Adventures in Literacy Land: Graphic Organizer

Showing posts with label Graphic Organizer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Graphic Organizer. Show all posts

Crafting Sentences Video and Freebie

 One year I was working with a group of first graders who were struggling with writing a complete sentence.  They were very good at using a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence and ending punctuation at the end of the sentence.  However, the middle part of the sentence was a little fuzzy for them.  The question I asked myself was, "How do I teach writing a complete thought to first graders?"

Instead of typing everything I did, I created a screen cast showing you the Smart Board Notebook I created to go with this lesson.  Click the video below for the lesson.  I also put up my Notebook file on SMART Exchange, and you can check out the file by clicking HERE.  Disclaimer:  I know that this doesn't work for every type of sentence, but it was great beginning for us to start writing complete thoughts.

To get the sentence graphic organizer and lesson plan I used with the lesson, click the image below.

crafting sentences

I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer!

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Teaching English Language Learners: SEI

Hi everyone! It is Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead! This summer, I have been engrossed in studying Sheltered English Immersion. In Massachusetts all non-English speaking students need to be enrolled in mainstream English-speaking classrooms (with a few exceptions). ESL instruction might be done in a pull-out setting but the majority of an ELL student's day is spent in the classroom. The state realized that we teachers needed to learn more about effective strategies to meet the needs of those English Language Learners, so all of us have to either take a  course or pass an SEI exam. Since I have been thinking so much about SEI lately, I realized many of you have English speaking students in your classroom and it might be the right topic for a post!

So if you are new to this, you may need to start at the beginning - what is SEI? In Massachusetts, SEI is Sheltered English Instruction. I know in other states, it stands for Structured English Immersion and has slightly different characteristics, but I will tell you what I know. By no means am I an expert- if you want to know more I will give you some resources at the end but if you want to learn more about teaching ELL students in your own state check resources at your school and your state Department of Education Website. Let us know what you learn and comment below.

The short answer is that every classroom in Massachusetts that has at least one ELL student is a SEI classroom. Each SEI classroom must have a Highly Qualified Teacher of English Language Learners- that means the teacher must be certified in ELL, taken and passed the required state SEI course or taken and passed the state teaching exam for SEI.  Basically, classroom teachers and school staff who interact with ELL students in any way are learning what are the best practices for teaching these students in the English speaking classroom.

I'd love to share with you some of the strategies I learned about being a teacher in an SEI classroom. There was a lot of information I had to learn about levels of English Proficiency and how to assess what level students were and a LOT of information on setting both content and language lessons for every lessons, plus differentiating lessons for students at  different levels of proficiency- too much for one blog post.  Here are a few tips I picked up on.

 I had done some reading and taken a course in teaching ELL students last spring, and combined with the materials I studied the summer, I picked up on some vocabulary strategies to try when working with ELL students.  There are a ton of effective strategies and each works best in different situations depending on the word, the content area, the age of the student, and their level of English proficiency.

Word Wheels are great to try. You write the word you are learning in the center and then it is flexible - you can write synonyms, antonyms, word forms, or semantic connections around the outside. Here are a couple examples with detailed directions on Word Wheels: Primary Education Oasis' Blog Post and's preteaching vocabulary brochure pdf.

A word form chart was another suggested strategy for teaching vocabulary to ELL students. I couldn't find a good example of it online but, basically you chart a vocabulary word that has different forms (great for verbs - you can do past tense, present tense, etc) and discuss how the meaning changes and how to use each form. A goal of vocabulary instruction is giving students the tools to unlock word meaning on their own and this is a good way to start!

Focusing on cognates is a solid strategy to use with ELL students. Cognates are words in different languages that are derived from the same original word or root (for example family - familia and conversation and conversacion). There are tons of words in Spanish, for example, that are cognates with words in English.

There are many more great strategies. I will provide links below so you can check more out!


There are many writing strategies that will support your ELL student. One that would be useful for students with lower English proficiency is sentence frames. Sentence frames are sentences the teacher writes, then removes one or more word from . A word bank can be provided for students with content specific words, for example. So a student who has limited writing skills in English can complete sentences such as: Plants need, ________, air, and light to grow.  The _______ of the plant take in water from the soil. The ______ of the plant carries the water to the leaves" and so on instead of having to write an open response stating what they know about plants. 

Here are a couple places where you can find more information on sentence frames:

For students who are early in their English language development and need a lot of assistance with literacy skills you can try the language experience approach. A student would verbally tell you their story and you write it down, word for word as he tells you. Then you read it back and discuss how the story sounds, if the message was communicated, and so on. Then you and he can edit it a little together. I am not an expert on this one, as I have never tried it myself but you can learn more here:
One more strategy that came up a lot as I was reading about teaching ELLs in the SEI classroom was graphic organizers. Graphic organizers have endless possibilities in the classroom anyway, and are so beneficial to ELL students to organize their thoughts and get their ideas written down. There are so many graphic organizers for skills like sequencing, cause and effect, etc. that can be use in writing assignments. Check out these ideas in detail:

I have even more ideas for strategies on teaching reading to ELL students and assessment but I am going to save them for a future post! For now here are some great resources from around the web if you are interested in learning more. Thanks and please comment below and let us know your thoughts and strategies for meeting the needs of ELL students in your classroom!

Mrs. Dailey's blog post on vocabulary
Color in Colorado
Adventures in TESOL
Sharing Learning- Teaching English with Technology Blog
Everything ESL

And a thank you to Ashley Hughes for the beautiful frames and Dollar Photo Club!


Generating Questions with a Question Creation Chart (Q-chart)

There is significant evidence that learning how to generate and answer questions while reading improves memory, integration and identification of main ideas, and overall comprehension.  Generating questions helps students make predictions about what they will learn from their reading, focus on the most important information, and read with greater purpose because they are looking for answers to their questions.
Generating questions, however, does not always come naturally to students.  Some students can generate simple who, what, where, when types of questions, but have difficulty generating the more complex "how and why" questions that require more critical thinking.  It is important for teachers to provide direct instruction, modeling, and significant guided practice in how to self-question while reading.  

A Question Creation Chart or Q-chart is a perfect tool to help students recognize and self-generate a continuum of questions ranging from simple "remember" questions through "understanding" and "evaluative" questions.  This chart is especially useful as it can be used with both literature and informational text. careful teacher modeling, students will use the Q-chart to formulate questions about the text they've read by selecting one word from the left-hand column of the chart (who, what, where, when, how, why) then selecting a word from the upper row (is, did, can would, will, might).  Students locate the square where the question will be recorded and write their "remember" or "evaluative" question. The further down and over to the right students move, the higher the level of critical thinking.  
It is important to note that this chart can be used before, during, or after reading the text!
Once students have generated several questions about the text they've read, it is important for the teacher to build in opportunities for student talk.  Using think/pair/share or other small groupings, students should share, compare, and discuss the questions they've generated.  As students are discussing their questions, the teacher can circulate the room and provide support as needed.
After student talk, the teacher should offer a final discussion on the importance of using questioning as a metacognitive strategy as a whole-class.  Some guiding prompts that can be used are:

  • Why is it important for a reader to ask questions and make predictions before reading a text?
  • Why do you think good readers ask questions as they are reading?
  • Why do good readers answer and generate questions after they've read a text?
  • Would anyone like to share a question from their Q-chart?
  • Does anyone have a question that wasn't answered in our reading?
We hope you enjoyed reading about how to generate questions using a Question Creation Chart.  You may begin using this effective strategy by downloading our FREEBIE.
**In order to give students sufficient space to record their questions, this chart must be printed on 11x17 Ledger paper.



Responding to Informational Text using the 3-2-1 Strategy!

Hello, friends!  We are Colleen and Stacy from The Rungs of Reading here to talk to you about an effective "After Reading" strategy for informational text called 3-2-1!  This strategy can be used in both primary and intermediate grades in whole-class, small group, or individual settings.  The 3-2-1 strategy is especially successful with struggling readers as it helps them comprehend, summarize, and retain information they've read.
The 3-2-1 strategy can be used with informational books, magazine articles, biographies, even websites!  Here are a few of our favorite books and websites we have used with this strategy!

After reading, exploring, and discussing an informational text or website, students actively engage with their reading by summarizing three important points from the text.  Summarizing requires the reader to focus on the major elements of the text and to determine what is important.  When students are selecting these important points, the teacher should guide students in choosing new facts and information they learned from the text (not prior knowledge).

After recording three new discoveries on their graphic organizers, students go back into their reading to choose two interesting facts.  At this point, the teacher should guide students in selecting facts and information that is unusual or exciting.  For example, "the baobab tree can reach the height of a five story building".  

Finally, students brainstorm and record one question they still have about the topic they read.  This is a good opportunity for students to share and discuss their questions with classmates in preparation of additional research.  Students complete the graphic organizer by drawing an interesting photograph, diagram, timeline, etc. that illustrates the topic they read about.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about the 3-2-1 reading strategy!  Here is a little FREEBIE to get you started!  Depending upon the age and ability of your students, you may want to differentiate your expectations when having them complete the graphic organizer.  For example, younger students or struggling readers can be instructed to copy facts and information directly from the text.  Older or more capable students can be instructed to paraphrase or summarize information in their own words.  When initially modeling the strategy for students, you can explain which expectation you would like them to follow.
 3-2-1- Strategy Graphic Organizer


Fact and Opinion: Not as Easy as it Seems

 Hi, it's Melissa from Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late here to share some tips and a little tool for teaching Fact and Opinion!

I don't know about you, but this is a skill that my students really struggle with all of a sudden when they reach 4th or 5th grade. They can tell me the difference between the two and even give me examples. They even THINK they are really good at it and will sometimes say it's easy. But don't be so quick to take their word! I'm going to walk you through some quick steps to teach and review fact and opinion so that your students can be more successful, even when the examples go past, "Yellow is the best color." and "The sky is blue."

First, make sure they have a STRONG understanding of what fact and opinion looks like. This means you need to go beyond definitions and help them identify traits and clue words.

Amber Polk has a great freebie on TPT that I love to use for this. It includes definitions and characteristics that students can sort under correct categories. Then they can also put everything into an interactive notebook to refer back to later on! Click on the picture to find her freebie.

After students understand characteristics, have them begin to identify examples from text they are reading. But don't stop there! Students need to be able to explain why to reinforce their understanding. Have students highlight key words and/or write what traits are present in the sentence (specific event, date, etc). For facts, I ask my students to tell me how they could prove it is true. If the fact says, "More Olympic events take place in the summer than winter", students could say that they would look for a list of Olympic events sorted by the seasons.

To help students practice proving fact and opinion, I created this simple graphic organizer to share with you. There are two versions: one includes clipart with Si from Duck Dynasty, and the other is plain. I will keep this as a freebie forever, so don't worry about it disappearing on you!

Fact and Opinion Graphic Organizer

What other comprehension skills do you notice students struggle to master?