Using Text Features to Build Literacy
Text features provide students important clues and cues for comprehending text. Some common text features are:
- Table of Contents
- Bold Words
- Headings and Titles
Teaching students how to identify and use text features is an important step in building student literacy. One effective way to teach this is by using text feature walks.
A text feature walk helps students read text features in order to help them make connections and prepare to read associated text. Studies show that using this strategy improves student understanding of text features and overall comprehension.
5 Steps for an Effective Text Feature Walk
- Organize students into small groups and have each of them choose one person to start..
- That person names the first text feature (Is it a heading? Picture and caption? Map?).
- That same person reads the text feature.
- As a group, the students discuss any predictions, questions, and connections they have based on the text feature. They also discuss how they think it will relate to the main idea. Everyone should contribute.
- Another student shares the next text feature and repeats steps 2–4. Repeat until all of the text features have been discussed or you call time.
Teaching in Action:
This video segment above showcases several different teachers using text features to guide student comprehension and help students build a mental framework for identifying and remembering the main ideas and key details of a text. This segment also comes with a downloadable study guide that offers pre- and post-viewing discussion prompts as well as links to additional resources for teaching reading comprehension.
These materials are part of a comprehensive series of videos and downloadable resources on teaching literacy, available only on Edivate [http://edivate.com].
7 Qualities of a Good Reader
Great reading is more than just sounding out letters and words. It involves thinking on many levels. When teachers use modeling, coached practice, and reflection, they can help their students to think while they read and build their comprehension.
- Draw on background knowledge as they read
- Make predictions as they read
- Visualize the events of a text as they read
- Recognize confusion as they read
- Recognize a text’s structure as they read
- Identify a purpose for reading
- Monitor their purpose for reading the text
Using Think-Alouds to Model Thinking and Reading
Teachers use think-alouds to model the relationship between thinking and reading. They verbalize their thought processes and demonstrate connections that good readers make between background knowledge and information in a text.
This video segment above features a variety of classroom examples showing teachers implementing think-alouds with their students. The segment also comes with a downloadable study guide that offers pre- and post-viewing discussion prompts as well as links to additional resources for teaching reading comprehension.
These materials are part of a comprehensive series of videos and downloadable resources on teaching literacy, available only on Edivate.
Reading Comprehension Strategies
Teaching reading comprehension to your students is not a one-size-fits-all prospect. In fact, teaching your students a variety of strategies for improving their understanding of text is most effective. Here are three strategies you can walk through with your students and use to accelerate their comprehension.
- Monitoring comprehension
Students can learn to know when they understand what they read and when they do not. They can have strategies to improve their understanding. Instruction, even in the early grades, can help students become better at monitoring their comprehension.Comprehension monitoring strategies include:
- Identify where the difficulty occurs
- Identify what the difficulty is
- Restate the difficult sentence or passage in their own words
- Look back through the text
- Look forward in the text for information that might help them to resolve the difficulty
- Graphic organizers
Graphic organizers can help students focus on text structure (such as differences between fiction and nonfiction) as they read. They provide tools to help examine and show relationships. They can also help with writing well-organized summaries.
You can get more information on these strategies and others at readingrockets.org, a national literacy initiative for helping young kids learn to read.
Strategies for Before, During, and After Reading PreK–3rd Grade
Students can increase their reading comprehension through a variety of activities. This video segment above showcases classrooms in which real teachers implement various comprehension strategies (such as KWL charts, structured notes, graphic organizers, T-charts, and evidence-based summaries) before, during, and after reading.
This video segment also comes with a downloadable study guide that summarizes the concepts presented and offers reflection questions as well as links to additional resources for teaching reading comprehension.
These materials are part of a comprehensive series of videos and downloadable resources on teaching literacy, available only on Edivate.
Reading Instruction: 6 Critical Techniques
Reading has always been the linchpin in a child’s educational growth, opening doors in all other areas of learning. Nobody is more aware of this than educators.
In 1997 the National Institute of Child Health and Development joined with the Department of Education to establish a National Reading Panel—a 14-member group consisting of people of various backgrounds, including school administrators, working teachers, and scientists involved in reading research. Their purpose was to evaluate existing research and determine how to best teach children how to read.
In 2000, after reviewing more than 100,000 reading studies, the panel released its report. One of their key findings was that the best approach to reading instruction incorporates a combination six critical techniques that build upon and complement each other.
- Phonemic awareness—the knowledge that spoken words can be broken apart into smaller segments of sound known as phonemes. Children who are read to at home—especially material that rhymes—often develop the basis of phonemic awareness. Children who are not read to will probably need to be taught that words can be broken apart into smaller sounds.
- Phonics—the knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes and that these sounds are blended together to form written words. Readers who are skilled in phonics can sound out words they haven’t seen before without first having to memorize them.
- Fluency—the ability to recognize words easily, read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression, and to better understand what is read. Children gain fluency by practicing reading until the process becomes automatic; guided oral repeated reading is one approach to helping children become fluent readers.
- Guided oral reading—reading out loud while getting guidance and feedback from skilled readers. The combination of practice and feedback promotes reading fluency.
- Teaching vocabulary words—teaching new words, either as they appear in text or by introducing new words separately. This type of instruction also aids reading ability.
- Reading comprehension strategies—techniques for helping individuals to understand what they’ve read. Such techniques involve having students summarize what they’ve read to gain a better understanding of the material.
Teaching Phonemic Awareness: A Fundamental First Step
Effective reading instruction begins with phonemic awareness. Phonemically aware students understand that the symbols or letters that represent sounds are not random or arbitrary.
Watch this video segment above to see classroom examples of teaching phonemic awareness.
You can also download the accompanying study guide that offers a summary, reflection questions, and links to additional resources for further study. These materials are part of a comprehensive series of videos and downloadable resources on reading, available only on Edivate.
Using real-world examples in math
The best teachers understand that the most effective lessons are those that are purposefully crafted to help the students understand the “why” as well as the “what” behind the concepts being taught. This is easily achieved by teaching through solving real-world problems. In this way, students are engaged in learning opportunities that allow them to use their inquiry skills, creativity, and critical thinking to solve problems.
Real-world examples lead to real learning
Dawn Barson, a math teacher at American Fork Junior High School in American Fork, Utah, helps her students use equations to solve a real-world story problem. Dawn’s students have been using equations to make tables and graphs, and she has them use these skills as they think about how to make a lawn-mowing business cost effective. Students tackle the problem of how to control expenses by deciding how to represent the data they have and then use it to make their decisions.
After watching this video of Dawn and her class, you’ll see how learning to solve real-world problems helps increase the educational rigor in the classroom.
This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.With these materials, you can alter the lesson to accommodate the specific needs of your own students.
Helping students with autism pair learning with positive reinforcement
It can be a source of seemingly endless frustration when a child with autism reacts negatively to their teachers and teaching environments. When a child associates learning with unenjoyable, tedious, or unpleasant activities, the simple presence of a teacher or learning materials can lead to difficult behavior. Conversely, children with autism who pair teaching and learning with fun, preferred activities come to understand that learning and being around others can be rewarding and valuable.
In this video, the first of a 3-part series, you will discover:
- Why many children with autism dislike teachers and teaching environments.
- Three benefits of pairing yourself with positive reinforcement.
- The steps involved in becoming a conditioned reinforcer.
See the lesson in action
Watch this video segment above and listen to Thomas M. Caffrey, M.Ed., BCBA, as he shares examples of children with autism—both those who react negatively to their teacher and environment, and those who enjoy the interaction and see value in the learning experience.
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STEM Lesson: Teaching Slope, Distance, and Midpoint
One of the most compelling ways to encourage math learning among students is to let them apply it to real-life situations. When it comes to calculating slope, distance, and midpoint, one such application involves something every student is familiar with: the school itself.
After this lesson, your students will be able to:
- Identify the slope, distance, and midpoint of a line segment on a coordinate grid.
- Successfully complete a graphic organizer.
This standards-based lesson teaches to the following standard:
- Use trigonometric ratios and the Pythagorean theorem to solve right triangles in applied problems.
Five steps for an effective lesson
This lesson can be completed over the course of a single classroom period. Right from the start, students are engaged and motivated to work together to solve problems and share their solutions. (Click here for a more comprehensive outline of this lesson.)
- Warm up. Students begin class with a colored slip of paper that contains a number between one and four, as well as a question.
- Organize groups. Students organize themselves into groups of four. Each group will consist of four different colors and four different numbers.
- Pass out graphic organizer. Each group is given a graphic organizer to help in identifying slope, distance, and midpoint.
- Solve example problem. Once the equations for slope, distance, and midpoint are identified, students will then apply those equations to an example.
- Apply equations to the real world. Students solve authentic problems using a map of the school.
See the lesson in action
Watch this video segment on Edivate and see an example of this lesson with Ms. Kathy August’s honors geometry class at South Salem High School in Salem, Oregon. See her students review how the Pythagorean Theorem applies to the slope, distance, and midpoint of two points on a coordinate plane.
Watch the video above to see the lesson in action. The video also comes with a downloadable study guide and lesson plan so you can recreate the learning experience in your own classroom.
The Pythagorean Theorem: Six Steps to a Great Lesson
Looking for a fun, ready-to-teach math lesson? This one helps students understand some of the practical uses for the Pythagorean theorem by using subject matter that is both highly relevant to the math concepts and highly relatable to the students.
What’s more, this 90-minute lesson is aligned with the following math standards:
- Apply the Pythagorean theorem to determine unknown side lengths in right triangles in real-world and mathematical problems in two and three dimensions
- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- Use appropriate tools strategically.
- Attend to precision.
We should thank Pythagoras for finding our lost phones.
This lesson invites the students to question and analyze just exactly how the “find my phone” app works using triangulation, which utilizes the principles of the Pythagorean theorem. The lesson involves six interactive, hands-on segments.
- Activator (Prep for new learning): Pythagorean theorem warm-up with tower theme. Show the “find my phone” app and discuss how it works to introduce the process of triangulation.
- Direct Instruction: Introduce needed technology for the activity and walk through the example using the interactive whiteboard.
- Real World Tasks and Activities: Students find eight missing cell phones, given nine tower locations.
- Independent Work: At home, each child will be creating a similar question on their own and bringing it back to class the next day.
- Students Share Learning: Students will be recording where they think the cell phones are located and will share this information as a group at the end of the class period.
- Students Demonstrate Understanding: Naturally, the closer the students actually determine the cell phone location, the better those groups have done at incorporating the Pythagorean theorem into a mapping and proportion activity.
See the triangulation lesson in action.
In this segment on Edivate, Mr. Robert Oswald, a math teacher at Piney Grove Middle School in Cumming, Georgia, engages his students in a math task that requires them to locate lost cell phones using the Pythagorean theorem and principles of triangulation. Mr. Oswald facilitates whole-group instruction and discussion, as well as partner work, to engage students in the math task.
Watch the video above to see the lesson in action.
This video also comes with a downloadable guidebook so you can recreate the learning experience in your own classroom.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Real Benefits of Hands-on Science Learning
It’s been said that science that isn’t hands-on isn’t science at all.
Every educator understands the importance of providing children with direct experiences with materials, objects, and phenomena to encourage personal understanding of a lesson subject. Nowhere is this more apparent—and crucial—than in science lessons.
While scientific information can be remembered when taught through books and lectures, when children study the same concepts through hands-on learning, they build a functional understanding and develop the ability to become independent learners.
Real benefits of hands-on science learning
- Students have an even playing field on which to participate. Every individual relies on a similar set of experiences regardless of their socio-economic status.
- Students are forced to think by requiring interpretation of the observed events, rather than memorization of correct responses.
- Students learn that they can interpret data, often with various and differing interpretations.
- Students are encouraged to question observed events and the resulting data.
- Students practice cause-and-effect thinking.
- Students rely less on authority and more on practical experience. With practical experience in generating hypotheses and planning experiments, students will be better able to make independent decisions later in life. (Robert C. Knott, Ed.D. Science Curriculum Improvement Study 3, University of California, Berkeley)
Source: Perspectives of Hands-On Science Teaching http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/science/eric/eric-2.htm
See hands-on elementary science learning in action
In this video segment above, teachers demonstrate hands-on activities in science lessons. Hands-on learning involves the child in a total learning experience, which enhances the child’s ability to think critically. The child must plan a process to test a hypothesis, put the process into motion using various hands-on materials, see the process to completion, and then be able to explain the attained results.
How Mini-Lessons Can Create Maximum Classroom Learning Experiences
Mini-lessons can and should be so much more than time-fillers. In fact, often a mini-lesson is all you need to help your students fully grasp a concept. Depending on the class and the subject matter, mini lessons can take as little as 15 minutes—but they can be worth their weight in gold when presented effectively.
Eight Components of Effective Mini-Lessons
- What is the lesson about? What does it focus on? This where you name the teaching point.
- Gather the materials you will need in order to teach the concept to the students.
- Activate prior knowledge. This is where you talk about what you taught in the previous lesson. For example, “Yesterday we learned about…” and “Today we will learn about…”
4. Direct Instruction
- Demonstrate your teaching points to the students. Act as if you are a student working independently. For example, “Let me show you how I…” and “One way I can do that is by…”
- Explain teaching points and give examples.
- Guided practice
5. Active Engagement (Guided Practice)
- During this phase of the mini lesson you act as coach and assess the students. For example, “Now you are going to turn to your partner and…”
- This is where you will review key points and clarify if needed. For example, “Today I taught you…” and “Every time you read you are going to…”
7. Independent Work
- Students practice working independently using the information they just learned from your teaching points.
- Can be individual, partner or group.
- Students share what they have learned. Ask students, “Did you use what you learned? Did it work? How will you use it next time?”
- Tie up any loose ends and use this time to further instruct.
Source: Mini-Lesson Plans: A Printable Template for Writer’s Workshop http://k6educators.about.com/od/Components/qt/Mini-Lesson-Template.htm by Janelle Cox, Elementary Education Expert
See an effectively chemistry mini-lesson in action
Even though a mini-lesson doesn’t take up much time, it can still address highly complex subject matter. At the Center for Design and Technology at Lanier High School in Buford, Georgia, students learn new content through mini-lessons and later incorporate this knowledge into project-based learning tasks.
In this video segment above, students in Dr. Margaret Rohrbaugh’s chemistry class complete a mini-lesson in which they review prior knowledge about acids and bases, and use logarithmic functions to calculate pH and pOH.
This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]