Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reading and Writing Informational Text

I have been working with a group of second grade students on how to integrate reading and writing.
We have been using informational texts as our common element and the students have experienced quite a bit of success reflecting on their learning.

To begin, we discussed why readers read informational texts. Although there were quite a few purposes for reading informational texts, we boiled down our thinking to tree main purposes for reading informational texts.

I read aloud a page from a Seymour Simon book, Sharks, and had the students follow along on a photocopy. I wanted to be sure that the students' thinking and understanding was not hindered by their decoding ability. The Seymour Simon text was beyond a readability level for many of the students, but as I was reading it aloud, it became accessible to all the students.

After I read the text aloud twice, the student and I revisited the first paragraph to identify the most important idea out of each paragraph. The students were able to explain why as a READER they thought each idea was the most important. 

The next day we revisited the piece again and talked about what we did as a READER that helped us to understand the text.

The students were very insightful when they shared how they were able to better understand the text. They especially focused on how helpful it was to reread the text multiple times, each time looking for something different (answers to their questions, things they already knew, etc.). No one complained about having to reread and each time the students were very engaged in the task.

Finally, we used the same text about sharks to focus on writing crafts that Seymour Simon uses to make his writing more understandable to the reader. The students were able to identify ways that the WRITER made his text more understandable for the reader.

Using the same text over and over really helped the students see the connection between reading and writing. It was also great because we did not have to worry about the content of the piece. My goal was not to teach them about sharks, but rather how a READER and a WRITER do things to help with understanding. 

Sharks by Seymour Simon

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Favorite Books I Found This Week

This week, I started working in two different classrooms. Both of these amazing teachers and I are exploring how to integrate reading and writing together to make a more seamless experience for the students.
We are also working on allowing the students more choice and flexibility when working towards their individual learning goals. Some of this has gone amazingly well (yes, we are only two days in) and some of our experiences have provided us with wonderful opportunities to reflect on our practice and expectations.
One of the biggest reminders I've experienced being back in the classroom is how invaluable a robust classroom library is to learning. While we certainly can't account for all tastes and interests, the books we have available to students speaks volumes about our expectations.

Here are two new picture books I purchased this week:

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
I had the opportunity to meet J.J. Austrian in November and I have been looking forward to this book coming out!

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev

A great new informational book I found.

When On Earth by DK

And an old favorite that I was reminded of its beauty and brilliance.

The Flower Man by Mark Ludy