Monday, September 26, 2016

Main Idea and Supporting Details with Nonfiction Text ~ Freebie


We are working hard in fifth grade to read an article and identify the main idea. The question that keeps running through my mind is, "Why is this SO HARD for kids?"

I keep coming back to a strategy in The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo that talks about helping kids find what words repeat.  This is used for younger kids, but I started thinking that this might be the missing link for our older kids as we analyze Nonfiction text.

Think about it:
1.  What words repeat?  That would be identifying the topic.
2.  Answer the following questions to create your main idea:

  • Who is the article about?
  • What is the big idea?
  • Where did the event(s) occur?
  • When did this happen?
  • Why did this occur?
  • How or how come?
3.  What information tells more about the main idea?  You now have supporting details.

If we use the close reading process, it would look a little like this:

First Read:  Circle words that repeat.  Identify the topic.


Second Read:  Answer the "wh" questions to develop your main idea.

  • Write who, what, where, when, why, how/how come in the margins as information is identified.
Third Read:  Annotate for supporting details.
  • Draw an arrow next to ideas you think are supporting details.


I created this graphic organizer to help kids after close reading.  It is free to you for classroom use.  I hope this process helps your students better understand main idea and supporting details.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Marking Our Thinking for Deeper Connections


Our sixth grade team has truly embraced annotation as a form of deeper thinking and connections for students to share their thoughts about universal and differentiated texts.  This anchor chart takes up an entire wall in one of our teacher's classrooms.  It is a clean yet powerful point of focus in his classroom.
Think marks have evolved over the past several years to include:

  • Reactions to characters or story events
  • Metacognitive strategies
  • Figurative language
  • Grammar focus 
The fact that our team has incorporated all of these focus areas into one visual aid allows students to integrate all ideas so that reading, writing and grammar are viewed as a "whole" and not separate components in these classrooms.


Interested in Nonfiction thinking marks?  Click {HERE}.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Teaching About a Character's Feelings

We have spent quite a bit of time these first two weeks of school developing growth mindset, validating each other as classroom team members and developing classrooms of safety and kindness.

Our first book in fourth grade that teachers and students have read as their universal text is titled, Dexter the Tough by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
From Peterson's blog:
"I'm the new kid. I am tuf.  This morning I beat up a kid."
 "It's only the first day of school for Dexter, but he's already mad at the principal, and the secretary, and the janitor, and the kids who laugh at him.  When his teacher tells the class to write a story, Dexter writes about how toug he is-and how he's already gotten into a fight.   Is any of Dexter's story true?  Why was the other boy crying before Dexter hit him?  And why would the other boy still want to be Dexter's friend?  Even Dexter  doesn't know the answers to some of those questions  But as he deals with family problems, a persistent teacher and a boy who's strangely interested in floor wax, he discovers many surprised hidden in his own tale.
Although there are many layers to teaching about characters including feelings, traits, thoughts, actions, reactions, internal and external characteristics, talking about and identifying feelings of characters was the main focus to start out the year.  We develop all of these other areas as the school year progresses.

As students read a series of chapters, they were asked to record their ideas about Dexter's feelings as well as Robin's feelings. (Dexter and Robin were the two main characters in this story.) The anchor chart we used to introduce characters is above.  We also sprinkled in character change as this is fundamental to Dexter the Tough and his growth throughout the story as well as establishing growth mindset in the classroom.

Kids recorded their ideas in journals while working with partners.

I also found {THIS} anchor chart when I was working on our anchor chart, which would be the next layer in citing text evidence.  I think we will incorporate it into our next book.

Happy new school year!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Professional Development ~ Running Records and Determining Student Needs Part 2, Intervention Lessons

After learning to take running records AND looking for patterns of reading behavior, we dig a little deeper into student skills.  Running record indicators were discussed in {Part 1}.  

There is a hierarchy of student literacy development.  I use the Qualitative Reading Inventory-6  to pinpoint student literacy needs AND follow the three part format as outlined in Interventions to Follow Informal Reading Assessment by JoAnne Schudt Caldwell and Lauren Leslie  in that each intervention lesson has three parts:  Word Study, Fluency and Reading For Meaning.  Based on their recommended three areas, I developed a flowchart of skills development.  

Teachers use flowchart below to further evaluate students and determine specific areas needed of remediation.  We then use materials that most closely match student needs.

Note:  Students that need digging into Phonemic Awareness are also screened with the PASS:  Phonological Awareness Skills Screener, which is a  criterion based assessment.



Students who demonstrate difficulty with phonemic awareness receive intervention using Heggerty materials along with nursery rhymes, songs and finger plays. {Example}  Our teachers have also embraced integrating lessons from 40 Reading Intervention Strategies For K-6 that are research-based and just plain BEST Practices!

Our K-6 team has completely embraced Jennifer Serravallo's, The Reading Strategies Book as a way to present strategies that need to be targeted.  

Sidenote:  Students who have not developed decoding strategies AND are two or more years below grade level, receive intensive intervention with Corrective Reading or Reading Mastery Materials through McGraw-Hill Education.  This is in addition to at least 60-90 minutes of literature-based universal reading instruction.  

Our Elementary School has seen strong growth in students using all of the strategies and approaches. I feel that we have a menu instead of a one-size-fits-all option for literacy growth.

Best wishes!