Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Singing Penguins and Struggling Readers

What do singing penguins and struggling readers have in common you ask?  Keep reading...

Once every few months, my son is in charge of a snack for his preschool class.  Being a first grade teacher and wanting to make everything cute, I usually make a "creation" out of food for his snack.  I have made skeletons out of veggies, turkeys out of melons, cheese and grapes, Christmas trees out of Styrofoam cones and grapes, rainbows and pots of gold out of fruit and marshmallows, etc.  His teachers always tease me and tell me that it is ok to send in plain pretzels or goldfish crackers.  My friend's son also goes to the same preschool and she just rolls her eyes and wonders where in the world I find my time.  The time I brought in little penguins made out of olives and cream cheese, she said "let me guess, these penguins sing, twirl around and explode firecrackers from their beaks."  I just about died laughing!!! 

I forgot to take a picture, but I also had a cheese ball in the shape of an igloo for these little guys!

Hang on...I'm getting to the part where these penguins have something to do with struggling readers. : )

Almost every blog post I write, I feel like I have to come up with this "exploding with fireworks" post that is about glitter, cupcakes, and butterflies so people will read it.  Who wants to read the boring stuff (like the pretzels and goldfish) about struggling readers?  So if you are all about the fluff, stop reading now.  If you would like to hear more about the amazing day and information I learned about this past week, keep on reading!!!

I was blessed to have spent the day with our District Literacy Coach (if you have been with me for a while, you have heard of the Amazing Kate!).  We met to talk about what we can do about those readers who are stuck between DRA levels 3 and 4 (C and D).  WOW, did we get some awesome professional development!!!  We are now armed with some great mini lesson topics and conferring points for kids who are stuck at those lower levels.  Here they are (underlined headings are the big ideas and bullets are the teaching points):

How to Teach "Picture Walks"
• Readers use pictures to tell about the setting.

• Readers use pictures to tell what the character is thinking.

• Readers name the things in the pictures during their picture walk and make it sound like a story.
 How to Teach "One to One (1:1)"

• Readers touch under, not on the word.

• Readers touch under each word to keep their place.

• Readers use phonics to check for 1:1 using letter sounds.

• Readers know that spaces separate words.

• Readers know that words with more syllables need to hold their finger under the word longer/slide finger under the word until the word ends. (ex. The word umbrella would be held longer than pointing to the word is.)
 How to Teach "Look Through the Whole Word"

• The size of the word needs to match the word coming out of the reader’s mouth. (Ex. Umbrella is much longer than the word under.)

• Ending sounds must match the word readers try while reading.

• Middle sounds must match the word readers try while reading.
 Look at the Picture

• Readers name the things in the picture and check with the first letter in the unknown word to see if it makes sense.

• Readers recognize that pictures can have more than one name. (ex. Couch, chair, sofa)

• Readers cross check pictures with letter sounds.

If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed my singing penguin story as well as the not-as-exciting topic of struggling readers.  : )  I wish you all could meet Kate and enjoy her as much as my coworkers and I do.


Mrs. K said...

THANK YOU for sharing the highly-valuable info you learned from your literacy coach!! I have 6 that are still reading on a DRA 3-4, 2nd 9 weeks grades are due before the 15th, and I needed some you are:)

Kaylee's Education Studio said...

Lots of us like reading about how to help struggling readers. Keep writing!

Jen R. (The Teachers' Cauldron) said...

It always shocks me when I have to teach HOW to do a picture walk - using inferencing skills, and making predictions...To me, I just assume this is natural for everyone, though I know I have to teach it - thanks for sharing!

Micheala said...

I'm so glad I found your blog today! I'm a title one teacher and this is my first year working with 1st and 2nd grade readers. This will help me focus in on a few of the important topics for beginning reading.