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Stop, Look, and Listen Before You Cross the Street

When you see a stop sign, what do you do?

When you see a caution sign, what do you do?

When you see a flashing light, what do you do?

Those are signs designed to capture you attention and do something …

It may signal that you need to stop or that you need to pay attention.

Too many times, we read and just keep going not even noticing the signals or clues that the author might be sharing in the story. 

I guess we do that in life too …

But right now, let’s focus on when we read stories!

I recently saw some people talking about reading signposts, and I was intrigued, so I searched it, read about it, and even ordered a book (I am a teacher book collector … they make me happy … but I don’t always get a chance to read all the books I buy, so that is something I am focusing on right now). I got so excited about the Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst that I started the ideas from it with my students before I even finished reading the book!

Reading Signposts are places the reader stop and asks questions when they see the character or author say or do something in the text. It is a signal that is helping us pay more attention to what we are reading. Some of the signposts are like bright red flags being waved while others resemble that slightly blinking light far away in the distance.

I am using small piece of text to introduce and practice each sign post (as it recommends in the book) but then I am asking students to apply is using both the book we are reading together and the book that is being read aloud in class. 

So far I have only introduced two of the six reading signposts, but I am amazed (and I don’t use that word lightly) at the conversations that are happening about books in my small groups. 

I see my students looking at what they are reading in new ways. 

I see my students making connection between parts of the book and even to other books that they would not have made before.

I see my students being challenged in their thinking while they are reading!

And that makes this gifted education teacher smile!


Record to Improve?

Whether it is from a video, a voice mail message, or an audio recording of a message you left …
How do you react when you hear a recording of yourself?
Do you notice how your words can sound different than you think they should?
Do you notice how fast or slow you are talking?
Does it make you cringe a little and want to do it again to make it better?
Reading Fluency is more than just how many words I can read in a minutes and how fast I can go …
Think about how you react when you hear a person read aloud or give a speech. If the person does not read very smoothly, then most of the time the listener is more focused on trying to determine what is being said rather than the meaning of what is being said …
I was at a conference recently and after looking at the session descriptions, I marked the ones I wanted to attend … and sometimes had 3rd or 4th choices too.  But my favorites seemed to be the top choices of others too …
So I decided to do something I have done before at conferences … find a session that does not have that many people in it and attend it! That forces me to really listen and challenge myself to find connections I can use.
This time, the strategy turned out to be a gold mine! 
I do admit that I had thought the session description sounded a bit interesting when I first saw it but since the presenters were K-2 teachers, I was not to sure if any of the info would work for me …
Boy was I wrong …
I am used to teaching 4th and 5th grade students … this year I am teaching in a 3rd grade dual immersion class … these kids are babies!!! (in my mind at least)
The session I attended on focused on ways to use technology to help students improve their fluency.
The presenters have ipads in the classrooms. I have recently added a few Kindle Fires to my classroom, but can easily adjust the ideas, since the ideas here don’t focus a certain type of technology but focus on the improvement of fluency skills using the technology available.
Students can use the recording and playback features on the tablets (or even tape recorders if that is what is available) to increase their fluency and ability to self-evaluate.  
A student will record himself reading a story and then listens to it with a critical ear (most of the time we don’t need to be taught how to be critical) using a rubric. The rubric is a way for a student to listen to himself and then think about how he can get better.
How many times should he practice reading out loud before recording again?
What are the words that he needs to really focus on for clear pronunciation?
How can he make the words easier to understand?
After self-evaluation, guidance, and practice, a student records himself reading again. We now have both recordings and can hear the change and improvement. Have you seen a child’s face light up when he realizes he has really improved? It is pure sunshine!
As students progress, they begin recording their retell attempts and again use a rubric to evaluate  which leads to improvement …
Students can even record answers to comprehension questions to help them decide how to make the answers better …



What questions will you ask and inspire today?


Creativity can't be rushed ...


Storytelling With A Twist!