Webinar: New Strategies for Reading Aloud to K-2 Students
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Webinar: New Strategies for Reading Aloud to K-2 Students

Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar,
New Strategies for Reading Aloud to K-2 Students. My name is Catherine Gewertz, and I am Associate
Editor here at Education Week. I am happy to be moderating today. Underwriting for today’s webinar has been
provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A couple of quick technical things before
we get into the subject matter. We want this webinar to be an interactive
experience, so please don’t be shy about asking questions at any time. All you have to do is type into that box on
your screen that says “Ask a Question.” If you are having any audio trouble, please
check the audio setting on your computer, as well as your speaker or volume settings. If you are still having trouble, see our Audio
Troubleshooting file, which is in the Handouts folder at the bottom of the console. You will see some other icons in the console
that could be useful too. The Bio panel lets you read about today’s
speakers. To download a copy of today’s slides, click
the Handouts panel. You can also follow the conversation about
today’s webinar on Twitter using the #EWWebiner. Finally, an archived version will be available
online within 24 hours. Both the archive and a free-to-download version
of the PowerPoint slides will be accessible through edweek.org. Okay. Now we’ve got business out of the way. Let’s turn our attention to new ways of reading
aloud to our youngest students. As you probably know, one of the central expectations
of the Common Core in English/language arts is that students are able to mine text deeply
for meaning and cite evidence from it when they discuss it or write about it. That means teachers have to learn to ask different
kinds of questions to help students develop those skills. Instead of asking them, for instance, how
they feel about the story or its characters, they need to focus on trying to find the things
in a story that convey what it means. This isn’t a challenge just for middle or
high school teachers; it’s a practice all the way down to kindergarten. Our two guests today are working at the leading
edge of this new practice and have interesting work to share with us about how read-alouds
can support the Common Core. Our first guest, Meredith Liben, is a Director
of Literacy for Student Achievement Partners, a New York City-based nonprofit that supports
districts as they put the Common Core into practice. She helped launch the Read Aloud Project,
better known as RAP, a free online bank of read-aloud lessons for grades K-2 written
by teachers from across the country. Our second guest, Nikki Longmore, is a second
grade teacher at Ruby Duncan Elementary School in Las Vegas. She is one of two teachers that I watched
as they used the Read Aloud Project at their school, and I wrote about their work in a
story last spring. We have included a link to that story in the
slides for this webinar in case you’d like to read it afterwards. We’ll start with Meredith. She will give us an overview of the Read Aloud
Project, then Nikki will share what it’s like to use those lessons at the classroom level. Meredith, why don’t you get us started. Hi, everybody. Thanks for tuning in today. We are going to jump right in with what is
this thing, what is the Read Aloud Project? It is coordinated by a partnership with Student
Achievement Partners and the Council of the Great City Schools, but it’s for everybody,
and there are participants who build lessons, and everybody has access, which I will show
you in just a few minutes. Everybody can access the lessons for themselves,
and as many people as can make it happen can join in the building of the lessons as well. So it’s collaborative, it’s teacher lead,
and it builds interactive read-aloud lessons for K-2 classrooms. So, so far we have created over 120 lessons
which are stored on Achieve the Core and Edmodo. Again, I’ll show you those in a few minutes. And what they are designed to do is demonstrate
how that our C strands are designed to work together, how interactive they are meant to
be. They almost could be thought of as age-appropriate
close reading experiences with great texts, great books, great stories, great articles,
whatever it is the teacher wants to bring to life in her classroom for her students. There are some important characteristics I
want to point out as well as these things that are listed on the slide. The text is read multiple times. It’s funny that kids instinctively always
ask for their favorite books to be read over and over. We do that, but we don’t always do it mindfully
and deliberately. With the Read Aloud Project, each reading
is for a different purpose, and it’s very mindful. So the first read — there are some principles,
design principles. The first read is always for enjoyment. It should be as uninterrupted as possible
and all the way through, except for chapter books, of course. So the idea is that kids get to experience
the whole story or all the information available to them in the article or the informational
book and get to enjoy it. Because a lot of this is intended to cultivate
love of reading and the idea that reading is just the most spectacular thing humans
can do, just about. Each time that there’s a lesson after ward
— and these are designed to be 15 or 20 minutes a day, but Nikki will talk more about the
specifics of that — every time the story is read afterwards, there’s a planned purpose
and focus for the reading. Vocabulary exploration should be one of the
earliest focuses so all students have access to the rich language and ideas in the reading. So the idea here is, of course, that students
can access information and ideas that they can’t access through their own eyes independently
yet because they haven’t yet learned to read this stuff. So this is how students get access to complex
text in K-2 grades or as long as they need so they can read rich stuff for themselves. So this is all about access. So vocabulary should be early. We always build in attention to syntax. And to interesting parts of syntax. How many words are there in the longest sentence? Let’s count them. Listen what my voice does when it gets to
these commas. What’s happening? Kids pick up all that ancillary knowledge
along with the story itself. And those two are particularly vital, as I
am sure everybody is aware, because they are the factors that cause children most comprehension
difficulty, especially for students who are acquiring English as a second or third language. Those are the key factors for anybody, but
especially for English language learners, they are vital. So we pay careful attention to vocabulary
acquisition and to syntax. Which questions about what’s going on in the
story or what kind of learning’s available are asked throughout, and in every phase,
every time it’s read, children are given the chance to talk about and be active around
the readings each time. So these are very social and very interactive,
and as I said, initially they do demonstrate the literacy strands — speaking, listening,
reading and writing, and a lot of the lessons bring the arts and dramatic play in as well. The other thing, we pay attention to showing
teachers how informational text can come alive in the classroom. So science and social studies topics are drawn
from a 50-state study of the most common topics in states’ social studies and science standards
and the next-generation science standards if you are from a state that uses those, and
the topics that we develop the read-alouds from are often around those topics so that
the informational text might actually align to what you are supposed to be teaching in
your classrooms anyway. So moving on. What’s the need that the Read Aloud Project
fills? We do want to offer a new way to think about
reading aloud to students. Many teachers understand how vital reading
aloud is — I think every teacher understand that is — but few of us are in the habit
of designing our read-alouds in as purposeful a way as we design other parts of our school
day. This work is very mindful. The RAP lessons all begin with the end in
mind, a nod to Grant Wiggins’ work, understanding by design and backwards design, whatever you
call it. The teacher, the lessons are all built around
a central understanding that the people who developed the lessons believe the author had
in mind, and the readings work together to develop that understanding. They really are well-crafted lessons and go
deep. And as you will find out in a bit, they are
also very adaptable to whatever your own purposes are. We think there’s tons of confusion, rightfully
so, for how conversational reading and ALA standards are designed to work together with
Common Core, and the K-2 teachers have had a particular challenge since whenever you
state adopted. So the message with the Read Aloud Project
is those two strands work together by being distinct, actually. They have different jobs to do. The parts of your day that are to do with
teaching children to read are vitally important. And that’s not the Read Aloud Project. The Read Aloud is about reading to learn and
reading to really question the text and exercise all the ELA standards, the 10 reading, 10
writing, 6 language, 6 speaking and listening standards. We do think it’s important for K-2 teachers
to understand what is meant by college and career readiness when the children you work
with are four or five years old. That’s gotten a lot of play, and it feels
a little bit jarring and offputting. So we want to say no, this is what it looks
like. It’s fun. It’s active. It’s playful. But it is language-rich. It is vocabulary-rich. And it is deliberate. It really is deliberate and careful teaching. We also wanted to undo some of that damage
that was caused by No Child Left Behind and the rigid 90-minute literacy blocks were where
people have been told in many districts where you can’t read about science and social studies,
you can’t read about the world. We think everybody — all of us who have ever
taught children, everybody on the phone, on the webinar — wants to open the classroom
doors, open the world to your children, and we think reading aloud is a brilliant way
to do that. Reading is the best way humans have yet invented
to connect to other places and other times. And we want to show kids that you can go anywhere
and travel to any point in the past or future through the pages of a book. You can go inside a volcano, you can ride
horses with ancient sultans, you can experience another person’s joy. All children deserve access to this through
reading aloud. And then, and best of all, is they deserve
to access it independently for themselves. So that’s, again, the foundational schools
will provide that. All they we don’t emphasize informational
text, we do often show matchings or pairings because reading books about stuff, informational
text is a vital component of this work, and we believe, in developing these lessons, that
children like to learn about the world. We also think boys sometimes see themselves
as nonreaders because they like reading about stuff and how the world works more than they
like stories and they think reading means reading stories. So we want to make sure that we address that. And we have found that girls like all kinds
of reading if they are exposed to both. So we don’t — you know, we want all kinds
of books in play. Because we want to show kids that there’s
all kinds of ways to learn. So moving along, we are going to move faster
now. These are the two content-heavy slides. And this will be — these slides will probably
be what you want to download and go back to because unless you can scribble like mad,
you are not going to have a chance to internalize this. So where do I access these lessons? That’s really important. There’s two places. You can access — actually get to Edmodo through
Achieve the Core. Edmodo is essentially, if you don’t know it,
a teacher community. You can set up pages for your own classroom
or, in our case, we set up teacher communities and we store the lessons in folders there. And through Achieve the Core, which is student
and teacher partners websites of resources. I am going to talk you through Achieve the
Core first. That’s the link there. You basically pick — it’s hard to see the
screenshot — at least on my computer — but you can register or you can just search. There is actually a search function. But you basically select — once you are in
and you say you are an ELA teacher, you want the ELA stuff, you’ll get this screen. And you select “Try This in Your Classroom,”
and will you go to sample lessons. You see the Lesson tag. And then there is a Lesson Bank, so you basically
can search for lessons organized by topic for early elementary, if you are interested,
again, in the science and social studies work, or you can search for lessons to use with
read-aloud stories as well. So there’s multiple pathways in once you are
in there, and then you choose a book title. You see this one is searching by subject,
obviously, so it’s animals. Then you can link and search and click on
one of the lessons. Then you download the lesson plan, and they
all are formatted to look like this. I am not going to go through them because
you can see them for yourself. You can see how many standards are addressed
here, and you can see the strands. There’s lots of reading standards, there are
some writing standards, lots of speaking and listening standards, and some language standards,
all addressed during the week that you would spend with your children with this lesson. A Butterfly is Patient. If you go into the RAP community on Edmodo,
you basically have to set up a free teacher account at Edmodo. You do that. This is the welcome screen. If you don’t have an account at all, you have
to register. And on the left of your home screen once you’ve
registered, you’ll have a groups tag. It’s under your name and your picture if you
have chosen to upload a picture of yourself or an icon. There is a plus sign. And this group code is very important because
it gets you — we are not a restricted group at all, but you do have to know the code because
there are so many pages on Edmodo, and pkx52i is the Edmodo — is the read-aloud code. Once you are in there, there are folders on
the left side and you do essentially the same thing. The Read Aloud Project, if you are on any
other Edmodo groups, you have to pick the right folder, and you will go in, and if there’s
any dialogue about it, once you are in the group, you can see that. And again, once you find the folders, they
are organized similarly to the way they are in Achieve the Core. These are by topic, and here’s animals again,
so we are going to get to the same end place. And once you click on it, you will see the
very same lesson plan arrived at that way. So if you already use Edmodo and you are comfortable,
that’s a great way in. You don’t have to register on Achieve the
Core, so that’s a good way in. And last I wanted to leave you with a few
additional resources. Both And is a paper talking about the strain
— I think like another strain of trying to keep a balance in a balanced literacy coach
while you do Common Core. This has lots of pragmatic ideas for learning
centers and how to group and when to do this kind of complex text and a little bit of discussion
on mixed ability groups versus other types of arrangements. So it’s just a useful paper. And then The Matthew Effect is a video that
presents the research and explaining why it’s so crucial to build vocabulary and knowledge
as early as possible. So those are links to where those can be found
and a link — another link to Achieve the Core. And if you have any other questions offline,
you can contact me directly. And now it is on to Nikki’s part of the presentation. Thank you. Thanks very much, Meredith. That was interesting. I just want to remind everyone, before we
move on to Nikki, see that little box on your console that says “ask a question,” if you
have any questions about Meredith’s part of the presentation, that’s where you type them
in and submit them for the Q&A portion. And we will move on to Nikki. Tell us about using RAP in your classroom,
Nikki. All right. Good morning or afternoon, everybody, depending
on where you are. Let’s just dive right in because I have a
lot of wonderful information that I want to share with you. So a lot of you are probably wondering what
is the difference between a RAP and a traditional read-aloud. Well, as Meredith said, a RAP is purposefully
and deliberately planned. The lessons are designed with instruction
in mind that allows your students to draw out the big idea from the text, versus a read-aloud,
where it’s common for a teacher to just pull a book off a shelf that’s enjoyable for the
students. It covers a variety of standards. In a RAP, standards are addressed in all ELA
domains as well as occasionally science and social studies. There is a big focus on incorporating more
writing into the session. In a traditional read-aloud, a few reading
standards are usually the primary focus. A RAP is more focused on skills and knowledge. With the RAP, the focus is on drawing out
the purpose of the text rather than what the students think or might already know about
the concept or topic because of previous experiences. So in a sense, it’s leveling the playing field
for all students. Text-dependent questions. When using your RAP, you are going to be asking
questions that can only be answered through the use of the text, and inferences are also
going to be based on evidence from the text rather than your students’ personal feelings
and/or previous knowledge. So for example, as teachers, we are usually
asking questions such as: How do you think this made Ruby feel? And now we are going to be asking questions
like: What evidence in the text tells us how this made Ruby feel? So the students are always going to have to
go back to the text in order to find evidence to support their answers. Complex text. With the RAP, the texts are more complex than
with traditional read-aloud. A RAP that’s been designed for second grade
is generally going to be two to three grade levels above the reading level of the students,
essentially texts that the students otherwise wouldn’t be able to access without having
it read to them, rather than just picking up a book for enjoyment that’s on the student’s
reading level as we would with the traditional read-aloud. And lastly, the vocabulary. As Meredith mentioned before, there is a strong
emphasis on vocabulary, that the vocabulary is embedded in the lesson rather than us just
teaching a predetermined list of words. All right. Ways to use a RAP lesson. You can use it as is, modify it to meet your
students’ needs, or writing your own. Using the RAP as is, you can still modify
it a little bit to meet your students’ needs. As Meredith discussed, there are multiple
RAPs for K-2 which can be located on Edmodo, and they can be used as written with minimal
need to modify them. You can also modify. For example, our second grade team wanted
to use the RAP, The Secret Life of a Snowflake. However, as we began planning it as a team,
we felt like the way the RAP was written, it required some specific knowledge regarding
snow that perhaps our students wouldn’t be familiar with because we live in the desert. So we decided to make a few modifications
to make this text more meaningful for our students. Writing your own. For example, The Story of Ruby Bridges is
the RAP we are going to go through in a few minutes, and this one was written for us from
scratch. This process is hard and time consuming, but
it’s one of the most worthwhile experiences that I’ve had. After writing it, the purpose of the RAP has
kind of come full circle for me that this really was not an ordinary read-aloud, that
while planning it, it was very deliberate and purposeful and that the experience that
my students were going to get by teaching this way would never — they would never be
able to do it had we not written it. As a teacher, there are a few things we need
to keep in mind. You need to be sure that you plan, prepare,
and be ready for amazing learning to take place if you do this. Take time to read the text more than once. Read through the lesson plan more than once. Make notes on the lesson. Put Post-It notes in the text, whatever planning
you feel you need to do to be successful. The first RAP I actually did was The Secret
Life of a Snowflake, and there were scribble marks from top to bottom on every page of
the RAP. Another thing that’s important is to be reflective
every day after your lesson. If you plan to use the RAP exactly the way
it was planned, the students may take you in a little different direction, and although
they’re still learning, you need to be prepared as the teacher to gently guide them back towards
the understanding and the big idea of the actual RAP. All right. The RAP in action. At this point, we are going to walk through
the RAP, The Story of Ruby Bridges. There was a little bit of front-loading that
we felt we needed to do, so we decided to show a couple of video clips to introduce
Ruby and also provide a little background knowledge to students on racism. So on the first page of the RAP, you are going
to see all the standards that are covered, the suggested time to spend on the RAP, as
Meredith discussed previously, the lesson objective, and the big idea, key understanding,
or focusing questions. One thing that I do want to point out is,
as you see all the standards listed at the top, the RL.2.1 or RI.2.1, you are going to
see those two standards listed generally on every RAP because basically, this is essentially
asking text-dependent questions, students being able to answer those who, what, where,
when, and why questions and support it with key details in the text. All right. I am not sure if you can see it real well,
but basically, this is what the format is going to look like for your first read. And one thing I wanted to point out is that
normally — and Meredith mentioned this as well — the first read is intended to be for
enjoyment only. Introduce your students to the text. Get them interested. However, because we needed to front-load so
much information about segregation, desegregation, and integration, we were able to find some
images and a couple of videos that would provide an example in order to spark some discussion
with our students. We were concerned that if we didn’t do this
with the first read that it might be more difficult for the students to successfully
examine the text more carefully. All right. During the second read, you can see on the
slide over on the right-hand side, it looks like a T-chart, if you can see it very well,
and it’s the graphic organizer that we designed for the RAP. During the second read, the students are going
to be focusing on segregation in the 1960s in order to understand the challenges that
Ruby faced. As Meredith talked about before as well, each
reading is deliberately planned for something to happen with the text. So the first read was for enjoyment. The second read is for the students to focus
on segregation in the 1960s, and so on. With this graphic organizer, I was able to
provide some scaffolding for the students by using the chart whole group as well as
providing the chart for students to use as a note-taking device they would later use
in the culminating activity. Another thing to keep in mind, too, is all
the activities you do during the RAP is leading the students towards the culminating activity. Additional reads with the text and reading
text-dependent questions. Additional reads with this text included rereading
the entire text to help students understand and identify the characteristics that helped
Ruby to overcome the challenges that the students discussed during previous readings. At this point, I also want to take a second
to discuss vocabulary. I know I briefed talked about it being embedded
in the lesson versus teaching a predetermined list of words, but the vocabulary here is
broken up into tier 1 and tier 2 words. Tier 1 words being simpler words for the students
to understand, such as maybe sight words or things like that, and then words that warrant
more time that students might see across multiple disciplines or perhaps words that have multiple
meanings, the tier 2 words. These are the words we chose to show the video
on the first time. We thought it would be easier for students
if they could see it versus just being given the definition. I have to be honest, before teaching RAP,
I didn’t understand how the tier 1 and tier 2 vocabulary should be taught, but as a result
of using it in this way, it’s much more clear now. So the culminating task for the book was that
the students were required to write to describe the challenges that Ruby faced in the United
States when she was six years old. What characteristics helped her to overcome
these challenges, and how did her actions affect others? Be sure to use examples from the text to support
your answers. So students were required to write about this,
and the teacher was a keynote taking device in order to help students organize their thoughts
and prepare to write. On the next slide, there’s a sample response
that’s provided in order to help the teacher understand and know where the students’ writing
should maybe be going. And I didn’t mention this a few slides ago,
but if when you guys print the slide or you want to go back and look, on the right-hand
side, every text-dependent question that was written has a sample student response, so
when you are planning and preparing what it might look like in your classroom, you will
be able to know where your students are supposed to be going with it. So like I said, in sample student response,
you are going to notice that all the answers are supported with specific evidence from
the text. All right. Benefits of a RAP. We’ve got teacher benefits and student benefits. The quality of instruction, I could see that
the quality of instruction that was being provided to my students based on the student
discourse that was happening and the quality of the culminating activity that was produced,
the student discourse that happened during this RAP was phenomenal. There were a lot of days that I sat in front
of my students in complete awe with the conversations that were taking place. The read-aloud versus the RAP. Once you teach it, to be honest, you have
to actually teach one in order to just see the difference. The RAP focuses on student learning. It was very eye-opening to me to see what
these kids could do. I had no idea that my students were capable
of having such meaningful discussions about such complex issues, such as racism, and this
is a huge benefit to me as a teacher. It encouraged me to always push them a little
farther than maybe I would have before using a RAP in my classroom. And for a lot of us, multiple standards, we
all know the reality we need to be able to teach multiple standards during each lesson. There’s not enough time during a day to teach
separate standards, and a RAP does a good job with that. You really get a good bang for your buck. Student benefits. Access to text. We talked about this several times. There’s no way that my students would have
been able to access this text and to gain the knowledge and experience of this text
had it not been done in this format. Student discourse. Huge amounts of student discourse. Again, I can’t emphasize how eye-opening it
was to me to see that these students were truly capable of doing this based on the scaffolding
and the way this was written. The writing portion of it during the culminating
activity, so much was learned from the students writing, based on the text, which helped me
to see a bigger picture of the impact it made on the students. And the connections that the kids were able
to make with the real world. As adults, we understand that racism is still
something that’s very real; however, 7-year-Olds really — they don’t understand. It was amazing to me that as a classroom community,
the understanding of racism that they had. One specific sentence during the closing of
one of their culminating activities was: I can’t imagine treating Josefina the way that
Ruby was treated. And Josefina is an African American student
in my classroom, and the students really struggled with the fact that in the 1960s that this
is how she would have been treated. If anyone has any additional questions or
would like more information on using the RAP in their classroom, my email is listed. Please feel free to contact me. Great. Thank you so much, Nikki. Such an interesting presentation. And I will just jump in and say, too, anyone
that wants to read more in depth about this and also see a video clip of another teacher
at Ruby Duncan, a kindergarten teacher, Jamie Landahl, doing a lesson with kids, should
click on my story, and we’ve got that URL here. I’ve got a whole story from Ruby Duncan plus
that video clip, so you might find it interesting to see that in action. But let’s start taking questions. Those were great presentations, and we got
a ton of interesting questions. So how about this one for you, Meredith? Excuse me. For Nikki. Someone wants to know did you teach about
segregation before the first read or after? That was the purpose of showing some of the
videos, and there were several videos that were listed in the RAP that they could access. So we did do a little bit of front-loading
and have some discussion about that. Just to kind of get the juices flowing for
them and to generate some discussion about that. Okay. Thank you. A number of people have been asking about
books, too, so let me sort of throw two questions about books in here, and let’s get Meredith
to address this question. One of the questions, Meredith, is do you
need to have the book for the RAP? And another person asks do the RAP lessons
include the books? Not quite sure what they mean. I do. That’s a constant nagging teacher problem,
resources. So one of the things we love about the Read
Aloud Project is that it requires one book because it is a read-aloud. So it is much cheaper than other forms of
Common Core alignment work, where you might have to buy a whole new whatever. You can do this with just one book. So if you look through the 120 lessons, we
did — there are lots of books that are sort of crowd favorites that you probably have
access to in your classroom or school library or public library. I know a lot of us are teaching in places
where library budgets have been decimated. The books do not come with the lessons because
we did not — could not chase permissions for whole books. Nobody will give that to us. So this is something I know in Clark County
in Las Vegas, where Nikki is, the district has invested a lot in books for — since Common
Core, and the other thing you can do if you really have no money and nothing at all to
read out loud, go up the hall to older grades and grab great stuff from their rooms just
to borrow for a while to read to your own students. Because Nikki’s point that the whole idea
here is that kids are getting read to them things that they cannot access on their own. So second graders are hopefully reading on
their own. They should do lots and lots of that. That is one of the great pleasures and work
of being a student, both. But the read-aloud should be harder than almost
anyone in the room could access on their own. That’s key ingredient of this. You might have some. Everybody has second graders that are reading
fifth and sixth, seventh grade level. That’s not who this is designed for. This is designed for the kids that are reading,
you know, Henry and Mudge. That’s not what you would read aloud to them. You would let them read that themselves, and
you would pick harder and richer books, maybe more chapter books, more meaty books. And then in K and 1, you read whatever you
want, as long as it’s rich and complex enough to engage the kids in these series of lessons. Thanks, Meredith. Here’s one for you, Nikki. Someone is asking — and maybe you can give
us sort of a picture of how this is happening in the classroom. Someone is asking do students have a copy
of the text so that they can find evidence from it? As Meredith talked about before, there’s only
one text required for the RAP. However, that’s kind of how we have chosen
to — you know, depending on what we chose for the notetaking device or things like that,
all of the questions that were asked during this specific RAP again led them to the culminating
activity, and so they were able to use that notetaking device to be able to answer those
questions. So one side was the question, and then the
other side of the T-chart was the answer to the question. I think maybe the person was asking does each
child have a copy of the text in their lap so they can flip back and forth through the
pages to look for the evidence, or is the teacher sitting up in front with the only
copy that the class is discussing that day? I understand. The teacher has the only copy of the text. The discussion is going to be very specific
as to what is going to be happening that day, so the teacher is able to go back and forth
and work through it with the kids rather than doing it on their own. Okay. Meredith, maybe you could catch this one. This question is how is this different from
shared reading? Well, one thing is that it’s — it is read-aloud. So it is not about building reading fluency. And none of this — this is one particular
part of the school day. We recommend it be maybe 20 minutes a day
as part of a language-rich classroom. If you are reading science and social studies
informational text, it should happen during science and social studies blocks so it doesn’t
get shoved off and lost. The potential to really blow up the school
day schedule and expand language-rich opportunities throughout the day, not just the literacy
block. So it doesn’t replace group reading at all. It’s not about fluency. It’s not about kids gaining skills on their
own, except comprehension skills, deep comprehension skills, but they are developing oral — and
oral comprehension skills. And I wanted to add on to what Nikki said
before. The teacher supplies the multiple readings,
and if they are focusing on one chunk of the text, the teacher would do that. I have seen projections on the smartboards
so teachers can share with the kids. Doing that thing teachers do, so the students
can cue off of them. And the books are always available, but there’s
no requirement that every child have the book. They need — children need prep materials
in front of them a lot, but not for read-aloud. Okay. Thank you. Nikki, somebody is asking maybe you can give
some examples of what you use in your classroom. Someone is asking how will you check to see
if all students understand? Will students write any answers to teacher
questions? I mean, I remember watching you in your classroom
when children were doing a drawing activity and they were doing some writing in response
to the reading that you all did together. Absolutely. It is very interactive. It’s not — again, it’s not teacher-centered. It’s very student-centered. And what you are referring to is we did a
RAP, 14 Cows for America, and part of the purpose was for the students to understand
past tense versus present tense, and so they had to be able to represent past tense and
present tense in an illustration that they were drawing about September 11. So they do daily, based on whatever the activity
is or what the focus is for that day’s reading, they may produce an illustration, they may
produce a writing. It may be a lot of student discourse. It just really depends on what your focus
is for that day. Okay. Thank you. Meredith, this is a good one for you. Someone’s asking what is the process for vetting
or revising the lessons that teachers — well, she said submit, but I know that they write
them together collaboratively. Right. That’s a great question. So when we hold trainings, they are two-day-long
trainings where we really walk everybody through the process behind this in much more detail
than today. People come in teams from their districts. We love it when librarians come too. But groups of teachers, coaches, curriculum
people, whoever can come. And they start the writing there. And there’s no reason people couldn’t do this
independently. We have table coaches that are at the training,
and those are also our reviewers. And they are all — almost all of them — basically
all of them are graduates of these lesson writings themselves. We just keep an eye out for talent and then
say hey, would you mind reviewing and being a critical friend to another writing team? So when you write a lesson and submit it,
you get that friendly coach, that reviewer, who looks at your drafts and makes comments
and gives you feedback. So that’s really rich professional learning,
as you can imagine. So usually the revising goes through — it
depends — two or three drafts before it’s posted on Edmodo, and the writing team and
the reviewer both have to feel that it’s really, you know, as good as it can be. And we don’t go after perfect. We just want really solid approaches to these
books so that — you know, so kids can glory in the books when they are exposed to them. Thanks. Meredith, I want to ask you to consider this
question, too, and respond. Nikki, you are more than welcome to jump in
and respond to this one as well. Here’s someone saying I can’t help wondering
whether read-alouds do develop a love of reading as against a love of story and whether this
approach might have the opposite effect. So how about if you each take a whack at that? Does this really develop a love of readings,
a love of story, or does it risk turning kids off to a love of reading? I will let Nikki take this first part because
she has a visceral response to it. It’s not a love of reading. We think we have to fight against ourselves
because we have a love of story to the exclusion of other things and often don’t think about
how much fun it can be to teach a book about a construction site or how water moves through
a city or through the aquifer. And kids love those things. So part of what we are trying to model is
that whole 50/50 thing that the Common Core requires that kids be exposed to — 50% of
what they are exposed to be informational text. Here’s how you can do it. It’s joyous. Try it with your kids and see how they respond. And sometimes we have to get out of our kids’
way. It’s not designed to cultivate a love of story
at all as opposed to a love of reading. Yeah, this I believe pretty passionately because
this levels the playing field, it wipes out any learning problems kids have. Any kids that aren’t fluent yet or haven’t
broken the code yet in second grade, for example, and I’ve taught up the grades. I read aloud everywhere I teach, including
community college. Because it levels the playing field, and yes,
it allows everybody equal access to the ideas and the richness that print has to offer us. So I passionately believe it cultivates a
love of reading. And Nikki can respond to whether this approach
turns kids off because she’s been living it in her classroom. I would definitely say it does not turn kids
off. I have seen students grab books out of the
classroom library that have shocked me that I would have never expected them to choose
based on the fact that it may have something to do with a read-aloud that we had done prior
to that. Asking questions to me about the text, asking
questions to their peers about the text. Conversations happening during center time
about texts that they are reading. Conversations happening on the playground
about the texts that they are reading. So I really feel like that this opens their
eyes to a whole new world of how they can actually use texts. So my personal experience has been that they
thoroughly enjoy it, and it definitely is not a turnoff but encourages them to read
more and probably things that they wouldn’t choose to read otherwise. Great. Well, I want to combine two questions that
are coming in, and I am going to put these for you, Nikki, as our classroom practitioner. And they have to do with vocabulary. One person is asking — I am finding their
question again — if you could talk a bit more about how RAP supports vocabulary development. And the other one is asking if grade level
tier 2 words are targeted. So could you combine those and talk a little
bit about exactly how you bring vocabulary into a RAP lesson? Well, I am going to be honest. Depending on your student, sometimes the vocabulary
is a little bit difficult. However, like we talked about before, the
tier 1 vocabulary is words that should be easy for them to understand. Because the text is two to three grade levels
higher, they may not be sight words or common words that they would recognize, yet if they
are mentioned and told the meaning, they understand. The tier 2 vocabulary is specific to the text
for the most part in the sense that they need the background and understanding of those
words in order to be able to analyze this text for understanding. Depending on the text — for example, like
I said, when we did Ruby Bridges, we really felt like we needed to do a better job with
those words such as racism and desegregation and things like that and use different things
rather than just explicit instruction on those words, such as the photographs and the videos,
and letting the kids hear and feel what racism was like and what it was like for students
to be segregated from other students. So I think when it comes to teaching those
vocabulary words that sometimes you just have to use your teacher knowledge and what you
know about your students in order to determine exactly how you are going to teach those. Great. Thank you. Here’s one for you, Meredith. Does every read-aloud have to be a lesson? Can’t students just enjoy a story now and
then? Absolutely. Yes. One of my favorite things in education is
we have way too much either/or. Everything should be both/and, of course. Sometimes you just grab a beautiful story
because kids love it and there’s no lesson out of it. It is just relaxation and pure enjoyment. You know, a lot of this came from sort of
observation. It is research based, somebody asked that
in the stream. This is based on sound research, these principles. But they’re also based on the weird division
between what we, as teachers, do for our own children and nephews and nieces, grandchildren,
et cetera, at home and how differently we approach reading aloud when we are in front
of kids at school, who probably need it more than our own children do. So that’s really baked in is that kind of
kids are allowed to ask questions, they are allowed to wonder, they are allowed to interact
with the text. Words are defined for them. And they explore the book at leisure over
and over again. So all that stuff is baked in. Yes, of course, sometimes you just read because
it’s a lovely thing to do and you want to and the kids want to. Great. Thank you. One of the things I’ll just tell everyone,
just from me here, having gone out to Las Vegas and watched, I saw very clearly that
the first read is just for pleasure, exactly that, just for the fun, for the love of it. And they start digging in with more questions
and redirection back to the text on the second and subsequent reads. So here’s another question. What about shared inquiry? Does this approach include shared inquiry,
where the teacher’s facilitating the reading sessions and allowing students the chance
to ask questions among themselves? Either or both of you could take a whack at
that if you have thoughts. I will take a whack at it first. I think definitely. I said in my slide show that you have to be
prepared to lead your kid back to the big idea or the focus question. There is a lot of student discourse happening,
and it’s okay to answer those questions and to allow the kids to have that conversation,
and maybe some other things will come up, and that’s okay, but you just need to be sure
that you are cognizant of what the focus of the lesson is supposed to be and not to kind
of let it get out of control, and keep the kids focused on your focus question or your
big idea. Anything, Meredith, or should I move on? No, I think that covers it. Okay. There were a number of questions that came
in, I want to just sort of blend them together into one and let — you know, Meredith, maybe
you should start with this, and then Nikki, if you have something in your day-to-day practice
to add, please, by all means. But the questions are about how appropriate
is this and how can it be adapted for English language learners and students with special
needs? Yeah, I will happily take that to begin. It is — it really — it makes the world accessible
for those kids because everything is available, again, through ear. If I am in a situation where I have lots and
lots of English language learners, I would tilt towards reading more informational texts
about concrete things because kids can then map onto their own — and stories that they
could map on to so they could build vocabulary. I would also adapt and pay much more attention
to syntax and vocabulary to make sure the kids were with me. I would — we actually paid attention to Lily
Wong Fillmore’s, who is Meredith ELL and brilliant professor from Berkeley that talks about the
juicy sentence, unpack it for syntax and rich examination. I would probably build that in daily with
each — you know, pick a sentence from the story that I can use as my juicy sentence
and have the kids really play with it. So it suits yell ELL kids. I think it can be modified to work with students
wherever they are at, including up the ladder and older grades. Okay. Anything there, Nikki, or shall we move on? Just to piggyback off of what Meredith said,
it’s actually amazing for your ELL students because it’s very scaffolded. Fortunately, there’s so much student discourse
happening that the kids are learning from each other as well and having those conversations
with each other, and because the student discourse is usually to turn and talk to your partner
or your peanut butter/jelly partners, whatever you are doing to in your classroom. It’s safe. So your ELL students are willing to have a
conversation with someone that’s sitting two inches away from them versus having to speak
out in the whole entire class when they are not really sure if maybe they understand or
even if, you know, maybe they don’t understand exactly how to say what it is they want to
say. I have many ELL students in my classroom — I
am sure as most people do — and it was very beneficial to them. Great. Now, Nikki, someone’s asking how are you choosing
books to read? Are they part of written into the lessons? A lot of folks asking questions, haven’t had
a chance to go in and see the RAP lessons yet written out, so I think they are not sure
what’s included. How are you choosing books to read for RAP? Well, when we play with a grade level, we
talk about what kind of things that we would like to do, but really, it’s standards based. What do we need to cover in our classroom? And if we could choose a RAP, for example,
The Secret Life of a Snowflake, we were able to cover like four science standards, along
with some informational text standards, and all of these other standards. So I mean, it was basically chosen — we chose
based on what our students’ needs were and the standards that we still needed to cover
in our classrooms. Okay. Now, what —
And just a lot of people search by what books they have, and then they search for lessons
to match the books that they have. They can go the opposite way. Yeah. What about parents? Someone is asking how do you share or, Nikki,
have you shared this reading style with parents so they can easily and comfortably engage
in a similar way of reading when they are home with their kids? Anybody? In other words, is it easy to teach parents
how to do this, and has anyone done that, so that they can read the same way at home
with their children? We have shared what we are doing with our
parents. As far as teaching them, you know, how to
do it, I have not done that. I think maybe it might be something interesting
to try. I think that there are some parents that would
certainly be interested in trying maybe to make that — make the read-aloud a little
richer in their home as they are reading to their kids. I think that parents also probably want to
do that typical, you know, your son or daughter curls up on your lap and you read a good book
just because it’s fun to read to them. Uh-huh. Here is one to you, Meredith. I am going to read it to you: I work in an
urban setting where fall testing shows that over 85% of students are in the low and below
category in reading. Teachers focus on retelling and basic comprehension
skills. How feasible is it to believe that the majority
of our students can focus mainly on higher-order thinking questions? It’s important, students can do this after
a lot of prompting, but my students need to focus on foundational reading skills. Well, again, I think it’s a both/and. The kids, they are not going to — especially
if they are older and struggling with reading, you know, it’s really easy to lose the purpose
for all that struggle and not make it productive; right? If all you are doing is drilling and going
over and over and over the stuff that you are bad at all the time, that’s hard. Before Common Core, I remember one kid in
my fifth grade who came in new, and he was absolutely illiterate. I would read aloud constantly, as I said,
in every grade I taught. That kid was just about — I don’t know, he
was like on my knees or sitting on my feet when I would read aloud. He was so hungry for that part of the day
because he was absolutely an intelligent kid, and he could access the world through his
ears, where he couldn’t access it yet through his eyes. So again, yes, the kids need to learn to read
and they need lots of work on that, but they have to remember what reading is for and the
joy it’s going to bring them. And my own child was in an LB school, because
he was child of (Inaudible) he could not read his name in second grade. They were very clear and said do not drill
and skill your kid at home. Just read out loud to them and make them enjoy
words. Do not do that. We will take care of that during the day. You just make sure you enjoy how reading is. In schools, we can become dreary places for
kids if we don’t remember how painful life can be if you are stuck facing your deficits
all the time. Well, that is a great note to end on, and
we have enough questions and interest that we could go on for another half hour, but
we’ve got to stay within our hour, so I’ve got to wrap up today approximate
I want that you are o presenters, Meredith Liben, Nikki Longmore, and all of you, this
was a good discussion. I want to remind you too an archive of today’s
discussion and the slides are going to be available at edweek.org within 24 hours, and
there’s a slide right here that we are just about to show that links to our recent special
report on early literacy. There’s a whole suite of stories in there,
including the one that I wrote from Ruby Duncan with that video clip I talked to you about,
so you might want to check that out. So look forward to being able to look at the
slides on edweek.org, and thank you again, everyone. And I hope you join us soon for another Education
Week Webinar.

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