Newest Edition of Missouri Reader includes interviews with Eric Litwin and Jennifer Serravallo: IT’S FREE

Link to this issue: https://joom.ag/7fWY

zMO READER

 

The Missouri Reader is a peer reviewed journal. It has been in existence for 42 years. Glenda Nugent and I are the current co-editors.  The journal is published twice a year. Each publication is timed to come out just before the state-wide conferences the Missouri Literacy Association cosponsors. The Missouri Early Learning conference starts a week from today, Friday Nov. 9th. Accordingly, our newest journal is being published today.

Some highlights from this issue include:

  • An interview with Eric Litwin, author of Pete the Cat- I Love My White Shoes, The Nut Family series and the Groovey Joe books
  • An Interview with Jennifer Serravallo about her new book
  • An article entitled Thinking Aloud to Build Students’ Comprehension by Dr. Molly Ness
  • An article entitled A Picture REALLY IS Worth a Thousand Words by Julie Bryant and Tamara Samek;
  • The 2018 MO-STAR List reported by Jennifer Fox- includes multiple links to the best new trade books in science
  • We also provide Information on Early Learning Conference in Mo
  • There are also many other articles, including ones written by teachers from our state (and beyond!)

We are grateful to all the contributors for the efforts and also for the diligent work of our editorial board. Our reviewers are well credentialed. Our journal allows beginning writers, often practicing teachers who are also university students in teaching programs, to publish right along side well known experts in literacy. We especially encourage action research articles published by teachers working with a university professor.  Our readers benefit from this eclectic group of authors. Our new authors get their first experience in publishing in a peer reviewed journal. All and all it is a win-win situation.  Readers of this blog interested in writing for the journal can find information on submissions on the last page of the current journal.

Let me invite you to go to the journal using the following link: https://joom.ag/7fWY.  I think you will find valuable ideas and information. I thank you in advance for having a look.

Missouri Reader is a publication of the Missouri Literacy Association (an ILA affiliate).  We certainly would like any of you living in the Midwest region to come to the Mo Early Learning Conference. As I said it is next Frida/Saturday and is held in St. Louis Mo.  Mary Howard will be one of the keynotes. So, we hope you will meet us in St. Louis!

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, the co-editor)

CONFERENCE LINK:  http://www.missouriearlylearning.com

THE ADD FROM JOMAG FOR WILLY

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!

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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.

 

 

Reading Aloud with Children in a Teacher Education Program By Dr. William Kerns

 

Reading Aloud with Children in a Teacher Education Program

By Dr. William Kerns

 

Today Bill takes a turn at the blog and talks about reading aloud and encouraging a love of reading

 Last week this blog featured pictures highlighting the International Literacy Day Intergenerational Read-In that took place September 6 at Harris-Stowe State University. This activity was organized by my friend and colleague, Betty Porter Walls, who is an associate professor in the College of Education. Volunteers were encouraged to bring a favorite book to read aloud to preschool children. Books were also available for section on the occasion. This is one of multiple activities in which we in the College of Education encourage reading aloud with children. Other activities include service learning in the community. I am honored to participate. In this week’s blog entry, I will briefly reflect on strategies for reading aloud as well as the importance of reading aloud.

Choice in readings is so important. If you are a K-12 teacher or teacher-educator, I strongly recommend researching available books that work well in read aloud activities (Trelease, 2013). Additionally, I recommend collaborating with local authors who take care to produce and seek out books that avoid far too common cultural stereotypes that are contained in books that purport to promote an appreciation for diversity but fail to accurately or sensitively reflect a cultural group (Nieto, 1996; Reese, 1999).

We are fortunate in the College of Education to be able to work with community organizations such as the St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature Initiative. Members of this group routinely participate in read aloud activities while providing books to read that are sensitive to the needs and interests of African-American children. This is so critical given a long lamented scarcity of children’s books that give voice to people of diverse backgrounds (Tunnel & Jacobs, 2008), including books that portray the history of a group and that portray the current lived experiences of members of a cultural group (Yokota, 1999).

Keys to reading aloud with children include conversation that draws upon and builds background knowledge. This dialogue might include strategically thinking aloud about contents of the text (Ness, 2018), prompts and questions that but also fun, engaging stories and songs. Let children have fun with the book or the story. Let reading be playful, because after all, play is the work of the child. During read-aloud activities, teachers (and peers) can model strategies for reading increasingly challenging content in texts. Reading aloud can include the explicit modeling of reading strategies, the teaching of vocabulary, reviewing of text structure (van Kleeck, Stahl, & Bauer, 2003), while asking guided questions that prompt students toward predictions and analytical thinking (McGee & Schickedanz, 2007; Reutzel & Cooter, 2008).

However, there is a mistake that I have too often observed. Sometimes adult readers will focus on the strategies while children are bored. I wish to stress the importance of helping children love books and love reading. If we focus on strategies but children hate reading, we have failed in the read aloud.

The varied language arts skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) should be honored. This happens when the teacher (or other adult) who is reading aloud prompts children to use make meaning of a text through cues that involve viewing, listening, and reading, and to communicate through opportunities to speak and write. Movement can help a child to engage in reading. So, allow children the opportunity to sway with the wind if that’s part of a story. Or to stand like a tree. Encourage students to roar like a lion. Suddenly students are having fun while enjoying the text. Reading aloud doesn’t need to be teacher-centered, remember, it can be student-centered, with the children prompted to actively participate.

My areas of specialization are Secondary English Language Arts as well as literacy.  I view reading aloud as a key topic for secondary language arts and literacy, not just early literacy (Coyne et al., 2009). Reading aloud exposes children to literary skills and contributes to a child’s achievement in literacy and the language arts (Farrant & Zubrick, 2012; Swanson et al., 2011). Reading aloud doesn’t need to stop in the primary years through the strategies should change given different ways that young children learn compared with adolescents. Young adult novels, short-stories, and varied texts from diverse cultures offer rich opportunities for reading aloud activities. Language arts and literacy activities should continue to be engaging and active in high school.

An effective language arts or literacy teacher is an active participant in the classroom and a skilled observer of the learning process. I want to see students engaged in literacy and language arts activities that are engaging, inspiring, and that help them to stretch their skills and abilities. Notice a phrase that I did not use: “best practices”. This phrase means many things to many people. Often it is imbued with echoes of the debates sparked by the National Reading Panel and phrases such as “gold standard of scientific research” which tends to mean the medical model of research, with randomized participants and control groups. “Best practices” means something different to a social-constructivist than to a behaviorist. I am, unapologetically, of course, a social-constructivist. Progress in learning should be regularly assessed (before, during and after activities) using both formal and informal means. Reading aloud and participating in dialogue with children helps to build literacy skills, including fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

 

References

Coyne, M. D., Zipoli, R. P., Chard, D. J., Faggella-Luby, M., Ruby, M., Santoro, L. E., et al. (2009). Direct instruction of comprehension: Instructional examples from intervention

research on listening and reading comprehension. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 25, 221–245.

Farrant, B.M., & Zubrick, S.R. (2012). Early vocabulary development: The importance of joint attention and parentchild book reading. First Language, 32(3), 343–364.

McGee, L. M., & Schickedanz, J. A. (2007). Repeated interactive read-alouds in preschool and kindergarten. The Reading Teacher, 60, 742-751.

Ness, M.K. (2018). Think big with think-alouds, grades K-5: A three step planning process that develops strategic readers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Nieto, S. (1996). Affirming diversity. White Plains, New York: Longman.

Reese, D. (1999). Authenticity & sensitivity: Goals for writing and reviewing books with Native American themes. School Library Journal, 45(11), 36-37

Reutzel, D. R. , & Cooter, R. B. (2008). Teaching children to read: The teacher makes the difference. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Swanson, E., Vaughn, S., Wanzek, J., Petscher, Y., Heckert, J., Cavanaugh, C., Kraft, G., & Tackett, K. (2011). A synthesis of read-aloud interventions on early reading outcomes among preschool through third graders at risk for reading difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44(3), 258–275.

Trelease, J. (2013). The read-aloud handbook (7th Ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Tunnel, M. O., & Jacobs, J. S. (2008). Children’s literature briefly. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.

van Kleeck, A., Stahl, S. A., & Bauer, E. B. (Eds.). (2003). On reading books to children: Parents and teachers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Yokota, J. (1999). Japanese and Japanese Americans: Portrayals in recent children’s books. Book Links, 8(3), 41-53

 

Getting by with a little help from my friends- reading to children at the Harris Stowe State University preschool by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Getting by with a little help from my friends- reading to children at the Harris Stowe State University preschool

chocolate-lindt-box-wallpaper- public domain

 

“When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.” – Mem Fox

 I just spent the morning on Thursday at Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis.  For quite a number of years, Dr. Betty Porter Walls, an associate professor at Harris Stowe, has organized “read ins”, where community volunteers come in and read to the children at the university’s preschool.  On Thursday, we did an early celebration of the International Reading Day by having such a read in. Over 20 volunteer readers participated.

Since the preschool population is young, ages 2-5, readers are instructed to do simple book introductions/picture walks.  They do not read the entire book, rather they highlight talking about the book, perhaps reading a passage or two from the book. Betty makes it clear the key goal is to get the children interested in literacy.  For the university’s preschool children reading really does “sound like chocolate, not medicine!”

I brought along a copy of a book I recently purchased for my own grandchildren. It is Eric Litwin’s newest book called “If You’re Groovy and You Know It, Hug a Friend!” Like all of Eric’s books, it is both educational and engaging.  The words of the book are sung to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it”.  The children seemed to really enjoy themselves as they listened to a couple of verses and clapped along as I “sang” the book.

Eric Litwin if You're Groovey

Readers at this event usually work in teams, with each team member reading a book. I was fortunate to have Candy Pettiford on my team.  She is a children’s author and a former member of the St. Louis Black Author’s Association. She gave a lively rendition of a book she wrote called “Oh the Things You can Do! (When you Don’t Watch TV). Her book also included a song.

Pictured above is the cover of her book and a picture of the two of us together after the read. Pictured below is Julius Anthony, president of the St. Louis Black Authors, myself, Dr. Bill Kerns who often authors things for this blog, and Dr. Betty Porter Walls organizer of this event and many more like it.

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Today’s event was a reminder of the importance of reading to children. Doing that is the key to creating lifelong readers. We’re fortunate in St. Louis to have many educators and others who are willing to do that for our area children. All in all, it was a very good day.  You can’t go wrong when you share good books with children.

 

Happy Reading and Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the book reader

To contact Candy Pettiford about her books, e-mail her at candygram2008@live.com

 

Copyright 2018 by Dr Sam Bommarito who is solely responsible for this content.