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Getting to Know Your Students as Readers

During the first two weeks of school, your students are getting to know you, and you need to get to know them as readers and learners. You can facilitate this process by inviting them to complete some of the inventories listed below, which appear in my book Assessments for Differentiating Reading Instruction.
  • What's Easy About Reading? What's Hard About Reading? It's helpful if you model how you would respond to these questions, then invite students to respond on notebook paper.
  • Interest Inventory
  • Reading Survey
  • Ten Questions About Reading
I have students complete two each week, which gives me time to read and absorb the information and decide on the focus of my first conference. Students’ responses can also help you suggest reading materials that tap into individual interests and strengths. You'll discover students' attitudes toward reading and what they know about reading strategies such as inferring, posing questions, visualizing, or synthesizing information. I find it helpful to start a reading folder for each student during these first weeks of school. The folders, just tabbed file folders, contain data on each student that inform my instruction and the scaffolds I develop.
Please write to let everyone know how you get to know your students.
Laura Robb

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Pat

HI Laura...I plan to use some of the forms from your book. Also, I have a few that I've accumulated over the years...one from Mailbox Magazine called "Getting to Know You". Also, I will do an inventory to find out what kind of learners my students are (4th grade)...do they like to work alone, in groups, in quiet, with music, etc....that whole multiple intelligence thing.

Plus this year I'm going way back into time to do some "Tribe" activities...this is community buidling and I did it way back in the early 90's...for example, one activity is two on a crayon...they use a crayon, marker or colored pencil and blank sheet of paper...each student has a hand on the marker...but they are not allowed to talk...they then create a picture of some sort. Then we debrief as a whole group. I had lost my original Tribes book, but I found a used copy on amazon.com for about 5 bucks.

Other than that, I will use my powers of observation to find out what makes my students tick and what will get them motivated about reading and writing (and science and math). I've taught 5th and 6th graders for the last 19 years, and I only taught fourth grade once (back in 1991) so I'm just going to go with my gut...I think they'll be more like 3rd graders in August and 5th graders in June...we'll see though. That's it...time is a winding down...love pe

Laura Robb

Dear Pat,


Sounds like youre raring to go, and definitely ready! Fourth grade is a great grade to teach. Your years and range of experience will serve you well! The energy I feel from your post will energize your students. Thanks for all that youve shared!


All best,
Laura Robb

Pat

Hi Laura...it's crunch time! We have our district 'rah rah' meeting this morning...students come on Monday...I have a question that's not totally related to this post....I definitely plan to do the Reader's Workshop model. Part of what I'm not sure of is how to handle voccabulary and grammar within the workshop and whether or not you assign it for homework. If you could give me some clarity, that would help. Thanks. gtg. love, pat

Pat

Hi Laura...it's crunch time! We have our district 'rah rah' meeting this morning...students come on Monday...I have a question that's not totally related to this post....I definitely plan to do the Reader's Workshop model. Part of what I'm not sure of is how to handle voccabulary and grammar within the workshop and whether or not you assign it for homework. If you could give me some clarity, that would help. Thanks. gtg. love, pat

Laura Robb

Dear Pat,


I hope your day went well. First meetings are tough. Youll have a blast with the students.


My homework--90 % of the time is 30 minutes a night of independent reading. Sometimes, students have several days to type the final draft of a piece of writing.


Vocabulary is key and should be taught through concept mapping, using context clues, roots, prefixes, suffixes, etc. Before, during, and after are times to teach vocabulary which means this happens during class time. Vocabulary instruction is important as students need words to think, speak, read, and write. Integrate vocabulary study into your units.


Grammar--I only teach grammar lessons that improve writing. I can not sum up these lessons in this blog or an email. Im sending you to three resources to investigate:
1. Nonfiction Writing From the Inside Out, Scholastic, 2004
2. Teaching Middle School Writers, Heinemann, 2010
3. Grammar lessons That Strengthen Students Writing, Scholastic. 2001.


Go on my web site and you can read about them: www.LRobb.com


Have a great and restful weekend!


All best,


Laura

Becky

Hi Laura,

I have a question based on Pat's question. In regards to vocabulary, our district uses Everyday Spelling, but we choose to use Wordly Wise instead. However, after meeting with one of the teachers, we feel these words are out of context of our units and can be disruptive to the flow.

I understand the before, during, and after strategies, but I'm unsure of what vocabulary we should be teaching. Do these words come out of the units we teach, high frequency words, or use the "Wordly Wise"?

We are a bit stuck right now and school starts next week. Yikes.

Other than that we have been inspired by your books, thoughts and greatly appreciate the knowledge you share with fellow colleagues. It has truly changed the way some of us teach language arts and we are trying to get others on board. We shall see.

Thank you,

Becky

Becky

Hi Laura,

I have a question based on Pat's question. In regards to vocabulary, our district uses Everyday Spelling, but we choose to use Wordly Wise instead. However, after meeting with one of the teachers, we feel these words are out of context of our units and can be disruptive to the flow.

I understand the before, during, and after strategies, but I'm unsure of what vocabulary we should be teaching. Do these words come out of the units we teach, high frequency words, or use the "Wordly Wise"?

We are a bit stuck right now and school starts next week. Yikes.

Other than that we have been inspired by your books, thoughts and greatly appreciate the knowledge you share with fellow colleagues. It has truly changed the way some of us teach language arts and we are trying to get others on board. We shall see.

Thank you,

Becky

Laura Robb


Dear5 Becky,

Wordly Wise will not help students improve their vocabulary because the words are out of context and students have no stories or contexts to hold on to them.

When you teach a unit you can select concepts that relate to the unit such as immigration and have students find related vocabulary before, during and after the unit. Students can find words they have diffculty figuring out while reading, jot these on a post-itand work with a partner or you to learn howto use context clues.

You can also do Synonym-Antonym Charts and Rate Your Word Knowledge Charts--youll find these in a short book I wrote called 15-Research-Based Strategies for Social Studies and Science. In my binder--Teaching Reading: A Differentiated Approach, youll find lots of word-building suggestions.

Instead of Wordly Wise, you can do the root of the week and show students how prefixes change the words meaning and suffixes its part of speech.

There are lots of books on vocabulary out there: I have written one; Isabel Beck has one, Michael Graves has one.

Students with the best vocabulary read, read, read and meet words in different contexts, and continually enlarge their vocabulary.

This is only a small start. Im glad you asked the question as teaching vocabulary before, during and after reading is important: students need words to think, write, speak, and read.

All best,

Laura Robb

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Laura Robb Blog are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.