Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Start Slow to go Faster?

What a beautiful day here in the Pacific Northwest!  Perfect day for taking a walk to reflect on all that our Veterans have done for us, and for what all those who serve in the military do for our wonderful country each day!  Thank you Veterans!!  Rosie says thank you, too! She dressed especially for you today!

Today we're switching it up a bit.  Let's talk about going slower to go faster and starting lower to go higher in the end!  Huh?  Yeah...that's what I said.  Slow down to go faster.  Start low to go high. You know, like when you learn to ski and you start on the bunny slope????   Then soon you are up on Razor Back or Seventh Heaven gliding through those moguls with the best of them!

What am I talking about?  Well....you see...... I work with between 35 and 40 sweetums everyday for whom reading is a bit of a struggle.  And I've noticed that for most if not all of them, the pace in the classroom is just way too fast.  I see that a lot with kiddles whom I don't serve, too.  On top of that, we now have the call for more rigor.  Before you get upset with me....just know that I am all about more rigor.    But....we have to be careful at the same time that we don't leave kiddles in the dust.  So when you get second through fifth graders every year who simply struggle because the rigor was too high too fast for them, it just breaks your little heart!  Most of the famous reading experts tell us that kiddles need to work in their just right realm and their ZPD to make the most growth with the quickest pace.  What do you do then so you don't leave any kiddles in the dust?  Start lower...start slower, build that foundation strong... make sure they get it, then move on.  Here's what I mean.  This is a fourth grade reading group who are working on analyzing text, determining important versus unimportant information, and noticing how the author grouped that information to make it easier to comprehend.  (They are visually categorizing the information by color coding it with highlighters.)



This group of student's instructional reading level is normally DRA 30 or Guided Reading Level N.  But here we are using a text that is at DRA 14/16 or Guided Reading Level H/I.  Why so easy?  Because they are just beginning to build a strong foundation in being able to analyze text deeply, determine important versus unimportant information, and categorize that information.  Whew!  It takes a lot of brain energy to do that when you are just learning, and by using an easier text, the students can concentrate on coordinating and using the new skills in their brains instead of on decoding or trying to figure out vocabulary and nuances that are found in more rigorous text.   We spent three days on this simple text, then quickly popped back up to their instructional level to use the same skills again.  Because we started low and slow (on the bunny slope) to build the foundation, we were not only able to go higher quickly, but now the kiddles are experts at using these new skills.  If I had started at a higher level, these students would not have been as strong in using their new skills and it would have taken a lot longer to get there.  So give it a try!  You'll soon see your sweetums moving on up to those "moguls."

And if you are looking for the ideal texts to use, check out our Leveled Reading Passages.  They allow you to teach a topic but also to differentiate for all the levels of your students because there are passages for levels A - I on that same topic. We have them available for many fall topics and are just getting the final polish on holiday and winter themes, with many more to come.  Hot off the presses today...Winter is Here! You can grab it here.  We'll let you know as soon as the other new ones are posted.

Hey, have yourself a great rest of the week!  And I'll see you on the bunny slopes!

***Kristin***

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