Friday, 1 May 2020

Reading Reconsidered Part Two

Reading Non-fiction (integrating non-fiction throughout your reading lessons)

(Taken from Reading Reconsidered by Doug Lemov)
Important Considerations:
We want our students to read more non-fiction in a way that makes it relevant and engaging, and to increase the amount of knowledge our students absorb when reading it.
Absorption Rate & Embedding Non-fiction:  Read non-fiction texts in context.  Combine a related fiction and non-fiction topic--students should read multiple texts on a topic e.g. have students read an article that gives context to or elaborates on ideas from a novel you are reading.  The Primary Text is the book that is lengthy usually a novel.  Secondary Texts give context, build background knowledge, and help students better understand the primary text.  Students that start with a base of knowledge make inferences that allow them to be more attentive to the emotions of the characters and the factual information presented in the fictional text.

Maximizing Embedded Non-Fiction

Cutting And Adapting:  It is okay to prioritize and shape the non-fiction by excerpting or rewriting sections to help increase clarity.
Overlapping Questions:  Deliberately ask questions that cause your students to connect the secondary and primary texts. e.g. "Would ______'s experience be considered "unfair" according to the experts? Also while reading your novel, ask questions that refer back to your non-fiction secondary text or, while reading the secondary text, ask students to apply it to previous scenes from the novel.
Frequent Embedding:  You can embed many diverse examples of non-fiction while reading a novel, not just one at the beginning.  You could reread texts (both secondary and primary) a second time--read part of a secondary text and then continue with your primary text, only to reread the secondary text after the primary text--or you could reread a picture book, or excerpt from your novel after you have read the secondary text.
Embedding With Other Genres:  Embed poetry, songs lyrics, and excerpts from other fiction texts to help students understand the primary text better.
Meta-Embedding:  Teachers can embed articles as a tool or framework for interpreting many texts  throughout the year.  You would refer to the article again and again using it as a lens for analyzing new texts.  For example an article that presents a frame for students to analyze characters who had similar character qualities.

Building Background Knowledge

Using Fiction:  Intentionally ask knowledge based questions that can build knowledge, especially with historical fiction texts.
Embedding Non-Printed Texts:  Use a quick video, series of photographs.
Embedding Out Loud:  Teachers can read a shorter more difficult secondary text aloud (all or part of it) and then the students could read it themselves a second time in order to increase familiarity with a topic.
Batch Processing:  In Science class for example when you are not reading a fiction text, read two or three articles on a single topic to increase students' absorption rates.

So much  to consider!  Now I'm thinking about a Whole Class Reading Unit I would like to plan using "The One And Only Ivan" and how well I will be able to embed non-fiction articles with this book!  Stay Tuned! 

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Reading Reconsidered A Whole Class Reading Approach

Due to the unexpected Covid 19 virus I've had some time (actually a lot of time) to reflect on how I approach the teaching reading in my Grade 4 Classroom.  You would think after having taught for 31 years I would have my program perfected.  NOT!  After going through the phases of whole language, centres, readers, Daily Five, and more structures and strategies that I don't have the time to mention I'm ready to try something new.  Reading Reconsidered by Doug Lemov presents convincing arguments and ideas for rigorous literacy instruction.

Many would argue...Whole Class instruction?  How will you meet individual student needs? 

Perhaps this excerpt is the most meaningful to me at this moment "Low readers in particular are often balkanized to reading only lower-level books.  Fed on a diet of only what's "accessible" to them--but which is often insufficient to prepare them for college--(or even high school) they are consigned to lower standards from the outset by our very efforts to help them." 

This approach consists of four main ideas.
1.  Read harder texts
2.  "Close read" texts rigorously and intentionally
3.  Read nonfiction more effectively
4.  Write more effectively in direct response to texts

Read Harder Texts

There is a suggestion that schools and teachers should work together to develop a common base of books that all students have read to deepen the conversations and connections that students are able to make.  Lemov discusses the importance of deliberate text selection that address the following difficulties for many readers:
1.  texts that consist of formal and dated diction and syntax for example, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter.
2.  texts that are nonlinear in the time sequencing of events for example, Holes by Louis Sachar
3.  texts that are told from different narrators' points of view for example, Wonder by R.J. Palacio
4.  texts with multiple interwoven plots
5.  texts that deliberately have gaps in meaning

By whole class reading and discussion of texts with these attributes students will be prepared for the autonomous reading of more complex texts in the future.

Close Reading

Sometimes you can start a Close Reading Lesson with writing to begin your reflection.  It allows you to see what the students are understanding and then you can end it with feedback and revision.  It is vital to have a clear focus for your lesson--something you want to help your students see.  Decide what idea you want the students to read a text for.  Examples are "arguing a line", finding a theme, an image, or the line they find the most interesting.

In a close reading lesson the entire class has a copy of the text excerpt that you are working on.  
Usually you have already read this to the students, perhaps the day before.  Then one idea is to send it home at the end of the day with targeted students that will read it aloud the next day.  When revisiting students can read it again in pairs, they can act it out, the teacher can pull a small group of struggling readers to read it together etc.   Finally you would proceed with the Close Reading Lesson.  While you ask deliberate questions to clarify meaning you are recording your notes all around the excerpt modelling for the students.   Meanwhile the students can copy what you are writing from the discussions.  (Eventually we work towards the students working more independently on the close reading notes)

Close reading lessons have four parts:
1.  Reading the text multiple times.
2.  Establishing meaning from questions derived from the text.
3.  Analysis of meaning from questions about the text
4.  Writing about insights.

This Chart summarizes questioning about the text to establish and analyze meaning during Close Reading Lessons.

That's a lot to take in for now!  Stay tuned for more from "Reading Reconsidered"!

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Courage To Try

September is a time of anxiety for many children as well as teachers!  I love beginning the year with the theme of COURAGE.  The Courage To Try is one of those tried and true books that I will always fit into my program.  It is a perfect read aloud, partner, or independent read for your students in grades 3-5.  It provides rich discussions around predicting, connecting, and inferring.  It connects to your school Terry Fox Walk. Grab your copy of the activities I have created to support this book HERE.

I'm updating this post to include a Google Slides Resource.  This resource implements a "Reading Reconsidered" whole class reading approach.  The Courage To Try

You can order the book at Serious Fun Publishing

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Choosing Shoes

In my classroom we collect songs and poems during the entire year in our individual Poetry Folders.  Our folders are an excellent resource for shared reading, vocabulary building, and comprehension activities.  Choosing Shoes is a fun poem for the first week activity that integrates math and language.  Grab your copy of the activity and poem HERE.  Grab a copy of my Poetry Folder cover HERE.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Fluency Passages

Once I have determined the independent reading levels of my students we begin our Daily Fluency Passage reading.  This is a quick but extremely beneficial routine.  At the beginning of the week everyone begins a new passage and we draw names for our reading partner for the week.  We keep our passages in a plastic sleeve along with a second page that the students use to track the titles of all the passages they have read.  At the beginning of the year we talk about quick transitions, where to find a spot to sit, and how to sit "EEKK" elbow to elbow, knee to knee.  We also learn about what fluent reading should sound like.  We create an anchor chart together with 4 specific targets; accuracy, expression, rate and punctuation.  We use a timer that is set for 1 minute and each partner has a go at their passage, underlining the word they were at and marking the day of the week under it when the timer sounds.  Peer assessment is an important part of our routine as the students encourage one another by verbally providing a star and a wish according to our anchor chart criteria.  My kiddos love this routine!  It also gives me a chance to quickly listen in to 2 students each day with my own reading assessment checklist.  You can grab a copy of the leveled  passages HERE.

The first week is critical for creating a safe and inclusive environment for our students. The Museum Project will help students get to know one another, find common interests, and make new friends! It's also an opportunity for the teacher to begin to establish homework routines and expectations. Click HERE for your editable version of the Museum Project homework letter.

Saturday, 21 March 2015


If you have been doing the Monthly Memory writing having your students complete a speech is a great way to provide a purpose to combine the skills your students have been learning and to extend their single paragraph writing into multiple paragraphs. Since September we have learned how to write a basic paragraph, how to "show" rather than "tell", using writing hooks to begin our paragraphs, and adding transitional words and phrases to our writing. I send a package home to include parents in the topic choices first. Grab your copy of this letter HERE. Grab your copy of the Speech Booklets HERE.