Thursday, January 17, 2013

Good Reader Strategies at Work in Room 120

For those of you current or former first grade teachers out there, I definitely enjoy how well my students can "suddenly" read after the winter break.  Months of phonics, word work, guided reading and sight word practice just seems to click this time of year.  That's when I choose to formerly and explicitly teach our good reader strategies.  We use them all year, but by this point in the year they are ready to better express, through writing, their use of each strategy.  Each strategy is introduced one by one with the following steps.  Click here for a former blog post where I had  introduced these teaching tools.  Here they are again at the top of my bulletin boards.

Step 1:  Interactive Read Aloud-- 
I select a book that is perfect for introducing the good reader strategy.  I discuss the strategy, provide examples and model using the strategy as I do my read aloud.  I use the same activity sheet they will be using to do this (this is key).  We use the appropriate visual for the strategy to reinforce what we are doing.

Step 2:  Guided Practice--
I give my students time to practice using the new good reader strategy in a book that is at their instructional reading level.  Students either work with a partner, myself (in their guided reading group) or independently with a paraprofessional checking in and guiding them along the way every so often.  Again, they use the same activity sheet as I did in my introduction in step one.

Step 3:  Independent Practice--
I give my students their "Good Reader Strategies" book which you can get by clicking here.  Using a book from their browsing boxes [(a box of books too easy (for fluency), a little challenging (for scaffolding purposes) and just right], they read a book of their choice and perform the reading strategy.  Again, the "Good Reader Strategies" book has the same activity sheet at steps 1 and 2.  The key here is that I provide minimal support.

This week we are well into our "Asking Questions" strategy, so I have some pictures I'm excited to share with you for the more visual learners (like myself).

To model this strategy in my interactive read aloud, I used the Reading Rainbow book entitled Lion Dancer Ernie Wan's Chinese New Year.  First, I read the cover and the inside title page and made my question sentence.  "I wonder why there is a dragon."

Next, I read a little more, noting the features of informational text such as the photographs, captions, labels, etc.  As I read, I decided to stop and model a few more of my questions.  If my "I wonder" statement was answered, I circled yes.  When I got to the end of the book, there was one question that did not get answered.  There was a red mixture rubbed on the lion costume's face.  I wondered why, but the book didn't tell me.  Does anyone know?

Note how I have a glitter-foam arrow that I cut out and hot-glued  to a clothespin clipped on the "Ask Questions" strategy.

After some guided practice with a partner where I closely monitored what I needed to reteach, clarify or celebrate, we used our "Good Reader Strategies" books to use the strategy independently.  One of my firsties read the book Marvin's Woolly Mammoth by Jill Eggleston (Sails program by Rigby).  Here is the student's book and "I wonder" statements.

If you read the second one, this student wrote (spelling fixed of course) "I wonder what's a mammoth."  Pretty spot on question, based on the title!  Upon reading further, this reader encountered this text on the eighth page.

The reader was delighted to discover that woolly mammoths were like elephants, had long hair and long tusks.  A "yes" was circled right away noting that the text had answered the question.

Although this student also wanted to also see if they live in the Arctic, that question never got answered.  Next week my first graders are very excited to move on to our next strategy... visualizing!


  1. Great things are happening in Room 120 @ Bates! Mr. Giso rocks!

  2. Thanks! Busy Bees as always getting them ready for ANET!


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