Sunday, July 26, 2015

6 Things the Reading Specialist Wants Teachers to Know

This is another one in the series of Tell All's.  OK...that's kinda funny.  I will be honest, this turned into an Affirmation of Thoughts.

Reading Time Can't be Compromised

Nothing takes the place of reading.  I know other areas are important, but reading is the backbone to all other necessities in school.  Reading level can determine success in other content areas.  If reading time is negotiable, the routines won't be firm, the practice won't be consistent, and reading strategies won't be permanent.  Daily attention to reading skills and strategies will benefit all areas in the end.

Integrate Reading into EVERYTHING

Reading Strategies aren't just for the small group area.  Reading Strategies aren't just for reading books.  Reading Strategies aren't just for one hour a day.  Using reading strategies during the day not only creates "buy in" from the student, but allows for students to practice these strategies throughout the day.  Showing students how to use reading strategies in science or social studies or math, gives a purpose to small group lessons.

Routines Create Independence

Your classroom should be a well-oiled machine.  Most students find strength in routine.  We all know children crave boundaries, but they also crave routine.  There is safety in routine.  There is power in routine.  There is peace in routine.  When students know the routine, they can put all their energy into the lesson.  One of my favorite stories about routine happened a few years ago on a field trip day.  We had combined morning and afternoon kindergarten to go on an all-day field trip to the zoo.  We had talked about the change to our routine BEFORE the day arrived.  Friday arrived and the morning was crazy.  We had double students, double parents, assigned field trip trips and moved to the buses.  During the trip, we had lots of chaos and good hot fun.  After returning to school tired, sweaty, and a little frazzled I took on the task of making sure everyone had a plan for getting home correctly.  I was checking notes, chasing down parents, and making a plan for walking to the bus ramp when a sweet little face came over and tugged my shirt.  "Mrs. Collier, is it time for centers?"  I was so surprised, "Oh no, Mia, we aren't doing centers or reading groups today."  "We aren't?" she gasped?  "But we do reading and centers every day."  I hugged her and promised we would be back on our routine Monday morning.  Sure enough, Monday morning she walked in and said, "We're doing reading and centers today, right?" she said anxiously.  "Right," I assured her.  All was right with the world.

Strategy Instruction Matters

Give everyone the rights and abilities to be successful.  Don't skip lessons.  Don't predetermine what kids can and can't do.  They need to know the words they read, but more importantly they need to know what to do with the words they read.  I also believe in the "academic language" of reading.  Let the students know when they visualize, they are putting a picture in their head.  When you are using the skill, the them to "visualize."  Empower them to use academic language...don't "dumb it down."  They can handle it.

Read Alouds Matter

Nothing beats being read to.  Children crave it...even when they think they don't.  It's such an intimate interaction.  Sharing your love of reading with someone should be one of the best times of they day.  BUT don't grab any book off the shelf.  Choose the book to best fit your lesson or focus.  Reading a book needs to be interactive, informative, and fun.  Make sure you are showing HOW you think as you read.  Also when you demonstrate reading strategies WHILE you read, the impact can be great.

Read, Read, Read

I've said it before.  If you want to get better at piano, practice piano.  If you want to get better a soccer, use a soccer ball.  If you want to be a better read, read.  Make sure there is time in every day for independent reading and discussion.  Independent reading doesn't have to be quiet, it needs to be meaningful. Let students sign up for peer discussion time during independent reading time.  Allowing students to have time to talk about their book, will help them know what they are reading and why.
I know I am preaching to the choir, but reading is too important.

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3 comments:

  1. I love these quotes!! I'm posting them in my room this year!! Just want to let you know- the Roald Dahl quote is from The Twits, not Matilda.

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    1. Thank you. Oh my, sorry about the Roald Dahl quote. I'll edit the post.

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