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RISE Up for Higher Level Reading Comprehension

Hello Friends!!  Again, I have been neglecting my blog!  Life is good though...beautiful sunny days and counting down the last days of the school year.  As much as I'm looking forward to summer break, I am kind of dreading saying goodbye to my supersweet thirdies.  They are a great bunch I've got this year!

Any hoo...I am super excited about a new product I've recently posted.  Even though it is already for sale in my TpT is still in the draft phase and I'm still fine-tuning.   I thought I would post about it today to see what my blogging buddies think.  I would love feedback and suggestions for improvement!

Since I left first grade and began teaching third, the importance of increasing the level of reading comprehension has become critical.  Most of my students are great "word readers", they are using their accuracy strategies and are able to read with decent fluency.  They also are able to retell a story and regurgitate facts from a non-fiction text.  However, where they tend to fall apart is when the expectation is "deep" understanding of literature and synthesis of new learning from a non-fiction text.  The Common Core expects students to analyze text and apply what they've learned by making new connections.  That is really, really hard for my students, and I've struggled to find ways to move them forward in their learning.  Further, it has been a challenge to find ways to assess their comprehension effectively and track their progress to help them in setting meaningful goals.

For several years, I have used the CAFE Menu by the Two Sisters.  It is a great comprehensive way to teach reading strategies including accuracy, fluency and comprehension.  However, I have found that we need much more focus on the Comprehension part of the menu than we the other parts.  I wanted a different "menu" just for the different levels of reading comprehension.  I also wanted a way to get my students thinking about and responding to text in a deeper way while also assessing their progress. 

I came up with the RISE Menu, which is an acronym for Retell, Infer, Synthesize, Envision & Connect.  It is a continuum of reading comprehension, with each letter of the acronym representing a different level of understanding (Retelling being the lowest level, and Synthesizing , Envisioning & Connecting being the highest level).  I thought of different response questions and activities that would go with each category of the menu and created response sheets and a rubric for those responses.  These response sheets, I am hoping, will give students plenty of practice with responding to text on a variety of levels and also give me a way to assess their progress (a rubric for their responses is included, as well as student progress score sheets for record keeping).  The menu will help my students and I to choose questions and activities that represent the different levels of comprehension, rather than always falling back on the lower level stuff.  It could also be used as a springboard for book discussions.

This resource pack contains the materials needed to create a classroom display (multiple designs and sizes are available), an 8 1/2 x 11 version of the complete menu (with room to add more activities), response sheets for fiction and non-fiction, a rubric for these responses, and a few different record keeping sheets.  I am working on a document that will give more specific direction and ideas for implementing the menu, but I haven't completed it yet.  I would love your ideas to help me to finish this part of it!!

Here are some snapshots of the product....let me know what you think!

After you check that out....have a gander at this very useful Teacher Data Binder....chuck full of record keep sheets to keep you organized and prepared for progress reports and teacher evaluation!!

 Have a great week!!
Love and peace,

Reading Across Multiple Non-fiction Texts

How do you teach kids to gather and compare information on a topic from multiple texts?  This is the challenge offered in Common Core Standard RIT 9.  Last week my students and I attempted to tackle this standard and did a darn good job, I think!  I thought I would share our process.

Day 1

I collected grade-appropriate books on 6-7 different animals.  I needed at least 4 books about each animal.  Then, students chose an animal (based on the books that you have available) that they were interested in learning more about.  My animal topics were: frogs, snakes, sharks, ants, whales, penguins, and spiders.  Student groups formed based on their choices, trying to keep groups to 3-4 students, if possible.  I then had them complete the first two columns of a K-W-L chart to get their juices flowing.  That was it for the first day.

Day 2

I modeled for students how to think of categories that they could use for sorting the information they will find when they begin reading.  I scanned a book about bats, and as I scanned and talked aloud to students, categories began to develop.  I wrote these on a large piece of chart paper:  What Bats Eat, Where Bats Live, Kinds of Bats, Bat Predators, Endangered Bats, Echolocation, What Bats Look Like.  Together we came up with 8 categories.  Students then got into their groups and created their own chart paper of categories to go with their topic.  That was it for Day 2.

Day 3

I began Day 3 by showing students how they would collect facts to go with each category on their chart by writing the bits of information they could find onto sticky notes.  We talked about how to choose the most important facts for each category and how they could combine facts that go together.  They then got together with their group and they split up the categories on their chart, with each person collecting information for 2-3 of the categories.  I emphasized that it would be important to use more than one text when doing their research, to make sure they found the most accurate and complete information and to compare the information they found in different texts.  The set to work, gathering information for their assigned category.

Day 4

Students got together with their groups to share the information from each of the categories.  There was much discussion and the kids really enjoyed learning from each other!!

The next step was for students to present their information on a poster.  Gina, from Beach Sand Lesson Plans, had her students create posters using 3-4 vocabulary words, 3-5 amazing facts and some illustrations, diagrams, or maps.  I loved this idea, so I created a simple graphic organizer to help students gather this information to prepare for making their posters.  They worked together on gathering the information (since they were each experts on a different category), but completed their own graphic organizer.

Day 5

They created their posters!!

After completing the process, students revisited their K-W-L charts to finish that last column.

My students had a lot of fun with this "project" and learned a lot about gathering information on a topic using multiple texts.  I plan to have them repeat this process this week on a new topic, for even more practice.  After that, the next step will be to have them follow the process independently instead of in a group.

This skill...using multiple text sources to gather so very important and one that students will use throughout their life.  I've struggled with finding an effective way to teach students this concept, but I think I found a winning method!!  I hope you try it...I would love to know how it works for your kiddos!!

The K-W-L chart and the Sticky Note sheet are included in my Graphic Organizers for Informational Text Pack:

Have a wonderful's already Tuesday!!