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    Reading Rescue: Preventing the COVID-19 Slide With Lessons for Comprehension and Fluency at Home

    By Lori Oczkus
     | Apr 16, 2020

    Lori Oczkus teaching
    As we adjust to life in the world of remote learning, families and educators are continuing to refine at-home instructional reading routines—especially for students who experience difficulties with reading comprehension. Whether students read fluently or haltingly, they may find it challenging to summarize, answer questions, figure out unknown vocabulary, and unlock deeper meaning.

    How can we ensure that our students progress in their reading achievement instead of falling behind during the COVID-19 pandemic? What strategies can we incorporate into distance learning and at home to accelerate student literacy? Here I suggest new, engaging, and practical ways to use reciprocal teaching, or what I call the Fab Four, to improve literacy achievement.

    Reading rescue: The Fab Four for success

    The Fab Four are proven comprehension strategies that are easily adapted to home and distance learning for quick results. When researcher John Hattie ranked 138 teaching strategies according to their impact, reciprocal teaching landed at number nine, roughly yielding two years’ growth in one year.

    The Fab Four are essential strategies good readers employ to understand texts: predict, question, clarify, and summarize. These strategies work with any text at any grade level to boost comprehension. Students exhibit confidence and engagement after just a few lessons.

    When reciprocal teaching is used two to three times per week to discuss texts, some students improve six months to a year in a few months. In the classroom, the teacher guides students in discussions using the four strategies. Students may discuss in teams and eventually take on roles for each of these strategies: predictor, clarifier, questioner, and summarizer.

    Close reading with the Fab Four at home

    Good readers often reread challenging texts to gain better understanding. This “close reading” calls for students to reread for different purposes. The Fab Four strategies provide an ideal framework for rereading texts to develop better comprehension and fluency.

    In the links at the end of this post, you will find lesson plans developed for parents and caregivers to use as they read and discuss informational texts and poetry at home with their children. Parents and caregivers should take turns with their child and be sure to make these experiences enjoyable rather than turn the Fab Four into a test. The result is an engaging exchange that promotes both improved comprehension and fluency. The poetry lesson includes suggestions for rereading for enjoyment and a performance for family members and friends.

    Sample Fab Four Lesson

    Predict

    Discuss the title, author, visuals, and headings. Skim the text. Take turns.

    “My prediction is that I think we will learn ________because_____.”


    Read Together

    Choose for the child or let the child choose how to read: silently, echo read, read-aloud, or in unison.


    Reread to Clarify

    Take turns finding words to clarify.

     “A tricky or interesting word or phrase to clarify is_____ . We can figure it out by _______.”

    Answers might include sounding it out, finding smaller parts, reading on, rereading, or thinking about a synonym.


    Reread to Question

    Take turns asking questions.

     “My question is _____.” “I wonder______________.”


    Reread to Summarize

    Take turns summarizing.

    “This was about__________.” “I learned__________________.” “My favorite part was__________.”

     

    Adapting The Fab Four for families/distance learning

    As part of your class reading instruction, try Fab Four lessons twice a week during Zoom, See-Saw, or another online meeting platform. Have students respond to reading using the Fab Four strategies as a discussion guide. Rather than calling on individual students, encourage a group discussion where multiple students give input to one another. Encourage sharing with a partner or team before the entire class discusses the text. Students may also mark texts with sticky notes or colored pencils. This practice through these remote learning platforms will allow students to benefit from sessions with peers as well as their families. You can model turn-taking with families and caregivers by having them participating in a digital meeting as well.

    Teacher Created Materials

    Here are a couple seven-minute Fab Four lessons available for free on the Teacher Created Materials YouTube channel.

    We’ve also created a letter that educators can share with families and caregivers. This provides a quick FAQ about the Fab Four strategies and a pair of bookmarks you can use to practice these strategies with the provided text.

    Lori Oczkus is a literacy coach, author, and popular speaker across the United States. She has extensive experience as a bilingual elementary teacher, intervention specialist working with struggling readers, staff developer, and literacy coach. Lori is the author of the book Reciprocal Teaching at Work 3rd ed. (ASCD/ILA, 2018; foreword by John Hattie, Ph.D.).

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    ILA Edcamp Online: Join the Conversation

    By ILA Staff
     | Apr 01, 2020

    Man listening to computer The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has made it necessary to close schools across the globe. It’s also led to widespread cancellation of professional learning events that had been slated for spring, leaving teachers with even fewer outlets to connect and collaborate.

    To help educators build community through conversation, the International Literacy Association (ILA) has created ILA Edcamp Online—a virtual adaptation of the popular unconference—scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. ET.

    The goal: to create a space where educators can connect in real time, on a level deeper than even Twitter chats or Facebook Live broadcasts can provide.

    “Many teachers tend to be social creatures who find comfort and growth through their network of colleagues,” says Becky Fetterolf, director of program content and engagement at ILA. “The necessary distancing guidelines have limited activities substantially, so we wanted to create something that could meet those unfulfilled needs.”

    For those unfamiliar with the Edcamp experience, here's how it works: Attendees drive the agenda, participants facilitate on-the-fly sessions, and interactivity is key. The resulting collaboration leads to professional topics that feel far more personal than a traditional “stand and deliver” session.  

    ILA Edcamp Online will leverage Zoom, the video communications platform that’s been exploding as a result of shelter-in-place orders. but make no mistake: This won’t be a static webinar. Edcamps are characterized as “unconferences” founded on the idea that participants learn from one another.

    “We’re making every effort to preserve the Edcamp format as we adapt the event from in person to online,” Fetterolf says. This includes sourcing discussion topics directly from educators. An informal survey distributed through email and social media yielded three topics:  

    • Alternative Access: Connecting When Your Students Don’t Have Connectivity (session full)
    • Continuous K–5 Learning During School Closures: Techniques, Tips, and Tools (session full)
    • Supporting Struggling Learners: Instruction and Intervention in a Virtual Environment (session full)

    “There were clear front-runners,” Fetterolf says. “It made it easy for us to build the ‘rooms.’”

    Some Edcamp features won’t translate to the Zoom platform, however. One principle Edcamps employ is the “rule of two feet,” which encourages attendees who aren’t getting enough out of one discussion to move freely to another one. ILA Edcamp Online registrants can participate only in the session for which they register. However, notes from each discussion will be made public after the event for anyone to read.

    Facilitators will leverage Zoom features such as polling, virtual hand raising, and group/private chat functionality to encourage the dynamic conversation that drives in-person Edcamps.

    For this inaugural ILA Edcamp Online, space is limited. Fetterolf stresses the importance that educators who register commit to actively participate.

    “When you register, you’re holding a seat for yourself,” she says. “But that also means another educator can’t fill that seat. So, we’re really hoping that everyone who registers and attends is prepared to engage.”  

    ILA Edcamp Online isn’t the only new digital offering from ILA; for the month of April, educators can register for the ILA 2019 Replay, which delivers free access to six recorded sessions from last year’s conference in New Orleans, LA. Presenters include Pedro Noguera, Renée Watson, Donalyn Miller, David Kirkland, Tricia Ebarvia, and Dave Stuart Jr.

    Also included in the ILA 2019 Replay: “What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading—and Why That Still Matters,” the wildly popular panel discussion led by P. David Pearson, Nell K. Duke, Sonia Cabell, and Gwendolyn McMillon that managed to fill a large session room and attract more than 150 livestream viewers at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday—an audience that continued to grow when the archive was shared.

    Within days of registration for the ILA 2019 Replay opening, more than 2,000 educators signed up.

    Those numbers, Fetterolf says, underscore the current need for quality digital programming. “So many educators tell us that ILA conferences are where they go to recharge and reconnect. To be able to bring some of that PD magic into their homes is our privilege.”

    As for ILA Edcamp Online, if early social media buzz is any indication, registration is likely to max out quickly. (Edit: Sessions reached capacity in a matter of hours.)

    “If this event is as successful as we’re anticipating, you can expect to see more of them from ILA in the future,” promises Fetterolf.

    Links to register for both ILA Edcamp Online and the ILA 2019 Replay are available on the ILA Digital Events page.

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    Collaborative Literacy Leadership

    By Kip Glazer
     | Dec 06, 2017

    ThinkstockPhotos-84464828_x300One of my favorite parts about my job as an administrator is that I get to work with teachers. My least favorite part of the job is that I have to evaluate them.  

    I believe that, no matter what profession you are in, there is a connotation around the word “evaluation” that makes us all a bit nervous, or even stressed. Because of this, I have worked really hard to make sure my teachers see me as a collaborator rather than an evaluator. Still, it’s often tough to put teachers at ease and to have them see me as their supporter and advocate. It is also tough when I have to provide meaningful feedback to an amazing teacher. I want to give suggestions that will improve their instructional practices.

    I have been able to connect with teachers by engaging them in conversations around instructional technology and gaming. Recently I observed a teacher whose students were giving presentations. I suggested that the students, in groups of four, create presentations using Google Slides, record their presentations using Screen-O-Matic or Screencastify, and upload them to the Google Classroom, to be viewed by others. The teacher and I discussed the possibility of students creating and administering post-presentation quizzes using Google Forms.  

    Another way that I work to engage my staff is by modeling the behavior I expect from them. For instance, when asked to write an article for my district’s quarterly newsletter, I chose “Restorative Justice and Challenge Success” as a topic, which required research and citations. While conducting the research, I worked with my school’s librarian to find the necessary articles. I was delighted to discover that my district had EBSCO subscription, and I learned to use the available resources. As a result, I was able to bring my newfound knowledge into a conversation with a teacher who is working toward a master’s degree.

    When I was a teacher, I always worked hard to be the teacher that I want my children to have. Now that I am an administrator, I am working to be the administrator that I wanted to have. By continuing to build my skillset, I hope I will continue to provide meaningful assistance to my teachers. After all, they are the ones shaping our future!

    Kip Glazer is an assistant principal at La Cañada High School. A native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in social studies, English, health, foundational mathematics, and school administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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    Digital Citizenship Among Students: It Takes a Village

    Kip Glazer
     | Jul 19, 2017
    Digital Citizenship

    As a mother, teacher, and administrator in charge of student discipline and safety, I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of digital citizenship among young people. I already wrote a post about the importance of personal branding. I wrote another post about the digital natives myth. This time, in light of the Harvard’s recent decision to rescind admissions offers to 10 freshmen, I want to talk about what adults can do to protect children from themselves.

    It surprises me that so many parents I work with tell me that they have no idea what social media accounts their children have. Having been a high school teacher for over a decade, I have seen so many of my students post and share inappropriate things online. Many of them have told me that their parents had no idea.

    I recommend that the parents learn what type of social media tools their children use. Just as you would want to know who your children’s friends are if they were to physically visit your home, you would want to know who your children are communicating with in the cyber space. Consider the case of Conrad Roy III (an 18-year-old who committed suicide after receiving texts from his girlfriend urging him to do so) and Michelle Carter (the girlfriend who sent the offending texts and is now convicted of involuntary manslaughter).This tragedy demonstrates the destructive power of words, as well as the need for parents and educators to maintain an open dialogue with young people about their digital presence.  

    I also encourage parents to teach their children what to post and what not to post. For example, I taught my children that they shouldn’t post anything online unless they are okay with it being on the homepage of Yahoo, Bing, or CNN. I ask them to consider whether the post promotes a positive and professional self-image. We talked about how every post contributes to a narrative of their own creation.

    Finally, I ask the parents to have a serious conversation about online humor. I taught my children that the humor doesn’t quite translate as easily on Twitter or Facebook as it does in-person. I showed them how I could take a screenshot of something they posted and forward something to another person. I talked about the possibility of someone starting an online conversation without them while using their own words against them. I asked them how defenseless they would feel if what they thought was funny was misinterpreted and misconstrued by others. I told my children over and over again that the freedom of speech doesn’t guarantee the freedom from consequence.

    So what can teachers and administrators do? First of all, we can educate ourselves better. We need to make sure we are setting good examples when using social media accounts. We can also educate parents about the importance of digital citizenship and social media literacy. I know of several districts that hold parent education nights on such topics, which is a great way for schools to partner with the community to keep our students safe. We can encourage all parents to establish common sense rules in their homes when it comes to digital device use. Finally, we can continue to help our students to take control over their personal digital brand

    Kip GlazerKip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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    Future Farmers of America: Not Just for Future Farmers

    By Kip Glazer
     | May 24, 2017
    FFA Presentation

    One in four students in the United States lives and learns in rural areas. Having lived and worked in the California’s Central Valley for over 10 years, I am aware of the unique challenges and opportunities these students face. While earning my bachelor’s degree at California Polytechnic State University—a school known for its engineering programs—many of my classmates were studying math, science, and technology, with plans to work in agriculture. As a high school teacher, I have had the privilege of watching my students participate in Future Farmers of America (FFA), an intracurricular organization for students interested in agriculture.

    In the spring 2017 issue of New Horizons, Mark Moore reported on a $454,000 grant that provides precision agriculture technology to FFA members at North Newton and South Newton high schools in Indiana. Although the students still learn how to use traditional agricultural equipment (such as tractors and combines), they also learn how to operate drones to collect, analyze, and interpret real-time data from the field.

    FFA programs provide instruction for students who want to learn about the science, business, and technology behind plant and animal production and natural resource systems. For example, students in one agricultural entrepreneurship class learned how to create, implement, and present a business plan. For their final project, they designed visual presentations that included the product, the mission statement, relevant statistics, and descriptions of the technologies involved. Projects like this help build critical literacy skills that can be applied to any subject.

    2016 Honorary American FFA Degree recipient Julie Beechinor once said to me, “Many people still think agricultural is just about cows, sows, and plows. They have no clue how much technology is involved in agriculture. My students are trained to be scientists, and we need them to be. Because without smart agriculture, no one can live.”

    Having seen what her students do, I couldn’t agree more! 

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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