Warm-Up and Transfer Groups and Performance Clubs.  I was immediately interested in performance clubs so here's what I learned: Kids need to be singing and reading poetry every day.  Tim Rasinski was sited in her research as challenging teachers to make Fluency a priority in our classrooms.  I don't know about you, but if Tim says I need to do it, consider it DONE!  Jennifer provides these tips for creating Performance Clubs in the classroom:
*Choose a highly engaging text-a song or poem-that will motivate the children to want to read-reread-practice and perform.
*"Sell" the club to the group members in a way that makes it feel exclusive and special.
*Start the week with a shared reading club and give each reader his own individual copy.
*Encourage the children to practice all week: to warm up before independent reading, to take a break from independent reading, and to practice at home with an audience of family.
*End the week with a brief PERFORMANCE, allow the other children in class to celebrate the group's hard work!

Now onto Chapter 7.  Jennifer plows through the nitty-gritty of getting to know leveled books, getting to know your readers in each book level, and how to use, what she calls,  text-level 
introduction groups as an alternative to guided reading.
Text-Level Introductions Groups:
*Children get to choose their own books.
*Children are grouped because they are all working to move to the same new level.
*The teacher doesn't introduce a book-the teacher introduces text difficulties.
*The teacher gives strategic support to the readers for text difficulties. 
*The group follows the "connect and compliment, teach, engage, link" structure.
*A child should keep texts at their "old" level and the one book that was practiced in the group to work on that week. More group work is often necessary before a child is secure in the new level.

Jennifer also created a "strategy menu" for each book level to guide her explicit strategy instruction within each small group.  Friends, this menu is FABULOUS!  If you have this book, check out Figure 7.4.  Dreamy, isn't it?!

Finally, we reach Chapter 8 which gives readers a tour of how Jennifer organizes and manages small-group conferring.
Her four common pillars of success are:
1. Reading Workshop Basics
2. Visualizing the Room
3. Keeping Track
4. Scheduling Yourself

In Jennifer's second grade reading workshop model (page 205 Figure 8.1) her daily schedule  looks like:
Minilesson     (7 minutes)
Read Alone   (15 minutes)
Partnership    (10 minutes)
Read Alone   (15 minutes)
Share             (5 minutes)
Food for thought, isn't it?
Jennifer's conferring notes and student reflections are much like what I use from The CAFE conferring sheets.  I was poking my husband at this point saying, "I'm doing it right!"

My Reflections:
This was a terrific book from a fresh new author that gave me a ton to think about.  I think the book can be interpreted easily by any primary or intermediate teacher.  Some areas of the text waver towards intermediate but I think us primary teachers KNOW how to mold and craft new learning into our classrooms to make it work for us and our littles!  I just added this newbie to my Amazon cart!
My favorite take away from Jen's book was her chapter on 
student ENGAGEMENT.
Is it real or are they "faking it?"
Students only fake it when they do not have the skills to immerse themselves in a good-fit book.
I created two interest surveys that I plan on using the first week back to school.  Hopefully, this will allow me the opportunity to reflect on each student's level of interest and give me that "peek inside" of how they "see" their own learning styles.
Interested?  Click on the image below to grab your copy!
Time for your Feedback.  Please.  
How did you like this Book Study Chat?  Shall I keep going and investigate a new topic?  Please share your suggestions in the comments below.

Happy Learning,
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