July 24, 2005

The End

It was a privelege to have George in class. To be called "teacher" is the best compliment of all because it means we've helped students through hard times while also encouraging them to learn and want to know more.

Posted by wall0367 at 5:47 PM


Be8 Effective ways to teach vocabulary:
1. Assign Word Study, Not word memorization
2. Teach students how to actually use context clues
3. Teach word parts: prefixes, affixes, and suffixes
4. Turn vocab. study into a word hunt
5. Use graphic organizers
6. Use logographic cues: notecards
7. Read aloud and use SSR
8. Ask the right (specific) questions

Posted by wall0367 at 5:44 PM

July 23, 2005


AHA: Looking for spelling patterns in words is much more effective in helping students become better spellers (and thus, better at word recognition in their reading) than giving students word lists to memorize.
AHA2: Presuming everyone should have the same word lists is wrong; students are at different levels (there are only five levels, by the way).

Summary: Kids who struggle with word recognition often struggle with spelling. This is directly related to reading skill.

Stages of spelling:
1. emergent (preschool, kinder., first) - first attempts at writing; no attention to letter-sound relationship
2. letter name (grades 1 & 2) - uses the names of letters to spell words ("drive" - "dr" looks and sounds like "j" when your mouth says it, student might spell it "jriv"
3. within-word pattern (grades 2-4) - short vowel sounds correct; trying to spell long vowel patterns "team" starts out "teme" or "teem" and ends at "team"
4. syllable juncture (grades 3-8) - most sing-syllable vowel patterns are correct; learning how to spell multisyllabic words **good stage to focus on prefixes and suffixes
5. derivational constancy (early as 5-8, even adulthood) - derived from same root "compose" studied to show relationship to "composition"; also learning about assimilated prefixes - instead of in+literate, letter n assimilates and changes to "illiterate"

At the end of the chapter, there are some additional suggestions for improving students' spelling.
I found this chapter particularly interesting since I have been giving my SENIORS spelling lists for a couple years now with no real improvements.
Submitted by: Ericka Ableiter

Posted by ablei002 at 3:14 PM

July 21, 2005

Word Recognition

"I don't hear any sounds. I don't know what you're talking about." said George.

In this chapter Beers gives a very nice overview of the issues that come into play when students have to figure out what a group of letters say when they are connected together as a word. She also gives a good list of definitions so that she and the reader are on common ground when considering the meaning of terms such as: phonemes, sight words, vowel teams, rimes etc. She includes valuable charts that plot out phonemic issues.

When working with middle and high school students who have trouble with word recognition she looks for four things:

-how many high-frequency and sight words can they quickly identify
-can they read single-syllable words but not multisyllabic words
-when reading multisyllabic words, are they guessing at the word based on the first few letters or are they working through the entire word very slowly
-what do they know about letters and sounds

The rest of the chapter is spent on giving 10 suggestions for the English/language arts teacher to implement. Her suggestion of teaching rime patterns includes a chart that lists 37 rimes that make 500 words (p. 234). As a teacher of ESL students I found this to be potentially a powerful window into learning to read a lot of English words. Another suggestions involves teaching rules about syllables. In this section she does an analysis of the consonant/vowel patterns in words, comparing those with a long vowel sound to those with a short vowel sound.

Though this chapter is very focused on patterns and rules in English word formation, she does address the skewed emphasis on phonics and argues for the need to have this be only one part of the language experience when working with struggling readers.

Posted by john6454 at 12:54 PM

July 19, 2005

Fluency and Automaticity

"Fluent readers know the words automatically and can spend their cognitive energy on constructing meaning."

In this chapter Kyleen Beers distinguishes between automaticity and fluency. When a reader has automaticity the process of decoding occurs instantly, without conscious thought. She compares it to the automaticity of typing or playing piano. No thought is required to know where to place your fingers. Fluency requires automaticity but it also involves the ability to read smoothly with good phrasing and expression. You may have students who have good word recognition but yet they do not have fluency. They may read too rapidly or read in a monotone ignoring punctuation. Comprehension is hampered even if there is automaticity.

In addition to examples of student reading styles, Beers gives methods for measuring the silent and oral reading rates of your students. She also gives five suggestions for helping students achieve fluency in their reading: improve knowledge of high frequency words; give varied options for hearing texts; teach phrasing and intonation; have students reread selected texts; prompt, don't correct

Posted by john6454 at 1:41 PM

July 17, 2005

Connecting Books to Readers

As avid readers, many of us do not know how to think as reluctant readers. We need to remember not to hand students the books we loved, but rather, books that speak to them and their world.

On pages 285-290, Beers gives concrete features of a book that reluctant readers may find appealing.

Thin books and short chapters
Some illustration, especially of the characters to assist in visualizationWell-defined characters
Plots with a lot of action that begins right away
White space- shows that the book can be finished quickly
Characters their age or only slightly older
Characters who face tough choices
Realistic language, including run-ons, fragments and slang
An easily defined conflict

Visual features help to create and reinforce meaning
Two-page spreads
Beyond the book formats, including magazines, graphic novels, puzzle magazines, etc.
Thin books
Index, table of contents, Headings and Boldfaced Type- students can access information quickly and easily
High-interest topics
Vocabulary defined when it is used
Wander-around books- texts that do not have to be read chronologicallyBiographies

There are a few tried and true ways to hook students into books. Reading aloud expressively invites the students to continue reading while they are on their own. “Read and Tease” can take the form of reading a few chapters out loud, or doing a brief “commercial” for the book. A librarian mentioned in the book created a “Good Books” box when a student asked her where all the good books in the library were, only to be followed up with a “More Good Books” box. The most individual way to get students hooked on reading is to get to know their interests well in order to be on the lookout for each student’s ideal texts. Beers includes a goldmine of resources for all sorts of reading, including review journals and online book lists.

Posted by harr0626 at 9:09 PM

How to Help the Dependent Reader

Sometimes we forget that teachers-not programs- are the critical element in student success. Also, it’s good to be reminded that the fundamental purpose of reading its comprehension, and that comprehension is a complex, abstract activity (38).

We can all relate to an even minute sense of hopelessness when a teacher realizes that a student can’t read. Far more common is the identification of the dependent reader, and the strategies with which to coach the dependent reader into independence. Beers lists 46 signs/symptoms of dependent readers, including reading aloud with little or no expression, trouble recalling concrete information from a text, or reading to finish rather than to understand. Beers’ suggestions include the development of a personalized instruction plan for dependent reading targeting specific areas of weakness by creating specific plans for strengthening skills. Page 28 contains “If…Then” scenarios so that instruction plans can be easier to create. There are three examples of students who need different strategies for success, complete with indicators of a strong reader so that there is comparison and benchmarks by which to assess and assist the dependent and struggling reader.

Posted by harr0626 at 9:06 PM

Defining Independent Readers

We are all struggling readers to some extent, depending on the text with which we are presented. For instance, I am a struggling reader when it comes to finances or insurance forms.

Beers talks about examples where we may not quite understand the needs of a reader, simply because we aren’t listening to embedded messages beneath the “I don’t get it.” Listening is key to seeing how students perceive the material presented, which aids in assessing comprehension level.

According to Beers, independent readers are readers that know how to make text make sense- even if they do not initially understand the text. Dependent readers depend on an outside source to show them coping strategies and to use those strategies for them (16). Not everyone learns to read or understand text in the same way, so individual attention for the development of independent readers is crucial. Struggling readers 1) might lack ability or confidence to read independently, 2) may have negative attitude about reading, or 3) simply don’t know what to read (17). The key to all of these aspects is confidence, which can be fostered by sometimes very targeted individual instruction in weaker areas.

Posted by harr0626 at 9:04 PM

Instruction in Comprehension

AHA: "We sometimes confuse explaining to students what is happening in a text with teaching students how to comprehend a text" (Beers 40).

Summary: If you only explain the answers instead of explaining how you got those answers, you're only helping them on that particular problem or text.

Do think-alouds while reading a piece out loud to the class.
1. Decide strategies you want to use and which text you will use.
2. Tell your students exactly what strategy you'll practice.
3. Read passage, model strategy.
4. Give students multiple chances to practice the demonstrated strategy.
5. Continue modeling as students' needs change OR when the genre changes.
*Don't assume they'll apply the skills from a short story to a poem, for example. You must model A LOT at first with every genre before they become fluent.
6. Give students opportunities to try strategy w/o your coaching or support.

Strategies you might "think-aloud," include everything from vocabulary to clarifying something that isn't totally clear to questions you have during the story to attempting to connect something you don't know with something you do, etc.

Important: In a traditional classroom you often don't see chunks of time every day where students read, write, and respond to one another about their reading and writing.
Some of the most effective minilessons (this author has found) are the think-alouds from the teacher modeling a strategy they should use that day in their lessons.
Lots of discussion how to teach reading a story; what never gets confused is everyone's belief that the point of reading is comprehension.

***Pretty good chapter*** Ericka Ableiter

Posted by ablei002 at 8:47 PM

Extending Meaning

There are many different after-reading activities teachers can use to reenforce comprehension of what they just read.

Scales help students make better sense of the texts by "making comparisons, recognizing contrasts, draw conclusion, and distinguish between facts and opinions" (139).

Somebody Wanted But So is a summary strategy. Have students read a story and decide who the somebody is, what the somebodywanted, but what happened to keep something from happening, and so, finally, how everything worked out.

Other good after-reading strategies are Retellings, an oral summary based on elements, It Says -- I Say, making inferences, and Strategy Snapshots, using symbolic sketches, finding most important words andwriting reflections.

Posted by wall0367 at 8:03 PM

A Defining Moment

Kylene Beers never thought that she would teach struggling readers and she never expected to teach in a middle school. After finding a job at a large Houston middle school, she quickly realized that 7th graders could not learn what she hoped to teach them and many could not read at all. She thanks George, a struggling reader, for being her inspiration. She had no idea how to teach him to read, and as time went on, she knew she failed him but didn't want to fail others.

Posted by wall0367 at 7:51 PM

Reluctant Readers

struggling readers lack confidence, and care most about keeping some form of respect with their peers.
To improve social and emotional confidence in students who struggle Beers suggests: keeping expectations high and providing necessary scaffolding; creating classrooms that encourage risk, participation. and strong interaction through respect (know names, celebrate diversity, don't tolerate put-downs); encouraging responses that are aesthetic rather than simply efferent (information-seeking); recognizing stages of literary appreciation and choosing appropriate literature (at different stages, kids value different things); giving students "smart words" to use for discussion (past "it was boring" or "I liked it"); and providing time for sustained silent reading. Finally, Beers describes aliteracy as "not only an academic problem but a societal concern." She describes four types of aliterates, all challenging to motivate: dormant, uncommitted, unmotivated and unskilled readers. It requires tenacity and patience to connect these readers to texts, and to "build the confidence they need to fully enter into the community of readers."

Posted by wiseh005 at 2:31 PM

Frontloading Meaning

Actively engaging kids in text before they read is a crucial part of the reading-and thinking- process.
Each of the four strategies Beers suggests helps students access prior knowledge; interact with portions of the text early; sequence, predict, infer, compare, and find cause/effect relationships; identify problem vocabulary; and construct meaning before reading the text. The four strategies are:
*anticipation guides, presenting important issues without clear-cut answers
*KWL charts, linking kids with waht they know and want to know (comprehension)
*probable passages, making the invisible act of thinking visible by putting key words into categories on a chart
*tea parties, encouraging active participation by studying phrases from the text on index cards, and moving around in groups to categorize them.
All strategies may be used (with slight variations) for expository and narrative text. "Prereading strategies that focus on active engagement with the text help struggling readers do what good readers do- think all throughout the reading process, not just at the conclusion."

Posted by wiseh005 at 10:54 AM

July 12, 2005

Constructing Meaning

Dependent readers need to talk about what they are reading while they read it, not after they read.

During reading, students should make predictions, clarifications, and connections as well as ask questions. Teachers should model these strategies explicitly in think alouds. Students should be encouraged to think aloud as they read both in small groups and individually. They should also be encouraged to reread texts.

Posted by bude0007 at 12:21 PM

Learning to Make an Inference

Simply telling a student to "make an inference" will not teach her how to make an inference.

Researchers suggest that reading is a process of connecting an external text--what we read-- with an internal one--what we already know. As Beers describes this process, these connections are inferences. There are many types of inferences (recognizing antecedents, word meanings from context clues, grammatical functions of words, intonation, author's bias, etc.), which can roughly be sorted into two categories: text-based inferences and knowledge- based inferences. In order for students to learn how to make an inference, a variety of types of inferencing strategies must be modeled and practiced.

Beers suggests the following activities for both modeling and practice: think aloud inferences as you read to the class; read ahead in the text students will be reading and make notes about the types of inferences you are making, then put the passage on the overhead and explain your inferences to students; show cartoons to the class and think aloud inferences that help you to perceive the cartoon as funny.

Posted by bude0007 at 12:01 PM