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Archive for October, 2009

While working in Tennessee with upper grade teachers this week, we looked at how to have students make a class ABC book related to a content-area topic. After viewing the ABC Book clip in 5th grade from my video, Stepping Up with Stations, teachers each made an ABC book page. First we brainstormed words from A-Z that went with our topic of study– literacy work stations. Then each teacher made a page for the book to experience the process.
 
Some things we noticed:
  • it was a great way to review what we’d learned
  • we enjoyed talking with a friend while we worked
  • you could use a book for reference
  • if we weren’t good at drawing, a partner could help
I modeled how to make an ABC book page first. If this were at a station, we’d have directions (brainstormed with students) of how to make an ABC book page. We’d also have books related to the topic of study, a list of words to choose from created by the class, and blank pages ready to fill in for the book. Here are some photos of our work. If you have an ABC Book station in your classroom, we’d love to see what your students are doing, too!
 
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First, we made a chart together of vocabulary related to our content topic of study (literacy work stations, in this case)

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Teachers use a template to create individual pages for the class ABC book

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Sample pages for A and Z

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I am blessed. I come from a family where reading is valued. When I was a child, my brother and sister and I would pile into bed at night, and Dad would read to us or tell us stories. I remember his stories the best. He’d make them up using characters we’d create. This tradition continued on to the next generation. Bedtime stories were a big part of my children’s heritage, as well.

Some of my most treasured photos are those picturing family members reading. I’ll bet you have some, too. If you’d like, send us a picture of your family reading. Email it to d.diller@live.com.

Guess which one is Debbie? Not the one with the truck! Yep, The one with the book with my little brother, Doug, and little sister, Sandy. Don't you love the 1950's bangs???

Guess which one is Debbie? Not the one with the truck! Yep, The one with the book with my little brother, Doug, and little sister, Sandy. Don't you love the 1950's bangs???

Dad

Vintage 1980's- My dad reading in his "chair" to two of his grandchildren...My son, Jon (on left) and nephew, Jeffrey (on right)

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Do the math

I am rereading a favorite little book I picked up in an airport last year– Encouragement Changes Everything by John C. Maxwell. Today’s selection was called “Do the Math.” Since I have just started writing a chapter on addition and subtraction stations for my new math book, this piece seemed quite timely!
 
Here’s a summary:
There are only four kinds of people when it comes to relationships.
1. Some people add something to life. We enjoy them.
2. Some people subtract something from life. We tolerate them.
3. Some people multiply something in life. We value them.
4. Some people divide something in life. We avoid them.
 
I hope that today you’ll think about the people in your life. It might be your colleagues, family, or friends. What will you add to their lives? Are you a multiplier? To do so, you must be intentional, strategic, and skilled. You must want to see others succeed and help them with your special talents and great ideas.
 
And while we’re doing math, what do your students need most help with when it comes to addition and subtraction? Please let me know by posting a comment here. Or if you have a math station idea your students love, post it here, too. We have lots of readers and they enjoy your ideas as well as mine! Thanks for being part of my blog.

addition-station

This addition station uses little plastic ladybugs and number cubes. Kids take turns rolling the cubes and using the objects to think about the problem. A piece of black felt serves as a math mat to keep the activity quieter and to help children see their work. They record the number sentence on the paper included here. It would be great to have them draw a picture of their thinking, too. This might be used early in first grade when you are just starting to teach children to use the symbols for addition and subtraction.

 

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Downtown Flagstaff

Downtown Flagstaff

This past weekend I gave the keynote address at the Arizona Reading Association conference and enjoyed meeting so many wonderful educators from this beautiful state. I was fortunate to have in-depth conversations with many attendees about their classrooms and concerns. Everywhere I go, I’m touched by the caring of teachers no matter what their circumstances. I met teachers working with Apache children, folks with overcrowded spaces, educators that spent their fall break attending this conference– people who care deeply about their students.

 
My keynote address was titled, “Getting and Keeping Their Attention.” Here are a few points from my presentation:
1. Three ways to get students’ attention– emotion, novelty, and meaning.
2. Ways to keep student attention- proximity, technology, telling a story, movement, all-pupil response.
3. Small-group instruction holds students’ attention if the tasks are at the cutting edge of students’ development (and the group isn’t too big- no more than 4-6 students)
4. Literacy work stations engage students because they have ownership and peer interaction.
 
The brain doesn’t need to constantly pay attention. It needs downtime to process new information, too. The brain needs “white space.” So, we did some resting and rejuvenating while in Flagstaff, too. If you’ve never been here, take the trip! Tom and I flew to Phoenix (an easy trip on Southwest from Houston) and drove about 2 hours from the desert into the mountains (a lovely drive) to reach Flagstaff. I loved the historic downtown and found some great jewelry and greeting cards at a little shop called Zani. Great dinner at Mountain Oasis, too. We also drove to Sedona to see the sights. Amazing red rocks along the way!
 
Ollie Archambault, president-elect of ARA gave me an Apache "burden basket" or tats'a

Ollie Archambault, president-elect of ARA gave me an Apache "burden basket" or tats'a

Posing with Stenhouse rep, Lisa York, and a literacy coach who encouraged me to write a book on middle school work stations!

Posing with Stenhouse rep, Lisa York, and a literacy coach who encouraged me to write a book on middle school work stations!

The winding mountain road we took from Flagstaff to Sedona

The winding mountain road we took from Flagstaff to Sedona

Amazing red rock formations

Amazing red rock formations

Horse statue in Sedona

Horse statue in Sedona

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A fifth-grade teacher in Denver Public Schools shared a great idea for reading response that her students love! She makes a tic-tac-toe board with a variety of reading responses on it. She got these ideas from searching the Internet and her own resources.
 
Students choose which reading response they’d like to do after finishing a book from independent reading time. They color in the square to show they’ve completed a response. The goal is to fill in X number of spaces per X number of weeks. You do the math and decide if you want them to do 3 in a row, black-out, or a specified amount of responses in a certain number of weeks. She said the kids really like the choice factor and the variety of responses they might do.
 
Let us know if you try this and how your students respond.

A fifth-grade teacher with a tic-tac-toe response sheet

A fifth-grade teacher with a tic-tac-toe response sheet

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Teachers work together to examine leveled books for emergent readers and discuss what students should learn to do at these levels.

Teachers work together to examine leveled books for emergent readers and discuss what students should learn to do at these levels.

Last week while in Denver, CO, we looked deeply at emergent reading levels. Teachers previewed texts in both English and Spanish and put them in order from easiest to hardest at Levels A-C (DRA 1-4). We examined where most students should be reading at the end of kindergarten. Their data showed that children reading on a Level C/ DRA 4 by the end of kindergarten did very well on their state reading test in 3rd grade as compared to students reading on Level C/ DRA 3 at the end of kindergarten.

We looked at the differences between Level C/ DRA 3  and DRA 4. What do students need to learn to do as readers by the end of kindergarten? These might be interesting conversations to have on your campus. I’d look at daily shared reading, high frequency word work, letter-sound knowledge and applying this in reading and writing (once phonemic awareness is in place), and read aloud for comprehension and vocabulary to start. For more information, you might consult my book, Making the Most of Small Groups. Start by looking at the chart on page 171.

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I’m so fortunate to be working with educators in the Denver Public Schools again this year. I’m teaching a year-long course to help them understand how to use small group instruction to best meet the needs of their students. These teachers rock!

As part of their homework, teachers brought samples of ways they take notes and organize their assessment data. They use assessment notebooks of some kind and also share individual reading goals with their students. Teachers use these during independent reading and small group instruction.

They were gracious to share their ideas on my blog via these pictures. What I love is that the systems are personalized. Each teacher does what works best for her/him. Differentiation for teachers, too!

One teacher shares the assessment form she uses for reading. Each page holds notes for 4 different students.

One teacher shares the assessment form she uses for reading. Each page holds notes for 4 different students.

Another takes notes in a little spiral notebook for each student. The notes are written for the child to help him/her.

Another takes notes in a little spiral notebook for each student. The notes are written for the child to help him/her.

Close up of notes for the child.

Close up of notes for the child.

Another child's reading goals notebook.

Another child's reading goals notebook.

This teacher uses a steno notebook for each student with running records and notes in it.

This teacher uses a steno notebook for each student with running records and notes in it.

Tiny notebook with reading goal for one child.

Tiny notebook with reading goal for one child.

Another goal notebook in a little spiral format.

Another goal notebook in a little spiral format.

One teacher's assessment notebook is organized by colored dividers for each reading group.

One teacher's assessment notebook is organized by colored dividers for each reading group.

A teacher's guided reading lesson plan template with space to take assessment notes.

A teacher's guided reading lesson plan template with space to take assessment notes.

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