Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Reading Strategies for ELL (English Language Learners)

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Reading Strategies for ELL/ESL

As teachers receive more and more ESL/ELLs (English Language Learners) into their classrooms, it’s important that they learn to integrate them with the rest of their student population.  The following reading strategies will help you with the process. Comprehensiable instruction and opportunities for verbal interaction will motivate students to engage in learning and actively participate in classroom activities. Here are some great reading strategies to help ELLs be more comfortable with reading.

Echo Reading

Use this strategy to help struggling readers with fluency, pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. The teacher (or other native English speaker) reads the text first, using proper intonation and a good pace. Students follow along silently and then “echo”, or imitate, the first reader.

Echo reading helps ELL students 
-Improve sight reading and speaking skills.
-Build confidence in their pronunciations.
-Remember important concepts.

Ways to Use Echo Reading: During chants, jingles, songs, poetry, and short stories.

Tips for Teaching this Strategy:
-Use gestures to show students which text to read.
-Have Students who are native English speakers lead the reading; it’s helpful for ELLs to hear voices similar to their own.
-Adjust the length of the text being read to meet the needs of your students. (e.g. For Emerging ELLs, the first reader should read one line of text; for Developing ELLs (and higher levels), the first reader can read several lines of text.)

Sample Activity
Hold a hand to an ear to demonstrate the idea of hearing an echo. Explain that bats use echoes and different tones to locate food sources and other important information. Vary the pitch (higher or lower) while reading to encourage students to practice different intonations when they echo read.

 

Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DRTA)

Use this strategy to model how to make and confirm predictions. Here are the steps to DRTA:
1) Choose a text. Preselect stopping points where students can pause while reading.
2) Preview keywords or pictures. Ask questions to guide students’ thinking.
3) Have students make prediction about what they will read.
4) Stop at set points so students can check predictions, revise them, and make new predictions.
5) Ask questions to help students match their predictions to the reading.
6) Discuss what has been read before reading the next section.

Examples: Use objects or pictures to preview a text and make predictions; ask questions about keywords and vocabulary; focus on characters and what they might do.

Tips for Teaching this ELL Strategy
-Use as a whole-class or small-group activity
-Remind students to use what they already know to make predictions

Sample Activity
Have students look at pictures in a book to predict what a story or text might be about. Have them write one or two questions they have about the story. Review the students’ questions to determine where to stop and discuss the story. Read the selection as a class, pausing as planned. Call on the students who quote questions related to that part of the story, and conduct discussion about the reading thus far.

For more strategies on teach ESL/ELLs, see Strategies to use with your English Language Learners

The Cat in the Hat: Classroom Discussion Topics & Free Activity

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The Cat in the Hat Classroom Discussion Topics & Free Activity

Read Across America Day is March 3 and many teachers and students will be celebrating by reading and having classroom discussions about Dr. Seuss’ classic story, The Cat in the Hat. This book is about a girl named Sally and her brother who don’t know what to do on a rainy day. Suddenly, in comes the Cat in a Hat, and that’s when the trouble begins! The pet fish reminds the children that the Cat should not be in the house because their mother is not home. However, the Cat insists on staying and entertaining the children with a variety of tricks. When Mother finally gets home she asks the children what they did while she was out. The kids cannot decide what to tell her. The Cat in the Hat ends by encouraging the readers to decide what they would tell their mothers in that situation.

There are a variety of fun classroom activities and discussion topics based around this story. Here are a few discussion topics:

  1. Discuss rainy day activities and create a Rainy Day Bulletin Board. Cut raindrops out of blue paper and have the students write down some rainy day activities on the raindrops to post on the bulletin board.
  2. Consider using The Cat in the Hat to introduce your social studies unit about safety or stranger awareness.
  3. Collect real hats and/or pictures of hats that can be displayed around the classroom to promote interest. Each day you teach the unit put on a hat (or show a picture of a hat) to signal to students that it is reading time. Encourage students to figure out who would wear such a hat.
  4. Have the students wear a hat when it is their turn to read a page out of the book. Discuss the feel and look of the hat and who would typically wear it.
  5. Set the stage and build background by discussing the following:
  • Have you ever been left home alone?
  • What activities are you allowed/not allowed to do when you are alone?
  • Talk about a time when it took courage to tell something to your parents
  • What would you do if a stranger came to your door while you were home alone?
  • Discuss and do(or review from the Rainy Day Bulletin Board) any fun rainy day activities

Need more Cat in the Hat activities? Download the free Pocket Chart Sequence Sentence Strips.

540 Cat in the Hat TCRPocket Chart Sequence Strips 2Use the Cat in the Hat sequence sentence strips to create a pocket chart activity. Teach and practice sequencing skills, reproduce, cut out and laminate the sequence sentence strips below. Have the students put them in the correct order and display them on a pocket chart. Students may also work in groups to create a book by cutting the strips, pasting them on drawing paper, and illustrating their sentences. Staple the strips in the correct order and read them to the class.

For more Cat in the Hat activities, discussion topics, and lessons see A Guide for Using The Cat in the Hat in the Classroom

The Perpetual Pendulum: Nonfiction vs. Fiction Reading

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Yes, we are all aware of how important reading nonfiction has become.  You can’t pick up a journal, read an article online, or look at the Common Core State Standards and not be made aware of this.

I love to read nonfiction.  There are so many fascinating books that fit that category.  Seabiscuit:  An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand was one of my favorites a few years ago.  It was a great read about an amazing horse.  Recently I read The American Plague:  The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby.  The story about this horrible disease drew me in.  I found it a real page-turner. In my book group I’m the one known for choosing nonfiction books.  But–and there is always a “but” isn’t there–here’s my concern.  Are we already letting that perpetual pendulum swing too far from fiction when it comes to the classroom?

Will kids take any joy out of reading if all they read is nonfiction?  You won’t get any argument from me that the skills that one uses in nonfiction reading carry over to everyday life.  Recipes, directions, street signs, nutrition labels, and the list of what we read daily goes on.  But how much joy is there in that?  Yes, the books I mentioned were wonderful, but they were narrative nonfiction and told a story.  They read like novels.  That’s not the case for much of the nonfiction reading that kids do.

I think we need to be careful with kids and allow them to read lots and lots of fiction.  Otherwise what happens to their imaginations and their capacity for dreaming?  Where will inspiration from fictional characters such as spunky girls and adventurous boys be found?  What about those who like, or even need, to escape into a book find their routes into them?  As good as nonfiction can be, it’s rather difficult to use it as escapism.

Can we find the right balance?  Can we teach the skills but give children the opportunity to be immersed in the world of fiction?  Can we not do what we so often do in education, throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater?

How are you tackling this dilemma?

 

CCSS at IRA 2012

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

IRA always has something to offer in the way of understanding the world of education.  This year more than any other, it concentrated on trying to make sense of — or as I kept hearing, “unpack”– the Common Core State Standards.  The implementation of the CCSS was on everyone’s mind.  The fact that IRA advertised over 50 sessions that were all about the standards spoke highly to that.  Also, getting into many of those sessions was almost impossible.  Sometimes there would be 300 hundred seats, all filled, half an hour before the session.  I think it says that while teachers know they need to use these standards to set practices, they just aren’t quite sure about them.  The other part of the standards is that I didn’t hear much about the final assessments.  No one quite knows what they will look like.

These were the questions that seemed foremost in the minds of those I spoke with.  Although no one has absolute answers, they are good food for thought.  Here they are:  How are the CCSS taking shape in your school?  Are you busy seeking new materials?  Are you re-evaluating what you have so you can see where some of what you already do will fit?  What are you doing to get your kids ready for assessments?  Do you have any idea how those will look in your state?