Friday, October 15, 2010

The Apple's Life as a Reader

From the Apple

My teaching partner, Tracy Ruark and I actually just did this lesson, "My Life as a Reader" for the children in our classroom last week. We wanted them to know how reading effects our own lives so they could see all the ways that we use reading in our daily life. We then had the children write about their lives as readers.

I love, love, love to read. I read fiction. Right now on my nightstand is Barbara Delinsky's The Secret Between Us - a new author for me. My favorite author is Jodie Piccoult but I've read everythingshe's written so I'm just waiting until her next release. I just loved her last book about a young man with Asperger's Syndrome. Reading is relaxing for me and I most often read laid out on my comfy sofa or in bed before I go to sleep. Probably my most favorite place to read is in the late afternoon at the beach.

When I was young, reading was a way to escape - a way to imagine living in a perfect world of dreams and imagination. I think I still read fiction for that reason. The problem is that I often get so involved in a story line that I just can't put the book down. I have been known to read all night long - especially during vacations! That's one of the reasons that I switched to People, Readers' Digest and Southern Living after I had children. Magazines have shorter articles and I can pace myself better! I'm not as tempted to do an all-nighter.

I also read non-fiction. I have three books about teaching reading and writing on my night stand right now. I usually make myself read the nonfiction books before I allow myself the pleasure of reading fiction! If I'm honest I'd have to admit to doing most of my reading these days on the Internet, so I'm probably reading more non-fiction than I imagine. I'm always searching for something new to use in my classroom. I also read lots of blogs.

I hope that I am able to pass my love for reading unto my students. I hope that they see my passion and that it is catching because there is nothing better! Reading is a big part of my life. I can't imagine life without something good to read!

reposted from

The Star's Life as a reader!

From the Star
Although this is only my second year teaching I have had the chance to come across a lot of struggling readers who are so lucky that we have so many resources and help to make their reading successful and enjoyable. When I was a child I did not find this to be the case. Just as the students that I am coming across, I too was a struggling reader as a child and hated reading and would fake read as many of the students that struggle to read do on a daily basis. I know what you are thinking, "but you were a teacher's kid and your mom read to you all the time on a daily basis." Well, guess what? You're right and I love to listen to my parents read me stories and I could often re-tell them perfectly when they were read to me, but just like my students, that didn't help me comprehend my own reading. Today we have so much research in reading that we can usually pin point the problem and use our resources to help us correct the issues before they become detrimental.

As a young reader I can still remember that my mom would encourage me to read all of the Sunshine State books. I really shouldn't say "encourage" because it was more like she made me read them! I say made me because when you don't like reading you're definitely not going to be doing it on your own. Well what she may or may not know is that if I wasn't reading them to her or she wasn't reading them to me, then I really wasn't reading them at all because I felt like it was a waste of my time to read when I didn't understand the story that I was reading. I can say from my experience that I struggled a lot in Fluency and this made it very difficult for me to comprehend what I was reading, not to mention I could never understand and figure out the main idea. I think I struggled so hard to read the words that by the time I had decoded them all, I couldn't hold on to the story. So as I teach my students I have a lot of patience for my struggling readers because I have been there. It is not enjoyable at all. Sometimes I wonder if I learned poor phonics because I never learned how to group letters and I am a terrible speller. I figure this had something to do with my poor decoding and fluency skills. At out school now we use a QAR strategy which is a Question Answer Relationship method that I wish I had learned as a kid because that would have really helped me to comprehend and understand what I was reading. If you do not use this strategy or have never heard of it you should look into it. It really makes a difference and I have seen it first hand working with my struggling readers in my third grade class.

I would like to leave you with one more story that I remember about reading. It was such a a struggle for my mom to get me to read when I was a child and I would fight her on it all the time. So, she decided to bribe me with a beautiful doll named Molly from the American Girls Series. She told me that if I read all of the books in the series that I could have the doll. I was stoked because I just had to have that doll. I made it halfway through the first book and that was it. I never did get the doll. It is really sad when a kid won't even read for a bribe because struggling through the book and all the frustrations were not even worth trying. We now have lexiles and good fit books that help our struggling readers to find a book that is on their level so that reading can be less stressful and actually enjoyable.

Some of you may wonder if I overcame my reading deficit. I can honestly say that it has not been easy. It took a lot of practice and strategies from my mom and all of my teachers throughout the years. Although I now enjoy reading, I still sometimes find myself struggling to decode some words and having to re-read passages to make sense or understand them. Do I think that you can just grow out of a reading problem? No, but I do believe that you can use skills and practice and find books that are a good fit for you to improve your reading and make it more enjoyable. I love to read now and will often sit outside on the weekends in the sun and read a James Patterson novel. I know there is hope... because I read and I enjoy it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

FAIR Results

From the Star
Yesterday was my FAIR day and I was a little worried considering I have all third graders for the first time and a lot of my students seem to be right at grade level or below - not to mention that we have a new principal who came from a Title 1 school who is all about the paper work and supporting your PMP's with resources and paper, of course. I would say from my perspective of being the reading teacher, that the scores are not good. I know they say not to lean on these results too much but how can you ignore the scores when they are an FCAT predictor. Of course, I already have interventions in place and most of the students who scored low are already in extra interventions outside of the classroom. While I am worried I am hoping that with all of the support that the students are getting in and out of the classroom they will end up being successful and at least making gains in learning. I am interested to see how other teachers' FAIR scores look to find out if it is just my scores or if more people are seeing some students who should not be low in the red or the low yellow zone. I am wondering because while reviewing my results I did notice that some of the students who I didn't see or even imagine scoring low scored a lot lower than I would have thought. If anyone has comments, please feel free to leave them.

Teacher Observation

From the Star
So I went to school on Friday and talked to my principal about the conference that I had just attended on Silent Reading and Student Conferencing (which was fabulous by the way and very informational!) I can truly say that I learned a lot of great stuff and some great ideas for lessons. One of the lessons that I really liked which is one that I took with me and can be found on YouTube was the "Good Fit" lesson. This lesson was so great because they use something called an I PICK model. It teaches the students to look at books like shoes and finding a book to read for purpose instead of just because your friends are reading it or because you heard it's a good book. It not only finds books that have a purpose and an interest for the students but it also shows them how to choose a book that is appropriate for their level of reading without getting into all of the
lexiles. If you want more on the lesson, the YouTube video is great.

So, I begin by telling my principal about all of the great resources and information that I got from the training. Then I go into telling her about the "Good Fit" lesson and how I am going to implement it in my class that day. She says, "Great let me know before you start because I want to come and see it." That would normally be okay if I had prepared for her to come and had time to get all of the kinks out of the lesson, but considering that I had just learned it, I was really putting myself out there. I don't know if some of you remember about my first pop-in lesson. I didn't feel prepared at all.

I prepped as much as possible and began my lesson. I was relieved and even a little impressed with how well the lesson went and how much the children really loved it. They were intrigued the whole time and really got into the lesson. In other words, it went great! The principal seemed to really like the lesson as well. I did get good feed back. So all in all it was a pretty good day.