DonorsChoose

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Because I am not a practicing teacher, I could not create an account. I do, however, have a donor page. Here is the link…

http://www.donorschoose.org/donor/1445082

If I could teach, this would be my proposal to submit to DonorsChooose…

My students: My students are first graders who love independent reading as a part of our everyday schedule. They read books that they choose on their reading levels. My students are given thirty minutes each day to practice reading independently. I have 13 boys and 12 girls whose reading levels range from beginning reader to above grade level. Also, within those 25 students, 9 are ESL students.

My project: My students recently participated in an independent reading survey. This survey allowed me to learn more about my students’ interests and reading habits. Based on the results of this survey, I have decided that I need to upgrade my classroom library. I need to include more non-fiction leveled readers, as well as more stories involving animals. By providing books based on their individual interests, I am promoting good reading habits and attitudes for all of my students.

My students need: A set of non-fiction leveled readers and a set of animal stories that are leveled appropriately for first graders.

 

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Implementing Independent Reading in the Classroom

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Independent reading is a necessity in the classroom. This type of reading provides an important opportunity for reading practice (Moss & Young, 2010) .Students need a time to read for pleasure and practice their reading skills if they are to be lifelong readers. This type of reading is so important that it needs to be a part of the classroom schedule. Students need to participate in it everyday, not just when it fits into the lesson plans.

In every school I have worked in, we have had independent reading time. Most schools refer to it as “SSR” or “self selected reading”. I can even remember a time that we called it “DEAR” time…”drop everything and read”. Whatever you want to call it, the kids love it. And it is so important for teachers to have this time to conference and observe. I loved the time when my students could work on independent reading, because they were in control of what they learned during this time. It was a time to allow them to make choices and their are not many times like that in the classroom anymore.

In my first grade classroom, we set up SSR time in the afternoons, everyday for 30 minutes after playtime. It was a good way to cool down from adventures on the playground. Each student is assigned a bag and given a number based on their personal reading level. Books are divided into boxes based on level and have been labeled with corresponding numbers. Students are allowed to choose 10 books from the box for their bag at a time. They take these bags of books to various locations in the classroom during SSR to read.

Some students enjoy reading in the bean bag chairs, others like to spread out on the fuzzy rugs placed near the reading center, while others simply find a quiet corner or stay at their desks.

Before students begint to read, I ask them to think about a certain part of their book that day. It may be the main character, the setting, the plot. This gives them a purpose for their reading. After the SSR time has ended, they are allowed a time to write in their journals about the story. I never grade these journals, they are meant to be personal collections. I do allow different students each day to share with the class what they read. This helps other students choose books.

During the SSR time, I would make observations about who was on task, physcial characteristics of the students during reading, and whether they appear engaged in reading. I also conferenced with five students a day. I used a form to help me keep up with who was reading which books, levels, and the interest level of the books. After conferencing, a student would be allowed to trade in his/her 10 books for 10 new books.

The book tubs were based on reading levels. The books that were chosen were also based on reading interest inventories given out periodically during the school year. These inventories helped me to decide what types of books to order when funding was available. Within my grade level, the other teachers and I also had an agreement. Each month, we rotated book tubs. This way, every classroom had a new set of books each month and students never grew bored with the same book choices.

Reading Interest Survey

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Since I am not currently teaching, I administered the reading interest survey to a group of first grade students in the classroom in which I volunteer. The teacher was very helpful in allowing me to do this. I used the survey found in the text book on page 57. I first explained to the students that I wanted to learn a little more about them. Next, I handed out the surveys and read the questions aloud, giving the students ample time to respond. I interviewed 8 first grade students, 4 boys and 4 girls, who read on grade level.

The results I got really did not surprize me. Most of the kids like to play outside of school, things like riding bikes and video games. Several students are involved in sports after school and many said that science was their favorite subject. Every student could list a favorite book and could give detailed reasons why. All eight of these children said they read at home with their parents every night. The boys liked books that were scary or funny. The girls liked books about fairy tales and fantasy. Both boys and girls liked picture books and books about animals.

In the classroom library, I noticed that the teacher had the books, not only leveled, but divided by theme. She had several fairy tale and Disney books. She also had a large selection of non-fiction books. She had an  equally large selection of books about animals. I felt that after browsing through her classroom library, she probably had sufficient types and levels of books for her students. I did notice that she did not have many books that I would consider “scary”, so I mentioned this to her. She said that on this level, sometimes, it is hard to find books meeting that criteria on an appropriate reading level for her students. She also said that she was looking into ordering new leveled book sets from the Scholastic Bookclubs this summer when funding was made available to update her classroom library.

Even though I am not currently teaching, this has not stopped me from building a library. I have an extensive collection of children’s literature that spans from books appropriate for beginning readers to young adult readers and covers many genres. I have two children who love to read and I have a passion for reading myself, so building upon this collection has been easy. I order books from used book websites such as www.abe.com and www.clubs.scholastic.com. I aslo frequently visit our local Goodwill store. Every holiday, my children and I receive new books. I also love book orders from their teachers and book fairs at their school. This collection of books has been a work in progress for almost 13 years now, so it should not be surprizing that we own over 5,000 books. My argument to my husband when buying a new book is, “You never waste money when it is spent on a good book.” To which he will reply, “Don’t you have enough?” No. No, I don’t. I don’t think you can ever have enough books!

Deep Reading and Internet Inquiry

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With absolute certainty, I can say that  I do not engage in “deep reading” everytime I read. If I am reading a novel, then I have found that I am more than likely deep reading. I enjoy reading novels and often read for pleasure. I even find that I can engage in deep reading while reading articles and short stories, if it is something I am interested in. However, I have noticed that I find it harder to engage in deep reading if I am reading from a screen, verses reading from a paper. I think that for me to engage in deep reading, I need to be focused and interested in what I am reading. I also need to be able to high light notes and take written notes with what I am reading.

As a teacher, I try to set the mood for my students when we begin reading. I make sure they are focused on the task by allowing them to stretch, clear their minds, take a few deep breaths, etc. I also try to get them interested in what we are about to read. I like to read a little outloud to get them excited. I stop and ask them to predict, visualize, and discuss before turning the reading assignment over to them. This helps to motivate them to read and get them engaged in deep reading.

As far as “if you don’t use it, you lose it”…I think that deep reading is like riding a bike. Once your mind learns how to trigger this type of comprehension, it can always do it. However, like riding a bike, if you don’t get on for a while, you have to get used to it again. So, if one doesn’t engage in deep reading often, it can make it harder to stay in the habit of engaging that deeply while reading.

The National Geographic links were wonderful. They are so kid friendly and interesting on all levels. My own children enjoyed looking at the different animals and actually clicked on several and talked about the things that they already knew and what they learned new. My son had used this site or one similar (he couldn’t remember exactly) in school to write a report on Bears in his forth grade class.

The interactive magazines are also valuable resources. Student friendly tabs and sounds make this a fun alternative to regular magazines in the classroom, but are not meant to replace magazines any more than ereaders are meant to replace texts.

The clip about the gorillas would be an excellent addition to the Ivan book. Anything to give students more background knowledge and further their connections with the book are considered to be useful resources. I think students will enjoy seeing how the family of gorillas interacted together, just as Ivan described them in the book.

The website ‘wegivebooks’ is so neat! How have I not known about this before? I intend to share ths with other parents and teachers that I know and work with so that they, too, can benefit from it. Students who are digitally savvy will definately respond to this website being incorporated into their lessons.

I love the use of technology and love to incorporate it into lessons. However, because I am not a current classroom teacher, I feel like I miss out on knowing the latest and greatest websites. I wish there was a way that I could stay up to date on what teachers are using and how students are responding. I feel so out of the loop and this is a big disadvantage to me as an educator. With that being said, I used a website that I have only just begun to use to create a visual for The One and Only Ivan….

http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/4943256/The_One_and_Only_Ivan

Comprehensive Blog Response 2-23-12

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E-Readers vs. Paperback/Hardback Books

As a teacher, I have not had that much experience with the use of technology incorporated into reading lessons. This could be because my only teaching experience thus far has been a tutoring position. In  my position, I was given no technology to use whatsoever. No lap tops, no smart board, I did not even have a working desk top computer in my classroom. Just a teacher alone…with her dry erase board and markers. Had I been given these devices, I am sure I could have found ways to greatly improve the quality of what my students were required to read. The Best of Both Literacies really made me think how I could have improved my lesson plans.

For example, I had my low readers reading Where the Red Fern Grows and keeping a journal that included their feelings about the book, summaries of what they had read, and new vocabulary that they had researched. It would have been amazing to offer this assignment as a wordpress or blogspot document where the students could have responded to each other’s posts as we do in this class. I think that they would have gotten more out of their own reflections by reading what others had to say and engaging in detailed conversations about the book.

Another way to enhance the book choice with technology would have been to allow students to create digital timelines on the computer of of the book’s main events. Today’s youth are so technically savy, this type of assignment would have been much more appealing than my trusty markers and poster board. Just think of the clip art that could have been used to help document each event!

Upon finishing the book, it would have been appropriate for students to view clips of the movie Where the Red Fern Grows to do a comparing and contrasting assignment between the two. The class could have created a map on the smart board detailing the ways the story and movie were alike and different, allowing each student to have input on the class map. We did this assignment, however, we had to improvise by using the white board and markers due to the lack of technology available.

I feel like there are many ways to include technology in  reading in today’s classroom. Any way that enhances the reading experience, especially to struggling readers, is welcomed by me. I think the key to getting the students I worked with on task and motivated lays in the presentation of the lesson. If you approach a technologically minded student with too many pen and paper assignments, you are going to lose his/her interest. Where as, you can also over kill the technology angle by not supplying enough down time from technology to allow for enjoyment of simply reading a book. There has to be a balance between the two. I feel like incorporating reading paper back/hardback books with videos, blogs, smart board assignments, etc., will actually make the lesson more meaningful and enjoyable for today’s students. The most important part is that they are using the technology skills that they need to be successful in the future, as well as polishing the skills of “old school” reading and writing.

After reading the New York Times Article, I found myself, once again thinking about the seriousness of e-readers. My opinion is that I am afraid of them. I know this sounds silly, but think of how tapes took over records…and CD’s took over cassette tapes….and now MP3 Players and i-Pods are taking over CD’s…What if e-readers took over books. What if there were no more books…with pages…and slip covers. What would happen to our libraries? This is scary to me. Books have been such an important part of my life that I cannot imagine reading solely from a screen. My husband bought me a Nook Color for my birthday last year. It took me 6 months to download a book to it. Swore I would never. But I decided that I needed to be “in the know” about the latest technology being offered to my students. I still maintain my agrument that real paper books are better. I can feel myself struggling to read on the screen, whereas, a page just flows for me. Again, I think there must be a balance between the use of both types of reading materials.

I am not a Digital Reader. I much rather have a paper book that a screen with functions anyday, however, this article helped me to see all the positive things about e-readers. I do like how students can use the functions on the e-readers to change fonts, page colors, etc., to enhance their reading and help them to focus. We certainly cannot do that with a plain book. Most e-readers also have a built in dictionary and high lighting tool so students are able to define vocabulary quickly and efficiently. Another postive thing about e-readers is that most are designed to feel like a book. The size and portablility of the Kindle and Nook are definately great features to think about before purchasing an e-reader.

Just as we had to have new books for the school year, and dictionaries to help with homework, students today are being equipped with e-readers with these functions built in. The e-reader is quickly becoming a positive tool for use in school as well as in day to day life. Students can do everything from read an assigned book, read for pleasure, play games, define vocabulary, to check email and chat with friends on the e-reader. It is no wonder that the artice e-reading and e-responding refers to it as a New Tool for the Next Generation of Readers. I am sure by the time my young kids are in high school and college, this will be the tool to have.

 

The One and Only Ivan

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This book was different from most books I typically read. As a matter of fact, I probably would have put it back on the shelf after the first chapter, if it had not been an assignment. However, had I done that, I would have missed out on a great book.

I could feel myself getting pulled in deeper and deeper into the situations and feelings of the characters…especially Ruby. I wanted to protect her and guide her, just as Ivan did. Especially after Stella’s death. I found myself questioning the feelings and motivations of each character in the story. I also questioned my own feelings about what I was reading. To me, this is the utmost example of deep reading. When you become so emotionally involved in the characters and their lives that you feel as though you are living their situations.

Reading this book was different because instead of viewing the problems and solutions through a capable human’s eyes..we were seeing then through the eyes of a caged animal. It brought on a new sense of depair and urgency. Not to mention a feeling of lack of control.

I think that male students, particularly, would repond well to this book. It is written in a way that they would enjoy reading and get them engaged in the story. I do think that you should introduce the book before turning students loose to read it on their own. Maybe read the first chaper to them aloud. See if they can figure out who is telling the story…set the scene. That will really grab their attention.

The Hunger Games

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This book was AWESOME!!!

While I enjoyed the genre and the general way it was written, the subject matter was also appealing to me. With our world in the state that it is in currently, I worry about how the world will be for my children as adults and for my grandchildren of the future.

The Capitol controls Panem to such a strict degree. And is it possible that our own government controls us to a minimal degree of that already? I say yes. Here are my reasonings:

In The Hunger Games, The Capitol controls how much fuel and food the people of each districts get. Our government controls how much we pay for fuel and where our food comes from, as well as, how much we pay for it. Our government also controls who gets food stamp assistance, and how much monies they are alloted each month. We are at the power companies mercy. They charge you and you will pay…you have no choice.

The people of Panem are left with little to no health care. Our goverment is forcing health care insurance on us and restricting who qualifies for medicaid and medicare assistance.

The people of Panem are restricted to certain areas within their own districts. We have illegal immigrants and have to sustain border control.

The differences? In the Capitol, there are a bunch of “freaky” people who count on the districts for their entertainment. A lot of our “freaky” people live in Hollywood and we count on them for our entertainment (Hahahaha!).

This book really made me think about government control and how the future will be. Our economy is in such an uneasy state right now, I think most people know that something has got to give. There needs to be a drastic change in the way our country is being run. And after reading this book, it makes me wonder if the upcoming changes will be in our favor.

I really enjoyed reading this book and highly reccomend it to others!