Archive for September, 2010

In this article, the author takes a closer look at the way children decode language. The most prominent concept in the article is morphology which is the act of breaking words down into smaller pieces then identifying its pieces to aid in the comprehension of the word. Even to this day, when encounter unfamiliar words, I use context clues ¬†and my ability to break down the words into smaller pieces. This knowledge begins early in life during elementary school, and it is our job as teachers to teach children how to use these clues to understand the meanings of words. There are four principles that guide teachers in “good” morphology instruction. These principles are:

1-” Teach Morphology in the context of Rich, Explicit Vocabulary Instruction” (Kiefer, M.) This part of the instruction emphasizes the need for students to be exposed to words, but it has to be in meaningful contexts where students are required to look closely at the meaning of the word.

2- “Teach Students to Use Morphology as a Cognitive Strategy With Explicit Steps” (Kiefer, M.) The second principle’s purpose is to teach students to recognize when they don’t know a word, analyze the word for meanings he/she knows, make an educated guess as to the word’s meaning, then go to a reliable source to verify their educated guess.

3- “Teach the Underlying Morphological Knowledge Needed in Two Ways–Both Explicitly and in Context” (Kiefer, M.) In this principle, the student’s knowledge is challenged and questioned. Students must have comprehensive knowledge of the basics such as: prefixes and suffixes, how words are transformed, and the roots of more complex words.

4- “For Students With Developed Knowledge of Spanish, Teach Morphology in Relation to Cognate Instruction” (Kiefer, M.) Students with knowledge of another language, particularly Spanish, are able to understand some words that others have difficulty with. Because these students are more familiar with Spanish, these children can use cognates which are words that are similar even in a different language. The children who have enough Spanish speaking background to use their cognate knowledge are able to use that knowledge to decipher what other more complex English words are.

When comparing the Multi-text unit and the Vocabulary overview to the information in this article, there are many positive correlations because the importance of vocabulary knowledge is stressed. In each of these teaching features, students are taught that vocabulary is an important part of comprehension because if a student does not know what a word means, they are unable to comprehend the word or sentence. Because of the use of morphology, students learn to use the information surrounding the word as well as the information in the word to comprehend its meaning as well as the meaning of the particular sentence.


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I have known all along that each student is different and each student needs a little something different for their growth to be maximized, but after reading this article, I realized that students need literature on their reading level. Each child varies a little bit when it comes to their reading level and it is my responsibility as a teacher to make sure each child is getting the instruction he/she needs. Choosing literature is the difficult part. There are so many factors that affect whether a piece of literature is worthy of being brought into my classroom. When choosing literature, these factors and more must be considered: enjoyable read for the student, increase awareness into the subject matter, quality in vocabulary and author, as well as it tells the truth. Students benefit more from literature that is on their reading level and by choosing a piece of literature for a child on their reading level, we are maximizing the child’s learning in our classroom.

Something else I learned from this article is that it is okay for student to be studying the same topic but reading a different Social Studies trade book. The point of the trade book is to captivate the reader and teach something that is usable and factual about the history that is being studied. When choosing texts for the multitext unit, we are going to have to choose texts that all students can read fluently and comprehend after reading. That might mean that their might have to be another trade book chosen to fit various students’s reading levels. We have to consider all reading levels that may be in our classrooms so that each student is catered to their learning capabilities. By using the IRI reading assessment we as teachers will be able to assess each student therefore finding out what their reading level is as well as their interests so we are able to choose the appropriate text for them to read. The reading assessment gives us the ability to see where our students stand and before we can choose texts to read and study, I, as a teacher, must know what is the instructional reading level is for each or my students. These three things coincide with each other to work for the teacher in helping to understand instructional levels, choosing the best book for that reading level, and creating a multitext unit to match each child in the classroom.

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It is interesting to me that so many teachers thought that shared reading is only effective and important in primary grades. Every student throughout Elementary school can benefit from shared reading and that is something important to remember because as teachers we need to realize that some things that are used in primary grades are also effective in upper elementary as well. Shared reading is not something I feel that I experienced in upper elementary. It is fascinating to me why so many teachers feel that as children age, they no longer enjoy being read to. I know that I still like being read to and I am much older than upper elementary students!

In this article, there are four main findings for teachers to focus on which are comprehension, vocabulary, text structure, and text features. From the findings, each teacher was obviously focused on modeling their thinking as he/she read a passage from a book, a copied form of a book or article, or a selection on the overhead. These successful teachers of shared reading wanted students to understand what was going on while the reading was taking place.

Reading comprehension is important for the students so they can have a discussion on what they read. There are several parts to reading comprehension which involves everything from background knowledge and predictions to visualizations and evaluations. Students are expected to take the time to look closer in the text to make sure they are looking at parts and are able to explain all parts of the text. When the teacher models comprehension, he/she talks out loud about her observations from the book title, the picture on the front of the book, and anything other observations about the book cover. Many of the teachers explained to the interviewers, when asked, they do not use only one type of comprehension modeling because combined they are successful.

Vocabulary is a large part of the modeling and these teachers were very careful not to simply tell their students what the definition of a word was or to ask them to define the unknown word. Instead, the teacher modeled way they could find the definition of a word before they went straight to a dictionary. These strategies were context clues, word parts, and resources. Most teachers agreed that students need to be able to use context clues and word parts to make an educated guess about the definition of a word where they would use prior knowledge or use the surrounding words to help them figure out the unknown word’s meaning. Following the use of context clues and word parts, teachers wanted their students to know where they could find the definition if they still were unable to figure it out.

Text structure is described as the way the author organizes his/her thoughts in the piece of literature. Students should be able to identify and utilize the way an author writes to their advantage because it can aid them in decoding the information. For instance, some examples of text structure is compare and contrast, processes and narratives. Students should be familiar with each type of literature so they are able to decode each of them.

The final part of shared reading is Text Features. Text features include the following and more headings, glossaries, titles, captions, illustrations, etc. These features are put in the text to help organize, consolidate information, and aid in comprehension. Even though they are meant as an aid, sometimes these features actually confuse and distract the student from the meaning of the text because student are not sure when to read them, and where they apply in the text. A lot of the students confusion lies in the fact that their perceptions are skewed because they don’t realize that the way something is written makes a difference in how it is received. For instance, in the part about the Titanic, a student thought the crew was worse off than the third class when instead they were approximately the same, but his misunderstanding there was because the numbers were greater for the crew. Both of these groups had about twenty-five percent of their on board population saved. In this case, the student had to calculate what percentage was saved instead of focusing on the numbers provided.

Every little piece of information provided in a text affects the students’ comprehension, and it is our job as teachers to make sure that we model for our students how to decode all possible information in various texts so each student can make the most out of what he/she is reading.

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The most attractive thing that I have found in these three articles is that incorporating technology into the classroom is incredibly important. Because 21st century learners are so incredibly different from the learners from previous years, we need to become more creative in the ways that we try to intrigue our learners. By using blogs, podcasts, webcams, videos,etc. frequently in our classrooms we are able to grab the attention of our learners and attract them to learning like we never would be able to if we did not use 21st century technology on a regular basis.

My favorite uses of blogs that is stated in the article “Internet Workshop and Blog Publishing” is where the student’s work is published on the internet. They become and author who is published by putting their work on the internet because it is available for others to see. The children are able to share everything in their published works with family, friends, and other children from around the world. It is important when we ask children to write that they are not only learning something, but they are enjoying what they are learning and it is something that they are proud of in the end. There is something to be said about a child who WANTS to show of the work he/she has been working on and perfecting for the stage of publishing.

Another key from these articles is to not restrict children to one “correct” answer. Allow there to be more than one “correct” answer because when we do not restrict children to one correct answer, then we are asking them to use higher order thinking skills to come to an answer all their own. Encouraging them to have an idea all their own allows for originality, creative thinking, and evaluation. Also, giving them an opportunity for an outlet for ideas and creativity by giving them the idea of a “Pirate Diary” then they are not only coming up with the ideas, but articulating them into written words. This is allows for growth in ideas and writing fluency. Writing as frequently as possible build fluency which Aimee Buckner states in her educational book Notebook Know-How. Giving children and outlet for ideas and the opportunity to create something all their own in a writer’s notebook or “Pirate Diary,” whatever it is called in different situations, builds the writing fluency then writing becomes FUN.

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I believe this is the way the minilesson should be set up. This was a lot of fun for me to create and I know that I will use this in my classroom in the future.

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Poetry is something that has intimidated me over the years. I have never been that interested in poetry because there is some underlying meaning that I always have trouble figuring out. It is something that has confused me and I have struggled with throughout my education.

To me, poetry should be something that is lyrical in the way it rhymes and has a rhythm, but when there are pieces of poetry that are free verse, it just seems like a bunch of broken sentences that are not poetry. It takes someone talented with words to write poetry, but it also takes someone who sees connections in phrases and vocabulary to make beautiful poetry.

There are some pieces of poetry that I enjoy reading. For instance, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. This poetry is wonderful because it tells a story about a little boy who, like me, did not think he could write poetry, but he grew to enjoy writing about something in his life. This novel told a story about his growth as a poet and also allows children to realize they can write poetry about anything and in any way.

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What’s in a name?

My name is Jordan Hamrick. I have always found that my first name, Jordan, is not as common for girls as for boys, but I have enjoyed that fact. I feel it makes me special. I just never knew how few females have the name Jordan…Want to guess what the percentage is?….82.35 % of “Jordans” are male. That leaves 17. 65% to be female. That seems incredible to me. I absolutely LOVE that I have a name that not many females have. My last name is not common either. According to howmanyofme.com, my last name is 2737th most popular last name. There are only 5 other Jordan Hamricks in the United States…and guess what…I am friends with one of those Jordan Hamricks on Facebook. That’s right, Facebook. Go figure!

According to behindthename.com, the meaning of my first name is a meaning that I have been familiar with my whole life, and because of this meaning, my name is almost as special as you can get. “Jordan” is an English, Macedonian, and yep, Biblical, it means to descend or flow down. This meaning relates to the Jordan River that runs between Israel and Jordan in the Middle East. This is the river where Jesus Christ was baptized and people for hundreds of years have gone to this river to extract some of its water to baptize their children or themselves in this holy water. The reason I was named Jordan is that I come from an incredibly Christian family and my family found that it was important to incorporate meaning into my name so Jordan became my first name.

My middle name on the other hand is a family name. My middle name comes from my great-grandmother on my dad’s side. Her first name was Elizabeth and my father always thought highly of her. The way I was named was my dad decided on my middle name and my mom decided on my first name. Elizabeth is also a Biblical name that means “my God is an oath” or “my God is abundance.” This name comes from the New Testament where John the Baptist’s mother’s name was Elizabeth. This form of spelling for Elizabeth is traditionally Greek. Another form of Elizabeth is Isabel which was also used for Saints and Holy figures among Christians in Eastern Europe in the 12th century.

I find it fascinating to find out what my name means and the origin of its spelling and usage. Also, I like finding out that part of my name comes from my family. Another fascinating thing is finding out that my parents split the task of naming me. My name is special to me, especially since there are so few female “Jordans.” I was given this name and as time goes on, it will become more and more special to me because of its historical meaning.

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