Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

[New Post] Using Mrs. Wishy-Washy Books to do a Character Analysis—with FREE Download!

Posted by Paula Dugger on Feb 19, 2016 10:42:33 AM

describe the imageThis is a guest blog post. It's authored by special guest blogger Paula Dugger, who is an educational consultant with a rich-literacy background that includes serving as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, as well as a Reading Coordinator.

 Mrs. Wishy-Washy has been a favorite of my mine as well as my students' for over twenty years. Joy Cowley has delighted young readers with simple text and fun stories through her endearing characters.

I created an activity that allows beginning readers to journal Mrs. Wishy-Washy through 21 books found in the Joy Cowley Early Birds Collection and Joy Cowley Collection. Not only do readers document their reading but they also analyze the main character beginning with level 3 titles and progressing to level 16.

Because this activity may take months to complete, I usually have students put their 2 sheets in a folder so that they can decorate the front with Mrs. Wishy-Washy and some of her friends. It also makes it easy for me to store them and pull for small group direct instruction. As the readers become more proficient and move to higher levels, the activity can be completed independently.

I hope your students enjoy this activity as much as mine do.





To download Paula's activity, or information sheets with key features about Joy Cowley's two series Joy Cowley Early Birds and the Joy Cowley Collection, which contain the books mentioned in this post, click the images below.


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Topics: Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Reading Activities, Paula Dugger, Guest Blog, Independent Reading

[New Post] 5 Tips for Independent Reading in Your Classroom—with FREE Download!

Posted by Paula Dugger on Nov 19, 2015 4:58:14 PM

describe the imageThis is a guest blog post. It's authored by special guest blogger Paula Dugger, who is an educational consultant with a rich-literacy background that includes serving as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, as well as a Reading Coordinator. 

While independent reading may seem like an easy skill, it is often very challenging for a beginning or struggling reader. Because of its strong correlation to academic success, most elementary schools have some type of independent reading time within the instructional day.

The many benefits of independent reading include fluency practice, vocabulary development, reading comprehension, and oral language development. In addition, reading opens up an endless bank of knowledge for students who read more. However, teachers need to utilize this time to monitor and record important information regarding the students’ reading behaviors that can lead to better instruction. 

“Independent reading” can be defined as any reading a reader does on his/her own by self-selecting a text which is of interest to the reader that can be read with little or no help at a high degree of accuracy. Some teachers mistakenly believe that this is a time when a reader reads alone silently without help in order to “read” or “practice” a teacher-selected text and not necessarily a text that can be read at an “independent” level of accuracy nor of interest to the reader.

So how do we teach and insure our students are reading independently every day?
I have personally used the following strategy, as well as trained teachers to use it daily in their classrooms. While this might seem only appropriate at the elementary level, it is also vitally important all the way through high school.

Independent_Reading_Data_Form_PDF-300-1.jpg1. Begin by scheduling a time for independent reading. You might want to start out with 5 minutes and progress in increments of 3- 5 minutes until you have reached a desired time of 20 minutes or more.

2. In order to monitor each reader, I have created a form (shown to the right) with the names of all my students so that I can record information on as many of them as possible each day. You can download this form at the bottom of this page.

3. I almost always have time to listen to each student read several pages since these texts are supposed to be at the easy or independent level.

4. I can ask comprehension questions if I feel a need to and/or can record information that might help me with each individual reader.

5. Have all students read aloud at the same time during the allotted time, while the teacher moves around the room listening in on readers. This gives the teacher not only the opportunity to hear every student read, but to also do any explicit teaching and modeling needed on components such as how fluent and phrased reading should sound.

It is often the teacher who is at first most resistant to having everyone read out loud, thinking that the students will not be able to focus on their own reading. However, if everyone is reading out loud, the teacher will know if the students are actually reading. Silent reading can easily be “faked.” If I want my students to read more, I need to hear them. In this day and age, very few students have the luxury of reading in a quiet place, especially when at home or in a public place. So, it is ok for classrooms to be filled with readers engaged in oral reading!

Once the students begin reading, I can visually see and hear everyone reading. This allows me to move around monitoring with confidence that everyone is engaged in learning. A bonus comes in knowing that I have listened to most, if not all, of my students read orally each day.

Try these tips and be amazed at how confident your students will become in reading!


Paula Dugger has a B.S., M.Ed., and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. Paula does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC.

Paula and her husband Neil are parents to two wonderful daughters, Alicean and Ashley, two sons-in-law Kevin and Patrick, and grandparents Carter and Blake. She also raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. The longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing Group, titled Longhorns.


For more information on the Kaleidoscope Collection, in which Paula's book can be found, click here to visit our website or click the image to the left below to download an information sheet highlighting key features. To download the free log, click the image to the right.

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Topics: Paula Dugger, Guest Blog, Independent Reading

The Importance of Rereading Independent-Leveled Texts

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on Oct 2, 2014 8:00:00 AM

haggardThis post is by guest blogger Geraldine Haggard, author of our Kaleidoscope Series books Helpers, Four Seasons, Seeds, and What Is a Friend? To see her other posts, click here!

I spent ten years as a Reading Recovery Teacher leader and Reading Recovery teacher, and I’ve spent the past fourteen years tutoring needy readers in grades one through three. I have personally seen the difference in the growth of young readers who spend massive amounts of time reading at their independent levels.

In Becoming Literate, Marie Clay spoke of the "constructive learner" as a child who is "seeing, searching, consolidating, and problem solving." How can a teacher encourage these practices?

In the Reading Recovery Guidebook, she discusses "accelerated growth" in reading and writing. The importance of continuous text in both processes is stressed. She states that this growth depends on how the teacher selects the clearest, the most memorable examples with which to establish student responses.

The child must take over the learning process and work independently. New discoveries must be made. Two kinds of learning must be considered. The use of familiar materials and independent solving on the part of the child must be important. The independent reading at the student's desk and at home must be at his independent level. This means that the child can read with 95% accuracy or better. The instructional level is at 90%–94% accuracy.

Therefore, the reader accelerates because some things no longer need his attention. He is now free to give attention to new things.

story_mother_daughter_100052333_juan_carlos_tinjaca-200Teachers are wise if they realize that their instruction and guidance is to assist a child as strategies to problem-solve are developed. These problem-solving techniques include monitoring their reading for meaning, searching for cues, discovering new things, cross-checking for meaning, and self-correcting their errors. The goal is not to accumulate items of knowledge.

All kindergarten and first-grade teachers would like to think that their students will enter second grade as proficient readers. A study of proficient readers in that grade was included in the Reading Recovery publication Teaching and Learning (Volume 10, Number 2). The researcher discovered that these good readers in grade two demonstrated more than sixty ways to overtly solve unknown words. They never appealed for help without attempting ways to solve the word. They never articulated a word using phoneme-by-phoneme strategies, but used larger parts of words. They expected meaning and found meaning as they read.

These second-graders were avid readers and spent large amounts of time reading. Teachers need to provide as many books as possible on the child's independent level for reading from the class library and at home. Time for reading must be provided. During a visit to New Zealand schools, I observed teachers pair students to other students reading at a slightly more difficult level. Children can read to animals, siblings, volunteers in the classroom, buddies from a different grade level and/or parents. First-graders might read to second-graders.

I recommend at least twenty minutes a day for this independent reading. It seems obvious to me and to researchers that accelerated reading growth depends upon this practice. Encourage families to have family reading times when all members of the family read independently or read to each other. Ask any pianist how they got to be an accomplished pianist. They will tell you they had to practice the same selections several times before they could play in a recital. It is the same way with reading skills.

Remember that the child leads the way. I once heard Clay say that teaching a child how to read was like dancing with him or her. The child leads, you follow. Be a good "follower." Know the child and fit the instruction to the child's reading needs. Provide the appropriate books and time for each child to read.


Dr. Geraldine Haggard is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent thirty-seven years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.


To learn more about the Kaleidoscope Collection series of books, which includes four titles written by Geraldine Haggard, click here to visit the Kaleidoscope page of our website, or click the image below to download an information sheet with highlights of the series.

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Topics: Geraldine Haggard, Reading Recovery, Just-Right Books, Independent Reading

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