S. T. Fleming

Language. Education. Literacy. Creation.

Archive for the tag “Education”

Staggered Start Guided Reading

You are right- I never explained this!

In a guided reading group one of the goals is to have students read text while supported by you, the teacher.  Remember the idea of gradual release of responsibility:

  • I do, you watch
  • I do, you help
  • You do, I help
  • You do, I watch

Using staggered-start can be both of the last two bullets; the key is that the student is ‘doing’ while you watch or help:

  • When you stagger the start, each student has a copy of the text;
  • One student student begins with the first paragraph (first page, first part,…);
  • When the first student gets to the second paragraph (second page, second part, …)  student number two begins with the first paragraph while the second student continues on;
  • When student number two gets to the second paragraph, student number three begins with the first paragraph while the previous students continue reading;
  • While students are reading you are monitoring, taking notes and coaching.
  • When a student finishes s/he goes to the beginning and starts again and all students stop at the same time.

Did that make sense?  The idea is that each student starts and continues reading through to the end.  Because each student begins at a different time, each one has to appropriately-struggle with the whole text.  No one is getting nervous about everyone listening; no one is counting ahead and pre-reading his or her paragraph.  This is not round-robin reading!

As coach, you cue students as they are reading and take notes about their struggles.  I always ask students to use their finger or a ruler while they are stagger reading so that I, the teacher, know where they are on the page and I can match the text with their speech as I quickly check in with each student.

Remember, this is one step in a whole process; it is one way to have students practice their reading in a guided reading group.  Staggered reading will mean nothing if students do not understand what they are reading.  Reading= comprehension.

Literacy Creates Justice (and it’s fun!).

Here is a group of teachers practicing staggered reading:

Modified Guided Reading

Thank you for the question about Modified Guided Reading.  Let me start with the link to the original article and a link to an article that explains the original article.

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Now that you have read those, I have a copy of my Modified Guided Reading-Plan for you to look at and use.

The results are amazing when done carefully.  In order for this to work, though, we have to think about our students and what they know and what they need to learn.  When I use this format I pre-teach the aspects that my students will struggle with (you need to know your students!) and work on building oral language around those ideas.  By the time they get to the text they will be in that wonderful Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky) and understand most of what they are reading.  I try to leave appropriate challenges along the way so that their reading is in the Goldilocks-Zone.

Try it and let me know what you think.  If you want some additional coaching please let me know.  Remember: Literacy Creates Justice (and it’s fun!).

WIDA- ACCESS 2.0 Speaking Test

In a conversation with a friend last month I learned that WIDA has a new way of assessing speaking for their ACCESS test. I have been certified as an ACCESS tester since 2010- 2011 when I was working in SPPS and I wondered how the test had changed. So, I logged in and learned about ACCESS 2.0.

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A few changes I noticed right away:

  • They changed the grade level clusters by adding 1st grade as its own cluster for the on-line test and 1st, 2nd and 3rd are each their own cluster for the paper–based test (on- line);
  • they reduced the number of tiers from 3 to 2;
  • they changed the names of the levels: Exemplary, Strong, Adequate, Attempted
  • they added Nina!

Nina is a wonderful addition because she gives students a model from which they can base their own language and she gives the test proctor an example of the expected academic language.  I also liked the clarity around what to do if students did not answer the question but still used English (Off topic= Adequate; Off task= Attempted).

I remember training teachers in St. Paul and we had some wonderful discussions as we worked toward inter-rater reliability on the speaking assessment. ACCESS 2.0 makes things more clear with the addition of Nina and the three bullet points for each level. Yes, there is still room for subjectivity but the guidelines and model make the rating easier, simpler and clearer. (They probably had some great conversations this year, too.)

What I like most about WIDA is the Can Do Descriptors. Yes, every student “can-do” something at every level and in every domain. Our job as teachers is to scaffold the instruction so they can grow in their use of language, language that is used for social and academic situations.

I am still wondering, though, where did the tall-hat people go?

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Earth Alphabet

NASA Earth AlphabetThis is worth looking at- “NASA’s Earth Observatory has tracked down images resembling all 26 letters of the English alphabet using only NASA satellite imagery and astronaut photography.”

Here is the link on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/_5QLUVIaHq/

Here is the link to the whole alphabet: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/ABC/

Wonder at the marvels of the earth as we near the new year!

Language Through Content

Language and content go together.  We cannot learn language first and then learn content; nor can we learn content if we do not have the language.  Learning to teach in this way is truly worth your while.  I have compiled some resources for your continuing education.

How do we best teach language through content? We

  • show the movie first
  • pre-teach the vocabulary
  • use visuals
  • make timelines
  • use graphic organizers
  • act it out
  • create podcasts and videos
  • interact using the content and the vocabulary
  • use realia

Here is a link to many more resources for learning language through content from CAL: http://www.cal.org/twi/rgos/content.html

This link is to a chapter on Teaching Content Through a Second Language that is on the CARLA website and don’t forget about CoBaLTT.

If you or your program need assistance in the area of content instruction in a second (or third…) language please let me know.

Almost

I almost had a new student last week. Almost.

Here in Lima I am beginning my own business as a teacher of English. I would like it to expand to reading and writing instruction as well but what Peruvians want most is to be able to hold conversations in English and pass standardized tests such as the TOEFL. OK, I can help with that.

With business cards printed I began to advertise in local shops by pinning my card to bulletin boards and talking to some of the shop owners. I don’t want to advertise too far away because traffic here is a bear!

Later that afternoon the phone rang. An unknown number on my new cell phone! It must be a new student; wow, that was quick! I just put the cards up.

“Where are you? I am here in Calle 10. Can I come over now?” the voice on the other end asked rather urgently.

Because I am on 10th street too I answered, “Sure, let’s meet by the flag poles out front in the park.”

A few minutes later we were sitting on the park bench out front discussing English. “Tell me a bit about yourself,” I began.

“I am originally from the Dominican Republic and I am here in Peru with a construction company. The bosses at the company want me to learn English; it is the only way I can rise to the next level. Right now I know hardly any English so I want to start as soon as possible.”

We discussed how best to get started and decided on one hour a day every day Monday through Friday. Then he pulled out his wallet. He wanted to pay me in advance for next week’s classes. I felt uncomfortable with that. When I lived in Chile and began my English teaching business there I found that there were students with whom I could not work so I wanted to have at least one class before any money exchanged hands. As I listened, I also wondered if he were really a Dominican. I lived with a Dominican for three years and this voice sounded different.

The Dominican was rather insistent. He opened his wallet showing two hundred dollar bills saying, “If I pay now I will be more committed to the work of learning English.”

“Sir, I won’t take any money today and I don’t have change.” I was more insistent. “Let’s meet on Monday and see how things go.”

“OK.” We shook hands and he continued on his way.

On Monday evening I showed up at the appointed time and place. No one was there. I called the number he had given me. Wrong number. I almost had a new student. Almost.

What happened, you ask? After many conversations with family and friends here in Lima we came to the conclusion that the Dominican wanted to pay me with counterfeit bills and receive the change in real Peruvian money. I was on the wrong end of a scam. Almost.

The World’s Largest Lesson

Please be aware of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.  You can find more information here: https://www.tes.com/worldslargestlesson/ and you can choose your language in the upper right hand corner.  This is important!!

La lección más grande del mundo

Now in Peru!

Last Thursday night we arrived in Lima, Peru!  This will be home for the foreseeable future.

We have been enjoying the company of family and friends; we have been searching out places to live; we have been learning from and working with some amazing people; we have been looking for and creating work, ways to share what we know while continuing to grow in knowledge.

There are amazing possibilities in this city of 10 million!  If you are looking for a literacy/ language teacher and coach please let me know; I would love to talk to you about the possibilities.

Listen, Watch then Teach

When working with my students in language and literacy I am always looking for data.  I don’t, however, rely much on standardized scores and summative assessments.  While helpful in a very small way, those types of assessments give me information more about me, the teacher, than about the student.  I look for data that I can use.

Every time I have a conversation with students I make notes about their learning, sometimes mental notes and sometimes written notes.  I try to keep track of their use of language and their thinking.  Every time I read student writing I make notes about their use of language, their ability to express themselves and their accuracy.  This is the data that I use.

This is the real-time data that shows me what students know and can do right now.  That data is then turned into large group, small group and individual instruction as needed to move all students forward.  I encourage students to make mistakes, use big words, enter into debates and not be afraid.  It is through making mistakes, I tell them, that I can know what the next steps are in their learning.  All done in a supportive environment.

Give it a try; it’s not rocket science.  When we pay attention to the students they will show us what they need.  When we listen and watch, we will know what to teach.

Literacy in Minnesota

Literacy @ RiverviewIf you are interested in how Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop works in one school in Minnesota, check out the site Literacy @ Riverview.  The site gives an outline of expectations for reading and writing education.  It is a great site for new teachers who want a window into elementary literacy or experienced teachers who want a refresher.  There is also a section of resources in Spanish.

Check it out and see what you think:
https://sites.google.com/a/stpaul.k12.mn.us/riverview-literacy/ 

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