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October 20 2020

My Student Can't Read the Lowest Book - A Case Study

At Read Side by Side we frequently hear teachers say, “Several of my students cannot read the lowest book club selection.” This matter-of-fact statement, tinged with disappointment, is often followed by permission to move to an easier text, one outside the three book club selections, but closely aligned to the students’ reading level. The assumption behind the teacher’s statement and request is the belief that students can best succeed when they are properly matched to just the right text. Yet, several researchers suggest that there is no such thing as the just right text and there is little or no research to support the practice of carefully matching children to texts, especially in the upper grades.

March 21 2020

On-Line School During COVID-19: 4 Things I Learned

My daughters’ school district launched online learning last week, only to be shut down by the state due to issues of inequality.  Here’s what I learned observing on-line learning in that short time.

April 13 2017

Using Turn and Talk Stems Across the Globe

Earlier this month, Bethany and I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Macau near Hong Kong to work with teachers and English Language Learners in Hou Kong Premier School to learn many of the strategies of our C. I. A. curriculum. While there, we learned the power of turn and talk stems—a major part of the Read Side by Side curriculum—to give confidence and a feeling of success to students learning the English language. How gratifying to see this approach help students across the globe!

January 6 2014

Student Engagement

Well, I sit here trying to figure out what to write about engagement. I have never used a curriculum or program for literacy that has captivated every 5th grader the way the CIA approach does. Whenever you use any other curriculum or program you really skim the surface of text. You might focus on a particular skill for week or two and then move on. The CIA approach embeds it all into one approach. Students actively seek to uncover the mysteries of the books naturally. I have four children of my own, and currently one of them is almost two. He works hard everyday to understand the world around him. As he explores and experiments with his own little world, he finds the answers he seeks all by his own drive and intuition. What I absolutely love about the CIA approach is that the drive to uncover the mysteries of the world is now used to uncover the mysteries in books. I see this again re-emerge in my classroom. Students beg me to read each day when they walk in my classroom. (Our literacy block is at the end of the day.)

November 6 2013

Turn and Talk - Hilary Cullen

Sentence Stems

The use of stems in my classroom has completely changed the way I look at student discourse. Before the use of stems I would always expect my students to turn and talk in the fashion of think-pair-share. Then I realized I kept getting frustrated because the students were not sharing their thinking the way I was expecting them too. Now I realize that if I want students to share in a certain way I need to model this and give them opportunities and structures to share their thinking. I have used stems in all content areas. For example, in math when I looked at the graph I saw __________ this makes me think________. It has had a huge impact on the level of student discourse that is taking place. The response stems have had even more of an impact. My students have such good conversations because they can organize their thinking and defend their thoughts.

October 14 2013

Classroom Turn and Talk

We just finished our first quadrant of Castles in the Attic and one of the most important parts in the first quadrant is setting up your routines for Turn and Talks.  You need to have this system set in place and agreed upon by your students.  As you know the beginning of the book has a lot of modeling and practice with the Turn and Talks.  This year I created Turn and Talk expectations with my class (we call it “TnT”) It is something that we are still working on each day and I continue to refer to the expectations before we get started reading the story.

September 2 2013

Classroom Setup - Ryan Painter

I have spent the final days of summer going over how I will start the year as we all normally do during those last sunny days.  This year will be a different experience for me as I start planning September.  I ended last year with the CIA training and completed one unit of study (Shiloh).  This year I will be starting the year with CIA and I plan on completing 3 units of study (Shiloh, Castle in the Attic, and Streams to the River…).  For the most part, my previous planning for my first couple of weeks of school has stayed the same.  I use this time to try and build as much of a class community as possible.  This is crucial for building trust with my students.  I make sure I have time planned for students to share their stories from the summer, play team building games, and complete several “getting to know you” activities.  This is very important for our class chemistry and it provides the foundation of our partner work and Turn and Talks.  This year I have made it a focus to start the year teaching about Turn and Talks knowing how much I will be using them in future CIA lessons.  During the first few days I assigned students with Turn and Talk buddies.  When we need to work with a partner, have a question, or share our ideas, I have been using Turn and Talks.  We came up with some “guidelines” of our expected behaviors during this activity.  My students have fun acting out the “right way” and “wrong way” to do this.  This also reinforces what the expected behaviors should look and sound like during a Turn and Talk.

August 21 2013

Classroom Setup - Dawn Smith

My Classroom Setup

I’ve come to look at setting up my classroom as my chance to be an Interior Designer. I get to decide how my classroom will look and function to best meet the needs of the students and myself. This is especially true this year as I’ve moved to a new classroom, and I currently have 28 3rd graders on my class list!

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