What's in Your Pool Bag? Recommendations for Primary Reading Teachers

21 June 2016
Hi! I hope you are having a great summer! This is Sarah from Learning is for Superstars!

Today I am sharing what's in my pool bag this summer. 
I have taught first grade for the last six years and last year was my first year doing a first/second combination. Because of the number of students in our building, I will be teaching a first/second combo again this next school year. With that being said, I knew that I was going to need to make changes for the upcoming year. The book Reading With Meaning by Debbie Miller, is one that I had seen on Facebook posts and Instagram images and was curious about it.
A few thoughts ...
- proficient readers use prior knowledge while reading, make inferences while reading, ask and answer questions of what they have read, and synthesize what they read, just to name a few
- use a "catch and release" method of responsibility - model, model, model what you expect them to do, gradually release them to accomplish a task, and build up to applying your expectation during your guided reading time
- model just enough so the children understand what you expect from them, but don't model too much that they don't have to do any of the work because you've already given that to them
- allow time for reflection
- build relationships with your children - notice new outfits and shoes, or remember when so and so's grandparents are visiting, etc. - it shows your children that you care
- take advantage of teachable moments

What I really like about this book is how it is divided into different parts of the school year, focusing on what you need to do in each month.
I'm just going to share some of the thoughts that jumped out at me during the September section.
- How you start off the school year sets the tone for the rest of the year. If you don't immediately show and model to your children that reading is important, they will not think that it is, either. 
- Debbie Miller stated (p29) "readers read to get smarter and to learn about themselves, other people, and the world ... smart is something you get, and that through hard work, effort, and determination, they can accomplish their goals."
- learning is lifelong and vital
-learning to read should be joyful

Another part of this book that I like is how Miller has charts and tables to break down what you want the children to learn and how you, the teacher, can have your children demonstrate that understanding. Some of the ideas from these charts for September include:
- create a graph using sticky notes to show how many minutes the children can read at one time
- meet with a buddy to talk about the book they both read
- teacher driven mini lessons to model your expectations
- use poems, songs, and rhymes to build repetition, rhyme, and rhythm
- use read alouds - Miller states (p37) "Reading aloud motivates kids to want to learn to read, extends their oral language, and gives them opportunities to to connect new information to what they already know."

Yesterday I saw this blog post by Amanda Madden at Teaching Maddenness about her Top 10 Read Alouds for Second Grade. I have just made a new book list for my second graders! I can't wait to get these and dig in myself!

Happy reading!

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