Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students
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Banner Year for Dyslexia in 2015 Will Fuel Progress in 2016, Says Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

Banner Year for Dyslexia in 2015 Will Fuel Progress in 2016, Says Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
2015 was a banner year for all who care about what happens to dyslexic boys, girls, men and women, according to Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (YCDC) Co-Directors Bennett Shaywitz, MD and Sally Shaywitz, MD. Open Doors "Truly, the door has opened and light is beginning to come in for dyslexia," writes the YCDC team in an email. The doctors are referring to a changing landscape for dyslexics thanks to efforts from many people. These include researchers, educators, parents and legislators.
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Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students
Being an advocate for successful early literacy skills for all children
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Early Literacy | Edmonton Public Library

Early Literacy | Edmonton Public Library | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
RT @GreatStuffLindy: @aliettedb Wonderful! Also, check out @EPLdotCA's online early literacy resources: http://t.co/shYycKeQb2
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Why Do Early-Childhood Programs Rely on Old Brain Science? TY! @Ryan_Masa @lawrenceschool 

Why Do Early-Childhood Programs Rely on Old Brain Science? TY! @Ryan_Masa @lawrenceschool  | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
"In short, the idea is to invest in different people and programs who understand the science behind child development and give them the ability to test different interventions. Shonkoff isn’t delusional; he knows that trying to convince cash-strapped government officials to fund speculation isn’t going to work. “It really requires a new breed of philanthropy,” he said—investors who made their fortunes in the high-risk, high-yield world of venture capital and are comfortable in that space, for example. The Center on the Developing Child has already begun working with several programs to test the early-childhood R&D concept in what it’s calling an “innovation cluster” in Washington state. The Children’s Home Society piloted a video coaching program there aimed at improving executive function and self-regulation skills (things like self-control and the ability to retain and use new information) in both children and their parents. Parents were filmed interacting with their babies. Instead of focusing on what they did wrong, coaches clipped a few seconds of good interaction and used that to positively reinforce the ways caregivers could help their babies develop. The researchers originally tested the idea primarily with mothers but found, after several adaptations, that it was fathers who had previously been disengaged who benefited the most, which allowed them to tailor the program to dads. A separate intervention to bring mental health services to moms flopped, but when adapted, proved effective when it was targeted at teen moms specifically. There’s “growing interest” in this model of implementing and testing new ideas, said Jason Gortney, the director of the Office of Policy and Innovation at the Children’s Home Society of Washington. But he acknowledges that it takes a willingness to fail and rebound publicly."

Via Lou Salza
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Lou Salza's curator insight, May 10, 6:21 AM
I found the call to action intriguing--fund programs in same way that venture philanthropists go about determining where to "invest" in social programs. It requires the strength to learn from flops and focus on successes to build strong interventions. --Lou
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Parents' low expectations 'condemning toddlers to a life of underachievement'

Parents' low expectations 'condemning toddlers to a life of underachievement' | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Save The Children study warns half of parents missing out of 'light bulb' potential of children's early years
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Toddlers 'need early years teachers in nurseries' - BBC News

Toddlers 'need early years teachers in nurseries' - BBC News | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Every nursery in England should have a qualified early years teacher to help toddlers develop key skills like speech and language, the charity Save the Children says.
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The importance of rhyme in early literacy development - The Imagination Tree

The importance of rhyme in early literacy development - The Imagination Tree | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
The importance of rhyme in early literacy development and how we can help young children with this at home and in educational settings.
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10 Cool Ways to Teach with Word Clouds

10 Cool Ways to Teach with Word Clouds | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Wordles are everywhere, bouncing colorful words off one another. Teacher-author Marilyn Pryle shows how word cloud apps can serve as powerful teaching tools.
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How widespread is dyslexia? – International Dyslexia Association

How widespread is dyslexia? – International Dyslexia Association | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it

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Expert urges literacy rethink as figures show 20pc of kids developmentally at risk

Expert urges literacy rethink as figures show 20pc of kids developmentally at risk | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Oxford University academic urges literacy rethink as figures show 20pc of children developmentally at risk Posted March 07, 2016 10:43:16 A human development expert from Oxford University says Australia needs to implement a national early language and literacy strategy. New figures out today show one in every five Australian children are developmentally at risk by the time they reach school. The Australian Early Development census measures the development of about 300,000 children in their first year of school. Edward Melhuish from Oxford University, who had been advising the Federal Government on the issue, said poor literacy outcomes were costing the nation. "Carrying 20 per cent of the population who don't have the basic skills for success in a modern society is a big burden," he said. "If we can reduce the incidence of poor literacy … in our children then we are going to be a more successful and more affluent society. "If my neighbour is on social security I pay for it. If my neighbour goes to prison, I pay for the police, I pay for the courts, I pay for the prison, so while we think 'oh, that's their problem not ours', in fact we're paying for that." The need for a national early literacy strategy will be examined at a summit in Canberra this week. Focus needs to shift to language development: Melhuish Professor Melhuish, who will be speaking at the event, said there needed to be a larger focus on language development. He said poor literacy had its roots in early childhood where vital language skills were often neglected. "We need to make sure all of our children have good basic spoken language skills by the time they get to school," he said. "The most important thing is to give them basic spoken language skills which are then the foundation upon which the literacy skills, which involve the visual medium of language, are built." Professor Melhuish, who is also a visiting professor at the University of Wollongong, said a solution was the introduction of a "universal part-time preschool place for every three-year-old and upwards in the country". "We found that those children who have good preschool experiences, given the opportunity to develop their language skills with a wide range of people, do better throughout the rest of their lives," he said. The study also showed between 2009 and 2015 the gap between the number of children in disadvantaged areas who were vulnerable to developmental problems widened, compared to those from the least disadvantaged areas. "Areas of language skills and cognitive capabilities we've seen improvements right across the social-economic spectrum," Education minister Simon Birmingham told the ABC's AM program. "But it also shows that in the other areas around that emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, social capabilities, that there are still real gaps that are in place." Topics: education, local-government, federal-government, government-and-politics, canberra-2600, act
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8 Ways to Build Phonological Awareness in Middle-Schoolers

8 Ways to Build Phonological Awareness in Middle-Schoolers | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Middle-schoolers with decoding problems may need evaluation and help building phonological or phonemic awareness. Learn about how you can help your child develop key reading skills.
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WeAreTeachers: 21 Anchor Charts That Teach Reading Comprehension

WeAreTeachers: 21 Anchor Charts That Teach Reading Comprehension | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Here is a collection of 21 anchor charts that tackle some of the trickiest parts of teaching comprehension. Use them as models for your own teaching and pass them along to a teacher friend!
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This is a really nice resource
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Learning Words and Learning How Words Work: The Foundation for Reading Complex Text » TextProject

Learning Words and Learning How Words Work: The Foundation for Reading Complex Text » TextProject | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it

Copyright © 2000–2016 TextProject, Inc. All rights reserved except where indicated.

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What if young people designed their own learning?

What if young people designed their own learning? | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Across Australia some of these ideas are being put into practice. Some schools have dropped the notion of year levels to enable them to meet children at their point of need and acknowledge that not all students learn at the same pace.

Computer programs are enabling instruction tailored to the student by assessing where they are at and providing a tailored curriculum.

Capabilities , such as personal and social capability and critical and creative thinking, are being embedded in the curriculum. Work is under way to develop assessment measures. Teachers across Australia are working on developing new models of practice to support this approach.

We need to accelerate the change. We are wasting too much of students’ learning time and are failing to amplify their talents. To continue along the current path is increasingly unscientific, unjustifiable and plain dull.

Via Kim Flintoff
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Prometheus's curator insight, May 15, 4:24 PM
Hmmmmmm....interesting...what does it mean for teachers and schools. Is this the future of education in the western world?
Chris Carter's curator insight, May 15, 8:20 PM
Rainbows, lollipops and unicorns!
Helen Teague's curator insight, May 22, 11:43 AM
an innovative method
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5 Reasons Why Teachers & Students LOVE Flocabulary

5 Reasons Why Teachers & Students LOVE Flocabulary | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Do you teach vocabulary? How do you teach it? Did you know that "there is no one best method for vocabulary instruction." (National Reading Panel, 2000).
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play with syllables so kids hear sounds in words | reading tip 10 #raiseareader

play with syllables so kids hear sounds in words | reading tip 10 #raiseareader | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
play with syllables so kids hear sounds in words | phonological awareness | phonemic awareness | early literacy | reading tip 10 #raiseareader The post play with syllables so kids hear sounds in words | reading tip 10 #raiseareader appeared first...
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The New Preschool System is Crushing Kids and Making Them Hate Learning

The New Preschool System is Crushing Kids and Making Them Hate Learning | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
A growing group of educators and parents in the U.S. is becoming increasingly frustrated by preschool learning methods.
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7 Reading Readiness Apps for Special Needs Students

7 Reading Readiness Apps for Special Needs Students | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Here are seven apps to help special needs students toward reading readiness, touchscreen games that engage children through play with colors, shapes, animation, alphabet sequencing, and sentence structure.
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Ideas for Teaching Vocabulary - 2 Peas and a Dog

Ideas for Teaching Vocabulary - 2 Peas and a Dog | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Read how teachers make their vocabulary lessons meaningful and engaging by using cue cards, games, student competitions and teaching Greek and Latin root words.
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How to Scaffold Skills for Student Discussions

How to Scaffold Skills for Student Discussions | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
By Jackie A. Walsh How would you rate the quality of student talk in your classroom? Does it help your kids dig down deeper and learn more? Or do you sometimes feel that it’s not the best investment of class time? Student skills are the means and ends of productive classroom discussions. When students engage in meaningful academic conversation, they are intentional in their use of important social, cognitive, and use-of-knowledge skills. In turn, when students are deliberate in the use of these skills, they are enhancing their ability to engage in thoughtful discourse in academic settings and beyond—in the workplace and in our democratic society. We can all agree these are important goals, but we also know that most students do not arrive in our classrooms with a high level of proficiency in these skills. It’s up to us, and we must be explicit in teaching them and in scaffolding their use over time. In this article I want to look at some ways we can do that. What are the most important skills for good classroom talk? Improving student skills requires focus and intentionality. So where can teachers turn as they think about which skills to spotlight for their students? My colleague Beth Sattes and I have identified a menu of skills, the framework for which looks like this: Capacities Associated with Skilled Discussion (p. 39, Questioning for Classroom Discussion – ASCD, 2015) The skills probably look very familiar to you as they mirror the requirements of CCSS and other new state and content standards. Consider social skills, for example, which essentially determine the quality of student interactions one with another.  What connections can you make between the examples listed below and the ELA Speaking and Listening standards embodied in CCSS? Speaking Skills Speaks at length so that thinking is visible. . . . Paraphrases portions of a text. . . . Listening Skills Waits before adding one’s own ideas. . . . Looks at the speaking student & gives nonverbal response. . . . Collaborating Skills “Piggybacks” and elaborates on classmates’ comments. Actively seeks to include classmates who are not participating. One of the primary instructional purposes of a discussion is to afford students the opportunity to think more deeply about content, to make personal meaning through individual and collaborative inquiry.  The use of cognitive skills moves student talk from a simple exchange of information to dialogue involving more complex reasoning or generative thinking. Use of the kinds of cognitive skills featured below engage students in the levels of thinking associated with levels 2 and 3 of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge: Connection-Making Skills Identifies similarities and differences. . . . Offers reasons and textual evidence. . . . Questioning Skills Poses questions to clarify and better understand. . . . Asks questions to identify a speaker’s assumptions. Creating Skills Draws inferences from other speakers’ ideas. . . . Integrates information from multiple sources. . . . Attending to discussion timing and preparation One key to the success of discussions relates to timing—the point in an instructional cycle when they occur. Most productive discussions take place only after students have had the opportunity to build or access the knowledge base required for an informed exchange. If this condition is not met, then the discussion may devolve into an “exchange of ignorance.” Not only do we need to position discussions strategically, we should also afford students the opportunity to get ready. Preparing oftentimes engages students in the close reading of a text or the careful review of data generated by an experiment or reflection on a solution path to a problem. When teachers attend to timing and student preparation as they plan a discussion, they pave the way for students’ thoughtful use of knowledge during the discourse. However, as with social and cognitive skills, students need to know teacher expectations in this area. Three categories of knowledge can contribute meaningfully to a classroom discussion: Text-based knowledge is central because it focuses on the topic or issue under consideration. This, of course, is not limited to textbooks, but can include supplemental information accessed online or through relevant print sources—both primary and secondary. Prior academic knowledge can also serve as important fodder for discussion as teachers strive to encourage students to make connections across the curriculum. Finally, the meaningfulness of a discussion increases as students incorporate relevant experiential knowledge gleaned from out-of-school learning. In our own work, we identify specific skills for each of these three sub-categories, but associate the following with all three. Working on discussion skills at Hibbett Middle School, Florence AL Using knowledge to deepen discussion How many of us have had the experience of planning a classroom discussion that ended up feeling like a mere exchange of opinions or, worse yet, a  “sharing of ignorance.” Students must understand that the purpose of discussions is to deepen their understanding of content—and that they will be accountable for using knowledge to substantiate their thinking. Use-of-Knowledge Strives for accuracy in presentation of facts. Cites information sources. Evaluates the credibility of information sources. Relates comments to the subject or question for discussion; does not get off topic. Scaffolding the development of skills In our ASCD book Questioning for Classroom Discussion, Beth Sattes and I offer a framework of discussion skills – a total of 47 spanning the three categories – as a resource. We imagine that teachers will scan the list to identify those most appropriate to their students given student age and developmental level and the content or discipline under consideration. It is not enough to present the skills of discussion to students; teachers need to actively scaffold student development of these skills.  Teachers can scaffold directly – through modeling and coaching – or indirectly, by selecting structures and protocols that will shape and guide student interactions. The goal is to nurture and support student learning of the skills to the point that students are able to use them independent of the teacher’s intervention. In our book, we refer to these different settings for discussions as “forms” and present three identified forms on a continuum—moving from more teacher control to more student responsibility. The teacher-guided discussion comes first In teacher-guided discussion, teachers assume the role of a “master” discussant who models and coaches student apprentices. As a model, the teacher intentionally spotlights selected skills, thinking aloud to students about what she is doing and why. For example, pausing when a speaker stops talking is particularly important in a discussion. This “talk-free zone” allows the speaker time to reflect and add to a statement. At an appropriate point following this type of pause, the teacher might say: “You probably noticed the few seconds of quiet following Jeremy’s comment. This allowed him time to think about what he had said and to decide if he wanted to say more. And he did! During a discussion each of us needs to use this pause to think about what a speaker has said and decide what we think about it. Do we agree? Or disagree? Do we have something to add?” Teachers can strategically use think-alouds to explain what they are doing as they model key discussion skills. Teachers also use coaching to actively scaffold student thinking and skill development during a discussion. This often takes the form of offering comments or posing follow-up questions to students. Comments may be simple positive reinforcements of desired behaviors. For example, following a student’s request to hear from a classmate who had not previously spoken, the teacher might comment: “I really appreciate Alice’s asking for Marie’s perspective. Everyone else had been talking so much that Marie hadn’t had a chance to say what she was thinking.” During the early stages of students’ learning about skillful discussion, a teacher may need to: request that a student offer evidence to support a statement if a classmate does not; invite a student who has not been engaged to pose a question or make a comment; encourage students to make connections between text-based knowledge and prior learning, and so forth. During teacher-guided discussion, the teacher is alert to opportunities to provide these kinds of scaffolds in unobtrusive ways that do not interfere with the flow of the discussion. Teacher-guided discussions can occur as a whole class or in small groups, depending upon instructional purposes. Students at Florence (AL) Middle School using the Ink Think protocol Then we move to structured small groups As we move along the continuum, structured small groups are an ideal setting for scaffolding student discussion skills through the intentional use of protocols for this purpose. Protocols provide rules, and sometimes step-by-step procedures, to govern who talks when and for how long. In our book we provide examples of student discussions using 15 different structured small group formats. Many of these protocols will be familiar to you: Think-Pair-Share, Ink Think, Think-Puzzle-Explore, and so forth. The key to their use in developing student discussion skills and processes is to: (1) be strategic – selecting a structure that is appropriate both for scaffolding desired skills and for deepening student understanding of content; and (2) be explicit with students as to the the specific skills the structures are intended to develop. Additionally, teachers need to actively monitor students as they interact in small group settings and intervene with personal scaffolding when students are confused or fail to follow the protocol. Following engagement in a discussion scaffolded by small group structures, students should be afforded the opportunity to reflect on their use of intended skills and the ways in which the structure supported this practice. And ultimately to student-driven discussion Student-driven discussion requires the highest level of student skill. Students are required to interact independent of teacher guidance and encouraged to scaffold one another. Socratic Seminars are a well-known form of student-driven discussion if they occur with the teacher seated outside the circle of discussants. There are numerous similar structures for student-driven discussion. Most place a limited number of students (5-9) in an inside circle and position other students on the outside as observers with specific observation tasks. Teachers as designers of classroom discussion Discussion can be a powerful learning strategy for all students—K-12 (and beyond) in all content areas. It does, however, look and sound different at different grade levels and in different content areas. There is no recipe that fits all situations. There is also no way to summarize all the teaching techniques associated with effective academic conversations in a single blog post. In Questioning for Classroom Discussion, we provide resources and strategies that teachers can access and use to plan discussions appropriate for their students. We also incorporate multiple examples of focus questions and strategies in use to serve as models, including QR codes that take readers to videotaped classroom discussions. Our hope is that what I’ve shared here will lead you to consider using the book in your professional work. We believe it will serve as a useful manual of practice for individuals and teams of teachers who commit to more intentional planning and facilitation of discussions. A carefully conceived, well-planned discussion has the potential of engaging the minds and hearts of students, increasing their interest in their studies, and promoting a desire for deeper understanding of issues and topics consequential to their learning and being. Feature image: Jen Roberts, Creative Commons Dr. Jackie Walsh is the co-author, with Beth D. Sattes, of Questioning for Classroom Discussion: Purposeful Speaking, Engaged Listening, Deep Thinking (ASCD, 2015) and three earlier books on Quality Questioning published by Corwin Press. She is also lead consultant to the Alabama Best Practices Center where she designs and facilitates professional learning for ABPC’s statewide educator collaboratives and for the Alabama Instructional Partners Network. She lives in Montgomery, AL. Contact Jackie at walshja@aol.com and follow her on Twitter @Question2Think.
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The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies

The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Listen to this article as a podcast episode: Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 38:22 — 53.1MB)     When I worked with student teachers on developing effective lesson plans, one thing I always asked them to revise was the phrase “We will discuss.” We will discuss the video. We will discuss the story. We will discuss our results. Every time I saw it in a lesson plan, I would add a  note: “What format will you use? What questions will you ask? How will you ensure that all students participate?” I was pretty sure that We will discuss actually meant the teacher would do most of the talking; He would throw out a couple of questions like “So what did you think about the video?” or “What was the theme of the story?” and a few students would respond, resulting in something that looked  like a discussion, but was ultimately just a conversation between the teacher and a handful of extroverted students; a classic case of Fisheye Teaching. The problem wasn’t them; in most of the classrooms where they’d sat as students, that’s exactly what a class discussion looked like. They didn’t know any other “formats.” I have only ever been familiar with a few myself. But when teachers began contacting me recently asking for a more comprehensive list, I knew it was time to do some serious research. So here they are: 15 formats for structuring a class discussion to make it more engaging, more organized, more equitable, and more academically challenging. If you’ve struggled to find effective ways to develop students’ speaking and listening skills, this is your lucky day. I’ve separated the strategies into three groups. The first batch contains the higher-prep strategies, formats that require teachers to do some planning or gathering of materials ahead of time. Next come the low-prep strategies, which can be used on the fly when you have a few extra minutes or just want your students to get more active. Note that these are not strict categories; it’s certainly possible to simplify or add more meat to any of these structures and still make them work. The last group is the ongoing strategies. These are smaller techniques that can be integrated with other instructional strategies and don’t really stand alone. For each strategy, you’ll find a list of other names it sometimes goes by, a description of its basic structure, and an explanation of variations that exist, if any. To watch each strategy in action, click on its name and a new window will open with a video that demonstrates it. Enjoy! Higher-Prep Discussion Strategies Gallery Walk > a.k.a. Chat Stations Basic Structure: Stations or posters are set up around the classroom, on the walls or on tables. Small groups of students travel from station to station together, performing some kind of task or responding to a prompt, either of which will result in a conversation. Variations: Some Gallery Walks stay true to the term gallery, where groups of students create informative posters, then act as tour guides or docents, giving other students a short presentation about their poster and conducting a Q&A about it. In Starr Sackstein’s high school classroom, her stations consisted of video tutorials created by the students themselves. Before I knew the term Gallery Walk, I shared a strategy similar to it called Chat Stations, where the teacher prepares discussion prompts or content-related tasks and sets them up around the room for students to visit in small groups. Philosophical Chairs > a.k.a. Values Continuum, Forced Debate, Physical Barometer, This or That Basic Structure: A statement that has two possible responses—agree or disagree—is read out loud. Depending on whether they agree or disagree with this statement, students move to one side of the room or the other. From that spot, students take turns defending their positions. Variations: Often a Philosophical Chairs debate will be based around a text or group of texts students have read ahead of time; students are required to cite textual evidence to support their claims and usually hold the texts in their hands during the discussion. Some teachers set up one hot seat to represent each side, and students must take turns in the seat. In less formal variations (which require less prep), a teacher may simply read provocative statements students are likely to disagree on, and a debate can occur spontaneously without a text to refer to (I call this variation This or That in my classroom icebreakers post). Teachers may also opt to offer a continuum of choices, ranging from “Strongly Agree” on one side of the room, all the way to “Strongly Disagree” on the other, and have students place themselves along that continuum based on the strength of their convictions. Pinwheel Discussion > Basic Structure: Students are divided into 4 groups. Three of these groups are assigned to represent specific points of view. Members of the fourth group are designated as “provocateurs,” tasked with making sure the discussion keeps going and stays challenging. One person from each group (the “speaker”) sits in a desk facing speakers from the other groups, so they form a square in the center of the room. Behind each speaker, the remaining group members are seated: two right behind the speaker, then three behind them, and so on, forming a kind of triangle. From above, this would look like a pinwheel. The four speakers introduce and discuss questions they prepared ahead of time (this preparation is done with their groups). After some time passes, new students rotate from the seats behind the speaker into the center seats and continue the conversation. Variations: When high school English teacher Sarah Brown Wessling introduced this strategy in the featured video (click Pinwheel Discussion above), she used it as a device for talking about literature, where each group represented a different author, plus one provocateur group. But in the comments that follow the video, Wessling adds that she also uses the strategy with non-fiction, where students represent authors of different non-fiction texts or are assigned to take on different perspectives about an issue. Socratic Seminar > a.k.a. Socratic Circles Basic Structure: Students prepare by reading a text or group of texts and writing some higher-order discussion questions about the text. On seminar day, students sit in a circle and an introductory, open-ended question is posed by the teacher or student discussion leader. From there, students continue the conversation, prompting one another to support their claims with textual evidence. There is no particular order to how students speak, but they are encouraged to respectfully share the floor with others. Discussion is meant to happen naturally and students do not need to raise their hands to speak. This overview of Socratic Seminar from the website Facing History and Ourselves provides a list of appropriate questions, plus more information about how to prepare for a seminar. Variations: If students are beginners, the teacher may write the discussion questions, or the question creation can be a joint effort. For larger classes, teachers may need to set up seminars in more of a fishbowl-like arrangement, dividing students into one inner circle that will participate in the discussion, and one outer circle that silently observes, takes notes, and may eventually trade places with those in the inner circle, sometimes all at once, and sometimes by “tapping in” as the urge strikes them. Low-Prep Discussion Strategies Affinity Mapping > a.k.a. Affinity Diagramming Basic Structure: Give students a broad question or problem that is likely to result in lots of different ideas, such as “What were the impacts of the Great Depresssion?” or “What literary works should every person read?” Have students generate responses by writing ideas on post-it notes (one idea per note) and placing them in no particular arrangement on a wall, whiteboard, or chart paper. Once lots of ideas have been generated, have students begin grouping them into similar categories, then label the categories and discuss why the ideas fit within them, how the categories relate to one another, and so on. Variations: Some teachers have students do much of this exercise—recording their ideas and arranging them into categories—without talking at first. In other variations, participants are asked to re-combine the ideas into new, different categories after the first round of organization occurs. Often, this activity serves as a good pre-writing exercise, after which students will write some kind of analysis or position paper. Concentric Circles > a.k.a. Speed Dating Basic Structure: Students form two circles, one inside circle and one outside circle. Each student on the inside is paired with a student on the outside; they face each other. The teacher poses a question to the whole group and pairs discuss their responses with each other. Then the teacher signals students to rotate: Students on the outside circle move one space to the right so they are standing in front of a new person (or sitting, as they are in the video). Now the teacher poses a new question, and the process is repeated. Variations: Instead of two circles, students could also form two straight lines facing one another. Instead of “rotating” to switch partners, one line just slides over one spot, and the leftover person on the end comes around to the beginning of the line. Some teachers use this strategy to have students teach one piece of content to their fellow students, making it less of a discussion strategy and more of a peer teaching format. In fact, many of these protocols could be used for peer teaching as well. Conver-Stations > Basic Structure: Another great idea from Sarah Brown Wessling, this is a small-group discussion strategy that gives students exposure to more of their peers’ ideas and prevents the stagnation that can happen when a group doesn’t happen to have the right chemistry. Students are placed into a few groups of 4-6 students each and are given a discussion question to talk about. After sufficient time has passed for the discussion to develop, one or two students from each group rotate to a different group, while the other group members remain where they are. Once in their new group, they will discuss a different, but related question, and they may also share some of the key points from their last group’s conversation. For the next rotation, students who have not rotated before may be chosen to move, resulting in groups that are continually evolving. Fishbowl > Basic Structure: Two students sit facing each other in the center of the room; the remaining students sit in a circle around them. The two central students have a conversation based on a pre-determined topic and often using specific skills the class is practicing (such as asking follow-up questions, paraphrasing, or elaborating on another person’s point). Students on the outside observe, take notes, or perform some other discussion-related task assigned by the teacher. Variations: One variation of this strategy allows students in the outer circle to trade places with those in the fishbowl, doing kind of a relay-style discussion, or they may periodically “coach” the fishbowl talkers from the sidelines. Teachers may also opt to have students in the outside circle grade the participants’ conversation with a rubric, then give feedback on what they saw in a debriefing afterward, as mentioned in the featured video. Hot Seat > Basic Structure: One student assumes the role of a book character, significant figure in history, or concept (such as a tornado, an animal, or the Titanic). Sitting in front of the rest of the class, the student responds to classmates’ questions while staying in character in that role. Variations: Give more students the opportunity to be in the hot seat while increasing everyone’s participation by having students do hot seat discussions in small groups, where one person per group acts as the “character” and three or four others ask them questions. In another variation, several students could form a panel of different characters, taking questions from the class all together and interacting with one another like guests on a TV talk show. Snowball Discussion > a.k.a. Pyramid Discussion Basic Structure: Students begin in pairs, responding to a discussion question only with a single partner. After each person has had a chance to share their ideas, the pair joins another pair, creating a group of four. Pairs share their ideas with the pair they just joined. Next, groups of four join together to form groups of eight, and so on, until the whole class is joined up in one large discussion. Variations: This structure could simply be used to share ideas on a topic, or students could be required to reach consensus every time they join up with a new group. Ongoing Discussion Strategies Whereas the other formats in this list have a distinct shape—specific activities you do with students—the strategies in this section are more like plug-ins, working discussion into other instructional activities and improving the quality and reach of existing conversations. Asynchronous Voice > One of the limitations of discussion is that rich, face-to-face conversations can only happen when all parties are available, so we’re limited to the time we have in class. With a tool like Voxer, those limitations disappear. Like a private voice mailbox that you set up with just one person or a group (but SOOOO much easier), Voxer allows users to have conversations at whatever time is most convenient for each participant. So a group of four students can “discuss” a topic from 3pm until bedtime—asynchronously—each member contributing whenever they have a moment, and if the teacher makes herself part of the group, she can listen in, offer feedback, or contribute her own discussion points. Voxer is also invaluable for collaborating on projects and for having one-on-one discussions with students, parents, and your own colleagues. Like many other educators, Peter DeWitt took a while to really understand the potential of Voxer, but in this EdWeek piece, he explains what turned him around. Backchannel Discussions > A backchannel is a conversation that happens right alongside another activity. The first time I saw a backchannel in action was at my first unconference: While those of us in the audience listened to presenters and watched a few short video clips, a separate screen was up beside the main screen, projecting something called TodaysMeet. It looked a lot like those chat rooms from back in the day, basically a blank screen where people would contribute a few lines of text, the lines stacking up one after the other, no other bells or whistles. Anyone in the room could participate in this conversation on their phone, laptop, or tablet, asking questions, offering commentary, and sharing links to related resources without ever interrupting the flow of the presentations. This kind of tool allows for a completely silent discussion, one that doesn’t have to move at a super-fast pace, and it gives students who may be reluctant to speak up or who process their thoughts more slowly a chance to fully contribute. For a deeper discussion of how this kind of tool can be used, read this thoughtful overview of using backchannel discussions in the classroom by Edutopia’s Beth Holland. Talk Moves > a.k.a. Accountable Talk Talk moves are sentence frames we supply to our students that help them express ideas and interact with one another in respectful, academically appropriate ways. From kindergarten all the way through college, students can benefit from explicit instruction in the skills of summarizing another person’s argument before presenting an alternate view, asking clarifying questions, and expressing agreement or partial agreement with the stance of another participant. Talk moves can be incorporated into any of the other discussion formats listed here. Teach-OK > Whole Brain Teaching is a set of teaching and classroom management methods that has grown in popularity over the past 10 years. One of WBT’s foundational techniques is Teach-OK, a peer teaching strategy that begins with the teacher spending a few minutes introducing a concept to the class. Next, the teacher says Teach!, the class responds with Okay!, and pairs of students take turns re-teaching the concept to each other. It’s a bit like think-pair-share, but it’s faster-paced, it focuses more on re-teaching than general sharing, and students are encouraged to use gestures to animate their discussion. Although WBT is most popular in elementary schools, this featured video shows the creator of WBT, Chris Biffle, using it quite successfully with college students. I have also used Teach-OK with college students, and most of my students said they were happy for a change from the sit-and-listen they were used to in college classrooms. Think-Pair-Share > An oldie but a goodie, think-pair-share can be used any time you want to plug interactivity into a lesson: Simply have students think about their response to a question, form a pair with another person, discuss their response, then share it with the larger group. Because I feel this strategy has so many uses and can be way more powerful than we give it credit for, I devoted a whole post to think-pair-share; everything you need to know about it is right there.   So what else do you have? I would like to think this is a pretty complete list, but I’m sure more strategies are out there. If you use a discussion strategy that’s not mentioned here, please share it below.   Keep in touch. I would love to have you come back for more. Join my mailing list and get weekly tips, tools, and inspiration—in quick, bite-sized packages—all geared toward making your teaching more effective and joyful. To welcome you, I’ll be sending a free copy of my new e-booklet, 20 Ways to Cut Your Grading Time in Half. I look forward to having you join me.
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New Open eBook App Just Out. Is It Accessible?

New Open eBook App Just Out. Is It Accessible? | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it

The Open eBooks app debuted this week creating access to digital books for children in need. Right out of the box, there are questions on social media about accessibility features. That is a good thing. Many ebooks are not accessible or accessible enough for seriously struggling readers.

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Is It OK That My Second Grader Is Learning to Read by Memorizing Words?

Is It OK That My Second Grader Is Learning to Read by Memorizing Words? | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
Being able to memorize sight words is key reading skill. But memorizing words without being able to decode can be a problem. An expert explains why.
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How Children Learn To Read - The New Yorker

How Children Learn To Read - The New Yorker | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it
No matter a kid’s starting point in kindergarten, reading development also depends to a great extent on the next three years.
Frances's insight:

THE First Three Years in School....impacting the future of every child.

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Frances's curator insight, February 26, 9:38 AM

The first three years of school can make all the difference in a child's future.

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T.A.L.K.

T.A.L.K. | Dyslexia and Early Literacy Success for All Students | Scoop.it

Teachers Talking about Literacy in Their Kindergarten Classes Video is about 30 minutes: With Sharon, Bonnie Angela and Jonna—mentor teachers.

Frances's insight:

Connecting Reading and Writing and Technology in K

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Early childhood programs: building the framework for success

Akron Community Foundation recently hosted a Community Issues session featuring local experts in early childhood programs, who said the framework for school ...

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