UNDERSTANDING: This resource allowed me to better understand why developing fluency is important. It taught me that when students are reading fluently, they spend less time and effort decoding words and they are then able to focus more of developing higher level reading skills such as comprehension. Therefore, this book helped me to see fluency as a stepping stone to fluency rather than a distinct skill.
UNDERSTANDING: I found chapter 2 of this resource useful in developing my understanding of letter sounds and phonics. From this resource, I learned that effective phonics instruction must be explicit and systematic. I also learned that phonics instruction should be linked to reading and writing simple decodable words as soon as possible to make phonics meaningful, valuable and important to students.
UNDERSTANDING: Chapter 1 of Put Reading First was useful in helping me to better understand phonemic awareness. This resource is useful because it breaks down phonemic awareness into four major components: recognizing, isolation, blending and segmenting. It is important to think of phonemic awareness in terms of its components to ensure that educators deliver a balanced phonemic awareness program that supports students in manipulating phonemes in multiple ways.
ASSESSMENT: This guide provides an assessment that can be used to assess a children phoneme segmentation fluency. This assessment is particularly useful for educators as it contains guidelines for when to administer this assessment (4-6 months after the child begins kindergarten) and based on the results of the assessment, whether the child likely needs intensive, strategic or regular core support to continue to develop his/her phonemic segmentation abilities.
ASSESSMENT: CASI is an reading assessment for grades 3-8 students. CASI is a useful comprehension assessment as it is readily available (it can be found in every TDSB elementary school) and it provides levelled sample responses with evaluator commentary for each question to ensure that teachers gain a valid and reliable understanding of their students' reading comprehension.
UNDERSTANDING: In chapter 7 of this resource, I learned about using Think-Aloud strategies to model effective reading comprehension strategies. In addition to the "thinking question starters" (helpfully organized by skill) I also benefited from reading about effectively structuring the reading think aloud, such as thinking aloud for the first 1/4-1/3 of the book then allowing the students to share their own thoughts during the rest of the book.
INSTRUCTION: In mixed-ability groups, students create a "slideshow" of the main events of a story. After practicing their slideshow, they present it to the class. This is an effective activity because thinking of a story in terms of curated set static scenes helps students to identify the main plot points of a story. Also, this activity includes integration with drama which may motivate some students and is an effective use of class time.
INSTRUCTION: In this activity, part of the class takes on the role of characters in a story. The other half of the class acts as interviewers and generates questions about the main events in the story. The children present their interviews to the whole class or small groups. This activity is effective as it is fun, engaging and allows students to deeply immerse themselves in the characters and events of the story in order to gain a more thorough and complex understanding of the story.
INSTRUCTION: According to this teacher, the purpose of literature is to communicate "big ideas". The teacher reads many books to his students and models thinking about the big ideas. He also creates a "big ideas" centre with books along a particular theme and allows the students to explore the "big ideas" in multiple ways. This teacher's instruction is effective as he uses modelling to ensure that the students gain a deep understanding of the topic before attempting it independently.
ASSESSMENT: This website provides teachers with free levelled reading passages that they can use to do fluency measures with their students. This is a useful assessment because it doesn't cost money, it don't take much time and teachers can tailor the assessment to the reading level of a child. Also, since the passages are not in books, the children will be unfamiliar with the passage and you can therefore assess their fluency when encountering a text for the first time.
INSTRUCTION: This educator uses the "toobaloo" to allow students to become more aware of their speech. By reading or whispering into one end of the toobaloo, students are able to hear themselves clearly out the other end. This is an effective idea as it makes students more aware of how their speech sounds. It is also fun and highly motivating for the children. They will want to read using it more often and the extra reading practice will allow them to further develop their fluency.
INSTRUCTION: In this activity students choose a "just right" poem, practice reading it then present their poem at a class "poetry cafe". This is an effective activity as each child reads a different poem so the difficulty of the poem can be tailored to the reading level of the child. Furthermore, designing and decorating the poetry cafe and having the opportunity to invite guests makes this a fun and engaging activity for the students.
INSTRUCTION: This teacher uses "Reader's Theatre" to help her students develop fluency. The students read the script many times, add expression and actions then perform the script to the class. It is effective as the teacher uses mixed ability groups so students don't feel frustrated if they're in the "low group" and students who struggle with fluency benefit from reading the script as they hear their more fluent group members practicing their lines.
ASSESSMENT: According to this source, the best way to authentically assess students' spelling is by looking at their writing. This is a useful as it allows teachers to understand how well their students spell when they write, not how well they can memorize a list or words or perform on a test. It also functions as formative assessment as it allows teachers to notice frequently used but incorrect spellings in the children's work in order to plan spelling instruction that is relevant to them.
UNDERSTANDING: This video series on spelling and word study was beneficial to the development of my understanding on teaching spelling. I really enjoyed the message that instead of teaching students that spelling is hard and they just need to memorize it, we need to teach them the underlying patterns in English spelling. Watching these videos made me more consciously aware of spelling patterns such as the three ways that spelling of the root word may changes when you add "ing".
INSTRUCTION: The teacher puts a root word on chart paper (fire) then the class brainstorms words that "explode" out from it (firefighter, firefly, etc.). The class discusses the definitions of the words, prefixes, suffixes and compound words. Finally, the students complete this activity in pairs with a different root word. This is effective as it employs the gradual release of responsibility model to scaffold students' learning and allows students to see the connections between related…