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Best Practices Tammy T' Moon 19 April 2007


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Title: Best Practices Tammy T' Moon 19 April 2007

Best Practices Tammy T. Moon 19 April 2007
Reading Strategies
Students in 8th grade are required to read 12
books throughout the school year. Four in class
and eight out of class. My focus in college was
teaching literature and writing, but I had little
background in teaching reading strategies. I was
at a loss when it came to teaching reading
strategies to students. The majority of my
professional development focus was learning about
reading strategies and how to teach them so I
could help my students understand what they are
reading for Language Arts. As a result many of
the book projects they are doing are more
rigorous and demonstrate evidence of higher level
thinking. Some of the examples to follow are
focused on these book projects. In addition to
helping students develop better reading
strategies for novels, I also spent some time on
reading strategies for taking tests. We focused
on the WASL, since so many students are stressed
out about taking this test. I teach two spectrum
classes and three regular classes. My students
reading abilities are fairly strong. Often I will
assign a genre, and students can chose a book to
read from that genre. Students usually choose
books at or slightly above their reading levels,
and when they dont I have them choose another
book. I teach a balanced literacy program. There
are whole group activities, small group
activities and individual group activities.
Students apply the knowledge they gain from
reading the books toward their book projects
which help develop their higher level thinking
skills by encouraging students to make
connections, predictions, and improve their own
Rationale Continued
Teaching reading strategies is supportive of my
schools improvement plan. As a building we are
focusing on improving students reading skills by
teaching reading strategies. As a Humanities
Department our goal is to focus on students who
did not pass the reading portion of the WASL, who
are not receiving support services and improve
students reading skills by one grade level as
measured by the DRA.
Learning Targets
  • The student understands and uses different skills
    and strategies to read.  
  • 1.1. Use word recognition skills and strategies
    to read and comprehend text. 1.2. Use
    vocabulary (word meaning) strategies to
    comprehend text. 1.3. Build vocabulary through
    wide reading. 1.4. Apply word recognition skills
    and strategies to read fluently. 2. The student
    understands the meaning of what is read.  
  • 2.1. Demonstrate evidence of reading
    comprehension. 2.2. Understand and apply
    knowledge of text components to comprehend
    text. 2.3. Expand comprehension by analyzing,
    interpreting, and synthesizing information
    and ideas in literary and informational
    text. 2.4. Think critically and analyze authors
    use of language, style, purpose, and
    perspective in literary and informational texts.  

Instructional Strategies, Assessment Strategies,
and Evidence
I taught students several different reading
strategies throughout the two years I have been
working towards my professional certification.
The following slides will address each strategy
students used as a result of my teaching.
Pre-Reading Strategies
Anticipation Guides
Kyleene Beers recommends Anticipation Guides as a
before reading strategy. Anticipation guides can
be used a few different ways. Beers recommends
yes or no questions students can agree or
disagree with which have no right or wrong
answer. . Bill McBride, author of Entertaining an
Elephant, uses Anticipation Guides in a different
way. He asks yes or no questions that have a
right or wrong answer as a preview to new text.
The anticipation guide is an excellent way to
access students prior knowledge before they
begin reading. I used the following anticipation
guide with students for Of Mice and Men along
with Somebody Wanted But So. Not only was class
discussion more stimulating, students were more
engaged with the reading than they had been in
years past. Many students changed their minds
about their statements when they answered the
questions again after completing Of Mice and Men.
Student Reflection for Anticipation Guide for Of
Mice and Men
Ms. Moon assigned journal type entries in which
we reflected and expressed our opinions and
positions on certain quotes that had connections
to a book we would read afterward. This is the
first time I understood reading more deeply and
with a greater knowledge of what its background
was. …As we read we discovered the purpose of our
journal entries, we found that as we read some of
our opinions changed. For example, one quote
said, mentally impaired people should be in
asylums. At first I thought they should because
they can be cared for, but after reading about
Lennie, (from Of Mice and Men) I felt that, in a
way, it destroys their rights as human beings.
Andrew C.
Anticipation Guide Student Journal Sample
Students wrote full length journal entries of the
anticipation guide questions in order to explore
their thoughts thoroughly.
Of Mice and Men Anticipation Guide
Prediction and Confirming Activity
The Prediction and Confirming Activity
recommended by Dr. Judith Irvin, was is one of
the activities I used as part of my WASL Test
Taking Skills unit. The purpose of the test
taking skills unit was to …learn how the Reading
WASL is organized and practice a few tests in
order to be more relaxed and experience less test
anxiety when we take the WASL. Students looked
at a list of ten words or phrases taken from an
article on Booker T. Washington. In groups they
tried to place the words in the order they
appeared in the story. No one actually did this,
but they were quite engaged. Then I asked them to
predict what the article might be about.
Students predictions were similar to the
article. Then I asked them to predict the
authors purpose for writing the article. We
reviewed vocabulary for authors purpose to
explain, to persuade, to entertain, to inform, to
describe, etcetera. The predictions for authors
purpose were also very close to that of the
article. This was the first time used this
pre-reading strategy to engage students in their
reading as well as access their prior knowledge.
This is a simple activity, but the effect on the
students was powerful as far as their level of
engagement and the accuracy of their predictions
were concerned. I plan on using it again.
Prediction and Confirming Activity Student Work
During-Reading Strategies
Mark My Words
I anticipated that some of the vocabulary in
Something Rich and Strange would be challenging
for students who didnt read fantasy regularly or
were not familiar with marine biology or
creatures in the ocean. The tool I had students
use to slow them down and make them consider what
new vocabulary words mean was a Mark My Words
bookmark. Mark My Words is recommended by Kyleene
Beers as a way for students to pay close
attention to what a character or author is
saying, or as a way for students to focus on new
vocabulary. Students wrote down words they did
not understand, then used context clues or the
dictionary to figure out what the word meant.
Mark My Words is a great way for students to
monitor their own vocabulary work, since students
will focus on words they do not know instead of a
generic list of words the whole class studies.
Context Clues Table
As part of the WASL test taking skills unit, I
taught students how to look at clues in context
using a Context Clues Table. The Context Clues
Table was recommended by Elements of Literature.
First we reviewed the types of context clues
definitions and restatements, synonyms, antonyms,
cause and effect, and examples of the word. Then
we practiced using the Context Clues Table. This
was a successful tool for students. They were
able to come up with some really great guesses
for the My Best Guess cell that were excellent
synonyms for the word in question. …the words
in context part helped me. During the test I read
the words around the word we were trying to
define. Zoe G. …the work we did on finding
synonyms was helpful The box helped me a lot to
figure out what the words meant. Rachel
K. …for one problem…the word had two meanings,
so I had to look at the context. Sophie D.
Post-Reading Strategies
Three Sentence Summary
Laura Gamasch, a poet in residence with Seattle
Arts and Lectures Writers in the Schools, taught
me and my students that every story could be
broken down to three sentences. She called this a
three sentence plot. When I worked with
summarizing for the WASL I had students summarize
the article on Booker T. Washington in three
sentences. In class we summarized Cinderella,
because most students know that story. Students
learned they had to choose their sentences
wisely. For example Cinderella lived with her
wicked step-mother and step-sisters. Cinderella
wanted to go to the ball, but her step-mother
wouldnt let her. Cinderellas fairy godmother
came and helped her get to the ball. These three
sentences do not even get to the end of this
short story. Once we figured out Cinderella as
a whole group, I had them summarize any of the
Harry Potter books in three sentences in their
table groups. They were successful with this.
Then on their own. I had them summarize the
Booker T. Washington article. Students shared
their summaries with the whole group. They were
excellent. The summary question on the WASL is
multiple choice. Because the correct answer is
one sentence in a set of three distracters that
are also one sentence, I told students to take
their three sentence summary, and make it into
one sentence without using the coordinating
conjunctions and, or, but, so, for nor, yet.
Students did this, and when we finally looked at
the multiple choice questions, they all chose the
right answer. Students will use this new
summarizing skill on their next book project.
Student Reflection Three Sentence Plot
…during the multiple choice questions I was
better at summarizing an article in one
sentence. Alex C When we did the three
sentence summarizing, it helped me think about
what some of the more important details in the
story were. _Linsey M. During the reading
portion of the WASL, we are frequently required
ton write summaries of stories. We have a set
amount of space, and due to the study we did, I
gained experience and understanding as to how to
condense an article of any kind into a short
summary. Natalie M.
Three Sentence and One Sentence Summaries Student
Work Samples
Somebody Wanted But So
Somebody Wanted But So is a post reading strategy
recommended by Kylene Beers in her book Why Kids
Cant Read What Teachers Can Do. The strategy
encourages students to think about events on a
story from multiple perspectives or from one
characters perspective depending on the class
focus of the novel. We read the novel Something
Rich and Strange by Patricia A. McKillip in
class. I chose this novel because students were
studying watersheds in Seattle in their
Washington State History classes. They were
learning about types of pollution and how that
pollution affects the watersheds here in Seattle.
The theme of Something Rich and Strange, a
fantasy novel, is the environment. The novel is
fairly complicated to understand because the
characters change shape, change names, and change
settings. I wanted students to have a tool to use
as a post reading strategy so they could come
back to the novel the next day and remember what
was happening in the book, as well as understand
the characters motivations. Somebody Wanted
But So is excellent for this. Students work with
columns. The headers for the four columns are
Somebody, Wanted, But, So. Students use the
characters names in the Somebody column,
explain what the characters wanted in the
Wanted column, tell what kept the characters
from getting what they wanted in the But
column, and explain what the characters did
instead in the So column. For example Megan
wanted a clean tide pool, but there is a lot of
garbage, so she cleaned it up, (Quamma) or
Megan wanted to decode the strange message, but
she couldnt, so she went to find more,
(Geiger). This was a challenging book for
students, but as they progressed and shared their
sentences they bagan to see the multiple
perspectives of the characters and understand
what was motivating the characters actions.
Student Reflection Somebody Wanted But So for Of
Mice and Men
…strategies that were used were the Somebody
Wanted But So work sheets. This helped form an
overall outline of the book for each character. I
thought the Somebody Wanted But So work sheets
were extremely helpful because we were able to
use them when going over the book and writing
summaries…. Somebody Wanted But So was helpful
because it outlined mainly the important
happenings In the book. Tia P.
Somebody Wanted But So for Chapter One of
Something Rich and Strange. We did the first one
together as a class. We shared our sentences
with the class before reading chapter two.
Somebody Wanted But So for chapter two of
Something Rich and Strange. As new characters
appear, students add them to the chart.
Book Projects
Graphic Novels
Students in my 2005 Language Arts classes read
book of their choice in literature circle groups.
The students adapted their books into graphic
novels. The purpose was to show under-standing of
their reading, refine their summarizing skills,
and give students an opportunity to express
themselves artistically. This was my first
attempt at a book project that was not just a
summary of the book students read, as well as my
first attempt at literature circles.
The students used several reading strategies to
guide them as they read their novels. In this way
they would be able to successfully choose the
most important events in the novel for the
illustrations while keeping the integrity of the
story line intact during the adaptation process.
As part of the reading process, students took
notes in their lit circle groups using the
Somebody Wanted But So post reading strategy. In
this way, students would be able to track
characters motivations and movements throughout
the course of the novel, making it easier for
them to summarize the novel briefly, but
accurately. Students also kept bookmarks, like
the Mark My Words book marks to help them keep
track of important dialogue, Marking Time to
help them keep track of important time or setting
changes Mark Who to help them keep track of the
main characters, and ? Mark to help them generate
questions for discussions in their literature
circle groups.
Students used the reading strategies to create a
brief summary of the novel, which they
illustrated in a graphic novel format. Feedback
from students was positive, but they did tell me
I needed to make the connection between all of
the reading strategies clear. Many students were
not aware they could use the strategies to help
them write their summaries. This was a valuable
learning experience for me. I have made sure to
make those connections for students when we begin
projects such as these.
Multicultural Journals
Students had to read a book written by a person
of color about people of color for the
multicultural book project. The students focus
was on the main character. To that end the notes
they took during the reading process all focused
on the action of the main character. For the
final project, students created journals with six
entries written from the main characters point of
The diary assignment expands comprehension by
analyzing, interpreting, and synthesizing ideas
in a literary text in several ways. Students must
thoroughly understand the main character in order
to predict what the character might write in
journal entries.
Character analysis is extremely important. The
information is then synthesized as they complete
the journal entries by predicting what the main
character might say in a journal. This assignment
was one of the most interesting to evaluate.
Students truly became the characters in this
assignment in a way I have not seen before.
CD Jewel Case
The CD Jewel Case project has been the students
favorite project so far. The projects were
incred-ible, which is indicative of the time and
effort students spent on this. For the jewel
case students had to design a cover with a
graphic that symbolized the novel. The inside
cover contained a summary with the students
recommendation, and the back cover contained
song titles the students made up the represented
events of the novel and the name of the
characters who would sing them.
The academic focus of this assignment was to
improve summarizing skills, and focus on
characters decisions. The connections students
made between their characters song choices and
the titles of the songs were pretty amazing. Not
only did they more concisely summarize the novel,
they also had to understand the characters
perspective in order to create a song title for
I would do this assignment again, but this time I
would focus more with the students on their
summarizing skills. They struggled with the short
length requirement more than I expected they
Over the past three years as I have grown
professionally as a teacher of reading, my
students have also grown as readers.
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