The Book Fort

Instructional Ideas for Immediate Implementation

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Week Twenty Five: Building Strategic Readers (Pt. 2)

As you know if you checked out The Book Fort last week, I will be sharing some innovative strategies included in 20 Literacy Strategies to Meet the Common Core: Increasing Rigor in Middle and High School (2013) over the next couple of weeks. If you’re one of my many elementary school friends, don’t fret! This text absolutely works for the lower grades and the strategies can be easily adapted. In fact, one of the authors, Elaine K. McEwan-Adkins, has also published several similar books that target K - 6 and has a background in both the classroom and the library.

This week, I focused on the second section of the text, which is Craft & Structure, to pull out three literacy strategies for you, in the second strand in the anchor standards. What I have provided for you is just a tiny taste of the what the book has to offer. If you find it useful, the whole text is available online in various places, including Amazon. Download reproducibles from Solution Tree here.

McEwan-Adkins, Elaine K. & Burnett, Allyson J. 20 Literacy Strategies to Meet the Common Core: Increasing Rigor in Middle and High School. Solution Tree, 2013.
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Craft & Structure: Anchor Standards 4, 5, & 6

Strategy 1: Quick-REACH Vocabulary Toolkit (149)

One of the most helpful and sustainable tools we can help students discover are vocabulary strategies. Ultimately, just as with reading strategies, students must be exposed to several tools and approaches and be able to choose the ones that work in the moments that they are needed. Another acronym here helps students go through a process to determine the meanings of unknown vocabulary in unfamiliar, complex text. The idea is that students will be more self-sufficient in making meaning, rather than depending on the teacher to fill in the gaps. So, for chunks of text, students can practice using the Quick-REACH tools and determine which work best for their particular needs. The acronym and sample organizer are provided below.

Resources in print, such as dictionary, glossary, or thesaurus.

Electronic tools such as a smartphone, tablet, translator, or apps.

Association students can make between the word and world knowledge they may already have, such as similar roots, prefixes, suffixes, or similar usages.

Clues in the text (context) from which students can make inferences.

Help from an expert, a classmate, an adult, or teacher if the other tools have been tried and the meaning is still illusive.

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Strategy 2: Identify-Analyze-Relate (181)

As students begin to move beyond comprehension at the word and sentence level, even beyond chunks, they must practice identifying the structures of a text, analyzing how those structures contribute to the overall quality and meaning of a text, and how they relate to one another. This strategy is focused on problem-solution, but applies to all common structures. There are three steps involved, which are listed below, and a sample organizer for upper-level students is also included.

1. Read a text and identify its text structure(s).

2. Analyze that structure by breaking it down and closely examining its individual sentences as well as paragraphs or larger sections in the context of the whole text.

3. Describe how these sentences and sections are related to each other as a whole and what effect that has on the quality or overall meaning(s).

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Strategy 3: Purpose-Content-Style

Beyond even the text structure is the author's purpose and style. Students rarely push beyond the typical "to inform, to persuade, to entertain" that they learned in elementary school when we ask them to identify the author's purpose and explain how that purpose is achieved, yet this is exactly what we hope they'll be able to do well before they become adults that move on to college and/or career. This strategy organizes the reading into chunks again but in a way that guides students through stylistic analysis as it contributes to the author's purpose. There is a sample below of the organizer used with Kurt Mossberg's article on Traumatic Brain Injury (2012).
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Website of the Week


One of the AASL's Best 2016 Websites for Teachers, PiktoChart is a must see. I was introduced to PiktoChart this week by one of my amazingly talented colleagues, Emily Warren. She presented this as a tool for creating infographics as multi-modal compositions in her high school English classes and I was immediately intrigued by the potential for the free version of this web-based tool. Even if you aren't 1:1, students can access this tool from the website from any device and build high-quality graphics to represent content knowledge, to persuade, to inform, to argue...the possibilities are endless! Check out the differentiated instruction sample below and follow PiktoChart on Twitter for more ideas @piktochart.
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Tool of the Week

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The #Technoritas of Sigler Elementary in Plano, TX schooled me on three tools to use for student engagement and differentiation last week at the #TCEA Conference in Austin, TX. As such, I will be featuring one of these three each week in the next several issues. The second is HyperDocs, which is much more than a digital document with hyperlinks. Dora DeBoer, bilingual teacher at Sigler, shared ways to use templates that are already out there to explore interactive digital documents and lessons via Google Docs. Students can self-pace and work through multi-layered lessons with embedded formative checks and teachers can provide real-time feedback with the Google Classroom or Drive features. Dora even used this platform to connect her students to people all around the world and to make her content more culturally relevant, which dramatically increased student engagement for her otherwise shy bilingual students. Check out Dora's presentation below and follow Sigler Elementary @SiglerStars and #SiglerNation. Dora is happy to help and share as she says "that's what it's all about!" Connect with her via Twitter at the handles below.

What Students Are Reading

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Kristie Hofelich Ennis, NBCT

In an effort to systematically study relevant research and stay connected to the teachers I greatly respect and with whom I have worked for years to successfully implement independent reading, this newsletter came about. It will offer research and practical ideas for quick implementation and may prompt further discussion or study with your colleagues. I hope you'll find it useful and thought-provoking; I also hope you will stay in touch if you implement any of the ideas with your students. They are, after all, why I do what I do!