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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reading Comprehension Strategy: Synthesize

One of the toughest reading comprehension strategies for my students is synthesizing information.  In my quest to find good resources for this strategy, I came across the following:

Finding mentor texts for synthesis is tough!  The plot needs to have some kind of twist or change that isn't at all apparent in the beginning.  Here are a couple that work well.

The point of view changes from the Native Americans to Columbus throughout the book.  The illustrations reflect these changes.  For example, the Native American boy sees Columbus's ships as sea monsters and Columbus sees the Native Americans as Indians.

This one is great.  First, because I love Patricia Polacco.  Secondly, you really have to use all the text and picture clues to understand and synthesize all the information.  Through most of the book, you think it's about the girl and her best friend, who is an elephant.  On the very last page, you find out that it's an elephant family and the girl is her best friend. 

Now, I know we are big, bad Fourth Graders, but we still need some cutesy representations of things like synthesis to make them understandable.  For example, I found this unit by Nancy Vandenberge that relates synthesis to baking a cake.  I love this organizer that she made!

You should check out her entire post by clicking here.

Do you have any go-to resources for synthesizing information?  I would love to see them!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reading Comprehension: Fix-Up Strategies

We've been working on using fix-up strategies to monitor and fix problems in our reading as they happen.  The organizer below shows several of the strategies we have worked on.  You can pick up a free copy by clicking here.

This organizer includes a place for students to track the following:
Use illustrations
Read on
Break the word into parts
Use a dictionary

Now, here's my problem:  I know you can use almost any text to model this strategy.  I am having trouble finding recommended picture books to use specifically. 

Do you have any good mentor texts to recommend?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

21st Century Learning: From Seatwork to Feetwork

I just participated in a county-sponsored in-service centered around the book From Seatwork to Feetwork:  Engaging Students in Their Own Learning by Ron Nash.

Mr. Nash taught us some really great techniques for getting students out of their seats and responsible for their own learning.  Since my principal is a big fan of the teacher-led mini-lesson followed by much more student-driven discussion and independent work, this was a great in-service.

For Writing, Social Studies (any subject that requires reading and writing), here are some possibilities:
Go to his website and check out his FREE prereading activities:  Word Splash and Opin

For partnering up:
A version of Clock Buddies that I have used for years
Pairs, trios, or quads:  Fine Feathered Friends

For teaching questioning and speaking with and to others:
Paired Verbal Fluency
A visual of good listening skills

Other great books that offer more strategies for Brain Breaks and using music in the classroom:


Whew!  Lots of information!  Do you have anything similar that you do to incorporate movement or how to cooperate with their learning?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Veteran's Day

For our upcoming writing unit on Veteran's Day, we read some great mentor texts to collect character traits for our nation's heroes.  Some of our favorites:

Another great anticipatory set that gives us great ideas for showing our thanks:

I get a bit emotional while it's playing, but I'm unapologetic about that :)

Then we write at least two paragraphs for the students to read aloud to the veterans that come to our Veteran's Day assembly.

Do you have any great mentor texts or videos to get the ideas flowing for Veteran's Day?