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teaching reading

Orally rehearsing with key words can boost writing

Do your students struggle to compose sentences about nonfiction topics that make sense or sound right? Do they lack structure at the sentence and paragraph level? Here’s a few tricks I’ve been trying with small groups of late-early and transitional stage readers. As part of a conversation generate key words they will use to orally …Read more

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Can your 6-8th grade students explain how two authors present the same info and reveal different points of view?

Here’s a lesson for teaching students to analyze how two authors writing about the same topic may shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of the facts (Common Core Standard 7.9). Go to Science News for Students and locate an article that cites a study. Most of these …Read more

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Writing Authentic Letters as Reading Responses

Are your students tired of writing analytical essays? I’m shaking up how students respond to informational texts. I’m experimenting with letters to real people that still nudge students to think about the big ideas in sources. With small groups of 4th and 5th grade students, I explored what writing letters might look like. Here’s the …Read more

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“Building” analogy to teach “text structure”

How many of us hunt for the perfect texts to teach “text structure” and end up just banging our heads against the wall? It’s because texts are more complex than five simple structures. Below I describe an analogy I’ve started using with students to get beyond this problem.  A building has a purpose (to be …Read more

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Types of Context Clues in Info Texts

Ugh! Unfamiliar vocabulary in informational texts can be a huge stumbling block for our students. Below are several types of clues you can teach students based on the work of Baumann and colleagues. I’m not sure I’d give students this list. Instead I made a bookmark like the one below for a lesson with fourth …Read more

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The Coding Strategy – Helping Students Self-Monitor while Reading Info Text

Do you have students who read a text and are clueless about what they read? Or when you prompt them to share what they learned from a text, they frantically look back at the last sentence they read and then spit it out verbatim? Before we get into conversations about main ideas, author’s point of …Read more

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The Pasta Analogy-Helping Students Determine What’s Important

Do your students struggle with determining what is important when reading informational texts? Are they unsure of what to underline and annotate? I remember one fifth grade student saying, “Well, I underlined the whole text because it was all important!” Two suggestions. 1. Make sure there’s a VERY CLEAR PURPOSE for reading & determining what …Read more

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Complex sources? Give students a head start with THIEVES

Teaching students to use the mnemonic THIEVES (Manz, 2002) to preview a text is an easy way to nurture students’ sense of agency as they tackle feature-dense nonfiction sources. The poster below (created by a colleague!) reveals the details of this strategy–students preview, predict & then summarize their predictions. A FEW TIPS Create THIEVES bookmarks …Read more

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Analysis of Responses to 8th Grade Text Set & Prompt, Part 2

In the last blog entry, I shared a rigorous text set and prompt developed by an middle school ELA team. The team and I met (via Webinex) to discuss the students’ written responses. First we look at the strengths of each student’s analytic essay; then we discuss the students’ needs as writers. Integrated into this …Read more

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8th Grade Text Set & Prompt for Written Response, Part 1

Kudos to my ELA colleagues in a middle school who developed this appropriately rigorous text set and prompt for their 8th grade students studying the Holocaust. Together with the 6th and 7th grade teams, we analyzed several students’ written responses to this prompt. More on that in the next post 🙂 TEXTS: Source A (entire …Read more

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