Monday, March 3, 2014

Making Inferences

Wow!  Making inferences can be difficult for first graders!  Many struggle to make inferences.  Others may be able to make inferences, but they have trouble identifying the text evidence and/or their schema that led to the inference.  
I begin teaching about making inferences by asking them about Scooby Doo and his gang. They always tell me that the gang catches the bad guys.  When I ask them how they catch the bad guys they tell me they use clues.  Then I explain that when we are reading, we should be detectives just like Scooby Doo and his gang.  We should use the clues the author gave us in the text and the illustrator gave us in the illustrations.  Plus, we should think about what we know and use our schema to understand something that the author may not have explained in the story.

Next, we play a game a little like charades.  First, I tell them that I am going to act out a feeling and I want them to guess what it is.  I pretend to walk in the classroom scowling, drop some books on the table, and then I huff as I sit down in my chair.  All the hands go up and they know right away that I am pretending to be mad.  I explain that although I didn't tell them how I was feeling they were able to use clues and what they know about how someone might act when they are mad to figure out the feeling.  Then I tell the students we are going to play a game.  One person will step outside the door as I tell the rest of the class a feeling.  For example, I might tell them the word is happy.  When the student returns, the rest of the class raises their hand with a clue.  A student might say, "I feel this way when I am playing with my friends". The student gets 3 chances to guess the feeling.  

Then I introduce my poster.

I'm sure I came across the ideas mentioned above in one of the many, many books I've read about Reading Workshop.  I wish I could remember where the ideas came from and give credit where it is due, but I have forgotten the source.

The next day, we did Abby's idea, over at The Inspired AppleMaking Inferences Mystery Box activity.  I posted about it last year.  If you haven't read that post, you can find it here.

I've made references to this book in previous posts.  The author recommends beginning with a concrete model.  I was uncomfortable with pretending to bring in a bag of my neighbor's trash and having the students make inferences about them.  I chose to begin with another great idea from Abby.  I used her What's In My Teacher's Bag.

I brought in a bag of things that belong to me.  
As I took them out of my bag, I placed them on the floor.  

I brought in the following things:

Subway gift card
Starbuck's coffee cup
grocery list
Kohl's receipt
soccer jersey

Before they begin trying to make inferences about me, I introduced our Inferring Thinking Stems.

I didn't say anything about the things I brought.  I asked the students what they can infer about me by looking at the things I brought.

I created the following anchor chart and recorded what they said.

Then my students used her recording sheet to draw two of the things I brought and record what they infer about me.  Here are a few samples of student work.

If you want a copy of her recording sheet, you can grab it here.

Then I continued to model and practice making inferences through read alouds.  I also continued to use my anchor chart to record the text evidence, schema and what we infer.  One of my favorite books to practice making inferences is Two Bad Ants.
I split it into 2 days, but you really could spread this out over 3 days.  There are page after page of opportunities to practice making inferences.  Each day, I would begin by modeling a couple of times.  I would explain what I infer and then I would give the text evidence and my schema to justify my inference.  I would give them a couple of times to turn and talk and share their inferences.  Finally, I would find a spot to stop, send them out with the following recording sheet and let them practice making inferences, identify the text evidence and record their schema.  
After they finished recording, we came back to the carpet and discussed their inferences. Reading their papers, I realized they are still struggling to make inferences and to cite the evidence.  We will continue to practice.  If you want a copy of my anchor chart or this recording sheet, you can get it over at Google Docs.

During Guided Reading with my higher groups, I am using worksheets like this one  I found over at Have Fun Teaching.  We begin by discussing their schema for each of the choices.  Then we read each story.  After they make an inference about who, I have them use a highlighter to mark the text evidence.  They love using the highlighters!  I'm trying to get them to understand what they are using (Text Evidence + Schema) to make inferences.

How are you getting your first graders to make inferences and justify their inference with text evidence and schema?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

TpT Sale!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale today and tomorrow
and everything in my store is 20% off!

TpT will be kicking in an additional 10% savings!

In order to get the extra savings,
 don't forget to use the Promo Code TPT3 when you check out!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Everything on Sale!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having one of their BIG sales on Thursday and Friday 
and everything in my store will be 20% off!

TpT will be kicking in an additional 10% savings!

In order to get the extra savings,
 don't forget to use the Promo Code TPT3 when you check out!

Here are some previews of my newest products!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Schema and Connections!

I began our lesson about schema with the concrete example suggested in Comprehension Connections.

I had written about places I've been, things I like, things I'm afraid of, etc… on small strips of paper.  I rolled the lint brush over the strips to pick them.  I explained that schema is all the information we have stored in our brain from experiences we've had, things we know, etc…  I was disappointed as I looked out at the blank stares in my classroom.  I felt like the lesson flopped!  I went home disappointed and figured I wouldn't bother starting out with that concrete example again next year.

Boy was I sorely mistaken!!  The next day, I began my lesson by saying, "Boys and girls, yesterday I brought a lint brush and we learned about schema.  What did you learn about schema yesterday?  What is it?"  One of my sweet, struggling little friends, raised her hand. I hesitated to call on her, but since I wanted to encourage her participation I did.  She said, "Schema is all the information that is stuck in our brains".  Wow!  That might not be a perfect definition, but it sure was a fabulous start!  They understood the lint brush example after all!  Whew!

Next, I read books and modeled making text to self connections.  

I modeled filling out the anchor chart for each read aloud.  In the picture above, I had read a Frog and Toad story.  I explained that when I lost my keys, I was frustrated and sad when I couldn't find them.  That helped me understand how Toad felt when he lost his button.

I introduced our thinking stems poster.  A coworker made this poster.  I can't take credit.

The students also practiced making text to self connections 
by using the following recording sheet.

When they share a connection, I let them pick a link and we add it to our chain.

Who knew this chain could be so motivating!  Each day, after they read to themselves, they are eager to share their text to self and text to text connections.  I took this picture earlier, but our chain is a lot longer now!  It has turned out to be a great motivator for thinking about connections and for digging deeper as they are reading.

If you want a copy of the posters and recording sheet from above, just click HERE.  You can grab a FREE copy!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Must Read!

I am in love with this book!
Can you tell?  
I bought it last summer, and it's already "gently" used. ;0)
If you haven't read it yet, you need to put it on your list of "Must Reads!"

It's a fabulous book with excellent suggestions for teaching reading comprehension strategies.  I've been teaching comprehension strategies for years, but I love how the author suggests a concrete demonstration for each strategy.  Also, one of my "Aha!" moments, was when she suggested to begin demonstrating each strategy with a song or a wordless picture book.  Duh!  Why haven't I thought of that myself?!  Take the text away, model, and then try with the text!  Brilliant!  Makes perfect sense!  I try to transfer that idea in so many of my other lessons too.

Before our holiday break, we studied 
Metacognition...thinking about our thinking.

Here is a poster of our thinking stems…

I began with her concrete example of a Real Reading Salad, but I forgot to take pictures.  
So sorry!

Then I read The Red Book.

It is a wordless picture book and I modeled my thinking throughout the book.

We also created this visual anchor chart.
My students like using hand actions while we say Text + Thinking = Real Reading.

We use our hands to look like we are holding a book when we say Text, then we point to our head when we say Thinking, and finally we cross our hands over our heart when we say Real Reading.

On a side bar, I created the poster by taking a picture of the black outline from her book because I didn't want to hand draw it.

I took the picture with my iPad, using the JotNot Scanner app.
It converts photos into PDF's.  Then I dropped the PDF into Publisher and printed it through our poster maker.  I laminated it so I could write on it from year to year.  

If you don't have this app, I highly recommend it.  I've used it for personal business too.  Once I had someone send me documents as attachments via email.  I needed to sign and return the documents.  I simply printed the documents, signed them, took a photo using the JotNot scanner, created a PDF and sent it back as an attachment through email.  Viola!  So easy!

Back to our Metacognition unit…

I also modeled my thinking during read alouds using a thought bubble.  

Finally, I stopped during read alouds 
and my sweet students took turns sharing their thinking too.

It was a great unit, and I can't wait to try her concrete example for Schema next week!

My lint brush is in my school bag ready for our Monday example!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

No School Tomorrow :0(

Because of this wintry mix that is coming down, we are out of school tomorrow.  
I should be happy, but I'm actually bummed!  

We just had a week off for Thanksgiving.  In just two short weeks, we are off again for the Holidays.  Now we will need to give up one of our few days off during our spring semester.  I would rather have the day off later.  

However, I bet you don't hear me complaining tomorrow morning after I sleep in and sit casually drinking a cup of coffee.  Ha ha!

I had to include this picture, because this is absolutely true!

Last week, we learned to identify the story elements.  If you didn't see my post, you can find it here.

This week, we have been learning to retell a story.  During our literacy assessments, the students have to retell the stories to demonstrate their understanding of the text.  We use a 3 point rubric system. While they retell, we cannot prompt them.  If we need to ask any questions, they score a 2 and they cannot go to the next level.  They are expected to name the characters, setting, problem and solution.  They should also tell the events in detail from beginning to end.  

Tough don't you think?  I think so! 

This week, we used this anchor chart to retell the story of The Three Bears.

I wanted to start out easy, so I could be explicit in explaining the expectations.  Also, I wanted to use the same clip art that we used last week while we were studying the story elements.  I thought the visual cues would be extremely helpful for the visual learners.  

We also created retelling ropes.  I made pieces with the same clip art to match our retelling chart and story elements chart.  I haven't had a chance to take a picture yet.  I'll add that to a post later.