Adventures in Literacy Land: prior knowledge

Showing posts with label prior knowledge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prior knowledge. Show all posts

Graphic Organizer App

 Hello Literacy Land!  Deniece here from This Little Piggy Reads.

I am a Texas Teacher and in Texas we are STAAR C-R-A-Z-Y right now!  STAAR is our statewide test. The Reading STAAR had a serious overhaul (compared to our previous TAKS test) therefore, every administrator and testing grade teacher is in a tizzy!  The reading test is no longer a comprehension test. There is also a mix of other genres not just fiction passages and a biography.  So, I have made it my mission to increase my students' exposure of non-fiction text through magazines, websites, online journals and pamphlets.  

This year I'm working in a GT pull-out program.  We are lucky enough to have 10 iPad Minis.  It has been a learning experience having them.  I've changed a lot of my views about technology in the classroom.  I don't see the need to collect phones anymore, but I do think students should utilize their technology to further their education.  Today, I'm going to show you a new App that helps create graphic organizers for any grade level and any subject area. 

Last week, I used the App to work on Science TEKS 5.10 (C)  describe the differences between complete and incomplete metamorphosis of insects.  I began the lesson by accessing prior knowledge.  Some kids knew that morph meant to change or transform.  But none of them knew the difference between a complete and incomplete metamorphosis.  

Now, you're probably familiar with KWL charts.  I've used them in the past, but I have a major issue because what the students WANT TO KNOW is rarely answered in our reading.  So, instead I use a Prior Knowledge and New Learning t-chart. 

I explained that their lesson objective today was to learn the difference between complete & incomplete metamorphosis in insects.  They would use the iPad to go to the website,  There they could read all about metamorphosis, see videos, look at pictures and take notes.  After students completed their notes/research, they were given clay to demonstrate their learning.  

I want to tell you all about Popplet Lite!  I've heard about it from other bloggers and I decided to give it a try.  It's a FREE App that allows students to create their own Graphic Organizers or Thinking Maps (I wish it had circles, though).  I wanted the students to be creative and choose how they wanted to display their learning.  Shockingly, no two looked alike.  Some were venn diagrams, some looked like life cycles or flow maps and some were tree maps.  I thought it was awesome to see how students learned the same concept, but were able to demonstrate their learning in very different ways.  

Here are a couple of nifty things about Popplet Lite.  First, you can change colors.  The kiddos loved that. Next, I found out on Day 4, that you could press "VIEW ALL" to see all of the popplets on the page.  So, if your kiddos made 2 popplets about complete & incomplete metamorphosis, they could see both of them and use export to save them to the camera roll or e-mail them to you.

At the end of the day, our exit ticket was our "New Learning".  I wanted to know everything they learned about Metamorphosis, including the difference between complete and incomplete metamorphosis.  My favorite part of my current position is that every lesson involves cross-curricular learning.  We used a plethora of skills: note taking, technology, art, photography, text features, graphic organizers and science.       

Have you ever used Popplet Lite?  If not, what ideas do you have to use it in your classroom?  If you're a Texas Teacher, click on my blog button below to following my blog. 


Unlock Your Brain: Activating Schema

Hi everyone! It's Melissa from Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late, and I'm so excited to share my first post on this blog. For those who don't know me, I've been teaching for 8 years in a small county near Richmond, VA. This is my second year as the Title I Reading Specialist for grades 3-5, but I spent most of my time in fourth grade. I love working with older kids and focusing on comprehension skills.

Today I want to share one of my favorite words: SCHEMA. When I began my master's program four years ago, I had never heard of the word. It's just a fancy word for prior knowledge, but it sounds so much more fun! As strong readers, it's not something we really think about because it just comes naturally to us. However, we got that way from LOTS of practice.

I like to teach schema at the very beginning of the year, and yes, I use the word schema because the kids think it's a cool word, too. Plus I tell them they can go home and teach their parents a new, fancy word. When I introduce it, I explain that schema just means "what we already know". I tell them it's like our brain is a filing cabinet and certain words tell our brain to pull out a file. Then I usually say "dinosaur" and ask them to tell me what things they thought about. They give a lengthy list (I don't write it down, but I would if the kids were a little younger). Then we discuss where they learned this information. I only said one word, but they were able to give me plenty of information.

After they have an understanding of what the word means, I show them how it applies to reading. I choose a book, and we activate our schema (I pretend to turn a key on my brain to open the filing cabinet) on the topic. I recommend beginning with a nonfiction book, and it's important that the topic is one your students are comfortable with. As they call out information, WRITE IT DOWN! You can have them write it on a sticky note and sort the information into categories, or you can just list the information. Then I show the students the book cover. That may jog their memory for a little more information.

I explain to the students that they will need this information to help them read the book. Sometimes it will help them understand words that are unfamiliar (context clues). Other times it will clear up information that the author doesn't completely explain (making inferences). I tell the students that good readers use their schema all the time. Before we read, I have them explain to me what schema means. I see a lot of them "unlock their brains".

The most important step is to begin every story that you read with the class by activating their schema. This doesn't have to be long, but they need PRACTICE!! This won't become a habit without a lot of modeling and practice. It's also important because there will be times when students don't have sufficient background knowledge, and they will need help BUILDING their schema.

A few recommendations for quick prior knowledge checks:

  • sticky notes
  • 20-30 seconds to share one fact with a buddy
  • draw three names to share one fact
  • short journal writing for morning work

Since this is my second year in this position, I've been able to see how much some of my students have retained from year to year. They don't always remember the word, but all I have to do is "unlock my brain" and they know exactly what to do. I've noticed that they are more engaged in the topic from the beginning, and it makes teaching future skills a lot easier!

What is your favorite book to practice activating prior knowledge?


Read & Analyze Nonfiction Text with the Rungs of Reading!

Hello, Friends!  We hope you are enjoying the long weekend (for some of us, anyways) and are excited as we are about all of the wonderful ideas we have been reading about this past week!  We are incredibly grateful to be part of this dynamite group of literacy gurus!  
We are Colleen and Stacy from The Rungs of Reading.  After teaching special education for 13 years, I (Stacy) moved into the role of Elementary Reading Specialist at my K-5 school.  I have been teaching reading for five years and absolutely LOVE my job!  Colleen is working hard as a first-year second grade teacher after finishing her undergraduate degree in early elementary with a Master's in Reading.  The idea for our little blog began when Colleen was completing her reading practicum in my classroom.  She quickly introduced me to the world of teaching blogs, and I was hooked!       
Today we are going to share one of our favorite comprehension strategies that we use in our classrooms called "Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction Text" or RAN, for short.   
Now that the Common Core State Standards stress an equal balance of literature and informational text in the classroom, we have spent a considerable amount of time building our nonfiction libraries and revamping our lessons to include more informational text strategies.  RAN has proven to be an effective strategy to use with informational text as it encompasses both before, during, and after reading activities.  In addition, it requires students to use a variety of strategies including activating schema, confirming thinking, and asking questions.  Finally, this strategy can be done with teacher support in a whole-class or small group setting or independently while using a graphic organizer.
When using the RAN strategy, students begin by brainstorming what they think they know about a topic.  These ideas are written on individual post-its and placed in the first column of the chart or graphic organizer.  Here is an example of a RAN chart after brainstorming what my second grade students knew about the topic "climate".  I recorded their ideas and placed the post-its on the chart.
After brainstorming, students read the text for the first time.  When they find a confirmation in the text, that post-it is transferred into the second column of the chart or graphic organizer.  Here is our RAN chart after some initial thoughts were confirmed.  Notice that some of our ideas are missing!
After the first reading, students review the chart and attend to any misconceptions they might have had about the content.  These ideas are transferred to the fourth column of chart or graphic organizer.  At this time, students can revise their thinking and add their ideas to the "new learning" column of the chart or graphic organizer.
Finally, the strategy concludes by reading the text a second time then thinking about what questions the students still have about the content.  This is a perfect time to explain that sometimes our questions are not answered when reading a text and we have to do additional research to find answers.
We hope you enjoyed reading about one of our favorite strategies to use when teaching informational text.  Here is a little FREEBIE to help you out when using the RAN strategy!
 Reading & Analyzing Nonfiction Text

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday