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Creating World Class Readers And Scholars, Why Not?

Posted by on in Literacy
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Our littlest just asked me if I could stop writing and be with her and mama during story time. She is newly five, a leftie and has the basics of reading, writing and counting. We play school a lot and she is also frequently a librarian. Every "lesson" revolves around books. But not all kids are doing as well. These are the kids I am writing about tonight, the ones who have potential, but may be in bottom percentiles, score-wise, or unready or unwilling to read. 

It's the perfect time to create world class readers and scholars. We know standardized tests are coming soon. I'm hoping to see a big uptick in reading scores. Teachers are miracle workers, all of the time, one way or another. Every teacher I know has a burning desire to share the love of reading and model what it takes, thinking-wise to be a truly great reader. I'm very hopeful.

In order to find the deep meaning of words, start with the foundation. It's like building a house, starting at the foundation, then adding on. Reading is like that.

Some kids just pick it up naturally, others take a little more time or need to be taught in a variety of ways. This is pretty much true for all grade levels. It's all about the skills, with a lot of motivation, interest and need to know tossed in.

The ideal reading classroom is everywhere, in whatever design or imprint the teacher chooses. Starting with a print and language rich environment, adding the unique mindset and strategies, the joy of reading burns brightly.

All teachers are reading teachers, K-12. So that's a lot of teachers, with a headful of student friendly strategies. Teachers know how to teach reading from basic to upper levels. We need to trust their instincts that they best meet the individual needs of each of their students, and differentiate, accordingly.

The missing piece, in my opinion lies with what was the role of the Title I teacher and now more likely a "Reading Interventionist". Time-tested, classroom perfected shortcuts and interventions usually quickly bring a struggling student up to grade level. I don't believe in ability grouping, ever. I call it capability grouping, continuously grouping kids based on skills achieved and the what's next to learn. This is the diagnostic-prescriptive approach I've mentioned in prior writing to you. My thought is all teachers K-12 , including content areas are now reading interventionists, in order to build and boost comprehension. That is the ultimate goal of reading- understanding. And that's where the scholars part comes in. It's all about getting to comprehension, then moving beyond. 

Picking up the missing pieces, filling in the literacy gaps of struggling, way behind students or helping all kids to get ahead of the curve, that's my mission. 

Children make sense of their expanding world through discovery. Reading opens many doors and is the best play adventure of all! Meeting new friends, taking trips to unusual places, learning about komodo dragons and tiny hamsters are all part of the fun. The joy of reading both fiction and non-fiction (info-text) is as natural as learning to walk and talk.

Comprehension is the goal of reading at all grade levels. Having a purpose gives meaning to reading. "Why do I need to know this"? Having a reason to read provides the framework of understanding.

If I asked you what really matters to help kids know and remember what they read, what would you say?

How do we help kids make connections, understand and interpret what's being read, make sense of it? 

Make Connections.

  1. Start by connecting to the prior lesson, as a quick review.
  2. Find out what your child or students already know. This is called schema, or schemata (prior knowledge).
  3. Set the lesson or mini-lesson. This is the transition from the previous lesson and opens or hooks what you are teaching. 
  4. Make sure kids know why it’s important to learn and master the topic. Need to know, have a reason to learn.
  5. Use the original KWL Chart (Donna Ogle). (Know, Want To Know, Learned) process.

Before Reading Do This.

  1. Have a purpose for reading.
  2. Do a ‘Walk Through’, checking out the book or chapter.
  3. Make predictions about the selection.
  4. List any new vocabulary words. Spell correctly. 
  5. Organize the chapter titles and main headings.
  6. Write/ask questions, what you want to learn.
  7. Notice special features.
  8. Check out the table of contents.
  9. Note the publication date.
  10. Author info. is important.

During Reading Do This.

  1. Adjust rate or speed to match the reading level and any special vocabulary.
  2. Take notes, make diagrams, such as Venn, or a basic Web, Sketch Notes. 
  3. Summarize as you go- each chapter, paragraph or line.
  4. Answer questions you started with, in KWL.
  5. CFU– Check For Understanding. Check progress frequently.
  6. Reread any sections you need to. Do retellings.
  7. Teach a friend what you read. Podcast or media.

After Reading Do This.

  1. Find main ideas and details, look for topic sentences.
  2. Answer your questions after reading to see if your predictions were right.
  3. Sequence the reading selection, regarding importance and serial order.
  4. Summarize your reading, out loud and in writing.
  5. Look for any clarifications and inferences in the material.
  6. Use the new vocabulary routinely and correctly spell new words.
  7. Write about it. Journal or other.
  8. Tech or other strategy to demonstrate what you read.

More Basics.

  1. Use QAR’s: (Question, Answer, Repond (Raphael '84) when responding to questions.
  2. Literal– Right there: Usually the answer is "on the lines". Questions may begin with list, where, what is, when, how, name, usually a short answer.
  3. Interpretive– Look for it. Called "Think and Search". Look for clues in the text.
  4. Inferences– Use prior knowledge to guess or base your opinion.
  5. Do PWR: Predict what the chapter, paragraph or page is about. Predict. Write. Read.
  6. Do RCRC: Read it. Cover or close the book. Recite what you read. Check. Open the book or selection to see if you’re right.
  7. Do PWRCRC: Predict it. Read it. Cover or close the book. Recite what you read. Check it.
  8. Synthesis: Put the information together. Design, create, construct, perform, organize. (Bloom's, higher level).
  9. Evaluation: Form an opinion. Decide, conclude, rank, rate, prove. (Bloom's, higher level).
  10. Respond to what you've read. Organize the information, sequence, note main ideas and details, write about it or tell someone about it. Draw, design create, on and offline.

Boost student comprehension by having your own blueprint or roadmap to success. A combination of preview, read and review is an effective strategy for info-text or the greatest classic literature. All kids are potential world class readers and scholars, why not?

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

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Modeling the art and craft of teaching reading for 45 years, Mrs. Wirtz taught language arts, speech and reading at all levels preschool-adult, including penal. She served as Pre-school and K-6 Principal. Rita was also a Curriculum Consultant, ESEA, Title I Program Evaluator and literacy trainer. At the university level she taught school administration in the Bilingual Cohort at CSUS and National University, Sacto. Mrs. Wirtz also taught all reading courses for Chapman University for many years in Sacramento and Placerville, Ca., and mentored student teachers. On the national level she was a well known motivational Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader. Most importantly, Rita walked the talk, teaching with teachers in more than 500 K-12 and special needs classrooms. Rita authored books, publications and Pre- YouTube, videos were filmed by San Diego County Office of Education. Calif. ASCD authored companion book guides, and Calif. school districts correlated her basic skills instruction with State Standards. Mrs. Wirtz' newest book is Reading Champs! Teaching Reading Made Easy, a review of the basic building blocks of English and Reading. Find Mrs. Wirtz on Twitter @RitaWirtz, Facebook and website- www.ritawirtz.com.

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Guest Wednesday, 26 October 2016