The Reading Strategies Book, Goal Twelve

This is the Reading Strategies Book Book Study. Let's dig in.

I'll preface my post by saying my post is coming from the perspective of an elementary special education teacher working with kids from K-5th. It's a wide range with varying abilities, I kind of love it. These are my thoughts and ideas, and you should know that this book is pretty incredible. Welcome to Goal 12!

As much as students need to understand what they read, they've got to have an ever-expanding tool box of strategies to help them drive conversations with classmates, teachers, and everyone else they talk with. If we use the onion metaphor to think about comprehension levels, we want students to peel back layers and go deeper. Some can, some are learning, and some just haven't had enough practice. As teachers, we've got to ask ourselves if we're giving kids the strategies to possess those skills. Or are we kind of hoping they'll get them? This is an important self-reflective piece that's critical in teaching.

For me, I'm taking this chapter and pushing myself to focus on those strategies with some of my students. Each of my students have critical areas in comprehension that can be strengthened and/or tweaked. I'll be focusing on three: Taking Risks, Whole body Listening, and Taking Turns without Raising Hands.  

You should know, there are 21 different strategies for GOAL 12. Twenty One. I just picked a few that I wanted to focus on with my students. You can pick whatever floats your boat. It's all good.

I'll start with this because it's my favorite. I teach in a smaller room and most of the time I have 2-3 kids. Most of the time we keep it light and fun because we can and our work is somewhat personal because of the location and size. I want my students to take risks on a daily basis in what they're thinking...but this is hard. Many times my kids don't even know what risks are (when compared to book reading). It takes practice and a safe environment.

Once we begin to hit themes, character traits, and connections I'll really see what my students are capable of producing. I enjoy the close proximity because it affords students to care less about what their other peers might think. They're all on the same playing level in my room. Taking a risk isn't just comprehension, it's reading, decoding, following along, and sometimes even enjoying a story/text/book they weren't expecting. Luckily, a lot of the responsibility falls on me--can I get them to buy in and trust me.

I don't care how old the students are--this strategy makes such a big difference. For over 95% of our students, if their body isn't ready to listen--they won't. I mean, think about staff meetings that we sit in. Are we really ready to listen or do we have our back turned with a foot out the door? Don't answer that.

We're only a few weeks into the school year but when I'm teaching direct instruction reading lessons my first reminder to students is to get their body ready. Sit up, lean forward, and get ready to engage. It almost seems to simple. Whole body listening forces kids to stay in a lesson, plus it makes sure that I'm modeling the correct strategy for my students. We all win.

The more I read about this strategy, the more I began to realize that it was more than just about listening. This involves key social elements which many students need to recognize; when to listen, when to add, when to question, and when to keep those conversations from turning into awkward moments.

Taking turns without needing to raise hands builds upon prior strategies such as the (previously mentioned) whole body listening and social cues. This is just good life practice, which we can never really have enough of. Eye contact, taking a risk during quiet moments, deciding the proper time to make conversational adjustment--they are also crucial components of collaboration between students.

A Funny Thing Happened...
This book is just about reading. Sure, it might have the word READING in the title, don't let that fool you though. This could (and can) be used across all settings. So many of the strategies apply to math, writing, and just learning how to learn.

Small Chunks
If we're being honest (and I think we are), I haven't even come close to reading the entire thing. It's long. I'm kind of wondering if George RR Martin co-wrote this with Jennifer Sarravallo because it's over 350 pages. I've also found myself taking small bites from this book. Each page has a tip, level, example, and even other books/people/ideas you can see more of. There is a lot of information, take it too quick and it'll all leave you. Besides, you'll run out of post-it notes trying to remember all the tips you like.

Below is a poster set for How W Have Book TALKS.  


Teacher Tips: 25 Reason Teaching is Awesome

Teaching is pretty awesome.  Take the students, teachers, academics and throw 'em in a blender. Toss in a couple ounces of politics, state mandates, and class management.  Add a dash of pop culture and a touch of peer pressure.  Now, mix it all up.  That's teaching.  BUT, it's still awesome. 

Here's 25 reasons why. Feel free to add you own.

We celebrate the smallest successes 
(because they're really the biggest).

Jeans Day(s), or week(s)

We understand youth culture.

Our students says the cutest things.

School supplies never end.

Toys, everywhere.

You straight-up, crushed that lesson.

Costumes for every occasion are required.

Perusing Pinterest counts as professional development.

We've been given genetically designed indestructible bladders.

There's food in the lounge?  There's food in the lounge!

You're never surprised by what happens in the lounge.

You can always find Ugly Sweaters for holiday parties.

The kids teach us.

Dance Parties happen whenever we want.

Students teach us new dance moves.


We get to do a little Back-to-School clothes shopping, too.

We can become immune to the common cold.


Pizza Day in the Cafeteria

The kids always come back to visit.

We're always learning.

Seeing the Light Bulb Moments.

The kids.


The Best Teacher Tips Ever: Meetings

Back again, by unpopular demand.

We all have to attend meetings.  Some good, some bad, and some could've been an email.  You'll have a menagerie of staff meetings from problem-solving missions to committees and they can take a toll on you.  
In fact, you might even have a meeting about upcoming meetings. There's nothing like a pre-meet. But we're teachers and they're a fact of life. Meetings are in our DNA. We need them. It's a love-hate relationship, but they're necessary when you have 200-1,000 students running around.

Here's a some simple tips to navigate those meetings.

Bring in treats (small meeting)
A home baked treat will set the world on fire with happiness.
You cannot get mad at homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Sit in the Back and People-Watch (staff meeting)
The back row gives great insights into the inner workings of a staff and how it functions.  I'm a people watcher, I love watching faculty dynamics.

Sit in the front row
You have nothing that can distract you.  It's perfect.

Take Fancy Notes (all meetings)
Make your notetaking come alive with fancy drawings, boxes, circles, and arrows. You know, fancy things.

Doodle (all meetings)
Don't take any notes. Just doodle and listen. 
Aren't most agendas printed out anyway?  You got the info.

Find the Most Comfortable Chair

Sit on a Stability Ball
It's like free exercise.

Sit By Your Friends (staff meeting)
You'll need them to help you through this next state mandate.

DON'T Sit By Your Friends (staff meeting)
This, my friends, is a double-edged sword.  

Set An Objective & Schedule (all meetings)

Learn to Multi-task (all meetings)
Not every single part and parcel of a meeting requires your brain.  We've all seen that teacher who grades papers the whole time. Don't work harder--work smarter.

Does Your Question Really Needs to be Asked? (staff meeting)

Is Your Question Being Used To Start Fights? (staff meeting)

Be a Grown Up... 
Ugh...that's no fun.

...and deal with it.

You are dismissed.


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