Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Growing Strategic Learners

Three of our fabulous primary teachers (Christian Salazar, Alana Eldredge, & Chelsea Barnes) attended TWU's Summer Institute on June 15 & 16. This two-day institute helped teachers find ways to grow strategic readers. Dr. Nancy Anderson, Dr. Elizabeth Kaye, and Dr. Allison Briceno were three professors who led this institute. These professors helped teachers learn how to scaffold oral language development, teach students to self-monitor, and use assessment data to guide reading instruction.Here's what our very own teachers have to share about their learning experience: 

Reading, writing, and talking are the holy trinity of a developed learner. How do we fit it all in? We already struggle to get in reading groups, daily writing, and find time for a morning message. However, we learned that reading, writing, and talking are necessary to have advanced learners that are ready to tackle the complex learning system of our elementary curriculum.

We should not weigh heavily on isolated lessons, but instead focus on pulling all three components together. Copying from the board, spelling tests, phonics in isolation are a waste of time. Instead we can get the biggest bang for our buck when we pull all three components together. In doing so, we are not only saving time but elevating student learning.

All meaningful lessons begin with conversation. Conversation should be student driven, and authentic. Teachers should prompt then listen, observe, and take notes. Students should allowed to express using age appropriate language while the teacher rephrases to expand language or enhance vocabulary.

During reading, students should be searching for information, self-monitoring, and self-correcting. In order to have confident readers, the reader must have the opportunity to search for the appropriate strategies, make an attempt, and self-monitor. The teacher’s role is to choose books on topics of interest, appropriate level of difficulty/sentence structure, provide needed information in the preview for the student success, and redirect to relate to the book.

The focus of writing should be on allowing the student to communicate and express, not grammar. There is no “right way” to write. Importance is placed on effectively communicating and relating ideas. During interactive writing, the teacher should only facilitate. The students select the topic, control the pen, and work together to problem solve. Strategies that can assist would be white boards, word walls, and anchor charts.

Teachers might introduce a book concept or problem, and asks students to relate their own understanding. The teacher should not add ideas or their thoughts to the conversation. Once an authentic conversation has occurred, the teacher then reads aloud. After the read aloud, the teacher will then make it full-circle by asking the students to write through independent or interactive writing opportunities. Then the students are allowed to share their understanding and writing.

The teacher expertise is the greatest indicator of student success. It is our responsibility to plan ahead and facilitate the 3 of language components in the most direct and time sensitive manner. Our struggling students need targeted instruction followed by uninterrupted practice.

Strategies used to help kids would be:
  • Sentence stems/frames
  • Collaboration time
  • Giving students opportunity to attempt and try it out 
    • "Why don't you try it?"
  •  Use multiple senses to assist in the child figuring out unknown words
    • When a student gets stuck, ask them to write down the word.
    • Use a small card to cover text parts to focus attention. 
    • Draw attention to what was correct and then give a direct correction of miscues. 
  • Direct correction of reading miscues 
    • "Does that look right?" 
    • "Does that make sense?
  • Provide visuals
  • Provide multiple opportunities to combine the three essentials of language

How do you implement all three language components in your lessons?