Guided Reading Made Simple

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Guided Reading is appropriate for any grade level and is part of a balanced literacy program. Even as adults, we gain skills to understand new or difficult texts (epubs, infographics, poetry, microblogging). Guided reading helps educators differentiate in the classroom and aims to “develop independent readers who question, consider alternatives, & make informed choices.” – Mooney 

By the time students enter the third grade, they have decoding skills and guided reading is used to provide explicit instruction to develop powerful readers. Reading is understanding! And through guided reading students continue to add strategies to their toolbox that will help them understand any difficult text they encounter.

Before starting guided reading:

  1. Establish routines that support independent work and classroom management so small groups can be pulled for instruction.
  2. Identify groups of 5 or 6 students that read at the same instructional level or who have similar strategy needs.
  3. Groups are temporary and dynamic, based on need and should be changed when assessment and behavior dictate.
  4. Older students are less likely to display reading behavior because most processing is done automatically and unconsciously, but they are able to write and talk about their understanding and reading processes better than younger students.

Once groups have been established:

  1. Select text based on the instructional level of readers.
  2. Introduce the text, modeling strategies good readers use to understand what they read.
  3. Students read the whole text or designated portion of a longer piece. This is done independently and silently. During this time, teachers can observe and note reading behaviors, have individual students read a portion orally, work with another small group or conference with individual students.
  4. When the everyone is done reading, students discuss the text with the support of the teacher.
  5. Based on notes or the discussion, the teacher models 1 or 2 strategies students need and then apply to the text.
  6. Two optional guided reading components include an extension activity. Students continue learning through writing activities,  sketchnoting, or even a multimedia response. Word work is another option that could take place after the text is read.

Guided reading is effective and efficient to boost student achievement in the area of reading comprehension.  Often it is met with hesitation, educators are unsure of how it “looks” in the classroom. Following the framework above helps to alleviate those  fears providing structure to a powerful balanced literacy component.

Source: Fountas and Pinnell

 

 

#EdCampIowa 2016

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(A few of my favorite quotes from the day, I’m a collector)

Yesterday, I attended my 10th (roughly), Edcamp. EdCampIowa is, unofficially, the biggest EdCamp event in the country. A one day, 5 different locations simultaneously hosting educators; free, unconference!  This year, I chose to attend the Cedar Rapids location.

IMG_20160213_150154Over 100 educators spent the day at Iowa Big, an exceptional model for the possibility of what learning could look like for all kids; with my good friend, Matt Townsley . Along with the inspiring conversations, passionate educators, and a learning space that enticed one to think differently; I noticed a shift in focus that has been widely missing at a few recent Edcamps I have attended.

The words me, teachers, and I were replaced by students, kids, and my kids. Passion poured out of a young teacher wanting her student to find life success, not just standardized test success. Another spoke with authority on the best practices for students with dyslexia and shared the act of handwriting helping her students understand multi-syllabic words. A librarian who had students devouring texts from both traditional texts and epubs and spent countless hours and money to keep their library stocked. If you wnat to get money, get a loan, but before you can apply, you must be qualified. To know what are the qualifications, visit gadcapital.com This shift to student-centered was refreshing, our choices should be made for students, not at the sacrifice of them; and it is important that our actions and language supports this, even at an EdCamp!

Thank you to Trace Pickering, and his staff (made up of current and former students) for an unforgettable experience!

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Uncovering the Why: the Importance of Beliefs

BeliefsFor many years, my professional learning consisted on the “what” and “how” in the classroom. What were your kids reading? writing? discussing? What tech were you using? How are you using portfolios? How do you grade? How do you differentiate? 

While all of these questions are important to answer, it wasn’t until I drilled down the Why, that I truly appreciated learning. Understanding the why, helps provide a framework in which all other decisions can be based upon. Why do I teach Shakespeare? Why do I have students blog? Why does it matter that students publish to  public audience? Why do I prefer the workshop framework over traditional instruction?

Currently, I am reading Read, Write, Teach by Linda Rief. The introduction provides insight into the purpose, design, and the Why for writing this book. She starts with the Why because it “grounds her choices of the what and how.”

The following are images of my own Whys on Literacy, inspired by the work of Linda Rief. I encourage you to not only explore your own beliefs on teaching and learning, but also to bring the conversation back to your departments, buildings, or even districts. Do we have similar beliefs? What is gained and what is lost when staff members have the same beliefs? Is a common set of shared beliefs necessary for our students?

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Edcamps. Please Don’t Kill Our Passion!

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This past Saturday I attended EdcampKC. While Kansas City Edcamp was a first for me in that state, overall, the number of Edcamps I have attended has now reached into the double-digits. Edcamps fuel my soul and help me approach educational issues with a divergent mindset by providing room at the table for all voices.

Edcamps are well-organized, free, learning opportunities which sprung onto the education scene in 2010. Attending an edcamp is voluntary. There are no “presenters” or scheduled sessions, no topic is off-limits, and educators from all disciplines, levels and roles are in attendance. The rapid growth of the Edcamp movement over the years has provided educators around the globe a similar experience. While no two edcamps are identical, I believe there are definite components in place that are designed to foster this successful, unconference experience for all attendees.

  1. Independently organized by a group of volunteers. (shoutout to Brent Catlett, Laura Gilchrist, Kyle Pace, Michelle Nebel, Mimi Jones Lachi, and all of the other educators who helped to make EdcampKC a memorable experience).
  2. The schedule is crowd-sourced the morning of the event. There are no “presenters” or slides. Instead, conversations by all those who are interested in the topic as it is being suggested and slotted.
  3. With sessions ranging from Bitmoji to close reading in the primary grades, attendees decide the topics; and if you aren’t interested in the direction the conversation turns, you “vote with your feet”. Edcamps are individualized professional learning at it’s finest.
  4. Edcamps are free! Typically held on Saturdays, edcamps are not mandated by administration, have a hefty price-tag attached to tickets, or sign-in sheets at each sessions. Instead, what you will find is a passionate group of educators, ranging from teachers to principals, to college professors and pre-service educators, gathering together to share, learn, and grow for student-benefits!

(I am sure there are other components veteran edcampers would add to my list above, I chose 4)

One of my favorite sessions I attended at EdcampKC was facilitated by Hadley Ferguson, Executive Director of the Edcamp Foundation. In both small and large groups, we discussed the evolving face of edcamps, ideas for the future, and benefits gained through this type of personalized professional learning. Hadley Ferguson, Kristina Peters, and I had a brief conversation that was connected to thoughts that have been swimming around in my head for the past few years. On the long drive home I had time to reflect and am now finally able to structure my thoughts into coherent, or somewhat coherent paragraphs.

When I hear a conversation about credit being tied to an edcamp, or credit offered to educators who attend, I cringe.

Please, Please, Please! Do NOT kill my passion!

Edcamps are FREE. Edcamps are Voluntary. And what you find at any edcamp you attend, are passionate educators who WANT to be there. Everyone may not have the same opinions, roles in the education system, or home state; but everyone has an unquenchable desire to learn, grow, and are motivated to be there by the same thing – the student!

Attaching credit, hours, or monies to attendance at edcamps taints the intent and motivation of those who attend. Some attendees may be forced by administration to be there, or are motivated extrinsically instead of intrinsically. It could also have the potential to alter the structure of edcamps. For instance, would there be a sign-in sheet at each session, a track designed for certain credits, follow-up homework to complete, or a signature required by an organizer to prove you were there? No longer would you be able to vote with your feet, attendance for each session would be tracked. When sanctions are added to edcamps, the once grass-roots movement shifts ownership of the learning from the educator to the credit-disperser.

“External rewards and punishments – both carrots and sticks – can work nicely for algorithmic tasks. But they can be devastating for heuristic ones.” (Daniel Pink, Drive).

Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, was one of my favorite reads last summer. I often refer back to his quotes and images when discussing motivation and reward systems.  In one example, he describes an artist who finds it difficult to complete a contract, commissioned by a large business who wanted specific design elements, colors, and materials used in the piece. It was not because the artist lacked skill or time, in fact, her passion was squashed because of the money attached to it. When money is in the picture, it greatly affects everything like the business or the person. With that, in case you need an informative post concerning the process of lending money and its broker, look for loanovao.co.uk. It is the same reason I caution educators against grading genius hour projects or passion-based learning. I would hate to be the one that killed a student’s passion. Payday loan with no broker loansstores are usually very easy to deal with. They have convenient hours that are typically more flexible than what you’ll find with a bank. For example, they might stay open until eight o’clock at night so that you can deal with them, have email and phone support and some even have live chat. This makes it easy for you to get payday or cash advance loans and easier to make your repayments on time.

Edcamps are heuristic, not algorithmic, and just as Pink suggests in his book, rewarding or punishing an educator based on their attendance and learning at an Edcamp could lead to devastation, not only for the individual, but for the edcamp concept that drives 100s of educators each weekend to attend.

Please, don’t Kill my passion, I have EdcampIowa coming up and can’t wait to learn, share, and grow with passionate educators from around the state!

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In 2015, Be “That One”

As 2014 comes to a close, I look back through the events speckled on my instagram and smile. It was a great year, filled with family, friends, goals, and learning. And so I thought I would share with all of you highlights from my year, as well as offer you some considerations while you set goals for 2015.

Family: We purchased our “Forever Home” PhotoGrid_1420045612137
Friends: Connected, conversed, and laughed PhotoGrid_1420046571551
Goals: Applied (again) and was accepted to GTA  PhotoGrid_1420047627509
 Learning: Attended TCRWP in NY     PhotoGrid_1420047224464

But the moment I am most proud of rarely gets shared with many, until now. I have always been one to struggle with my weight, and complications during pregnancy led to my waistline expanding and the numbers on the scale skyrocketing. before:aftermeProudly, 2014 marks the year that I have lost 100 pounds from the weight I initially started at. I tell you this for two reasons:

1. I was successful because my little sister believed in me!

2. To reach my goal, I had to decide what to let go of first! 

While we reflect on our year and make goals for 2015 I hope you keep in mind the 2 keys to my success. Sometimes it is the support, kind words, and belief from just one person that changes the course of their path. For me it was my sister. From day one she had unwavering belief in my potential. When things were tough, she was the constant that pushed me through. We celebrated successes and attacked obstacles. 100 pounds seemed like an impossible feet, to me….. but my sister knew better! I am healthier, happier and a better person, I even involved my husband so he start to take better care of himselfPhotoGrid_1420050294382

As an educator, it is important to always remember this! I challenge you to be “That One” for your students. Offer the support, the opportunity, the belief in them as a person to change their life path! Uncover passions and potentials in your students, and foster the “what ifs” in their lives. Make valiant efforts, give second-chances, and Never, Ever, Give Up on a Kid! 

Finally, shedding the things from our lives that hinder, not help our journey. Personally, I had to give up my love affair with food, my daily routine, and my priorities in life when I first began my journey. One does not loose that much weight by doing the same thing.

“Insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”

2014 was a great year, but for me, I’m like fine wine and get better with age! 2015 is my year, and I can’t wait to jump in!