Sunday, July 24, 2016

Connect to Texts through the Heart

Do you want your students to be passionate about reading nonfiction?  Chapter 1 of Reading Wellness explains how to help students read informational text (specifically biographies) closely while also exploring their own interests.
Adventures in Literacy Land's book study on Reading Wellness: Lessons in Independence and Proficiency by Jane Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris begins today!  I will be following along and posting my thoughts on each chapter here. Make sure to read my intro on the book to become familiar with the structure and find out how to access it online (from Stenhouse Publishers) if you want to check it out before purchasing.
Do you want your students to be passionate about reading nonfiction?  Chapter 1 of Reading Wellness explains how to help students read informational text (specifically biographies) closely while also exploring their own interests.

Today I'll be discussing Chapter 1 (read Andrea's post on Lit Land as well if you'd like to see another perspective).

Can you relate?

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about whether or not I was in still in love with teaching or just the idea of it.  This quote from the beginning of the chapter brought me back to that exact idea.

"Many of us have found ourselves working toward test scores while hoping toward the visions inscribed in our hearts.  This misalignment affects our general wellness in and out of school, and it can make us feel as if we have fallen out of love with teaching (p. 15)." 

Yes!  Have you felt this way before, especially in the last few years with all the pressure of standardized testing?  I really appreciate the way this book connects to the reality of being a teacher and attempts to not only improve the health of your readers, but our own sanity  as teachers as well!

Focus on your Students' Interests

Burkins and Yaris mention how we help students set reading goals and they attempt to reach these goals because they know "what readers do."  Readers read smoothly, they read fluently, they read a variety of genres, they think about what they read, etc.  But the authors question how useful setting these goals are.  How often do we return to them?   I know I'm guilty of having them there on the wall, but not referring back to them.  Often, they aren't even measureable so there's really no way to even know if they've been met.  Instead, the authors suggest focusing on what makes children WANT to read.  I agree with this thought...because if they truly want to read, odds are everything else will come naturally, or at least easier for most kids.  Sort of like working backwards.  How many children do you know who read "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" even though it was way past their reading level?  I know many, and yet somehow they did it simply because they wanted to and it fulfilled THEIR desires.

Close Reading by Connecting to the Heart

The lesson presented in this chapter is titled Heart, Hands, and Feet.  While I am not going to describe the entire lesson in detail (get the book!), it provides a purposeful framework for reading informational text, specifically biographies and autobiographies (and yes, this includes plenty of picture books, there are samples included).  The lesson helps students identify passions of the main character in the text and how his/her actions as a child shaped his/her future.  In order to truly do this, students must read closely.  All the while, students can make connections to their own lives and start to understand how their choices now may affect their lives later.  It pushes students to really think about and explore their interests.  As the authors mention, every child does not truly want to be a police officer or a teacher when they grow up.  They have other interests in life that lead to other outcomes, they just don't know it yet!  What is it that they truly LOVE learning about and/or doing?

There is a great graphic organizer and anchor chart in the book using the body that I know will be super relatable to students.  By taking this lesson beyond the texts, teachers can also use it to determine their students passions and interests making it a great lesson to use at the start of the year rather than a simple interest survey, which really is just an isolated activity without much instructional purpose.  Most of us start the year with fictional texts whereas this would provide a great opportunity to incorporate informational text right off the bat in a meaningful way.

As a side note, I previously wrote a post for the upcoming Olympics that includes a few biographies of athletes which would be PERFECT for the above activity and tie into current events if you start school early.  All of the althletes shows a true passion for their sport early on and their choices and actions allowed them to become who they are today.  Click the image below and scroll down until you see it in the post to find some brief summaries of the texts.
Read alouds perfect for the summer olympics.

Intentions of the Text

As I explained in my introduction to the text, the authors have four main intentions with each lesson in the book and end each chapter explaining how they are met.  
Do you want your students to be passionate about reading nonfiction?  Chapter 1 of Reading Wellness explains how to help students read informational text (specifically biographies) closely while also exploring their own interests.

How do YOU ensure that your students are reading books that interest them, ignite their passions, and provide a connection to their lives?

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Do you want your students to be passionate about reading nonfiction?  Chapter 1 of Reading Wellness explains how to help students read informational text (specifically biographies) closely while also exploring their own interests.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Reading Wellness Book Study

Summer book study on Reading Wellness by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris hosted by Adventures in Literacy Land.
I am participating in a book study on Reading Wellness by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris with my fellow Literacy Land bloggers.  The study begins TOMORROW over on Adventures in Literacy Land.  Each day this week, a blogger will take you through a chapter.  I am going to post my own thoughts on each chapter here on my blog as well!
Summer book study on Reading Wellness by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris hosted by Adventures in Literacy Land.
The book is available through Amazon or online (currently for free through the product preview!) at Stenmen Publishers.  We invite you to read along, blog with us, ask questions, or just share your thoughts!  Today I am just going to introduce you to the text (there is also an introduction over on Lit Land).

Are your students engaged readers?

The very first paragraph in the text brings up how so many students have trouble discussing favorite books, authors, and having conversations about reading in general.  This is SO TRUE.  Immediately, I thought of the DRA2.  The reading engagement portion of the assessment requires students to answer questions such as "What is your favorite book?" "What are three things you do well as a reader?"  "Would you rather read alone or with a buddy?"  All too often the response is just complete silence.  Or one word with a complete lack of engagement.  Are these students healthy readers?  Are there things we can do as teachers to help them beyond test prep and fluency drills?  Of course!

Intentions of the Text

Burkins and Yaris state that the purpose of their book is to assist teachers with finding new ways to help students become lifelong learners and readers (beyond the drill and kill of standardized assessments) which is what all teachers truly want!

The text is composed of 6 chapters, each beginning with a vignette that any teacher can relate to, followed by a rationale and lesson.  The lessons are amazing because they are provided in a step by step format, making them easy to implement but they also explain higher level concepts with concrete examples.  Each lesson is adapted for both early and upper elementary students.  Finally, the authors finish each chapter with an explanation as to how their activities meet the the four intentions of the book.
Summer book study on Reading Wellness by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris hosted by Adventures in Literacy Land.
Check back tomorrow here and over on Lit Land for a discussion of the first chapter!
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Summer book study on Reading Wellness by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris hosted by Adventures in Literacy Land.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Flip Flops, Beach Chairs, & Great Reads: Penguin on Vacation

Freebies for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
Welcome to The Reading Crew's summer mentor text link up!  You will find books and free lesson resources for all ages in this hop.  The chosen texts are perfect for use at the end of the school year or if you are teaching summer school.  You will find the links to all participating blogs at the end of this post, as well as a Rafflecopter to enter for your chance to win an Amazon gift card, so make sure to read all the way through!
Freebies for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
Freebies for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
The book I chose is Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  The text would be most appropriate for grades PK-1.  It tells the simple and cute story of a penguin who is tired of the snow and doing the same activities all the time, so he decides to go some place new for vacation.  He reaches the beach by floating on a piece of ice but isn't sure what to do when he arrives.  He learns that he can't ski, sled, or skate in the sand.  He meets a friend, a crab, who shows him how to climb trees, play ball, and build sand castles on the beach  Eventually the penguin has to head home but the crab follows him, saying he needs a vacation too, so the penguin then shows crab everything he likes to do in the snow. 
Freebies for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
Have your young readers share with one another about vacations they have been on.  Where did they go?  What did they do?  Did they enjoy themselves? Why or why not?  Before showing students the cover of the book, ask them where they think a penguin would want to go on vacation and why.  Lead them to realizing that people typically want to go on vacation someplace where they can do different things than they normally do.  Thus, the penguin wants to go someplace warm.
Freebies for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
As you read aloud the text, have students retell and compare/contrast the events that occur in the text.  Penguin learns new activities while on vacation at the beach with Crab and vice versa.  Below you will find a Venn diagram that students can use to compare and contrast the vacations of the two characters. You can either have students write on the Venn diagram or there are pictures included for younger kids to just glue in the correct location.
FREE printables for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
Also included in the freebie is a sheet for students to choose, draw, and describe one event from each of the two vacations in the text.
FREE printables for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
Freebies for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
As an extension for older students, focus on the theme of the text.  When Penguin first goes on vacation, he doesn't have as much fun because he doesn't know what to do until he meets a friend.  Crab and Penguin are able to enjoy both places because they enjoy being with one another.
FREE printables for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
I've also included a sheet that students can use to make a connection by drawing and describing an event from one of their own vacations.
Freebies for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
Click on any of the images or the cover below to download all of the freebies mentioned in this post from Google Docs.  There is also a Scholastic freebie for younger readers and a penguin to color available free from the publisher.  Enjoy!
Freebies for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
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FREE printables for the mentor text Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon.  Comparing/contrasting, theme, and describing/retelling events.  Perfect summer book for preK through first.
If you are looking for other summer themed activities, follow my Pinterest board below. 


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