Tag Archives: guided reading

Strategies For Teaching English Language Learners—Part 3: Teaching Vocabulary In Layers

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science (IES) and What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released the latest educator’s guide to present best instructional practices for English Language Learners.

Although we cannot explicitly teach all academic and content-specific words our students will need to know in their educations and careers, we can be strategic in how we teach 5-8 words a week so they can apply these word strategies to new words they come across on their own.

Last week I applied the guide’s recommendations on how to choose an appropriate text and vocabulary words for English Language Learners and I modeled it with the Lee & Low informational text, Drumbeat In Our Feet.

I will continue to focus on the guide’s first recommendation: Teach a set of academic vocabulary words intensively across several days using a variety of instructional activities.

Drumbeat In Our Feet
Drumbeat In Our Feet

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Beyond “Did you know…”: Teaching Geo-Literacy Using the Vanishing Cultures Book Series

JillJill_Eisenberg Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Vanishing Cultures: Mongolia
Vanishing Cultures: Mongolia

Last week on the blog we spotlighted the work of Jan Reynolds, an author and explorer who has written nonfiction for young readers about cultures across the globe. If we had read the Vanishing Cultures series when I was a classroom teacher, my students would have been competing with each other over who knew the most outrageous fact. Did you know the Tiwi, an aboriginal tribe from an island off the coast of Australia, eat mangrove worms fresh? Did you know the Inuit from the Hudson Bay build rock piles that are stacked to look like men in order to scare caribou toward the real Inuit hunters?

My students loved to play the “did you know…” game. That became a popular sentence starter in our classroom. Students would scramble for the latest book or periodical on animals, prehistoric times, and exotic locales. The peregrine falcon, megalodon, and the giant panda were unshakable favorites.

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Michelle Obama & Su Dongpo: A Character Analysis with Bloom’s Taxonomy

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

First Lady Michelle Obama travels to China this week from March 19-26 and will be focusing on the power and importance of education. In an open letter to American students, the First Lady writes, “During my trip, I’ll be visiting a university and two high schools in Beijing and Chengdu (which are two of China’s largest cities). I’ll be talking with students about their lives in China and telling them about America and the values and traditions we hold dear. I’ll be focusing in particular on the power and importance of education, both in my own life and in the lives of young people in both of our countries.”

We at Lee & Low Books wish we could join the First Lady, but since we can’t this time around, we will be reading the biography of one of China’s greatest statesmen, poets, and humanitarians, Su Dongpo. This scholar is a shining example of how persistence and dedication to one’s studies lead to achievement beyond the classroom and enable one to affect meaningful change.

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Compare and Contrast Common Core Lesson Plan for Fifth Grade

How to Compare & Contrast 5th GradeHow We Are Smart is a rich text to explore compare and contrast within the same book. Particularly for fifth graders and students in middle school, the historical figures featured within these pages offer engaging material for young minds ready to tackle complex subjects that extend beyond personal experiences, such as prejudice, racism, and sexism.

I have created sample questions to teach towards and check mastery of each of the three Common Core categories. These are by no means the only questions to ask in each category, but these provide an overview of the progression in question complexity and mastery of the texts.

By creating a range of compare and contrast questions across the standards, we are able to differentiate for students within a class, provide extension opportunities for ready learners, or move the whole class from literal- to higher-level thinking over the course of several lessons.

Text:

How We Are Smart
How We Are Smart

How We Are Smart (level: T)

Why: I have chosen this text because the content requires readers to take on diverse perspectives and examine human problems related to hardship and identity. How We Are Smart presents mature themes and problems of society, not just individual character struggles, which makes it appealing to and rigorous for preadolescents. Additionally, the author’s choice to structure the profiles and biographical information in a unique format lends itself to extensive questions about craft and structure.

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How To Compare And Contrast With The Common Core In First Grade

Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Common Core- How to Compare and Contrast in GradeThrough elementary school, readers will learn to compare and contrast within and between texts. By first grade, readers can practice comparing two texts as they continue to learn decoding, sight words, and vocabulary. Comparing and contrasting are useful because teachers can assess students’ abilities at close reading, comprehension, and interpretation, as well as expose even new readers to deeper interactions with a text.

Below is a comparison of two books of similar topic and genre. I have created sample questions to teach towards and check mastery of each of the three Common Core categories. These are by no means the only questions to ask in each category, but these provide an overview of the progression in question complexity and mastery of the texts.

By creating a range of compare and contrast questions across the standards, we are able to differentiate for students within a class, provide extension opportunities for ready learners, or move the whole class from literal- to higher-level thinking over the course of several lessons.

Texts:

Twister's Tricks
Twister’s Tricks

Twister’s Tricks (level: F)

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Unpacking the Common Core Standards Horizontally: Informational Text

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about the importance of looking at the standards horizontally as well as vertically, and in this final installment in the series, I’m going to do just that as I walk you through what effective close reading questioning can look like, unpacking one strand at a time using texts of varying complexities.  Last up:

READING STANDARDS FOR INFORMATIONAL TEXT K-3, Craft and Structure, Strand 5

LIVING-IN-AN-IGLOO

In Kindergarten, the strand reads:  Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.

Example text:  Living in an Igloo by Jan Reynolds

genre: informational text

Strand-specific questions:

  • Point to the front cover of the book.  What information can you find on the front cover of the book?  Why is that information important?
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Unpacking the Common Core Standards, Part 3: Thinking Horizontally

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking talked the importance of looking at the standards horizontally as well as vertically, and in today’s post, I’m going to do just that as I walk you through what effective close reading questioning can look like, unpacking one strand at a time using texts of varying complexities.  On the docket for today:

Reading Standards for Literature K-3, Craft and Structure, Strand 4

Pencil-Talk-And-Other-School-Poems cover

In Kindergarten, the strand reads:  Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

Example text: Pencil Talk and Other School Poems by Anastasia Suen & illustrated by Susie Lee Jin

genre: poetry

Strand-specific questions:

  • Look at the poem “Pencil Talk.” Which words were tricky for you to sound out?  Did you come across any words where you weren’t sure what they meant?***What does the word scratch mean? Bonus:  What does the poet mean when she writes “Pencils can talk…but we can’t!
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Unpacking the Common Core Standards, Part 2: Thinking Horizontally

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.  

Last week, I talked about the importance of looking at the standards horizontally as well as vertically, and over the next few weeks, I’m going to do just that as I walk you through what effective close reading questioning can look like, unpacking one strand at a time using texts of varying complexities.  Next up:

Reading Standards for Literature K-3, Craft and Structure, Strand 6

Unpacking the Common Core Standards

In Kindergarten, the strand reads:  With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

Example text:  Elizabeti’s Doll by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen and illustrated by Christy Hale

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Unpacking the Common Core Standards, Part 1: Thinking Horizontally

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.  

For many educators across the country, this has been our first full year of adapting our instruction to meet the rigor of the new Common Core standards.  One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received lately regarding planning under the new standards is a simple concept that can be a bit challenging to apply:  think horizontally.

It’s so easy to become fixated on the standards *only* for the grade we’re teaching, but thinking horizontally through the strands allows for so much room for "It's so easy to become fixated on the standards only for the grade we're teaching, but thinking horizontally through the strands allows for so much room for differentiation."differentiation.  Most students have only had the benefit of one year of instruction under the new standards, and may not have yet mastered the skills that the Common Core envisions as prerequisites.  For example, the Common Core is written as if this year’s third grader has been receiving Common Core-level instruction since Kindergarten and has mastered all the standards leading up to third grade.  Chances are, this hypothetical third grader probably hasn’t, and may need further instruction around some of the skills and strategies found in the standards. An effective way to fill in the gaps is to work horizontally through the standards using increasingly complex text.

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Why use thematic text sets?

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.  This is the fourth in a series of posts on thematic text sets.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing some examples of thematic text sets, or groups of books that cover one topic and span multiple genres and multiple reading levels. Many of the coaches and administrators I’ve met with have been really excited by the prospect of planning this way, but have been (understandably) a bit overwhelmed, too.

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