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Showing posts with label DIBELS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DIBELS. Show all posts

Why Do We Practice Nonsense Words?

Brain research tells us that learning needs to be meaningful. We need to connect our learning with things that are important in our lives. 

Typically, it's not too tough to convince children that reading is meaningful. In fact, reading has its own reward: as you get better at reading, the books and stories get better.  

Why Do We Practice Nonsense Words? Most kids prefer to use real words in context, but here are a few reasons why learning to read nonsense words matters.

It's a little tougher to convince children why we practice reading nonsense words. Despite what I've heard from some, it's not to have more successful test scores on the DIBELS tests.  

This is what I tell the kids: 

When we practice the "sounding out" skill, we'll be better at figuring out new words!

If we practice the "sounding out" skill with actual words, the visual memory can get in the way of this skill, and they're not actually practicing the "sounding out" skill, they're just recognizing the word from the way it looks.  Therefore, we use nonsense words.

Of course, there are some children who are strong sight word readers, and feel they pretty much know all the words.  

So we talk about some of those ten-dollar words they'll see as they grow as readers.

Words like Constantinople, or Emancipation Proclamation, or Deoxyribonucleic acid or even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!  

Here are some activities I do to practice that "sounding out" skill.

Explore this image for a link to this valuable resource.

Explore this image for a link to this word work resource.

Multisyllable nonsense word game: Buggy Syllables

Explore this image for a link to this word work resource.

What do you use to help your children practice looking for letter sounds and patterns in new words?

Why Do We Practice Nonsense Words? Most kids prefer to use real words in context, but here are a few reasons why learning to read nonsense words matters.

Seven Ideas for Reading Accurately

I've finished my DIBELS, and my kids are all over the ballpark as far as their needs go. 

I have noticed that several students had high "Words Correct Per Minute", but their accuracy was low. These kids read loads of words but were adding, changing, and omitting lots of words. These same kids also had trouble with punctuation, and retelling the story. They need work on accuracy!

Seven Ideas for Reading Accurately - Reading fluently is great, but accuracy is important, too! Here are seven ideas to help your readers become more accurate.

Here are some ideas for working on accuracy.

1.  Tell them that's what they need to work on. Yes, seriously, give them the feedback they need. That's the number one trick to improvement, knowing what you need to work at! If necessary, revisit the "finger-pointing" stage to help them focus on the words that are really there. (But don't stay at the "finger-pointing" stage, of course!)

2.  Partner reading - One partner reads, and the other partner checks to make sure they're reading accurately. This works best if the children are evenly matched at their own reading level.

3. Read with an adult - Grab a spare adult somewhere to read with students! It might be a teacher assistant, a parent volunteer, or maybe even the librarian, Phys. Ed. teacher or music teacher! Anyone that has a few minutes can sit down with a child and listen to them read. (Make sure they are ready to give feedback!)

4. Have them read "out soft" - often!  The more they read so someone can hear, the more accurate they will become. That "sense of an audience" really makes a difference. When my students come to reading group, I have them bring a book they are working on, and they are expected to sit down and start reading it "out soft". That means: loud enough so that I can hear them across the reading table, but not loud enough to be heard from across the room. They find it a little awkward at first, but it doesn't take long for them to feel comfortable reading their book just loud enough to be heard. This trick also gives me a chance to listen to individuals, give a little extra time to some kids, and has the children warmed up and ready for reading group. I notice huge improvements in accuracy and fluency when I start doing this!

5. Readers Theater - As mentioned above, that "sense of an audience" is a big motivator! Plus, Readers Theater can be fun, which is another plus! There are plenty of sources of scripts out there. Just google it! Just beware of the danger of readers theater: after reading it a few times, they memorize the script. Then it isn't real reading anymore! Find some ideas here: Using Reader's Theater to Help Students Learn Kindness.

6.  Reading song lyrics - Music is very closely related to the memory. If they already know the song, they'll be able to read the lyrics. Give out song sheets and have them "finger read". As above, just make sure they are truly reading, not reciting something that they have memorized. (There's nothing wrong with memorization, but that's not the skill we're trying to improve!)

7.  Practice sight words and phrases - In order to read accurately, they've got to know the words! Experts recommend that children learn sight words in context. See the freebie below for several phrases using the Dolch pre-primer list. There are plenty more of these for other levels, too!

Seven Ideas for Reading Accurately - Reading fluently is great, but accuracy is important, too! Here are seven ideas to help your readers become more accurate.

What are your ideas for building accuracy?

Seven Ideas for Reading Accurately - Reading fluently is great, but accuracy is important, too! Here are seven ideas to help your readers become more accurate.

You've Given the QPS, Now What?

My last post was about using the Quick Phonics Screener to find where students have reading deficits.  If the QPS doesn't show any deficits, that's fantastic! The next step would be to work on accuracy and fluency in reading.  (That's another post!) 
 More than likely, if a child was already struggling in reading (as indicated by DIBELS scores or by teacher observation) something will show up in the QPS.  That's where to start!  Quite often, there will be others with the same deficit, and you can group these kids together as a phonics "break out" group.  Of course, with older kids, it's best to use fancy words like "word study group" or even "linguistics".

There are TONS of free resources on the internet that will help you out.  

One of my favorites is from University of West Virginia. (West Virginia - Reading First)  This site has complete lessons from the warm up, phonological awareness/ articulation, letter/ sound correspondence, blending routines, word work, dictation, and reading text that focuses on the skill.  They also include word lists and texts for practicing!
Another great site for resources is The Florida Center for Reading Research.  I could spend hours on this site exploring everything!  Once you've figured out which skill needs work, just find an activity to go with it, and there you go!  
There are also tons of materials on Teachers Pay Teachers as well as Teachers Notebook.  I'm sure you'll be able to find plenty of ideas on Pinterest as well.  Here's a link to my Pinterest board on Word Work.
Don't forget these important parts of any phonics lesson:
  • Goal
  • Review
  • New Concept
  • Word Practice
  • Dictation
  • Word Meaning
  • Text Reading 

Assessing Reading Difficulties

How do you find out what the children need for Reading RTI (Response to Intervention) time?
Assessing Reading Difficulties: Here are some ideas to help figure out what instruction struggling readers need for improvement

Our district gives the DIBELS three times a year:  In September, January, and May.  As long as the children are working at grade level and showing growth, there is no need for additional assessments. If the children are working below level, or are not showing adequate growth in reading skills, they are followed more closely by Progress Monitoring, accompanied by additional instruction or alternative instruction.

DIBELS will help figure out which kids need help.  Then what?

Quick Phonics Screener can help you find a deficiency in decoding skills more quickly and more specifically than DIBELS or other assessment tools. It's a one on one assessment, and can be done in a couple of minutes. (Google Quick Phonics Screener! There are several low priced options.)

I would prefer QPS used nonsense words, but I'm unable to find a copy online. This gives a true measurement of how the child does at "sounding out" the words without relying on the visual memory.  (I've known more than one reading deficit that was masked by a strong visual memory!)

I keep my QPS materials in a folder with the child's copy laminated and plenty of record sheets in the pockets.  If I notice a kid is not showing the desired growth, I'll find a couple of minutes to pull the child and guide them through the screening.  There is no "set way" to record what the child does, but generally I try to write something so I'll remember the mistakes the child made. (That's often a key for teaching!)

Looking closer, you'll see the order of subtests is in a logical order:  letter ID, letter sounds, cvc words, cvc words with blends, cvce words, r controlled vowels, cvc with digraphs, vowel pairs, words with prefixes or suffixes, two syllable words, and multisyllabic  words. The QPS suggests if a child misses 5 or more in a section, that's the skill needed.

Quite often, the teacher is already aware that the child has a specific reading issue, since we read with our children daily. But this is a way to record what's going on and drive instruction.

Assessing Reading Difficulties: Here are some ideas to help figure out what instruction struggling readers need for improvement

Dabbling in DIBELS

Last week I went to a two day training period for DIBELS Next.  DIBELS Next is an assessment program for early readers.  It stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. 

We learned how to deliver every part of the test for every level.  Typically the assessment is given 3 times a year:  the beginning, the middle, and the end.  Different levels are given different parts of the test.   Teachers are able to Progress Monitor children who don't meet benchmarks.  The best part?  All the materials are available online for free.

The tough part?  It takes about 10 minutes per child at my level.  The tests are given individually.  The tricky part is finding time to do this while keeping up with all our classroom responsibilities. 

But it's a wealth of information!  This is the first time in years our school district has used any kind of assessment that is standardized.  The older children have the state mandated tests, starting in third grade, and we've had the unit tests from the reading program we use.  DIBELS will be giving us specific information concerning what our students know (or don't know) about reading.

Why is this good?  Because it tells us specifically what we need to teach the children!  (I suspect you already knew this!)  With all the testing we've been forced to do over the past few years, it's a pleasure to have an assessment tool that helps us figure out what we need to do. 

DIBELS doesn't necessarily tell us what to do to raise the scores, but there are tons of resources,  many of which we explored through the 2 day training. 

So, I've started Dabbling in DIBELS.  During the last couple of days, I've Dibbled 4 of my students.  It's a little late for the beginning of the year baseline, and a little early for the midyear assessment, but I'm just practicing giving the test.  (And getting information about my kids!)  Honestly, there's not really anything I didn't already know about these kids, but it's valid information that I can bring up at meetings and share with parents. 

So far I'm happy dabbling in DIBELS!  Whatever keeps them reading!

Reflecting Upon the Brain Workshop

I'm a naturally reflective person.  As a teacher, I reflect upon every lesson I teach, constantly thinking about how it could have gone better.  That's usually a good thing, but sometimes I make myself crazy thinking about things.  And I do tend to be hard on myself.  That's one of the harder things about being a perfectionist. 

I presented a workshop yesterday on Brain Based Learning to other teachers in my district. It was kind of a rushed day, since I was at DIBELS training at another school in the district earlier in the day. We got out with plenty of time, but I didn't want to get back too early since I din't want to interrupt the substitute. Since the workshop was due to start in my classroom at 3:30, I needed to be in my classroom by 3:10 to set up on time. Unfortunately, several kids are still there at that time, waiting for their bus, so I had no choice but to enter the classroom with all my workshop stuff. 

Of course, the kids that were left gave me a wonderful greeting.  (You'd think I hadn't seen them in years!) Then I needed to chat with the sub, who was also going to be there the next day while I went to the rest of the training. (I was glad about that, she's great!) Needless to say, I was barely ready when the other teachers arrived. 

It was a small group, just 5 teachers. Most of them I knew, and they were from all levels. I had snacks, water bottles, handouts, a selection of books about brain research, and, of course, several copies of my Elementary Matters business cards.

The presentation went very well. The other teachers liked the material (who wouldn't, it's fascinating stuff!) and particularly seemed to like my "Brain Jeopardy". (Based on THIS fascinating article!)

Of course, being a reflective person, there are a few things I'd do to make it better:

  1. I like to have music on when people enter. (I do this for my students often, too.) The kind of music that makes you feel good. Upbeat, with a bounce to it. I had planned to have one of my bouncy Christmas CDs on, but just didn't get to it.
  2. I had snacks, but didn't have anything to put the snacks in. I dug up some cups in the classroom, so they could put Cheese Its into plastic cups. Next time I'll have nice bowls or containers for the snacks, and napkins!
  3. As I do often in class, I had too much material, and didn't finish it all. Of course, it's such a wide topic, and there's so much I want to share. Next time, I'll just pick the most important parts and go into more detail. 
But, all in all, it went well. I got this email this afternoon:

This afternoon a HS teacher came into my office to tell me what an excellent workshop you ran yesterday. She wished more teachers (especially from the HS) had come. She used some of what she learned already today in her classes. Great job!

So, I guess I'm happy about that!
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