Educational Bridge Blog

June 26, 2012

Getting Read to Read / Setting Up My Classroom

Getting Read to Read / Setting Up My Classroom

Over the summer as you look forward and think about your classroom next year, here are some ideas to make your room a place where readers grow.

1.  Recommended Book List for Classroom Libraries;
2.  Recommended Classroom Materials and Organization; and
3.  Getting Ready to Read: The Essentials

Please click on the documents above to download our recommendations.  Please leave me your thoughts on providing a classroom environment to grow readers.

~ Pam

Posted June 26, 2012    |    View

(10151 Views)

June 26, 2012

Some of our Favorite Primary Blogs

Posted June 26, 2012    |    View

(10151 Views)

June 20, 2012

Stop to Think Training – Part 1

Stop to Think Training – Part 1

Click here to see the handouts from a Stop to Think Training Series (part 1 of 3) for Galena Park ISD or view the presentation.

GalenaParkSTTJan.6

Posted June 20, 2012    |    View

(10151 Views)

May 8, 2012

Summer Book Club Reading for Teachers

Summer Book Club Reading for Teachers

Click on the picture below to find a list of recommmended titles and authors that I believe all literacy coaches and teachers should have in their own library of summer learning.  So pick one that peeks your interest, grab some friends and meet as a group to discuss or take the book to the pool, the mountains, or on the ship to read as you relax this summer!  Ready, Set, READ and then you will grow, GRow, GROW!

summer_book_club_reading

Posted May 8, 2012    |    View

(10151 Views)

February 28, 2011

The Power of Formative Assessment

The Power of Formative Assessment

The Power of Formative Assessment

It is important for teachers, and all educators for that matter, to become fully aware of the power of formative assessments. This is because the formative-assessment process leads to considerable gains in students’ learning. Like the research conducted for the reading comprehension process, we have four decades’ worth of empirical evidence attesting to the instructional dividends of the formative-assessment process. The unfortunate reality is that this extraordinary knowledge base is rarely understood or used in the every day teaching practices in most classrooms.
Dr. James Popham, a noted assessment expert, wrote recently that he reviewed more than 4,000 research investigations that showed clearly that when the formative assessment process was well implemented in the classroom, it could essentially double the speed of student learning. Popham went on to say that when one considers several recent reviews of research regarding the classroom formative-assessment process, it was clear that the process works, it can produce enormous gains in students’ achievement, and it is sufficiently robust so that different teachers can use it in diverse ways, yet still get great results with their students. Amazing! These findings suggest that even when teachers apply the process differently results are consistently strong.

The formative-assessment process involves teachers’ and/or students’ use of assessment evidence to make adjustments in what they’re doing. This assessment evidence can be gathered in a variety of ways—from traditional written tests to a wide range of informal assessment procedures, such as securing students’ self-reports of their own understanding of an issue.

This process revolves around the use of assessments to collect evidence, and then the employment of such evidence by teachers and/or students to decide whether they need to adjust what they are doing. The formative-assessment process uses assessments as an integral tactic to determine whether any adjustments are needed.
An assessment is an important part of the formative-assessment process, but it is only that—a part of the formative-assessment process. The entire process involves decisions about when to test and what to test, selection or construction of suitable assessment procedures, judgments about whether assessment-elicited evidence should lead to adjustments, and choices about the nature of any adjustments. Assessments are a key component of the formative-assessment process, but they are not the entire process. Many American educators regard formative assessment as a type of test-an unfortunate misconception.

“Summative assessments” are regarded by many educators as the tests used to make evaluative judgments about a completed instructional sequence. The most obvious examples of summative assessments these days are the large-scale accountability tests administered annually by states to appraise the effectiveness of their schools and districts. But summative assessments can also refer to classroom assessments such as an end-of-course exam that a teacher might use to determine how well the teacher’s students have learned what the teacher was trying to teach.
Popham writes that “Formative assessments” are typically thought of as those along-the-way classroom tests that teachers create to help them and their students get a fix on how well students are learning what they are supposed to learn. That’s because it’s not the test per se that is formative or summative. It is the use to which the test’s results are put.

If we are to promote use of the formative-assessment process, it’s crucial that more educators accurately understand the process in the way that empirical studies have shown it works best. If research-ratified versions of the formative-assessment process are used widely by teachers, then many more students will learn better and faster. But if formative assessment is regarded as nothing more than a specific sort of test, its impact is apt to be trivial.

Posted February 28, 2011    |    View

(10151 Views)

December 13, 2010

Dallas Council of the International Reading Association Presentation

Dallas Council of the International Reading Association Presentation

Here is a copy of my presentation at the Dallas Council of the International Reading Association meeting on December 9, 2010.

I hope you find this informative and thought provoking.  Please feel free to share with a co-worker or Administrator.DCIRA_Dec2010

Posted December 13, 2010    |    View

(10151 Views)

November 1, 2010

Books Selected as Mentor Text Favorites for Strategy Instruction

Books Selected as Mentor Text Favorites for Strategy Instruction

Author and Illustrator: Dav Pilkey

Synopsis
(K-Grade 5)   This is a story about a good dog named Hally Tosis who has a big problem. She has bad breath. The Tosis family is sad because they are going to give their dog away because her breath is so bad, but something happens that allows them to keep their dog. This picture book is funny with lots of wordplay.
Blog
Dog Breath is a great mentor text for strategies such as: character traits, plot/story problem/resolution, setting, written summary, main idea, word play and many more. Students of all ages love this book. I have used it in K-5 as a Read Aloud and as a text to model strategies. It is a short text which makes it great for mini-lessons. Students love to look at the pictures and reread the story because they always find something new each time they read it. It is a great book to have in your library.

Author: Eve Bunting, Illustrator: Ronald Himler  
Synopsis
(K-Grade 5)  This is a wonderful story about an elderly man who has just come from Mexico to live with his daughter and grandson Francisco in California.  The grandfather does not speak English and allows his grandson Abuelo to go with him to translate for him as they look for work as day labor. Abuelo convinces an employer that his grandfather is a fine gardener, but in fact his grandfather is a carpenter. Abuelo and his grandfather are taken and dropped off by the new employer and are asked to pull the weeds and leave the plants along the side of a highway. After their new employer drives off in his van, the two set to work-but they pull up all of the plants and leave the weeds. Abuelo is taught a valuable lesson by his grandfather when they agree to go back the next day and repair the damage for no pay. It is a loving story and a great lesson for students taught by an honest grandfather. The characters in the story show a strong sense of honesty and integrity.
Blog
This is great story to use as a mentor text for character traits, cause /effect, plot/story problem and resolution, setting, main idea, written summary, inference. I love to use this book because of the strong characters and the valuable lesson taught in the book. Bilingual students in your class will especially love this book.

Author: Pamela S. Turner, Illustrator Yan Nascimbene
 

 

Synopsis

(Grades 1-5)    Hachiko was a real dog who lived in Tokyo, a dog who faithfully waited for his owner at the Shibuya train station for ten years after his owner died. He became famous for his loyalty and was adored by scores of people who passed through the station every day. This is Hachiko’s story through the eyes of Kentaro, young boy whose life is changed forever by his friendship with this very special dog. The legend of Hachiko will touch your heart and inspire you as it has inspired thousands all over the world.

Blog

The first time I read this book the kids were amazed. They talked about it long after and asked to read it again and again. It sparked an interest in the true story and some students did more research to get more details about the true story. Students were excited to know that there is a monument of Hachiko in the Tokyo Train Station. For older students there are several versions of this story that can be used for research and literature groups. This is a great book for character traits, setting, plot/story problem /resolution, inference, theme, summary, generalizations, main idea and many more strategies. Your kids will love this story and the loyalty of the dog Hachiko.

Synopsis
 

(Grades 2-5)    It is Iditarod day. Fifty-six dog teams will race through 1,151 miles of rugged Alaskan terrain from Anchorage to Nome. Akiak knows these miles well. As lead dog, she has raced the incredible trail before, but never won. She is ten years old: if she is going to win, it must be now.

When snow hurts her paw on the fourth day out, Mick, her musher, must leave her behind and continue the race without her. The rules say once a dog is dropped from the race, it may not rejoin the team. But Akiak doesn’t know about rules. She is a lead dog, and her place is with the team. Nothing, not blizzards, not breaking ice, not the people out to catch her, will stop Akiak from catching up to her team. The question is, can the team still win?

Blog

This story will warm your heart. It is a great story to use as a mentor text because it has everything. It has strong characters, setting, plot/story problem and resolution, cause/effect, new vocabulary, inference, sequencing, foreshadowing, and fact and opinion. This is a story you can go back to again and again to dig deeper into the text. This is a great story about the relationship between humans and dogs that the students will love. They will never forget this story.

Author: Barbara Abercrombie, Illustrator: Mark Graham

Synopsis
(Grades 2-5)     Charlie, a fuzzy gray cat, walked out of the woods one evening and into Elizabeth’s and Sarah’s hearts. Now he sleeps on their beds, lets them dress him up in doll clothes, and laps up warm milk on chilly nights. But where does Charlie go during the day?

It’s not until a storm keeps Charlie away one night that the two sisters discover his other, daytime, home. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Because, just like Elizabeth and Sarah, Charlie has two houses, two beds, and two families who love him very, very much!

Blog

Your students will enjoy this story and many students who go between parents can identify with Elizabeth and Sarah. This is a great story for personal connections for students who have pets.

Posted November 1, 2010    |    View

(10151 Views)

October 4, 2010

Texas State Reading Asociation Presentation

Texas State Reading Asociation Presentation

Here is a copy of my presentation at the Texas State Reading Association in Dallas on October 2, 2010 and San Antonio on October 9, 2010.

I hope you find this informative and thought provoking.  Please share with a co-worker or Administrator and check back monthly for new postings and information from Educational Bridge.

TSRAPresentation_Fall2010

Posted October 4, 2010    |    View

(10151 Views)

August 30, 2010

Teachers Who Work Smarter and Get Kids That Work Harder

Teachers Who Work Smarter and Get Kids That Work Harder

Blog Post
I read a professional book recently that had an extremely fascinating and irresistible title. The big idea of the book, reflected in the tempting title, was that teachers should never work harder than their students. The book was well written, had some novel ideas, and is guaranteed to make teachers who think their students are suffering from an overload of entitlement to vigorously nod their heads. But, I couldn’t get passionately excited about the book. You know what I mean- I didn’t call or text colleagues to tell them to run out immediately and buy the book before the book stores sold all of their copies. Why?

The book never really found the “sweet spot” for its declared premise. How a teacher can work less but student would learn more. Sure there was a lot of talk about how teachers should not take on all the responsibility for making certain that their students learn something. There was a lot of space in the book devoted to short cuts teachers can use, and “tricks” to shift the work load to the students.

The problem with the book, in my judgment, was that it was written as a how to book that somehow missed the most important how to. Teachers are really unaccustomed to the idea that their students are fully responsible for their actions, at least in the academic arena. In the classrooms I visited over the past several months it was a rare moment that a teacher showed students how to take responsibility by modeling the habits and methods of the responsible learner. Teachers spend far too much time TELLING students how to do things and not enough time SHOWING students how to be self-reliant learners.

Take, as an example, the fourth grade reading class I observed recently. The read-aloud performed by the teacher was exceedingly painful to watch. The teacher asked dozens of questions during her read-aloud. Her method was to ask questions and then immediately tell the students what to think. Never once did she entertain the notion that it might be a good idea to use a think-aloud to model reading strategies the students might find helpful for purposes of thinking about the text. Moreover, in the entire 40 excruciating minutes of the grand inquisition was one of the learners allowed to think?

Actually, how can one think about anything when being peppered with dozens of disarticulated queries all in the name of teaching student skills they would need to pass the TEST? Admittedly, during the torture there was mention of making predictions, making connections, and using background knowledge, but, regrettably, the students were never given opportunities to apply these strategies.

So what is an administrator to do when confronted with instruction like this (which by the way is not uncommon in many schools)? For openers, why not make certain that teachers do know how to teach reading as a thinking process-which it is. Educational Bridge offers staff development and teacher resource guides expressly aimed at supporting teachers as they transform their teaching from telling students how to think to modeling thinking processes the proficient reader uses to think through text. Take a look at Developing Readers, FastMapping, Stop To Think and the other Educational Bridge materials designed to help teachers become teachers who never work harder than their students.

Posted August 30, 2010    |    View

(10151 Views)

February 13, 2010

Making Reading Plans for the Holidays

Making Reading Plans for the Holidays

Making Reading Plans for the Holiday Break: A Mini Lesson
To help your students develop the habits of lifelong readers, please take a few moments this week to encourage children to read during the holiday break. If you have not already done so, consider conducting a short mini lesson to challenge, direct, and encourage your students to build a sensible reading plan for the extensive holiday break. It is amazing how quickly students’ reading skills slip when they are not reading. Lengthy holiday breaks can be difficult for many readers if they leave school without a doable plan they have created and committed to during the time they will be away from school.

A short 10 minute mini-lesson that, for example, begins with a discussion about how adult readers download books to Kindles, reserve books at the library, and pre-order books before their release dates when they know that they will have a little extra time to read is a good way to begin the conversation. In addition to offering a good model for your students, this opener can also be the starting point for students to begin planning their own reading during the lengthy break.

Support your mini-lesson with short reading conferences to discuss current books, and guide students to consider what they might read next. Discuss how their reading experiences and preferences can lead them to the next book and the next.

To guide planning, encourage students to consider two important considerations for planning purposes. Ask the following:

Finding Time to Read: When do you see some downtime to read? Are you traveling during the break? How much time will you spend sitting in the car or at an airport? How can you keep up your daily reading habit over the holiday? Considering their holiday schedules gives students an opportunity to set realistic reading goals for the break.
Choosing Titles: What books have you been reading? What books have caught your attention that you might like to read next? What are you looking for in your next book? Are you in a reading rut? How can you challenge yourself with your next book? Setting aside titles they want to read, looking back over their reading experiences, and planning to move forward, will help students continue to develop their reading lives.

After looking at holiday schedules and choosing books, students work individually or with partners to record their reading plans in their reading notebooks–setting goals and sharing them with each other. Writing down these plans and verbalizing them to each other makes these plans concrete and real for students. Reading isn’t something we might do during the holidays; we have reading plans!

Explain that this is what readers do; they need to read, so they plan for it. Share that you have a staggering tower of books waiting to read over the break. That you are looking forward to long hours at home, curled up in a chair reading.

Share your enthusiasm and promote books during this last week of school before the break. Your enthusiasm to read over the holiday will likely ignite a firestorm among your students and fueling their interest to read. Finally, please make certain that books are made available through the library or from your classroom library for the students to take home and read.

Posted February 13, 2010    |    View

(10151 Views)