Is is Christmas break, yet? My team and I just received the best news! We have been approved to get a new teacher, so we will be able to reduce our class sizes from 27 to 21! I know that a lot of you have high numbers all the time, but the school I teach at really needs lower numbers. Just think inner city, half the students reading on 3rd grade or below, only 2 kids passing state test...yikes! We need those lower numbers to meet their needs! So this was a great gift!
Now, I really want to share some awesome strategies that have really been improving my students' reading levels. I had one student go from a P to an R and another go from a Q to an S in only four months! That is a huge accomplishment for them and I could not have been prouder. What improved their levels? Teaching them to "work" the text. Text being anything they are reading, an independent reading book, directions, a passage on a test.
I teach my students a new strategy a week (sometimes every other week) that they must implement while they are reading independently. We also practice this strategy in guided reading. I started this after getting tired of having students read and them not being able to tell me a thing they had read. I did modeled think alouds and direct instruction on how to think while you are reading, but it was still not working. So, now the students have to put their thoughts down on paper! This forces them to think! And it is working! I love looking out at my kids while they are reading and seeing a book in one hand and a pencil in the other. Makes my teacher heart happy! No more kids daydreaming while reading or only flipping the pages. They are reading, thinking, and writing!
This week I had an AHA moment when it came to my strategies. I have taught them so many strategies and this week we took a week off from a new strategy and I told the students to use the strategy from last week. One of my kids said, "This book really works for cause and effect, can I do that strategy." Oh my goodness! YES YES YES, you can! So all this week, the students chose the strategy they wanted to use and whichever one helped them understand the text. This was an eye opener for me! If I want them to take ownership in the strategy, I need to give them choices!
Here are some examples straight from my students and I chose the first three different strategies I found. I didn't choose the best of the best, I chose a real sample of all my students work. You will find the student work and a brief explanation of the strategy.
This is just one way that I try hold my students accountable for their thinking while reading. How do you help your students think about the text they are reading?