Author Archives: doctorsam7

About doctorsam7

Working with Dr. Kerns from Harris Stowe on several writing and action research projects. Love workshop teaching and teaching about workshop teaching. I have a blog https://doctorsam7.blog, all about Keys to Growing Proficient Lifelong Readers. I am President of the STLILA and Vice President of the MoILA.

More Useful Resources for Implementing Literacy Instruction in this Age of the New Normal by Dr. Sam Bommarito

More Useful Resources for Implementing Literacy Instruction in this Age of the New Normal

By Dr. Sam Bommarito

 

Judging from the response to last week’s blog entry on resources for teaching literacy using distance learning, it is evident that teachers are looking for useful, research-based resources with which to start the new year. Accordingly, this week I am going to extend the list of resources for teachers and include resources that can be used both in distance learning and in face to face classrooms.

I will begin with the material created by Dr. Tim Rasinski. Rasinski is an expert on the topics of fluency and prosody. I find that his premise, that teaching is both art and science, provides a balanced, research-based view about how literacy instruction can proceed. If you don’t already, I would highly recommend you follow him on Twitter – @TimRasinski1.  Over this summer, he has been sharing many of his materials for free on Twitter, and he has a variety of materials that can be used in elementary literacy instruction at all levels. Here are some highlights:

The flagship of the fleet is his Megabook of Fluency (Melissa Chessman Smith was the co-author). It has passages designed for performance reading. The idea is that the student practices reading a short passage or poem aloud for several days and then performs the passage/poem. In the classes I push into, that performance is often done on SeeSaw and is shared with the teacher, students’ parents and from time to time with other students. We use the writers workshop convention that no student is required to share with other students unless they want to. The Megabook’s passages include things for both the younger and older student. Rasinski also has a lot of materials designed to help build vocabulary knowledge and background. He also has word study materials built around prefixes, suffixes and roots. Such a word study is effective in building student background in the content area. A trip to his website would well be worth your while. Here is the link http://www.timrasinski.com/

Rasisnki

MEGABOOK

Phonics and FluencyWord Ladders

Jennifer Serravallo is another writer with multiple books and resources. Here are some of the things she has written:

When doing presentations for literacy conventions or training for preservice teachers, I always promise that my sessions will be “the land of 1000 takeaways”, at least 1000 ideas teachers can take and use on Monday of the week after the training. Recommending books like these allow me to make such claims. Each of the books about strategies contains 300 different ready to use lessons.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using Jennifer’s materials:

First, be sure to employ a gradual release model when teaching the strategies from the first two books pictured. Teachers who teach their students to name or explain the strategies do not get the same results as teachers who teach the students to actually internalize and use the strategies. Nell Duke has a couple of decades of research indicating that when reading strategies are taught using a gradual release model, students reading scores rise in a statistically significant way. Nuff said.

Second- remember that leveling systems using the Fountas and Pinnell criteria tell you more than just how easy it is to decode a book.  They also give you detailed ideas on what the text structures are for each level. Jennifer’s book Understanding Texts and Readers gives you a detailed analysis of what that means for upper-level elementary texts. She explains how to use that information in order to have better conferences with your students. By the way, she also has books around conferencing and other topics that will help you help your students.

The Facebook page that focuses on how to use her materials has turned into what I call the world’s largest teacher’s lounge. In addition to the periodic professional development activities that are done on this site, there are daily interactions by teachers asking and answering questions about how to use Jennifer’s materials. Want ideas on how to do a 3rd-grade unit around inferencing, or a 5th grade writing unit about persuasive writing- just ask.  Teachers on the site offer answers in real-time. When I’m stuck about what to do for a particular student or particular class- I sometimes post a question on this site. I usually get great ideas from a variety of teachers within an hour of making the post.  Like I said, it is the world’s largest teacher’s lounge. Just remember to frame inquiries and observations in a way that protects the anonymity of your students. The name of the Facebook page is the Reading and Writing Strategies Community. It has over eighty-eight thousand followers.  Also, remember that Jennifer’s books are readily available on several websites.

Another book that provides some practical, game-changing ideas for implementing a literacy program is Burkins and Yaris’ Whose Doing the Work. Too often, teachers front-load their lessons in guided reading in a way that does all the work (all the thinking) for the student. The problem of approaching things that way is that the critical scaffolding that results in students internalizing and using the strategies never happens.  However, if you think carefully about what work you are leaving for the student and why and plan accordingly, then the scaffolding/gradual release, which results in an improvement in reading, does happen. The book is chuck full of ideas about how to do this. It is widely available on all venues where professional books are sold. As mentioned last week, Dr. Jan Burkins also has a site where she gives great ideas for getting started this fall. Here is the link.  https://www.drjanburkins.com/blog/k-5-lessons-for-launching-the-school-year

Who Doing the Work

Word Callers are an important but often neglected group in literacy instruction. Nell Duke notes that they are a significant source of lower scores on statewide reading tests. They cannot be helped by a “Phonics Cures All” approach to literacy instruction. Teachers need a resource that will help them identify these students and carry out teaching that will help them. Such a resource exists in this research-based book, Word Callers. Kelly Cartwright is the author; Nell Duke is the series editor. A copy of this book should be on the shelf of every teacher in the nation.

WORD CALLERS

.There is a growing consensus that teachers should be spending more time teaching phonics. Concurrently, there is a growing realization that teacher preparation programs have not given teachers all the tools they need to do that.  I am a centrist. I advocate for using what is most effective among all the various approaches to teaching literacy. In the case of teaching phonics, that means teachers need to know all the different ways to teach phonics. Many folks act as if the NRP (National Reading Panel) report found that synthetic phonics is the superior approach. The fact is that what the panel actually found was that using systematic phonics is the key to a successful phonics program. A great source for learning about all the different ways phonics can be taught is the International Reading Association’s Educators Guide to Phonics Instruction. Here is a link to that pdf. https://www.literacyworldwide.org/docs/default-source/where-we-stand/ila-explaining-phonics-instruction-an-educators-guide.pdf

Phonics PDF by ILA

Some books that have helped me build my understanding of phonics and use of orthographic information are:

Speech to Print

So, there you have it. These are all good resources to look into as you begin your literacy instruction this fall. It is going to be a beginning of the school year like none we’ve ever seen. However, teachers are an adaptable lot. We will find a way, we always do. I hope that some of these resources will help you to help students in the coming school year.

Happy Reading and Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching.

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog

Useful Resources for Implementing Literacy Programs in this New Era of Distance Learning by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Useful Resources for Implementing Literacy Programs in this New Era of Distance Learning

By Dr. Sam Bommarito

The past few months have been challenging for folks in the education world and, more specifically, for folks trying to implement literacy instruction in this age of the new normal.  The reality for this fall is that as schools begin to open their doors for the school year, it will be anything but business as usual. Some districts have plans to return to face to face classrooms, with many precautions being taken. Other districts are choosing hybrid models where families are offered their choice of face to face learning or distance learning. Still, others are choosing to begin the school year using only distance learning.

I live in the St. Louis region, which is currently in one of the COVID red zones. Our local news is filled with announcements by some of the area’s largest school districts that they are turning exclusively to that third option.  We are currently transitioning from what one distance learning expert called “emergency teaching” to teaching that actually uses authentic distance learning.  I thought it would be helpful to report on some resources I have found to be most useful in helping me to be prepared to teach this fall. This report contains highlights. It will have a permanent home on a new distance learning resources page I will be adding to this blog. Let’s get started.

Here is a link to a fantastic goggle site created by Kristin Ziemke and Katie Muhtaris coauthors of the recently released book Read the World: Rethinking Literacy for Empathy and Action in a Digital World.

https://sites.google.com/view/rtwdistancelearning/home?authuser=0&fbclid=IwAR2v7UWmQ4D2x9YOvna3DA-s6KF368di5pz4-is4aXeUOxAIXZ2YUGJOSL4

READ THE WORLD FROM FOR POST

When you go to this site you will find learning tips for distance learning, an excellent structure to use for a distance learning minilesson, advice on adapting distance learning to workshop teaching, tips for families on helping learners work independently, tips for teachers for empathetic distance learning, and a video of Jennifer Serravallo talking about distance learning. This video includes Jennifer’s thoughts about equity, safety and digital best practices. There are also sections on student’s and teacher’s hyperlinked documents and an extensive list of websites and apps for digital articles and books. When you go to each of these two sections, be sure to scroll down using the pull-down bar on the right so that you see all the things listed. These resources are updated every 5 minutes.  If you are looking for one-stop shopping for distance learning ideas and resources, this site as close to that as  I’ve been able to find. I highly recommend it.

If you like Kristin and Katie’s website, I think you will love their newest book. These two Chicago based teachers have made quite an impact on the digital world in the past few years. They still teach, but somehow, they also find time to write books and serve as advisors to scores of Chicago area schools. I listened to Kristin during a recent online appearance and I found her to have an in-depth knowledge of how to teach literacy. She then uses this knowledge to inform her distance learning practices. The book is available on the Heinemann site and other book venues online. The book contains hundreds of examples of how to teach effectively using digital resources and it also has links to many of those resources. This book has earned its place among the “go to first” books I keep on my desk. Here is a screen capture of the front cover.

Read the world Book Cover

Another book that contains excellent lessons and ideas for distance learning is the recently released- The Distance Learning Playbook: Grades K-12 by Douglas Fisher, Nancey Frey, and John Hattie. It is available on the Corwin website and other book venues online. The authors have written other playbooks. This one lives up to the high standards set by those previous endeavors.  It is spiral bound for easy access and is organized in modules that make it easy to use for teachers and administrators trying to put together a distance learning program based on best practices. There is also a kindle version of this book. Here is a screen capture of the book’s front cover:

Distance Learning Playbook

Another go-to site for me is EricLitwin’s website. He is the author of the four original Pete the Cat books and numerous other books, including a newly released book about the Joy of Reading, his first professional development book for teachers and parents. Here is the link to his website:

https://www.ericlitwin.com/

ERIC LITWIN WEBSITE

 

When you go there, be sure to check out the free mp3 and video downloads. I also found his information about creating read alouds of his book during the current crisis to be very useful. Included are the guidelines of his major publishers about creating read alouds of any of their books. This has helped me as I create online read alouds. Here is the link to that part of the website:

https://www.ericlitwin.com/reading-aloud-online

Speaking of Read-Alouds, Missouri’s own David Harrison (and others) have created read alouds of David’s works that are currently available via a local T.V. station in his hometown of Springfield Mo.” Look on page 9 of the latest issue of the Missouri Reader for links to read alouds of David’s books.

https://joom.ag/BuLe

Missouri Reader

Another rising star here in Missouri is Linda Mitchel, whose YouTube Channel contains interviews of local literacy figures. I suggest that you start with the one about Disney and Marvel’s new Reading Superhero. The description of the video states:” In this video, you will hear from Sidney Keys III, age 14. Sidney started the Books n Bros book club for black boys in St. Louis, Missouri, when he was ten years old. Sidney shares an important message about combatting the stereotypical view that black boys don’t like to read. He also relates how he received the honor of being selected for the Disney+ Marvel’s Hero Project. “The Spectacular Sidney” has the ability to read any book about a superhero and assume that same power.”

Here is a link to Linda’s YouTube channel that contains this interview along with many more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q27hOdDDjyE

Linda Mitchell

There are, of course, many other excellent links that can serve as resources for planning and implementing distance learning.

Here is a link for Dr. Jan Burkins with a set of start up lessons for this unique year.

https://www.drjanburkins.com/blog/k-5-lessons-for-launching-the-school-yearhttps://www.drjanburkins.com/blog/k-5-lessons-for-launching-the-school-year

Here is a link from Dr. Nell Duke containing tons of great resources about literacy Instruction.

https://www.nellkduke.org/?fbclid=IwAR2vIQOiMKpHABeG6V8_LCI07skyUtdPe_iyVWD0OpAHibVCbi0n8VudPhc

Here is a link to enable using Microsoft Teams to create free distance learning:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/microsoft-teams/remote-learning#:~:text=Enable%20distance%20learning%20with%20Microsoft%20Teams%20for%20free,together%20in%20a%20single%20location.%20Students%20and%20educators

Here is a blog entry about using google classroom in distance learning:

https://topteachingtasks.com/10-tips-for-using-google-classroom-for-distance-learning/#:~:text=Google%20Classroom%20is%20a%20widely%20used%20platform%20to,use%20as%20your%20main%20platform%20for%20teaching%20remotely.

Here is a link to Heinemann on distance learning.

https://blog.heinemann.com/topic/distance-learning?utm_content=134937676&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&hss_channel=tw-44927150https://blog.heinemann.com/topic/distance-learning?utm_content=134937676&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&hss_channel=tw-44927150

I just found the link from Simon and Shuster on a popular Facebook site for Literacy Coaches:

https://www.simonandschuster.com/p/online-read-aloud-guidelines?fbclid=IwAR2hQ6RzrKNFsxoEMCvCoV8RhJieH3QMsNTdBaM4J0laGMIviYaJfSjiBgg

All the links given in this entry will become part of my new blog page about resources for distance learning. If you have others to suggest, please leave a comment in the blog. I want to keep the page updated with all the latest information.

Until next time, Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, the distance learning guy)

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog

Still More about using a doc cam (not webcam!) in distance learning: Dr. Sam helps a young student write a book during a distance learning lesson by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Still More about using a doc cam (not webcam!) in distance learning: Dr. Sam helps a young student write a book during a distance learning lesson

by Dr. Sam Bommarito

My entry last week about webcams was very well received. It was even picked up on Twitter’s weekly list of things to read. Wow!  This week I’m going to talk about how to use a webcam to help children make their own books. A quick review of the difference between a webcam and a doccam:

Webcam-

The one I use is a Logitech Webcam, and it is a plug and play device. When installed, it automatically takes the place of your built-in webcam.

Doccam-

As you watch the video- notice what the doccam lets me do. This device lets you project live pictures while you are using your webcam. I use it on all my Zoom lessons. It is a game-changer for my distance learning.

What the video will talk about:

  1. Having children write their own books as part of their distance learning program. We will do this using a very old but very effective teaching method called Language Experience
  2. Language Experience & how it works, especially with older students reading well below grade level
  3. The software: Microsoft Publisher (any software that enables you to make an 8-page double fold booklet will work)
  4. Tricks of the trade part one: Creating a picture of the character for the book using publisher.
  5. Tricks of the trade part two- Using entries from the online writers notebook to make the text entries for their new book. * Then I demonstrate how to let the student pick pictures from the web to go with the entries.
  6. Alternate forms of publication for the stories the student creates.

So- You will find the link to my video blog below. After you open the share folder, click on the video, and start watching.  Stay tuned- I’m having some friends show me how to set up a YouTube channel and load my videos into them. Once that happens, I’ll also put a link to my YouTube Channel into this entry.

NEW HEAD SHOT

Clarifications about things from the video:  I ask my students to read from self-selected books in their home library for 20 minutes a night on all school nights. This is in addition to 5-7 minutes of “practicing to perform” a book of their choice.  In the video, it is not clear how often they are asked to read. The students get a copy of the books via porch pick up by the parents. I meet with each student once a week. The practice to perform mentioned in the video is an application of an idea by Dr. Tim Rasinki. Students practice reading a short piece aloud. Then they perform the piece for the teacher. That performance usually comes at the start of each new video lesson, meaning that each student does a weekly performance.  The student can read the book as I follow along with my copy OR I can show them my copy on the doc camera and have them read from my share screen. 

(Note: The video is 18 minutes long. But if you watch the first 8 minutes, you will get most of what you need to know about the use of the doc camera).

Enjoy!

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1LCdGSEw7NyffOyPlAjuP-BB1ksY-yNEO?usp=sharing

In the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging about favorite software programs and I’ll conduct interviews with various literacy friends about their literacy projects and books. In the meantime, be safe and be well.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka the video guy)

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

To see a more sophisticated version of an online writing journal go to this link from Pernille Ripp:

https://pernillesripp.com/2020/07/23/a-work-in-progress-digital-notebooks-for-reading-identity-development/?fbclid=IwAR3D_c90Rik6kSSMzKKf2k8lwYpPYDDSNZ2CoGKhbpGKM9MLLtH74KIOEBc

More about using a doc cam (not webcam!) in distance learning: Dr. Sam’s first video blog by Dr. Sam Bommarito

More about using a doc cam (not webcam!) in distance learning: Dr. Sam’s first video blog

by Dr. Sam Bommarito

 

Since my last entry about  webcam’s LINK, I’ve been talking to many of my literacy friends and early childhood friends about what a powerful tool a webcam can be for distance learning. They were all extremely interested.  A couple of basic terms:

My webcam-

As you watch the video- notice I have it on a stand so I can adjust it. The stand is actually designed to hold a phone, but the webcam easily goes right on it.  The particular one I use is a Logitech Webcam and it is a plug and play device. When installed, it automatically takes the place of your built-in webcam.

My doccam-

As you watch the video- notice what the doccam looks like. This device lets you project live pictures while you are using your webcam. I use it on all my Zoom lessons. It is a game-changer for my distance learning. I will discuss that in the video.

Advice for when you shop for your webcam or doccam- I did not try to hide the brands I am using. However, I know that there are many great products out there for both the doccam and the webcam. I highly recommend looking for ones with HD and instant display. Read the specs to make sure the one you choose has both of those features (these days most do- back in the day many doccams had small delays in showing the picture!). I think getting the add-on webcam is worth it. The add on webcam makes it easy to set up and adjust for Zoom et. al. and you can move it to take free shots when you want to. However, the doccam is the star of this show and there will be lots of ideas about how to use it in the video.

What the video will talk about:

  1. How it’s set up- VERY easy, all the devices are plug and play.
  2. How to use it at the start of the lesson to let your student know what will be happening in the lesson. I do that on this video
  3. How it can be used with younger learners in a prereading activity.
  4. How it can be used with word ladders, making and breaking, and Elkonin boxes. I will give some tips on how I use the doc cam in my word-work.
  5. How the doc cam can be used with all the different kinds of books I work with during my online tutoring. These include predictable text, decodable text, language experience books (the kids write themselves), and trade books.
  6. How the doc cam can be incorporated into Zoom Videos. Zoom videos are a game-changer in themselves. You can run a PowerPoint while using the Zoom share screen and folks will hear you talking and see the little live screen with you as you talk.

 

So- here is the link to my first video blog. After you open the share folder, click on the video, and start watching.

(Note: the video is 15 minutes long. But if you watch the first 8 minutes, you will get all you need to know about the doc camera. That is up to where I talk about Making and Breaking.  The rest gives you more details about all the different kinds of literacy activities supported by the webcam (items 5-6 on the things the Video talks about).

Enjoy!

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Jhu1-R-j34up2EDICwAX_u0hpHlEtNUJ?usp=sharing

HEAD SHOT FOR DOC CAM VIDEO

In the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging about favorite software programs and I’ll conduct interviews with various literacy friends about their various literacy projects and books. In the meantime, be safe and be well.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka the video guy)

Links to the materials mentioned in the blog.

KEEP BOOKS LINK

LEARNING A-Z (Headsprout) https: LINK- is a turn-key program. Headsprout teaches the students the letter-sound correspondence and how to use those to put together words. Periodically it presents the student with decodable books to do online. The pdfs of these books can be downloaded and run off. That is how I got the ones shown in the video. Like all the Learning A-Z programs, Headsprout has an excellent reporting system. When used in conjunction with Raz Kids you can find out a great deal about what each child is doing. When I do my individual distance learning lessons with my children, parents are normally sitting in and helping.  I periodically share the reports for Headsprout and Raz Kids. These can be printed out and I then simply show them the reports using the doccam.  As you can tell I do love & use the doccam.

Eric Litwin’s website LINK (find out about his new book!)

Getting by with a little help from my friends, part one: Recommended resources from the web By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Getting by with a little help from my friends, part one: Recommended resources from the web By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, there has been an explosion of information about distance learning and how to do it. It is very likely that distance learning and the use of resources from the internet will play an essential role in the coming school year. Accordingly, I am adding resource pages to the blog. They will provide a permanent home for useful resources you can find on the web.  This is the first of what will be several entries that I will be making from time to time on the resources I will be putting on those pages. This week I will focus on web pages. I hope you will find some of these are resources you can use to help you help your kids.  I will add the page later this week

FAVORITE WEB PAGES:

Dr. Tim Rasinski is the guru of Fluency. He believes that the teaching of reading is both science and art. I have blogged often about his work, LINK1, LINK2. Over the past summer, he has posted daily, giving access to some of his word ladders and his other word work materials. His twitter handle is @TimRasinski1. Here is a link to his website:  http://timrasinski.com/

Tim R

When you are on his website, be sure to uses the resources dropdown to look over the many free teacher resources he has there.  You can download pdfs from some of his presentations. He also has some older versions of his word ladders. Newer versions of his word ladders can be found on his blog- and there is a tab for that as well.

Dr. Tim Shanahan is an advocate for a research-based approach to reading. I’ve said that I don’t always agree with his positions but that I do always learn from them. Most folks on the internet know him best for his op-ed posts from his blog and on twitter. His twitter handle is @ReadingShanahan. However, I think everyone should also be aware that his web page also contains a treasure trove of materials and resources that can help teachers.

Tim S

Here is the link to his webpage: https://shanahanonliteracy.com/

You can find op-ed and informational pieces on many topics by going to the blog tab. Many people may not be away of the extensive collection of materials you can find under his resources tab. Please do visit those and explore this section. You will find a well-organized extensive collection of materials. Of particular interest in our current situation is his section of free reading materials for children and teens. You have to scroll down a bit on the resources tab to get to it, but as you can see, there are many useful materials once you get there.

FREE MATERIALS

Dr. Molly Ness has caught the attention of many people due to her work to end book deserts. A book desert is a zip code where children have almost no access to books at home. Dr. Ness has a podcast where she talks to folks about how they address this problem.  Here is the link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/end-book-deserts/id1471803313

Dr. Ness just published an article in Parents magazine, here is a link:

https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/reading/im-a-mom-and-a-literacy-specialist-heres-how-to-read-to-your-kids/?fbclid=IwAR2S45O4mb0ftb2pdXwWLkPHg56-PWp0XI6cT-Ja-WUkvbF4ZyVYzwF2pow

Dr. Ness’s website is another one of those with many resources, especially resources that both parents and teachers can use. I send the link to her website to all my parents at the start of each school year:

https://www.drmollyness.com/

Dr. Molly Ness

As you can see from the screen capture, there are tabs for Students and Families and for Schools. One of the really good things about her advice for families is that she gives it from the twin perspectives of reading expert and mom. My families have found her to be a great resource for practical ideas about how to support their kids in literacy. That is especially valuable in our current situation. Molly’s twitter handle is @drmollyness.

Jennifer Serravallo is best known as the author of many useful books for teachers. Her twitter handle is @JSerravello. I have interviewed her several times as part of my work with The Missouri Reader, LINK.  I will talk about her books in future posts. Right now, I want to tell you about her Facebook page The Reading and Writing Strategies Community. Just type that phrase into your Facebook search for pages and you’ll find this page. The page focuses on posts about her two books on reading and writing strategies. It now has almost 40,000 followers. I have called the page the world’s biggest faculty lounge. Teachers come to it on a daily basis to find out the nuts and bolts of how to teach those strategies. If you ever have questions about how to teach those or what materials to use when teaching them just visit this page. You will get immediate and in-depth answers from the many practicing teachers who come to this page. From time to time Jennifer posts on this page and runs activities like her Summer Camp groups in Reading and Writing.

RR Sera

These are just a few of the sites I will be adding to the page about websites. If you have other sites that you use often, please tell me about them in the comments section this week. The website page is a growing living document, and I will always be looking for new things to add to it. In addition to visiting the web pages, it would be a great idea to follow each of the folks I’ve talked about on twitter. Here is a summary of their twitter handles: @drmollyness, @ReadingShanahan, @JSerravello and @TimRasinski1.

Next week I will continue this topic by adding a page of useful resources for distance learning, especially read alouds and other activities that folks like Eric Litwin and David Harrison have put on the net and software by companies like Learning A-Z,  makers of Raz Kids, and resources provided by Lauri and Evan Robb. Be sure to catch Learning A-Z’s  upcoming webinar on Equity and Access. Dr. Tim Rasinski will be one of the speakers along with Dr. Jilliam Joe
Senior Director of Learning Insights and Research LEAP Innovations. It is a free event

 https://www.accelevents.com/e/LearningAZCONNECT.

Connect

 

In future posts, I’ll also be talking about favorite professional books and favorite blogs to follow and I hope to do some interviews with folks about books they have written. Eventually, I plan to add pages about the full range of resources offered by two literacy organizations I belong to, the International Literacy Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. I’ll be interspersing these posts about resources with my future op-ed and informational pieces. In the meantime, Happy Reading and Writing!

Dr Sam Bommarito (aka, the blog guy, building his blog resources one page at a time)

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Louis Black Authors Believe Project: Making History as they launch the pilot episode of their literacy-based TV Show By Dr. Sam Bommarito

St. Louis Black Authors Believe Project: Making History as they launch the pilot episode of their literacy-based TV Show

by Dr. Sam Bommarito

I’ve written before about the Believe project LINK TO BLOG. Stories about the project have appeared on a number of local TV stations in St. Louis LINK TO NEWS COVERAGE.  With the help of grants from the Salvation Army, the Nine Network of Public TV in St. Louis, the Scholastic Book Club and other sponsors St. Louis Black Authors have set up four reading rooms in the St. Louis region, with plans in the works to set up even more. Each room is stocked with “stories written for you and me,” which include books written by the members of the St. Louis Black Authors Association. Murals by local black artists decorate the rooms. The décor is inviting and informal, with comfortable chairs. They are safe havens where children can come to read and immerse themselves in culturally relevant books.  Recently, Julius Anthony, the president and founder of St. Louis Black Authors and his group took things to the next level. They have produced four pilot episodes for a TV program. Each episode features a different children’s book by one of the St. Louis Black Authors. The announcement for that project appears below.

BEST BELIEVE POSTING

The first episode premiered on Friday, July 3rd. It featured the book Rock What You Got by Aja LaStar Owens. Below is a screen capture of the episode which is available on YouTube. It is a lively well-done show designed to be the first in a series of remote summer programs. The series is open to the public.

THE VIDEO

Here is the link to this first show, it’s about 20 minutes long and I REALLY recommend you watch it. I think you will be inspired. I know I was! –  LINK.

The first episode was featured on a webinar conducted by Lindsey Newton who, among other things, hosts a show on the Channel Nine PBS station in St. Louis. That show features weekly read alouds of various children’s books. Here is a screen capture of Julius’ remarks about that show:

THE LAUNCH

It is important to note that the first episode of the series was filmed on location at the very first  Believe site that Julius and his group created. That site is located in the Ferguson Community Center in Ferguson Missouri.  By the way, the name of the project, The Believe Project, is based on a poem Julius wrote entitled Believe.  Future episodes of the program will appear on the Missouri Historical Society’s YouTube channel and on Channel 9’s YouTube channel beginning on July 6th.  Julius has plans to create additional episodes of the TV show.  If you want to find out more about the wonderful work Julius and his group is doing in St. Louis (and beyond!) here is a link to their website LINK. There you can look at books written by the 16 authors in the St. Louis Black Authors group and get more information on how to stream the first four episodes of this new project. Turn the Page St. Louis is arranging for 170 children in the St. Louis region to get copies of the books from this series. In my future blogs, you will be hearing more about the literacy work Turn the Page and other St. Louis regional organizations are doing in the St. Louis metro area. Stay Tuned!

So…, have a safe 4th of July weekend. Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka A true Believer in the St. Louis Black Authors and their work)

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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My Webcam Part 2: More About Distance Learning Literacy Activities and Why I Do Them by Dr. Sam Bommarito

My Webcam Part 2: More About Distance Learning Literacy Activities and Why I Do Them

By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Last week I talked about some of the new capabilities using a webcam brought to my literacy work. It has been a real gamechanger.  Adding it made the one-on-one literacy lessons I do as close to being there with the child as you can get. I meet my literacy students once a week. They are in grades K-2 and need extra help in reading. The sessions last only 30-40 minutes, and I try to pack as much bang for the buck as possible into the lessons. Here are some of the things I do in each session, how the webcam and selected features of the Zoom application help, and explanations of why I do them. This week I will be explaining what I do when I am teaching a decodable book.  The lesson is built around a decodable book from the award-winning Headsprout computer program which is published by A-Z Learning. More about that in a minute.

When I was doing my sessions in person, having the students make and break words and/or phrases was a key feature of almost every lesson.  By using a real-time live feed from my doc camera, I am able to do almost the same making and breaking activities with the student as I did when I was with them in person. Let’s look at making and breaking words from a story they were about to read.

I begin by asking the student to spell the two chunks we will be using in the story.  In this case, they were “an” and “in.” I then put one of the consonants with the chunk, saying the consonant sound and then the chunk. I ask them what word I just made. They say, “tan.” I repeat the process with tin. Then I put the t back and ask them what to do if I want to make tan. We repeat that with each of the consonants. At the end, I add “Fr” to an to make Fran. Fran is the name of one of the characters in the story.

M&B

 

Next, I demonstrate by making and breaking words and phrases for them.  I also ask them to make and break the words/phrases for me.  These phrases are related to the story they will read.

M&B1

I first read the phrase to the student, pointing to the first letter of each word. I then ask them to read the phrase for me, as I point. Remember this is all live and in real-time.  They can see what I an doing because I use Zoom share screen to show them the making and breaking tablet.  Pointing to each word as I read and having them do the same is a vital teaching move. Clay calls it “making it match.”  Some of the prompting I do includes saying- if you see five words, say five words if you see three words say three words.  Any teacher who uses level 1-4 books with kids knows that many kids first memorize the whole book. Word by word pointing and asking them to go back and find particular words helps the child develop the concept of word. Instead of viewing reading as listening to a whole book and memorizing, they instead learn to view reading as figuring out each and every word as they go along.

The next picture illustrates my next teaching move. I break the word as shown below. Then I make the word and put it back into the phrase. I then break the word again and ask them what to do. They tell me to put back the c, then the a and then the n.

M&B1

I break each word in turn and repeat the process. Sometimes, depending on the child, I break more than one word at a time. When the making and breaking is finished, I then have the student read the book. Here are some screenshots of the decodable book, which is a benchmark book in the Headsprout program.

THE BOOK

THE BOOK 2

I have them read the book to me.  I point to the first letter of each word. They see a real-time screenshot of the book.  This decodable book comes from the award-winning software program called Headsprout.  Here is a link where you can find out more about Headsprout

https://www.learninga-z.com/site/products/headsprout/overview

Head Sprout only

Headsprout has a carefully thought out scope and sequence.  It is adaptive, teaches the students the sounds they need to learn, and scaffolds them into using that sound-symbol knowledge to decode. It can be used as a stand-alone program. However, I find it is more effective when used with Raz-Kids plus (more about that at another time), and I have chosen to supplement it with the making and breaking/story creating activities I am describing in this blog.   It is most certainly not the only software program out there. It does happen to be one of the programs I’m using this summer with my kids.

In the way of full disclosure, I have used products by Learning A-Z for years. I have even done presentations for them, and last year they sent people from their main office in Phoenix to present their products to our local ILA. What I like about their products is they are well designed. The designs incorporate the latest research on how to teach reading. They have some great, easy to use diagnostic reports built into all their software. In my opinion, they have the best tracking and reporting system in the business. Their software goes through extensive field tests before being marketed.

During the week, my kids continue to do Headsprout lessons.  The next week I have them make their own book following the pattern of the benchmark book from Headsprout. Here is a sample from one of their books. This book gets added to their home library along with a copy of the decodable book by Headsprout.

SUZIE

Regular readers know that decodable books are not the only books you will find in my student’s home library. There are also trade books, Keep Books (predictable books with a high percentage of high-frequency words), books that they have written inspired by Keep Books, and at some point,  books they have written using their Writers Notebook. They also read books from the Raz Kids plus programs and those books include well-designed quizzes over what they read.  In a previous blog, I wrote about Language Experience stories. Even my youngest kids create them. Adding those stories to their home library gives them a lot of reading material.  See my blog about creating language experience stories, here is a link  BLOG ABOUT LANGUAGE EXPERIENCE.  In that blog, I also talked about how this can all be done using distance learning.

So that’s how I am using the webcam for word work and for work with decodable books. I think it is clear that my students read a variety of books, including decodable books, predictable books, trade books, and books they’ve written themselves using Language Experience. We have conversations from time to time about which books they like the best. They learn the importance of having favorite books and favorite authors. They learn the importance of talking about what they are learning from their various books.  I hope this blog gives you ideas about how to make the new normal of distance learning as kid-friendly as possible. In the meantime, Happy Reading and Happy Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito aka the new distance learning guy

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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My Webcam: A gamechanger for my distance learning  literacy lessons By Dr. Sam Bommarito

My Webcam: A gamechanger for my distance learning  literacy lessons

By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Like everyone, when the new normal came into being, I found myself scrambling to try to adjust. One of the things I do is to conduct one-on-one literacy lessons with students. I do this as a volunteer.  Over time my lessons include word work, e.g., making and breaking and the use of Elkoin boxes. They also include having the student read aloud and performing, I.e., reading aloud from passages/poems they have practiced. I routinely use a technique known as language experience. The student tells stories, the teacher writes them down. These stories become future readings for the student.  Of course, we talk about their stories. I supplement what I do with the use of a couple of commercial software programs. All this was usually done with the student in the same room, and often with the parent also attending the session. Enter the new normal. I got a quick lesson in distance learning. This week I will concentrate on the “how” of my lessons- how I accomplish the same things I did before using distance learning. Next week I’ll talk more about the “why” of my lessons, why I teach what I teach.

I tried more than one distance learning program but settled on Zoom. Zoom was ALMOST like being there. However, there were issues. At the very beginning levels (RR 1-8), I ask my students to point to the first letter of each and every word. I even have a chant about that:  “Make it match don’t make it up, that is what to do. Make it match. Don’t make it up, and you’ll read your story true.”  Sometimes when they have finished a sentence or two, I’ll say stop. Then I point to a word and ask, what is this word? These particular teaching moves are designed to make sure the student isn’t just memorizing the whole book.  But in the typical Zoom meeting, I couldn’t really see where the child was pointing. Enter the document camera.

As you can see the doc camera is compact. I found this one on Amazon for about $100. Two of the features I looked for are that the camera was high-resolution and that the camera showed the image instantaneously. Having used older models a while back, I found it is important that there be no lag in the picture being displayed.

BLOG doc camera

Notice in this shot you can see some of the Keep Books I use with my students (go to this link for information on Keep Books LINK. ) Since they are low cost ($ .25 if bought in bulk), I can have a copy with me and the student can also have a copy at home. The students also sometimes write their own books using keep books as inspiration. Here is one that a student wrote using the same patterns as used in the Lunch Box Keep Book:

AT MY HOUSE

I can display Keep Books, or books they’ve written inspired by the keep books in real-time.

Finger pointing

I can point using my finger OR by creating an arrow like the one pointing at the lunch box.  I can drag that blue arrow along and use it as a pointer. When I want to use software programs, I can demonstrate how to use them in real-time, while the student is watching. I use both Raz Kids and Headsprout with my students. I can also show them some of the reports from those programs.  Elkonin boxes and Rasinski’s word ladders are also readily displayed.  In sum, adding the doc cam to my teaching tools makes it as close to actually being there as you can possibly be.

As indicated, next week, I’ll take up the why’s of what I do during my distance lessons. In the meantime, I highly recommend you watch this video. In it, Dr. Nell Duke from the University of Michigan describes her distance learning lessons around word work. She talks about doing this in a small group setting. She has many research-based ideas about word work to consider. Use this LINK to see the video.

WORD WORK AT A DISTANCE

So until next week, Happy Reading and Writing!

Dr. Sam Bommairto (The doc cameras guy!)

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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Teaching Fluency: The advantages of using a complete view of the reading process by Dr. Sam Bommarito

reading-scrabble

Teaching fluency: The advantages of using a complete view of the reading process by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Fluency is one place where advocates of balanced literacy get right, and advocates of the simple view get it partially wrong.  You see, advocates of the simple view of reading use measures of fluency like those found in the Dibels. The Dibels measures some (not all) of the components of fluency. A little refresher on the Dibels and its content.  The focus of the Dibels is on reading rate.  More recent iterations of the Dibels include correlation-based tests of comprehension.  I’ve written before on the limits and limitations of using the Dibels as a test of comprehension. The upshot of what I’ve said is that for preliminary studies, it might be an adequate measure of reading. Still, for the kind of whole-district, multi-year studies needed to demonstrate the efficacy of particular approaches to be used, a much more complete test of reading is required, modeled on statewide reading assessments that include passages and a variety of comprehension questions.

Today I want to focus on a different aspect of the limits and limitations of tests like the Dibels. What happens when one focuses on reading rate/reading accuracy as the key factors in reading and leaves out other factors? What happens is that instruction in fluency too often becomes a race. Shanahan talks about the use (and misuse) of assessments like the Dibels https://shanahanonliteracy.com/blog/should-we-test-reading-or-dibels. He ends by saying, “a pax on both your houses.”  He recognizes that principals and other administrators sometimes focus on all the wrong things when looking at test results from measures like the Dibels. They try to teach the test rather than using the test results to inform instruction. This is a decidedly bad use of test results.  I’m taking that thought one step further. If the measure were more complete, the probability of misuse would go down. What’s missing from the Dibels? Let’s look at Tim Rasinski’s rubric for measuring fluency.

I’ve written before about Dr. Tim Rasinski’s extensive work around the topic of fluency.  The bottom line is, as he said recently, making kids read-fast is not the goal of fluency instruction making meaning-is Rasinski takes a complete view of the fluency process.  He concerns himself with prosody. I’ve written about Rasinski and how his work has impacted my teaching practices  2018blog1, 2019blog2,  Let’s have a look at Tim’s fluency rubric. It can be found in the book Megabook of Fluency, a book he co-authored with Mellissa Cheeseman. The rubric includes the following:

EARS

What are the advantages of measuring all these aspects of prosody rather than just measuring speed and accuracy?  Let’s begin by looking at an entertaining video about not reading like a robot but instead reading with expression.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjtPMiumixA

Don't Read Like a Robot

Why is there even a need for a video to ask kids to read with expression rather than read like a robot? It is because the measures we use do not include this critical aspect of measuring prosody, and subsequently, these aspects are often never taught.  I’ve found in the project I was doing in 4 elementary classrooms (2 first grades and 2 second grades), that teachers and students alike quickly caught on to the importance of reading with expression. Kids started “reading like storytellers” within a couple of weeks of being introduced to that concept.  One of the students taught me a lesson about reading like a storyteller. I said everyone knows it is important not to read like a robot. One student timidly put up his hand to ask a question. “But Dr. B. What if your character is a robot?”.  Hmmm.  That child got it didn’t he?.

Unfortunately, Corvid interrupted the project before it could be completed. The project included instruction/demonstrations on reading with expression and periodic read-aloud performances after systematic read-aloud practice. It also included the use of Dr. Rasinski’s rubric to assess students’ progress in prosody periodically.  The cumulative data from each periodic measurement was used to inform prosody instruction. Stay tuned. As soon as it is safe to resume face to face classes, we’ll try to carry out this piece of action research.

But wait. Is using a testing instrument like Dr. Rasinski’s rubric really scientific?  Those familiar with the qualitative analysis and developing interrater reliability know that it is. Here is a link to a quick overview of the two approaches LINK. The fact that Rasinski’s rubric measures all aspects of prosody, not just the elements of speed and accuracy, underscores one of the potential weaknesses of using only quantitative studies and ignoring or discounting qualitative studies.  In order to get things that are easily and directly measured, quantitative studies run the risk of oversimplifying- the risk of leaving out educationally significant factors. Understand that I am not arguing for all research to be done qualitatively.  I am arguing that both qualitative and quantitative measures be included in the educational research we use to inform our educational decisions.

Next week I will talk about how my acquisition of a small portable document camera has dramatically aided the distance learning work I am currently doing with my one-on-one tutoring of selected students. Until then, Happy Reading and Writing.

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (a.k.a. a reading storyteller)

 

Copyright 2020 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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Fluency is taking a back seat this week, instead, I will talk about #BlackLivesMatter by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Fluency is taking a back seat this week, instead, I will talk about #BlackLivesMatter

by Dr. Sam Bommarito

This week I had promised readers I would be talking about fluency and some of the amazing ideas and methods I have learned from the work of Dr. Tim Rasinski. That blog post will be forthcoming, but this week’s events dictate that I need to talk about the whole issue of Black Lives Matter and potential ways educators can and should respond to the events of the past few weeks. In case you missed it, a good start would be to listen to this recording from the RALLY FOR BLACK LIVES by The Brown Bookshelf (#KIDLIT COMMUNITY) this week-

Black Lives Matter Rally USE FOR THE BLOG OPENING JPG

LINK TO THE RECORDING OF THE RALLY-

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=248795633092755

Earlier this week, I posted links to the rally on both Facebook and Twitter urging folks to attend, and in a bit of irony when I first went on to watch, I got a “resources full” message from The Brown Bookshelf site. I went to the Zoom alternative they had created- that was full for a time as well.  But I finally was able to watch most of the rally live (an amazing experience). As promised, they created a recording that lets folks watch the full 2-hour event.  There are almost 10,000 comments about the recording, among them was “I got goosebumps when….”. To say the response to the rally was overwhelming is an understatement.

I will not attempt to unpack everything that was said- there were so many important things that were covered. Instead, I want to react to one thing that caught my eye. Here it is:

Black Lives Matter Rally USE FOR THE BLOG

 

“Love letters to kids who need to look to the light, even in our darkest time.”  Thanks to Denene Millner for that powerful statement.  For me, it reminded me that as educators, it’s all about the kids, all about what we can do (should do) for the kids.  I’d like to reflect on what that has meant to me and some of my colleagues here in St. Louis.

A little background. I’m white.  I grew up in north St. Louis city. My first teaching job was with the Ferguson Florissant school district. The school where I taught for 18 years was in Jennings Mo, which borders Ferguson. The Ferguson Community Center (I’ll be saying more about that in a minute) is about a mile from my old school. The school had over 90% free lunch. The school population was mainly black.  The staff and the parents at that school were something special. Let me elaborate.

One of the roles I took on was as parent liaison for the Title 1 program. That was an extra duty job- for all my time there, my main job was to be a Title 1 reading teacher/Title 1 staff developer. At our first parent meeting, we had three parents. Hmmm. Not a great start. Some might conclude the parents did not really care about their kids. Nothing could be further from the truth. My last year there, we had several hundred attending our parent events. Kids were coming to do flashlight reads in the gym, exchanging books, and eating ice cream. And eating ice cream? You see, folks knew that the trick was to create a sense of community. Ice cream socials were a part of many of the local church events, and they became a part of our school events. Many of our parents worked more than one job (flies in the face of some stereotypes, doesn’t it?). We adjusted accordingly. We held events on different days-different hours. We were blessed to find parents willing to take charge, and they did.  Lesson learned here?  Building community matters. Listening to parents matters. The parents want to help their kids. But some had such a terrible school experience themselves they were skeptical about coming back to the school. It took time, a lot of reaching out, and a lot of empowering parents. But in the end, we did have a real community. I learned a valuable life lesson from this- building community is foundational to creating successful schools.

Fast forward to the present. What are educators in my community doing now to help children?  Enter my good friend and colleague, Julius Anthony. Julius is an educator, an author, and an activist. He is the founder and current President of St. Louis Black Authors. What are they all about?

believe-literacy-lab-june-2018

 

Julius and his group have opened several literacy centers in the St. Louis region. I was privileged to be there when he opened his very first one. It is located in the Ferguson Community Center. Just down the road from my old school. Julius and the St. Louis Black Authors understand the importance of building community. The shelves in the literacy center are stocked with books that are about the black experience and written by black authors. Julius is an author himself. The project is named after one of his poems, “Believe.” Julius understands the importance of community. The centers include comfortable places to sit and read and murals by local Black artists. Some of the newer centers his group have opened are in schools. His love letter to the children of the St. Louis area is an invitation to come to a safe place to read and find out about black heritage and culture. To find out more about Julius and his wonderful group go to their webpage:

http://stlblackauthors.com

St. Louis Black Authors for the Blog

 

So, that is not the only thing going on in my community, but it is one of the most important ones. As educators, we must do what we can to build community and foster understanding. Julius and his group give us one example of things we could do.

OK, now I PROMISE next week I will do the blog about the issues of fluency and about the importance of teaching in ways that develop the desire to read in each and every child. As Mark Twain said: “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who can not read.”  Certainly, by their community-building efforts, Julius and his group are helping to foster a love of reading in the children of the St. Louis region (and Beyond).

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito

Copyright 2019 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.