Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Essential Questions in Fairy Tales

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Mar 9, 2017 3:40:00 PM

 

How do you hook your students into each literature unit? More importantly, how do you measure a studen'ts qualitative growth at the end of the unit? Using essential questions to create an inquiry-based classroom will help engage students and lead to meaningful, relevant understanding. 

An essential question frames a unit as an investigatory journey rather than a one-way acculumation of factual knowledge. The question allow students to consider real-world issues as they read the book. A good essential question is timeless, has no right or wrong answer, and are worth exploring and discussing over time.

Essential questions are especially effective because they link real-world knowledge and experience with the literary text. By framing the book of study with a question that is relatable to the real world, your students will recognize the relevancy and power of literature.

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Good essential questions aren't plot- or book-specific, something that you could ask on a multiple choice test. Students should be able to write an answer to the question on the first day of the unit, even before they've read the text. Here are a few poor examples of essential questions for The Princess and the Frog from Story World Real World:

  • What were the three favors that the frog requested?
    • This question has only one correct answer and is content-specific to the story—students will not be able to relate to this question. 
  • What lesson did the princess learn at the end of the story?
    • While this question is important to test plot comprehension and might lead to a real-world moral, the question is still specific to the story and unanswerable on the first day of the unit. 

Essential questions provide students with a relevant learning goal without reducing the lesson into plot memorization or mere literacy practice. Use question words like "how" or "why" in essential questions to encourage open-ended discussions:

  • How important is it to keep promises?
    • This question is relatable to any child and also subjective.
  • How and why can looks be deceiving?
    • This question necessitates an answer other than yes or no, and is also relevant for combatting racism in the real world.

After reading and discussing the book, a student should be able to elaborate, nuance, or even change their initial answer from the first day of the unit. Now, students can compare and contrast their own views with the character sin the book. 

You can read more about essential questions in this article. Essential questions are a fantastic tool for any grade and any book!

 

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Click the image below to learn more about Story World Real World, which contains The Princess and the Frog.

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Topics: Literature, Story World, Fairy Tales, Essential Questions

Helping Out During the Holidays

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Dec 16, 2016 1:42:00 PM

 

No matter what holiday you celebrate, one universal truth exists—the holiday season is busy!

Although December can be one of the most exciting times of the year, your students are definitely experiencing the hectic feeling in the air, too. With the cooking, cleaning, and shopping, their parents have very little time to simply sit down with their child and spend quality time. How can you assist your students during this busy but lonely time?

Hameray Publishing’s Kaleidoscope Collection includes a book titled Helping Mom. As the title suggests, the book follows ways in which the child narrator can assist his mother with errands. However, it also offers ways in which the mother can help the child, indicating a reciprocal and mutually productive relationship. Because the book is not explicitly tied around a holiday theme, the book’s subject matter will be accessible to all of your students!

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Before reading:

  • Do you help out around the house? As a class, discuss the different chores that your students do.
  • What are different chores that your mom and dad do?
  • Introduce the book and explain that you’ll be reading about how a boy helps out around the house.
  • Look at the cover together. What do you think is happening in the picture?

During reading:

  • After every page, take a survey to see how many students have ever helped their parent out with the particular task. For example, on page 4 ask your students, Have you ever helped set the table?

After reading:

  • Have each child think of different ways that they can help their parents at home. Especially encourage them to think in the context of holidays. (Can your student help make latkes, like the boy on page 3? Can your student help by looking after younger siblings, like page 5?) In pairs, have your students share their ideas aloud.
  • On page 7 and 8, the roles are switched—the mother helps the boy with his homework. What are different ways that your parents can help you? Share ideas with the same partner.

Helping Mom can help students understand and cope with the holiday season and their busier-than-ever parents. This book can also be a spectacular book for students to take home for family reading.

Happy holidays, and happy reading!

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Click the image below to download an informational sheet about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which includes the book featured in this blog post.

Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet

 

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Topics: Literature, Narrative Text, Holiday, Kaleidoscope Collection

Teaching Verb Tenses with Narratives

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Dec 8, 2016 3:27:00 PM

Last week, I featured the Zoozoo Animal World Series to teach different verb tenses in the classroom (read the article here). This week, I’ll be presenting ways to incorporate fictional narratives into discussions about time!

Understanding different verb tenses is not only important for grammatical purposes—recognizing temporal word forms is integral to understanding any narrative. The Common Core Standards also expects first-grade students to “use verbs to convey a sense of past, present, and future (e.g., Yesterday I walked home; Today I walk home; Tomorrow I will walk home)” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.1.E).

The Fables and the Real World Series showcases fictional fables that teach universal life lessons. The Milkmaid and Her Pail utilizes all three verb tenses—past, present, and future—in its story. Nevertheless, it remains at Guided Reading Level G and stays accessible to your students! 

Before reading:

  • Introduce the book to your students. Do you think this book is fiction or nonfiction? Why do you think so?
  • Tell them that you’ll be focusing on time and the sequencing of events during today’s reading.

During reading:

Page 2:

  • Discuss the opening phrase “once upon a time.” What is the meaning of this phrase? What does it tell us about when the story takes place?
  • Based on “once upon a time,” do we expect the story to be told in past, present, or future tense? Examine the verb in the sentence to confirm your students’ prediction.

Page 5, 7, and 9:

  • Identify the two different verb tenses on the page. Why does the milkmaid speak in the future tense? (Because she is fantasizing about things that she can buy in the future.)

Page 6 and 8:

  • Identify other words on this page that are related to time. (“Then,” “soon.”)

Page 10:

  • Identify the two different verb tenses on the page. Which word signals that the verb is in future tense? (“Will.”)

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After reading:

  • Return to the farmer’s dialogue on page 3, 15, and 16.
  • What tense does the farmer use when he speaks? (Present tense.)
  • Why does he speak in present tense? Explain that when the farmer was speaking, it was a “now” or a present in which the story was taking place. For your students, though, that “now” was “once upon a time,” and the story has already happened. The story is simply recording what the farmer said in that moment, so it is in present tense. [Note: the concept of relative temporal perceptions is quite abstract and related to “acknowledging differences in the points of view of characters” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.6), so don’t worry about stressing this point.]
  • Examine the second sentence of dialogue on page 3. What tense does the farmer use and why? 

 

Familiarity with different verb tenses serves as a powerful tool for fiction reading. With a keen sensitivity to words that trigger time, students will develop greater comprehension of story timelines and event sequencing. Whether you’ve taught, teach, or will teach verb tenses to your students, The Milkmaid and Her Pail is a great addition to your classroom library!

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Click the image below to download an informational sheet about the Fables and the Real World Series, which includes the book featured in this blog post.

Fables and the Real World More Information

 

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Topics: Common Core, Literature, Narrative Text, First Grade, Fables and the Real World, Verb Tenses

Using Leveled Books to Teach Literature Standards in Second Grade,  Part 2: Informational Text

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on Nov 12, 2015 3:30:00 PM

GHaggardbiopicThis is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent 37 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 recap from my previous post on literature standards for grade two, the national standards for grade two require the use of the genres of fiction and expository informational texts. In this set of two posts, I use the Story World Real World series: The Lion and the Mouse from Story World and Lions from Real World. The labels before each standard begin with "RL.2." and the number of the standard follow. The "RL.2." part means Reading, Literature, Grade 2. The standards are arranged under designated areas of the uses of literature. The standards in this post are based on informational texts. You can read Part 1, in which I covered the fiction standards, by clicking here.

STANDARDS FOR INFORMATIONAL TEXTS

These ideas for ways to support these standards are based on the informational text Lions.

RL.2.2 Identify the main topic of a multi-paragraph text, as well as the main focus of a specific paragraph.

Lions:

Several pages of this book (pages 5, 6, and 8) can be used as examples of paragraphs. Ask the students to read these pages and then suggest they be an author and give that page a title. Explain that their title is the main thing the author wanted them to know after they read the paragraph. As teacher, you might model and think aloud with page 5 and then ask the children to work with a partner to decide the focus of page 6. They should then be able to work alone and think about the focus or main idea of page 8. Ask them to share their foci of page 8.

RT L.2.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases in texts relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject.

Lions has a glossary that can be used before, during, and after reading. There is also an index that includes words from the story. Students can be asked to go to the index, find a certain word, and read the page designated and determine its meaning. Suggest they use what they know about sounds of letters, words within words, and meaning as they consider the meaning of the word.

Another source of meaning for certain words is the use of bolding to identify important words. The students can, again, use pictures and other cross checking cues to decide the meaning of the words. There are questions on each page that require the students to think about the vocabulary. They can check their answers in the back of the book in the glossary.

RL.2.5 Know and use various text features to locate key information in a text efficiently.

The previous suggestions for the last standard also touched on in this standard. I suggest using the index to find answers to questions. Suggested questions include these:

  • Why are lions good hunters?
  • What would you call a group of lions?
  • Where would you find a lion?
  • What is one amazing fact about lions?
  • What kind of animal is a lion?
  • On what page can I find the meaning of a word?

The above questions can be shared on a board, a screen, or a worksheet copy given to each child. The child could write his answers in his journal and the group can discuss how they found the answers. Model the first question for the class, sharing aloud the procedure you used to decide which page you went to find your answer. Remind the students that the index is found in the back of the book.

RL.2.6 Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.

After reading the book and using it in discussion and writing, the following questions can be answered by the students:

  • What questions and answers did the author give? (Ask the children to share examples.)
  • What is an explanation? What are some things the author explained? (Find an explanation in the book.)
  • What is something the author described? What do you do if you describe something?

RL.2.8 Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text.

  • How can we can tell the male lion from the female lion?
  • How do we know a pride is large?

What do we know about how lions eat their food? (This question is more difficult, but the answer is in the text.)

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Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection Series. For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection Series click HERE to return to our website or click the series highlight page to the left below. For more information on the Story World Real World series featured in this post, click here or click the image to the right below.

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Topics: Common Core, Literature, Real World, Informational Text, Leveled Readers, Geraldine Haggard, Second Grade, Grade Two

Using Leveled Books to Teach Literature Standards in Second Grade,  Part 1: Narrative Text

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on Nov 5, 2015 3:30:00 PM

GHaggardbiopicThis is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent 37 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.

The national standards for grade two require the use of the genres of fiction and expository informational texts. In this set of two posts, I use the Story World Real World series, which are paired texts designed for this purpose. The back of each book in the series shows how titles from the series can be paired together to integrate the two types of literature. The purpose of the design of the standards is to develop strategies for reading and scaffolding information from both types of texts. The ability to do this will provide the students with opportunities to develop strategies needed to read and use both fiction and nonfiction as demanded in social studies, science, and other content areas as they study, write, and participate in content subjects in the upper grades.

The two books chosen for this set of posts are The Lion and the Mouse from Story World and Lions from Real World. There are multiple ways to use the books with children with varied independent reading levels.

The labels before each standard begin with "RL.2." and the number of the standard follow. The "RL.2." part means Reading, Literature, Grade 2. The standards are arranged under designated areas of the uses of literature. The standards in this post are based on fiction stories. I’ll go over the informational text standards in Part 2.

KEY IDEAS AND DETAILS

RL.2.1 Ask and answer questions: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW.

The Lion and the Mouse:

  • Who are the characters in the fable?
  • What are some things each character did?
  • What happened to the lion?
  • Where was the lion?
  • When do you think the story happened (daytime, etc.)?
  • Why did the lion change his mind about the mouse?
  • How did the mouse feel when it saw the lion in the net?

Invite children to ask their questions based on the question words. They might quiz each other using questions they write.

RL.2.5 Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning and the ending conclude the action.

The Lion and the Mouse:

Ask the students to read the book title and page 2. Invite them to share questions about what they think will happen in the story. Record these questions for students to review after the story is read. Guide a discussion based on which of their questions were answered by the story. Explain that they used the beginning of the story to ask unanswered questions and after reading they can read/reread the last page to determine the ending of the story. Explain that the story ended, or had a conclusion. What happened between pages 2 and 16 happened between the first and last part of the story.

RL.2.6 Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, concluding by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialog aloud.

The Lion and the Mouse:

Select a subject for which the children can share their points of view. (How they are special? What is their favorite game and why?) Several can share their points of view and the group can talk about how their points of view were different. You can explain that the lion changed his point of view about the mouse. Ask them to think about this as they read. Why did the lion change how he felt about the mouse?

At the beginning of the story (page 2) what point of view did everyone have of the lion? What was the lion's point of view about himself (page 6)? What was baby monkey's point of view about the lion (page 11)? What was the mouse's point of view about himself (page 15)?

After reading, invite the children to reread, speaking as the lion, mouse, or monkey did in the story. What emotions are they sharing as they become one of the animals. How did each animal feel as it spoke?

RL.2.7 Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a digital text to demonstrate the understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

This standard is based on use of computer versions of the story, but can also be taught using the illustration of the book. If students are using computers, they can read versions of the story from the web.

The Lion and the Mouse:

CHARACTERS: Discuss the illustrations on pages 2–6. What do these pictures tell us about the lion as the story begins? Study the picture on pages 7–9. What do these pictures tell us? (Elicit several responses for each question.) Study the pictures on pages 10–14. What do these pictures tell us? What do the pictures on the last two pages tell us?

SETTING: Remind the children that the setting includes where and when the story happened. Where does the story take place? Is the time of the setting day or night? What kind of weather do you think the animals are having? Why? Ask the students to write and share sentences about the setting.

RL.2.9 Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story by different authors.

Visit the school library and check out more versions of the fable The Lion and the Mouse. There are also several websites that contain versions of the fable. You might use a read-aloud and ask the children how the two stories were alike or different.

  • Did the stories have the same characters?
  • Did they end in the same way?
  • Which version did they like the best and why?
  • Was their choice of a favorite based on a difference between the two versions?
  • What were the differences?
Several copies of the story versions could be placed in the class library or used in shared reading groups or at computer centers.

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Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection Series. For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection Series click HERE to return to our website or click the series highlight page to the left below. For more information on the Story World Real World series featured in this post, click here or click the image to the right below.

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Topics: Common Core, Literature, Story World, Narrative Text, Leveled Readers, Geraldine Haggard, Second Grade, Grade Two

Comparing Literature to Informational Text—with FREE Download!

Posted by Amanda Ross on May 19, 2015 3:30:00 PM

Ross-biopicThis is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, First Grade Garden, for more of her writing.  

It's me again—Amanda from First Grade Garden. I am back today to share with you an idea for comparing literature to informational text.

I love to compare fiction and non-fiction texts with my students. It really gets them looking closer at the texts. We dig deeper into the books to look at specific text features and elements. When I discovered the Story World Real World series, I was so excited! They match up ten common fairy tales with companion non-fiction books. There are three different non-fiction titles to match each fairy tale. I used the books Three Little Pigs and All About Pigs for this activity with my students.

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The first day, we read Three Little Pigs, one of my favorite fairy tales! After reading, we discuss the story elements—characters, setting, problem, and solution. We also practice retelling it, sometimes by acting it out or by using finger puppets. 

The next day we read the companion non-fiction book All About Pigs. Before reading, I have the students look closely at the covers of the two books and tell me what they notice. What is similar or different about the two books? While we read the All About Pigs book, we look at all the features as we come across them: table of contents, bold words, labels, index, etc. We discuss the reason for each feature and then discuss whether we noticed it in the Three Little Pigs book or not. Sometimes we go back and check, because that is what good readers do! 

Once we have read and discussed both books, we complete a Venn diagram to compare and contrast them. The students come up with some great ideas! Sometimes I have to prompt them with questions such as “What did you notice about the pictures in both books?” or “Who wrote these books?” Usually, after I ask one question, it sparks a lot of other discussions and observations about the books.

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You could do this activity with any fairy tale and non-fiction book. In the download below, I have included the headings for the “Three Little Pigs” Venn diagram or just generic “Fiction” and “Non-fiction” headings that can be used with any book! There is also a student recording sheet.

Try this activity out with your favorite fairy tale from the Story World Real World series!

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Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade, and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but she will be heading back to first grade in September. You can find her over at her teaching blog, First Grade Garden.

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To learn more about Story World Real World, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image to the left below to download information sheets with key featuresTo download the freebie, click the image to the right.

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Literature, Story World, Real World, Narrative Text, Informational Text, Fairy Tales, Amanda Ross

Classic Post: Teaching Retelling Strategies with Leveled Literature—with FREE Download!

Posted by Richard Giso on Jul 29, 2014 10:40:16 AM

Richard Giso 200This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog. It was originally published in January 2014. Click here to see his other posts! You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Teaching Retelling Strategies with Leveled Literature

Hello there. It’s Rich from Mr. Giso's Room to Read. Once again, I am thrilled to be back with a chance to share some ideas with you. In the age of the Common Core, there has never been more of an emphasis on challenging our primary readers with more and more informational text, and rightfully so.

This time, however, I’ve decided to bring us back to some good old fiction. That’s right, you heard it correctly—shh! This post is one for the classic characters in children’s literature. Today, we'll look at the complete Mrs. Wishy-Washy set of the Joy Cowley Early Birds series. These texts, which feature a character we all know and love, are perfect for my early readers, as they are leveled C–G using the Fountas and Pinnell text gradient. In this series, we get to make wonderful music with Mr. Wishy-Washy; discover that the farm animals have gobbled up Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s pie; solve the mystery of the missing corn; laugh at the pig, duck, and cow not knowing about reflections in the mirror; and meet a new, most unwelcome addition to the Wishy-Washy family: a hissing cat.

These adorable titles are perfect to use when introducing retelling to your young readers. I suggest you do this by making a “retelling necklace,” an idea I learned from reading Linda Hoyt. First, I always plan to model a new strategy with the whole class, using a big book or a regularly sized text that I can project onto my interactive white board.

After the reading is completed, we do a mini-lesson on what it means to retell the important parts of the story. I make sure to stress that we pick the three most important events. A trick I like to share with the class is to start with thinking about how the story began and how it ended; then, pick one thing you found interesting in the middle. This works great with my first-graders. After showing the class the strategy come the following steps:

1. Select appropriately leveled texts and assign texts to groups based on like reading levels. Texts should be fiction and narrative in structure.

2. Students read their texts with a teacher, with a buddy, or independently.

3. Students use four index cards. On the first one, they record the title of the book, the author and the illustrator. On the remaining cards, they number them 1, 2, and 3.

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4. Then they illustrate, in pencil a key event in the beginning (1), middle (2) and end (3).

5. Students use the illustrations to retell in writing what happened in the story using the graphic organizer.

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6. Students work is edited. Then, the students copy each event on the back of the appropriately numbered illustration (lines side of the index card). Punch holes in each card and tie with ribbon or yarn.

7. Students have a book conference with a buddy who had a different book. They read to each other and retell the story using their necklaces.

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Usually, I have my young ones wear their necklaces throughout the day so that they can retell what they read to various members of the school community. It’s a lot of fun. To get the directions and recording sheet, you can download it at the bottom of this page.

On another note, while using the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books in the Joy Cowley Early Birds series, I discovered how well they lend themselves to the types of higher-order, over-arching questions we need to ask in order to scaffold our young readers’ comprehension. I came up with many follow-up questions that address the theme of the text, text evidence, the author’s craft and some inferences based on knowing the familiar characters. Here are some examples.

In Wishy-Washy Sleep, ask, “What does the illustrator do to show that the cow, pig, and duck are pretending to sleep when called to take a bath?”

In Wishy-Washy Mirror, ask, “What didn’t the animals understand about Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s ‘painting’? Can you find evidence from the text to prove your thinking?”

In Wishy-Washy Mouse, ask, “Why didn’t the animals want to help Mrs. Wishy-Washy? Do you agree with their decision?”

In Wishy-Washy Garden, ask, “Why did the animals misunderstand ‘cleaning up the garden?’”

In Wishy-Washy Corn, ask, “Where did the corn go? What evidence in the text can you find to prove your thoughts?”

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy New Year filled with fun, adventure, learning and, of course, reading. I’m now on Instagram. Follow me at mrgisosroomtoread.

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I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

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To download the directions and recording sheet for the retelling activity, click the "Making a Story Necklace" image below. For more information about the Joy Cowley Early Birds series of leveled readers, click here to visit our website, or click the image to the right below to download a series highlights sheet.

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Topics: Richard Giso, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley Early Birds, K-2 Literacy, Literature, Narrative Text, Reading Activities

Classic Post: Teaching Speaking & Listening Standards

Posted by Dana Lester on Jul 22, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post by Dana Lester of Common to the Core, originally published in October 2013. Dana wanted to bring the attention of the teaching community to the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards, which she feels are often overlooked. She's come up with some ways to encourage oral language skills in the classroom, so read on to find out more!

dana lester 200Speaking and Listening Standards in the Classroom

Reading lessons that include Literature and Informational Text standards can easily be created around pretty much any book, but what about Speaking and Listening Standards? Do you purposefully include these standards? Do you teach Speaking and Listening standards with the same explicit instruction that you use with the other standards? Prior to spending hours and hours in Common Core State Standards training to be a Core Coach for my state, I didn’t. I was of the mindset, “Oh, they know how to talk to teach other. They can listen. I don’t really have to teach those things.” WRONG.

We have to use the same direct instruction that we use to teach vowel sounds, to teach speaking and listening skills. Yes, our students talk. Yes, they listen (most of the time). But it’s probably not the quality of speaking and listening that’s called for by the Common Core State Standards. Teachers must model rich, purposeful talk and understand that oral language skills influence reading comprehension.

I have a few Speaking and Listening activities to share with you that can be used around any genre of story. Folktales are one of my favorite genres and I love designing lessons around them. The Little Red Hen is a classic story that is familiar to most children, but there are so many versions of this tale, that it is easy to find one your students aren’t familiar with. For example, the most recent version I’ve seen is one in which the cat plays the guitar, the duck plays the drums, and the goose sings! This hilarious version is retold by Alan Trussell-Cullen and is published by Hameray. I like the ending of this retelling because the hen actually lets the other animals eat the bread after they each choose a chore to help with clean up!

Little Red Hen Cover FinalSo, you’re ready to read. Start with intentional pairing. This will allow more students to be engaged in dialogue. Some tips for pairing are:

  • Know your students; don’t put a Chatty Cathy with a painfully shy child. The painfully shy child will never get a word in edgewise.
  • Assign each partner a number (1, 2) or a word (peanut butter/jelly, milk/cookie)

Read the story, pausing to discuss along the way. Don’t wait until the end of the story to ask questions about what the hen did first. An easy way to remember to ask questions is to put a sticky note on the page you want to ask questions about. Encourage oral language by requiring students to support their answer with details from the text. This, my friends, is what “close reading” looks like in Kindergarten or 1st grade!

Allow students to have a thirty-second conversation with their partner about a specific part of the story. For example, the teacher says, “Boys and girls, I want you to turn to your partner and all the 1’s are going to talk about why the hen’s friends did not want to help bake the bread and when I call out SWITCH, I want the 2’s to talk about what the hen did when no one would help her.” This intentional pairing ensures that each child gets the same amount of airtime and all voices are heard. The thirty-second conversation hits the first Speaking and Listening standard for grades K–2.

We can also use sentence stems to build oral language. Sentence stems are sentence starters. First, the teacher would explicitly model the process by writing the stem on the board and reading it aloud while writing: “I can help…” The teacher completes the sentence. “I can help my daughter with her homework.” Next, the teacher directs the students to “grow” their sentence stem with their partner. Partners share their sentences with each other, then shares with the class. Not only would this meet the firstSpeaking and Listening standard, but it pulls in the first-grade standard on producing complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation and the Language standard on producing and expanding simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences.

5085 Different Kinds of Bread Cover FINALGreat conversations can arise from reading two different versions of the same folktale. Students can compare and contrast the actions of the characters using sentence stems and the thirty-second conversation. Creating a word web is an excellent way to expand vocabulary. Read an informational text on bread, such as Different Kinds of Bread by Alan Trussell-Cullen and have students create a web with the word “bread” in the center. Students will be able to pull words such as wheat and flour from The Little Red Hen and words such as "pita," "crust," and "baking powder" from Different Kinds of Bread.

To sum things up, oral language strategies will benefit our high- and low-language students. We must design our lessons with Speaking and Listening Standards in mind and plan for opportunities for students to practice these skills throughout the day. Give students thirty seconds to talk to each other about a specific topic. You will be surprised at how students can benefit from half a minute. Emphasis the importance of vocabulary through word webs. Post these webs in your writing area so students can see these words and use them in their own writing. Support language development with activities that structure sentence formation. Post sentence stems around the room so students will have constant reminders on how to produce complete sentences. Literacy gets its start with oral language, so we must be purposeful in our talk!

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dana lester blog screenshotDana Lester received a B.S. and Master’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently teaching at Walter Hill School in Murfreesboro, TN. Dana is also a Common Core Coach with the Tennessee State Department of Education. She has 12 years of classroom experience and has just begun her role as Library Media Specialist. As a strong advocate of the Common Core Standards and Whole Brain Teaching strategies, she engages her students in hands-on, inquiry based learning and shares many ideas and activities on her blog, Common to the Core. She was named Teacher of the Year at Walter Hill in 2013.

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Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

For more information about the Story World Real World series shown in this post, visit our website or click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features!

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Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Common Core, Literature, Informational Text, Oral Language Development, Dana Lester, Speaking and Listening

Teaching Math through Literature—with FREE Download!

Posted by Dana Lester on Feb 7, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Dana LesterThis is a guest blog post by Dana Lester, who writes a blog called Common to the Core, in which she writes about the Common Core State Standards, student reading skills, behavior management, books and products, and more. Dana is writing a series of guest posts; to see her other contributions, you can click here!

Teaching Math through Literature

Reading, listening, writing, and speaking are skills that cannot be limited to one specific discipline. They play a role in all areas—even math! The educational trend is toward integrated curriculum. The integration of math and reading makes math meaningful and creates real-world connections.

Research shows that incorporating children’s literature is a great way to open the lines of communication about math. Students become better critical thinkers and improve problem-solving skills when the two are combined. If you, as a teacher, look forward to teaching reading and language but dread math, try incorporating a book into your lesson. Or maybe you have a student who is into reading, but not so great with numbers—they can make the connection through books!

Shape Hunt 2Here are several ways to incorporate literature into mathematics:

  • Books can be used to pose a problem. Read a book that lends itself to numbers. Stop reading after you come across the character's problem and have the students solve it mathematically.
  • Create task cards with math problems to accompany specific books in your reading center.
  • Use a book to set the stage for a new math concept or to review a previously learned skill.
  • Use a book as the basis of your math lesson and let the students create equations that relate to the story.
  • Introduce certain manipulatives through literature. If you read a book about cookies, give the students paper (or real!) cookies to solve the problems.

Shape Hunt 3Any type of literature can be used for its mathematical instruction. The books you use do not have to be written specifically for one math skill. You can take a real world situation from any book and create a math task the students can relate to and solve. Hide math in the story! Math can be fun!

Take for example, Baseball Shapes by Jamie Duncan. Obviously, this book is intended to teach shapes, but it also incorporates real-world connections by using baseball to appeal to students. Most students can relate to baseball either through having seen it on television or through playing on a team or on the playground.

After reading this book, I would encourage my students to find more of the shapes named in the pictures, then around the room. I would even take them on a shape hunt around the building to identify these shapes in real life and to find shapes I had previously hidden. I have included the materials you need to go on a shape hunt of your own free for you to download. I hope you will share ways you incorporate literature into your math lessons in the comments below!

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Dana Lester received a B.S. and Master’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently teaching at Walter Hill School in Murfreesboro, TN. Dana is also a Common Core Coach with the Tennessee State Department of Education. She has 12 years of classroom experience and has just begun her role as Library Media Specialist. As a strong advocate of the Common Core Standards and Whole Brain Teaching strategies, she engages her students in hands-on, inquiry based learning and shares many ideas and activities on her blog, Common to the Core. She was named Teacher of the Year at Walter Hill in 2013.

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To download the Shape Hunt Word Cards, click the cover image below. To learn more about Kaleidoscope, you can click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download an information sheet with key features.

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Literature, Dana Lester, Math

Teaching Retelling Strategies with Leveled Literature—with FREE Download!

Posted by Richard Giso on Jan 15, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Richard Giso 200This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog. Click here to see his earlier posts, and check back here on our Classroom Literacy blog frequently to see if he's got a new post up! You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Teaching Retelling Strategies with Leveled Literature

Hello there. It’s Rich from Mr. Giso's Room to Read. Once again, I am thrilled to be back with a chance to share some ideas with you. In the age of the Common Core, there has never been more of an emphasis on challenging our primary readers with more and more informational text, and rightfully so.

This time, however, I’ve decided to bring us back to some good old fiction. That’s right, you heard it correctly—shh! This post is one for the classic characters in children’s literature. Today, we'll look at the complete Mrs. Wishy-Washy set of the Joy Cowley Early Birds series. These texts, which feature a character we all know and love, are perfect for my early readers, as they are leveled C–G using the Fountas and Pinnell text gradient. In this series, we get to make wonderful music with Mr. Wishy-Washy; discover that the farm animals have gobbled up Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s pie; solve the mystery of the missing corn; laugh at the pig, duck, and cow not knowing about reflections in the mirror; and meet a new, most unwelcome addition to the Wishy-Washy family: a hissing cat.

These adorable titles are perfect to use when introducing retelling to your young readers. I suggest you do this by making a “retelling necklace,” an idea I learned from reading Linda Hoyt. First, I always plan to model a new strategy with the whole class, using a big book or a regularly sized text that I can project onto my interactive white board.

After the reading is completed, we do a mini-lesson on what it means to retell the important parts of the story. I make sure to stress that we pick the three most important events. A trick I like to share with the class is to start with thinking about how the story began and how it ended; then, pick one thing you found interesting in the middle. This works great with my first-graders. After showing the class the strategy come the following steps:

1. Select appropriately leveled texts and assign texts to groups based on like reading levels. Texts should be fiction and narrative in structure.

2. Students read their texts with a teacher, with a buddy, or independently.

3. Students use four index cards. On the first one, they record the title of the book, the author and the illustrator. On the remaining cards, they number them 1, 2, and 3.

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4. Then they illustrate, in pencil a key event in the beginning (1), middle (2) and end (3).

5. Students use the illustrations to retell in writing what happened in the story using the graphic organizer.

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6. Students work is edited. Then, the students copy each event on the back of the appropriately numbered illustration (lines side of the index card). Punch holes in each card and tie with ribbon or yarn.

7. Students have a book conference with a buddy who had a different book. They read to each other and retell the story using their necklaces.

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Usually, I have my young ones wear their necklaces throughout the day so that they can retell what they read to various members of the school community. It’s a lot of fun. To get the directions and recording sheet, you can download it at the bottom of this page.

On another note, while using the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books in the Joy Cowley Early Birds series, I discovered how well they lend themselves to the types of higher-order, over-arching questions we need to ask in order to scaffold our young readers’ comprehension. I came up with many follow-up questions that address the theme of the text, text evidence, the author’s craft and some inferences based on knowing the familiar characters. Here are some examples.

In Wishy-Washy Sleep, ask, “What does the illustrator do to show that the cow, pig, and duck are pretending to sleep when called to take a bath?”

In Wishy-Washy Mirror, ask, “What didn’t the animals understand about Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s ‘painting’? Can you find evidence from the text to prove your thinking?”

In Wishy-Washy Mouse, ask, “Why didn’t the animals want to help Mrs. Wishy-Washy? Do you agree with their decision?”

In Wishy-Washy Garden, ask, “Why did the animals misunderstand ‘cleaning up the garden?’”

In Wishy-Washy Corn, ask, “Where did the corn go? What evidence in the text can you find to prove your thoughts?”

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy New Year filled with fun, adventure, learning and, of course, reading. I’m now on Instagram. Follow me at mrgisosroomtoread.

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I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

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To download the directions and recording sheet for the retelling activity, click the "Making a Story Necklace" image below. For more information about the Joy Cowley Early Birds series of leveled readers, click here to visit our website, or click the image to the right below to download a series highlights sheet.

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Topics: Richard Giso, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley Early Birds, K-2 Literacy, Literature, Narrative Text, Reading Activities

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