Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Strategy Lesson - Book Introductions


My first post on the Primary Peach. I'm so excited!

Okay, so my school sent me to a staff development back in February. All the Assistant Principal told me was that it would be about working with Guided Reading. Okay, that's fine. Our school is already pretty big on Guided Reading Workshop Model (think Fountas and Pinell), but okay.

It was a horribly cold wintry Tuesday with big fat flakes falling from the sky. The ten of us were huddled around the principal's door to see if they would cancel the conference. They didn't. We braved the elements and drove downtown in the driving snow. If you remember the incident in Atlanta from last winter, you'll understand our trepidation. No one wanted to spend 15 hours bundled up inside a car stuck on the highway. I had thrown in some blankets and water bottles to the trunk just to be safe.

We arrived with only one small icy slide to the Cobb Galleria and walked in to meet Jennifer Serravallo, an educator, professor, and author of several books on the teaching of reading. It was a fantastic day spent looking at the methods and strategies surrounding Guided Reading.

The best thing I learned that day was something she referred to a Strategy Lessons. I've heard of them before from Stephanie Harvey's texts floating around at school. Jennifer presented them in a very clear concise format that I immediately jumped all over. This format is from the Teacher's College.

She starts with a Compliment Connection  where she doesn't over enthuse with such stuff as "Great job yesterday reading quietly!" She wants to correctly name the procedures she noticed them doing and call attention to the skills involved.

Next is the Teaching Point, or what it is we will be working on today. Once again correctly naming the skill being focused on during reading time. For example, we might be Reading with a Question in Mind. The students are asked to read a passage or a chapter in their books looking for evidence to bring back to group that deals with only one specific question.

Engagement was the third step. It involves giving the students an assignment. Something they must accomplish during the Reading Block. In my example they might need to pick a character and hunt down information the author provides on this person in order to make a judgment about them.

Finally comes the Link portion where you remind them that they can use this skill with other books they read in the future.

I tried it out with my class to great success. We had just started our new extended text, The Homework Machine. I wanted to introduce it so they really paid attention to the characters they were about to meet. Also, I was not going to be reading it aloud to them as usual. This time they would take 'parts' and read out their parts as if the book was a Reader's Theater.

You can see a video of my lesson below.

That was the compliment connection portion of the program. I specifically named the strategy they had employed, Active Listening,

Here's the Teaching portion. I explain that we will be paying attention to our Inner Monologues to make decisions about characters.


In this section I give them an assignment to write their thoughts on a sticky note on Page 6 of Chapter 1 with evidence to back up their thinking.

After they have completed the assignment I bring them back in together and remind them that we've paid attention to our Inner Monologues to make decisions about characters. They share their thoughts with each other and then continue with their regular Reading Workshop activities.

As we continued to read through the book, I was walking around monitoring that they stay on task. It was so funny to  hear them all using voices that fit their characters. Oh, sure. They all giggled and laughed when their friends first began using these voices, but they got over that soon.

Strategy Lessons are a way to make sure your students know exactly what they are expected to learn and begin to use these not just for today, but for any book they read in the future.

Let me know how it goes!