Tag Archives: reading

Oh, The Questions???

                                                         One of my latest hyperdocs focusing the use of Night.

I began implementing the use of hyperdocs as a way of utilizing our one-to-one computer initiative in a better way. For the most part I have been pleased with the progress my students have made in problem solving, communicating, and working independently but with these successes have come many questions.

  1. This is an ELA class; are the students reading enough?
  2. Despite the fact that I spend a large amount of time creating these resources, am I being left out of the instructional quotient too much?
  3. How can I achieve a balance of the use of hyperdocs and face-to-face explicit instruction?
  4. What about those students who just refuse to do the activities?

Well, here is where my thinking is today (note: It can change!). I have included multiple texts in a variety of genres in the hyperdocs. I have given tools to them that allow the text to be read aloud if necessary. I have created hyperdocs that work with online texts as well as the novels and books we use in class.

I have had students who complain that they don’t understand but I have included screencasts of me explaining material and strategies. I have pulled out small groups to go over areas of concern. I have moved students beside of me so I can quickly guide them to the next step.

The balance question is one that I really struggle with. I have been allowing the subject matter to dictate whether the students would be better served by a hyperdoc or face-to-face explicit instruction.

This has been an unusual year in that I have a high number of students who refuse to do classwork. For the most part I am allowing students to make poor choices. I have contacted and worked with each of their parents but when the parents themselves accept the regular “Fs” and do nothing to encourage students to complete the work, then I am not sure I have any way to counter this with a positive outcome.

I plan to continue to use hyperdocs as I  believe they are great way to implement problem solving and communication as well as creativity. BUT I will also continue to reflect and work to find ways to make instruction more effective.

One of my latest efforts. Elie in Auschwitz-26a7e1h

Transitioning to Common Core

Image courtesy of http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy

I began the school year planning instruction using the Common Core State Standards instead of Tennessee’s. My thinking was that the ability to read and write critically would prepare a student for any type of assessment but more realistically give them strategies for the type of reading needed for authentic literacy situations.

Despite my meager knowledge of the subject at this point, I was amazed at the excitement I felt. Class conversations brought observations that eluded me. I didn’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time hunting for ways to make the learning motivating and meaningful.

But my time was spent on something tedious and that was helping the students to “unlearn” so many bad habits that well meaning instructors had instilled into my learners: a five paragraph response to any prompt, using such mundane phrases as “in my opinion,” and “in conclusion,” introducing the introduction, explaining the assignment rather than responding to it, and summarizing instead of forming a meaningful conclusion.

We rewrote (and when I say we, I mean all of us!) and returned to the same texts, offering new ideas, and sharing revisions. During a recent assignment, a student attached this comment, “Mrs. Shoulders, I now don’t use so much “I believe….” I always state my claim, and I don’t start off with I believe; thanks for teaching me that.”

The small steps are paying off; they (no I mean we) are starting to get it.


A Failed Experiment

First book completed in 2011

Final book completed in 2011

I LOVE to read. Anyone who knows me, recognizes that and in the past I have kept records of the book I have completed so at the beginning of 2011, I decided to challenge myself to read a 111 books. To make it, a realistic goal I did not count picture books; even though I read hundreds of them, because I don’t believe it to be a suitable objective for an adult reader.

I made my goal BUT in the process found what has brought me pleasure since of I was a toddler now had become a task, a chore, a note on my checklist.

Words give me pleasure and as I read, I will stop and notice how an author turns a phrase or brings the reader into the narrative. I will daydream about the characters and what they must be feeling and how would I feel if I were part of their world. These enjoyments were forsaken in the quest to add numbers to my Goodreads tally.

As an ELA teacher I encourage my students to read daily, offering them time in our schedule for just this action. I have read books by admired professionals who propose that students should read a certain number of books. I pondered this issue and have finally made the decision, that based on my experience, I would rather, my learners read one book well than hastily move through a preset number to prove they enjoy reading.

Goals are good; they help motivate a person to get from point A to point B but for me, I will NEVER set another goal where reading for pleasure is concerned. It is the reading that is important not the completion.

55th Annual IRA – Chicago

Institute Notes – “Using 21st Century Tools to Support Authentic, Challenging Literacy Learning in Grades 3-8” 04/25

Don Leu:  “New Literacies Research Team” – Team Publications for presentation information.

The Shift From Page to Screen – Internet World Stats (Internet Usage Statistics)  In a flattened world Opportunities Expand but Competition Increases – Use teams to define problems, locate information, critically evaluate information, synthesize and solve problems, and communicate problems.
Problem based learning essential.
Effective online information and communication skills required.
Internet literacies have become essential.
In short: fundamental change in the reading curriculum.

The Nature of Online Reading Comprehension – No correlation between state reading assessment and online reading comprehension assessment. Poorer students may use the support of the Internet to actually comprehend better than paper text. Different skills and strategies involved – like search engines, critically evaluating sources, communicating information and reading from electronic sources. Online comprehension not the same as offline comprehension. Online information tends to come in short passages. 10%-20% of the IEP students may be good online readers.

  • Reading to identify important questions.
  • Reading to locate information.
  • Read to critically evaluate information to answer those questions.
  • Read to synthesize information.
  • Read to communicate the answers to others.

Use Martin Luther King as an example/model for inferring/evaluating search page results.

How do changes induced by the Internet provide new opportunities for teaching and learning?
Self generated professional development  – 7th grade ELA homeroom homepage
Helping the Last become the First – teach the weakest reader first with the new tool.
The Nature of Teaching in 1:1 Computing Classrooms – Internet Reciprocal Teaching (IRT), Preliminary Taxonomy of Online Reading Comprehension Skills and Strategies – journal article at website.

IRT: Phase I Teacher-led Basic Skills

  • Teacher-led demonstrations of basic Internet use skill and cooperative learning skills
  • Explicit modeling by teacher
  • Largely whole class instruction
  • Mini-lessons as transition to Phase II

IRT: Phase II Collaborative modeling of online reading strategies

  • Students presented with information problems to solve
  • Work in small groups to solve those problems
  • Exchange strategies as they do so
  • Debrief at the end of the lesson
  • Initially: locating and critically evaluating
  • Later: Synthesis and communicating

IRT: Phase III Inquiry

  • Initially, within the class
  • Then, with others around the world

How can we use collaborative projects??
Internet Morning Message of the Day – find classrooms thru ePals, share a short description of what you are doing through email on Tuesday and Friday.
Oz Projects,. Global Network
Who Defines Reading? Technology or Literacy Issue
Technology standards are separated but should become integrated within subject areas.

Focus on higher order thinking skills
Problem based learning
Higher expectations
Integration of reading/technology skills

From Follow-the-Format to Do-it-Yourself: Authentic, Challenging Online Student Literacy Activities and What It Takes for Teachers to Make Them Work

Technology, Literacy, and Learning: Following the Format
Students respond to teacher questions on blog – Class action blogs – document student learning, (Alphansa Academy in Chicago) Make predictions about what you think will happen based on textual evidence (give quotes)
Students videotaped themselves reading their character monologues. Because students were videotaping, they tended to put more effort into the project.
Develop you own expertise, Don’t add; integrate, the realities of planning, pulling it off.
Online Book Discussion Groups – Online social network on book – Goodreads
Old Time Radio for New Time Podcasts – Listen to old radio broadcasts and then record own scripts (Google Docs) and record as a podcasts (GarageBand).

Peer Discussion of Texts in an Online Environment

Critical Thinking with Expository Text
Passage selection and Cognitive Process – two new areas of NAEP.
Will use essays, speeches, autobiographies and biographies as well as poetry. (45%) Literary Texts/ (55%) Info Text in 8th grade.
Locate/Recall, Integrate/Interpret (50%), Critique/Evaluate (30%) – new cognitive targets in 8th grade.

Create a Culture that Fosters Higher Level Comprehension and Motivation
Select Interesting Texts – should  encourage critical and evaluative thinking. – questioning, logical analysis, inference, evaluation and judgment
SNOPES – help with political accuracy, Ninja Burger – hoax site
Group texts that present alternative and problematic perspectives on the topic.
Group texts that highlight versions and variants of a story or event.

Encourage Strategic Processing – leave a trail of your thinking (leave tracks, turn and talk

Task Selection – Opportunity for Authentic Writing – Open ended – Blog

Talking Matters – Introducing Talking Through Text

  • Accountable Talk Strategies
  • Strategic Reading
  • Written Responses to Text

Internet Reciprocal Teaching

The Internet is this generation’s defining technology for reading.
The Internet requires new literacies – additional online reading comprehension skills.
Internet Reciprocal Teaching – teaching online reading comprehension
IRT – model that moves from direct teacher instruction to student strategy exchange to independent inquiry projects.

Phase 1 – Teacher-led Basic Skills

  • Teacher led demonstrations of basic Internet use skills and cooperative learning strategies
  • Explicit Modeling by teacher
  • Largely whole class instruction
  • Mini lessons as transition to Phase 2

Phase 2 – Collaborative Modeling of Online Reading Strategies

  • Students work in small groups to solve information problem s
  • Exchange strategies as they work
  • Debrief at the end of the lesson
  • Initial focus on location and critical evaluation of information moving to synthesis and communication of information

Phase 3: Independent Selection of Internet Inquiry Project

  • Projects initially within the class or school community
  • Later move to others around the world
  • Finally focus on the ultimate use of the Internet in daily life

Larger definition of New Literacies, emerging from a variety of disciplines as well as the more specific definition of the new literacies of online reading comprehension.

Instruction of adolescent in online reading comprehension skills: question, locate, evaluate, synthesize, communicate

Comprehending Informational Text – See Handout and order book

Let’s Get Engaged With the 4Cs Project! Using 21st Century Skills to Create Extension Projects that Engage Middle School Students – See Supplementary Handout

The 4Cs Project provides a framework for students to extend their learning after reading.
Developed from RAFT writing
Incorporates traditional as well as 21st century skills

Sir Ken Robinson, Educational Leadership 2009 – need for creativity and innovation
Student Role – make decisions regarding
Group Members, The Essential Questions, The project that will best demonstrate the answers.


  • Content – What is the inspiration/topic/prompt for project – can be novel, source/issue related to novel
  • What will you and your audience learn from this project? What is the creator’s purpose – entertain, persuade?
  • Choosing Content – mini lessons on handout

Bitstrips/Pixton (Comic Books), Mad Lib, Movie Pre-production – give students a list of suggestions.

Point Person – keeps track of storyboard, resources, conferring with the teacher, turning in project