ACE Literacy Newsletter

Elementary Literacy | Feburary 2019 YEAR 4: VOL. 2

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In this Edition:

Celebrations: The Joy-ce Factor

Instructional Focus: Comprehension

  • Aggressive Monitoring
  • Power Of Prompting
  • Show Call
  • Stop the Show
  • Engagement
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ACE Campuses Celebrating Student Acheivement!!!

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Strategies that Promote Comprehension

By: Texas Education Agency


Based on research and effective practice, these strategies help students learn how to coordinate and use a set of key comprehension techniques before, during, and after they read a variety of texts.

General instructional activities

To correspond with a typical reading lesson, comprehension strategy instruction can be organized into a three-part framework, with specific activities used before, during, and after reading.

Providing instruction such as the following example allows students to see, learn, and use a variety of comprehension strategies as they read. Note, however, that the framework is a general one and represents an array of strategies. All of the strategies in this framework do not have to be used with every text or in every reading situation.

Before Reading

Before reading, the teacher may:

· Motivate students through activities that may increase their interest (book talks, dramatic readings, or displays of art related to the text), making the text relevant to students in some way.

· Activate students' background knowledge important to the content of the text by discussing what students will read and what they already know about its topic and about the text organization.

Students, with some help from the teacher, may:

· Establish a purpose for reading.

· Identify and discuss difficult words, phrases, and concepts in the text.

· Preview the text (by surveying the title, illustrations, and unusual text structures) to make predictions about its content.

· Think, talk, and write about the topic of the text.

During Reading

During reading, the teacher may:

· Remind students to use comprehension strategies as they read and to monitor their understanding.

· Ask questions that keep students on track and focus their attention on main ideas and important points in the text.

· Focus attention on parts in a text that require students to make inferences.

· Call on students to summarize key sections or events.

· Encourage students to return to any predictions they have made before reading to see if they are confirmed by the text.

Students, with some help from the teacher, may:

· Determine and summarize important ideas and supportive details.

· Make connections between and among important ideas in the text.

· Integrate new ideas with existing background knowledge.

· Ask themselves questions about the text.

· Sequence events and ideas in the text.

· Offer interpretations of and responses to the text.

· Check understanding by paraphrasing or restating important and/or difficult sentences and paragraphs.

· Visualize characters, settings, or events in a text.

After Reading

After reading, the teacher may:

· Guide discussion of the reading.

· Ask students to recall and tell in their own words important parts of the text.

· Offer students opportunities to respond to the reading in various ways, including through writing, dramatic play, music, readers' theatre, videos, debate, or pantomime.

Students, with some help from the teacher, may:

· Evaluate and discuss the ideas encountered in the text.

· Apply and extend these ideas to other texts and real life situations.

· Summarize what was read by retelling the main ideas.

· Discuss ideas for further reading.

Here's a Twist to Aggressive Monitring

During the Lesson Cycle prompting can help students engage within the text and help student think through the text. Try prompting to provide feedback to students during Aggressive Monitoring. Check out the prompts below.
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There is Power in Prompting

Prompting students will allow students to grapple with the text themselves and push each other to a deeper level of comprehension. Use Universal prompting when students need to explain their thinking to the teacher. Strategic prompts are wonderful tools to have when you are helping individual students make their way through a text or to check on how well students are understanding the text. These strategies include: Self-monitoring, Making Predictions, Asking Questions, Inferring, Understanding Author's Purpose and Summarizing.

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Limiting " Teacher Talk, " Increasing Student Work!

By: Tori Filler

Posted: 04/24/17


“Wah waah wah waah wah wah…” We all know the famous muted trumpet of adults in Charlie Brown’s world, especially their teacher, Miss Othmar. After five years teaching elementary school, I’m confident that I’m not boring my kids to sleep but I do wonder if I strike the right balance between “teacher talk” and student work.

Research has long supported the idea that students benefit from “doing.” Regular practice with reading and re-reading increases comprehension and fluency (National Reading Panel, 2000), as well as builds vocabulary and knowledge (Cunning & Stanovich, 1998). Students also need ample time to connect reading and writing to speaking and listening, integrating their literacy skills (see Appendix A). This is especially important for younger children and English Language Learners, whose oral language far outpaces the ability to read and write (Fisher, Frey, & Rothenberg, 2008).

As we all do our best to help students meet the high bars we set in our literacy classrooms, could it be that we’re missing out on opportunities for kids to do the very work that will help get them there?

What if we did less and let students do more?

Enter the “Who’s Doing the Work?” pilot project! This challenge took its name, and many of the great ideas used, from the book Who’s Doing the Work by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris. This book is full of small, but powerful, suggestions for adjustments to practices that fit a balanced literacy framework for instruction. Many of these suggested adjustments were used in our strategy sheet. In the pilot, several teams of teachers across the country set out to give students more ownership by decreasing “teacher talk.” Some teams met during PLCs; others were coached 1:1, and a few even videotaped themselves. We selected new strategies to implement and then came back together to reflect on their impact.

Our hope was that by increasing opportunities to engage deeply with literacy, we could create richer opportunities for all students. After six weeks, more than 90% of teachers who engaged in this project reported that they talked less and that students were more engaged. All teachers named this work as a valuable use of their time!

Here are some tips that “Who’s doing the Work?” participants found most effective in their classrooms. A full list of strategies can be found in the document attached at the top of this post.

Ask all students to engage in the work

Rather than calling on a few raised hands, use Think-Pair-Share or Everybody Writes after posing a meaty question. This gives all students the time they need to process their thoughts before opening it up to the whole group. During complex text read-alouds, my co-teacher and I used individual whiteboards so our first graders could jot or draw responses. As an added bonus, we were able to see nearly all student thinking (versus only hearing from a few students).

Ideas for access to inexpensive whiteboards

First graders use individual whiteboards to record responses during a complex text read aloud with Core Knowledge Language Arts: Listening & Learning.

Let student voices shine!

Too often, classroom discourse is a “Ping-Pong game” between the teacher and one student at a time: teacher initiates question, student responds, teacher evaluates response (for example: “Good job!”), and the cycle continues. One teacher in this project admitted, “I never even knew I did that until I started recording myself!” Challenge yourself to create more of a “volleyball” discussion by asking students to listen to one another and respond to each other’s ideas before tapping the ball back to your side of the court (think Speaking & Listening Anchor Standard 1!). My classroom uses silent hand signals for “I agree,” “I disagree,” or “I’d like to add on.”

Increase time students spend reading

The more our students are doing the reading, the better! To mix things up or provide strategic support, consider using partner reading, echo reading (teacher reads section, students repeat) or choral reading (we all read together). Our teachers found combining re-reading with annotation or searching for evidence to be a particularly great way to get students engaged with text and prepared for discussion!

Students revisit the text together to find evidence before a class discussion.

Build independence

How many times have I told students, “Watch out, this part is going to be tricky!” and modeled or prompted them to use a specific strategy? While this may have helped them get through the challenge of that text or question (and kept the lesson moving smoothly), it probably wasn’t very transferable to their independent practice. Asking kids to evaluate what is tough and how they might sort it out flexes the muscle they’ll need to do this work on their own!

So ask yourself how much time you spend talking in your classroom. Give your voice a break and let’s put students to work!

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During Our Last Team Thursday!

Stop the Show Then Show Call

Ground students in the text before isolating the skill during the Show Call. This is called " Show the Show!" Stopping the show will help the teacher stamp the learning for students before they work independently.


Check the Thinking


  • Aggressively Monitor
  • Identify student's paper to Show Call
  • Check for student's understanding using Stop the Show
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WIN! Tickets to the Cinema!

Let us watch you " Stop the Show"! Send in a video of you stamping the learning with students before the Show Call! The winner will win 2 tickets to the Cinema! Deadline to submit all videos is March 6th. Show us what you know!

Resource Spotlight: 5th Six Weeks IPCs

Hot off the press: 2nd Six Weeks Curriculum Calendars

As you plan with the calendars, notice some upgrades such as Response Skills and Anchor Charts. As TEA make updates, we will add them to the upcoming six weeks! Happy Planning High Quality Lesson Plans!

ACE Website: www.acedallasisd.com

Click the link below to browse the site....don't forget to access our ACE resources in the Learning Lounge-use the password "ACE".
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