Sunday, July 27, 2014

Close Reading: Text Structure

We're into Chapter 4 this week with Savvy Simple Teaching!

1. When Reading How Does This Compare to Your Instruction? 
Last year I taught 2nd grade and we didn't use many of the text structure words listed in chapter 4. So I'm making that my first step. I want the students to understand the meaning of these words so they can participate in real conversation about text. I focused on the parts of story plot and created a Plot Mountain using The Three Little Pigs. I did this to show the meaning of introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.  I think the visual with the definitions will help the kids understand the words with a familiar story. I was inspired by Lucky Little Learners Plot Mountain. Check out her post today!

Click HERE if you're interested in this FREEBIE!

2. How Will I Connect What I Learned to My Instruction?
In my third grade classroom I want to use these words more frequently so I created some posters that could stay up in my room to remind students of these parts of the plot and their meaning. 

The Plot Mountain and Posters will help students see how a text is connected. While reading closely they'll see how the author writes a text to lead the reader down a path.  Students will start to recognize patterns in the clues written by the author and pay better attention to the important details. This skill should help them draw conclusions and really engage in the text. Eventually we hope if we model these skills enough our children will internalize these skills so they can use them while they read independently.

Next week we'll look at Point of View...
Check out the other posts about Chapter 4!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It! Cute Containers

 Hello friends! I'm linking up with Tara for Monday Made It! I'm so excited to be participating this week!

Today I'm going to show you how I changed a baby formula container into a cute container for supplies!

I've been saving baby formula containers for MONTHS! I kept thinking to myself, "These are great containers! I'm going to cover them and make them cute!" It's taken about 8 months (Yikes!) but I'm finally following through on my idea.

So I started with my supplies. I used clean baby formula containers (Target brand), chevron contact paper (from amazon), scissors, measuring tape, and a plastic scraper (Bed Bath & Beyond I think).

The hubs helped with removing the labels (both layers) from the rectangular and cylinder formula containers.
 These came off easily for us so we didn't need to bust out the goo-be-gone thankfully!
Then I measured around the container and the height.
If you're using the Target brand container the measurements I used were 21 in.around & 5 in. tall for the rectangular one. For the big cylinder it was 17 in. around & 5 in. tall. This allowed for a little bit of overlap and some space on the edges.
*Note you can use any formula containers I just happen to have the Up & Up Target ones.*

I was so happy the contact paper had measurement lines on the back! Yessss!

Now you want to do your best to stick down the first edge of the contact paper on your container in a straight line. Then you slowly (seriously like a turtle-haha) unroll the backing to reveal the adhesive and press it evenly onto the container.

While I was ever so slowly placing the contact paper on the container I was smoothing it out with my handy dandy scraper. This thing was seriously a life-saver! The idea of using contact paper usually sends me into horrible flashbacks of grade school attempting to cover my workbooks & it sticking to everything except the book. Am I right!? But the plastic scraper really made this step easier. The cylinder container was easier on this step and I was able to just use my thumbs to smooth out the bumps as I slowly removed the backing.

Sometimes it didn't go as well...

But overall it was a simple little craft. I think these will look great on my classroom shelves. You could also use them for the kids' small toys, or a travel container for some little legos. I plan on putting a cute label on them so the kids can help themselves to supplies.
 I'm sure once my little guy gets a bit older I'll be using them for little cars and action figures.

Happy crafting & thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Close Reading Chapter 3:Word Choice

Thanks so much for stopping by our book study with Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching's
This week is all about word choice & how words set the tone of the text. 
If you missed last week's post about text evidence you can click here.

My Ah-Ha Moments & Comments About Chapter Three

"Words go a long way. In text, in the media, and in our lives, the words we choose matter."
(Lehman & Roberts, 2014 pg. 49)

WOW. Isn't that sentence a show stopper!? There is so much truth in that statement. Not only for reading purposes, but in life. What you say & how you say it matters.
 As I was reading I thought, " I could teach this close reading strategy & teach some social skills too."
Chapter 3 is all about how the words give the text a tone and we want our students to recognize not just the vocabulary but, the feeling being set by the author. In other words, we're trying to figure out why the author chose one word over another word. This is taught using the same 3 step process from last chapter, but with a little spin on it so students are focusing on words.

Read Through Lenses
-Choose words from the text that evoke strong emotions & images

Find Patterns
-Which words fit together & how do they fit together?

Develop a New Understanding of the Text
-Think about how those words set the author's tone, purpose, the central idea.

Authors choose words for a reasons. They do this so you feel what the character is feeling.
In non-fiction they use the words to make you feel a certain way about the topic. 
I think you could help students understand this strategy better by bringing it into your writing lesson. Use interactive writing to show how using one word versus another changes the feel/tone of the writing.
When students write on their own in workshop you might ask questions like, "Why did you choose those words in your own writing?" "What emotion or tone are you trying to set?"
Another idea is to take an emotional sentence and change some of the adjectives. Talk with your students about how that changes the tone or feeling of the sentence.

How is This Strategy Different From How I Teach Close Reading?
I was more focused on teaching the meaning of words, not the tone in my reading instruction. I use tone often when I read on my own, so I'm not sure why I never thought to teach the importance of recognizing it. Perhaps it's because I taught 2nd grade and we're more focused on the basics of reading comprehension. However it is a really important skill to teach. I sometimes forget that we need to model all those strategies that we use automatically in our everyday reading so our students can be successful independent readers.
 I'm looking forward to using what I've learned here in my 3rd grade classroom this year. 
How do you teach your students to understand the tone of a text?

I'm really enjoying this book! I hope you've learned a bit about close reading today! 
Next week we'll learn about the text structure.
Be sure to enter the raffle & check out the other amazing bloggers below to learn more about chapter 3!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Close Reading Chapter Two: Text Evidence

"We only get good at the things we do." ~Lehman & Roberts
This statement is a perfect summary thought for chapter 2 of Falling in Love with Close Reading. Chapter 2 is about how to teach students to gather important details in a text, find patterns in those details, and then use those details to make interpretations. The key is modeling these steps and then letting students use the skills they've learned in their own reading.
There is a 3 step process the authors use to teach close reading. Each step helps the students get closer to a deep understanding of the text. Let's start with the first one...
1. Read Through Lenses
At first I had a hard time understanding exactly what the authors meant here, but after reading closely (yep- I just said that-haha) I realized reading through lenses meant identifying what you're focusing on in the text. Some examples might be character, setting, relationships, the central idea etc.
When students know what they're looking for they can better focus their energy.
2. Find Patterns
Okay you've gathered your details now what do they all mean? This step involves looking at the details and seeing if there are patterns or connections. The authors suggest having the students jot down the important details in step 1 and in step 2 to group the details. This can be done with different colored highlighters or circling details that are related. This is also a step where students might get rid of a detail because he/she realizes the detail isn't important.
3. Develop a New Understanding of the Text
In step 3 the reader uses those patterns he/she found to make interpretations about the character, setting, or central idea (whichever topic was the focus). This is also when students should be able to talk or write about the focus, details, and what the details meant. In this step it's important to encourage students to continue using the details from the text and stay away from the "maybe" thoughts. When I refer to "maybe" thoughts I mean those that our students come up with when they use too much of their own ideas & not enough text details. Both details are important for readers to use but we need our students to be able to use text evidence as support to their interpretations.
In non-fiction text this step would involve discussing vocabulary, and using the details to decide on a central idea. Then taking details and new vocabulary to make meaning of the challenging text.
My Interpretation of Chapter Two & An Example
Falling in Love with Close Reading seems to be more geared toward intermediate education however, there is a lot for primary teachers to learn from this book. So as I read I tried to relate it to a book a primary student would be reading. I decided on a Magic Tree House book because the kids love them and these books have enough details to carry a close reading discussion.
In many of the examples they used character as the focus so I'm going to use Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs before Dark as my example to explain what I could do with a group of 2nd graders.
I would have the students focus (step 1) on the main characters Jack & Annie. They could write details (step 2) on a sheet like this one.
Details About Jack:
 Jack worries a lot, he wants to go home, he uses the book to do research, he wears glasses, he takes notes, he's older than Annie, he looks for Annie a lot, he's smart, he gets away from the mean dinosaur, he gets Annie out of trouble with his research.
Details About Annie:
Annie makes Jack get out of the tree house, she's younger than Jack, she isn't afraid of the dinosaurs, she loves animals, she's excited to be in prehistoric times, she wanders off a lot, sometimes she gets into trouble.
After we gathered some details we would (in reading group or whole class) decide which details go together. It was my understanding (from the chapter) that you make generalizations based on the details in this step. So here is one way to group details...
These could "go together": Jack looks for Annie, and does research, he gets Annie out of trouble.
After putting the details together we could come up with a statement of what we know now. 
*These details tell us that Jack is a smart person and a good brother when he does research before going somewhere new to keep himself and Annie safe.
These could "go together": Annie isn't afraid, she's excited, she wanders off, she makes Jack leave the tree house, and she sometimes gets into trouble.
*These details tell us that Annie is adventurous when she makes Jack enjoy the trip, and goes off on her own unafraid of the dinosaurs.
There are some other interpretations that students could make from the details gathered too. The idea is that the students are using the details to support their interpretations. An activity like this would create a great discussion within your reading group. You could also do this with a read aloud and write details on a chart paper to help younger students read closely.
How would you implement this in your classroom?
 Leave a comment below & let's get a discussion going!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Falling in Love with Close Reading: Chapter 1

“We can teach our students how to read closely and fall in love with reading.”
 ~Donalyn Miller July 2013

This quote is from the foreword of Falling in Love with Close Reading and it really stuck with me. I’m so excited to be joining with this group of fabulous educators to learn more about this strategy and how it can be used to create lifelong, independent readers. So let’s get started on Chapter 1…

What is Close Reading?
“Close reading is something we teach students to do rather than something we just do to them.” page 4
Close reading is reading carefully. While you’re reading carefully you’re also analyzing the text so you can make interpretations about that text. It’s reading with purpose and thought.

What is Powerful Close Reading Instruction?
It is explicit, repeated instruction over time and throughout the subjects. It is giving students the opportunity to apply those close reading skills learned in the classroom.  I thought it was also important to note that this is only, “one piece of your reading instruction, not the only part of your instruction.” 
The authors stress the importance of student engagement and joy in close reading as well. I found this refreshing because many other sources make close reading sound boring and more business-like rather than a skill that could be utilized in reading for entertainment. I understand that a big goal of CCSS is to prepare students for reading at a college level. However at my level students need to learn to engage in a text and analyze it. More importantly I’d like them to engage & analyze because they want to interact with the text not just because I want them to answer comprehension questions once they’re done. Powerful Close Reading Instruction creates engaged, independent readers.

What are We Currently Doing in Our Close Reading Instruction?
This past year I used some MAX teaching strategies to engage my 2nd grade students in close reading with National Geographic Magazines.
The two I used frequently were the 3-Level Study Guide and Pre/Post Vocabulary.
The 3-Level Study Guide has 3 levels of statements. The levels are Right There on the Page, Reading Between the Lines, and Reading Beyond the Lines. You find a complex text and then choose some statements the students will be focused on in their reading. Some of the statements are true and some are false. The students read the statements before they begin reading the text. Then as they read the text they mark evidence (we highlighted in different colors) that either supports or negates the statements.  
The Pre/Post Vocabulary has 5-6 words in a list. Before the students read they mark their understanding of the words. Then they mark their understanding after we've read, analyzed, and discussed. The goal is for the students to improve their vocabulary skills.

Here is an example of how I altered the 3-Level Study Guide to fit the primary world. 

The Pre/Post Vocabulary strategy on top of the leveled study guide so we were using comprehension and vocabulary strategies over a couple guided reading sessions. You can see I only did two levels on the study guide. I used Right There on the Page & Read Between the Lines. My 2nd graders were just getting used to close reading so I didn't want to overwhelm them.  They did very well with these and it was awesome to hear the discussion that occurred. I would hear "Yes I agree with you because I see this sentence in the text." or "No, this one is wrong because..." 
It took a lot of modeling, but it was worth it. They were engaged in the reading, discussing it at length, and for my higher students I saw an improvement in their independent reading.  

I will be sharing the strategies I learn in Falling in Love with Close Reading in next week's post. I hope you'll come back. Thanks for stopping by...