Literacy Feedback – ALL Learners Means ALL Learners

So often as teachers when we learn new information, create something, or have knowledge about a specific content area we think that everyone already knows this and we keep it to ourselves.  I mean, why would we share something everyone already knows? That would seem silly. Do you ever feel like that?  🙂  Well, DON’T!!  

Share those “Obvious To You” ideas!!  You never know when someone you think knows, actually doesn’t.  Or when something you say may resonate with someone in a different way because they were ready to hear it.  That being said, I am going to share (at random) a few really important thoughts from the recent literacy conference I attended.

Literacy teachers spend so much time getting students to read.  Pushing students to read faster and faster to meet that Holy Grail number of words per minute so they can report they are “On Level” that year.  Am I right?  This must stop.  We must turn our attention and efforts to what really matters in literacy instruction.  Building a love of reading, for one.  Second on the list, Comprehension!  Do you not agree that we read things to learn something and understand?  I understand that reading rate does have an effect on comprehension, but how many times do you see a kid that can read pretty fast and not understand a thing they just read? When I was listening to Dr. Jan Hasbrouck preach about this, I wanted to shout, “Amen!” I have asked over and over, “Does it really matter?  As long as they can comprehend what they are reading, does it really matter if they are 10 words short of meeting that little designated number?”  At this particular session she shared something that stuck out to me:
“When using the Oral Reading Fluency norms, there is little evidence that reading faster is better for a reader’s comprehension.  In fact, there is significant evidence that we need to help readers read fluently AT or NEAR the 50th percentile to support comprehension and motivation.”

WOW! So, Average is the Sweet Spot! You can search “Reading Fast or Reading Well Jan Hasbrouck” and read more about this idea.

We all know in order to understand what we are reading we must actually read the words correctly! Did you know what we are looking for in Reasonably Accurate reading accuracy is based on a study that shows comprehension WILL be impaired if reader does not read at this specific accuracy?

The average reader should not read below 95% accuracy independently on unpracticed text.

Emergent readers must not read below 97-98% accuracy!!  Do you know why? Readers who are learning to read should never become frustrated or walk away feeling defeated in anything they are reading.  They need to have a positive mindset about reading for one, but don’t we also want them to practice reading those words correctly!? Here is my biggest takeaway from her session.

Do you find it ironic that I listed Accuracy as second on my list, when it comes First?! Like I mentioned earlier, these are not in order of importance but in order of how my mind is flowing. 

So you might have gathered that Fluent Reading DOES NOT mean faster. Something to remember about fluency is that it really should sound like talking. It should sound like speech – our everyday conversational talking.  There are many other important components to being a fluent reader, but the biggest one I find a need for in many of my students is PROSODY!  

Prosody is the intonation, the expression used, phrasing, and pitch that mirrors spoken language and conveys meaning.   So, wait a minute….you mean, it is not okay for the reader to sound like a “robot” when reading?  😉 Not so much, and let me share a big   A-HA that supports this statement.  It does effect comprehension, and isn’t that what the whole point of reading is?!

This last idea might be my biggest takeaway and is also my biggest soap box and so I am not sure why I saved it for last, but I want to say this and say it LOUDLY!!!

Feedback on a child’s reading is important for ALL READERS!  If we are going to meet the needs of every learner/reader, then we must listen to every reader read.  More importantly, we must give them feedback on their reading. What does this mean exactly?  How do we accomplish this? I know what you are thinking…We have deadlines & expectations to meet with limited time and an overwhelming number of students in classroom.  Not to mention all of the other important needs crying out to be met. Listening to every child read daily/weekly is “ideal” and really is our best intention, but is quickly pushed aside when we run out of time after working with three groups of struggling readers.  If we are able to listen to every single child read every single week, how many times are we giving authentic feedback?  Let me share what I heard restated by Dr. Jan Hasbrouck this week. This is why we must listen to ALL readers read aloud AND give Feedback.  

It improves Fluency, which is critical for Comprehension. 

Sure, we get the 1st bullet. No problem.  That makes sense. The 2nd bullet hits a little harder. – Silent Reading NOT sufficient.  (Let me add the word ENOUGH.) It does not mean stop having children read silently.  It means that we must not only have our average and above average readers read alone or with peer groups without any feedback. Humor me, and let me say this again a little louder.

Why? Because ALL LEARNERS means ALL LEARNERS.  Everyone deserves an opportunity to be heard.  How else will your average and above average readers acquire new vocabulary and skills? What fluent role model are they hearing read to help them learn expression, phrasing, and such?  ALL READERS need to hear fluent reading, new vocabulary words, and practice oral reading.  Maybe my next post should be on how to manage this in the classroom, what it looks like, and how easy it really is to achieve?! 🙂 One last reminder – Literacy is not just reading, but writing as well.  I LOVED that Dr. Hasbrouck said this and shared this amazing quote that I will end with.  Let’s not forget all of the important research on the role our brain plays in learning!

Through The Eyes Of A Child

Yesterday was World Read Aloud Day. I am sure that like me, you saw Social Media loaded up with tons of pictures of kids, authors, teachers, grandparents, principals (Thank you, Mr. Kinney), and even superintendents reading to children! 🙂 (Thanks, Dr. Ryan!) What an amazing day it was! We owe it to our children to read them stories that interest them, use the funny voices, and make it exciting.

My principal friend, Matthew Arend, reached out on Twitter for people to connect with his school and discuss The Most Magnificent Thing. You can read about this awesome experience here.  We were able to connect 7 classes from O.C. Taylor and a few more even have plans to do so this Friday!!  So many very cool things happened.

Here are some of the things we learned:
1. Plano is NOT in another country.
2. They like to read and we do too!
3. We read the same exact book and got to talk about it!
4. We brainstormed Magnificent Adjectives for a richer vocabulary.
5. Both schools had kids who want to be professional soccer players!
6. Both schools set goals!
7. Both schools reflected on their learning!
8. We HAVE to do this again!!
9. We, as teachers, felt like we made new friends. Instant connections with like-minded people. (Just think, we are only down the road from each other and all it took was reaching out to say, “Hey, want to talk about a book?”)

As wonderful as it was seeing all the people read aloud, discuss books, and knowing that our children are blessed with this every single day, what stood out to me was something else.

It was the look of absolute amazement on the faces of the children simply from connecting with other kids less than hour away!  This small thing amazed them! Do you know how much time that took on the teacher’s part?  Not very much.  Do you know how much meaningful learning happened in the short amount of time?  A bunch!

I was lucky to guide a 3rd grade class, and be part of a 1st grade class during their Google Hangout.  During the hangout with the 1st graders, they had a group of “tweeters” who were responding to Q1/A1 format questions. FIRST GRADERS, friends!  This can happen.  They had clearly been guided and practiced with their amazing teacher, Mrs. Tiffani Griffard!

On the side screen I had Tweetdeck open with our school hashtag, WRAD hashtag, and the other school’s hashtag where the responses were going. I thought I would sit by them while they typed and just be there to help, if needed.  Well, let me tell you….was not needed, nor did they want my help!  Then, I showed them the screen when their tweet went live.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The smiles spread across their faces like they had just met a superhero!  They were so proud and so amazed!  THAT….was my favorite part. THAT is why I love what I do. Seeing children get so excited about learning and the possibilities.

It really shows that something we may not think twice about (connecting w/Google Hangout, blogging with other classes, tweeting responses) can excite these kids and make learning more meaningful for them!  They need to be connected learners, just like we do!

I am most excited about the fact that my special friends who reached out and did this with their classes, whether or not they had done this before in some way, have ALL expressed interest in continuing this.  Some even have teammates who didn’t get to do it, but have said they want a class as well!! For me, that makes my heart scream with happiness because that means more kids will engage in meaningful learning!  More kids will CONNECT to inspire and be inspired!

Connecting kids, Building Relationships, Creating Friendships….one day at a time.

Put yourself out there. Take the risk.  Try it. You won’t want to stop, I promise!

Making Mental Images

Practicing Visualizing and making mental images couldn’t be more fun! Look how precious their Green Giants turned out!!

I guess in some of their minds, giant really means the smallest scrap of paper! 😀 So fun! 

Books Clubs

Book Clubs have begun and the kids LOVE them!  What does one do when you realize all your little babies are taking off in reading and the normal 1st grade reading groups are not cutting it anymore?!  You bump up that comprehension teaching!!  First, I let them choose which chapter series they were interested in and they formed groups by their interests.  Then, they read chapter by chapter and discussed together.  They answered higher-level thinking questions, rolled dice with comprehension questions and retelling, and used Chatterpix to retell what happened in the chapter. That is only the beginning!  As we secure these beginning steps to respectfully discussing on topic with partners, we will branch out.  I am THRILLED that our class is able to do this because it brings such ownership,excitement, and the LOVE to reading that every child needs to experience! Check out the fun in action below.





We love our Reading Time!

We have been working on a few Reading routines this week.

First, we practiced how to “turn and talk” to a friend to discuss the story we just read.  Looks pretty good to me!

Next, we worked on how to choose our books. Ask your child about I PICK and the 5 finger rule!

I can already tell that I have some bookworms in my class!  We LOVE our time to just kick back, take off our shoes, and put our nose in our favorite books!  We cherish this time.