Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Disrupting Effect of Round Robin

There is no research that shows the benefits of round robin reading. NONE. Actually, there is plenty of research that shows the disrupting effect of this practice. We need to take this procedure out of our classrooms.
"Back in the day" we used the Round Robin technique for reading. It seemed to be a way to make everyone participate in reading. Everyone took a turn, either in a specific order or in a random "popcorn" order. I was never sure about this process.  I had a few questions:

  1. Am I trying to "catch" someone not paying attention? That seemed so mean. "I want to catch you off guard and punish you by reading." Hmmm? That's not a message I want. 
  2. Did I want to showcase or protect my struggling readers? Do I strategically pick a short paragraph or an easy passage for those struggling readers.
I have a family member who distinctly remembers "round robin" reading and the pain of it. She was an insecure reader and she knew she would always have to read paragraph 5 based on her last name. It was anxiety before, during, and after the reading. She would practice, practice, practice rereading paragraph 5 while the other students were reading paragraphs 1-4, then she would feel panicked when she was reading the paragraph, and finally it would take her the next few paragraphs to settle herself and listen again. SOOOO...for her, she knew the information in the 5th paragraph and in last third of the text. This method did nothing to enhance her learning. In a blog post from Jen Jones at HelloLiteracy, R.I.P. Round Robin: 19 Reasons Why it is Not Best Practice, Jen gives reasons why round robin isn't a preferred method for reading. And my colleagues, Jennifer Jones (yes, there are 2 Jen Jones talking about round robin) and Katie Hilden stated in a April 2012 Reading Today article, "Sweeping Round Robin Reading Out of the Classroom," We know of no research evidence that supports the claim that RRR actually contributes to students becoming better readers, wither in terms of their fuency or comprehension."  

In fact, there is more research to support STOPPING this method than there is to support this method. The overwhelming fact is Round Robin can actually disrupt learning. Let's look at a few of the "Disrupting Effects of Round Robin."
There is no research that shows the benefits of round robin reading. NONE. Actually, there is plenty of research that shows the disrupting effect of this practice. We need to take this procedure out of our classrooms.

Disrupting Attention

Ironically, one of the most vocal reasons teachers think "round robin" or "popcorn" reading is good is because "it keeps everyone on their toes, ready to read" when, in fact, their attention is disrupted from the text and content every time the teacher calls on a new student. The moments between one student finishing, the teacher calling on another student, and that student starting to read are precious and their attention is disrupted. Students are asked to attend to text when it is read by a variety of readers with different levels of pitch, intonation, decoding skills, and fluency, all while maintaining their attention to the content of the passage. Like the person in the above example from a family friend, the reader's attention was focused on the fear of reading, not what was being read.
There is no research that shows the benefits of round robin reading. NONE. Actually, there is plenty of research that shows the disrupting effect of this practice. We need to take this procedure out of our classrooms.

Disrupting Fluency

Speaking of fluency, many articles discuss the actual disfluency presented with round robin reading. Students are asked to listen to reading from all their peers. Unfortunately, all their peers aren't at the same fluency level. Some readers are lacking speed. Some lack the appropriate pitch levels for correct emphasis. Some are poor decoders who will struggle with reading aloud. In the article, "Analyzing "Inconsistencies" in Practice: Teachers' Continued Use of Round Robin Reading" by Ash, Kuhn, & Walpole (2009), the authors refer to Allington's research in 1980 that found students were mostly presented with disfluent reading examples that can actually interrupt "development of accurate and automatic word recognition, preventing students from developing proficiency in their decoding." Ash and Kuhn also stated in the article, What's Wrong with Round Robin, "it is also the case that breaking up a text into smaller passages actually works against developing fluency; instead of building up students' reading stamina, it actually limits it."  One of the greatest benefits of listening to good reading is learning how various fluency principals can enhance reading, likewise, listening to struggled or interrupted reading can only hurt examples of fluency and, ultimately, comprehension.
There is no research that shows the benefits of round robin reading. NONE. Actually, there is plenty of research that shows the disrupting effect of this practice. We need to take this procedure out of our classrooms.

Disrupting Comprehension

Using the two previous examples, disrupting attention and fluency can only lead to problems with comprehension. Let's look at a round robin scenario: we were reading a story about two friends. I don't really remember the introductions of the friends because I was so nervous about reading my paragraph. My paragraph tells me about these friends at the park. I know what they did and what they ate at the park. When I'm done reading, I take a few moments to settle my nerves and I hear all about the ride home from the park on their bikes. If I'm asked about the park visit or the bike ride, I'm good. However, there are plenty of holes in the story. Comprehension can be further disrupted by mispronunciations, decoding hesitations or struggles.
There is no research that shows the benefits of round robin reading. NONE. Actually, there is plenty of research that shows the disrupting effect of this practice. We need to take this procedure out of our classrooms.

Disrupting Engagement

When students are truly engaged in reading, they are paying attention to details, using fluent features to make connections and comprehending the concepts and plots of a story. When round robin reading is employed as a reading technique the engagement in the text is decreased. The culmination of all of the disruptions mentioned above can be directly correlated to the reader's engagement in the text. Several interruptions in reading can lead to frustration for the reader. The first way students make headway with comprehension is engagement. Students actually have less time reading when round robin reading is the structure of the lesson. Student investment in a story can equal student engagement. Reading one paragraph in a story or article cannot produce the same results of reading the entire article.

So now what?

If we are determining that round robin isn't the best choice for reading what are good choices for reading. There are many articles, chapters in books, and entire books dedicated to better choices for round robin reading.

11 Alternatives to "Round Robin" and "Popcorn" Reading is an article through edutopia. This includes Peer-Assisted Learning Strategy, Timed Repeated Readings, and Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction (FORI). There are examples and links included in this article.

Alternatives to Round Robin Reading by Mrs. Judy Auarjo is a blog post about the same. Some similar ideas are available, but she also discusses Partner Reading, Choral Reading, and Echo Reading.

There is no research that shows the benefits of round robin reading. NONE. Actually, there is plenty of research that shows the disrupting effect of this practice. We need to take this procedure out of our classrooms.

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There is no research that shows the benefits of round robin reading. NONE. Actually, there is plenty of research that shows the disrupting effect of this practice. We need to take this procedure out of our classrooms.




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Using Names to Start the Year off Right!

Using names is the perfect way to start the year off right. Here are 5 ideas for using the names to promote both literacy and content area skills.
Creating a love of reading can begin with student names.  Student names can be as unique as each student.  Connecting literacy activities with names can make a lasting impression on students. Beginning the school year with name activities can be a great way to start the year off right.

Name Charts
Using names is the perfect way to start the year off right. Here are 5 ideas for using the names to promote both literacy and content area skills.

Please, please, please have a name chart, but don't make it ahead of time, make it with them.  I don't put names on the word wall...because some names aren't easily decodable.  
You can:
  1. Highlight the beginning letter with a different color marker. Having students assist with the beginning letter, can provide quick instruction with letter identification and letter formation.
  2. Circle all the A names, B names, C names, and so on. By circling the letters, students will see connections automatically. 
  3. Add a picture, if you'd like.
  4. Use the name chart to find letters in the alphabet.  
  5. Use the name chart to help decide who is going to write a letter during interactive writing.  
  6. Use the name chart to find similarities and differences.  
  7. Use the name chart in the centers.  For example, in a listing center, students can find 5 friends names and write them on the provided paper.

Name Books
Using names is the perfect way to start the year off right. Here are 5 ideas for using the names to promote both literacy and content area skills.

Everyone has probably heard of Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes.  It is such a quintessential kindergarten book.  Watching Chrysanthemum love her name, then fret over her name, then finally LOVE her name again with the help of the wonderful music teacher is heart-warming.  I read the book to students then send home their name in bubble letters for their first family project.  They'll send it back in a week later, decorated and unique.  I also love A my  name is Alice.  It's a fun play on beginning sounds. I love giving the students a fun oral activity with the sound chart:  _____ is on the ____.  They'll write silly sentences like:  Austin is on the apple.  It certainly brings the giggles. Finally, my favorite book about names is an oldie:  Just Only John by Jack Kent. It's about a little boy named John who doesn't like his boring name so he takes a magic spell to get a new name. The spell isn't exactly as great as he think it will be. Of course, in the end he wants to be "just only John." It's the cutest story.

Name Connections
Using names is the perfect way to start the year off right. Here are 5 ideas for using the names to promote both literacy and content area skills.

Names aren't just for reading, they can be used in other areas, as well. Using the letters in their names, students will help create a chart counting letters in their name. In the picture above, we used an A-Z letter chart and a Bingo dauber. Each student called out the letters in their name while I pressed a dot on the chart. We counted how many times letters were in their names. We also made a chart to count the total letters in their name (yellow chart above). They were given their name written on one-inch graph paper. They needed to count the letters and add it to the chart. Finally, later in the year, we also used our names for an anchor chart on syllables. You can also use names for a math lesson on adding: number of letters in my name plus the number of letters in my friend's name.

Name Games
Using names is the perfect way to start the year off right. Here are 5 ideas for using the names to promote both literacy and content area skills.

Helping students compare their names with friend's names is a perfect way to make connections. I wouldn't give them directions at first, let them make discoveries. Do you have a letter in common with a friend. Do you and a friend have a capital/lowercase combination? They will make great connections. Of course, you can pair students and know who will have connections, but they will love comparing names with their friends.

Name Art
Using names is the perfect way to start the year off right. Here are 5 ideas for using the names to promote both literacy and content area skills.

I have a funny story about my son making a "name bug" as a beginning of the year activity and I wasn't happy about it. Maybe because he was in the eighth grade and I had been promised he would be challenged in that particular class...but I do love Name Art. One of my favorite beginning of the year activities is reading the book, Ten Apples on Top. After reading the book, students draw a picture of themselves and collect paper apples supplied in the classroom. After writing a letter on each apple, students put their apples on top of their head. Their are certainly tons of name activities on Pinterest, just check out this board below.

If you would like a FREE letter apple sheet, make sure to click the link or the picture below.

I hope this post gives you an idea or 6 about using names to promote literacy skills throughout your day and across content.

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Using names is the perfect way to start the year off right. Here are 5 ideas for using the names to promote both literacy and content area skills.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

4 Routines for Back to School

How can you start the year off on the right foot? Here are 4 Routines for a Better Back to School.
Our school met a week or so ago for a Summer Retreat. We starting planning for the First 19 Days. At the end of the first 19 days, the school district provided continuum starts with whole group reading comprehension strategies and meta-cognitive strategies. BUT the best routines start Day 2. Let's be real, Day 1 is survival packed with meeting your students and making sure everyone gets home correctly. But Day 2, it's off and running with routines.

1. Arrival and Unpacking
How can you start the year off on the right foot? Here are 4 Routines for a Better Back to School.

From the moment BEFORE the students walk in the room on Day 2, they need to know what to do. My mailboxes were always set up by the door. Before students come in more than a few steps, they unpack their backpacks, hand me their folder, and move to the backpack storage area. As the students come in I'm in door to check them in. I take the homework folder, check for parent notes, put in the sticker for the behavior calendar (because, of course, they will behave all day), and put the folder in their mailbox. Making sure they hand you their folder as they walk in the door is critical. I fully believe in making the students accountable in handing in their folder and packing it away at the end of the day.

2. Coming to the Carpet
How can you start the year off on the right foot? Here are 4 Routines for a Better Back to School.

Not only are students always coming back and forth to the carpet...but they are moving all over the room. We have to teach them from the beginning to move in the room. I have always had carpet spots. When I didn't have a carpet, I used a designated area with duct tape and names until I could get a Donors Choose carpet funded. I believe students can be successful when they know what to do. Students need practice coming to the carpet correctly. Not sliding. Not running. Not pushing. I have students demonstrate the correct way to do this. I also use pencil boxes for personal supplies. (I don't like community supplies.) We have to practice walking to the carpet while holding their pencil boxes quiet. If we aren't successful, we do it again.

3. Lining Up and Walking in the Hallway
How can you start the year off on the right foot? Here are 4 Routines for a Better Back to School.

Lining up is new to most students. They are usually walking hold on to a hand or doing what they want. We have to set expectations. I always expect my students will walk in the hallway without talking. I have never asked them to "put a bubble in their mouth" (I think it looks ridiculous) or have 2 fingers in the air (again, it's silly). One classroom had floor tiles, so I put a right orange duct tape stripe on the floor. We lined up on the line, so their was no debate about where the line would be. At first, I might line them up one at a time randomly or I might call everyone with a specific letter in their name to line up. Once we are in the hallway, we take very little steps. We might move quietly in the line just until the next classroom door. Stop. Check the line. And not move forward until we're quiet. I have been known start and stop all the way down the hallway, but we will be quiet.

4. Using Classroom Supplies
How can you start the year off on the right foot? Here are 4 Routines for a Better Back to School.

As we use materials, we absolutely talk about using the materials correctly. When I give out pencils, we talk about using pencils. How do we hold a pencil? Where do we put the pencil when we're done? What happens when a pencil breaks? I always had a bucket for broken pencils and a bucket for pencils ready to be used. We also have discussions about crayons and coloring. BUT the most important lesson is a glue lesson. One year I used glue bottles with red "dot" tops. We talked a lot about using this glue bottles and I loved them. Most recently, we used glue sticks, but glue sticks come with their own fun. We talk about how far to roll the glue stick up...it's not lipstick. We also talk about using glue sticks in a back-and-forth motion or  in a circular motion. We also use it to practice counting, "Let's put 5 stripes on the piece to glue it."

Of course, there are more routines to teach because everything is a routine, but these 4 routines will get you off on the right foot in kindergarten.

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How can you start the year off on the right foot? Here are 4 Routines for a Better Back to School.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Teachers: It's time to QUIT!

Teachers: It's time to quit. Here are 5 things teachers should quit doing and LOVE their job.
Yep, Quit. One of my favorite quotes about teaching is: "If you can walk away tomorrow, then walk away today." Dr. Steve Perry said this at an International Literacy Association conference several years ago and I couldn't agree more. No one deserves a teacher who doesn't want to be in the classroom...BUT that isn't what the post is about. This post is about getting those negative thoughts out of your teaching.
Teachers: It's time to quit. Here are 5 things teachers should quit doing and LOVE their job.

Quit Digging Your Heels In

I know it seems everything in education and fashion comes back around eventually, but let's not count on it. There is so much amazing research on how children learn and how we should teach...so digging your heels in to the teaching styles of 1980 isn't the best strategy for teaching children to be world ready in 2017. Organizations like the International Literacy Association is a great place to learn about the latest research in education. The days of whole group reading should be retired. Meeting students where they are can move them forward quicker and with better progress. Breathe deep and PURGE! Get rid of those materials from the 80's just like you need to get rid of your walkman or parachute pants. 

Quit Badmouthing our Profession

I am so frustrated with teachers talking bad about teaching. UGH! (Once again, I'll refer to Dr. Perry.) "Teaching isn't what it used to be." You are right...let's believe it's better. I've told you before my son is a teacher. He just finished his first year of teaching and I couldn't be prouder. I have actually had several people say, "Didn't you try and talk him out of it?" NO! I didn't. I was thrilled he wanted to be a teacher. Children deserve teachers who want to be there...they do not deserve the teacher who is "putting in time." I did a workshop for new teachers at my son's college a year or so ago talking about what to expect in teaching. One of my best pieces of advice was to stay away from the M.G.O.T. (mean, grouchy old teacher). I hate to see M.G.O.T.s talking badly about teaching to new teachers. We need new teachers with new ideas and new attitudes and we need to embrace them. Here's a secret: the new teachers might know more about updated educational best practices than you do. Listen to them.

Quit Thinking You Aren't Appreciated 

Teachers: It's time to quit. Here are 5 things teachers should quit doing and LOVE their job.You are. You are appreciated by the ones that matter...the students. You may be the only thing they have going right for them, so make the most of it. Determine the big picture outcomes you want. You want them to know how to read, write, add, subtract, observe and experiment about our world, and become good citizens of the world. I know there is more, but they also need to be loved and nurtured and taught, retaught, and taught again...that's our job...and when they get it, it's powerful. I know the pay is not optimal. I know we take work home and eat, live, and breathe "lesson plans." But we are appreciated by students and families. What we are doing is not short of amazing. Own it.

Quit Making a List of All You Do

It's a lot. I know. A colleague in another school decided to make a list of all the things we are "required" to do each day and give it to her administration. It was a long list...lesson plans in content areas, guided reading plans, intervention plans, teacher assistant plans, read aloud plans, maintain the classroom, give tests, analyze tests, record scores, take students to lunch, take students to resource, take students to recess, morning duty, bus duty, make copies, and more, more, more. Guess what, the administration agreed. Yep, that's the job. It's what we do. If you asked any profession to make a list of their duties, it would be just as long with their profession-specific details. I'm pretty sure the list is stressing you out and it will all get done, so let's stop making a list. "My plate is too full." I know...so let's look at that plate. We have to be strategic about what we put on the plate. Everything must be "plate worthy" and all things aren't. Take new directives and replace something on the plate? Be honest and make the list and the plate work for you.

Quit Thinking You Aren't a Student

Everyone in every profession should grow. Doctors don't provide medical advice based on thirty years ago. If they do, leave. Lawyers have new laws to decided all the time. Pharmacists have new medications with new benefits and new problems. Athletes use new exercises, new equipment and new goals. Teachers cannot quit learning. Take classes, read blogs, do book studies, try something new! 
Teachers: It's time to quit. Here are 5 things teachers should quit doing and LOVE their job.

Now...seriously, don't quit. We need great teachers! Just make the decision to be a great teacher: know what's new in teaching, love teaching and love what you do, love the difference you are making in the lives of your students and their futures, make a list of why you are teaching...and remember it, and learn, learn, learn. When you learn more, you can share more with  your students, your colleagues, your administration.

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Teachers: It's time to quit. Here are 5 things teachers should quit doing and LOVE their job.

Friday, June 9, 2017

5 Ideas to Get Ready for Kindergarten

Kindergarten today isn't what kindergarten used to be...so we have to prepare our children to be students. Here are 5 ideas to get ready for kindergarten: the most exciting year of your life.
As we finish up one school year, it's inevitable to start thinking about next year. This is especially true of parents of "soon-to-be" kindergartners. As most know, kindergarten today isn't the kindergarten of the past. For good or for bad, the requirements are much more academic and much more high stakes. I get asked all the time about what skills an incoming kindergartner should have. I think there are 5 skills that can help a kindergartner be "on top of their game."

Letter Play
Kindergarten today isn't what kindergarten used to be...so we have to prepare our children to be students. Here are 5 ideas to get ready for kindergarten: the most exciting year of your life.

Students need to know some letters before they get to kindergarten. We simply can't wait until kindergarten to acquire these skills. However, I am not advocating for "kill and drill" letter activities. Play with letters. Let your child start with the letters in their name. 
1. Letter Detective - Find the letters around your house and in your child's community. If you are eating cereal, find the letters in their name on the box. If you are in a restaurant, find the letters in the name on the menu. If you are driving down the road, find the letters in signs.  
2. Magnet Letters - I kind of have an obsession with magnet letters. Putting magnets on the refrigerator really is a good idea. While you are making dinner, have them spell their name with magnet letters. While you are packing lunchboxes, have them find the letter "h" for ham or "w" for water. 
3. Compare Words - Using their name as the model, have them compare the letters in their name to another word. For example, using their name (Austin) and the cereal box (Puffed O's), let them see there is a "s" and an "u" in common. Helping them see similarities is important. 

Number Play
Kindergarten today isn't what kindergarten used to be...so we have to prepare our children to be students. Here are 5 ideas to get ready for kindergarten: the most exciting year of your life.

Knowing numbers will also give your child a boost in kindergarten. I don't think you need to be solving equations, but naming and recognizing numbers to 10, counting to 10 (or a little higher), talking about numbers is definitely recommended.
1. Count, Count, Count - How many socks do we have? 1, 2. How many chairs are at the kitchen table? 1, 2, 3, 4. How many steps is it to the bathtub? See what I mean? It doesn't need to be hard, just practiced play. 
2. Menu Mania - Use menus at your favorite restaurant to recognize numbers. Start with numbers in order. Can you find a 1? and so on. Then you call a number and ask your child to find it. This is a great activity for making sure they know their numbers. When you start this game, write the numbers in order for them to use as a guide. Eventually, they won't need your help.
3. Number Values - Making the connection between counting orally, recognizing the numeral, and understanding the value are four different things. You can increase their number knowledge with games dealing with values. What can find in the house that has a value of 3.  We have 3 bathtubs. We have two tv's. We have four lamps in the den. Another fun activity uses an ice cube tray. Dollar Tree and Target Dollar Spot often have seasonal ice cube trays and sometimes they have 10 ice cubes. Have your child make a snack by filling up the tray. He can have 4 pretzels, 2 cookies, and 4 blueberries. She can have 6 slices of banana and 4 blueberries. Of course, that doesn't have to be the whole snack, but it's a fun way to start.

Rhyme Time
Kindergarten today isn't what kindergarten used to be...so we have to prepare our children to be students. Here are 5 ideas to get ready for kindergarten: the most exciting year of your life.

Rhyming isn't just a game, it's an essential step in phonological awareness. Have fun with rhyming. I know there is more than one Hannah Banana out there. Rhyming is fun. 
1. Show me the Rhyme - A fun game to play with rhyming is "Show Me." Using things in your den or in their bedroom, ask them to show you a rhyme for objects you can see. Show me something that rhymes with chair (bear). Show me something that rhymes with soar (drawer). Show me something that rhymes with bug (rug). Make sure you are also playing with nonsense rhymes. Show me something that rhymes with "millow" (pillow). Show me something that rhymes with "ficture" (picture). 
2. Rhyming Families - Make as many rhymes as you can with one word. This is a fun car activity. One person starts the rhyme, "cat." Then, each person takes a turn and tells a rhyme in that family (bat, sat, fat, flat, mat, splat...). You have to decide if nonsense words are allowed.
3. Silly Sentences - This is a fun way to make a silly sentence. One person starts with "I see a ham" and the next person finishes the sentence with a rhyming word "on the ram." This is also a fun way to practice drawing, too. Wouldn't it be funny to see a ham on a ram.

Build Stamina
Kindergarten today isn't what kindergarten used to be...so we have to prepare our children to be students. Here are 5 ideas to get ready for kindergarten: the most exciting year of your life.

One of the hardest things for kindergartners is attending to a task for longer than thirty seconds. You can help build stamina for their success. They need to be able to start a task and complete it without letting their attention wander. I suggest you set a goal with them. Use your microwave or phone timer for 30 seconds, tell them to continue a task for 30 seconds without stopping. After a few successful rounds increase the timer by 15 seconds. Some tasks to strengthen are coloring, drawing, writing their name, writing letters, looking at books, and putting puzzles together. One of the main goals of this task is working consistently and not talking or interacting with anyone else. It seems simple, but it's very powerful. The last idea is a tag-team to this idea.

Read to Them
Kindergarten today isn't what kindergarten used to be...so we have to prepare our children to be students. Here are 5 ideas to get ready for kindergarten: the most exciting year of your life.

I have done many blog posts on the importance of reading to your children. (See 5 Ways to Create a Love of Reading) It is such a powerful way to build a child who is eager, enthusiastic, empathetic, and engaged. There are a few important things to think about.
1. Quiet Listener - Make sure your child can listen to a whole book and not interrupt the reader. This is tricky because I would hope your child's kindergarten teacher would have engaging read alouds with appropriate think alouds, but there will be 20 other students listening, so you need to create a respectful listener, as well.
2. Talk about It - Talk about the book: What happened? What came first? Why did the character do that? Which character would you like to be? What is your favorite part? What would you change?
3. Read Many Kinds of Books - I know we want to read the books our children like, but we also need to expose them to many types of  books. Your child will definitely be expected to sit quietly for all the books the teacher chooses, so getting practice listening to books that aren't their preference is important.

I hope this list will inspire you to help your soon-to-be kindergartner get ready for an amazing year.

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For other great blog posts, check out these from the ladies in The Reading Crew.