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Friday, November 15, 2013

Updated: Reading to Someone in Centers is Important! Make it Productive for the Students with a Structured Activity they can Facilitate for Themselves!

In Elementary teaching, whether in public schools or charter schools at some point during their instructional day have a Language Arts Block that includes small group instruction.  For us teachers, generally that means pulling leveled groups for guided reading or some form of it (reciprocal teaching, close reading, etc.), and for students it means rotating through learning "centers" or "stations" that should reinforce previously learned concepts based on Common Core Standards.  When deciding how to manage these small group and center times, teachers often seek out instructional practices such as "The Daily 5", which includes the following 5 types of learning centers:                                      
1. Working with Words
2.  Reading to Yourself
3.  Writing 
4. Reading to Someone
5. Listening to Reading

Now, whether you use The Daily 5 practice, or some other center titles to reinforce learning strands, it is fine by me.  However, do you indeed have a Read to Someone center?  And if so, do students know how to share that time together productively, or are they simply sitting with a book between them and talking about what they watched on TV last night?  As you have probably gathered, I have had experience with the latter :), and I figured out some things to help structure the students' time together in "Read to Someone".

Consider using "The Crazy Professor Reading Game" from Whole Brain Teaching.  It not only requires that a student read aloud, but also that they comprehend what they're reading to use their voice and hand hand gestures to convey the meaning of the text to the listener.  When they finish a page or chapter or topic, they then use their own comprehension skills to form a question they know the answer to, pose that question to their partner, and give feedback to their partner.  Then, the partner takes over and it all begins again.  The beauty of this is that neither one of the students has to compromise reading something at their own interest level, because they can each use a different book!  The purpose is quality of time spent on a passage of text that they refer gestures and questions back to--not getting through a whole text that they didn't choose themselves.  Below, you'll see the video made by Whole Brain Teaching that I use to introduce my students to their Read to Someone "Crazy Professor" game:

And, here is a video of what it looked like in my 4th grade classroom!  I want to emphasize something here: THIS CAN BE USED AT ANY GRADE LEVEL AS LONG AS THE STUDENTS HAVE CHOSEN BOOKS AT THEIR INDEPENDENT, RATHER THAN INSTRUCTIONAL READING LEVEL.  Even in 2nd grade, The students loved this time and were asking when they could do it next.  It motivates them because it allows them to exaggerate, be dramatic, and act silly with a friend.  Sorry it is sideways, no matter how I try to publish it, it rotates : /.

video







How do you structure your small group time?  Are you a rotation within your centers, or do the students rotate with their own set of centers to be pulled when you're ready?  What products of learning do you have your students turn in for centers and how often?  Does it make up a percentage of their grade?  Let me know your thoughts below!  I would love to hear if you try this game out, and how it works to motivate your kiddos!  



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