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Tips for Parents on How to Grow Motivated Lifelong Readers by Dr. Sam Bommarito

TIps for Parent @DoctorSam7 copyright 2017

PARENT TIP SHEET

The following is based on a presentation I’m scheduled to give next week to a group of parent educators in St. Louis.  Here are some of the key ideas from that presentation.

Key Take Aways From My Presentation

  • About those reading wars: The past 50 years has seen a spirited debate on how to best teach beginning readers. This presentation is based on a balanced, middle of the road approach.  For most children phonics needs to be taught. However, there are several ways to teach phonics (see my blog posts under the categories Decoding & Phonics and Ending The Reading Wars). I argue that since research supports the position that no one beginning reading method works with every child, that the key to successful reading instruction in early reading is to match the child up with a method that works for them. Fit the program to the child not the other way round. Starting with the First Grade Studies and through the work of Dick Allington research has consistently demonstrated that teachers make more difference than any one method. This means that in-servicing teachers in a variety of methods is critical to creating successful early reading programs. Participants are cautioned to examine the claims of some successful one size fits all “reading” programs. Too often these programs based their claims on measures of decoding skills only. The proponents seem to argue that reading achievement and comprehension automatically follow once decoding skills are established. Extensive work with comprehension is delayed, often until third grade.  Teachers like myself who have worked with children who are the product of such approaches are skeptical. Too often such an approach produces “word callers”, children who decode well but don’t remember or understand what is read. These children can be mistaken for children who have learning disabilities. This presenter takes issue with any approach that fails to include meaning making as part of the reading process. I recommend an approach that teaches decoding strategies and comprehension strategies concurrently from the very beginning stages of reading instruction.
  • Ages and stages When should formal instruction on letters sounds and letter names begin, how should that be done? We will review research like that presented in http://www.theorganizedmindhq.com/reading-too-soon/?fbclid=IwAR0XtYp8TuvrDHiTclb9_J4nLI0A_-MKBw79WjAV-A6zTkTTirUznYtnrhc The conclusion is that for the early years (birth through three), it is counterproductive to try to directly teacher letter sounds and names. The brain literally isn’t ready for that yet.  The key is to use a discovery approach to learning. Parents need to create a print rich environment in which children learn all the various Concepts About Print (print carries the message, in English writing goes from left to right, et. al). At this stage it is vital that children have things read to them, talk about things that are read, hear the various sounds that make up our English language.  This work in ages birth through three lays the foundation (creates the schema) for the formal instruction about how words work, letter sounds and letter names et. al. That instruction can (and should) begin starting no sooner than age 4.  Many children will leave the early stage (birth through 3) already knowing letter sounds and names. For those who don’t, instruction in those things can be provided using method(s) that best fit each particular child.

 THE NEXT FEW SECTIONS REFERENCE THE PARENT HELPSHEET I WILL DISTRUBUTE TO THE PARTCIPANTS OF THE PRESENTATION

  •  Supporting the emergent reader- Helping them Work for WordsWORK FOR OWN WORDS

While your child is reading to you, if they are stuck on a word don’t just give them the word. Instead try to help them work it out using the tips above. If they still don’t get it, then give it to them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many words they’ll get on their own if you just give them that first sound to start with.

Also, everyone can make mistakes on their first cold read of a passage. If the child is in the habit of noticing their mistakes and correcting them THAT IS HUGE. Encourage it whenever it happens.

  •  Supporting the emergent reader- Reading to Remember/Talking About Books

Talk to them about books

You can ask about any one of these three things (not all three at once!). Use any of these three as a starting point to talk about the book. You can also ask them about favorite characters or favorite parts or new things they learned. THIS IS NOT AN EXAM. The idea is to get them to talk about their story. Knowing that you want to talk about their book encourages them to READ TO REMEMBER!

  • Supporting the emergent reader- Learning to Book Shop/Visiting the LibraryShop for books

Shop for books by interests not by level. Help them find that series or author that they want and they may “binge read”. Binge reading beats binge watching Netflix all to pieces! If the book they want is to hard for them to decode, still check it out and read it to them. Read it more than once. Share the reading with them. Make it a goal to visit the library periodically and check out books for them, books about things they are interested in!!!

OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS

The MegaBook of Fluency

  • Reading Like a Story Teller

 Rasinski & Smith Have a wonderful book called The Megabook of Fluency. Use the EARS rubric from that book to guide you into better fluency.  Read with Expression, Automatic Word Recognition, Rhythm and Phrasing, Smoothness.  The rubric is on page 316 of the book. Also check out their help sheet about reading with expression found on page 309.  In addition to these two resources, the book has tons of other activities parents can do to help their child read with fluency (PROSODY!).

  •  Supporting the emergent reader- Parents Should Act Like Books are Important & Wonderful (Because they are!)

xmas-presents creative commons

 Books can be (and should be) presents. With Christmas coming up look over some of these suggestions for books for preschoolers and emergent readers.

https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/50-chapter-books-for-preschoolers-and-3-year-olds

https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/read-aloud-chapter-books-for-4-and-5-year-olds/

https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/funny-books-for-kids/?fbclid=IwAR3iP-h7Wbkn8vJmp2DDrIZ9bjfS9rEeNKfF8Xso3EOSAQ6RrdAt2-SYK_s

https://padlet.com/sally_donnelly/BookRecommendations?fbclid=IwAR3t_xC8n5wFt-3ARWaEAG6J9sHMHKfz3vJ5g7HmOFYJ7RlXI5DcNOi6v44

Most of these suggestions come from the website https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/aboutcontact/

I’ve found it to be an excellent site for getting literacy ideas to use with younger children.

Parents should think hard about making a book one of this year’s Christmas presents. It can be the start of a great family tradition.

MEM FOX

So…, that’s the advice I’ll be giving to parent educators about what to say to parents.  It’s advice that can set the child down the path of becoming a lifelong reader. It’s advice that’s grounded in a solid research base.  It’s advice that can give their child a world of wonderful new experiences.

Happy Holidays- and KEEP READING READING READING!

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, book shopper, advice giver, lifelong learner)

P.S. If you are a visitor from the internet and liked this blog please consider following it.  Just type in your e-mail address on the sidebar of this blog post. THANKS

Copyright 2018 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.

whatdowedoallday.com/aboutcontact

Developing the Concepts About Print Provides the Solid Foundation Early Readers Need to Become Successful Readers.  By Dr. Sam Bommarito

READ ALOUD neural networks from the Read Aloud 15 minutes website

Developing the Concepts About Print Provides the Solid Foundation Early Readers Need to Become Successful Readers.  By Dr. Sam Bommarito

In a little more than two weeks, I’ll be doing an hour long in-service for a group of parent educators from a local school district. In the way of full disclosure, my wife is among those parent educators. That fact makes me want to do an extra good job.  Thinking of what I should say to them has caused me to synthesize some views I’ve been expressing over the past few months. The core of those things is that one should fit the literacy program to the child, not the other way round. What does literacy for our very youngest children look like? What should it look like?

The topics of phonics and phonemic awareness will come up. My audience is going to want to know what to say to the parents of children ages Birth through 3 (the core group served by the Parents as Teachers program) and children 4-5, the children in preschool (some children from this group are also served, though they are not the predominant age group served).

The first thing I will tell the parent educators is that it is likely they wouldn’t be gathering for an in-service at all if it weren’t for the influence of the First Grade Studies. It’s been over 5 decades since the First Grade Studies were completed. For readers not familiar with this landmark study, the First Grade Studies compared the efficacy of the major approaches to reading of that era. Overall, they found no one approach worked best, every approach worked better when used with a phonics supplement and that teachers made more difference than methods of teaching in predicting the variance of reading achievement tests. The methods of analysis were not as sophisticated as those employed in today’s metanalysis, but these pioneering studies did have a major impact on our thinking about how to teach reading. Among the things that resulted from these studies was the conclusion that if we want to improve reading instruction for all children, we should invest in in-servicing our teachers. This makes sense. If one approach doesn’t work for a particular child, teachers would become knowledgeable in other approaches that might work for that child. The whole business of providing in depth in-service for teachers in a variety of literacy practices began with the First Grade Studies.  My own take about this point is that the education world recognized there would likely never be a one size fits all solution to the task of teaching literacy skills and strategies. So rather than promote a single method, our resources would be best used to train teachers in a variety of methods. This was based on the finding that good teachers seemed to make more difference in reading achievement than using any one particular approach or method. The First-Grade Studies are also credited with a shift from the Reading Readiness model of early reading, to today’s current model of Concepts About Print as the core of an early reading program. So what advice will I recommend these parent educators give to the parents of very young children?

First and foremost- encourage parents to create and foster a print rich environment for their children.  That means parents should be reading aloud to their children. It also means the parents should be providing that rich constellation of experiences that foster the development of the Concepts of Print. Children also need to see their parents reading and know that their parents consider reading an important life skill.  Parents need to talk about what they are reading to their children, so their children can learn how stories work. That includes talk around non-fiction and fiction (expository and narrative) works.

Currently, there are actually folks telling us to abandon the constructivist approaches often used with these youngest children and to revert back to directly teaching letter sounds and names from the very earliest of ages.  Put all the meaning making on the back burner and get the decoding skills done first. The problem is that the research seems to favor folks using approaches like Reading Recovery. Those approaches combine meaning making and decoding.  It is no accident that Marie Clay, creator of Reading Recovery is also the creator of the CAPs test. That is because CAPs form the core of her highly successful program in beginning reading.  Reading Recovery remains the most successful approach in improving reading achievement in early readers.  Readers are welcome to review the evidence I’ve compiled to demonstrate that the aforementioned conclusion is a research-based statement. The entries can be found under the Reading Recovery category on the side column of this blog.

Turning to things on the CAPS list, as children are read to, they learn important things about how print works. It is print that carries the message. In our system of reading, print moves from left to right. They learn to hear the sounds of various letters, the phonemes that are the building blocks of the written word. At this earliest stage it is not important that they be able to name particular letters and sounds (though they certainly can if they want to). Rather through listening, through talk, the child builds a background knowledge of the various sounds that are used to construct the written word. In addition to learning how words work, they also learn how stories go. They learn about beginning, middle and ends of story. They learn how some stories simply give information. They learn about the meaning carried by the print.

As children reach the age of 4 of 5 they are ready for more direct instruction in how words work. This does include phonics instruction.  But as readers can tell by reviewing my entries about phonics, there is more than one way to teach phonics.  Chief among them are analytic and synthetic phonics.  Again today there are folks who would like to ban the use of anything except synthetic phonics. That position flies in the face of decades of research demonstrating that different children learn by different methods.

I expect that most of the parent educators I will be talking to are already more than familiar with the idea of developing the Concepts About Print. In that sense I will be preaching to the choir.  But I will be making them aware that there is a large body of research supporting the kind of things the choir is doing. I also will make them aware of Rasinki’s work around fluency.  In my opinion (and the opinion of many other folks in the reading world) Rasinski is today’s foremost authority on the topic of fluency. He views prosody as much more than improving reading rate.  He wants readers to learn to read with expression. His newest book, The Megabook of Fluency contains a large number of resources to help teachers help students to obtain that end. He provides a rubric based on EARS, Expression, Automatic Word Recognition, Rhythm and Phrasing, Smoothness. The final page of his book lists 20 different strategies readers can employ to develop prosody and gives connections to pages in the book where teachers can find specific activities and resources. Rasinski views comprehension as an integral part of the reading process. For him, prosody is the gateway to comprehension. You see, for a reader to understand what voice a character might use, what the characters might sound like, the reader must first develop a basic understanding of the story as it develops. Readers who understand the story also understand when the story calls for an excited voice, a worried voice a happy voice et. al. This is another approach to teaching beginning reading that embraces the idea the meaning making and encoding are entwined (and should be entwined) from the very earliest states of learning to read.

So, that is the foundational work I’ll be calling to the Parent Educator’s attention. Job one for kids birth through three is to promote a set of experiences that promote all the Concepts About Print.  Readers are invited to notice the impact that reading the right kind of books at this early age can have.  My friend Eric Litwin talks about how his books do exactly that in a comment you can now find at the end of this post. I have to say that I agree that his books are among those I would use as read alouds for children birth to three in order to provide them with the rhythm,  repetition and rhyme they need to hear in order to lay down the neural networks they will need.  His books are also easy to talk about (and worth talking about). Talking about books after reading to children is a habit every parent of the youngest children should get into. Next week I will turn to some of the specific parent help sheets and ideas I’ve found on how parents can grow lifelong readers. These are readers that want to read. These are readers who understand from the outset, that reading is all about meaning making. More about that next week.

So until next week, this is Dr. Sam signing off.

Dr Sam Bommarito (aka, the CAPS guy, aka the reading is meaning making guy)

P.S. The study that came to be known as “The First Grade Studies” was done by Bond and Dykstra in 1967.  It appeared in RRQ (see screen capture below).  It has been the subject of a great deal of analysis and commentary including a special edition of RRQ in 1997 that marked the  30 year anniversary of the publication of the study.

Screen Capture 1st grade studies

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any particular group or organization. 

 

A Happy Thanksgiving to All My Readers by Dr. Sam Bommarito

 

thanksgiving-1 Public Domain

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

It’s been a wonderful year and I have many things to be thankful for. From a personal standpoint I have my friends and family and share many wonderful things with them. Most recently was the annual Bommarito “Pie Day”. This year we made 10 pies. The grand kids helped. The pies will be used today  at the various Thanksgiving feasts attended by my grown children- including one being held at my house later today. See my Facebook page for pics.

From a professional standpoint things are going well. I’m happily flunking retirement (what did he just say?). I officially retired from full time teaching 3 years ago after a teaching career that began in 1970.  It’s still not over. I do volunteer work in an after-school program, help with the book giveaway programs, (one of them reaches ¼ million books to Title one children this year), make presentations at conferences and I belong to both NCTE and ILA.  I’m president of my local ILA group and will become Chairman of the State ILA group next year (darn they changed the title from President to Chairman). Our local ILA group is quite active and has 4 speakers a year. I started this blog 10 months ago and made MANY new friends. Thanks to all of them for their ongoing support and encouragement.  I’ve had nearly 10,000 views since starting and now have almost 1,200 subscribers (includes Word Press and Twitter). In the next few months my readers should expect blog entries and tweets around topics I’ve been presenting on at conferences. Also expect a series of blogs over the whole issue of bringing JOY and MEANING back into the teaching of reading, especially in the earliest grade.

I’m a newbie when it comes to WordPress. Readers please be patient.  Recently I learned how to add a spot for comments (PLEASE DO COMMENT, IT KEEPS THINGS INTERESTING AND INFORMATIVE).  On the sidebar there is now a place to subscribe (PLEASE DO IF YOU ARE “JUST VISITING”), and I’ve developed a place for categories (especially look at the entries around Reading Recovery- those have gotten the most reads so far).  For anyone new to the blog I join other friends who strongly support that wonderful program, and who have learned much from it over the years. More about that in future blogs.

So…., hope this Thanksgiving finds you well and enjoying things with friends and family. Remember to give thanks for all the wonderful things in your life.  I’ll be resuming the regular blog entries next week. In the meantime, eat Turkey have some pie and cherish the amazing moments I know you all are sharing today.

 

Happy Reading and Writing

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka a very lucky and very thankful person!)

GOBBLE GOBBLE

Copyright 2018 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.

 

Blast from the Past: Dr. B’s Cat on the Mat Song By Dr. Sam Bommarito

Blast from the Past: Dr. B’s Cat on the Mat Song

By Dr. Sam Bommarito

 

As my regular readers know I’ve been looking for things to help my after-school reading club. The club consists of a total of twenty 1st and 2nd graders. It meets once a week. It serves as a supplement to the regular reading program.  We always work on both comprehension and fluency/decoding.  I’m trying to include both analytic and synthetic phonics in what we do along with a strong message of “lets read (and sing) like a story teller”. While looking for materials to use with them,  I ran across a fluency song I wrote way back in 1999. It has a foundation in analytic phonics and it is a takeoff on Brian Wildsmith’s the famous Cat on the Mat book. Let’s first talk about that book and why I like it so much.

The Cat On The Mat By Brian Wildsmith

In my first year of teaching reading recovery this was one of the books I learned about when I visited another recovery teacher to observe a lesson behind the glass.  The book came up again while I was at a summer institute at Teacher’s College.  The staff was at Teacher’s College was abuzz about the fact that the previous summer Fountas (of F&P fame) had come to visit. She did some model lessons for the staff. It seems that she would go to the classroom library to pick out a book around to build a lesson. The staff quickly noticed that this particular book was one she picked multiple times. The story line of the book goes like this. At first the cat is very happy (see that smile on the front cover?). Then various animals come to sit on the mat. This sets up predictable sentences like “The cow sat on the mat.”; “The horse sat on the mat”.  As the mat gets crowded the cats face changes from happy, to upset and finally an “enough is enough” stage.  The cat says “Spsssst”.  All the animals leave.   The final page shows the cat, smiling once more, with the closing sentence “The cat aat on the mat”.  This book became my “touchstone/anchor text/exemplar for what a good predictable book should include.  It used repeated phrases with the new word at the end of each phrase supported by a strong meaning clue ( e.g. the picture of the cow or horse or … ).  The book had a genuine story to it. By the way that is  sets apart a poorly written predictable stories like “Tan Dan ran to the van to get the fan. He ran and ran and ran”. Tan Dan & company cannot begin to compete with well-crafted books like this one. In sum, an important part of a well written predictable book is that  has more than predictable language supported by meaning clues. A good predictable book also has a story line and/or teaches a lesson.  Very often predictable book have a surprise at the end. That is why I like this particular book and why I like the predicable books of authors like Eric Litwin or Joy Cowley (BTW she is the master of the surprise endings).  THEIR BOOKS (AND SONGS) HAVE A STRONG STORYLINE AND OFTENTIMES THEY HAVE A LESSON TO BE LEARNED. Teachers looking for predictable books to use in their lessons for beginning readers should know that these are crucial things to look for in the books they choose.

Below is my attempt to do that with a song of mine own.  I used this with my first graders for a quite a number of years. Here it is:

The Cat the Mat the Rat GOOD JPG

The song contains predictable language.  The pictures at the bottom support the words cat, rat and mat.  There is definitely a lesson to be learned “caring and sharing that’s where it’s at”.  Back in the day my students were more than happy to sing this song multiple times. BTW I monitored to make sure they “matched” as they read. That way practicing the song also practiced the sight words in the song. Beats flash cards all to pieces. My current after school children also seem to enjoy this song. There’s more to come.  I promised the Reading Club we would write some of our own books as a class. We’ll project my template of publisher story book using a smart board. The kids will “share the pen” and help me fill in the pictures and text for the book. We’ll do new endings and new twists on some Joy and Eric’s books.  We might even add to the saga of the cat on the mat. In this way the book club members will be gaining the background of experience needed to eventually write some books of their own.  By Christmas we’ll pick the best of the stories we’ve written to run off and share with their respective classroom libraries. To do that, It comes in handy to have a printer that does two sided printing. Here is a link to a blank book template for publisher and to a pdf with the song. Permission to use the song in classroom settings is given. Use in commercial programs et. al. requires my prior written permission.  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1PM16aIVAVLV-BPvgE1qmZG3hyUxisBB_?usp=sharing

To hear the song, click on the link below.

 

https://doctorsam7.blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/the-cat-the-mat-and-the-rat-by-dr-b.mp3

Notice that we clap on the line “What do you think about that?” So just like my kids from a long time ago, my kids today will be writing, and singing their way into fluency. That’s how I’m building some analytic phonics into my after-school work. That’s how I teach sight words. Repeated readings of books containing sight words does the trick every time.  Next week I’ll talk about the synthetic phonics component and my use of think alouds as I carry out the various phonics components. We’ll also review the importance of viewing  prosody as more than simple reading rate.  Until then:

 

Happy Reading and Writing.

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, I write the songs and so do my kids)

BTW- Bill Kerns and I will be leading a panel discussion at the Write to Learn Conference in St Louis. It is being held on Bill’s campus, Harris Stowe State University.  Mary Howard will be a keynote speaker on Saturday.  Please consider coming. Here is a link to information about the conference:  http://www.missouriearlylearning.com/

Early Learning

HELD AT THE WILLIAM CLAY CENTER ON THE HARRIS STOWE STATE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS

 

Copyright 2018 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.

 

 

Making use of the Resources in the Megabook of Fluency and the books and songs of Eric Litwin (Part three) By Doctor Sam Bommarito

 

MY COMPUTER & PETE THE CATMaking use of the Resources in the Megabook of Fluency and the books and songs of Eric Litwin (Part three)

By

Doctor Sam Bommarito

For the past two weeks I’ve been talking about the work I’m doing with an after-school group. The group meets for an hour each Tuesday. It is voluntary.   We call it the Reading Club.  My partner in the endeavor is the building learning specialist.  In addition to the 20 club members, who are 1st and 2nd grade students, there are also 6-7 upper grade students who come in to help with centers, paired reading et. al. For my part of the program I am using ideas drawn from the Megabook of Fluency and selected materials for Eric Litwin. Last week I focused on my use of ideas from Megabook of Fluency.  This week I’m going to talk about how I am using/will use resources from Eric Litwin and from selected web-based site to help implement that program. I’m also going to talk a little about the way I teach word strategies.

The after-school program is meant to be a supplement to the building program, not a stand- alone program.  I’m trying to motivate the students to want to read, to read with prosody and to use word strategies based on both analytic and synthetic phonics.

For the kids I talk about two different ways to figure out words. One is to “sound them out” (traditional synthetic phonics). The other is to “say the first sound and think of the clues” (my adaption of analytic phonics).  I tell them to use the one that works best for you first.  I also tell them if one way doesn’t work, try the other. I want to point out to any readers who might be nervous about my promoting “word guessing”, that in fact what I’m promoting is “educated word guessing” based on crosschecking.  Marie Clay talks about “crosschecking”, i.e. using more than one of the cueing systems concurrently.  That means making sure that the “guesses” make use the visual clue (first sound) and work with the meaning clue (picture or how the story is going).  So if the child was guessing the word “sun” for something they see in the sky, but the text actually says star I WOULD NOT accept sun. I would prompt near point of error by saying that “ ’sun’ is a very smart guess, but does sun start with the ‘st’ sound and look at that picture. What other word would work here that starts with the ‘st’ sound and goes with the picture?  (The picture, of course, is a picture of a star).

As I’ve already mentioned I picked Eric and his books for our groups first favorite author because his work incredibly motivating and it promotes the use of crosschecking as I’ve just described it. They are predictable and engaging. They often include real life lessons or teach relevant literacy lessons in an entertaining way.   Kids REALLY want to read his books. I told my kiddos that I learned that it pays to find a favorite new author from time to time. It pays to learn all about them and to read lots of their books.  I told them that for our first favorite author, the after-school group would be explore books by Eric Litwin.  I also told them if they wanted to find their own new favorite author for the year I would help with that. They know that later in the year we will all talk about our other favorite authors and pick a new author for the group to focus on after Christmas.

Eric has turned out to be a very good choice for a first author. Several of the students raised their hand when I asked if they have heard of the book Pete the Cat Book- I Love My White Shoes. I then told them that Eric had written a new book, called If You’re Groovy and You Know It Hug a Friend (https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/books/if-you-re-groovy-and-you-know-it-hug-a-friend-by-eric-litwin/)

I read/sang some of the book to them. Rather than go straight to the full book, I then used the session to practice the song “If your Happy and You Know It”.  That fit in exactly with learning to read/sing a new piece and then practice it for future performance.

Here’s how I expect this to play out over the next few weeks.  Eric’s site is a treasure trove of songs and videos (see for yourself  https://www.ericlitwin.com/).  It includes free downloads of songs and lively video renditions based on his books.  For instance, the Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes has a free download of the song.  So does his new book. I’ll be encouraging parents to let their children visit the site and listen to the songs.  I’ll also encourage them to use these books as night-time read alouds, and even let the children join in the reading.  Parents are welcome to buy them if they want, but they are also readily available at the public library. Because we meet only once a week, the VOLUNTARY performance songs/poems practice during the week (recommended by Rasinski) will be done once a month rather than weekly. I’m also trying to get permission to use one of the several programs that allow students to share videos with parents and students within the class (and only within the class). In that way their “performance” is something they can share with the whole group. There are also other things going on within reading club, especially as it relates to direct instruction in phonics & other reading skills, that I will discuss at a future date.  This includes sharing how  to “talk big about little books” .

Now I want to take a moment to talk about an important UPCOMING EVENT here in the Midwest. The Early Childhood Conference, which is usually held at Lake of the Ozarks each year is being held at Harris Stowe University in St. Louis. MARY HOWARD will be one of the keynotes.  Bill and I will be leading a panel discussion at one of the sessions. If you are in the Midwest Region please have a look at the website.

Happy Reading and Writing

 

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, big fan of Eric Litwin)

(For Visitors from Twitter and Facebook, thank for coming. You can subscribe to this blog using the subscribe button on the right hand column of this entry)

 

PLEASE USE THE LINK BELOW THE PICTURE  TO GO TO CONFERENCE SITE

Early Learning

http://www.missouriearlylearning.com/

 

 

Copyright 2018 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

 

Making use of the Resources in the Megabook of Fluency and the books and songs of Eric Litwin (Part two) by Dr. Sam Bommarito

 

The MegaBook of Fluency

Making use of the Resources in the Megabook of Fluency and the books and songs of Eric Litwin (Part two)

I mentioned last week I’m working with an after school group. The group meets for an hour each Tuesday. It is voluntary.   We call it the Reading Club.  My partner in the endeavor is the building learning specialist.  There is also a 4th grade teacher who lets me meet in her room and who also helps with the students sometime. In addition to the 20 club members, who are 1st and 2nd grade students, there are also 6-7 upper grade students who come in to help with centers, paired reading et. al. For my part of the program I am using ideas drawn from the Megabook of Fluency and selected materials for Eric Litwin. Why those choices?

Tim came to St. Louis last spring and presented to our local ILA group. He has done that a number of times over the years (thanks Tim).  I wrote a blog about his presentation last spring.

https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/05/04/the-teaching-of-reading-as-both-science-and-art-a-report-evaluation-of-rasinkis-recent-presentation-in-st-louis-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

During that presentation he did a wonderful job of giving his ideas about the teaching of reading. He made a strong case that the teaching of reading is BOTH art and science and told us about his newest book (co-authored with Melissa Chessman Smith) the Megabook of Fluency. He told one story that really caught my attention. It was that of a teacher who made the practicing poems/songs a daily part of her classroom routine.  Fridays were “performance” days, children to perform the things they’d been reading all week. The teacher was getting major push back about this use of time, but she persevered.  Turns out that by the end of the year her class’s reading achievement performance dramatically improved. She became teacher of the year for her state. She seemed to be on to something.

When I asked Tim if he would write a piece for our Winter 2019 issue of Missouri Reader, which will be a special issue devoted entirely to the use of poetry and song, I mentioned that I would love if he included something about that story.  He agreed to write the piece for us. I just got a copy of that piece and he did include a relevant detail about the efficacy of this particular teacher’s practices.  Here is a preview of what he had to say:

“In a recently completed study, Mackenzie Eikenberry employed the regular use of poetry in her third and fourth grade dual language classroom.     Each day students were asked to practice and then perform for classmates a new poem (or other short text) using the Fluency Development Lesson format (Rasinski, 2010).    Each poem performance was followed with brief exploration of and instruction in words from the poem. In approximately a four month implementation (less than half a school year) of poetry reading and performance Ms. Mackenzie found that her 3rd graders made over a year’s growth in reading achievement while her fourth grade students made more than three quarters of a year’s growth.

The world is indeed full of poetry.  Yet, poetry (and song) may be some of the most underutilized texts in our reading classrooms today.  Perhaps it’s time for reading educators to rethink the value and importance of these wonderful texts. “
Want to read more about this- I’ll be blogging out the Winter 2019 issue when we go live and give readers a link to that issue. Please note that the gains made were accomplished in a 4 month period. Impressive!

So, that is what I’m going to be up to with my after school students. We’ll be practicing poems and song. I’m adding the caveat of think alouds with direction instruction. More about the “why” on that next time.

My newest ideas on how to help readers, especially younger readers, get off to a good start in reading seem to be crystalizing. Allow me to think aloud with you for a moment.

  • BRING BACK NURSERY RHYMES, we don’t do that much anymore and by not doing it we rob our children of some valuable literacy foundation and background.
  • Practice nursery rhymes and other songs during the week leading to a Friday performance. Different kids different Fridays. Lots of fun reasons to reread text during the week. It makes the needed drill FUN!!!!
  • During the practice of nursery rhymes and songs, include think alouds about how words work. Include direct instruction on the sounds that letters make as part of those think a alouds
  • Provide a print rich environment in both the classroom and home. Let the kids see the grownups reading. Let the grownups also read to the kids.
  • Provide choice based on interest for the kid’s independent reading selections (or what’s being read to them). A child is not a level. Levels are a teacher’s tool for selected instruction.  Fountas and Pinnell, Burkins and Yaris, Calkins among others call for classroom libraries organized by interests not by level. GIVE THE CHILDREN CHOICE- choice is the foundation for creating lifelong readers.
  • Talk to the kids about the books, songs and poems. Who was your favorite character (storybooks)? What new thing did you learn? (non-fiction). What did you like best about the book/song/poem?
  • Find out the child’s favorite author/series and if they don’t have one scaffold them into finding one.
  • And above all, READ READ READ READ READ (you get the idea!)

So I will pick up next time and report on how it is going with the after school students and including the practice of nursery rhymes and songs. I’ll address the issue of how to make sure the sounds can be learned in a reasonable sequence. Since this is a supplement to a main program, I’ll talk about how I am attempting to support the main program of phonics the children are using.  I think you can already guess that between the poems and songs in the Megabook of Fluency, and the books/songs of Eric Litwin I anticipate having no trouble finding the materials I need to support the children in teaching specific sounds and sound symbol relations.

So until next time

 

Happy Reading and Writing.

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito,  aka the “sound man from St. Louis, advocate of  both the explicit and implicit teaching of how words work.

(Visitors from Facebook and Twitter, if you like what you’re reading please consider subscribing to the blog. THANKS! Dr. B

Rasinski, T. V. (2010).  The Fluent Reader:  Oral and silent reading strategies for building word recognition, fluency, and comprehension (2nd edition).  New York: Scholastic.

Rasinski, T. V. & Smith, M. C. (2018).  The Megabook of Fluency.   New York:  Scholastic.

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Sam Bommarito who is solely responsible for it’s content

Back in the saddle again: working with first and second graders and helping them sing their way into fluency

The MegaBook of Fluency

Back in the saddle again: working with first and second graders and helping them sing their way into fluency

By Doctor Sam Bommarito

(Readers Looking for the Serravallo Interview, it is the blog entry right after this one!)

In social media I list my status as retired sort of. The reason for the “sort of” is I have many activities one of which happens to be doing an after-school program for first and second graders at an elementary school. That program just started this week. We call it The Reading Club.  There are currently 20 members.  We meet once a week.  The learning specialist from the building and I run the program.  She takes half the group and I take the other.  We also have helpers from the upper grades who come in to provide some peer interaction.

This year I decided to draw on some of the things I’ve learned while blogging about the latest ideas and lessons for younger readers. Over the next few blog entries, I’ll be talking about what I’m trying with these younger readers and how it’s working.  I’m drawing from ideas suggested by the work of Eric Litwin and Tim Rasinski.  I’ve talked about Eric and Tim previously on this blog.

https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/05/11/singing-our-way-into-fluency-exploring-the-work-of-eric-litwin-and-how-he-brings-together-the-art-and-science-of-reading-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/05/04/the-teaching-of-reading-as-both-science-and-art-a-report-evaluation-of-rasinkis-recent-presentation-in-st-louis-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

What these two have in common is the belief that one path to fluency and comprehension can be found by using poetry and song.  Eric is the one who made me aware that students today often don’t know the traditional nursery rhymes and children’s songs. When I asked my students to raise their hands if they know the song Sing a Song of Sixpence, not a single hand went up.  I chose that particular song to start with because Tim and his co-author Melissa include an activity in The Megabook of Fluency based on that song (p 306-7).  The activity includes a sheet for parents.

I taught the group the song a couple of lines at a time. (I sing, you sing).  After practicing the two of lines the song a couple of times I did think alouds around selected words in the line.  I pointed out the “outlaw word” of (outlaw because it is not spelled the way it sounds). We found the words the and that”. These are both high frequency words.  We talked about how knowing the middle and end of word helps us tell words apart (the & that).

I noticed that at first some of the students weren’t even looking at the words at all as they sang. I asked them to make it match- that is point to each word as they sing each word in the song.  I have a little chant we do for that “Make it match, don’t make it up, that is what to do. Make it match don’t make it up, you’ll read your story true.”  A prompt I use to encourage matching is “If you see 5 words say 5 words, if you see 7 words say 7 words.”  In sum, don’t say any more words or any fewer words than what you see as you read or sing.  After introducing all the lines of the song (eight all total). The students then paired off and sang the song together in pairs. I asked the to make it match as they did. That means they pointed to each word as they sang the words.  We ended by playing a minute or so of “find all the “xxxx’s, e.g. find all the “the’s”. Point to each one and say it when you find it.  Reading recovery teachers will recognize this as a teaching move used by recovery teachers with students at the beginning levels.

Let’s now think about what I did and why it was important. One of the problems with little predictable books or other predictable text is that sometimes the child memorizes all the words in the text as one big block of text.  They really don’t know which word is which. This is because they are not paying attention to the visual cues (letters!).  By asking them to match, by making them pay attention to which word is which, I’m helping the students balance their use of cues. There is much more to it than simply matching as you read but matching as you read is an excellent starting off point. I’ll have much more to say about this in future blog entries

Eric Litwin if You're Groovey

This week the students will be singing this song each night.  They know they will have a chance to “perform” their song when they come back to the next reading club.  This is not the only thing we did at our reading club, but right now I’m focusing on telling you about how I’m using the rereading (resinging?)  of predictable text in order to promote fluency.  Next week I’ll be introducing the kids to one of Eric’s newest books, If You’re Groovy and You Know It, Hug a Friend.  It is patterned after the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. I’ll let you know next week how many of the kids knew that classic song ahead of time. I’ll also be reminding readers of Rasinski’s story about one first grade teacher who used a cycle of reading poetry/songs aloud and then perform those poems or songs on Friday. She got amazing results. More on that next week. In the meantime-

HAPPY READING, WRITING AND SINGING

 

Sam Bommarito aka the music man

 

P.S. About last week: It was very exciting to do the interview with Serravallo. I’m reminding my readers that the Serravallo’s interview and an interview with Eric Litwin will be appearing in the next issue of Missouri Reader. I will let you know when that comes out (just a week or two from now) and will do a special blog entry about it.

https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/09/28/an-interview-with-jennifer-serravallo-conducted-by-sam-bommarito-and-glenda-nugent-co-editors-of-the-missouri-reader/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Jennifer Serravallo Conducted by Sam Bommarito and Glenda Nugent, Co-Editors of the Missouri Reader

Understanding Texts & Readers

An Interview with Jennifer Serravallo

Conducted by Sam Bommarito and Glenda Nugent, Co-Editors of the Missouri Reader

Tell us about your new book, Understanding Texts and Readers: Responsive Comprehension Instruction with Leveled Texts.

I really am exploring comprehension. Different threads go throughout the book, but goal is to explain and help teachers make sense out of comprehension. I also try to help teachers understand how to determine what skill to focus instruction on.

As part of her response to this question, Jennifer made several points about where she got the ideas for this book:

  • Independent Reading Assessments help teachers understand children’s comprehension. Some ideas explored in the book came from those assessments.
  • My Reading Strategies book was the source for ideas of different categories for comprehension strategies. Non-Fiction, main idea, key details, vocabulary and the 7 Comprehension strategies.
  • My thinking around comprehension is rooted in Rosenblatt’s work.

Tell us about the different parts of the book.

Part 1 talks about comprehension and is designed to help teachers wrap their minds around the whole concept of comprehension.

Parts 2-3 take a practical look at how texts get more complex. These parts are is meant to be resources to return to again and again.

The ending part of the book discusses different ways to focus comprehension.  It includes assessments. These assessments are meant for chapter books.

As you stated in the FB webinar, levels are being used and misused. What is your advice for using levels appropriately and avoiding the misuse of them?

Use of levels as reading identity is not a good idea.

The 2-page spread on pages 22 to 23 shows a timeline from 40’s through today to show how levels have been used.  Teachers are asked to report benchmark levels throughout the year. Remember, kids don’t have one level! The book explores variables on what impacts levels. A child’s level might be different on different days. Level as recording tool has gotten out of hand and misused. Do not limit child to reading only books at their level. The reasons for saying this are explored in book starting on page 15.

Once a book at the appropriate level is chosen for instruction, how do you know what strategies can best be taught?

Text level range is one aspect of that choice. Text features, complexity, challenge are additional things to consider. Pinpoint skills/goals children need to work on. Ask yourself, within books, where does the student need support? Character, vocabulary, theme – narrow down possibilities by determining categories of skill/strategy need.

One way to organize groups is to organize them around texts: similar instructional level; Determine what they have in common.

Another way to organize groups is to organize them by goals group by goals. For instance, if you want to emphasize character development – bring together a group around that topic, even if its members are on different levels.

Can you explain how teachers can use the two-page spreads in your book Understanding Text and Readers?

Parts 2 and 3 are designed so the information about a level or skill.  The fiction section is organized by 4 categories Plot, Character, Vocab, Theme. Look for the spreads starting on page 54 that show progression of skills. There is a separate spread for each level J through W.  Included are page spreads that show student work to see how the skill changes in response to the text. Text level helps teachers understand books in their library – They can compare their student responses to those in spread. This can give teachers a sense of what questions to ask about a book during conferencing, even if the teacher has not read that particular book. The non-fiction section begins on page 116 and gives a similar analysis based on the categories Main Ideas, Key Details, Vocabularies and Text Features.

Tell us about the resources you are providing with this book.  There are a number of resources, over 150 pages are online. There are Text Complexity Charts that look at a book in depth. There are record keeping forms for conferring. Every goal has a progression. Also included are note taking forms and questions you can ask children. Here is the link:

https://www.heinemann.com/products/e10892.aspx (the Companion Resources dropdown on this link states “To access the online resources for this book, click Login or Create Account above. Once you’ve logged in, select “Click here to register an Online Resource, Video, or eBook »“ enter the keycode and click register. The keycode for this book is the first word in purple on page 198).

How does this book relate to new and experienced teachers?

Some TIPS for Beginning teacher:  Use the book to get a sense of how to be assessing and what to look for. Find out what comprehension looks like. Don’t misuse levels. Guide students to right books, but do not shackle readers

Some TIPS for experienced teachers: Use the book to understand and study in more depth. One teacher recently characterized this book as a Graduate Degree in Reading in a book. You can go deep in it. New teachers can get the gist of things first and then return to it later to get more depth.

I hope the book helps both new and experienced teachers

Commentary:

The preceding are highlights of some of the questions Glenda and I explored with Jennifer. A more complete rendition of the interview will be found in the upcoming issue of the Missouri Reader. I will post a blog with a link to that issue when it comes out.  I predict this book will be added to the list of books that Jennifer has on the New York Times best seller list.  The most intriguing thing about this book is how it help teachers make better use of all of Jennifer’s books.  She has a link designed to help with that: https://www.heinemann.com/jenniferserravallo/.

One of the ideas being forwarded by many reading experts today is that teachers can and should help students learn to deal with complex texts. This book gives a “nuts and bolts” in depth look at how both fiction and nonfiction books are put together. It does so by specific levels.  My advice would be for teachers to start with the section of the book that deals with the text level they use most frequently. Get to really know that level. Then look at other levels as well. Make use of the online charts to help in this process. I think this book is destined to become the go to resource for teachers who want to help their students deal with complex texts, both fiction and non-fiction.

In sum, Jennifer has written a book that helps teachers make sense out of comprehension. She gives valuable resources and advice that will help teachers understand how to determine what skills to focus instruction on. By relating the book to her other strategy books, she makes all the books more valuable.  It is a must have for every classroom teacher’s professional library.

ONE MORE THING: There is a public group on Facebook called The Reading and Writing Strategies Community. When I wrote a review of Jennifer’s Strategy book for Missouri Reader (https://joom.ag/q9OQ pg 42), it had over 20,000 members. Now the group has over 50,000 members. Brett Whitmarsh and other Heinemann staff do an amazing job of running this site. Whenever I talk or write about useful resources on the internet I always mention this site as one that is the most helpful for classroom teachers. I characterize it as the worlds largest teacher’s lounge. Teacher’s come to it to ask questions and get answers about literacy issues. For instance, one recent question asked “Any suggestions on High Interest, Low Readability texts? We have a large population of older students who need interesting books at their level. Thanks!”  I often see questions like “What do you think of the “xxx” program, or I left my manual for “yyy” at home, what does it say to do for the “zzzz” activity?”   That second group of questions demonstrates teachers expect and get real time answers to their questions. Most recently Brett conducted a ½ hour podcast interview with Jennifer about this book

(https://www.facebook.com/HeinemannPublishing/videos/262743514447729/?hc_ref=ARQuixMA6GMW2GyA7yn4dWuRvW9nSUI76nVxS910xyu8Qk9nPM5LIuc1IdMlfZ1ryqw&fref=gs&dti=656857481113071&hc_location=group).

So…, if you need help using Jennifer’s new book, or you have a question about any literacy issue, you know where to go for answers from your fellow teachers. Jennifer even chimes in with comments and answers from time to time. So, until next week this is Dr. B. signing off.

Dr. Sam Bommarito

Co-Editor of the Missouri Reader

Thanks to Glenda Nugent, my Co-Editor who helped to put together the interview questions and carry out the interview. Thanks also to Jennifer for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk to Glenda and I about her exciting new book!

 

Grandpa Bommarito is Taking the Week Off- Next Week see Dr. Bommarito’s Interview with Jennifer Serravello about her New Book!

itsaboy

Grandpa Bommarito is Taking the Week Off

This week was an exciting week. There was a new addition to the Bommarito clan.  Mom, Dad and the kids are doing fine. Grandpa Bommarito is taking the week off to enjoy his new grandson and help out where he can.  However Grandpa Bommarito (aka Dr. Bommarito) will have a very special treat for his readers next week. Let me tell you about that.

Glenda Nugent and I are the co-editors of the Missouri ReaderMissouri Reader is a professional reading journal. It has been publishing for 41 years.  It comes out twice a year.  It is peer-edited journal, and our editorial board has quite a number of university professors and other well credentialed folks.  We welcome articles around literacy topics. We especially love articles about projects carried out by classroom teachers with the help of the university professors.  We have a number of regular features.  Submissions/requirements details are always explained on the last page of each edition.  The next issue will include some very special content. Glenda and I just interviewed Jennifer Serravallo about her newly released book Understanding Texts & Readers.  The book is an incredibly valuable resource for anyone wanting to really teach comprehension. In the course of the interview Jennifer talks about both the content of the book and how to make good use of that content.  The good news is the interview will be included in the next issue of the Missouri Reader. The even better news is that highlights from that interview will be given in next weeks blog. So stay tuned, exciting things to come next week!

To hold you over in the meantime, here is a link to a Missouri Reader article I did a while back about Jennifer Serravallo’s  book Reading Strategies .  Her newest book is designed to be coordinated with her other two strategy books, so looking this over would be a good way to get ready to hear all about her new book.  The link is https://joom.ag/q9OQ. The article is on pg. 42. Enjoy!

Until next week, Happy Reading and Writing

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka Grandpa Bommarito)

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Sam Bommarito who is solely responsible for it’s content.