What to expect… Take a look at what I learned about literacy instruction while visiting a 3rd grade generaleducation classroom in the Fairport Central SchoolDistrict! The class consisted of 23 students and wastaught by a teacher that had been in the district for many, many years. She does not use “The Daily 5” or “Café.” Instead, she uses her own method of morning work, guided reading, and anything else that seems to fit in during the day.
Literacy Instruction: Methods “Morning Message” Each morning when students come in, they are to read the morning message on the Smart Board in the front of the room. It contains any information about the day or anything they need to take care of. “Big 4” Each morning there is a sentence on a white board. The students need to write it correctly, fixing the grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. on their own papers. The teacher tries to incorporate spelling words they are currently working on. They often have to finish the sentence in their own ways. Read Aloud The teacher reads aloud each day during snack, after lunch, and during any free time. The books are generally chapter books, but short picture books are fair game if they are appropriate for the time of year, something they are learning, etc.
Methods Continued -- 1 Silent Reading Students are always allowed to read silently when they finish their work early. It’s the best part of the day for some students! Guided Reading Five groups of 3-5 students based on reading level Different books/Activities Focus on different areas, such as vocabulary, phrasing, fluency, comprehension, expression, etc. Self-Correction The teacher does not correct all work handed in for the students. Instead, she marks what is wrong and then the students are responsible for fixing the work and handing it back in. This allows students to find their own mistakes and find the correct answer instead of just having it given to them.
Methods Continued -- 2 Research Projects Research projects are often incorporated into various content area lessons, such as Science and Social Studies. Students have to find books based on their topics and use them to find information/write about their topics. Poetry The topics are based on whatever they are learning at the time. The teacher uses them to find verbs, adjectives, nouns, etc. She also uses them to find patterns, etc. All students stand and read them out loud simultaneously. Using poetry and reading it aloud helps with expression and emphasizing important words/phrases.
Methods Continued – 3 Home Reading Students are urged to read each evening. Whenever a student reaches 100 minutes, he or she gets a lunch pass that can be redeemed for eating lunch in the classroom. Journals Students write in journals to respond to texts or other areas throughout the day. The teacher is not always able to respond but does periodically when she can. Notes/Letters This teacher ALWAYS has students write letters, thank-you notes, etc. for anyone they are involved with. This not only helps the students form a foundation for correct grammar and spelling, but also ways for social writing in general. It gets students writing about things they are excited about and happy to be involved in.
Literacy Instruction: Materials Large variety of books in a “library” with easy access for students Read aloud books that spark both boys’ and girls’ interests Poetry Based on whatever they are learning about at the time Papers, crayons, pencils, markers, etc. on hand Smart Board Spelling Lists Journals Scholastic Articles Regular Scholastic Book Orders F&P Kit
Literacy Instruction: Assessments Spelling Tests Pre-tests are Mondays, final tests are Fridays Ongoing informal assessments based on reading groups and how much they are reading in general Unit assessments based on content areas School uses F&P to determine reading levels
Literacy Instruction: Grouping Small Group Instruction Divided into smaller groups for Math based on ability levels more advanced students do more advanced work Guided reading groups Students are grouped based on reading ability Groups are made up of 3-5 students Large Group Instruction Read alouds Used during Math, Science, Social Studies, etc. Students move to small groups when and if needed during these areas
Literacy Instruction: Goals and Expectations That each student finds his or her niche, what he or she enjoys reading, and taking it further Seeing improvement in general High Expectations
Literacy Instruction: Values Literacy is a part of everyday life and therefore should be incorporated whenever possible. Believes that there is always more to add to writing. No one is ever “truly” done.
Home-to-School Connection Students are encouraged to read every night Receive lunch tickets based on reading minutes Minutes are recorded in students’ planners Parents must sign/initial to confirm Newsletters are sent home on a regular basis with information to update parents on current classroom news. Students are allowed to bring books home if they wish, but they are responsible for returning them in a timely manner so others can enjoy them as well. Frequent Parent Volunteers Planners to record assignments in Frequent phone calls or e-mails home, both positive and negative
Analysis of Texts Variety of books within the classroom, both fiction and non-fiction This teacher loves to read anything by Bill Peet in her classroom (billpeet.net/) Chester the Worldly Pig is a favorite His books have creative words and phrases, silly stories, and amazing illustrations Used throughout the school year as read alouds Gets students to know about an author that not many people know about, even though he is incredibly successful Illustrated for Walt Disney Whole Group Read-Alouds Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville Allows students to listen to a story, gaining knowledge about how text should be written and getting lost in the story without “butchering” it Does use some interaction to discussphrases and vocabulary
Analysis of Texts Continued Poetry Used to learn about verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. Students highlight them within the text Helps with reading with expression All students read at the same time Students look for patterns and word construction within the text Guided Reading Books Based on reading levels The teacher takes the opportunity to go over vocabulary, certain phrases, etc. Example: “Needing something yesterday” Choice allowed for books
Analysis of Instructional Time Additional Teacher Instruction One of the reading teachers comes into the class on a regular basis to give additional reading instruction. I observed one lesson in which the teacher went over adding details to writing using the “(lettuce) and red (tomato) paper. The moral was that there should be more lettuce in a salad. The lettuce represents your thinking about what you are reading, and the tomato is when you are just reading the words of a text. Two students stood in the front of the room while the teacher read a book. Whenever she was just reading the text, one of them put the tomato in the bowl. When she stopped to think about what they were reading, the other student put the lettuce into the bowl. Teacher models reading and writing practices
Analysis of Instructional Time Continued Guided Reading Groups Time is limited throughout the school day, and since this teacher does not do The Daily 5 she just aims to meet with at least 3 reading groups a day. During this time she has the students recap what they have read thus far and then take turns reading aloud. During this time she does try to mark down any miscues students make (informally) so she can address them. This is then followed by comprehension activities, vocabulary instruction, or writing activities. The teacher frequently uses white boards and index cards to aid in her instruction. Whole Group Read-Alouds Students love to listen to the teacher read aloud. This is done on a daily basis, and the time is used to get students engaged in reading. The teacher does take some time to focus on phrases and vocabulary, as well as comprehension and modeling fluency.
Considerations/Suggestion s From what I saw in this classroom it was clear that the teacher trulycares about her students and their literacy instruction and learning. I love that she encourages creativity and urges them to use their imaginations and background knowledge in their work. Though I did like her “MorningWork” time since it allows for students to finish old work and time to fit inseveral subject areas, it would not be a bad idea to incorporate more of a “Daily 5” feel to it. That way she can incorporate a greater focus oncomprehension and fluency since time restrictions only allow her to meetwith a couple guided reading groups a day. Another idea that I have seen and done before is book clubs. If she were to incorporate them into her instruction it would allow students to do reading activities without her having to necessarily be with every single group at all times.
Considerations/Suggestion s -- 2In continuation, I would recommend that the teacher perhaps focus her instruction on small groups a little more often. The class seemed to have a pretty big variety of abilities, so bymeeting with small groups and giving them the attention they need it would be beneficial for them.