Archive for the ‘reading instruction’ Category

My Story: Nurturing my Love of Reading

Posted on: October 14th, 2015 by lschwartz 3 Comments

For the past few summers, I have started my holiday with a stack of books and a determination to read them all.  Like a New Year’s resolution, I relish in the feeling that I am going to accomplish something.  Two summers ago, I tweeted out my book stack with hopes of it keeping me accountable. But each summer unfolded the same.  I looked at that stack of books and gave myself reasons and deadlines to put off reading them.  In the blink of an eye, it would be the middle of August and I haden’t finished a single professional resource.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.24.01 PMI realized I had lost my love of reading.  Growing up I was a ferocious reader. I read anything I could get my hands on.  I often stayed up late into the night turning pages to a story that I couldn’t put down.  But in the last few years, I had lost that love of reading. Reading started to feel like a job, not a joy.

In June, I came across a blog post by Donalyn Miller about her Book a Day challenge on twitter.  Essentially read a book a day throughout the summer and tweet about it with the hashtag #bookaday.  This was my opportunity to celebrate reading, connect with a community who loved reading and reclaim the joy I had lost.

It was a beautiful summer of reading.  I read YA books and picture books, graphic novels and beginning chapter books and even one professional resource.  There were many nights that I stayed up long after the house was quiet engrossed in a good book.

I spent the summer nurturing reading in myself and in doing so I realized the importance of nurturing reading in our students. While we can not discount  the importance of our students having time in their day to read books at a level that they can read independently to build fluency.  We also must nurture a love and excitement of reading in our classrooms.

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Finding Joy in Teaching Reading

Posted on: January 26th, 2014 by lschwartz No Comments

I have not updated this blog since November as I consider the voice and vision of this blog.  I want it to be just right.  Tonight, as I read through the first chapter of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, I realized my neglect of this blog has a lot do with fear of what other people will think about what I post and disengagement.  Because if I disengage from the process of blogging, I cannot fail.

But in the past few days, I have been inspired by people and events.  First I was inspired by Jen Barker and her blog post about her one little word for 2014, JOY.  Her post connected me to a post about finding joy in school and learning by Chris Kennedy.  Today, with my colleague Marie, I spoke to parents about reading with children and the focus of our session was making reading joyful.

I think sometimes the pressure we feel to get all those students reading at level xyz by a certain date, darkens our vision and makes the joy of reading harder to see.

 Find Joy in Teaching of Reading:

1. Joy is contagious.  Share your own love of reading with your students.

2.  Read out loud to your students, daily, no matter what age.

3. Build a community of readers who share books, make recommendations and talk about books.

4.  Put phonics and phonemic awareness in their place.  There is a place for both of these pieces of the puzzle, but they are just that, pieces of the puzzle.

5.  Focus on meaning.  Reading is making meaning and interacting with text.  When we teach for meaning and teach students to think while their reading, this allows them to interact more freely with text and come to a better understanding of what they are reading.

6.  Let there be choice.  Time to read just right books (fluency level) and time to read just right books (passion level).

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” -Maya Angelou

A Reader is Someone Who….

Posted on: November 13th, 2013 by lschwartz No Comments

I was blown away by this grade 2/3 class that created this anchor chart.

This anchor chart made my heart sing.

Beyond Sound it Out: What Readers Do?

Posted on: November 1st, 2013 by lschwartz No Comments

Ask a student what they do when they come to a word they don’t know and most will say, “I sound it out.”

But the truth of the matter is that sounding out is not the best strategy because the English language is not consistently phonetic.  Forty to fifty percent of words in the English language cannot be solved by sounding out (Johnson and Keier, 2010). There are other sources of information that can provide clues to solving an unknown word.  It is important that students are taught these word-solving strategies explicitly and be given opportunities to practice these strategies with feedback.

The three sources of information for word solving are:

MEANING: Meaning includes our background knowledge, clues used by looking at the pictures and any ideas gathered from the context of the story.  A cue used by teachers to help students use meaning when reading is, “Did that make sense?”

STRUCTURE:  When using structure as a source of information,  a reader uses their knowledge of sentence structure, spoken language and how things sound to make predictions about an unknown word.  Structure can be a difficult source of information for English Language Learners (ELL). A cue used by teachers to use this source of information is, “Did that sound right?”

VISUAL: Visual cues include sounding out and the knowledge a reader has about letters and sounds.  A cue used for this source of information is, “Does that look right?”

Our goal is to support readers so they learn to use all sources of information.

One lesson that I often do when I first visit a primary classroom, is an explicit lesson that gets students thinking about the habits of a good reader.  Together we create an anchor chart about all those things that good readers do when engaging with text.  Once our chart is created, I do a read aloud where I  think aloud as I am reading the text to explicitly model some of the habits of a good reader.  At the end of the story, we revisit our anchor chart to see if there is anything the students noticed that I did while sharing the story, that they would like to add.

The next part of the lesson gives students a chance practice, practice, practice these habits while reading.  The students engage in fifteen to twenty minutes of reading time.  I bring in all my favorite books to get the students really excited about enjoying books.  As the students are reading, the teachers in the room move around the room reading with students and giving feedback about their reading and what they are noticing about their reading.

After our reading time is over, we come back to the carpet and in a sharing circle, each student shares one thing they did as a good reader.  This is the beginning of the process of developing meta-cognition in students about their own reading and word solving skills.

This post was inspired by the book Catching Readers Before They Fall.  By Pat Johnson and Katie Keier.  I recommend this book over and over again.  It is a comprehensive and user friendly book about reading instruction and practice.