Posts made in February, 2013

Always, Sometimes, Never

Posted by on Feb 24, 2013 in comprehension, conversation as learning tool, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.


We need our students to think. For many they are trained to put answers on a line. If there is no line, there must be no question. The directions and information above the lines can easily be ignored. The whole exercise, for those who can get it all right without reading and for those who can get is mostly wrong without reading, is a waste of time. This is one example of why I feel so strongly about conversation as a learning tool. This same exercise, shared with a partner with the expectation that answers need to be defended, requires thinking. The students can learn more about what they know and/or what they don’t know.

Graphic organizers are a great way to have students think. I have created a formative assessment called “Know or No”. I give students a list of words on a current topic for them to rate their knowledge. They can then line up in a continuum showing their understanding. This line is then folded and students are paired to talk about the word(s). This formative assessment can used before, during, and after instruction. Students, of course, should grow in their knowledge, but they should also be aware of that growth.

Know or No

Another great graphic organizer to use is a tree chart. Students fill in each section with whatever information they can think of. For example; thinking – always…  helps, thinking – sometimes…  is hard, thinking – never…  costs money. I have seen many of these on TPT and have made many of my own. Here is a new one on Thinking for today’s blog. The others are examples of ones I have used with my class.

Thinking Graphic Organizer Find more at my blog.Thinking

February Tree Map 1



I hope you give your students many opportunities to think and talk every day!


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Building Comprehension

Posted by on Feb 23, 2013 in comprehension, vocabulary development | 0 comments

We have been working hard to help our students make use of the comprehension tools available within sentences and paragraphs.

Some sentences give examples:

The farm implements, plow, shovel, and spade, had been used so often for planting, that they need replaced.

Others give an explanation:

Our teacher seemed infallible because she always knew the answers.

Many sentences offer synonyms or antonyms:

Penny was mortified, or shamed, by her poor bike riding skills.

A comparison is another structure to be watched for:

Some people are perplexed by puzzles, while others figure them out quickly.

Additionally, sentences can provide information that contrasts:

Something seemed wrong with David today; he made only cursory effort on his schoolwork, unlike his usual careful work.

Clues for Context Clues are sparkling gems to help a struggling reader!

I use this product with my struggling readers. The cards are reminders to look for help in comprehending meaning. As they are reading if they use one of the clue cards, they get to put in their “gem collection”. This complete lesson is available at my store on Teachers Pay Teachers and it is free!

I found a new idea for a lesson idea today. It uses a sentence with just a letter clue for a word:

Mary loves to eat b________ ?????????

Students brainstorm possible words to complete the sentence: bread, broccoli, brownies, bananas, burgers, etc. Then the sentence is repeat with the remainder shown:

Mary loves to eat b________, although her mom doesn’t want her to have too many sweets.

Another example:

Lisa has a new j__________ ???????

jump-rope, jersey, jacket, etc.

Lisa has a new j__________ for writing her thoughts about each day.

I am excited to use this new idea with my students. It will make clear to them the need to read on not only to help with unknown words, but also to add to the context of the word.

Do you have any ideas for increasing comprehension?



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School, Sport Smile

Posted by on Feb 18, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Join the linky party! Click on the button to add your link.
Tell us about:
1. a random fact about your SCHOOL.
2. a SPORT or hobby you enjoy watching, playing, or that involve your children.
3. something that makes you SMILE.
1. My school is a PK – 4 elementary north of Texas. We are located in a wealthy suburb, but we are a poor Title 1 school. We have a very large Hispanic population. I wish I were learning more Spanish. We had the front renovated about three years ago to make the building safer. I never imagined that I would feel that the money spent was worthwhile, but now I do.
2. Are you ready for some football? I have loved football since I watched a game with my granddaddy when I was 17. He seemed like a wizard to me, he could predict plays for many of the the positions. Turns out he was one of the original professional football players in Canton, Ohio back in 1920 when the NFL began. He and his brother played for $5.00 a game. When my dad and his brothers were in high school, Vince Lombardi would drop by their practices to give them advice.
One of my uncles did the stained-glass windows in the dome of the Football Hall of Fame.
Pro Football Hall Of Fame
I am a big Browns fan – used to the abuse- and now that I live in Texas, a big Texans fan.
3. Every morning lately, my cat, Molly, throws herself on my feet, so that I don’t forget to pet her good-bye!
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Comprehension Toolkit Finale

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“We teach the reader, not just the reading. We want children to be lifelong learners who read actively and independently across the curriculum, who engage their minds and understand what they read. The Toolkit lessons and practices teach kids to use comprehension strategies to ‘read to learn’ as they encounter information and ideas in a wide variety of nonfiction texts.”
—Stephanie Harvey & Anne Goudvis

I have posted my thoughts and posters to go along with books 1 – 5 of the Comprehension Toolkit.

They are all available for free at my TPT store.

Now I am sharing the last books posters. Book 6, Summarize and Synthesize, presents the most sophisticated and the most important thinking strategies. It is so important for the students to be able to take their new learning with them and use it beyond the text.


Read to Get the Gist

Reread and rethink

Hints for Note-taking

You should consider using the Comprehension Toolkit in your classroom. It makes a big difference in the conversations the students have about their reading and in their retention and understanding.


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Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

May this Valentine’s Day be filled with love,

understanding, and contentment as you journey

through life with those you hold dear

—Darly Henerson


My students are decorating bags tomorrow for all of their valentines and goodies. It seems as though all of the little valentines sold these days come with treats attached. I will take some pictures of their lovely creations.

We will have some fun Valentine’s learning activities on Thursday, cookies with lunch, and a few minutes to share valentines at the end of the day. We are not supposed to do much to celebrate it.

My husband and I had are first date on Valentine’s Day in 1975. We had pizza and Chianti. We have celebrated every year with the same menu. I look forward to many, many more!


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