Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Pax is one of the prettiest, emotional  & hopeful middle grades book that I have read in a long time.  This book also works for High School students and is one I would recommend for kids who are not yet confident readers with chapter books.  This is told from Peter and Pax's viewpoints making the story unfold in an engaging manner.  The depth and complexity of language along with the comfortable 760 Lexile level make it a novel that can be comfortably read.

Synopsis from http://www.sarapennypacker.com/pennypacker-pax.htm:
Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild. 

At his grandfather's house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn't where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own.
It takes me a long time to put together a literature unit that is thought-centered so students can best draw meaning from their reading.  I finished this book with my son (5th grade) and took oodles of notes about what we discussed.  

What kept occurring was the discussion about Peter and Pax and how we learned so much about Peter through both Pax and Peter’s eyes.  This brought me to address the topic of character change.  Second, the obvious conflict in the story was discussed over and over.  Each chapter has a new type of conflict and is the PERFECT book to discuss all four types.  Third, the beautiful language used by Pennypacker was an obvious choice to discuss as we read.  Several times, I stopped and reread aloud specific lines and quotes to either hear the language or discuss the inferred meaning.  I have purchased 25 copies of Pax by Sara Pennypacker to use with our seventh and eighth grade intervention reading students. 

 The interactive format allows for teacher modeling and flexibility of thought as students read. 

Here is an example of the matching anchor charts:

Here are the directions:
Put together the entire interactive notebook with students before you start reading.  Each pocket has mini books that contain the same information as the large anchor charts.  This way, students can reference ideas as they read.

I would introduce and MODEL my thoughts using the I.C.E. strategy as noted in the anchor chart under sentence frames.  Students practice in partners and then individually.
Order of introduction: (Introduce all three areas to notice by the time 1/3 of the book is read.
1.Sentence frames and Author’s Language
2.Types of Conflict
3.Characters Grow & Change

Allow students to share their ideas in small groups as you read this novel. 
The first page of “What Did You Notice Today” is for students to copy your “exemplar” model.  I would run off 6 additional pages for students to use for writing their responses.  Model each area to notice by modeling “exemplar” writing as much as possible. Writing should not be required every day because you want extended READING to happen first.
The back cover is where kids write about Peter’s “truth” and what he learned through his experience.
You will absolutely love this book!


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Using The Reading Strategies Book with First Grade WIN (What I Need) Groups

One of my favorite responsibilities as a Reading Specialist is observing and coaching all grade levels.  This year, I started with differentiated WIN (What I Need) literacy groups.  We have a 40-45 minute block daily that changes quarterly depending on student needs in English Language Arts areas.  This block of time is based on student Fountas and Pinnell levels, Words Their Way levels and metacognitive needs. Teachers are asked to use the three areas of intervention flowchart to target anchor charts and strategies from The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo.  I purchased one copy of this text for EVERY teacher at our elementary school and ALL ELA teachers at our middle school.  I truly believe in the strategies and foundation of literacy in this book.

{LINK} to flowchart

I asked teachers to create a visual template, one page only for the 8 weeks that they are teaching.  If you read through these lesson plans, all three teachers are targeting word study utilizing Words Their Way.  Fluency at this level either targets sight words or paying attention to sentence endings/prosody.  Comprehension skills range from utilizing what word repeats to Look and Think all the way to writing a basic somebody-wanted-but-so-then paragraph.

Our lowest students receive  hybrid Reading Mastery and LLI instruction.  Borderline kids receive Leveled Literacy Instruction as well.  Our higher students may receive instruction using LLI odd books only or utilize tradebooks depending on student needs.  At the beginning of the year, teachers usually pick Leveled Literacy Intervention because all students need a little more structure.

Teachers USE these anchor based on The Reading Strategies Book charts daily.  Kids practice daily.  Kids read books at their level to develop stamina daily.  Teachers conference with students daily.

This is teaching at its finest!

Happy teaching!