Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Classic Post: Classroom Library Organization

Posted by Richard Giso on Oct 8, 2015 5:30:00 PM

Richard Giso 200This is a guest post by Richard Giso that originally ran in March 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.

Making the Most of Classroom Libraries

Greetings! It’s Rich Giso from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read, excited to be blogging about something both my college students and my teacher colleagues often seek my advice on. Setting up a classroom library can be a very daunting task, as there are so many questions to consider. How much space do I have? How should I categorize my books? Should I have certain books leveled? Where do I put those special readalouds I do every year? What makes the best storage? What kinds of print, other than books, should I include?

I’m hoping to offer you some pointers by sharing with you my classroom library via photographs. Keep in mind, however, that I’m in my sixteenth year of teaching, meaning that I have a vast collection of reading material available to my young readers that I have accumulated through the years. Start small. Your collection will grow from year to year with the help of yard sales, retiring teachers, eBay, bonus points from book orders, grant proposals, parent donations, etc.

Giso-8-1As far as book storage goes, I use a combination of dish washing tubs and plastic/metal coolers used to store ice in order to keep drinks cool. My tubs are all orange and blue so that they match my classroom theme. This serves to make things look both organized and uniform. ALL books should be stored with the covers facing out towards the reader. This is important for book browsing.

Notice how I have a combination of books sorted by level and by topic. This is really important. My young readers need to be picking from the right book level in order for them to grow stronger as readers. I give them a range of books to select from (a tub that is easy, one that is just right and one that is a little challenging). My mature readers have more freedom when selecting books, because they are more experienced in picking books that are a good fit for their interest and reading ability.

In addition to sorting books by levels, I have many categories that highlight Caldecott awards, poetry, science and mathematics books, wordless books, books on America, legends, fables and fairy tales, books from different cultures, wordless books, alphabet books, biographies and books about history.

I also have these shelves I turned on their sides to serve as benches. This is a perfect area for buddy reading.

Giso-8-3

For those special books—ones that I use on the holidays, ones that teach topics such as parts of speech, punctuation, etc. and my special readalouds, I utilize a shelf out of reach so that they are always there when I need them.

I have special spinning shelves for books arranged according to my favorite authors (Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Jan Brett, Bill Martin Jr., etc.). Periodically, I move them to a display that includes lots of photographs and biographic tidbits about our featured author. We are currently studying Patrica Polacco.

I have a number of informational texts and periodicals for kids as well as pamphlets, travel brochures and menus for them to browse. These have special places in my library too.

Giso-8-6Giso-8-7

For topics that we are studying, I pull out books and feature them as well. Here you see a Gail Gibbons collection because we are writing teaching books. In social studies we are studying American symbols, so I have those books on display.

Giso-8-8

In addition to these pictures, I store my dictionaries in my writing center and have a wire wrack display that showcases my holiday/seasonal books that changes on a regular basis. To store multiple copies of the same book, I have a guided reading cart on wheels so that they are easily accessible.

I’m pleased to offer you a “tour” of my library. It’s the heart of every classroom, so it’s work giving it some attention! Happy reading!

~~~

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.

~~~

To download a brochure on our pre-packaged Classroom Libraries, click the image below!

Classroom Library Brochure

Read More

Topics: Classroom Libraries, Richard Giso, K-2 Literacy, Classroom Organization

Classic Post: Introducing Informational Text to Primary-Aged Readers

Posted by Richard Giso on Aug 14, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest post by Richard Giso that was originally published in July 2013. Click here to see his other posts, and check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Introducing Informational Text to Primary-Aged Readers

My topic today is on how I present informational text to my primary-aged readers. Anyone glancing through the Common Core will soon notice the major focus on our young learners' reading and writing informational text on a regular basis. It's up to us to fill our readers' “invisible backpacks” of good reader strategies with the tools needed to navigate through informational text and the distinct manner in which the information is presented. We can't just assume that a transition from narrative text to informational text comes naturally to them. Teaching the text features we often encounter as adult readers when we read for information (WWW, menus, pamphlets, brochures, textbooks, magazines, newspapers etc.) is essential in order for our readers to make sense of what they are reading.

According to one of the informational text gurus, Nell K. Duke, whom I have had the pleasure to hear speak, "More than anything, struggling readers need plenty of opportunities to read text that makes sense to them. Requiring students to spend most of their school time reading books that are too difficult makes it impossible for them to learn and to develop as readers (Allington, 2002).

"Students should spend most of their school reading time with texts that they can read and want to read. Students tell us that when we give them interesting materials that they can read without too much difficulty, they will read (Ivey & Broaddus, 2001). Providing books that span the content areas, match students' reading levels, and encompass a variety of formats and genres is nonnegotiable if we want struggling readers to improve."

The text that students "want" to read is clearly informational—I see this on a regular basis. This being said, here are some ideas on making informational text a successful part of your reading instruction.

1. Pre-teach informational text features.

By nature, informational text is non-narrative. Here’s a little secret I whisper to my students. It does not need to be read from front to back. Our young readers need to know how to navigate through this genre’s distinct features. I do this in many ways. One way is by creating a tri-fold display that highlights each feature with an example I have cut out of free sample books I often get at publishing booths when attending a conference. For my first and second graders, I like to focus on the title, table of contents, index, glossary, heading, photographs, captions, bold-faced words, labels, diagrams, sidebars and bullets (to start). In front of the display, I place quality informational texts.

informational text display 1 250

2. Model for students how to access information from each informational text features.

I often use mini-lessons to demonstrate how I use a heading, for example, to access information. For example, using Hameray’s Real World Series, I will put the book Who Needs Water? under my document camera and display the heading “People Need Water.” Next, I will talk to my readers about how by reading the information under this heading, I will be searching for facts about who are the people needing water and why. I’ll say, “The heading sets me up to read with a purpose.” I will continue to read and model how I monitor for my understanding—an important good reader strategy.

informational text spread 2 250

3. Support the use of informational text features in guided reading.

For follow up, I always alternate a fiction with a nonfiction selection in my guided reading groups. The Read World Series by Hameray makes this a possibility as it pairs the “story world” with the “real world.” Before my students start to whisper-read a nonfiction book, I guide them through the important features in order to scaffold their understanding. Then, we whisper-read the text and end a guided-reading session with a dialogue on how a chart or table helped us learn information. I always give a few sticky arrows to each reader so that they can mark a heading or caption that helped them access information successfully. We also discuss the author’s intent on how presenting information with a clear visual, such as bullets, is something that is done on purpose for us, the readers.

informational text covers 3 250

4. Keep an informational text journal.

I make my students a journal that has each feature of informational text with a kid-friendly description. As they are reading, they record learned information on the page with the corresponding page that helped them access the information. Below is a sample of an anchor chart with examples of labels and captions. The same chart, without the examples, is a page in their journals. My students love this!

informational text features 4 250

For more information on using informational text visit my blog and click “Informational Text Features” under the “Read All About It” label list on the top right!

~~~

Richard Giso 200I'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.

~~~

For some great examples of informational texts, visit our website by clicking here. Request a catalog for more information by clicking the image below.

Hameray 2016 Catalog Request

Read More

Topics: Richard Giso, K-2 Literacy, Informational Text

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.

IMG 3285

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.

IMG 3290

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.

IMG 3294

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

Story Necklace Worksheet  New Call-to-Action

Read More

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

Using Graphic Organizers with Biographies—with FREE download

Posted by Richard Giso on Jun 18, 2014 9:40:19 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.

Hello all. I’m Rich from Mr. Giso's Room to Read, and this is my third guest blog post featuring the biographies. You can read the earlier ones here and here. The Hameray Biography Series has been a hit in my multi-age classroom. 

Warm weather is (hopefully) upon us! This means many of us may be wrapping up a productive school year or adventuring on an extended year or summer program launch. A goal for my readers over the summer months is that they keep on reading in order to avoid the well-known “summer slide” in reading ability. Our young readers’ reading muscles often weaken from not being kept in shape over the summer.

Giso-12-250Today, I am sharing with you a graphic organizer that works very well with the biography genre and is simple enough for students to use when reading on their own over the summer, as a way to think about the subjects of biographies, about fictional characters, or even about themselves! When using it with a biography, the reader serves as researcher and records important information while reading the biography. The prompts help students collect main ideas from the text. Here are some examples: 

  • I wonder (things you are curious about)
  • I want (tangible and intangible things you would like to have)
  • I try (something you put effort into)
  • I say (words that you express). 

What I like about these prompts is that they place the readers in the shoes of the subject of the biography. This response activity can be placed in an independent center, sent home in a summer reading log, completed during independent reading just before a reading conference or as a send-off response to text after a guided-reading lesson. It is very versatile! You can download the sheet at the bottom of this page!

~~~

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.

~~~

For more information on the Biography series, which was used in this activity, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image on the left below to download an information sheet with key features. To download the graphic organizer, click the worksheet image to the right.

Biography Series Highlights Biography Graphic Organizer Download

 

Read More

Topics: Richard Giso, Informational Text, Biography Series

Bringing History to Life with Biography Day!

Posted by Richard Giso on Jun 6, 2014 11:19:14 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.

Hello all. I’m Rich from Mr. Giso's Room to Read, and this is my second guest blog post specifically featuring a favorite genre of mine—the biography. This year in particular, I find that my second graders are overly enthusiastic about learning all they can about past presidents, explorers, athletes, heroes from all around the world, inventors, scientists and famous Americans. The Hameray Biography Series has been a huge hit in my multi-age classroom. With such captivating titles as Cesar Chavez: Fighter for Worker’s Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt: A Modern First Lady, Steve Jobs: Apple and Beyond, and Muhammad Ali: Heavyweight Champion of the World, how can one resist?

I have always looked forward to celebrating all that my students have learned in a biography unit with my culminating project called “Biography Day.” This fun-filled day consists of students coming to school dressed as their biography person, ready to present to parents and families a biography poster. The poster includes a timeline of ten events presented in the shape of a symbol that represents their person and a “How to Be” poem explaining all the important things needed to “be” their person.

Giso-11-1-500

Let’s start with an example. Above is a former student’s poster of the Beatles. His timeline is done on a guitar—perfect for these well-known musical legends. Here is his “How to Be" poem:

“How to be a Beatle”

Be born between 1940 and 1943.
Have a hard, sad childhood.
Admire Elvis, Lonnie Donegan or Little Richard.
Start a band called the Quarrymen and soon change the name to the Beatles.
Have some songs that you made reach the number one spot on the charts.
Be one of the best rock and roll groups ever.

As you can see, here are the requirements of the “How to Be” poem>

1. The poem should have a title "How to Be [the person you have selected]." For example, “How to be Dr. Martin Luther King.”

2. Your poem should have at least 6 lines that begin with an action word (verb) and cover important things the person has done as well as interesting biographical information.

From there, the students place their poem onto a poster that features a timeline selecting the top ten most important events in their researched person’s life. As a tool, they can utilize the timeline placed at the end of each Hameray biography. Lastly, the poster must incorporate a symbol that means something in the person’s life. For example, a diary can be used for Anne Frank, an early scuba mask for Jacques Cousteau, or the White House for presidents.

Check out this Jackie Robinson timeline done in a bat shape. It unrolls!

Giso-11-2-500 

Giso-11-3-500 

For Biography Day, the students dress up as their person and share their posters with the timeline and the poem. I invite parents, friends, family, and school staff. I beam with pride as I sit back and watch my students celebrate their learning! I hope you can add this idea to your plans for next school year. 

~~~

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.

~~~

For more information on the Biography series, which was used in this activity, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download an information sheet with key features. 

Biography Series Highlights  

 

Read More

Topics: Richard Giso, Informational Text, Biography Series

Pulling Facts from Biographies with Alphaboxes—with FREE download!

Posted by Richard Giso on May 16, 2014 10:51:58 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.

Hello there. Rich from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read here pleased as ever to continue my contributions to the Hameray Literacy Blog. I’m very eager to begin my set of six guest posts that will feature practical and fun uses for titles available in the Hameray Biography Series. Upon their arrival, these books found the perfect home in my classroom. They are so easy to level, since the catalog lists the Fountas and Pinnell level for each title. Don’t they look great in their new home?

Giso-10-1-600

Each title features a glossary, a timeline and a “Learn More” page that highlights websites and other books my readers can consult to research each famous individual further. The books are loaded with photographs, captions and additional information boxes. They support all I have been teaching my readers in terms of navigating through a book’s informational text features.

In no time, I set out to get these biographies in my young readers’ hands. You see, I teach in an Innovation School in Salem, Massachusetts. As part of our model, students transition on each trimester to teams of teachers. In my team, we share first and second graders. The Biography Series is ideal for my second grade readers—especially for this time of the school year where I need to keep them reading in books that pique their interests. As you can see, my readers were all about diving in to these books right away!

Giso-10-2-600 

The activity I’m sharing is called the Biography Alphabox. I set this activity up to be an independent reading component to my literacy block where my readers that can read independently get to read these biographies. It features a table with each letter of the alphabet. As students read, they record key words or phrases that start with the appropriate letter. For example, the student below dove right in to reading about Anne Frank. For “A” he selected amazing author, as she is well known for her diary. For “C” he chose confident and crowded, for obvious reasons. From the time line featured in the back of the book, he estimated that she was in hiding for about two years; this went under the letter “Y.” For me, this Biography Alphabox activity is sort of nontraditional. It gives readers the luxury to think out of the box. I’m not telling them key facts about their individuals. The information is coming from them. What can be better?

Giso-10-3-600

My readers respond very well to this activity, which I’m featuring as a download. In fact, I have several “biographers” that are on to their third book. I hope your students get some good use out of this activity. As always, thanks for reading!

~~~

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.

~~~

For more information on the Biography series, which was used in this activity, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image to the left below to download an information sheet with key features. To download the Alphaboxes Worksheet, click the image to the right!

Biography Series Highlights Alphaboxes

 

Read More

Topics: Richard Giso, Informational Text, Biography Series

Literacy Tip: Puzzle Piece Match-Ups

Posted by Richard Giso on Apr 11, 2014 11:02:00 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.

Hello again, It’s Rich from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read. I’m back with another idea to add to your “literacy toolbox.” As always, this tip it teacher tested and approved by yours truly.

Are you looking for an easy way to reinforce a feature of informational text and boost your readers’ comprehension? Try this activity. You will need a nonfiction reader (with an index in the back), a scissors, a writing tool, and some index cards.

This project is a terrific follow up after a guided reading lesson. Begin by referring readers back to the index. Have them select a certain number of key topics listed in the index. I use many titles from the Download series for this. They are perfect for my advanced second-grade readers. Even my most reluctant readers gravitate towards these titles in my library.

Divide index cards in half. I like to get a little creative so that they resemble puzzle pieces. See these examples below. They have some key words from an index on them.

Giso_9-2

Using the book’s index, readers look up a set number of key words or phrases and put together a sentence or two that defines them. The index will help your readers navigate through the text. In this example below, my reader today put on one side the term “hedgehog” (listed in the index) with the phrase “eats at night” (evidence from the text).

Giso_9-3

Repeat this for many index cards. Then, have students cut the pieces and place them in a bag. For follow up, have readers swap books and bags of puzzle pieces. Partners reassemble the index card halves as they read to monitor their comprehension of the text. With spring in the air, I developed this strategy to keep my readers motivated and attentive to important terms while reading. Have fun with this literacy tip.

~~~

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.

~~~

For more information on the Download series, which was used in this activity, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download an information sheet with key features.

Download Series Highlights

Read More

Topics: Richard Giso, Informational Text, Download, Reluctant Readers

Classroom Library Organization

Posted by Richard Giso on Mar 21, 2014 10:45:00 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.

Making the Most of Classroom Libraries

Greetings! It’s Rich Giso from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read, excited to be blogging about something both my college students and my teacher colleagues often seek my advice on. Setting up a classroom library can be a very daunting task, as there are so many questions to consider. How much space do I have? How should I categorize my books? Should I have certain books leveled? Where do I put those special readalouds I do every year? What makes the best storage? What kinds of print, other than books, should I include? I’m hoping to offer you some pointers by sharing with you my classroom library via photographs. Keep in mind, however, that I’m in my sixteenth year of teaching, meaning that I have a vast collection of reading material available to my young readers that I have accumulated through the years. Start small. Your collection will grow from year to year with the help of yard sales, retiring teachers, eBay, bonus points from book orders, grant proposals, parent donations, etc.

Giso-8-1As far as book storage goes, I use a combination of dish washing tubs and plastic/metal coolers used to store ice in order to keep drinks cool. My tubs are all orange and blue so that they match my classroom theme. This serves to make things look both organized and uniform. ALL books should be stored with the covers facing out towards the reader. This is important for book browsing. Notice how I have a combination of books sorted by level and by topic. This is really important. My young readers need to be picking from the right book level in order for them to grow stronger as readers. I give them a range of books to select from (a tub that is easy, one that is just right and one that is a little challenging). My mature readers have more freedom when selecting books, because they are more experienced in picking books that are a good fit for their interest and reading ability.

In addition to sorting books by levels, I have many categories that highlight Caldecott awards, poetry, science and mathematics books, wordless books, books on America, legends, fables and fairy tales, books from different cultures, wordless books, alphabet books, biographies and books about history.

I also have these shelves I turned on their sides to serve as benches. This is a perfect area for buddy reading.

Giso-8-3

For those special books—ones that I use on the holidays, ones that teach topics such as parts of speech, punctuation, etc. and my special readalouds, I utilize a shelf out of reach so that they are always there when I need them.

I have special spinning shelves for books arranged according to my favorite authors (Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Jan Brett, Bill Martin Jr., etc.). Periodically, I move them to a display that includes lots of photographs and biographic tidbits about our featured author. We are currently studying Patrica Polacco.

I have a number of informational texts and periodicals for kids as well as pamphlets, travel brochures and menus for them to browse. These have special places in my library too.

Giso-8-6Giso-8-7

For topics that we are studying, I pull out books and feature them as well. Here you see a Gail Gibbons collection because we are writing teaching books. In social studies we are studying American symbols, so I have those books on display.

Giso-8-8

In addition to these pictures, I store my dictionaries in my writing center and have a wire wrack display that showcases my holiday/seasonal books that changes on a regular basis. To store multiple copies of the same book, I have a guided reading cart on wheels so that they are easily accessible.

I’m pleased to offer you a “tour” of my library. It’s the heart of every classroom, so it’s work giving it some attention! Happy reading!

~~~

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.

Read More

Topics: Classroom Libraries, Richard Giso, K-2 Literacy, Classroom Organization

Increasing Reading Comprehension with "Code-It"—with FREE Download!

Posted by Richard Giso on Mar 3, 2014 8:18:00 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.

Increase Reading Comprehension

Hi again! It’s Rich Giso from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read, pleased to be sharing another comprehension-boosting idea for you to try with your readers. With the popularity of the Reader’s Workshop model, there have been a lot of anchor charts out there to assist students in what is called “text coding.” The whole idea is to give students a hands-on approach (which always works well) to monitor the manner in which they interact with text, thus increasing their comprehension and awareness about the importance of metacognition while reading.

code it 300During guided reading, we prompt for understanding in order to boost our readers’ comprehension. This scaffolding is necessary in order to successfully introduce more complex texts one level at a time. I’ll often ask “Did you know this before?” or “Can you make a connection here?” By doing this, I am selecting the points in the reading in which I feel will trigger a connection. This guided way of interacting with text is great, but does it transfer to my students’ independent reading when I am unavailable to facilitate their understanding? I’m sure it does to an extent, but I’d like more. I’m worried that many of my readers read too passively without either my support or some sort of written response or record sheet that forces them to pay close attention. 

I’ve devised a way to keep reader engaged in the text while reading; it's called a “Code-It!” card. Here is how it works. First, I copy the “Code-It!” cards onto colored cardstock, trim them, and laminate them for durability. Next, I use a black permanent marker and sticky tabs to draw each coding symbol on the non-clear side. The tabs are placed in their corresponding row. I’ve picked easy-to-remember symbols such as a question mark to mean “I don’t get it,” or an eye to mean, “I can see that (visualize).”

code tab 1 300code tab 2 300

As my readers read independently or whisper-read in guided reading, they remove the sticky tab and place it in the part of the text for which they want to code their thinking. In this manner, they have the visual of the sticky to scaffold them to interact in parts of the text that make sense to them—not parts I have picked out beforehand. After reading, I can bring students together and have a book talk about their thinking throughout the text navigated by the sticky tabs. The sticky tabs can then be returned to the “Code It!” card; they stay sticky for a pretty long time. I’ve shared the directions and the “Code It!” card template, so grab some sticky tabs and give this a try! You can download the card template at the bottom of this page!

~~~

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.

~~~

To download the card template, click the image to the left below. To learn more about the Download series of books (from which images from the book Predators were shown in today's post), click the image to the right below to download an information sheet with series highlights. Or you can click here to visit our website!

Code-It Card Template Download Download Series Highlights

Read More

Topics: Richard Giso, K-2 Literacy, Struggling Readers, Striving Readers, Reading Comprehension

Using Literacy Frames to Aid Guided Reading

Posted by Richard Giso on Feb 14, 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.

Using Literacy Frames

In one of my favorite professional books (Linda Hoyt's book Revisit, Reflect, Retell) the author suggests using "literacy frames" to serve as a visual for children to really look closely at a word that happens to give them trouble.

We often tell children to "sound it out" when they come across a new or troublesome word, as long as it's not a sight word with irregular spellings. Many times we instruct readers to look for patterns in words such as "chunks" and "word families." We may even see if the children can find what I call a "baby alert"; this is a smaller, "baby" word found in a larger word such as seeing the word "cat-" in the larger word "catcher." Also, it's always a great idea to encourage children to use what they know about phonics. Can they find a blend (cl-), digraph (-th), ending (-ing), etc.?

The literacy frames let readers interact with unknown words by first framing the word in its entirety, then honing in on the parts of the word that the children can decode. It works because it's concrete! As they sound it out, they maneuver the frame.

In the classroom, I call these valuable tools our "word framers." I have a box of dozens of them in my guided reading supply shelf. Each time we read in guided reading, students take one. Also, students know they can get up and get a word framer whenever they wish throughout the day. I have sent these home with parents to use with at-home reading, and I have used them in reading clinics, tutoring, teacher training and in interventions. They work really well! I have a large-sized word framer [see top photograph] for me to use when modeling how to use the word framers by reading a big book or a chart.

giso 6 1 300

Let's look at an example. Say a student comes to the word "away" in the text and is unfamiliar with the word. To help the student be successful in reading it, we must show the student how to dissect this word. The literacy frame works by framing perhaps the "-ay." The student may say "I know this says /ay/ because I know the word 'day,'" and would frame the "-ay.” A child may also frame the first letter "a" and note that it either has a long or short sound. In addition, the child may frame the word-part "way" and read that first, thus verbalizing that placing an "a" in front of "way" results in "away." By maneuvering the frame, the child fully understands word attack strategies in a much more hands-on manner.

giso 6 2 300

To make the frames, fold a long, thin piece of cardstock in half. Cut and save a rectangular strip from the middle. Then staple together the open ends of the large piece. Slip the cut-out piece in and staple the other end as pictured. Enjoy!

~~~

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.

Read More

Topics: Richard Giso, K-2 Literacy, Guided Reading, Phonics

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all

Follow Me