Two Tips for Tuesday – Struggling Readers

Well hello there Tuesday!   Here you are back again!  These weeks just fly by, don’t they? Howzabout another Two Tips for Tuesday for Struggling Readers??   Kristin here again.

Today’s tips focus on the learning behaviors of listening and speaking.  We have so many students these days who for various reasons, have difficulty with listening and speaking as it relates to learning!  Kinda sorta messes them up when it is time to do some learning, right?  As we have done so far, we are trying to keep our tips light and doable in the classroom and reading groups.  So let’s get moving right along, should we? 

*Tip 1 – Observation Charts
This is another version of a G.L.A.D. oldie but goodie that works well to help students practice speaking about their learning.

                                        These are for a second grade Community Unit.

Here are the steps:

     *Make mini-posters (9 x 12 or 12 x 18) with photos of items that relate to the current topic of study.  For example, for a bats unit you might make a poster with the different types of bats, another with diagrams of how echolocation works, another with maps of different locations and the types of bats found there, etc.  Include a blank piece of paper hanging with the poster on which students can write.  Hang each poster in a different location around the room.

     *Divide students into small groups.  Give each group one pencil.  Student groups rotate through the different posters in the room.  (1 group per poster at a time – use your favorite rotation routine to manage this.)  At each poster, they observe like a scientist and discuss what they see. (The teacher mingles with groups and encourages the use of academic vocabulary in student discussions.) They then must decide upon and write (can be single words) what they notice about the poster.  As each new group rotates to the posters, they add anything different that they notice or see. 

     *When finished with rotations, or at another time or another day, each group can share one poster and the observations that go with it to the whole class.

(This can be done in reading groups too, to help build schema for a new book that’s about to be read.  Just make mini-mini posters on the book’s topic and have one or two students in the group partner up. You can rotate the posters to the partners right at your reading table, instead of the partners rotating to the posters. I often use this in my reading groups to do just that!  It’s another way to get the K that you would get on a KWL chart, AND it includes that critical picture support! Short on time?  Do it verbally.  Have the partners tell the rest of the group what they notice or know about their poster.)

And SHAZAM!…..there you go…..lots of scientific observations, lots of academic vocabulary use, lots of discussions, lots of learning and schema building…… AND……lots of CCSS addressed!  A regular plethora of learning right there!  Sweet!

*Tip 2 – Conversation Club
Got students that don’t seem to have the social norms of communication yet?  Got students that are maybe a tad impulsive (wink wink – you know what I mean) when it comes to talking and sharing turns in a group discussion?   Makes it a little difficult to have academic discussions, doesn’t it?   I feel your pain!    Buuuuut……we have to be sure to teach students what good conversations look like and sound like before we get what we expect. It’s not always easy and it is often the thing we let go of first when time gets pressed!  Because……..I don’t know about you, but we don’t have an overabundance of time at our school!  Sound familiar? 

 Well…we have just the thing for you!  It’s called the Conversation Club.

This easy-peasy-to-use and quick resource helps you to teach the rules/norms of discussion groups, the roles used in a discussion group, and some questions to practice discussions with, in a super fun and engaging way!   The suggested steps and lessons are included along with everything you need to teach your students how to be excellent communicators.  We have them on two topics so far (more on the way), but you can always use any other discussion topic with them.  (Back to School is a great one for the beginning of the year, but the Friendship Conversation Club is good for any time of year, as it also has questions about being a good friend and about bullying….which by some craziness can start to show up about this time of year!  Crazy…..I know….but it does happen sometimes!  Well….okay not at your school, but just in case….)  Anywho… can grab them here! I know you’ll find them super helpful!  They have years and years and years…okay I’m not that old……of tried and true tested success in my classroom!

Alrighty then!  There are your two tips for this week!  Hope you have a fantastic week and if it is conference week for you too, like it is here….hope you get lots of great information (wink, wink) and helpful support from the parents! 

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