Friday, October 25, 2013

Super Sleuth Blog Hop Stop #15 - Clicking & Clunking

I'm so excited! Some reading specialist and literacy coach bloggers asked me to be a part of their blog here I am! Love blogging world!

Clicking and Clunking

Part of being a great reader involves being able to figure out unknown words in context. Good readers are like detectives who use all the clues they can find in the text to determine meaning of unknown words. Here's a great strategy to use to teach kids how to find unknown words and then how to figure out what they mean.

First, you start with the metaphor of clicking and clunking. You ask students to picture themselves at a fancy party - like a wedding or a quinceañera or any other party they would be dressed up for. Tell students to take note of the shoes they're wearing, and how they click-click-click across the tile floor as they walk and dance.

Explain to the kids that as they are dancing, they are clicking through the party and having a fun time. When we read, and we're understanding the text, we are clicking through it. Click, click, click - I get it - It makes sense - I understand the text!

Now, back to the party - Explain that you are having so much fun dancing with family and friends that you don't notice the wall there, and Clunk! You hit it!

Well, in reading, you clunk when you come to a word, or a phrase, or even a whole part of the text that gets you confused. "Clunk Words" in my class are unknown words. After my students get the hang of this, they will tell me all the time what their clunk words are or the places that they clunked. Identifying them are only half the battle. After kids can identify them, you have to give them tools to figure them out.

I made a little organizer for my middle school students to use:

After I taught students how to "click" and "clunk," I then had to go on to give them a mini-lesson on connotation and a review on parts of speech. The key here is that they need to try and come up with a synonym, without looking the word up in the dictionary. They also should substitute it to see if it sounds right. After I taught this strategy to kids, they would do two clunk words from their Just Right books each week, in addition to all the other strategy work I required. I would change up the color of the papers because those middle school kiddos are pretty savvy and will try and reuse them...but with status of the class it's almost impossible to fool Brezek!

You can find this as a freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It will be free during the blog hop (October 25-27), and then it will be a paid item. Hope you can find a way to use it with your students!

Now that you've learned about Clunk Words, you're ready for my clue. On your form, you can record the letter...

Thanks for stopping by BigTime Literacy today! I hope you can see the value in the clicking and clunking lesson as much as I do! If you'd like to hear more about the work I do with teachers on my campus or stay up-to-date with future events, don't be shy! Click the Bloglovin or Google Friends button to follow my blog. I hope to have you back here again, but for now, you're onto the next stop on the hop!

Have a great weekend!
This reading strategy and strategy organizer are based on the following reference:
Klinger, J. (1999). Promoting reading comprehension, content learning, and English acquisition through collaborative strategic reading (CSR). The Reading Teacher, 52(7), 738-747.

28. The Rungs of Reading

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicago Public Schools: I'm Outraged!

Yesterday at grad school, I was asked to read an article from the Chicago Tribune. It was a perspective piece entitled Re-envision CPS as a democratic community (October 16, 2013). This article detailed five ways that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) could align their values to reflect democracy for the students it serves.

            Have you ever thought about how democracy plays out in schools…or how it should? Through my work at Arizona State in Literacy, I learned that the highest form of literacy happens when students are using it to make their place in the world better. As teachers, we need to make sure students that students not only understand their rights, but also know what to do if something isn’t fair. The funny thing about CPS is that they are running their district very much opposite of what a democratic school system would look like. Did you know…

1.     The Mayor appoints Chicago’s school board?
2.     School board meetings are held during school hours? (Which also means many parents are working during that time?)
3.     Chicago’s Student Bill of Rights is lacking?
4.     Many students don’t protest unfair practices because they are in fear of suspension?

Read on to hear my responses to each of these...

The School Board
            I work in Berwyn South School District 100. In our district, the board members are accountable to the voters. If things aren’t going well, the voters have a voice. In CPS, that is not the case.

As I don’t work in Chicago Public Schools, I’m not sure exactly who is appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but I’m guessing there is a lot of politics going on– Rahm gets his guys on the board who will vote along with his initiatives. (Does he have a background in education?) This isn’t what is in the best interest of children. School board members should be people who are connected closely to education – they have studied it, they are former teachers, they have children in the system, or they have a deep passion for doing what is right by children. The mayor appointing school board members is the opposite of democracy.

School Board Meetings
            Are you outraged? I just learned that these meetings are during the school day. I wish it would be appropriate in this forum to use words to demonstrate how livid I am about this, but as an professional, that I cannot do….

How can these school board meetings be participatory if they are happening when students, teachers, and most families are at work? How are teachers', students', and families' voices heard? I think the fact that these meetings are scheduled when no one is available says it all: we don’t value your input.

In BSD 100, our school board meetings are on the last Wednesday of each month. They begin around 7pm and students from each school are recognized each week. (I think my district does a great job of getting teachers, students, and families there in this way!) There are snacks, and breaks, and though they may be long and happen after a long day at work, it’s clear that BSD 100 values what the teachers, students and families have to say about their district. They want to do what is best for students, and they align their meetings to make every voice heard. This is democracy.

Bill of Rights for Students and Families
            In the article I read, it mentions how, CPS, “took the admirable step this year of adding the right ‘to express opinions, support causes, assemble to discuss issues, and engage in peaceful and responsible demonstrations’ to the Student Code of Conduct.” Isn’t that nice of CPS? Now students can express their opinions and get together to discuss issues? In the past they couldn’t? I’m confused.

            How could a school district forbid students rights that are given to them in our country’s Bill of Rights? How is Chicago Public Schools greater than the United States of America? Honestly, I’m outraged that these behaviors were forbidden.

I know that our district has a Student Code of Conduct, but I’m not really sure if it outlines student demonstrations or right to assemble. Honestly though, I can’t see how our district would impose a punishment for students participating in this kind of activity. Because our school board meetings happen at a time when most people are available to attend, this is at least one platform for students, teachers, and families to make their voices heard.

Responding respectfully to student dissent
            The article outlined a situation this past April when students from Voices of Youth in Chicago Education put together a peaceful protest during the Prairie State Achievement Exam. Before the protest took place, students were told that they would be suspended for participating in it and that they would not be able to make up the exam. The protest went on, but probably without the amount of students that would have participated had they not been threatened with the above consequences. This leaves me wondering: Is this a respectful way to quiet the voices of our future community members?

            I believe these kinds of warnings to students, along with what was mentioned above about the school board, school board meetings, and school code of conduct are all measures used to silence the members of our community. We are lucky in that we live in a country of where we have the right of freedom of speech – so why does Chicago Public Schools believe they should take those rights away from our students?

            The school district I work for in Berwyn educates children kindergarten through eighth grade. In the four years I have worked there, I can’t remember a time when we ran into a situation like this, but I can’t see the same thing happening in Berwyn that did in Chicago.

            I think we can do best by our students if we teach them that their voice matters. We can’t do that if we silence them with fear of suspension and keep them out of our school board meetings. I think Chicago Public Schools has a lot of work to do to help their students understand that their voice matters, but I don’t think anything can change until we push for an elected school board. We need to elect people who will work for what is in the best interest of children.

Okay, I'm done now. 

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: Our iceburg is melting: Changing and succeeding under any circumstances

So I'm working on my Principal's endorsement and one of our assignments in the supervision class is that we read a book about administration just for the pleasure and enjoyment of a book club read. I really loved this assignment!

I received many great suggestions but in the end went with this read:

I chose it because I wanted something that was on the lighter side (and a fable sounded right up my alley!) What I didn't know at the time was just how great this read was going to be.

The book is all about these penguins who live on an iceberg. One penguin, Fred (he's the one with the briefcase in the cover), is a very observant penguin and notices how the iceberg is melting. So he has to figure out what to do. He goes to Alice, one of the 10 penguins on the Leadership Council, because, as Fred puts it, she is a penguin who gets stuff done.

Fred takes Alice out to survey his findings and even though she was a little hesitant at first, she asks tons of questions and then agrees with Fred that yes, there is a problem.

She goes on to tell the rest of the Leadership Council and they listen to her, but they are skeptical. Here's the first reason why I love this book: The things the penguins do and say are exactly what some humans may do or say. It has the penguins on the Leadership Council wondering, "Was Alice having personal problems, perhaps with her marriage?!"

Anyways, I'm not going to get into the whole fable, here, but this is why this is a great book for leadership:

  • It's a simple fable that is fun. It's easy to understand, causes you to identify with one of the penguins right away, and shows a process for problem-solving.
  • It shows how you can have a list of steps to follow to conquer a goal, but it's not cut and dry because the people who carry out the tasks have feelings, opinions, and personalities that have to be taken into consideration.
  • It shows how it takes a team effort to accomplish a great task.
  • It shows just how important common sense and communication are to the group as a whole.
  • It's a low-threat read that can stimulate great discussion among a group of people working toward a common goal.

The bottom line? I loved this book and would highly recommend it to others in the future. Thank you to LeeAnn Lindsey for the recommendation!

Have you read this book? Thoughts?

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Words Their Way Implementation in Kinder

Last week I was so happy to show Ms. Optie how to do Words Their Way with her Kinders. Now, I've never taught kinder before, so that was new for me, but with Melinda's knowledge about kinder + my knowledge about WTW, we made a fab team! 

So on Monday, we started by introducing the kids to the sounds and the picture cards. Our kinders aren't reading text yet, but that doesn't mean they can't read pictures! We worked on the sounds /b/ (bell), /m/ (mouse), /r/ (ring), and /s/ (sun). Each of the four sounds has an anchor word, which I listed in parenthesis.

We started by showing the kids how to say the sounds, like this: "Mmm, mmm, mouse. Buh, buh, bell. Rrr rrr, ring. Sss, sss, sun." Here you can see me telling the kids, "My turn..." and I model, and then I point to them and say, "Your turn..." and they repeat.

Monday was also the day that we intro-ed all the words. There were some pictures that all the kids didn't know, like rake and roof. So we did a lot of gestures - using our rake, and making a roof with our hands. The gestures and acting out are good for the ELL kids, but also just engaging, good instruction for all the kids.

After we finished all together at the meeting space by the Smart Board, kids went back to their seats to cut out and then do their first sort. Looking back, we probably gave them too many directions all at once. We should have had them cut, then come back, so we could SHOW them how to do the sorts.

Here is one of Melinda's kiddos sorting for the first time. It was helpful to have the kids point and touch each picture as they said their sounds and words. Also, notice that the headers with the letter and anchor picture are in yellow. The kids know that they yellow cards go up at the top.

On Monday, after we finally finished sorting, we had kids draw pictures of words with the sounds. Again, we didn't do directions well enough (chalk that up to my inexperience with kinder...but I'm learning!) but the kids did some great work! Here's one boy doing a drawing:

Here's Sophie's /s/ words. I sat with her and asked her what each picture was and wrote those words out for her. Notice that she drew circles....I explained to her that circles was an oddball because even though she heard the /s/ sound, it was spelled with a c, so we crossed it off. But I was so excited for the see-saw, since that was not a picture in the word sort! Extension of learning - awesome!

And here is Erica's work. Let's see if I can remember everything: a boy, a bunny, a scooper, (forgot the next B word), and a road. Such smart thinking! Scooper wasn't in our picture sort. So proud of her!

Moving on to Tuesday, the kids began with the sorting again. One of the goals with WTW is to develop speed and automaticity, so we were well on our way to figuring out the procedures for the sorts.

On Tuesday (or maybe this was Wednesday?) after we did the sorting, we brought some guided reading books (Fountas & Pinnel,  level B) so kids could look in the books for words that began with the words we were studying that day. Each child got a book and a paper to write words they found.

The kids had to differentiate between initial letter and finding the letters in the middle of the words. They were able to find the words and make the connection of word study to authentic books. Well, I guess they're leveled readers, but an important part of WTW is that the kids understand that all the sorting, comparing, contrasting, and constructing of knowledge is applied in books.

On the next day, I think Wednesday, we began again with a word sort. After, we had the kids using magazines to find pictures of words that started with each of the sounds. They pasted them on a page that had four squares, each with the letters and the anchor picture. I think the novelty of the magazines worked well, but....

Marshmallows and Ribs

It was like a magazine explosion with the kids! Scraps everywhere, but they were having fun!

So cute - look at this little guy with his four pictures: mouth, can't remember the b word, red, and forgot the s word. He was so excited....and so was I!

We finished up on Friday by doing a sort first. Here is one of our ELL teachers, Ms. Escobedo, working with one of the kiddos she services:

It was awesome because Gissel said that she could totally see growth in the kids over the course of the week! And I noticed it too. By the end of the week, they knew that the yellow cards went at the top, they knew how to sort, how to say the sounds and letters. Joey stopped asking me, "Ms. Brezek, where does this word go?" (To which I always replied, "Joey, say the word! What sound do you hear?")

After our last sort, I was ready to find out how much the kids learned, so we did some "secret" practice.

I asked Melinda how we can separate them since I wanted them to do their own work. We knew this was assessment, they thought it was just a secret game.

Each child got the chart below on paper....

Then we showed them 10 pictures. The first 6 were pictures from the word sort we did all week, but then there were four more to extend their learning. We did bed for /b/, moon for /m/, rainbow for /r/, and sad for /s/. As we showed each picture to the kids, we had them draw it in the column it belonged.

In between, we asked them to show us they were ready by setting down their pencils and folding their hands. This little one looks like a little angel in this picture, doesn't she?

Well, I haven't seen the results yet, but I'm excited that we have concrete data to inform our instruction about what each child needs. I'm already thinking of ways to track this data. I'm kinda excited about that nerdy or what? I get excited by data collection?

So that's one week of WTW in kinder. Love it and Melinda has said she thinks it's just what they need. The best thing about it? The kids are making their own meaning by comparing and contrasting sounds. Plus - they are building their vocabularies with new words. Next week on the list: goose, pail, nails, tire. Good stuff!

Well, I'm going to watch the rest of this ASU - Notre Dame game. We better come out on top!

Happy Saturday!

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