Instructional Focus
Over the course of the 2009-2010 academic year, the faculty of Cedarbrook Middle School
in all departm...
Students should be thinking about questions such as:
Do I know what these words mean?
Do the words around it provide any c...
struggle with from time to time. Helping students determine what information they need to
know, and what information they ...
Test Taking Strategies
Be sure to read the titles on Graphs and charts.
Be sure to understand the question before you answ...
English/language arts classes, the mystery remains that students do not successfully
transfer these skills to other conten...
(or in-text.)
Making Connections
Instructional Focus » May: Making Connections
May's IFOM:
Making Connections
TEXT TO TEXT...
~How did my knowledge of something in the world around me help me to understand this text
better?
Test Preparation Skills
...
Math Connection:
With mathematics word problems or open-ended problems, students must determine what
information included ...
no chance of acquittal.)
Definition or description
o Paul is a transcriptionist, a person who
makes a written copy of a re...
Reading Comprehension --
Determining Important Ideas
Overview
In this lesson, students explore how to become better reader...
each of the items written was most likely the one important
thing they learned from that text. Talk about how the most
imp...
supporting details, and author’s message. On this handout, it
should be mentioned that many times the main idea is the fir...
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Instructional focus

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Instructional focus

  1. 1. Instructional Focus Over the course of the 2009-2010 academic year, the faculty of Cedarbrook Middle School in all departments will focus on eight strategies to increase student understanding and achievement. We will highlight how the strategies will benefit student comprehension in reading and math, as well as all subject areas. Setting the Purpose for Reading. Test Taking Strategies Context Clues Questioning Strategies Essential v. Non-Essential Inferring and Visualizing Information Summary and Synthesis Problem Solving Strategies Making Connections Making Connections The goal of making connections is to help students to access prior knowledge and experience in order to connect the knowledge they have to something with which they are more familiar . Good readers are constantly connecting what they are reading to what they already know in order to clarify difficult concepts and improve comprehension. Poor readers tend to rush though text, never stopping to think about what they are reading, if it makes sense based on their experiences, or even if they need to better understand a concept. As parents, we can teach our students to make connections in order to improve comprehension. Accessing prior knowledge and experiences is a good starting place when teaching strategies because every student has experiences, knowledge, opinions, and emotions that they can draw upon. The three types of connections are: TEXT TO TEXT – Ask your student, “Does what you are reading remind you of another book you’ve read, a movie you’ve seen, a song you like etc.?” TEXT TO SELF – Ask your student, “Does what you are reading remind you of something you have experienced, can you identify with the characters’ thoughts, actions feelings etc?” TEXT TO WORLD – Ask your student, “Does what you are reading remind you of something you know about from the real world, the news, history etc?” Context Clues Using Context Clues to Determine Key Words As students come to words that they do not know, they can use strategies to figure out meaning, if they do not, they will not necessarily understand the passage.
  2. 2. Students should be thinking about questions such as: Do I know what these words mean? Do the words around it provide any clues as to its meaning? Does the word have any prefixes or suffixes that may provide a clue? Can a dictionary or a glossary help me? Try This: 1. Select a passage. A good place to find a passage would be the student’s textbook, a newspaper, or internet source. 2. Tell your child, "I am going to help you to use context clues to understand key words in a reading." 3. Read the passage out loud. Highlight or underline any words that you think your child may not know. 4. Think out loud about how you use context clues to determine meaning. 5. Provide the child with another passage, and ask them to go through the same process Questioning Strategies Skilled readers continually question as they read in order to infer deeper meaning from the text. If we want our students to become better readers then we need to teach them the process of questioning. Developing Questions: To begin with, you may want to chose an area of focus for your students’ questions; the questions can target content, process, skills, and/or any chosen area. Thick questions need longer answers and may start with words like Why? How come? and I wonder. Thin questions need shorter answers like a number, yes or no, a single word or a few sentences. Thin questions often begin with words like who, where, or what. As you encourage students to think of questions, encourage students to make them thick questions. Math Connection: In mathematics, students are often required to answer questions that require them to go back to the problem in order to solve the problem. In addition, when students are asked questions, they sometimes do not understand “how” they want the answer to look. For example, when asked to draw a conclusion, some students will literally illustrate their answer. Students need to be familiar with the “verb” asked within the question in order to provide an accurate and acceptable response. Determining Essential vs. Non-Essential Information Determining essential information when reading is a difficult task even the best readers
  3. 3. struggle with from time to time. Helping students determine what information they need to know, and what information they do not need to focus on is vital to improving comprehension. Titles, subheadings, paragraph groupings, graphics, and summary statements are used by writers to organize information; understanding this structure can help students manage their reading. Students should be thinking about questions such as: 1. What was your purpose for reading? How did it help to you determine what was important? 2. Has the author done anything specific to draw your attention to what is important to remember? What other text features lift information off the pages for you? 3. Did you use key words in the selection to determine what was important? How did they help you? 4. Can you go back to the text and identify dome of those and share how they helped you? Math Connection: With mathematics word problems or open-ended problems, students must determine what information included in the problem is essential to solving the problem. When assisting a student in solving a problem, ask the student to eliminate the extraneous information and highlight the important information. For example: Rose and Paula are best friends. They are working on a homework problem from their teacher Mr. Burke. Mr. Burke provided the following data regarding the last quiz. 88, 90, 90, 60, 87, 89, 89, 98, 25. Identify the mean, median, mode and outlier? The non-essential information is that Rose and Paula are best friends and that it is a homework problem given by Mr. Burke. Have the student underline the data set since you cannot solve the problem without that information then point out to them that the question is asking them to find the mean, median, mode and outlier. Talking through a problem for them in a simple problem helps students to develop their own self-talk in other problems. Inferring and Visualizing Inferring is the bedrock of comprehension. We infer in many realms. Our life clicks along more smoothly if we can make meaning from situations that are not obvious. Inferring is about reading faces, reading body language, reading expressions, and reading tone. Inferring is also about interpreting and applying, drawing conclusions and making predictions. Inferring may involve using context clues to figure out theme, purpose, or connections to another topic. Visualizing strengthens inferential thinking. When we visualize, we are in fact inferring, but with mental images rather than words and thoughts. Hand in hand, these two strategies enhance comprehension/understanding of information. Math Connection: In math, students should be encouraged to draw a picture or make a model to further their understanding of a problem by visualizing the problem.
  4. 4. Test Taking Strategies Be sure to read the titles on Graphs and charts. Be sure to understand the question before you answer. Be sure to look at all possible answers on multiple choice questions. Beware of any distracting information while responding to an open ended question Follow the directions and bullets given when answering essay questions. Use vocabulary pertinent to the subject when creating written responses. Use the scientific process in the written responses for science tests. Use specific eveidence to support your points when writing. Use data to explain trends or correlations. Also, some general tips and points to remind students about for the PSSA: 1. Read the questions FIRST, then read the selections 2. This is an open book test! Go back into the reading and prove to yourself that you have the right answer. All of the answer choices they provide are plausible-- only one is the BEST answer. 3. Double check your problems! Again, all of the answer choices they provide are plausible-- only one is the BEST answer. 4. Use a highlighter to note any important details in reading passages or word problems. Use the margins to make notes. Be an ACTIVE reader! Try your hardest! It is always better to try and get something wrong than to not try at all! Summary and Synthesis A summary is a shortened version of someone else's writing or thoughts. It is a very important tool for comprehension and retention of information. Summaries vary in length and amount of details depending on a teacher's requirements, the length of the original source (article, book, passage) and the purpose of the summary; however, all summaries must:be shorter than the original source (article, book, passage) approximately one third the length of the original source Include the main idea of the original source in your own words; Include major details (also known as supporting ideas) in your own words; Should not include your knowledge, ideas or opinion unless your teacher requests it. Identify the author, title of article, title of publication, where published, publisher, year of publication, and page information, at the top of the page of your summary (or in-text.) Problem Solving Strategies Each month we will focus on one strategy. We will explain the theory behind the strategy and suggest ways the strategy might be implemented. Our goal is to have all teachers and parents using the same vocabulary in order to promote better understanding on the part of the students. Although students learn a variety of reading and writing integration skills in
  5. 5. English/language arts classes, the mystery remains that students do not successfully transfer these skills to other content-area classes. For this reason, students must learn how to apply multiple reading strategies across curriculum in order to overcome the challenges presented in reading content-specific texts. To do this, teachers and students must come to appreciate the complex processes that reading entails.”—Reading across the Curriculum. Inferring and Visualizing Instructional Focus » February: Inferring and Visualizing Inferring and Visualizing Inferring is the bedrock of comprehension. We infer in many realms. Our life clicks along more smoothly if we can make meaning from situations that are not obvious. Inferring is about reading faces, reading body language, reading expressions, and reading tone. Inferring is also about interpreting and applying, drawing conclusions and making predictions. Inferring may involve using context clues to figure out theme, purpose, or connections to another topic. Visualizing strengthens inferential thinking. When we visualize, we are in fact inferring, but with mental images rather than words and thoughts. Hand in hand, these two strategies enhance comprehension/understanding of information. Math Connection: In math, students should be encouraged to draw a picture or make a model to further their understanding of a problem by visualizing the problem. Summary and Synthesis Instructional Focus » March: Summary and Synthesis A summary is a shortened version of someone else's writing or thoughts. It is a very important tool for comprehension and retention of information. Summaries vary in length and amount of details depending on a teacher's requirements, the length of the original source (article, book, passage) and the purpose of the summary; however, all summaries must:be shorter than the original source (article, book, passage) approximately one third the length of the original source Include the main idea of the original source in your own words; Include major details (also known as supporting ideas) in your own words; Should not include your knowledge, ideas or opinion unless your teacher requests it. Identify the author, title of article, title of publication, where published, publisher, year of publication, and page information, at the top of the page of your summary
  6. 6. (or in-text.) Making Connections Instructional Focus » May: Making Connections May's IFOM: Making Connections TEXT TO TEXT: ~What does this remind me of in something else I’ve read? ~How is this similar to / different from something else I’ve read? ~How did something else I’ve read help me understand this? TEXT TO SELF: ~What does this remind me of in my life? ~How is this similar to my life? ~How is this different from my life? ~Have I ever experienced anything like this? ~What were my feelings when I read this? ~How did an experience in my life help me understand this better? TEXT TO WORLD: ~What does this remind me of in the real world? ~How is this text similar to things that happen in the real world? ~How is this text different from things that happen in the real world?
  7. 7. ~How did my knowledge of something in the world around me help me to understand this text better? Test Preparation Skills Be sure to read the titles on Graphs and charts. Be sure to understand the question before you answer. Be sure to look at all possible answers on multiple choice questions. Beware of any distracting information while responding to an open ended question Follow the directions and bullets given when answering essay questions. Use vocabulary pertinent to the subject when creating written responses. Use the scientific process in the written responses for science tests. Use specific evidence to support your points when writing. Use data to explain trends or correlations. Also, some general tips and points to remind students about for the PSSA: 1. Read the questions FIRST, then read the selections 2. This is an open book test! Go back into the reading and prove to yourself that you have the right answer. All of the answer choices they provide are plausible-- only one is the BEST answer. 3. Double check your problems! Again, all of the answer choices they provide are plausible-- only one is the BEST answer. 4. Use a highlighter to note any important details in reading passages or word problems. Use the margins to make notes. Be an ACTIVE reader! Try your hardest! It is always better to try and get something wrong than to not try at all! Essential vs. Nonessential Information Instructional Focus » January's IFOM: Essential vs. Nonessential Information Determining Essential vs. Non- Essential Information Determining essential information when reading is a difficult task even the best readers struggle with from time to time. Helping students determine what information they need to know, and what information they do not need to focus on is vital to improving comprehension. Titles, subheadings, paragraph groupings, graphics, and summary statements are used by writers to organize information; understanding this structure can help students manage their reading. Students should be thinking about questions such as: 1. What was your purpose for reading? How did it help to you determine what was important? 2. Has the author done anything specific to draw your attention to what is important to remember? What other text features lift information off the pages for you? 3. Did you use key words in the selection to determine what was important? How did they help you? 4. Can you go back to the text and identify dome of those and share how they helped you?
  8. 8. Math Connection: With mathematics word problems or open-ended problems, students must determine what information included in the problem is essential to solving the problem. When assisting a student in solving a problem, ask the student to eliminate the extraneous information and highlight the important information. For example: Rose and Paula are best friends. They are working on a homework problem from their teacher Mr. Burke. Mr. Burke provided the following data regarding the last quiz. 88, 90, 90, 60, 87, 89, 89, 98, 25. Identify the mean, median, mode and outlier? The non-essential information is that Rose and Paula are best friends and that it is a homework problem given by Mr. Burke. Have the student underline the data set since you cannot solve the problem without that information then point out to them that the question is asking them to find the mean, median, mode and outlier. Talking through a problem for them in a simple problem helps students to develop their own self-talk in other problems. Using Context Clues Instructional Focus » November: Using Context Clues Context Clues These words or phrases are built into sentences around new or difficult words. A few types of context clues: Synonym o (She used trite, worn-out expressions in her speech) Comparison/contrast o (The evidence pointed to guilt; there would be
  9. 9. no chance of acquittal.) Definition or description o Paul is a transcriptionist, a person who makes a written copy of a recorded message Setting the Purpose for Learning/Reading Instructional Focus » September: Setting the Purpose for Learning/Reading September's IFOM: Setting the Purpose For Reading and Learning Students should set a purpose for reading by using questions such as: What is the material about? What type of material is this? Why am I reading this material? What do I want to learn or find out? Students should highlight essential information as they read. Sticky notes and underlining work well also. Students should set a purpose for learning in each class every day by reading the learning objective posted in each classroom.
  10. 10. Reading Comprehension -- Determining Important Ideas Overview In this lesson, students explore how to become better readers through the identification of main ideas, supporting details, and author’s message. First, a teacher read-aloud inspires a class discussion that focuses on prioritizing information so that it makes better sense to the reader. Students then participate in a shared reading that allows them to again use the process of identifying important information. Finally, they extend their understanding through an online interactive activity. Content Objectives 1. Students will identify main ideas, supporting details, and author’s messages in text 2. Students will sort details of text to show levels of importance Materials • A book of your choice (e.g. Cactus Hotel by Brenda Z. Guiberson) • Important Ideas Handout: Word Document • Online Interactive Activity “The Hamburger Game” Procedures Part I: Introducing the Strategy 1. Discuss with students their prior knowledge of nonfiction text. Typical responses should include (or be guided to): gives true information, etc. Ask students to remember some nonfiction text they have read. Write the responses on the board. Guide discussion so that you talk about how knowing
  11. 11. each of the items written was most likely the one important thing they learned from that text. Talk about how the most important part of what we read is the main idea. Also discuss how the other facts in the text serve to back up, or support, that main idea and are called supporting details. Explain that knowing how to pick out the main idea and supporting details gives us a purpose for reading and leads us to having a better understanding of what we are reading. 2. Introduce the nonfiction book, e.g. Cactus Hotel. Look at the cover and pictures, make some predictions about topic, setting, and events. Read the story aloud to the students. (It may be helpful if the book had been scanned to a computer and projected so that the students can see the text and pictures.) 3. After reading the story, talk about how this nonfiction book is designed to give us information. Have the students identify what they learned from the story and write the information on the board. Once all major pieces of information have been identified, ask students what they have in common. (All have to do with the cactus being a giver and receiver in relation to its environment.) Discuss that this one piece of information is what the author wants us to learn from reading this book. Look back to the story information written on the board. Ask the students to decide if each piece serves to support the main idea we have identified. (It does.) Part II: Review and Practice 1. Hand out the Important Ideas Information worksheet. Read passages aloud, work together to identify the main idea,
  12. 12. supporting details, and author’s message. On this handout, it should be mentioned that many times the main idea is the first or last thing we read. Depending on the students’ level, the teacher can tie in topic and concluding sentences. 2. Review the meaning of the terms “main ideas” and “supporting details.” Recall Cactus Hotel and other nonfiction texts that have been read. Part III: Incorporating the Online Activity/Checking for Understanding 1. Have students work in centers that include practicing with the online Hamburger activity, reading a short story on their level and determining main idea and supporting details, and working with the teacher on the same so that the teacher can assess student progress using this strategy. http://www.cheltenham.org/webpages/mcooper/ifom.cfm?subpage=119438 http://www.pspb.org/blueribbon/lessonplan_all.php http://www.jumpstart.com/teachers/lesson-plans/reading-lesson-plans

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