Reading Reflections

Chunky Monkeys  (1 Oct 2012)

We record our chunk brainstorms in this large book which stays out all the time and students add to it, refer to it for spelling at writing time, etc. I made this cover for it to add a bit of fun.

Inside our book the brainstorm pages look like this. Students first brainstorm in their own books and record as many words as they can with this chunk in 60 sec. Then we share these to the class and I record them up here. You can see to the side, words that were called out but didn't fit the chunk. We also record the person who had the most (correctly spelled) chunk words brainstormed in the 60 sec.

Daily 5 Trial for SSR  (30 Sept 2012)

We started learning and establishing the routines for our Daily 5 during our reading block this week. There are some short videos on our Classroom Wiki
( showing parts of it in action.

Students selected their own chapter books based on the I-PICK chart & 5 finger rule (thanks to Our Cool School for the awesome posters - see links below if you wish to grab your own copy)

Here is our trial routine from last week:
Students prepped their chapter books and ensured they were seated beside a reading partner / coach, before the Morning Tea break.
After break, the poster for Read to Self was projected up (see link below)

Time was set for 5 minutes (for on-line timers click here)

Students (and teacher) read for the five minutes (with a focus on decoding strategies, inner expressive voice and current comprehension strategy)
When the timer bell rang, the poster was changed to the Buddy Reading poster

Student A read aloud to their reading partner / coach for 5 min, focus was on fluent decoding strategies, outer expressive voice and current comprehension strategy)
The partner / coach listened carefully and formulated a star and a wish for feedback

They also formulated a comprehension question based on the current comprehension strategy, e.g. for Cause & Effect they might ask 'what caused the character to act that way?' or 'How did this affect the character?'
The coach was also there to support the reader should they encounter a 'CLUNK' word (one that stops them in their tracks.) They must first ask if the reader wants help before supporting the decoding of the word.
Then Student B read and the process was repeated.

This was followed up by Word Work - this was when Book clubs met with me.
One of the independent activities is You Can Spell where students work on their current spelling list.

The posters for I-Pick and Daily 5 are available from this teacher blog




In New Zealand, it is standard practice to group students in your class for reading instruction, based on ability. I have 4 groups (I call them book-clubs) in my current class of Year 4's and meet with each group 2x a week.
Here is an example of my weekly Reading Tumble:

Below is an expansions of what each section means:

When I started looking into CAFE, I began to reflect on how I could incorporate this into my programme. Here are my thoughts..

 CAFE stands for:
  • Comprehension,
  • Accuracy,
  • Fluency,
  • Expanding Vocabulary.
 1. Comprehension - check
This is pretty well covered by my comprehension programme that I shared below. I am adding in the Read to Self part of Daily 5, reading for 5 minutes with purpose and understanding, focusing on the current skill.
I will try adding a star and a wish at the end of the Read to Someone & Listen to Reading parts by encouraging children to give their reader positive feedback and then asking them a question related to the skill.

2. Accuracy and 3. Fluency - With my weaker decoders, we have been reading around the circle each time we meet over a new text, but I haven't felt that this has been enough. 1 day a week, a lovely mother help comes in for my reading block and listens to these children read individually.
However, the  Read to Someone & Listen to Reading parts of Daily 5 should boost this effectively.
I will try pairing up children and they will take turns reading, then listening to their partner for 5 min respectively.

4. Expanding Vocabulary - As a school we have adopted the You Can Spell spelling programme from Pearson.

available here
teacher guides here

This provides students with a set spelling list each week for home learning. The student workbook has a page of activities related to that week's list. Student's buddy test each other every Monday.
I wanted to support students spelling some more by focusing on the skill of '...if I can spell this word, I can spell that one which sounds the same'. We call it Word Families.

I have run 2 weeks of this so far.
week 1 we looked at '-ack'
week 2 we looked at '-ight'
Both these chunks came out of the writing conferencing I had been doing with them.

On day 1, I introduced the chunk by handing out a mini poem that uses this chunk throughout. We read through it together and students highlight all the chunks (I use highlighters a lot).
Once they have identified the chunk from the poem, I record it in a large book. I give the students 1 min 'brainstorm' time to record as many words as they think have the same chunk (excluding any that appear in the poem of course), in their books beneath the poem. Then they get to call these out to be added to the big book. Often spelling exceptions will crop up. We record these as well - but to the side in a different colour and students correct them in their book.
Each week we try to excede the number of words from the week below. Students continue to add to the brainstorm during the week and also complete a worksheet. After Monday's spelling test, we do a little spelling quiz on the previous week's chunk words.

More vocabulary expansion is covered during writing time, when we focus on VCOPS. More about that on the Writing Reflections Page.

So I guess Vocabulary Expansion-check




 The Daily 5 Reading & Literacy CAFE 

(September 2012)

Recently I was told about this reading concept.
While investigating, I found that many schools both overseas and here in New Zealand are adopting it for their overall Reading and word work Framework. Pin interest has many examples to see.

The Daily Five is a structure that helps students develop the daily habits of reading, writing, and working independently for a lifetime of literacy independence.

Daily Five consists of five components that students (ideally) practice daily:
  • Read to Self,
  • Read to Someone,
  • Listen to Reading,
  • Word Work,
  • Work on Writing
If Daily Five Reading is the structure for students, Literacy CAFE is the structure of teaching reading strategies and assessing students. CAFE stands for:
  • Comprehension,
  • Accuracy,
  • Fluency,
  • Expanding Vocabulary.
Through mini-lessons taught each day (in guided lessons and whole class), strategies are added to a CAFE board on the classroom wall and referred back to as necessary. Follow my Reading Board on Pin Interest for some images I'm collecting before having a go next term.
View my Reading Board

Reading Comprehension (September 2012)
Teaching reading has always been a challenging undertaking as enjoyment of literature is an immensely personal thing. I had been on the hunt for a solid framework that addressed a range of comprehension strategies that I could successfully incorporate into my programme.
Two years ago I came across a resource that hung the comprehension side together really well at first glance and started trialling it in my room. Teaching 8-9 year olds is an important bridging time between Learning to Read and Reading to Learn. Students make the leap from small  readers to little chapter books and extend their sustained reading stamina.
Here is a link to the product below:
These strategies that have been covered are:
  • understanding words
  • finding information
  • identifying the main idea
  • sequencing
  • comparing
  • predicting
  • concluding
  • summarising
  • inferring
  • cause and effect
  • fact or opinion
  • point of view.
The books include a variety of text types from poems to recounts to instructions, all customised to suit the strategy of focus. There are 7 books in the series, covering ages 5 to 12. However, I used the first book for my lower readers (Probe age 6.5 to 7) because its about teaching the comprehension skill, not about forging through instructional text. This is provided for, elsewhere in my programme.

I have tried to include some sample page images but they are just an idea. Will take some photos of what this looks like in a student’s book and post soon.  Assessments are included but I haven’t used these as I monitor with Probe and eAsTTle, and take anecdotal notes during ‘Bookclub’ sessions (Guided reading group).


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    1. Glad you stopped by Kate. Blogs are a powerful way for the teaching community to share ideas :)