Monday, January 5, 2015

Easy, Inexpensive Unit of Graduate Level College Credit

Intrigued by the college credit offer? 

*    For just $60, you earn your unit by simply posting a comment once a month January-May.

*    There's only one short, enjoyable chapter to read each month in Lori Oczkus' book Just the Facts: Close Reading & Comprehension of Informational Text.

*    Too busy? Get caught up over spring break-post your 5 comments all at once!

*    Please email for more info. about the optional college credit offer or post a blog comment. 

*    When you complete blogs by May, you'll get a grade confirmation and a form to order an optional transcript.

*    This is your chance for fun and inspirational networking opportunities & professional development any time of the day and night!

*    We'd love to hear about things you try! 

Happy Reading & Blogging! Lynn


  1. I was meeting with Greg Lucas, the CA State Librarian today and we were discussing the importance of reading. He mentioned to me, "Isn't it true that kids must first learn to read before they read to learn?" I replied that I didn't really think that was fully true. In my first grade classroom I found that doing both at the same time engaged children more fully. If you found the right informational text that sparked their curiosity and it was written for an early level reader, then you could do both and get more mileage.
    Motivation is key to learning anything. If the child is interested in the book, he will go beyond his reading level to "crack the code." For example, in my classroom we were reading a book about chicks hatching. There were only a few words on each page, but the photographs and subject matter really peaked the kids' interest. Peck, peck, peck. Out comes the chick. etc. Sight words, short middle vowels, ch, ck are all worthy of some word work, but the subject is what really grabbed my students. They wanted to discuss how some had hatched chicks in kindergarten in the incubator, what they ate, their downy feathers, etc. All the vocabulary, connections to life experiences and then more questions were tossed out which led to looking for books on chicks in the classroom and school library. Pairs of children poured over books they found and they worked together to decipher captions and short paragraphs.
    They were using all their early decoding skills and their thirst for knowledge to read to learn! As Steven Layne told us at the 2014 PDI, We must teach the SKILL and the WILL to read. Combining them gets more bang for the buck!

  2. I have enjoyed reading Just the Facts Chapters one and two. As a first year teacher I agree with everyting that I have read and want to employ many of the lesson plan ideas in my SDC class. Chapter one's discussion on fostering comprehension through building background and teaching vocabulary is absolutley essential to understanding. Many of my students lack the experience of connecting informational text to other texts that they read, especially fiction. This will be one of areas that I want to focus. As they start to connect all of the text that they read and begin to apply the informational text to their own lives, this will have great import to comprehension.

    I plan to incorporate many actvities that are in Chapter two that allow students to have hands-on and meaningful experiences with informational text. For example, I want to do the pillowcase activity with my students. My students may not understand that informational text is all around them. I plan to bring a cookbook, manual from my new washer, catalog, magazine, and a biography. Hopefully this will help them to view informational text in a new light. Also, I want to have my students write letters, produce classroom books, and write a class cookbook as being a part of meaningful activities.

  3. -I think it is exciting as we forge ahead into the depths of the common core. I am excited about teaching a 2/3 combo class next year and I will be utilizing many of the resources from the appendix and on the DVD!

    - I like the idea of keeping track of my informational text reading and sharing with my class. I found the questions for text evaluations and the evaluations of the reader helpful .
    - Students think everything they read is reliable. We are always asking about the author's purpose for writing, readers also have to ask themselves, " What is my purpose for reading?"
    -I have seen many students increase their stamina because of the high interest of informational text. But, they need to be supported.
    - I like the idea for the bookmark templates found on page 29.

  4. Chapter 3, 4 and 5 Comments

    These chapters are so full of gems; it was hard for me to single out just a few to comment on. However, I have selected the ones that I want plan to employ in my SDC classroom. I have already started the close reading model found in chapter 3. I found a book that was full of 3 to 4 paragraph news stories and who, what, where, when questions. I am having my students follow the model by reading silently, then aloud, then in pairs, and then again to answer text dependent questions. I think it has made a huge difference in their reading comprehension. In the past, my students have read through text one time and expect that that is enough. Through this method of close reading, I think they are finding that reading the same passage more than once is not only okay, but reading a text more than one time really helps them to understand and remember what they have read. My next step will be to ask them to take what they have learned from the text and draw similarities to their own lives.

    I plan to use many of the lessons from chapters 4 and 5. The ones that I will try first from chapter 4 are the “Guess My Prediction,” “Photo Awards,” and “Thumbs up, Thumbs On: Using the Glossary to Understand Words” and “Index Hunt: Using the Index to Locate Information.” Drawing attention to and teaching how to use the table of contents, photos, the glossary, and the index are important for my students, because they need tools and strategies to locate and figure out what they don’t know. Too many times they just exempt themselves from answering hard questions because they just don’t know where to look or how to use their resources. These lessons are full of engaging activities and games that make it fun to use what is already at their fingertips. The corner with the photo activity will get them up and moving which is especially helpful for my ADD students. The game of racing to find words in the index hunt will also be fun for my students who struggle. I like the caution to have them race against the clock and not each other.

    Also, built into both this chapter and chapter 5 are the sentence frames that are so crucial for my group. Often they just don’t know what words to use to put their thoughts together. This structure gets their thoughts rolling.
    The lessons from chapter 5 that I plan to incorporate in my class are: “Purpose, Purpose, What’s My Purpose,” “Text Walk This Way!” “Wonder Walk, Wonder Wall,” and “Presto Change-o: Say IT in Your Own Words.” All of my students are struggling readers, and typically read two to three grade levels below their own grade level. One of my major goals as a teacher is to build confidence in my students to work hard and not give up even though the text that they are required to read may seem beyond their grasp. The lessons in this chapter speak to how I can help my students succeed at reading informational text through teaching them skills which make accessing difficult text easier. Some of my favorite activities from the lessons listed above are text walking in a small group, students questioning why they are reading a certain text, students using post-it notes to note what they are wondering about the text, and students using the Presto Change-o form to write summaries. Many of my students struggle to find, restate, and summarize main ideas of the text that they read. Through the use of the sentence frames, activities, and the many tips for struggling readers I will be able to engage and motivate my students to greater success.

    Thank you, Lori for your inspiration and gift to present these ideas and lessons on close reading.

  5. Thanks, Tammy! Great comments and so happy you were motivated and impacted by Lori's book! We are fortunate to benefit from your comments!