Monday, October 24, 2016

What Do Skilled Readers Do?

This question could be answered in many ways. Skilled readers use a variety of strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words, increase their comprehension, and overall connect with their reading. Skilled readers also understand which stance they need to take based on the genre of the material they are reading.

Recently the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students have discovered that one of the strategies that skilled readers use is to think beyond the text. Students have discovered that some information is provided right in the reading, but that other information needs to be inferred. This means that students need to use the information from the text and their own knowledge and experiences to draw conclusions about the text. By doing this students are able to connect more deeply with the text, form their own opinions/ideas, and increase their comprehension. To demonstrate their understanding of this strategy students have read short, informational articles and responded to constructed response questions where they stated a claim, supported their claim with evidence from the text and provided further commentary to support their claim. This has allowed students to begin to think and respond more critically to text.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Writing Process

Every writer approaches writing in their own unique way. They determine their topic and audience. Each writer thinks about the message they want to send, and their purpose for each piece of writing. They also think about the words they use and how what they say will impact their readers. One thing that remains the same, however, is that every writer follows a process. This process is extremely important to help writers feel organized and focused. How each writer approaches the process is unique to their own needs, but every step is evident in every writing piece! The following is a list and description of each step of the writing process:

Prewriting - This is when writers come up with their ideas and create a plan for their writing.

Drafting - This is the step where students write their draft. Writers will use their notes from the 
                 prewriting process to guide their writing. This part of the process is for the writer! 

Revising - This is the step where writers now carefully consider their audience. They attempt to see
                  their writing through the eyes of their reader. They reorganize, change words, rewrite 
                  sections, etc, if they are not clearly getting their message across or impacting their 
                  their audience the way they intend. 

Editing - This is where writers are making sure they have used correct grammar. They fix spelling,
                capitalization, punctuation, and grammar usage. 

Publishing - This is the step where writers produce a final copy that is ready for sharing.

The middle level students are discovering how important it is to follow each step of the writing process and that it is a recursive process. This means that students may have to move about the steps out of order.  For example, a student may realize that after revising they have to return to the prewriting stage to develop their ideas further.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Genres: Who knew there were so many?!

The middle level students have been studying the many literary genres that exist! Understanding these genres helps each student know which types of books they like/dislike. This will help them choose books as well as provide ways to challenge themselves as readers. Understanding individual genres also helps students understand how to approach each type of writing. Each genre has it's own specific traits. Knowing these will provide students with the information necessary to increase their ability to read and understand the texts. Author's also write nonfiction texts (persuasive writing, autobiographies, information, biographies, etc) for different reasons than author's write fiction text (realistic fiction, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, etc). Knowing this will help students set their own purpose for reading. Knowing their purpose will help them determine the strategies they will need as a reader to understand each writing piece.