Linking Science & Literacy in the K-8 Classroom

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Students also will surely have more fruitful answers to share be sure to always provide think time when asking questions of students. When was the last time your students had sore hands from writing in your class? Just like conversation, writing helps us make sense of what we are learning and helps us make connections to our own lives or others' ideas. Students need to be writing every day, in every classroom. How about adding to your instruction more informal and fun writing activities like quick writes, stop and jots, one-minute essays, graffiti conversations?

Not all writing assignments need be formal ones. If you haven't heard of the National Writing Project NWP , it's the largest-scale and longest-standing teacher development program in U.


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Workshops are offered nationwide usually through a local university where teachers of all content areas learn new and exciting strategies to encourage, support, and grow the young writers in their classrooms. Two tenets of the NWP that I think produce wide gains in student writing: teachers writing side-by-side with students, and creating time on a regular basis in your classroom for writer's workshop that follows a type of writing process that puts the writer in charge of content, voice, and structure. The days of believing that we could hand informational text or a novel to a student and assume he or she makes full meaning of it on their own is a teaching mode of the past.

Whether we like it or not, regardless of the content we teach, we are all reading instructors. Scaffolding the reading by using effective strategies for pre-, during, and after reading, such as: previewing text , reading for a purpose, making predictions and connections, think alouds , and using graphic organizers will support all our students, and not just struggling readers and English learners. Another onus not only on English teachers, but all teachers as reading instructors? We need to inspire both a love for reading, and build reading stamina in our students this means eyes and mind on the page for more than a minute!

But, how do we do this? A high-interest classroom library is a great place to start. If you are a Title I school, there should be funds set aside for classroom libraries. If not, advocate for all classrooms at your school site to have a library, even if it's just a handful of books to get you going. You can make the investment yourself, or have a book-raiser party. Email all your friends a wish list for books that students have requested and those easy sells Twilight, Guinness Book of World Records Read this Edutopia post for ideas on how to set up and manage your classroom library.

One of the principles that inform the TCRWP Units of Study for Teaching Reading, is a strong emphasis on students gaining the practices and skills of reading comprehension, and encouraging teachers to model the strategies that will help their students to acquire and draw on a repertoire of skills. There is specific research to support this practice. Strategies are not to be used singly—good readers do not read a book and only make predictions.

There are additional reviews of literature and studies below that further suggest the importance of teaching student comprehension skills and strategies to support reading progress. Phi Delta Kappan , 83 10 , Almasi, J.

Best Practices in Teaching and Learning K-8 Science with Phenomena

Qualitative research and the report of the National Reading Panel: No methodology left behind? Elementary School Journal. Dole, J. Moving from the old to the new: Research on reading comprehension instruction. Review of Educational Research , 61, Reading research quarterly, 31 1 , Duke, N. Effective practices for developing reading comprehension.

What research has to say about reading instruction , 3, Kamil, M. Vocabulary and Comprehension Instruction. McCardle and V. Kim, W. Critical factors in reading comprehension instruction for students with learning disabilities: A research synthesis. Differentiating instruction for struggling readers within the CORI classroom. Guthrie, A. Perencevich Eds. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Mastropieri, M. Best practices in promoting reading comprehension in students with learning disabilities. Pearson, P. Comprehension instruction.

Barr, M. Kamil, P. Pearson Eds. White Plains, NY: Longman.

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Pressley, M. Summing up: What comprehension instruction could be. Pressley Eds. New York: Guilford Press. Reading aloud is the best way we have to immerse children in the glories of reading, showing both how and why one reads.

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In most TCRWP classrooms, although texts are read aloud throughout the day for multiple purposes, there is one time, several days a week, that children refer to as read-aloud time, and this is an instructional, interactive read-aloud. This is often at an entirely different time than the reading workshop—and it generally lasts at least twenty minutes and often more like half an hour.

Interactive read alouds are also conducted across the curriculum—during social studies, for example, when appropriate. The interactive read aloud provides students with opportunities to talk and respond to texts, fosters a love of reading, and gives them additional opportunities to practice learned skills and strategies. It also provides teachers with opportunities to demonstrate and model through think alouds the practices, strategies and habits of proficient readers. The research is clear that reading aloud to children has enormous benefits for their intellectual and academic growth.

Bauman and colleagues also support the importance of think aloud as a tool for teaching students to self-monitor and comprehend while reading.

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There is also research supporting the importance of interactive read aloud for middle school students. In a survey of more than 1, middle school students, Ivey and Broaddus found that along with independent reading time, read aloud by their teacher was what students said most motivated them to want to read. Bolos also argues that interactive read aloud may be especially important for middle school students who are English Language Learners, as a review of the research suggested interactive read aloud to be an effective instructional strategies for middle grade English Language Learners the other two being comprehension strategies and vocabulary enrichment.

Baker, S. An evaluation of an explicit read aloud intervention taught in whole-classroom formats in first grade. The Elementary School Journal , 3 , Baumann, J. The Reading Teacher , Cummins, S.

Literacy in Science

The Reading Teacher , 64 6 , Davey, B. Think aloud: Modeling the cognitive processes of reading comprehension. Journal of Reading , Ecroyd, C. Motivating students through reading aloud. English Journal , Fisher, D. The Reading Teacher,58 1 , Flint, A. Item Lennox, S. Early Childhood Education Journal, 41 5 , Oster, L. Using the think-aloud for reading instruction. Sipe, L. Stead, T. The Reading Teacher , 67 7 , Wilhelm, J. Getting kids into the reading game: You gotta know the rules.

Voices from the Middle , 8 4 , The thought collaborative that surrounds the TCRWP is focused on developing reading instruction which combines teaching higher order comprehension strategies with explicit, direct instruction in foundational skills. In all TCRWP primary classrooms and in a growing number of upper grade classrooms, balanced literacy components such as shared reading, shared writing, and interactive writing are incorporated into the curriculum, as appropriate, in addition to minilessons addressing foundational skills.

These structures further support students in developing the skills needed to decode and compose texts drawing on an ever-growing knowledge of phonics and word analysis skills. TCRWP workshop teachers teach students how to draw on multiple sources of information when reading or composing text, including meaning, structural and visual cues.

That is whether sharing the pen, writing aloud, or having all eyes on the text, teachers provide students with multiple opportunities for guided and independent practice to support gradual release, and encourage student acquisition of the foundational skills of reading. There is research to support students learning phonics within a balanced literacy curriculum.

There have been studies conducted which have compared reading growth between classrooms where students engage primarily in learning phonics, and classrooms where students are engaged in authentic reading and writing which have concluded that the students in the classrooms who were engaged in authentic activities made more progress. For example, Kasten and Clarke conducted a year-long study of the emerging literacy of preschoolers and kindergarteners in two southwest Florida communities. They compared two preschool classes and two kindergarten classes that implemented strategies such as daily shared reading and weekly opportunities to write freely with matched comparison classes where there was more of a focus on letter-sound activities.

Both groups were pretested and posttested with qualitative and quantitative measures. The authors found that the preschool experimental classes performed significantly better than comparison groups on the Goodman Book Handling task, the story retelling inventory, and on subtest C of the ESI. Experimental subjects not only knew more than their comparison peers on meaningful aspects of reading, but exhibited enthusiasm for books and stories, and were observed developing attitudes toward literacy that are not measurable pp.


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The authors found that phonemic awareness is causally related to reading achievement at the beginning stages of reading development. Furthermore, although a significant improvement in reading achievement was observed for both experimental groups in kindergarten and first-grade children, the degree of improvement in reading ability of the first-grade children depended strongly upon the type of instruction received. Other research studies demonstrate specific benefits of individual balanced literacy components.

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