Thursday, January 30, 2014

Every Teacher Is A Reading Teacher

Your credential could be elementary or secondary. Your classroom could have algebra all over the board, or pictures of the Civil War on the wall. Your students could be taking Cornell notes on the scientific method. You are still a reading teacher.

Creative visuals for Pre-algebra. Math 7
 Effective teaching includes opportunities for auditory and visual instruction, throwing in activities to solidify the lesson through verbalization by the students in teams and maybe kinesthetic involvement also, like my math teaching collaborators, creating a foldable pamphlet. Many students in the US are now learning English as a second language, and what teachers in the higher grades would normally assume the students had down solid in reading may be necessary to introduce.

Reading academic language (or actually, any material) is a new experience for many kids. They were not exposed to the basics of reading the English language. And let's face it, English is a booger to learn, full of rules and then rules that don't apply. Ay yi yi!

Connecting words and symbols.Math 7
A word rich environment never goes out of style, no matter what grade. Hurrah for the word wall! The students can see the words, and the importance of words, and correct spelling. And  in our world learning is increasingly auditory, so kids have marvelous working vocabularies of words and concepts from the Discovery Channel or the History Channel--but have never seen the words written down. Therefore, they usually don't recognize hundreds of words for which they know the meaning because they've only heard the word, never seen it written and connected it with the meaning. And the reading skills necessary to access the word may not be in their skill set.
It is interesting to find out your personal learning preferences, and help students to identify her own.

What can a teacher do without sacrificing crucial academic time? Give kids lots of opportunities to read, read, read. Every teacher has new vocabulary at the beginning of the chapter. Take a minute to

Academic vocabulary in plain view.Science 7
write the word, syllabicate the word, decode the syllables for the kids, and then have them repeat it. Having students syllabicate, decode and read make the kids less anxious about words with several syllables. I know that literacy coaches with reading certificates can get high and mighty about the precision of syllabication, but if you're teaching a seventh grade science class that is having difficulty with the academic vocabulary--just go for it! Quick and dirty--infer in fer, support sup port, formulate for mu late....and if the students don't remember the essential decoding phonics--what the hey-- just tell them the sound er makes, or what silent e does, or when two vowels go walking the first does the talking. For heavens sake, if they need it, they need it! It truly doesn't take long for kids to catch on to decoding. And reading is so very empowering.

Power lessons handwritten on giant sticky notes. Social Studies 8
 Lessons to SYLLABICATE  DECODE CONTEXT are used for kids to analyze unfamiliar words in passages. They could be reading along, then boom! an unknown word of scary length. What's a kid to do? Skip the word? NO! Syllabicate the word, sound it out, then read the surrounding context for clues as to the meaning. There are many, many techniques for reading comprehension. But reading fluency also needs to be addressed, and most instruction is supposedly completed in elementary. Frequently the kids need to be reacquainted with decoding and it is so very empowering for the students to read words fluently; the brief and frequent reminder to syllabicate, decode and read is totally worth the time and effort for all teachers.

Reading advice displayed in Math 7.

 Every teacher teaches reading. It is a privilege for me to collaborate in classes where literacy is propagated and honored. My colleagues train constantly for perfection of methods, and meet very frequently to co-plan lessons. What a huge job. What a huge privilege.

The last three years in our middle school I have collaborated with several math teachers, usually seventh grade. They incorporate all methods for the kids' progress in language, reading, and writing as well as Math standards. It is amazing how thoroughly they coordinate instruction for all students (including my students.)

So, although the official Pi Day is not until March 14, I honor my colleagues, who for reasons unknown to me are obsessed with Pi.

This Pi poster in Math 7 pretty much surrounds the room.

Just loved this picture. A Pi Pie.

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