Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stamina for Reading

I am a huge fan of short texts.....anything by Leonard Pitts, stories such as the Story of an Hour and Hemingway's A Very Short Story, resources and tweets from #engchat, etc. However, with the state tests having a word load of around 3500 words in two passages (not to mention the reading included with the revision and editing passages), I cannot help but to worry about stamina. I have seen students  challenged by a lengthy text. Often, they start by looking at the questions, then hunting for the answers in the text. This is a HORRIBLE strategy. The End of Course test questions are no longer written at a level 1, which students could hunt and find those "right there" answers. Instead, the EOC is written starting at a level 3 and including questions about inferences and synthesis. Students must read the text closely, and entirely, in order to have a shot. How do we prepare students for this type of word load?

We must start by short texts...yes, short texts. Have students learn to analyze and read closely with a short, accessible text. Then, bring that text out AGAIN and revisit it for a different purpose. Revisiting a text is very similar to watching a movie again. (Trust me, being a mommy to 3 children, I have watched a DVD multiple times and gleaned something new each time.) After short texts, challenge them with a lengthier text. Here are some of my favorite reading strategies to employ for building stamina:

1. Establish a purpose: Why are we reading this text? We must be very explicit in our purpose. For example, perhaps we are reading "My Papa's Waltz". Have students circle the words that make the reader believe this is a positive experience, or box words that lead you to believe this is a negative/abusive experience. Maybe we are reading "Mezzo Cammin"....have students share what they know about mid-life crises, and have students sketch what they visualize as they read this poem. (Other poems I love to have students sketch are "The Fish", "Seven Ages of Man", and many poems by Gary Soto.) Perhaps we are reading William Maxwell's Love (scroll to page 13). Have students choose to circle either flower imagery or funeral imagery. Then, share out their text evidence and effect on the piece. Have students to characterize the mother or the daughter...then have them draw a T-chart, and give their characterization and text evidence.  Or create an adjective/noun pair over a character, such as the "avid reader" in Welty's text.

2. Chunking the text - Have the students number each paragraph. If students cannot physically mark the text, have them use post-it notes. Then have them chunk the text, drawing a line (or placing a sticky note) under paragraphs that seem to go together. Then have them chart the text. You can have them pull out key words from that chunk, summarize that chunk using those key words, then note what the Author's craft is (maybe comment on the grammatical elements or interesting features the author employed). You can also choose to summarize each chunk, detailing what the author is saying, and then detail what the author is doing (using a verb such as "establishing a need" or "explaining a purpose").

3.  Color Dots - Give students small, colored sticker dots. Have students place dots beside information they feel is important. Have students share with a peer their dots...they may remove or adjust their dots after processing with a peer.

4. Graphic Organizers or Foldables - Graphic Organizers are HUGE. Have students record their reading on a graphic organizer. Use foldables to record summarization, such as "SWBS" (to summarize fiction, Somebody Wanted But/Because So), "SIFT" (to analyze fiction, Symbolism Imagery Figurative Language Tone and Theme), SOAPStone, or any other acronym.

5. Sentence stems are great for all learners. Challenge your students to how many sentence stems they can complete over the reading.

6. Immerse the students in the complex language by assigning vocabulary terms. I do not mean look up the term in the dictionary. I mean, figure out these terms using only context clues. For example, using "The Road Not Taken", have students figure out terms such as diverged, undergrowth, and hence.

What are some of your ideas for building stamina?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Resources for Literary NonFiction, Short Fiction, and Media Literacy

Our first unit contains the writing process, literary fiction and non-fiction, and media literacy. Here are some of my favorite resources:

My Weblist for Media Literacy - This is a weblist.me I created of Media Literacy resources. My favorites include Living Room Candidate, Old Radio Commercials, Newseum and ProCon.org.

For Literary Nonfiction:

Teaching Channel Comic Books - A great intro to nonfiction.

This article contains many links to non-fiction reads for teens. Also, don't forget about great resources such as CNN Student News , Channel One, Kelly's Article of the Week,  and Tween Tribune.

Two Google Docs I stumbled upon via Twitter include resources for freshman and resources for High School Lit. Classes. 

For Fiction:

Edsitement contains many many resources for fiction.

Three Minute Fiction - I love this resource of short, high interest fictional reads from NPR.

Flash Fiction Online is a great start to many fictional pieces.

Teen Ink is a great site for teens, by teens.

There are also many fictional Twitter accounts to follow. My favorite is VeryShortStory....what a great ice breaker/warm-up for writing.

What are your favorite resources for Media Lit, non-fiction, or fiction?

Monday, August 25, 2014

What's up shorty???

So many standards, so little time....with so much to cover, I am often asked for short texts that can be read in little to no time, so that focus can be placed on the standards. Excerpts from my favorite novels and short stories are easy to find, however, often too much time is needed to build schema or retell the story. My teachers need sets of text that are high interest and do not require a lot of background knowledge. So here are my go to sources for short reads....

ReadWorks has K-8 leveled reading passages for comprehension practice.

Odell Education has units with clickable resources for texts sets.

Reading resources from IRA president, Maureen McLaughlin.

Here are some Wonder Inducing picture books perfect for nonfiction texts.

Here are 14 quick reads, perfect for upper high school students.

Here are sets of text grades K-12 from Louisiana Believes.

For nonfiction, here are my faves:

NewsELA: Current Events

Digital Nonfiction Text Sets from Reading and Writing Project

Leonard Pitts from the Miami Herald (a great blend of genres)

And lastly, but not leastly, Kelly Gallagher's "Article of the Week".

What are some of your favorite quick reads?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chrome Tools for Struggling Readers

Struggling Readers My mind is a blur with the past two weeks of information. I have learned all kinds of school management systems, analyzing data, writing curriculum, and trying to figure it all out. Despite all of these unique trainings, one issue kept bubbling up. How can we help struggling readers? Struggling readers need more interaction with text, may need background knowledge ahead of time, and may need assistance with vocabulary. I have a few Chrome tools I feel could help:

Chrome Extensions:

 Google Dictionary: self -explanatory, except it is right the on your extensions bar

Save to Google Drive: Students come across helpful graphic organizers (such as those from Eduplace and can save those directly to their Google Drive.

Email this page: If students have email, they can simply click on this and email any page.

Note Anywhere - This is a floating sticky note system. Students can make post-its and review them at anytime. 

Buffer - This extension allows students to share content to almost any social media.

 Evernote Clearly - Remove any distractions from online texts, such as newspaper articles.

 Chrome Speak - Simply right click on any text on any site and this will read to you.

 And for videos - Turn off the Lights! Use this extension to darken everything except the video, which is helpful with often distracting YouTube video suggestions.

 Spritzer: A great extension that allows the reader to skim the text at a faster rate.

 Please feel free to add any tools you find helpful for struggling readers!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Commercials for Teaching

I love using commercials in the classroom. I came across these two and had to share my ideas:

This is a great commercial to use when teaching personification. Any of the latest Geico commercials would be great in a lesson for Idioms/Cliches.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tom Barrett's Interesting Ways Presentations

Tom Barrett has created numerous helpful presentations for using tools (such as Wordle) in the classroom. Now, he has all of his presentations in one spot: