Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cooking up Metacognition with a Reading Salad!

If you missed yesterday's post, I am sharing a chapter at a time of Tanny McGregor's book, Comprehension Connections.
Chapter two is on a word I love- Metacognition.  I love it because it means “thinking about thinking”.  It’s a pretty cool concept, no matter what you’re thinking about.  Our students need to know that this is a thing.  They need to be aware and have a name for it.  Don’t shy away from using this term either, students love using multisyllabic words correctly.  I taught my first graders schema and stamina and they used them at every opportunity!

Each chapter/reading skill lesson starts with a Launch.  The launch here is defining the term metacognition and talking about what it could mean as a reader.

The second step is introducing a Concrete experience.  The concrete in this chapter is The Reading Salad.  McGregor begins with a narrative of how she did this activity with a group of students.  She demonstrated how she can sound like a good reader, but admitted that she was fake reading, because she was not thinking about the text as she read.  After a discussion on real verses fake reading, she introduces bowls labeled text, thinking, and real reading salad.  The discussion continues with a conversation on how a tossed salad is a mixture of lettuce and tomatoes, real reading is a mixture of text and thinking.  The text bowl holds red cards labeled text and the thinking bowl hold green cards labeled thinking.  McGregor then conducts a think aloud using a different passage.  Students drop in red and green cards as she alternates reading and thinking aloud.  These students will always be able to connect a salad with thinking about their reading!  I LOVE THIS!

I created a set of text and thinking cards, but I swapped the colors.  While I was researching metacognition (on Pinterest, of course), I found an anchor chart created by First Year Teaching Tales where she linked thinking to the tomatoes, because we have juicy thoughts.  This stuck with me and I couldn’t think of a reason why they couldn’t be swapped, so I did.
This is my friend Tonia and I at a state training where we shared this idea.
You can download the resource, which includes a brief explanation, by clicking the picture below.
The Sensory activity is a graphic organizer of metacognition, specifically thinking about reading.  A 2’ wide thought bubble with a hole in the middle for your student’s head is also an idea presented in the book.  I love that idea too!

We are now ready to move to the Wordless Picture Book portion of the lesson.  Wordless books DEMAND thinking about thinking, because there are no words to get in the way!  The Red Book by Barbara Lehman (2004) is suggested, but I am unfamiliar with this book.  Do you know it? It’s on my to-order-list.
Sentence stems are great to use at this point.  You can download a ton for free on Teacher’s Pay Teachers, just look for some you like!

The last step in the sequence is Time for Text and McGregor refers to several professional resources for lesson ideas.

Some of my favorite quotes from this chapter are:
A library is thought in cold storage. –Herbert Samuel, politician
A moment’s thinking is an hour in words.  –Thomas Hood, poet

Here is a look at some of the other pages in my free download above.

I would love to hear your thoughts on metacognition and teaching real vs. fake reading! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Comprehension Connections: Building a Bridge to Strategic Reading

I recently found a great teacher resource titled Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor.  I say great because it is 8 easy to read chapters on different comprehension strategies.  Each chapter includes reading research, photographs and easy to incorporate activities.  My plan is to share a chapter a day with you!
Bridge Building 101 is the first chapter and talks about how Tanny discovered, through trial and error, the way to connect kids to reading and, most importantly, thinking about reading!
She developed a Launching Sequence (a progression for planning lessons that include a gradual release of responsibility) that consists of several lessons that span just a few days. 
The Launching Sequence is as follows:
Concrete Experiences- A lesson with a concrete focus.  Connections are made between background knowledge and new information.
Sensory Exercise- A lesson that might include art, music or food and links the concrete experience with the way kids learn.  It also provides time for practice.
Wordless Picture Books- Books with little to no text to allow an opportunity to practice the thinking strategy without the responsibility of decoding.
Time for Text- Independence increases as students practice the skills they've learned.
The Concrete Experience involves an actual object.  A speckled rock.  An old shoe.  A seashell.  Something that you can refer back to and say, "Remember when my old house shoe to school...?"  These concrete objects are the base of the "launching lesson".  This object creatively links background knowledge to the content you are about to present.  An old house-shoe is definitely going to be thought about long after the day is through and won't be easily forgotten.  We've also got to remember that reading is a social activity! Students need to talk about what they've read.  That's why I am not one of those librarians who are constantly shushing and giving the death stare to students who are engaged in purposeful talk!!
Turn and Talk is a great way to get students to engage with one another.  McGregor also says she provides thinking stems during each lesson.  Eventually, these thinking stems will sound less like parrot-talk and more authentic.  
I'd like to leave you with McGregor's cautionary note (found on page 7):
"It's tempting to start believing that the stuff of concrete lessons is what's important.  There's nothing magical about the concrete objects alone.  When it comes to meaningful instruction, it is never really about the stuff; it's about thinking and talking and learning.  These concrete ideas simply give us a way in to the hearts and minds of our students."
That is seriously some good stuff!
Come back tomorrow to read all about metacognition and leave with a freebie!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Using Static in a Good Way!

I hate static.  It's so annoying.  Especially when you get to work and realize you have a skirt-full of static and have to suffer with it all day long!  I have always thought static was sent straight from the devil, but I've just recently realized that its' powers can be used for good!
Shoplet asked me to review a product for them that uses static to our advantage!
EcoStatic SlickyBoard is a 25x30 sheet of dry erase "film" that clings to the wall!  You can use Post-it notes, dry erase markers, and even tape things to it.  I've had mine on the wall for about 2 weeks and it hasn't moved an inch.  I like the large size of the sheet and how well it stays on the wall.  The sheet does have some wrinkles in it, but you can get them mostly smoothed out.
I also wrote on it with a dry erase marker and I wasn't pleased with how it erased.  
The directions say to erase within a day, but this was after only a few hours.

Shoplet also sells SlickyNotes Notpads and the slips cling to the SlickyBoard.  I really like using them for orders for my small t-shirt business.
Once you write on them with a sharpie, it is permanent and don't count on reusing them.

Overall, I like the concept, but I wish dry erase markers erased cleanly.  It could have been just the brand I used though, and you may have better luck. 

The SlickyNotes slide around the Slickyboard easily, so you can quickly move information from one side to the other. 
Overall, I like this product and will continue to use it for keeping up with my t-shirt orders!

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