The Book Fort
Instructional Ideas for Immediate Implementation
Welcome to The Book Fort! Vol. 1 Issue 2
Missed Vol. 1 Issue 1? Find it here.
Week Two: Strengthening the Foundation
Mix mentions the work of Tierney and Pearson (45), who recommend not only the tapping and building of background knowledge, which was featured in last week's newsletter, but also the predicting of what is to come in the reading that students do. This can be done as a whole group, in small groups, and/or individually, but it is beneficial all the same. The following strategies draw on Mix's research and on my own experience.
Mix, J. (2004). Wedding reading and writing in the basic writing classroom: The power of "connection". Language Arts Journal of Michigan,20(2), 44-52.
Reading Strategy: Predicting
As such, we must encourage students to predict often. Not only does this force them to infer, but it also gives students something to read for, a goal to reach, a question to answer. Did their predictions come true? Why or why not? So, make this a part of all reading, but especially independent reading. Ask students to focus on one line or section of text and make a prediction about what will happen next, how it will turn out in the end. Then, revisit this to confirm or change the thinking (reflect, if you will). Students will be inferring with less and less problem if this becomes a regular habit of mind in your classroom.
Writing Strategy: Wonder Journals
One of the most difficult parts of the teaching of writing is effectively assisting students in building background knowledge. They come from such diverse backgrounds and experiences that often, when faced with a timed writing test, they just cannot seem to think of what to write, how to get started. The easiest way to encourage students in this endeavor is to make writing a part of your everyday curriculum as much as possible. This doesn't mean the students write an essay a week (WHO WANTS TO GRADE THAT?!), but it means routine writing for a variety of purposes.
The Wonder Journal is an effective way to encourage writing about a variety of topics and the collection of artifacts to support the building of background knowledge. As the National Writing Project advocates, the development of "seeds" over time will spark growth, and potentially develop into longer writing pieces.
Using any kind of notebook, prompt students to write something every, single day in class. This can be prompted with essential questions, it can easily be tied into independent reading or class texts as a K-W-L type activity, and/or it can be free writing. Better yet, it can be all of these! The Wonder Journals below are excellent because they have an envelope in them for collecting interesting artifacts. Wonderopolis is an excellent place to prompt students about nonfiction as well. Check it out here!
Bonus: This is a strategy that works across the curriculum and could be shared with your colleagues in an effort to unify the literacy instruction at your schools.
Vocabulary Strategy: Word Nerds
San Diego Quick Assessment for Reading Ability
Penny Kittle's YouTube Channel
What Kids are Reading
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Booked by Kwame Alexander
The follow-up to The Crossover, middle and high school students are devouring Booked. This tells the story of Nick, a 12-year-old boy who learns the power of words as he struggles with everyday life.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley