For teachers and kids, the beginning of the school year means “Reading Assessments”. We test to see if our students’ reading levels have increased, remained the same or decreased over the summer. However, although we get an independent reading level, we know that the reading level may not always be 100% accurate. Asking the right comprehension questions can help kids be better readers.
The following Behaviors/Skills and Questions can be useful when working with students who are at an independent reading level from K through N.
Knowing the skills and behaviors at levels above and below a student’s level will help teachers and parents ask better questions to support comprehension. This strategy can help our students on their independent reading level as well as our Review/Reinforcement and Enrichment students.
Comprehension/Behaviors Skills (F & P Levels K/L)
dialogue to understand characters
cause and effect by understanding characters and events
how problems and events are related
for information to confirm predictions
evidence from the story to support their ideas or thinking
predictions based on prior knowledge and the text
the solution to the problem
important ideas in the text
predictions based on character traits
Comprehension Questions (F & P Levels K/L)
Retell the story in
Who is speaking? How do you know?
Does what you just read
remind you of anything? How does this
help you better understand the text?
name) in detail.
What happened? Why did it happen?
What in the story makes
you think that?
What do you think will
happen next? Why?
What caused (problem or
event) to happen? How do you know?
What do you think
(character’s name) will do? Why?
School Age Readers and Writers – (5 to 9-year-olds)
Give your child encouragement when he or she is doing homework or a writing assignment. Remind your child that writing involves several steps like panning, composing an initial draft, revising, and final editing. No one does it perfectly the first time.
Read different types of books to expose your child to different types of writing. Kids love a variety of fiction and non-fiction formats including plays, chapter books, series books, books with sequels, short stories, diaries and logs, and graphic texts.
Create a writing toolbox — Find a special box and fill it with drawing and writing materials. Think of everyday opportunities for your child to write —the family shopping list, thank -you notes, birthday cards, or sign on the bedroom door.
Ask your child to read out loud what he or she has written.
Create a book together — Make a handmade book together by folding pieces of paper ion half and stapling them together. Your child can write his or her own story, with different sentences on each page. Ask your child to illustrate the book with his/her own drawings.
Show your child how to summarize a story in a few sentences, for example, or how to make predictions about what might happen next. Both strategies help a child comprehend and remember. After reading a story together, think out loud so your child can see how you summarize and predict.
Pick books that are at the right reading level —Help your child choose reading materials that are not too difficult. The goal is to give your child lots of successful reading experiences
Partner Reading – Take turns reading aloud to each other. Whether it’s a page or a sentence, it’s another way of getting a couple minutes of reading fun.
Learning to read is not easy and takes time. Many parents wonder on the best ways to help their kids learn to read. With 8 grandkids under 9, we have various levels of reading going on in our family. Ranging in age from 7 months to “newly 9” we have readers of all sizes and abilities.
I created the following list to make it a little easier for my adult children to have a few “reading ideas” to help their kiddos. Reading is very comprehensive and therefore, there is a wide range of activities at each level. The important thing to remember is reading builds on foundational skills. Therefore, each level is important for reading success. Don’t worry if your more advanced reader wants to do a lower level. Even advanced readers can continue to learn and grow from some of the Preschool Reader activities. Last week we started with our series with Very Early Readers (Birth – 2 years). This week we continue with Preschool Readers (2 – 5yrs).
Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)
Discuss what’s happening, point out things on the page, ask your child questions
When looking at a book together, point out how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.
Talk about print everywhere. Talk about written words you see in the world around you and respond with interest to your child’s questions about words.
Ask your child to find a new word every time you go on an outing.
Watch My Lips – Encourage your child to watch your lips and mouth while you make certain sounds. Have your child think about how his/her own lips and tongue move. You can say something like, “Can you feel how your mouth moves the same way at the beginning of the words sun, snake, and sour? Watch my mouth while I say them.” Exaggerate the letter s when saying the words.
Play sound games— Give your child practice blending individual sounds into words. For example, ask “Do you know what the word is? m-o-p?” Say the sound each letter makes rather than the name of the letter. Hold each sound longer than you normally would. This will help your child recognize the different letter sounds.
Trace and say letters while saying the letter’s sound at the same time. Use a pan filled with rice, sugar or beans to involve touch, sight and speech.
Play word games — Use a dry erase board to play word games with your child. First, write out a word like mat. Then change the initial sound. Have your child sound out the word when it becomes fat and then when it becomes sat. Next change the final sound, so the word changes from sat to sag to sap. Then change the middle sound, so the word changes from sap to sip.
Punctuate your reading.?! -. Discuss how punctuation on a page represents ways of speaking. You can say, for example, “When we talk, we usually pause a little bit at the end of a sentence. The way we show this pause in writing is to use a period.”
Dig deeper into the story — Ask your child about the story you’ve just read together. Try questions that require your child to draw conclusions. Say something like, “Why do you think Clifford did that?” A child’s involvement in retelling a story or answering questions goes a long way toward developing his or her comprehension skills.
Tell family tales — Children love to hear stories about their family. Tell your child what it was like when you or your parents were growing up or talk about a funny thing that happened when you were young.
Storytelling on the go — Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while riding in the car. Either one of you could start. Start with a beginning middle and end and work up to a longer story. A fun activity that stretches the imagination!
Every minute counts in becoming a good reader. Why not set a goal to try to do at least one activity a day? Be prepared to have days when it doesn’t get done. It’s only a goal. Most of all, enjoy the special time with your child.
When you think of winter in the Northeast you can’t help but think of SNOW. Whether it’s school delays, shoveling, or road conditions:; native New Yorkers (like me) can’t help but think of the negatives involved with the beautiful, fluffy, white stuff. So, how about thinking about the bright side of snowy days?
How does free (or almost free) skiing for kids? Let’s face it, skiing can be expensive and ski resorts want to get families on the slopes. So, if you have a 3rd through 5th grader you are in luck. Check out the links below and see if you can jump on this great bargain. A pretty good deal if your child is an avid skier or just wants to give it a try. Be sure to check out the websites, there are some requirements associated with the offers. They are certainly worth a look!
The Kids Learn to Ski or Ride Passportis the perfect program for those who do not ski or are true beginners. With the Learn to Ski or Ride program, a child receives a lift ticket, lesson and equipment rental free* at all participating ski areas. There are over 20 ski areas throughout New York State participating in the Learn to Ski or Ride program. Once you receive your Passport in the mail, you can start hitting the slopes! Reservations at ski areas may be required. *$27 processing fee applies. Must show proof child is in 3rd or 4th grade.
Any child in the 4th or 5th grade can ski or ride for FREE at all participating ski areas in the state of Pennsylvania (when accompanied by a paying adult.) Just fill out the application on the back of this flyer, mail us a copy of your 4th or 5th grade report card for grade verification, a 2″ x 11/2″ color photo, plus $35-$40 non-refundable processing fee per child. We’ll mail you your 4th & 5th Grade Snowpass containing one FREE LEARN TO SKI/BOARD PACKAGE (beginner lift, lesson & rental package) to any one area of their choice and 3 FREE LIFT TICKETS for each of the participating Pennsylvania Ski Areas listed on our website. 4th and 5th grade Snow Pass
Ski New Hampshirealpine and cross-country ski area member contributes one free lift ticket or trail pass for your fourth or fifth grader to enjoy New Hampshire’s scenic ski trails this winter. That’s 32 days (or nights) that your child can get outside and explore this season for just $30 upon grade verification. This program is open to 4th and 5thgraders from near and far–not just New Hampshire residents! The 4th & 5th Grade Snowsports Passport will be delivered to your email inbox once you’ve provided proof of eligibility. Look at website for exclusion dates.
Social Studies concepts can be difficult for some students to learn. However, there are some tools teachers can use increase a student’s access to academic content. Check out the 8 research-based strategies listed below.
Graphic Organizers – Graphic Organizers, Mind Maps and Concept Maps provide a pictorial or graphic way to organize information and thoughts for remembering, understanding and writing.
Multiple Intelligences – Dr. Howard Gardner proposed the theory in 1983 that there are 8 multiple types of intelligences or ways of processing information. (verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, musical, naturalistic, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal.
Graph Dissection – Taking apart of breaking down information found in graphs, charts, maps and other graphics.
Content Enhancements – Includes advanced organizers, visual displays, study guides, mnemonic devices, peer mediated instruction and computer assisted instruction.
Historical Timelines – Timelines help students understand the passage of time by comparing the length of time passed with a time sequence with which they are familiar.
Textbook Analysis – The systematic analysis of the text materials including the structure, the focus, and the learning assists.
Concept Comparisons – Students use a graphic to compare and contrast key concepts.
Assistive technology – Any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individual with disabilities.
There is no ONE WAY to teach Social Studies. The key to developing lessons is to try different techniques and assess their effectiveness.
The start of the school year brings some new reading terms for parents of children in the early grades. Many teachers use Guided Reading to teach reading. The days of everyone reading together out of one book has been replaced by small-group instruction. The small groups are composed of children that have similar Guided Reading Levels (GRLs). The level is assessed on a child’s word-knowledge, comprehension and fluency. These levels are also used to determine a child’s independent reading level.
Fountas and Pinnell, (F & P) is one of the most popular assessment tools. The levels range alphabetically from A to Z, with level A representing the lowest level and level Z the highest. This allows the teacher to work closely with each student to help them become better readers by introducing them to increasingly challenging books and instructional focus.
How Are Book Levels Determined?
Books are assigned Guided Reading Levels based on several general expectations and capabilities of a reader. As the levels progress, the books become more difficult. Each level is based upon the increasing complexity of ten benchmark common book characteristics that readers encounter at all stages of the reading process from when your child picks up his or her first book through the time when he or she becomes a fluent reader. These guided reading categories are:
Themes and Ideas: Big ideas communicated by the author
Genre: Type of book
Text Structure: How the book is organized
Content: Subject matter of a book
Sentence Complexity: Difficulty of the sentence
Language and Literacy: The writing techniques used by the writer.
Vocabulary: The frequency of new words introduced in the book.
Words: How easy the words in the book can be figured out (decoded) by a reader
Illustrations: The correlation and consistency of images and pictures in the books to the words printed on the page
Book and Print Features: How the printed words are on the page.
How Can I Find Books at My Child’s Guided Reading Level?
Ask your child’s teacher for the appropriate Guided Reading Level (GRL) to practice reading at home. In the classroom, books are often labeled so kids can easily grab a book at their reading level. Your school or local librarian can be helpful to find books at your child’s level. Many book publishers also include a Guided Reading Level on their books.
I’ve written a post about Overdrive as a database to access free books for adults and kids. However, I was not aware that they also have collections of books on different subjects. One of the listed subjects is Education. The collection includes books for both teachers, parents and students. Books are in both digital and audio files.
Using your library card you can borrow up to 10 ebooks or audiobooks from your local library. Just use your library card for your one time registration and you’re ready to go. Books can be borrowed from 7 to 21 days.
Sample: Overdrive PD Teacher Books
Building A+ Better Teacher Green 2015
How Children Succeed Tough 2013
Mathematical Mindsets Boaler/Dweck 2015
Montessori From the Start Lillard and Jessen 2004
Secrets of the Teenage Brain Feinstein/Jensen 2013
Teach Like a Pirate Burgess 2012
The Coddling of the American Mind Lukianoff/Haidt 2019
Over the years I’ve collected a collection of education books. Take a look at the list below and let me know if there are any books that you may find helpful in your placements. I can bring them to your placement on our next observation. Access to your very own professional lending library!
Brainstorm Siegel 2012
Bright From The Start Stamm 2008
Classroom Instruction That Works Marzano & Pickering 2001
For kids in school, knowing historical dates helps them relate to history and builds their general
knowledge. Knowing these dates
can help teachers engage students in conversations and students may even be
impressed by their teachers historical knowledge!
Knowing historical dates provides opportunities for students to learn history and build their general knowledge. Take a look and impress your students!
Article-A-day is a strategy that teachers use in a classrooms that assigns students a non-fiction article to read each day. This technique strengthens a student’s background knowledge, vocabulary and stamina. This research-based classroom routine combines writing & oral sharing. The technique is used in whole-class or small groups and also as an independent project.
A great FREE resource to support your Article-A Day program is ReadWorks. The site provides article sets that include 6-9 articles related on nonfiction topics. The articles are leveled from Kindergarten – 8th Grade. The resources can be printed, used digitally or projected on a Smartboard. ReadWorks encourages teachers to share their resources with other colleagues.
Step 1: Students read an article independently. For students who cannot read independently yet, the teacher reads the article out loud twice.
Step 2: Each student then uses their own “Book of Knowledge” to write down, or draw a picture of, two or three things they learned from reading and would like to remember in their own “Book of Knowledge.” A classroom Book of Knowledge can also be created if the article is used in whole class instruction. The strategy builds writing skills and strengthens the reading-writing connection.
Step 3: Student volunteers share with the class, in 1-2 minutes, what they’ve learned and want to remember.
IF 10 minutes is all you need to make an impact on reading comprehension, why not give it a try?
Eight months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 10 August posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 8 down and 4 more to go! Have a great month!
I am so pleased to be working with you during student teaching this semester. The college has provided you a high-quality education to prepare you for this day. They have recruited cooperating teachers that exhibit best practice to guide you through your student teaching placement. These mentors will help you graduate as competent teachers in content skills, classroom management, and knowledge of individual student learning needs.
As your student teacher
supervisor, I am here to assist and encourage your professional growth during
your classroom experience. As the liaison between the college and school, I can
assist you with both procedural and content material. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you
have any questions.
These next few months will very busy so try to focus on everything that you experience. These day to day experiences will prepare you to have your own classroom someday. Ask questions, reflect on practice and accept advice. You have been prepared well and are ready for this challenge. Enjoy the journey!