Posts Tagged ‘read aloud’

Here are a few tips on how to set up a buddy reading work station from my book Practice with Purpose. What ideas do you have for this station? Have you used one in your classroom?

Two students sit beside each other on the floor. Each holds a copy of the same fiction book. They are reading a chapter silently and then using discussion cards to talk about what they read. The cards relate to a reading strategy their teacher has been modeling in whole-group instruction—inference.

They take turns reading the cards and then talking about what they think. For example, one the “I Can” list in the buddy reading basket and have chosen the option “I read a paragraph; you read a paragraph.” They are reading the assigned chapter for science in this way and stop to discuss their reading at the end of each section. When they have finished all the assigned reading, they answer the questions in the textbook together. One is the recorder and writes their answers on notebook paper.

Ideas for the Work Station
Teachers like buddy reading because it doesn’t take up much space and is easy to get started. All you need for this station is a basket (discount stores sell some that are just the right size and price!) and two copies of the same book or other short text. This is a portable station that can be taken anywhere in the classroom; you will be wise to set up predetermined places, though, so it doesn’t get overcrowded in any one area of your room. You might set up two or three buddy reading stations to accommodate more pairs of students.

You might set up different-colored buddy reading baskets for students reading at different levels or put three or four titles at different levels in one basket and code them with colored dots to help students find books at their independent reading levels.

Provide sticky notes and pencils, too, so kids can mark where they finished reading for the next time. Use a variety of texts over time, including popular chapter books, your basal reader, and social studies and science textbooks. It is wise to provide shorter text at this station so students have time to finish reading something and discuss it. Include lots of nonfiction, such as current events clipped from the newspaper, Eyewitness books, fact books such as the Guinness Book of World Records, and Cross-Section books.

To help students know exactly what is expected of them at this station, here are some possibilities for the “I Can” list:
I Can . . .
■ Read the same chapter as my buddy and discuss it when we’re finished reading.
■ Decide how we’re going to read here (together orally; you read a page aloud, I read a page aloud; silently to a certain place).
■ Read a nonfiction text together and discuss it as we read it. Then we can write a summary of what we learned as we read.
■ Use the chart on how to read nonfiction text to remind us not to skip any parts.
■ Write questions about what we read for the next kids who come here to read this text. We can put our questions on a sticky note and write the answers on the back.

How the Buddy Reading Work Station Supports Student Performance on State Tests

Having students practice reading at this station builds both comprehension and fluency. The main thing tested on standardized reading tests is comprehension. Having buddies to talk with about reading can increase student interest and engagement and encourage them to read more than they might on their own. When students pair up and practice reading orally, fluency can really improve as well. Improved fluency often aids comprehension. If the standardized test is timed, this can be a real boon to student performance on the test.

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recessRecently, I blogged about the Drama Work Station and received a comment from Alexis O’Neill, the author of The Recess Queen. I had mentioned that this is a great book for students to retell and dramatize at the Drama Station. After hearing from Alexis, I emailed her and asked her to be a Guest Author on my blog, and she agreed. What would you like her to tell us about?
In the meantime, she sent me some info about why she wrote The Recess Queen, the story of a bully, Mean Jean, and her transformation through meeting a new girl at school. Here’s what Alexis had to say:

Q: How did you come up with your story?
A: This is going to sound incredibly silly, but I began the story because I liked the sound of “mean” “Jean” and “queen” together (and I do hope that any of my friends named Jean do not take my book personally . . . ) Then I wondered what Mean Jean would do – and what she kingdom she would reign over. Since recess was (and still is) my favorite part of the day, I made her queen of the playground. The character of Katie Sue was inspired in part by my niece, Megan Rose, who on the surface looks quiet and shy but is the most energetic player I know. Other parts of the book were inspired by my younger nieces Stephanie, Allison and Laura, but mostly by my sister, Donna, who has a great sense of humor.
Q: How long did it take you to write your story?
A: I wrote notes  for The Recess Queen in 1992. The first title was, “Mean Jean, the Playground Queen.” But I just kept putting notes into a folder off and on for a long time. I wrote the first two pages in 1993. I wrote the first full draft in January 1999. Then I workshopped about 6 revisions with my writers group before I sent my story to a publisher in June 1999.
Q: Have you written any other books?
A: In addition to The Recess Queen, my other books include Loud Emily and Estela’s Swap. My newest book, The Worst Best Friend, is a companion to The Recess Queen.
I hope you’ll read aloud these books written by Alexis O’Neill to your class and try them soon at a Drama Station. Let us know what you try! We love pictures, and so does Alexis! Leave your questions in the Comments area and send your photos of your drama station to d.diller@live.com.

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Last week while watching the Today show for a few minutes one morning, I was touched by the story of 11-year-old Dalton Sherman who gave the convocation speech at the start of the year for the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). What an amazing child! Watch his speech on YouTube and you will be inspired!

I believe that we should develop our children’s oral language. That language is the foundation of all reading and writing they will do in their years at school and beyond. Language is a powerful tool.

I like to begin by allowing children to talk at school! When I was a child, a quiet classroom was a good classroom. We were expected to sit and listen for most of the day. Today’s students need opportunities to talk with each other and with us. I believe in teaching children to do “buddy talk,” turning and talking to a partner about what they are thinking at selected times in a lesson I’m teaching. Then I have several of them share with the class what they discussed.

They also use this technique while working at literacy and math work stations. During small group instruction, I sometimes teach oral language lessons. To view a lesson like this, see the clip called “Pre-Emergent Readers” from my new video series, Think Small! Engaging Our Youngest Readers in Small Groups

We use a familiar book from read aloud and have children in the small group take turns retelling the story. My goal is to have them use more sophisticated vocabulary and longer, more complex sentences each time they retell it. It can also be used in a work station for practice once I’ve taught with it.

What are you doing in your classroom this week to build your students’ oral language?

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On my way to the airport earlier this week, I stopped by Jamila’s second grade classroom to see how her first day of school was going. She was reading aloud a book about Guinea pigs to introduce a new class pet to her students. “Why are you wearing rubber gloves?” I asked.

“For guinea pig protection,” she replied. “He was scratching me, and I’m not used to him yet.” It is her first class pet. I see an observation station in her future! Check back to watch how this station unfolds in Jamila’s classroom. When will she be able to remove the gloves??? Stay tuned!

The new classroom pet - in hiding

The new classroom pet - in hiding

Jamila reads aloud to her class

Jamila reads aloud to her class

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