Monday, November 26, 2007

Advanced Readers at Risk

Good Afternoon,

As promised, here is a summary of an excellent break-out session I attended at the UCIRA conference. Debra May of Nebo School District introduced participants to concerns about the progress of advanced readers.

While applauding the focus on supporting struggling and striving readers, May reiterated that the report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicates the percentage of 4th and 8th grade students at the advanced reading level has not significantly changed since 1992 (Refer to The Nation's Report Card). She also cites a couple of reasons for this stagnation and suggests the "World Class Reader Model" as a possible answer.

The four components of this model, sponsored by the Federal Javits Grant, are as follows: "Academic Reading components: learning to read and reading to learn; Active Reading components: reading for leisure and reading to serve."

While "learning to read" does not apply to advanced readers beyond 3rd grade, "reading to learn" continues to be a focus as texts become more difficult. May encourages teachers to introduce and reinforce the seven reading comprehension strategies identified by the "proficient-reader research" (Keene & Zimmerman, 2007). They include "monitoring for meaning; using and creating schema; asking questions; determining importance; inferring; using sensory and emotional images; and synthesizing" (p. 14).

While these cognitive strategies are important to basic, proficient and advanced readers, instructional strategies are NOT helpful to advanced readers. Instructional strategies are those tools teachers use to help students understand the content. Examples are the KWL graphic organizer, a text preview or story map.

So, what should a teacher do to help these advanced readers? The answer lies in differentiated instruction. While this suggestion causes some educators to throw their hands in the air as they think of the 38+ students in each of their language arts classes, May encourages the use of "open-ended" instructional strategies. They are easy to organize and implement. Two examples she shared are SWBS and Tea Party. (Sound interesting? Comment upon this posting, and I'll send you both of these lesson plans!)

Additionally, May suggests grouping for instruction in order to address the achievement needs of all students. Academic grouping means students will work in that "zone of proximal development" where Vygotsky tells us optimum learning takes place. This can be a lot of work, but collectively, teachers can brainstorm ways to make it happen. (Comments about this issue are also welcome.)

If I piqued your curiosity, let me know. I will be happy to share the World Class Reader Core Curriculum with all who are interested. I think you will find it fascinating.

In the meantime, have a good week!


Reference: Keen, E.O. & Zimmerman, S. (2007). Mosaic of Thought: The Power of Comprehension Strategy Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Monday, November 19, 2007

UCIRA Topics

Good Morning, Readers,

I will keep posting in the hopes that someone actually reads what I write! I know it takes time to build an audience, but my goal is to provide ideas and information for the language arts and reading teachers in our district. I want to establish a forum wherein we can share more ideas and information; report on what we have tried and whether or not the learning experience worked as planned; and what we will change before attempting it again.

With that said, I am following through with my promise to report upon the UCIRA convention held this past Friday and Saturday. The keynote speakers and break-out sessions were excellent, and over several days, I will pass onto you what I learned. Some of those topics include the following:
  • Advanced Readers: Strategies to Meet Their Needs
  • Strategic Reading, Writing and Learning in Content Areas
  • Vocabulary Instruction in Less than 10 Minutes a Day
  • Strategies for Teaching with Informational Texts
  • News You Can Use: Tried, True and New Ideas for Using the Newspaper in the Classroom

I saw a few educators from Jordan School District, and I invited them to summarize what they garnered from sessions they attended. I extend that invitation to all!

Furthermore, I plan to write about the Utah Council of Teachers of English conference I attended October 26. Some of those topics include Slam Poetry and Integrating Technology into Classroom Curriculum.

Risking a too lengthy posting, I cannot close this epistle without telling you that I list my fellow educators among all that I am thankful for. You enrich my life as well as the lives of children. Thank you for that.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Friday, November 16, 2007


Good Morning,

I am on my way to UCIRA, but wanted to interrupt my departure for a minute to see if anyone commented upon my initial posting. (Of course, I only sent the link to two people! I believe in baby-steps!)

I received a comment and was thrilled! Margo challenged me to send the link to the reading academy, and even though there is precious little information in either posting, I am going to send it anyway. I will create another posting upon my return from UCRIA to share my thoughts about the day's events. My plan is to share details of the sessions over the ensuing weeks.

In the meantime, let me know what you think of my efforts! It's really easy, and I love the background template I found, too. It depicts the warmth I wish to convey through this unique literacy experience.

Have a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One Giant Step

Good Morning!

This short posting is to immortalize my first giant step into the blogging world. I have no expectations, just excitement as I launch my thoughts and ideas about literacy into cyberspace, hoping to attract the notice of those interested in discussing this critical subject. Over the next few weeks, I will introduce some topics important to supporting literacy in all classrooms. I imagine that educators will be my audience, but I also hope an interested and informed citizenry will find "Link 2 Literacy" and will contribute to the quality of this experience as well.

With a promise to continue this discussion soon, I must end this mini-introduction to assure myself that it works!

Until later,