Friday, May 5, 2017

"Preventing Misguided Reading: New Strategies for Guided Reading Teachers" by Burkins & Croft

Reflection, reflection, reflection. I have grown a great deal as a professional educator over the past 21 years, first as a classroom teacher and now as a Reading Specialist. I've taken risks, made mistakes, failed, as well as succeeded, through trial-and-error attempts within my instruction. After diving into the book, Who's Doing the Work? How to Say Less So Your Readers Can Do More by Burkins and Yaris last summer, I became better enlightened in best practices for the next generation of guided reading instruction. That book truly altered my perception of what quality guided reading instruction should look like. I wrote a post dedicated to Who's Doing the Work?, so if you're interested in reading it, click HERE.
When I heard Burkins, the co-author of Who's Doing the Work?, had co-authored another book dedicated to guided reading, I quickly logged into Amazon and purchased Preventing Misguided Reading: New Strategies for Guided Reading TeachersFor this post, I simply want to highlight some of the authors' thoughts, but as you can see from the Table of Contents below, the book is jammed packed with worthwhile content. There are 6 chapters, each clarifying a misunderstanding about guided reading. The chapters are then broken down into 27 strategies that further support teachers with their guided reading practices. 
When I first started teaching, Fountas and Pinnell were my foundation for teaching reading. Over the years, I've added to my professional reading shelf, but the *yellowing copy* of my first guided reading book still remains. Fountas and Pinnell introduced guided reading back in the 1990's, but somehow, what they intended for teachers has transformed into something quite different. 
However, Burkins and Croft aim to clear up this unintended transformation and the confusion surrounding guided reading. This book helps empower teachers to refine their instruction and helps students become proficient readers. Below are quotes taken from their book. 
  • Education is littered with the remains of educational trends lost in translation. Often, the reality is that we compromise fidelity of their implementation (p.xv).
  • In many cases, guided reading has become prescriptive and regimented, even though guided reading lessons should be responsive to the needs of particular groups of readers, because sound reading instruction is all about knowing how individual students interact with text (p.xvii).
  • ...Fountas and Pinnell (1996) explain that 'the purpose of guided reading is to enable children to use and develop strategies "on the run" (p.xvii).'
  • In terms of guided reading, we believe there is merit in adjusting some of our practices for the sake of preserving an instructional model that focuses on reading processes rather than discrete reading skills (p. xix). 
  • Educators tend to use the  terms 'guided reading' and 'small-group reading' interchangeably. Small-group reading instruction, however, is often not guided reading. Small- group reading instruction may also be shared reading, word work practice, read-aloud, and so forth (p.xxi).
  • Guided reading is not really about levels, benchmark texts, or offering the right prompts to students when they struggle with words. Rather, guided reading is, for us, about supporting students as they develop strategic approaches to meaning making (p.xxi).
  • Students' processes will vary across texts, so a student may demonstrate a balanced reading process in one text and a print dependence in a more difficult text (p.7).
  • Our destination is reading independence (p.11).
  • ...if we teach students to let the text support them, we foster more independence in students. In order to do this, we can teach students to rely on the text rather than on the teacher for scaffolding (p.12).
  • In the simplicity of the daily read-aloud resides a powerful tool that defines and depicts the role of the reader and the act of reading (p.13).
  • We want students to understand from the very first day of shared reading that the act of reading is story driven, or, more simply, an act of discovering what the author is telling us (p.15).
  • The direct teaching of skills and strategies should largely occur outside of guided reading (p.16).
  • We believe that connecting instruction across modeled, shared, guided, and independent reading allows teachers to gradually shift to the students the responsibility for the literacy work (p.18).
  • ...scaffolding has evolved into helping, which we sometimes offer through extensive and specific prompting. We can instead engage read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading to systematically scaffold students as they learn how to help themselves (p.27-28).
  • Rethinking our guided reading structures within the gradual release of responsibility can give us more flexibility, more success, and less frustration (p.28).
  • ...we find ourselves working for "wonders", or digging for "treasures", when students are in texts that are too difficult for them. Their success rests on our support, or our effort, rather than their independence (p.31).
  • [Allington] further states that "many, many students are confronted daily by texts tat are too complex for optimal learning". In contrast, many educators believe that, in instructional-level texts, "the difficulty of the text and tasks needs to be beyond the level at which the student is already capable of independent functioning [Tyner] (.32)."
  • If guided reading is beyond student skill levels, how then can they take these skills into independence? (p.32).
  • Most important in terms of text selection, the guided reading book must be manageable for the readers (p.47).
  • By giving students texts they can manage, we nurture and solidify their abilities to integrate and consolidate various sources of information efficiently and practice the smoothly operating system that is the bedrock of learning to read (p.47).
  • The idea that readers move in precise ways through neatly defined stages and levels, and that they progress through these levels in systematic, chronological order, does not fit with what we have seen of beginning readers. In fact, Clay (1991) writes, "Fluctuations in performance, large leaps forward, movements backward in text difficulty to consolidate or recapitulate are movements to be expected under satisfactory conditions of instruction" (p.55).
  • Again, learning to read is less about level and more about the reading process (p.65).
  • We need to teach even our youngest students to think of reading as meaning making and to act on texts in sophisticated ways to access these meanings (p.70).
  • The more you support students' understanding of cross-checking through modeled and shared contexts, the more you are likely to see students cross-check in guided reading (p.85). 
  • We find the power of learning to administer running records (and IRIs) invaluable to informing instructional decisions... (p104).
For more information, I highly recommend reading the book. You can also take a peek at the resources below that accompany the information in Preventing Misguided Reading. Just click on the images to download your own copies of the resources! 
I hope you found the information in this post helpful. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

P.S. You can't go wrong when the author thanks you on Twitter for the post. See? This is why I love Jan Miller Burkins' so much. XO

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Quick Peek: My RtI Reading Room

Hello, hello! If  you follow my other social media accounts, you may already know I'm participating in my school district's May Photo Challenge to pump up our new hashtag #D100pride on Twitter and Instagram. The challenge was created by my good friend, Michelle, from BigTime Literacy. She is a fantastic teacher and blogger in my district, so if you're looking to expand your PLN, give her a follow. You won't regret it. 

Anyway, I'm psyched to partake in this challenge because it will connect me with others district-wide and will help grow my PLN. Check out the hashtag, if you're interested in any of the topics in the image below. :)
Day 1: Classroom/Office. I won't be posting the full 31 days of the challenge on my blog, like I will on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, but, since many have asked to get a glimpse into my classroom, here it is! As you can see, I offer various flexible seating options for the students, as well as turn off all overhead lights in exchange for lamps. My students and I love the cozy feel it gives us when we are diving into good books and having great conversations together. They especially enjoy the trampoline in the back of the room placed under the sign: Jumping for Success.  
Happy Monday!

Monday, April 24, 2017

50 Best Books for Ages 5-12 (via Brightly)

Thought I'd pass along this link accessing titles of the 50 Best Books for each age group, which comes to the total of 200 books. It's like hitting the jackpot of titles! Either click HERE to check out Brightly, or click on an image below for the age group that interests you. 
Happy Reading!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Quick Tip for Engaging Readers in Conversations About Books

A few years back, I wrote a blog post dedicated to Donalyn Miller's Reading In the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Life Long Reading Habits. In the post, I composed the following paragraph: 
If we truly want to influence students to be lifelong readers, we must find the time to become wild readers ourselves. We must model the habits of wild readers and share our reading excitement and experiences with students. Most teachers ask students to read at home on a daily basis, but don't read themselves, or share their own excitement about books with students. If you have excuses for why you don't read, so will students. The point being, we must *practice what we preach* to our students.
It makes sense, right? Being a wild reader means you make time for reading because it's a source of pleasure. As a Reading Specialist, sharing my fondness of reading with my students is a must. If you've read either of Miller's books in the image below, you're familiar with what Miller calls *reading in the edges of your day*. It's taking advantage of small moments in your day to read. These are the moments I crave knowing I rarely get large blocks of time for reading. No matter the obligations, reading minutes can be found throughout the day, only if you are dedicated to finding time. So that's what I do. That way, I have lots of books to recommend to or discuss with students!
Here is a simple but effective idea you can start implementing in your classroom straightaway. Share what you are reading with your students. Easy enough, right? Talk about the reasons you chose a particular book, parts you enjoyed or things you noticed. To do this, I've attached a sign in the entryway of my classroom with an image of a book next to the words, What is Mrs. Noffsinger reading? This helps to spark conversations about what I'm reading, in hopes students will share what they are reading or interested in reading. 
As a result of my book addiction, consistently having new titles in hand to share with the kids is commonplace. I score great deals via Amazon Prime and while hunting for titles at book fairs, garage sales and thrift stores. Of course, there's always the library where everything is FREE. Making sure to have the actual copy of the book on hand is essential, so students see it's not just an image being placed on the sign. It's a book that's actually being read AND enjoyed!  
It's also of value to vary the books being placed on the sign. Similar to a *book tasting*, I want students to have opportunities to view new titles, hear about them, as well as read some of them. I have a wide range of readers, so sometimes I share a picture book, while other times novels. The novels range from elementary level all the way to adult level. I also make sure to read a variety of genres, just as students should. 

Not all of the books on the sign are for students because that's not my reading life, which I'm trying to convey. I doubt my students would want to read Who's Doing the Work? by Burkins and Yaris, but I loved it. This idea possesses other disguised motives, as you can see. Nonetheless, my child-appropriate books can be checked out to the kids when requested. Bonus Tip: Encourage any and all self-motivated reading behaviors! Below are a few examples of books I've placed on the doorway.
J.K. Rowling has said, "Wherever I am, if I've got a book with me, I have a place I can go and be happy." I see eye to eye with her on this one. Reading takes me far from the little stresses that can surface throughout a day's happenings. It allows me time to unwind and offers opportunities to explore new worlds I have yet to experience. I am always seeking new adventures from fictional books or knowledge from informational books. I am known as a motivated readerIf we want our students to be motivated readers, teachers must get excited about reading. Start the trend by sharing the excitement of your reading life! 
How do you engage your readers? 

Happy Friday!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sight Word Entry Codes for Practicing Sight Words

Sight Word Entry Codes. Ever heard of them? I learned of this idea back in October of 2016 at the Illinois Reading Conference, but figured it's better late than never when sharing an idea, especially when I'm seeing my students' instant sight word recognition sky-rocket and hearing visitors to my school positively comment on it. I've already shared the idea on my microblogging accounts back in October (Twitter and Instagram), but am now just sharing it with my blogging PLN. #whoops

If you already follow me, you are aware I'm a Reading Specialist working with struggling readers, mostly in the younger grades. Many times, the lack of a solid sight word bank is what prevents my students from reading fluently. Of course, there are other factors, but practicing sight words is tremendously helpful. 

The gist of this idea is that students are assessed on their sight words, then given daily practice of three to six words they struggle with by using *entry codes*. Students must tap and accurately read the words in any order on their entry codes before they are allowed to enter the room. (Support is allowed, when needed!) Once the students master the sight words on the entry codes and in their reading, the codes are updated to a new list. I've even had students master all of their sight words, so their entry "requirement" is to give me a fist bump for a job well done. It's a simple way to strengthen their sight word foundation. 

I realize this idea may be a tad overwhelming for a classroom teacher of 28 students, since I mostly pull groups of 3-5 students at a time. Yes, having so few students reading their words before entry to the classroom is definitely more manageable. However, if you are a classroom teacher, an idea is to switch up the name of these codes (Starter Codes?) and place them on a table top flip chart. When pulling small groups of students, have them read the words before starting their rereading of familiar texts. If you are a Kindergarten teacher, entry codes of letter naming and sounds are also an option. Just some thoughts. :)

Since I began implementing this idea back in October, I've altered the format of the codes. At first, I had a full sheet of paper with 6 sight words on a themed-image for each month. For example, I've used clipart images of pumpkins, turkeys, pine trees, snowballs, hearts, shamrocks and now bunnies. I have since downsized the codes to a half sheet of paper, as well as added the students' faces using fun FREE apps that go along with either the holiday or season. You'll see the progression of the entry codes in the images below. 
Some of my *fist bump* kiddos!
So, there you have it...another simple idea to help support your students with sight words.

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Do You Use F&P's LLI Kits? Check Out #FPAskMeli!

I am fortunate enough to be in a school district that has purchased Foutnas' and Pinnell's Leveled Literacy Intervention Kits for Reading Specialists to use with RtI students. Are you familiar with these literacy resources? The kits are amazing and certainly engage my readers.

I have access to all of the kits ranging from Orange (Kindergarten) through Purple (5th grade), but mostly work with the Green and Blue kits geared toward 1st and 2nd graders. These kits have some lovable characters we get to revisit over and over again through new adventures, since the books are part of a series. The students enjoy reading about Moosling, The Fun Club, and, of course, our favorite, Meli the West Highland Terrier.

Anyway, if you are on Twitter, there is a new hashtag-#FPAskMeli- moderated by Fountas' and Pinnell's Twitter account where students can brainstorm questions for Irene Fountas' dog, Meli. Meli is actually her dog and, from what I've heard, Meli's owner "Ron" is Irene's hubby! Fun trivia facts, eh? Well, after learning about this hashtag, I had a group of 2nd grade girls brainstorm questions they wanted to ask Meli. These girls "Awwww!" every time I pull out another book with Meli as the headliner, so I figured they'd be the perfect group to test out the hashtag.

After pulling out the familiar Meli books, the students revisited the texts thinking about questions they have for Meli. The questions were recorded on TodaysMeet, which allowed me access to their questions as they were typing them. While they were brainstorming, I was writing them on chart paper. 

Once the questions were added to the chart, we tweeted out the image below. the girls asked if Meli responded. It took a bit of waiting, but when Meli responded, the girls' faces were priceless! Well worth the wait, for sure.
The chart paper of questions, a picture of the girls and the tweeted responses from Meli hang on my classroom door for now. The girls pat Meli each time they enter my room. ;)
If you test out the hashtag, keep me posted!

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