Archive for April, 2018

Helping your students dig deeper!


Getting my students to think critically when reading is a constant struggle, no matter what content I am teaching, getting my students to read critically is not easy.  I have taught science, social studies, math, writing and reading, and my kids hate to read, they like to skim, search and find versus actually taking the time to read.  In upper elementary where the students are tested heavily we want them to read to learn more than learn to read. That means reading for comprehension and thinking critically about what they read so that they can answer test questions.

I racked my brain trying to come up with strategies to help get my kids where they needed to be for test day (many hated to read because it was difficult) but in reality I ended up being just happy with growth and them gaining skills they could use in the future.  There are so many strategies out there that have been very helpful but I had to remember about my students and their life experiences.  They are not your average students! 😊

So last year my teammate (the bilingual Reading teacher) showed me literacy charts. It was something that was introduced as part of the national writing project in 2004 for ELL students. It was used to make a connection between reading and writing. I loved the concept but wanted something a little more in depth for my struggling readers.

With literacy charts, my students can make the connection between their reading and writing by establishing the elements in reading and how it connects to their writing.  So I made my own that helped my students dig deeper when reading a text.  The students had to fill out the literacy charts before, during, and after their reading.

Students can use their literacy charts as a rubric for writing by ensuring they have all elements of the story, for peer editing, and also for finding important information in science and social studies. Below are some examples of my scholars work.  Of course, there is always room for growth but this guides them in the right direction.


I did have to model a few times to ensure that students were picking out the important information as well as proving their answers with textual evidence.  With practice I was able to hold my students accountable for their reading a they began to think deeper. Eventually, they were able to complete the charts independently during independent reading time. I have the charts in my TPT store if you want to help your students dig deeper. (click here).

Respond to reading with any novel or text (literacy charts)

Why I changed How I do my Vocabulary Instruction in the Classroom

Upper Elementary Antics

Why I changed my vocabulary instruction

Well everyone the struggle is real! What struggle, you say the reading struggle.  I have taught every subject in upper elementary and when a student struggles, no matter what subject, it all comes down to reading comprehension. And after working with classes full of struggling readers, yes whole classes, I was able to understand a little bit better on what was some root causes of their struggle.  VOCABULARY!!!  I noticed the biggest obstacles was that in adequate vocabulary hindered my student’s comprehension.  I found that many students could say the words and may even read fluently (shockingly) however, they had no idea what a lot of the words meant.  That is when I realized that my vocabulary instruction was lacking.  So I made a point to change my instruction.

I still did not feel it was adequate and done in the proper order.  In my district they want us to…

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Figurative Language Freebie!

Updated link for the figurative language freebie

Upper Elementary Antics

B81904BF-482B-4A39-B052-176F667ADC3AFigurative language is a common theme in standardized testing in upper elementary.  Students have to determine what the author or poet is trying to convey through inferencing and interpretation. Getting students to not always think literally is a challenge and knowing the common figures of speech is a just a start.  So I have a freebie to offer from a guest post that is a fun way to interact with the language.

Learning about figurative language is not just for the birds!  Check out this word search, then head over to for more resources.



Also check out my TPT store for some of my resources including my poetry analysis lesson


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