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Professional Development for Close Reading: April 2014

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How Do You Bring the Leading National Experts on “Close Reading” to Your School?

By Dan Rocchio, Ed. D.

Professor Emeritus

Adjunct Faculty

Maryville University

 

A Step-by-Step Guide for Helping Teachers Implement the Close Reading of Complex Texts

 In 2012 I wrote an article for the Suburban IRA Newsletter that highlighted practical strategies for implementing the common core standards at the elementary grade levels.  In that article I summarized a model for the “close reading process of complex text” developed by Fisher, Frey and Lapp ( 2012) in a text titled Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading.  Additional depth was provided by articles and videos (Principal Leadership, 2012a and 2012 b).  But this latest text, Rigorous Reading: 5 Access Points for Comprehending Complex Texts (Fisher & Frey, 2013) brings the work of the authors “up close and personal.”  Specifically this book provides numerous videos of elementary and secondary grade level classrooms along with a step-by-step “Professional Learning Guide.”  If your school is implementing this critical instructional component of CCSS-ELA, please consider this resource.

The Videos Bring Life to the Text?

The videos provide authentic classroom examples that clarify the five access points for comprehending complex texts laid out in the text.  The videos show teachers how to

·      model reading strategies and set purposes for reading

·      conduct “close reading” and “scaffolded reading” lessons

·      conduct collaborative conversations with complex texts

·      help students evolve into the independent reading of complex texts

·      develop assessments for complex texts

Strengths of the Videos and the Text

The authors have selected videos that follow the model of close reading set out in their earlier text (Fisher, Frey and Lapp, 2012).  Close reading involves the deep critical comprehension of short complex passages or short passages within longer texts ( e.g., novels, primary source documents).  Fisher and Frey carefully explain when we should use close reading.   According to the authors close reading requires one to read with a pencil or annotate the text, reread to clarify confusing parts and finally to write or talk about our deep understanding of the text.  The teaching steps include the following:

·      the teacher establishes a brief purpose for reading the text but does not provide a summary of the text nor background information that might take away from the student’s struggle to make sense of the text; in some cases brief background information may be necessary for students to be successful with the an initial reading of the text

·      students read the text independently and note words they figured out on their own or ideas that confused them; the teacher carefully observes the difficulties students encounter

·      the first discussion led by the teacher might include the students sharing what amazed and/or confused them

·      using what was learned from the initial discussion, the teacher leads a read aloud and think aloud of the text that models how the teacher figured out main ideas or key vocabulary

·      teacher leads another discussion using text dependent questions that focus on the literal, inferential and critical understanding of the text

·      teacher asks each student to write about the understandings garnered in the prior discussion

Although all the videos do not follow each of the steps noted above, the best video examples of the model ( i.e., see the companion website www.corwin.com/rigorousreading) are annotated below:

·      Video 3.1 is a whole class lesson with 6th graders in a language arts classroom.  The outstanding part of this video shows how a teacher coaches her students on the process of finding the main idea in a short passage after she realizes that they didn’t get it during the first reading.

·      Video 3. 4 is a whole class lesson with upper elementary language arts students during a unit on inventions.  This teacher does an outstanding job in these areas:

o   coaching children back into a second and third reading of the text to clarify key ideas

o   displaying a clear and efficient system for annotating the text

o   developing an authentic, high level formative assessment over several lessons

Why Are These Videos A Better Choice for Professional Development than Other Video Lessons on Close Reading?

Two other popular sources of video lessons for the close reading of complex texts are listed here:

·      http://www.achievethecore.org/steal-these-tools/close-reading-exemplars

·      http://commoncore.americaachieves.org/

Unfortunately, most of these sample lessons do not include the teacher modeling of reading strategies, or the gradual release of responsibility framework that would eventually help students to read these complex texts independently and proficiently.  The sample lessons along with the “Professional Leaning Guide” in the Fisher and Frey( 2013) text are consistent with best practice and the research related to developing independent learners.

What Additional Step Can Schools and Teachers Take to Achieve the Goal of the Fisher and Frey Text?

As you work through the “Professional Learning Guide” it is imperative that you and your colleagues develop and teach close reading lessons within your classrooms. The teaching of these lessons along with appropriate feedback by literacy coaches, and the data analysis of student work samples can eventually lead to the development of model video-recorded lessons that can be shared among teaches in your district.  As these lessons are developed and refined it is crucial that teachers identify the context for these lessons.  Model lessons can only be used effectively when the developers carefully explain the conditions surrounding the lesson; these would include the key characteristics of the students, the purpose of the lesson in the context of the unit of study, and the social dynamics of the group.

What is the End Goal?

As we work together to tackle the challenges presented by the CCSS-ELA it is important that we keep a sharp focus on the end goal: to help children read, write and talk critically so that they can take part in civil discourse related to key issues (e.g., the development of mental and physical health, a peaceful school, the sustainability of our environment, friendship, equity, preparing oneself for work).  Along with parents it is also our responsibility to help children develop the skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary to work and play as responsible citizens in our democracy.  I welcome responses on this blog or please contact me at drocchio@maryville.edu if you wish further information related to this article.

References

Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2012a).  Text complexity. Principal Leadership. Retrieved July 27, 2012 from

            http://www.nassp.org/tabid/3788/default.aspx?topic=Instructional_Leader_0112

Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2012b).  The perils of preteaching. Retrieved July 27, 2012 from

            http://www.nassp.org/tabid/3788/default.aspx?topic=Instructional_Leader_0512

Fisher, D. Frey, N. & Lapp, D. (2012).  Text complexity: Raising rigor in reading.

            Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.

Fisher, D. , & Frey, N. (2013).  Rigorous reading: 5 access points for comprehending

            complex texts.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Literacy.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State

School Officers. (2010a). Common core state standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Washington, DC: Authors. Retrieved March 14, 2014 from www.corestandards.org/assets/ ELA-Literacy.

 

 

 

 

Virtual Field Trips: April 2014

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Web Wonders

Mary-Eileen Rufkahr

 The final countdown has begun. It’s almost time to put the final touches on another school year (and maybe make up a few snow days in the process.)  Except for the beginning of the school year, no other time period seems so filled with a sense of urgency: to accomplish one more learning goal; introduce one more spectacular book; give the students one final experience they will remember for a lifetime (or at least until August.)

Time and money are tight for most of us.  Field trips are often being scaledback or eliminated entirely.  With access to an internet-enabled computer, teachers can take their students on a virtual field trip, tying the experience into the theories being studied or novels being discussed. Check out Web Wonders to find out about some fabulous field trips that you don’t have to leave the school building for!

Visiting Colonial Williamsburg is as simple as clicking ontohttp://www.history.org/history/teaching/eft/index.cfmThis site provides material suitable for students in grades 4 – 8 along with comprehensive teacher guides.

Traveling to the Arctic need not be time consuming or expensive when you go via the Artic Adventure at http://www.polarhusky.com/.  Designed for grades K – 12, the programming uses Arctic dogsled expeditions and Arctic research as the vehicle through which students gain an understanding of natural and social sciences while they experience the cultures of the Arctic. Standards-aligned curricula are also available.

Scholastic’s Global Trek, allows elementary level students to choose from a list of countries and are asked to keep a travel journal in order to write about different topics during their online trip.  Check out the site at:

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/globaltrek/.

Google Lit Trips are free, downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous and popular literature on the surface of Google Earth. At each location along the journey, students in grades kindergarten through high school will find place marks with pop-up windows containing a variety of resources including relevant media, discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references made in that particular portion of the story.  Google Lit Trips give a 3-D reading experience by placing students ‘inside the story’ traveling alongside the characters( e.g.,  one can look through the windshield of that old jalopy in The Grapes of Wrath or waddle alongside Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s duckling family in Make Way for Ducklings.

Google Lit Trips aren’t intended to circumvent the need to actually do the reading. They are designed to stimulate higher level thinking skills and to connect the story’s themes and messages to the issues of the real world in which students live.  Google Lit Trips is at:  http://googlelittrips.com/GoogleLit/Home.html.

Meet Me at the Corner, Virtual Field Trips for Kids takes elementary level students and their teachers on a journey to meet fascinating people and experience rare situations all over the world.

New educational, kid-friendly episodes are uploaded every two weeks. Included are links to fun websites and a learning corner with follow-up questions on the material presented. The Big Apple Book Club provides video book reviews for kids by kids.  Meet Me at the Corner is at:  http://www.meetmeatthecorner.org/

Voices from the Library: April 2014

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VOICES FROM THE LIBRARY

Lucy Crown

 

Title: Painter and Ugly

Author-Illustrator: Robert J. Blake

Age Range: 5-8

Publisher: Philomel

Copyright: 2011

Grade Level: K-3

ISBN: 978-0399243233

Painter and Ugly was one of the Missouri Association of School Librarian’s Show-Me Award nominees for this school year. I read all ten of the nominated books aloud to my 1-3 grade students. Of all of the books on this year’s list, the students’ favorite was Painter and Ugly.  Just one look at the cover and it drew the students into the book. Animal books are usually a favorite of school children, and this one was no exception. It is a story of two sled dogs, Painter and Ugly, and the love and friendship that they have with one another.  They do everything together; eat, sleep and of course, race. They are eventually sold to different owners and have to adjust to life without the other. They are finally re-united in the end and finish the Jr. Iditarod race together.  The story is well written, and the illustrations are detailed and beautiful. This book is perfect for anyone who is a dog lover or students interested in sled dogs, huskies, or the Iditarod Race.  

Membership Update: April 2014

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St. LOUIS SUBURBAN COUNCIL OF INTERNATIONAL READING ASSOCIATION

Jody Rozbicki, Membership chair

 St. Louis Suburban Council of International Reading Association is one chartered council community out of 1000 plus, throughout 60 countries, around the globe. International Reading Association’s local councils provide an opportunity for the area’s diverse group of professionals to connect with others who share a passion for literacy, instruction, and student achievement.   IRA encourages professional relationships through the council experience.  Relationship building occurs in a council when members plan and participate in formal and informal learning opportunities for developing leadership skills in literacy.  St. Louis Suburban Council also opens the door for literacy professionals to engage in leadership through a variety of service programs and special book projects for children and families in our own community.  IRA recognizes councils’ efforts in leadership through Honor Council and the Show-Me Awards yearly recognition.  St. Louis Suburban Council been recognized as an Honor Council and Show-Me Award winning Council for many years.

We received the Honor Council and Show-Me Awards for 2014.

We want to thank the Officers and Board of Directors for the amount of time and effort they put into the projects that were submitted for Honor Council and Show-Me Awards.  Mary Eileen Rufkahr, 2013-14 President-Elect, was the chair of the committee.

 We are starting a New Membership Drive for

2014-2015

 One hundred and seventy-three literacy professionals have recognized the opportunities St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA has to offer, and they joined in 2013-2014.  New and renewal memberships are for April 2014 to June 30, 2015.  Membership forms are in the April 2014 newsletter and on the website.

Mary Eileen Rufkahr, 2014-15 President, and Mitzi Brammer, 2013-14 Past President, will reach out this summer to identify representatives to connect with educators in their school districts who are interested in St. Louis Suburban Council membership.  Mitzi and Mary Eileen will be contacting school principals to promote our council and express our desire to increase membership and attendance at meetings. 

104 members attended last year’s Spring Banquet 2013.  We are looking forward to a wonderful crowd again this year.  See you April 30, 2014 at Ladue Middle School for St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA’s Celebration for Literacy.  

It is always fun to gather with friends and share stories about teaching what we all love, READING.  

 About the St. Louis Suburban Council

·       Members represent more than twenty-five public school districts, many archdiocesan and other parochial and private schools, seven universities, and representatives of textbook and trade book publishers.

·       Members include administrators, classroom teachers, librarians, reading specialists, literacy coaches, special education teachers, ESOL teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, and university faculty.

·       Educators and administrators who work with students from kindergarten through university levels are represented.

·       With nearly 200 members, this is one of the largest local councils of the International Reading Association of Missouri.

·       Our council has won awards at state and national levels for the quality of our programs and the service we provide to our members and community.

·       We provide material to support family literacy, both locally and internationally.

·       We support international efforts to improve literacy across cultures.

·       We offer a mini-grant of $250-$500 for a member to implement a literacy-focused project in the classroom.

·       We provide networking opportunities for educators throughout the Greater St. Louis Area.

 

 

 

President’s Message: February 2014

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Hello Everyone,

As I am writing this message, it is a frigid 2° outside. It is a workday, though, so there will be no “staying in, cozying up under a warm blanket and reading a good book”! I only wish that were true. Sometimes it is a struggle to push ourselves out the door when the weather is cold. However, once we get to our destination, everything seems to work out okay and our day moves along as it normally would (at least in most cases). Why do I mention this scenario? Our next general St. Louis Suburban IRA Council meeting is Thursday, February 6. We would love to see as many of our members as possible at this meeting. It may be cold, but the weather inside will be warm, you will have opportunities to see friends and colleagues, and most importantly, you will receive some outstanding professional learning.

I am pleased that Dr. Nicholas Husbye, Assistant Professor at University of Missouri-St. Louis, will be speaking to our group on integrating technology into literacy. His areas of expertise and research include digital literacy, multimodal instruction, and technology. With Common Core State Standards now in implementation, it will be more important than ever to stay on top of our game concerning the use of technology when it comes to reading and writing instruction. You won’t want to miss his engaging presentation. We will also have our annual poster contest. PLEASE encourage your students K-12 to enter a submission (guidelines are on our website).  We especially would like to see entries from our secondary students. Remember, attendees at the meeting are the judges. Everyone gets to vote on his/her favorite poster!

Finally, one thing we are trying to do at St. Louis Suburban is boost our membership. It’s not about numbers, though. It’s about finding educators, librarians, and community members who are passionate about literacy and ensuring that we are growing future readers and writers. We would like to encourage you to invite a colleague or friend to come with you to our February meeting. Are you friends with your local librarian or school librarian? Invite him or her! OR…reach out to your building principal if you work in a school setting and invite him or her to the meeting. School leaders have the power to make change. We need them in our organization, too. What will your goal be for this meeting? Think about it and we’ll see you February 6!

Mitzi Brammer, Ph.D.

President

Parents Can Help Support the Common Core Standards in Literacy:February 2014

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How Parents Can Help Support Common Core State Standards

By: Stefanie Steffan

Elementary Literacy Facilitator, Rockwood School District

The Common Core State Standards require three shifts in English Language Arts instruction.  School districts have been striving to include these shifts in curriculum, and teachers across the state have been working hard to implement these shifts in their lesson planning and instruction.  Parents can also help at home!

The three instructional shifts associated with the Common Core State Standards are:

1.     Building knowledge through content-rich  nonfiction

2.   Reading, writing,and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational

3.  Regular practice with complex text and its academic language

Here are some simple ways parents can support the instructional shifts:

Shift #1:  Building Knowledge Through Content-Rich Nonfiction

       Children should have a 50/50 balance of fiction and nonfiction in grades K-5. 

        (70/30 in grades 9-12)

       Be sure your children are exposed to a variety of texts.  (Books, magazines, websites, recipes)

 Shift #2:  Reading, Writing and Speaking Grounded in Evidence from Text, both literary and informational

       Talk about text with your children.  Have them go back in the text to find answers to questions.

       Argument vs. Persuasion:  Have your children provide evidence for why they want to do things.

 Shift #3:  Regular Practice with Complex Text & Its Academic Language

       Read higher-level text to your children.  Kids are NEVER too old to be read to!

       Talk about words.

       Be sure your children see you reading.  Talk with them about what you are reading.

 With parents and teachers working together, student achievement is bound to soar!

Poster Contest: February 2014

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READING POSTER CONTEST

Kathleen McDonnell

 The St. Louis Suburban IRA will be holding a reading poster contest again this year. Please encourage your students to participate.  The final judging will take place during our February 6, 2014 general meeting.  All members will be asked to participate in the judging. The winners in the four categories will be sent to the MSC/IRA meeting to be judged. This year the MSC/IRA judging did not take place.  I will return those posters at our next general meeting.  Here is the website for further information:  

http://www.missourireading.org/recognitions/contests

The theme for this year is “Reading and Technology.”

The rules for the St. Louis Suburban IRA contest and the MSC/IRA contest were made available at the November 19, 2013  general meeting.  If you were unable to attend the meeting look for information on the St. Louis Suburban IRA website.  The information can also be obtained on the MSC/IRA website.

 

Service Opportunity: We Need Books for Habitat for Humanity: Ferurary 2014

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NEED YOUR SUPPORT

FOR

“HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

 

In 2010-2011, St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA donated 225 books to Habitat for Humanity. In 2011-2012, our Council donated 600 books and two new bookcases to Habitat for Humanity.  In 2012-2013, our Council donated over 600 books. We need BOOKS for  a 2013-2014 donation to Habitat for Humanity.  Please bring your donated books to the February 6 council meeting. Thanks to our St. Louis Suburban Council members for donating the gift of literacy.   

Membership Report for St. Louis Suburban IRA: February 2014

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St. LOUIS SUBURBAN COUNCIL OF INTERNATIONAL READING ASSOCIATION

Jody Rozbicki, Membership Chairperson

 St. Louis Suburban Council of International Reading Association is one chartered council community out of 1000 plus, throughout 60 countries, around the globe.  International Reading Association’s local councils provide an opportunity for the area’s diverse group of professionals to connect with others who share a passion for literacy, instruction, and student achievement.   IRA encourages professional relationships through the council experience.  Relationship building occurs in a council when members plan and participate in formal and informal learning opportunities for developing leadership skills in literacy.  St. Louis Suburban Council also opens the door for literacy professionals to engage in leadership through a variety of service programs and special book projects for children and families in our own community.  IRA recognizes councils’ efforts in leadership through Honor Council and Show-Me Awards yearly recognition.  St. Louis Suburban Council has been recognized as an Honor Council and Show-Me Award winning Council for many years.

One hundred and seventy literacy professionals recognize the opportunities St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA has to offer, and they have joined in 2013-2014.  We hope you will too. This month Non-Public Educational Services, Inc. sent in 38 private school memberships to St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA.  We thank our NESI council members for their personal promotional touch when they reached out to others to join St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA.

About the St. Louis Suburban Council

·       Members represent more than twenty-five public school districts, many archdiocesan and other parochial and private schools, seven universities, and several textbook and trade book publishers/ distributers.

·       Members include administrators, classroom teachers, librarians, reading specialists, literacy coaches, special education teachers, ESOL teachers, undergraduate students,  graduate students, and university faculty.

·       Educators and administrators who work with students from kindergarten through university levels are represented.

·       With 170 members, this is one of the largest local councils of the International Reading Association of Missouri.

·       Our council has won awards at state and national levels for the quality of our programs and the service we provide to our members and community.

·       We provide material to support family literacy, both locally and internationally.

·       We support international efforts to improve literacy across cultures.

·       We offer a mini-grant of $250-$500 for a member to implement a literacy-focused project in the classroom.

·       We provide networking opportunities for educators throughout the Greater St. Louis Area.

Message from the President: September 2013

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                                                              Message from the President

Hello, St. Louis Suburban members and “guests” who may be reading this newsletter. It is my privilege as President to welcome you to a new and challenging school year. No doubt the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the realignment of curriculum, integration of technology in literacy instruction, development of curriculum maps, and increased rigor in both literacy instruction and student performance will continue to be hot topics for us this year.

The executive board met over the summer and discussed many of these issues. We are excited that the program committee has aligned our meetings and professional development offerings around many of these topics. The theme this year for our council is “Literacy for Life: Bringing Together Lifelong Learners.” The Common Core State Standards indicate that we should be preparing our students for life. We chose this theme because we felt that literacy and lifelong learning should not be something on which we focus only with our students. How are WE, as adult learners, also growing as learners?

I invite you to mark your calendars for October 5, 2013 for our first meeting. Our program is a bit different this year. Our first meeting is actually going to be an informational reception immediately following the Literacy for All Conference at Harris Stowe State University.  Have you registered yet for this exciting, information-filled day?  If not, there is information on our website or you can email Dr. Betty Porter Walls (drbpwalls@earthlink.net) or me (mbrammer@ssdmo.org) for registration information.  At this reception, we will be providing helpful information about our council, what it stands for, what it does, and most importantly, how you can get involved. We will also be serving light refreshments and there will be PRIZES for attendees. Who doesn’t like prizes? We encourage each of you to bring a friend or colleague with you to this reception—one who may not be a member. At this reception, you will also be able to renew your membership or rejoin if it has been awhile.

I look forward to seeing you at our reception in October and for the rest of our general meetings this year. I hope your year is productive and filled with reading and writing!

 Mitzi Brammer, Ph.D.

 President

 St. Louis Suburban Council of IRA