Posts filed under ‘Reading’

Reader’s Theater

by: Jennifer Perez

Readers Theater…what is it?

Readers Theater involves students in reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities. It involves children in….

  • sharing literature,
  • reading aloud,
  • writing scripts,
  • performing with a purpose, and
  • working collaboratively

The benefits of Reader’s Theater are immense when used with fidelity. When Reader’s Theater was first introduced into my classroom, what I observed were my students showing excitement and pure enjoyment toward their particular piece. They were arriving to school early to rehearse with their groups (fluency), planning which person would create which props (collaborating) and some groups extended themselves by creating AND typing out their own Reader’s Theater scripts.

After rehearsing their Reader’s Theater plays for about two weeks, the students performed in full costume, props and microphones for other 3rd grade classes. Their peers graded them on such items as: fluency, pronunciation, clarity and working collaboratively. The feedback was very positive and I was thrilled to see my little worker bees take the feedback and immediately begin making changes to improve their next performance!

Here are a few of the Reader’s Theater resources I use in my classroom. They are amusing, entertaining and downright whimsical! Give them a try….Im’ sure you and your students will love them too!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 6/30/11

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July 13, 2011 at 12:42 PM Leave a comment

The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

by: Jennifer Perez

I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember.  My first recollection of writing was in my very own hard-back leather  journal.  The kind that came with two tiny gold keys attached to one another through a single silver hoop.  I remember feeling so important as I jingled those tiny golden keys to unlock my very own journal….a place I wrote my feelings, thoughts, dreams, fears and so much more.  I didn’t realize it then, but journal writing was very therapeutic.  I was always a quiet child- not one to verbalize much, but when I wrote…..I did so with such detail and emotion, it was as if I were actually speaking to someone, instead of just writing in a journal.  Or was I ” just writing in a journal?”

It wasn’t until I was an adult when I re-read my childhood journals that I was able to appreciate the importance of journal writing.  While reading those journals, I noticed several important things worth mentioning:

1. My spelling, at times, was horrendous!  Yes, I am admitting it…my spelling wasn’t always perfect, but in my journal I was able to take chances without anyone telling me that I needed to “look at that again.”  A part of growing up is learning from your mistakes, and let’s just say…I’ve learned from my spelling mistakes!

2. Every journal entry was different: some days it was obvious that I had  GREAT day, other days not so much.  Whatever the day brought it was visible through the writing on the pages of my journal.  As an adult, this made me wonder…..If everyone always spoke what they thought, would there be less “miscommunication in today’s society?”  Interesting thought to ponder as there can be miscommunication in anything and everything we do!

3. While reading these journal entries, I noticed that the entries were not ones that were written in 10 minutes.  It seemed as though I had plenty of time to myself to think about what I wanted to write….to truly choose the right words to express myself.  This made me think, “Just like adults, children also need some time to themselves.”  Why?  Everyone needs time to reflect, wind down from the day and just be in the presence of the now.  It may not be easy for a young child to ‘reflect’ on the day, but this would be a wonderful skill to teach your child as it will be something they will constantly do throughout their lives!

There are many benefits in keeping a journal ~ for both children and adults.  I have listed a few benefits from my own personal journaling experiences, but everyone is different.  If journaling is something you’d like for your child to take advantage of then explain to them what it is. Maybe even go to the local bookstore and encourage your child to choose their favorite journal.  Let them know that their journal is theirs, for their eyes only and they can write about anything and everything.  Share with them my experience if you’d like!

Happy Journaling!

© Jennifer Perez 12/27/10

December 27, 2010 at 10:27 PM 1 comment

ELL Ayuda (Help!)

by: Jennifer Perez

I don’t know about you all, but each year, I have at least 3 students each year who enter my classroom not speaking any English whatsoever. At our school, the main second language is Spanish.  Luckily for me, I consider myself to be pretty fluent in Spanish so communicating with my spanish speaking students and their parents isn’t a challenge.   (Thank goodness for my grandparents being persistent and teaching me Spanish when I was younger!)  I try my best to have frequent conversations with my ELL (English Language Learner) students, in Spanish, to see how they are feeling about things: the classroom, their learning, what they are doing at home to help their learning come along and anything else they need to talk about.  I have found that these conversations help my students stay ‘connected’ with me and their peers.

I try very hard to put myself in their shoes: new country, new school, ALL new people, new customs, traditions, new language, new procedures, etc….

To sum it up-EVERYTHING is new and they are expected to perform just as the other students do!  I sat down one day and brainstormed a list of things/ways I can help my ELL students transition into their new community and also become successful learners as well.

Here is the list I have come up with thus far:

1.  Daily mini-meetings to see how the students are progressing and answer questions

2. I read daily with my ELL students with books that are on their level.  This helps them to build confidence-the confidence they need to continue trying new things even if in another language!

3. Personal Vocabulary Files ~ I have my students use a personal index file and they add at least 5 words per week to their file.  I have them draw the picture  and write the word in English AND their native language.  My students then use these words in their reading, writing and Literacy Centers.

4. I keep constant communication with parents via email, telephone and notes in the student planners.  I notify parents of upcoming projects, assignments and opportunities to volunteer in the classroom.

5. I strategically seat my ELL students with peers that speak English and their native language.  This helps a lot with building confidence, friendships and the idea of the ‘gradual’ release model.

This is a list that I am sure will need to be revised even as the school year continues to unfold.  The important things to keep in mind is that our ELL students are working at a disadvantage as soon as they step foot into our classroom.  What is that disadvantage?  Not speaking English in a classroom where the primary instruction is given IN English and tested IN English.  As professional teachers, it is our responsibility to  help each of our students reach their maximum potential ….. even if they don’t speak English!

 

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 10/11/10

 

October 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM Leave a comment

Which suffix(es) should I teach?

by: Jennifer Perez

The school year is underway, and many of us teachers have had an opportunity to dig into our state’s standards.   Why do we do this?  We do this to determine what our students need to learn this year and then we plan accordingly.   One such item on the Grade 3 Florida Reading/Language Arts Standards are Suffixes.

Benchmark Number ~ LA.3.1.4.1

Benchmark Description ~ The student will use knowledge of the pronunciation of root words and other morphemes (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, derivational endings) to decode words.

What is a suffix exactly?

According to The University of Alabama, “A group of letters with a special meaning appearing at the end of a word is called a suffix.”

Where do I go from here?

Great question!  This is where/when your State Standards come into the picture.  Before planning, it would be a wonderful idea to take a look at your State Standards and see if there are specific ones listed.  In Florida’s case, there are no suffixes listed.  However, I did attend a training over the summer where a Professional Development book was provided.  In this book, it was stated that the following suffixes would be the most beneficial for children in Grades 3-6.  The suffixes are:

  1. ER
  2. EST
  3. FUL
  4. LESS
  5. ABLE
  6. IBLE

Since this information was provided to me at a District Training, I am going to begin with these six suffixes.  From here, I will determine the rest based on my student’s needs.

How Mrs. Perez will teach and use prefixes:

During Morning Work once per week

Guided Reading

Center activities weekly

Homework Assignments

Writing Assignments

Journaling/Reflective writing!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 9/6/10

September 8, 2010 at 5:49 PM Leave a comment

Commonly used Prefixes

by: Jennifer Perez

As teachers, we all use our State Standards to teach our students the curriculum for each subject area.  The Standards not only help keep us teachers on track, but it also makes sure we cover all information necessary.  One such item on the Grade 3 Florida Reading/Language Arts Standards are Prefixes.

Benchmark Number ~ LA.3.1.4.1

Benchmark Description ~ The student will use knowledge of the pronunciation of root words and other morphemes (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, derivational endings ) to decode words.

According to Scholastic, “A prefix is a group of letters that appears at the front of a word. A prefix affects the meaning of the root (base) word to which it is attached.

To determine whether or not a group of letters is a prefix, remove them

from the word. The letters are a prefix if a known word remains. For example,

remove the letters un from the following words: unhappy, untie, uncle,

uninterested. In which word are the letters un not a prefix? Yes, these letters

are not a prefix in the word uncle.”

After reviewing the latest Standards, I began researching the Prefixes in which I wanted to teach my students this school year.  While I was conducting my research, I quickly learned there were several hundred to choose from.  If we had more time in the school year, I would figure out a way to teach them ALL to my students; however, this is not the case!  I turned to a Professional Development training I attended this summer where I received an extremely helpful book  Here is where I learned the FOUR most important prefixes to teach students through 6th grade:

Un ~not, the opposite of  Ex. Unkind, unable

Re ~again, back  Ex. Repeat, regress

In ~not  Ex. Indiscreet, invisible

Dis ~apart, not  Ex. Disengage, discomfort

By learning these FOUR prefixes, students will/would be able to decode a total of 1,500 words!  To me, this was amazing to find out!  If I can successfully teach my students to learn AND use these prefixes then I am setting them up for success!

How Mrs. Perez will teach and use prefixes:

  1. During Morning Work once per week
  2. Guided Reading
  3. Center activities weekly
  4. Homework Assignments
  5. Writing Assignments
  6. Journaling/Reflective writing!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 8/21/10

August 24, 2010 at 5:57 PM Leave a comment

Share the Genre

by: Jennifer Perez

Each year, I spend the 1st 20 days of school teaching my students how our reading community works.  I use the First 20 Days by Fountas and Pinnel to pin point areas in which I want to address with my students such as:

  • How reading creates meaning
  • How to create a reading community
  • How to choose the correct books for them ~ Easy, Just Right or Challenging.

Afterwards, I spend some time teaching my students about all of the different types of reading ‘groups’ available for them to read.  These reading groups can be/are classified by genres.  According to Dictionary.com a genre is:

1: a kind of literary or artistic work

2: a style of expressing yourself in writing [syn: writing style, literary genre]

3: a class of artistic endeavor having a characteristic form or technique

The genres in which I explicitly teach my students are the following: Realistic Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Informational, Biography, Fairy Tales, Mystery and Poetry.  (There are more genres than the ones listed-I have chosen these according to my student’s needs.)

Here are some teacher-friendly definitions that will be sure to help your children learn their genres quickly!  Thank You Book Nuts Reading Club for the information!

  1. Realistic Fiction ~ Stories that take place in modern times.  The characters in these stories are involved in events that could really happen.
  2. Fantasy ~ This is fiction based around ‘make-believe.’  What happens in these stories is not realistic and CANNOT happen such as talking animals and magic.
  3. Historical Fiction ~ These stories take place during a specific time period in the past.  Usually, the characters are fictional, but the setting is real.
  4. Informational ~ Informational texts give you information about a specific topic.
  5. Biography ~ These are true stories about someone written or told by another person.
  6. Fairy Tales ~ These are narratives that are believed to not be true.  The characters are one-dimensional, the setting is timeless (once upon a time) and in unidentified places.  (the woods).
  7. Mystery ~ Fictional stories, usually realistic, about a mysterious event which is not explained or a crime that is not solved until the end of the story to keep the reader in suspense.
  8. Poetry ~ Poetry is verse written to create a response of thought and feeling from the reader.  It often uses rhythm and rhyme to help convey its meaning.

Depending on my student’s ability to grasp these genres, I may/may not spend an equal amount of time on each genre.  If I observe my students grasping a specific genre well, then I may choose to move on to the next one.  I will also make it a point to make sure my students are still reviewing past genres that were learned in class by:

  • Incorporating genres into morning work
  • During center work activities
  • Assigning homework with specific genres
  • Planning projects
  • And more!

The really important factors here are your students!  You will know them best so just take it a few days or weeks at a time!  They will let you know what they need and then you can take it from there!!

Happy Genre Sharing!

© Jennifer Perez 8/9/10

August 10, 2010 at 11:31 AM Leave a comment

Toddler Story Time

Peyton enjoying her 1st Toddler Story Time!

by: Jennifer Perez

My daughter and I are frequent visitors at our local library, but we just recently attended Peyton’s very 1st Toddler Story Time and she loved it!  The room was very inviting: large children-made illustrations, brightly colored floor mats, stickers, books and MORE books.  Before Toddler Story Time began, the toddlers were asked to choose their favorite color floor mat, find a seat near mommy and get ready to learn!  It was the sweetest thing to see these young, excited readers reaching for their mats and racing toward their mommies…priceless.  I couldn’t wait for the lesson to begin ~ and I know for a fact that Peyton was as well!

The Lesson ~ Reading to learn more about Art and Letter A

The instructor, Miss. Allison, was very energetic as she presented the lesson and her voice was very strong.  I have always been a fan of strong voices because I feel they command the room.  With 20 toddlers in one room, a strong voice was almost a prerequisite! The lesson included three different books by three different authors, three songs and a review of the Letter A.  As I was sitting amongst the crowd-my teacher instincts began to kick in and I thought to myself, “I wonder if the parents realize how beneficial this Toddler Story Time is for their children?” According to my observation, here is what was covered:

  • What fluent reading sounds like
  • Proper reading speed and intonation
  • Primary colors ~ What happens when certain colors are mixed
  • Letters of the Alphabet
  • Building social skills
  • Listening to music
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Self-Esteem building

I am sure there are more, but I hope that my point is clear.  If there is Toddler Story Time program at your local library I strongly urge you and your family to take advantage of it!  They are typically once per week and the classes don’t last longer than 30 minutes.  Your toddler will benefit tremendously from such a program, as will you!!  How will you benefit?  Well-just watching your little one learn and grow in such an environment will be enough to put a huge grin on your face!

Go ahead…look up your local libraries, scout those Toddler Story Times and let the learning begin!!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 7/30/10

August 2, 2010 at 7:46 AM Leave a comment

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