Thursday, June 30, 2016

Inside-outside circle vs. Inside-Outside Socratic Circle

Inside-outside circle

Inside-Outside Socratic Circle is a cooperative learning strategy that
gets students up and moving. No flat butt learning! This seminar is designed for quick exchanges of information, opinions, questions, answers or ideas. This engagement protocol will delight your kinesthetic learners and motivate your opt out, can’t, or won’t students to engage and cooperate with their peers. This seminar can also be used for introducing and or reviewing new concepts in a jigsaw cooperative learning format. Teachers can use this protocol for differentiation, by placing “struggling” student that need repeated exposure to concepts in a circle that presents first. The student gets to listen and ask questions from all or a few of the students that presented before it is their turn to present.


1. Students form two concentric circles with equal numbers of students in each circle. Students rotate right or left, facing a new partner and discussing the teacher’s statements, questions, or concepts. Information from a previous jigsaw reading activity can be shared. Students count off by 2’s. The 1’s form the inside circle and the 2’s form the outside circle. The 1’s and 2’s face each other and formally great their buddy.

2. Students in the inner-circle respond to the teachers prompt by teaching their partner. Students must use complete sentences when they are presenting information to their partners. If a student cannot give a cogent answer when prompted, then the student on outside circle helps re-teach and recap the missing details. The outside circle student leans in and listens to their partners, and then they recap what their partners shared and taught them and or ask questions. The idea is practice active listening and academic conversation skills whenever possible.

The teacher walks around and listen and interrogate presenters and listeners to check for understanding. Strategy one: the teacher poses a different question for every rotation and only the one circle presents. Strategy two: the teacher poses the same question for every rotation and both circles take turns presenting and listening. The teacher's role is to facilitate the logistics, the questions, check for understanding and guide discussions.

3. When the first question or prompt has been discussed and answered (1-3 minutes), the students in the inside circle move clockwise one or two people. You may repeat the first question or ask a new one but this time, the outside circles are the presenter. This time, have the outside student respond to the prompt or answer the question.

1. Jigsaw Procedures: Students are paired or placed into cooperative groups of no more than 4, they are assigned a chapter, passage, or section of a text to read, text code, text rank, and analyze and or do a keyword outline and summary. Assign students Lotus Notes or Cornell Note and or paper for a keyword outline. Participants read their section independently and record information, looking for keywords, interesting statements, important points, brand new information, or answers to questions.

This is wide open for discussion!

“Tell your partner two important things you learned from your reading!”

“List 5 characteristics of the main character.”

“Describe 2-5 images in the chapter/passage.”

“What is the main idea of the selection? (purpose, summary)”

“What is the author's purpose…?”

“Which is the most important detail in the text... ? “

“What is the author's message…?”

“Share your favorite statements that you ranked as first, second and third and why are they important to you.”

“Try to name 2-5 possible ramifications of….”

2. Jigsaw Procedure: The students in the inner circle are given 2-3 minutes to share their part of the jigsaw text they read. Then, students in the outer circle are given time to share their opinions, ask questions with his or her partner of the inner circle. On the teacher’s signal JIGSAW! the students take one step to their left in the outside circle and have another quick discussion with their new partner. Have the students in the inside-circle share with the partner and repeat the above process until everyone in the inner circle has shared with the outer circles.

Have the outside student start the presenting process by sharing with the inner circle partner. Teachers can differentiate by placing “struggling” student that need to hear concepts repeated a few time on the circle that is listening and asking questions first. can move counter-clockwise two people. Follow this pattern until you feel students have a firm grasp on the material you are reviewing.

Extension: Taking notes and using notes is not necessary and will slow down the process. If you are going to require notes make sure you give sufficient time for the students to record new ideas and information in their Cornell notebooks.

  1. Fun, kinesthetic, differentiated, and cooperative learning activity. 
  2. Jigsaw cooperative learning activity that provides opportunities for classroom discussions and gets students moving and listening. 
  3. Engaging and highly effective way to develop academic speaking, listening and thinking skills. 
  4. Advanced Think Pair Share Listen and Recap/Rephrase, students read, think, pair up and share their ideas. 
  5. The teachers can do a quick formative assessment with all students and work with students that need clarification. 
  6. Students are actively learning from other students, not more chalk and talk from the teacher. 
Note: If there are an odd number of students, the teacher becomes part of the discussion circle.

Socratic Seminar | Infer Compare and Contrast

READ RSVP: Read, Summarize, Verify, Prediction | Compare and
Contrast: This engagement READING protocol is used to build and refine compare and contrast thinking skills. Students need to make new connections when they compare and evaluate new information. Students discover and describe the difference(s) between what was inferred and the newly revealed information. This reading strategy promotes active close reading, Socratic thinking, text ranking and text coding, making an inference and comparing and contrasting skill. That means students are really thinking about what they are reading.


1. The teacher selects a one-page reading passage that is challenging.

2. The teacher ranks and annotates the passage for key words, phrases, statements or questions. The teacher compiles the best clues and creates a clue sheet for students.

3. Give mini-lecture on inferring, comparing and contrasting:

4. Give each student group or pair the clue sheet with a list of 5-10 keywords, 3-5 statements or phrases, and one open-ended questions. The list of keywords and text clues are placed in the order in which they appear in the text.

5. Students work with partners or a group of four to analyze the clues. Students think about the limited text clues and compare them to their prior knowledge.

6. Students share connections they are making with their partners. They record their predictions and conclusions using Cornell notes or flash cards.

Extensions: List multiple conclusions, and orally share a potential summary or write a feasible summary.

Extensions: The students are given just a keyword outline of the reading passage and the must use all the keywords in a summary. Students’ use the keywords in the exact order in which they appear in the teacher provided keyword outline. The Keywords that are challenging can be placed in a Cornell notes format with contextual exemplars not related to the original text and the terms denotations.

7. Students buddy read the one-page passage and compare and contrast it to their conclusions and summaries. Students reread do a text ranking of their favorite statements or passages, and they text code the passage.  Students participate in a Mini-Socratic-Seminar to discuss and share their conclusions and predicted summaries.

8. Students verify their predictions and conclusions with their reading partner.

9. Students come together and have a group discussion about anything they had to modify, confirm, verify and or correct from their initial inferences, conclusions, and predictions.

Extensions: Write a new summary using what you learned.

Extensions: Split the class in half, have each group make a clue-sheet for the other half of the class. The students prepare a reading passage using a Cornell notes organizer. Student text rank, text code, and analyzes the text for themes and main ideas. This extended reading protocol helps students deeply understand the close reading strategy and gives them a hands-on inferencing, comparing and contrasting reading activity.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


THINK, PAIR, SHARE, LISTEN, and RECAP/REPHRASE: Students need to interpret, connect, build and adapt new information they are exposed to and discover on their own. The TPS-Plus learning strategy allows students to actively summarize, predict, elaborate, lean in and attentively listen and rephrase what their partners shared. The time to prepare ideas and discuss ideas in a Mini-Socratic-Seminar format is a powerful learning and instructional practice. Students that are actively engaged in Higher Order Thinking activities that require active listening, paraphrasing/summarizing and the re-communication of ideas using complete articulate sentences makes learning permanent. Students become professional-learners when they practice TPS-Plus, repeated exposure to rigorous concepts by listening actively to their peers or instructors and sharing and re-sharing their ideas with a peer.


1. Group the "THINK, PAIR, SHARE" discussion partners using equity sticks. Students names are on a popsicle stick and you draw 2 sticks and make a cooperative learning pair.

2 Present information using a 2-3 mini-lecture, and frontload a discussion topic with an open-ended question that students are attentively listening to and thinking about during the lecture. Students will use the TPS-Plus topics and questions to discuss and analyze mew information and make connections to prior their knowledge.

3. Give the students 1 minute to “think” about their own learning.

4. Have the students “pair-share”, they take turns talking about their thinking, new information they learned, a summation, or questions for 1-4 minutes. After on partner has taken a turn sharing their partner has to share back with fidelity to practice listening and academic discussion skills.

5. Monitor discussions – clear up misunderstandings and check for understanding using Glass-Bugs-Mud or a thumbs up or thumbs down.

6. Ask the students “share” their responses with their bigger cooperative group.

Extensions: Hints and tweaks…

Rotate partners and groups after each Mini-Lecture. Time students so there are equal chances for participation. Cold call students using equity sticks to have students share with the entire class.

CLOSE READING BOOKMARKS | close reading strategies

CLOSE READING BOOKMARKS: This is a fun close reading activity that deepens Reading Comprehension Strategies. Using HOT questions and close reading strategies to help engage students during close reading that helps students deeply engage with the text.

Highly Effective Close Reading Strategies 

Close reading is the careful, sustained interpretation of a brief passage of a text, with the objective to increase knowledge and too deep understanding of the concepts presented. A close reading emphasizes the single and the particular over the general, affected by close attention to individual words, the syntax, and the order in which the sentences unfold ideas, as the reader scans the line of text. 

HOW To and DIY?

Create CLOSE-READING BOOKMARKS that hits your targeted learning goals, think of close reading mini worksheets. Students cut apart the three close-reading bookmarks and randomly place them in the beginning, middle, and end of a chapter they are reading.

  1. How would you summarize the text in one sentence? 
  2. What ten keywords contain the main points in the text? 
  3. What Comprehension Strategies should you use? 
  4. What precise textual evidence is used to support the central idea? 
  5. Summarize one relevant idea or event? 
  6. Rank the ideas in order of importance! 
  7. What ideas might the author be suggesting rather than directly stating? 
  8. I predict…based on… 
Have students read the text with a buddy or independently and complete the mini close reading mini worksheets as they move through the text.

During the reading of the textbook chapter, when a student comes to the page where a bookmark is located, he or she completes the assignment on the bookmark and turns it in at the appropriate time. Partners that are reading together should have their individual bookmarks on different pages.

As a debrief discussion activity, have the students share their findings, thoughts, questions, and wow moments in small groups.

Extensions: Your students’ text illustration “bookmarks” can be displayed as a gallery-walk.

Reading Comprehension Strategies and Resources

Monday, June 27, 2016

Example 90 Minute Reading Block RTI READING BOOT CAMP

Sample Schedule Ideas for Primary: 90-minute block

Effective Reading Block Instructional Strategies: Elementary 45-90 Minute Reading Block Template Basic 45-90 Minute Reading Block Must Do's 1. Reading Comprehension, (Elaboration, Summarizing) 2. Reading Fluency, 3.Word Work and Word Analyses, 4. Socratic Learning and Thinking: Tactics and Strategies 5. Interleaved Reading Practice (ELA Reading Games) Advanced Reading Block Should Do's 6. Response to Literature and Self Reflection 7. Self-Quiz "Evaluating New Knowledge " and Reflecting on Learning. 

Reading Boot Camp is the Highest Quality Reading Instruction!

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” William A. Foster

READING BOOT CAMP is a FREE researched based RTI intervention program that uses best instructional practices with a qualification, teach to the very TOP, expose every student to grade level and above ELA concepts, lift all students using Socratic learning tactics, teach and treat all students as GIFTED, be flexible and have fun, set rigorous goals, and differentiate through scaffolding and cooperative learning. This is a philosophy that many disagree with and believe it is not pedagogically sound, usually by teachers that try to ability group and differentiate for 2-7 grade levels. RBC has 13 years of proven results, the RTI reading intervention improves reading test scores by one full grade level in 20 days. Reading Boot Camp is used in hundreds of classrooms and a handful of schools as a proven school-wide and classroom turnaround program.  

 Buddy Reading, Fluency Drills, & Mini Socratic Seminar
10 minutes Reading Fluency Practice: Paired Buddy Reading, Fluency Drills, and Reading Comprehension | Students do a ONE minute timed fluency drill with partners and record the CWPM. After both partners have read they do a Mini Socratic Seminar (Students take 2-3 minutes to converse, summarize and elaborate on keys ideas found in their reading fluency drills) THIS is only done for Hot and Warm reads never a Cold or first-time fluency drill!

Mini Socratic Seminar Student Lead Question Stems:
Why did the author write this text?
What is the theme/main or big idea of the passage?
Can you define or summarize the important vocabulary the author used?
What effective questions would you use to quiz your partner?
The Pacing, Order of activities, Time on task, and all ELA activities are very flexible and left to the teacher's judgment. The critical parts and must do parts of READING BOOT CAMP, reading fluency, tier 1, 2, and 3-word work, and reading comprehension activities that are revisited every 45 minutes or at a minimum every 90 minutes.
3 minutes Mini-Lesson-Lecture Tier 2 Vocabulary ReviewTier 2 Target Vocabulary (compare and contrast) Whole Group WORD WORK Instruction, contextual exemplars and application of the word using target questions. 

3 minutes Mini-Lesson-Lecture Tier 3 Vocabulary Review: Tier 3 Target Vocabulary (protagonist and antagonist)

Engagement Protocols: Think-Pair-Share, Student Self-quiz, Glass-Bugs-Mud and or Red Card Green Card!
3-5 Minute Brain Break
Whole Group Instruction Socratic Read-Aloud: Start
10 minutes "Read-along Read-Alouds that teaches “Metacognitive Thinking Strategies"  Socratic Read-Aloud | This can be done with a short passage, picture book, poem, or chapter book.
WHY and the "5ws" Interrogational Socratic Question Stems:

What is your point of view,….are their people with other points of view?
How would you summarize the,…?
How would you elaborate further…?
Tell me why…and …are alike/different.
Tell me why … felt/discovered/believed when ….?
Why is…significant/interesting/confusing…. ?
Why is this opinion …true/false?
Why do you think … felt when (or about) _____?

Engagement Protocols: Think-Pair-Share, Student Self-quiz, Glass-Bugs-Mud or Red Card Green Card, equity-sticks and cold-calls!
15 Minutes Small Cooperative learning Groups | ELA Learning Centers: audio book listening station, word sorts, phonics station, flash card games, word family station, book club   center, haiku poetry center, book illustration art center, buddy reading fluency station, poetry listening station, Mad-Libs, journaling station and writing center (IWE, Writers Workshop), science articles station, social studies articles station, READ AND WRITE   WITH YOUR TEACHER!
TEAM 1: Vocabulary Games (Interleaved Reading and Vocabulary Practice)

TEAM 2: Writing Station and Journaling (IWE, Writers Workshop)

TEAM 3: Socratic Read-Aloud Audio Book (Listening and Speaking Station)

TEAM 4: Buddy Reading Fluency Station

TEAM 5: Book Illustration and Art Station: Reading Comprehension, (Imagination and imagery, Elaboration, Summarizing) Students read a book passage and use their imagination to make an illustration (pictorial summation  and embellishment of the passage)!

TEAM 6: READ AND WRITE WITH YOUR TEACHER! (Response to Literature) 
15 Minute Recess
Whole Group Instruction: Socratic Read-Aloud Continued
15 minutes "Read-along Read-Alouds that teaches “Metacognitive Thinking Strategies"  Socratic Read-Aloud | Teachers need to model Socratic Thinking! First asking the HOT questions and   answering the questions. Modeling metacognition at the beginning using a think aloud format. After repeated exposure to the Socratic thinking process student will be able to engage fully!
The "5ws" of Interrogational Socratic Questions:

DOK LEVEL 2 Question Stems:

  1. How would you summarize the,…?
  2. How would you elaborate further…?
  3. Tell me why…and …are alike/different.
  4. Tell me why … felt/discovered/believed when ….?
  5. Why is…significant/interesting/confusing…. ?
  6. Why is this opinion …true/false?
  7. Why do you think … felt when (or about) _____?

DOK LEVEL 3 Question Stems:

  1. Why did the author write this text…, how would you elaborate on the ideas presented in the text…?
  2. What is the theme/main or big idea of the passage,….what is a text with a similar theme?
  3. Can you define or summarize the important vocabulary the author used…., why did the author chose the vocabulary?
  4. What effective questions would you use to quiz yourself and your partner, ….?

Engagement Protocols: Think-Pair-Share, Student Self-quiz, Glass-Bugs-Mud or Red Card Green Card, equity-sticks and cold-calls!
3 minutes Mini-Lesson-Lecture and Sparkle Vocabulary Game:  Tier 2 Target Vocabulary (New Words: cause and effect) (Quick Review: compare and contrast ) Whole Group WORD WORK Instruction, contextual exemplars and application of the word using target questions. 

3 minutes Mini-Lesson-Lecture Tier 3 Target Vocabulary: (New Words: tall tale and fable )  (Quick Review protagonist and antagonist)

Engagement Protocols: Sparkle Vocabulary Game, Think-Pair-Share-Listen-Repeat, Student Self-quiz, Glass-Bugs-Mud and or Red Card Green Card!

10 minute Alternative Tier 1 Word Work: Weekly spelling words, basal reading vocabulary or the National Reading Vocabulary. Buddies read the list of weekly vocabulary words to practice fluency, then students take turns using the word in a kid friendly sentence. After a buddy uses the word in a sentence their partner has to repeat the sentence to show they are listening.

10 minute Sparkle Vocabulary Game: Game words, cause, effect, compare, contrast, protagonist, antagonist, tall tale, and fable

3-5 Minute Brain Break
Response to Literature and Self-Reflection
10 Minutes Paired Learning Groups ELA Writing Stations: Students are paired and start, work on or complete a writing product. Keyword Outline, Story Map, Response to Socratic Seminar   Readings, Self-Quiz  Questions, Review Flashcards, Writers Workshop, Flash cards, Keyword Outline Sentence or Paragraph.
Paired Students: READ AND WRITE WITH YOUR TEACHER! (Response to Literature using Cornell Notes)

Paired students or individual student work on one aspect of the writing process. BRAINSTORMING, PRE-WRITING, DRAFTING, REVISING, EDITING AND PUBLISHING.

90 Minute Reading Block Must Do's 

NO FLAT BUTT LEARNING! Standing, alternative seating, dynamic active cooperative learning, and FUN!

Reading Fluency: The ability to read with accuracy, automaticity, and with satisfactory rate to comprehend the text(speed), expression and phrasing

Word Work, Vocabulary, Word Analyses: The knowledge of words, their denotations, and connotations, their parts prefix-suffix-roots. and their contextual meaning. The understanding of the meaning of words in a text is the foundation for reading comprehension.

Response to Literature and Journaling: Paired students or individual student work on one aspect of the writing process. BRAINSTORMING, PRE-WRITING, DRAFTING, REVISING, EDITING AND PUBLISHING. Response to Literature or Journaling, as you read, is the most effective way of understanding a work of literature and strengthening understanding of the writing process at the same time. With journaling you integrate reading and writing instruction, students will relate to the story/text more completely, they will deepen their knowledge of the ideas, themes, opinions, conflicts, settings, images, conversations, characters, and interesting facts.

Interleaved Reading Practice (ELA GAMES!): Mixed practice literacy games that stretch students knowledge using fun engaging literacy activities.

Socratic Learning and Thinking: Tactics and Strategies: "Read-along Read-Alouds that teaches “Metacognitive Thinking Strategies" Socratic Read-Aloud | This can be done with a short passage, picture book, poem, or chapter book.

Differentiated Literacy Stations: Self-guided “Independent” reading activities and learning stations provide opportunities for students to practice newly learned tasks, review concepts, summarize new information, reflect and self-evaluate what they’ve learned or what they are not clear on. They use five of the most powerful mind-tools for learning new information. Demonstrate mastery of previously taught skills. When students are released to work in small groups or pairs students build soft skills like cooperation, academic conversation, active listening and speaking.

Listening, Speaking and Effective Question: Embedding language skills in all reading lessons are critical to learning, students learn the fastest when they are using all their language skills to have discussions and teach other peers.

Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: The conscious awareness that words are made up of segments of our own speech that are represented with letters. Phonological Awareness is a more encompassing term than phoneme awareness Phonics: The relationship between letters and the sounds they represent

Friday, June 24, 2016

Socratic Seminar | Paired Text Drawing Conclusions Making Inferences


Perceptive Inferential Reading and listening
Drawing Conclusions Making Inferences Paired Text: The deep end of the reading pool, reading between the lines, inferring, drawing conclusions and interpreting “seeing” the big picture! The most complex and neglected reading and listening skill developed in school today!

Teaching students perceptive and inferential reading strategies using paired texts, heighten awareness of inference signal words and growing drawing conclusions skill. This seminar gets students quickly interested in reading complex paired text and using their skills to find the themes and main ideas. Solving reading mysteries “finding the main idea” and analyzing multifaceted allegorical text in a structured logical method should be fun and stress-free. The seminar builds strategic thinking, logical ways of finding new information and connecting it with their background knowledge. Up to 50% of all high stakes, reading assessments are inference based.  Students use what they learned to reshape, change, and add to their prior knowledge,  the process of interpreting new information helps students develop into more informed readers of complex text. The seminar adapts easily too many academic domains, and the design helps to ensure that all individuals read, think, and add to the discussion. The seminar is particularly useful in presenting new complex topics because it fosters curiosity and develops immediate formative feedback about learning. Help students answer the dreaded, What is the main idea….., use text evidence to supports your answer?

Perceptive Inferential Reading Question Stems
Who is involved and what events are connected to them?
What is paragraph/passage…mostly/mainly about?
What is this selection mainly about?
What is the primary purpose of paragraph …?

1. Select paired text that are fun, fascinating, or funny subject: an allegorical short poem, political cartoon, letter to the editor, satirical article, newspaper article, etc.
Ais for Assessment
Current policy has given birth to the largest measurement frenzy since the three month period following the invention of the meter stick.

Definition: Assessment (n), a method for demonstrating the success of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Parents may coach offspring to increase chances of passing assessments. Projectile Vomiting Target Practice (PVTP) for instance (Check with your local PTA for availability of classes). 'Child must be able take out half of the Disney characters in a cot mobile on one stomach load. Aim for power over distance.
Bis for Blame: Blame the teachers, Blame the schools, Batteries of tests and Batteries of rules
The cause for falling standards can't be social inequality...

Why? Because if it were, wed need to address the disproportionate number of public school toffs in moleskin trousers who pass straight from boarding school to Eton College and thence to Oxford University in Daddy's Bentley (Windows tinted on the inside to avoid undergraduates catching a glimpse of any food banks or charity shops where the poor hang out instead of looking for work). Then on to a soft job with one of daddys chums in parliament making photo copies for £90k a year in preparation for a namby-pamby post in the Civil Service at £120,000 per annum.

…so, if social inequality isnt to blame, it must be the fault of teachers and schools. I mean who else is involved? QED.

Cis for Curriculum
Definition: (n), a completely arbitrary selection of subjects for teaching, considered by those who device them to be the unvarnished truth. Usually imposed with no consultation and carved on tablets of stone.
A curriculum can be constructed by starting from a Cloud Cuckoo Land vision of your favorite utopian neoliberal society, and working back from there to the skills needed to build such a monstrosity. Finally, class these skills as absolutely necessary, silence dissenting voices and push on with teaching them. Art, drama, conversational skills or anything aesthetic don't really have a place in this model but with many of our graduates destined for low-wage drudgery in the zero hours economy, has anything really been lost?

2. Place students into cooperative groups of 2-4 and distribute the first paired article and seminar materials: Each group gets, a set dry erase boards and markers, colored pencils, a piece of butcher paper, and loose leaf paper for Cornell or Lotus notes.

3. All students read independently or with a buddy and annotate the article, students rank the relevant statements from 1-4, 1 being the most important, students text code the article with “N” for new information, “Q” for unknown information. Students add their new knowledge to their Cornell or Lotus notes using colored pencils. After everyone has read and annotated their text, each student shares new  “N” information with his/her group.

4. Students have discussions about what they think the poem/article/cartoon is mainly about and record new or changed ideas they learned from the group discussions on their individual notes.

5. Teachers call the whole class back for a micro lecture, using Socratic questions to trigger student’s background knowledge. Students are encouraged to share with the whole class their prior knowledge, inferences, drawn conclusions or misconceptions. Students quietly write their new knowledge and deeper understanding of the topic in their Cornell or Lotus notes.

6. Students share their new knowledge about the topic with their cooperative groups. Students create a shared list of their collective prior knowledge/understanding of the topic on a piece of butcher paper using the colored pencils.

7. Hand out the seconded paired text, all students read the new article independently or with a buddy. Students annotate, rank and text-code the new article looking for new information and clues to the main ideas shared in both articles. After everyone has read and annotated their text, each student shares new  “N” information with his/her group.

8. Students repeat steps 4-5-6 and make a final conclusion.

9. Debrief Questions: Inference
What generalizations can be made from the paired article?
What are these two articles mainly about?
What is the importance of these two articles?
What is the primary purpose of these two articles?

What themes are shared in both articles?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Socratic Seminar | Context Clues Word Analysis


Context clues: Contextual clues used when deducing word meanings; logical clues that provide students with surrounding words that gives clues to the meaning of the unknown word or comprehension based on the complete passage (Holistic) in which a word is found.

Word Analysis also refers to knowledge of the meanings and spellings of prefixes, root words, and suffixes. Word Analysis instruction can be very effective in helping beginning-advanced readers learn to read with understanding and deduce the meaning of unknown words.

Students use context clues to investigate and deduce the meaning of
unknown words. Students share word analysis strategies and predictions about the meaning of words with peers in a gallery setting. The context clues word analysis seminar involves small-group collaboration, while making individuals responsible for the learning of word investigation strategies.

What is the meaning of …in this passage/sentence?
What are the context clues around the word?
What other words can help you deduce its meaning?
Does the mystery word have a negative or positive connotation?
Can you locate a simile/metaphor/idiom to help you predict the meaning?
Does the author compare or contrast ideas around the unknown word?
Does the author use synonyms or antonyms as clues?
What strategies can you use to help you find the meaning of the word?
What is the main idea of the phrase?

1. Divide students into cooperative groups, groups vary depending on the number of mystery words “internment“ and their associated passages. Teachers can explicitly model all the tasks, steps and products “Anchor Charts” or the better choice is use the seminar as a problem-based learning activity

The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who had lived on the Pacific coast. Sixty-two percent of the internees were United States citizens.

2. Assign each cooperative group a mystery words and the associated passages. I use EOG End-of-Grade released reading tests that are grade level or above. I select a word-analysis test question that requires students to use contextual clues. Leave out the multiple choice answers until the end of the seminar if you use a released test.

3. Provide each cooperative group with additional materials they want or need to further improve their word study research. A Thesaurus, Root Words & Base Words Anchor Charts, and Latin and Greek Affixes Prefixes Suffixes Anchor Charts! No Dictionaries!

4. Allow time for teams to read, analyze and talk about the context clues. Students can share predictions, background knowledge about the words meaning that may be new to other students. Using background knowledge, anchor charts, and the thesaurus will help students build brand new knowledge. Have each group create a new anchor chart with key context clues, the words predicted meaning and an artistic representation of the meaning of the word. Extensions: Students can create a fictitious etymology and denotation.

History (from Greek hismanicus and storiticus “Man Story”)   an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about man events. The term includes cosmic, geologic, and organic history, but is often generically implied to mean man history. Scholars who wrote about history in the past were called manstorians or liars. Fictitious Etymology

5. Each student must participate in the word analysis process, each student needs to construct their own meaning of the word, be it right or wrong. The seminar is not about comprehending the meaning of new words but the process of word analysis. The artistic representation of the meaning of the word and the student deduced denotations are artifacts that demonstrate thinking. Students need to find fun ways effectively present information and learning from wrong examples is at times more powerful than presenting the correct information. Allow time for the teams to help one another finish and complete their anchor charts with the key context clues, the words predicted meaning and an artistic representation of the meaning of the word.

6. Display the students anchor charts around the room or in the hallways. Leave the anchor charts up for the day before you check the words true meaning.

7. Students are given time to do a gallery-walk, they go around the room and read other teams mystery words, paired text and examine the student created anchor charts.

Extensions: A team member that helped create the anchor can present the important information during the gallery-walk.

8. The cooperative groups are assigned a different team’s anchor chart to investigate; they will scrutinize the fidelity of the ideas presented. The team’s new job is to see if the meaning of the word correct!

Extensions: Gives students an entry/admit ticket with a question, 4th-grade Exemplars: What does internment mean?  

9. After all the groups have revisited each anchor charts, debrief students.
Debrief questions:

A. Did you deduce the correct meaning of the word?
B. What was your favorite part of this seminar?
C. What role did collaboration play in your understanding?
D. Why was this activity challenging or fun?
E. What was your biggest “a-ha” and  “oh-no” during the seminar?

F. How was your learning enhanced by this seminar? 

Socratic Seminar | Inferences, Conclusions, and Predictions


How are Inferences, Conclusions, and Predictions Related? Inference is the process of deducing logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.

A Sherlock Holmes Socratic Seminar Reading Mystery! 

Students think about and analyze small parts of a text before

they read the complete text. The mystery seminar encourages involvement and curiosity that activates attentive listening. Students are also active and moving around the class looking at different sentences and phrases. Students anticipate, predict, and infer what they think they will find in the complete text. Students are encouraged to share what they think is happening in the “mystery text” unread text. Because students will be making inferences, see underlying relationships that should be compared and contrasted through dialogue. Students look for chronological order, logical sequencing, and they must draw on prior knowledge to solve the mystery texts meaning.

1. Select key phrases, important dialogue, relevant statements, detailed sentences or keywords directly from a short or lengthier text. Type or copy all the clues onto strips of paper onto index cards. I use public domain literature to make the process faster.  

2. You can shorten a sentence using an ellipsis, but don’t change the original text.

3. Students are organized into groups of 2-4 students. I will pair students with a buddy reader to help a partner when needed. Students can help a partner read or get teacher help, students read silently and individually at first than work in cooperative groups for discussions later.   

4. Place the mystery text cards around the room on charts or on tables or desks.

5. Students read the phrase/text independently and they make a prediction about what the story, fairy tale, parable, Pourquoi tales, legends, myth and any other text could be about. Students, write a quick statement on their Lotus notes prediction chart. During the mystery phase, students are quit unless they are paired with a reading buddy. “I/We think this is about…, because….”, “I/We infer this is about…, because….”“I/We predict this is about…, because….”

6. Students rotate around the room, reading the mystery cards and writing a quick statement on their Lotus notes prediction graphic.  You can set up the seminar with partners and have them read to each other and then start discussing possible predictions before the next rotation. “I predict the text is about a …. Fairytale, proverb, parable, Pourquoi tales, legends, a myth!”

7. After students have read all the mystery cards and completed the first part of their Lotus notes prediction charts, have students return to their cooperative groups. The student present their prediction based on all their notes. Students are encouraged to modify and change their predictions when they hear persuasive arguments and statements. Student’s record modified predictions and persuasive statements from other students in their notes. “My prediction changed from…., Because” “My prediction was supported by….”

8. Students read individually the text in its entirety or as a group whenever needed, they annotate the text highlighting information that challenges, confirms or makes modifications to their predictions. When the students complete their group discussions they listen to the teacher read the entire text. ”, My predictions ….differ from the text, because….?

9. The teacher rereads the entire text selection and stresses the inferential thinking process, discuses further questions, revised predictions, implicit and explicit clues.
Extensions: List lingering questions, make anchor charts, inferential strategies ideas, imagination bubbles, and be creative.

10. Students go back to their Lotus notes prediction charts and look for what they predicted “right or wrong” plus the statements from other students that persuaded them to change their predictions.  The students record the why …  on the second part of their notes,  about “aah hass” revised predictions and further questions.

11. Debrief: Think-out your thoughts, opinions, perceptions, what did the groups learn  while participating in this seminar,  How did their personal predictions differ their partners? How did their personal predictions differ from the text? Was it fun engage in reading in this way? What would make this seminar more fun or engaging? How are Inferences, Conclusions, and Predictions Related? 

Socratic Writing Seminar | Student Initiated Questions and Formative Feedback


Teaching student exemplary writing skills is easier when you incorporate Socratic Writing Seminars! Peer lead formative guidance and specific praise from peers, helps students develop and strengthen writing by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approaches.

This writing seminar is used to teach peer lead questioning
protocols and formative feedback. The seminars key focus is developing student lead questing when revising and editing a final draft. Students give and receive formative feedback using a non judgmental critiques model. It should be used for the final draft, specifically what will be polished into the finished published product. This process will help students see what is working and what is not working. The students make inquiries from peers; the peers provide suggestions and ideas for revisions. Students have to step out of their comfort zone and actively seek help.  Ultimately causing a change in student’s attitudes about the writing process: Brainstorming, Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing and Publishing! The improvement in the writing and revising process is less painless when the teacher is not the red pen gate keeper. It’s the individual students not the teacher offering feedback that is so positive to the author/creator. Explicit modeling is essential for this seminar to successfully be properly used. Teacher lead editing which focuses on students writing can make some students shut down and not want to write.

1. Provide students with a writers-checklist or a student friendly six traits of writing rubric. The descriptors and rubrics are clear guidelines of the objectives and criteria for the piece of writing that will be critiqued.

2. As a class, create a list of revision questions based on the checklist or rubrics, have students refer to revision questions “anchor chart” that are based on the criteria for the good writing.

3. Model the procedure for asking questions with small groups or with the whole class.  Create cooperative groups that will read and give feedback and suggestions. Advanced students can be placed on a feedback team.

4. Students work in groups of 2-5.

5. The students reads aloud their final draft to the group, this will immediately show if they are ready for final check lists and revision ideas. The student may ask peers to focus feedback on a specific modification that is particular to something they’re actually struggling with. No feedback is offered without the student asking the question first. Students must take responsibility for seeking help and advice by asking questions.

6. Student give formative feedback and revision ideas can be written on Post-it notes or can be provided from the checklist or criteria for great writing. Students focus on the positive first and what was done well. Students look for specific attributes of great writing, what is praiseworthy or working well and openly praise the student’s specific writing qualities. Praise and feedback always has to be very specific.

7. The teacher models how to give specific helpful feedback, Saying, “You did a good job”, “You need to rewrite it”, this is not formative feedback or helpful for revising the final draft.  

Formative Feedback for Six Traits of Writing "Ideas"
“The writing has great/uneven ideas” The writing makes sense and the purpose is clear”
“This topic is clear/unclear and well (needs more to be) covered” You included interesting fun details” “your ideas are engaging and I want to keep reading” “This sentence is unclear, you might add some important details”

8. Students take turns presenting and asking questions. Again after being ask questions peers provide helpful specific suggestions and praise.

Formative Feedback for Six Traits of Writing "Organization"
“The writing is easy to follow, and it starts out with a powerful opener!”, The writing flows and everything ties together” I like the flows of idea and clear organization” , “The witting connects all the fun details to the main idea and theme”, “Your ideas are broken down into well organized logical paragraphs” “The writing is ordered and has great openers and transitions”

9. Student Debrief: Was the feedback positive and related to the revision questions? Did all students participate in giving and receiving formative feedback? Did the seminar help you think about revising and editing in a positive way? Was the formative feedback helpful? 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Socratic Seminar | "Opinion" Take a Stand

Purpose Participants articulate opinions and thinking on their viewpoints about controversial questions.

An opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or personal statement that is not irrefutable. It may deal with subjective (biased) concepts in which there are no conclusive facts or proof. What distinguishes fact from opinion is that facts are more likely to be verifiable, i.e. can be agreed to by the consensus (agreement) of experts.

1. Post  “I Strongly Agree.” and “I Strongly Disagree.” In two parts of the room.  

2. Tell students they'll be using the Take a Stand protocol, which allows them to share and explain their opinions. They go to a spot on an imaginary line that best reflects their beliefs after they hear a statement. Corporal Punishment Is a Great Classroom Management Technique!

3. Explain the steps of the opinion protocol:

A. The teacher makes a statement and students go to the “I Agree or Disagree Line”, based on whether they agree or disagree with that statement, to a accepted point on the imaginary line that goes across the room. Point out that one side is labeled “Strongly Disagree” and also the other side labeled “Strongly Agree,” and also this means that the center of the line is undecided.

B. After the teacher makes a statement, they will pause for students  to then think and get all participants to go on to the point on the imaginary line that best reflects their opinions. “I believe learning cursive is a waste of time”

C. The teacher selects an equity stick and ask individuals to share and justify their opinions, make sure to actively listen to students on different parts of the line. The teachers can fold the line so the “strongest agree” and “strongest disagree” have a Socratic discussion.

D. If a participant actively listens to an opinion and the student has an anagnorisis, and they change their mind, they can go quietly to the part of line that represents their opining.

4. Model and review how the protocol works. Make a new statement (Homework should be abolished for primary and intermediate students) model for students how to move and change a position if the change their opinions. The modeling helps individuals internalize how to use the line that is invisible.

Socratic Seminar | Compare and Contrast Reading Questions


Purpose This protocol was created to help individuals understand the meaning of a text at a deeper level, particularly to see how meaning can be constructed and supported by the essential ideas of others. After the students share his / her reasoning, interests, similarities and differences in interpretations, questions will arise as other participants share their thinking without judgment or debate. The presenters share and listen to others insights that should help change or deepen his or her perspective, increasing knowledge.  Students do not need to stick with their unique ideas and they can adapt their ideas without criticism. This protocol is especially helpful when people battle to understand what they are reading. Advanced level Released Reading Comprehension Test with Paired Text Work Well! Compare and Contrast Focus Questions and Prompts!

Compare and Contrast Question Stems and Prompts:
  1. What connections can you find…. about the, themes, characters?
  2. In what ways do the characters think alike/differently in the paired text?
  3. How does this…. contrasting idea affect the outcome?
  4. In what way do different settings in the paired stories affect the outcome?
  5. Which similar details are used by the authors to show us how the characters act with towards each other?
  6. What attitude did the characters display?
  7. Was the…… charters affect important to the tone of the story? 
  8. What do… and….see the plots exposition, the characters think alike/differently in the paired text?
  9. How does the dialogue help you understand the affect of the characters and their potential actions?


1. Have each cooperative group select a time keeper and “Boss” facilitator.

2. All students may read the entire text “TEST” or cooperative groups may read various parts of the texts on a common subject for a jigsaw learning activity. Text selection is a critical step and needs to have advanced or above grade level text complicity.

3. Participants read silently or with a reading buddy and text-code, records relevant ideas using Lotus or Cornell notes,  or use a teacher made form or document that records desired learning targets.

4. Students mark, rank and annotate passages for discussion clearly, so they can quickly locate the passage later during discussions. To promote critical and higher order thinking, design prompts and question for the discussions that ask participants to include reasons why they selected a particular passage.  Using released tests gives teachers ready made prompts and reading comprehension questions. Students need to use text evidence that supports their particular view pints, opinions and connections.

5. Students share 2-3 relevant passages and his or her reasoning why they selected them.

6. Each participant offers commentary on which sentence or passage was ranked the highest and why they think is was critical to answer the prompt or question. Sharing during the seminar is done in less than 2 minutes.

7. The first presenter gets the very last word, sharing how his / her reasoning evolved and or changed, how they deepened their understanding after hearing students emphasizing what they found important to them.

8. Every student must take the role of presenter.
9. Debrief Contextual Ideas Discussion: How others impacted your thinking.

10. Debrief Questions: What worked in our discussion? What were some challenges? Just how can we enhance this seminar next time?

Socratic Seminar | Close Reading Jigsaw


Purpose: This protocol permits small groups of students to engage in an effective, time-efficient way with a lengthier text. A reading comprehension “Cooperative Jigsaw” activity that teaches close reading strategies in a quick fun engaging way. Having every student read every part of a lengthier text might not always be necessary. Students can divide up the reading, writing, activates to become an expert in one area (Jigsaw). Students hear oral or written summaries associated with other students reading, they gain an understanding of the larger text and material context.

1. Divide the selected text into workable sections.

2. Arrange students into cooperative groups and assign them a section of the text to read, analyze and do a keyword outline. Assign students Lotus Notes or Cornell Note and paper for a keyword outline.

3. Participants read their section independently, looking for keywords, interesting  statements, important points, brand new information, or answers to questions.

4. Students use the keyword outline and Lotus Notes or Cornell Note to synthesize an adroit summary of their section of the text,

5. Each student takes turns and shares their summaries, key ideas, high points, interesting passages, sentences,  of his/her important “Ahh Haas” for the text.

6. After the discussion students independently “write” and reflect on their understanding  of the broader text to help them make it their own. Writing is not always necessary the refection is!

7. Debrief: Have cooperative groups share insights and discoveries. Did the seminar process help students gain an understanding of the whole text? What worked well for the group? Is there added discussion skills that need to be practiced? Are combined groups or smaller groups better? How could we improve this seminar and make it more fun and engaging? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Academic Reading Journals | Response to Literature

Daily Response to Literature Lessons and Academic Reading Journals: Student Response to Literature

1. Daily response to literature practice helps support and scaffold
the lowest quartile students as they learn challenging reading concepts and writing skills. 
2. Response to Literature accelerates the student’s acquisition of the critical reading concepts, encourages attentive and close reading, exposure to tier 1, 2, and 3 vocabularies, enhances reading comprehension, and develops higher order of thinking and effective questioning skills. 
3. Journaling with a nonjudgmental writing coach deepens understanding of the writing processes and removes apprehension. 

4. Response to Literature lessons accelerates the student’s acquisition/understanding of the Six Traits of Writing, develops academic communication skills that are critical for transitioning to the new college and career standards.

Response to Literature or academic journaling is an essential instructional tool. I use Response to Literature or reading journals to 1) encourage a life-long love of reading and writing; 2 ) teach the structures and strategies of close reading, the close writing process "Response to Literature" and Socratic seminar/inquiry; 3) teach students to be academic risk-takers, motivated learners, virtuous thinkers, curious questioners, academically responsible and interdependent learners; 4) accelerate the acquisition of the Response to Literature process; and 5) turn students great potential into real academic writing achievement.

Frequent writing about what you have read can develop and expand comprehension and vocabulary.

Expressing important ideas in writing helps the student organize ideas and strengthens connections to vocabulary.

Well-taught writing can help students' reading, Poorly taught writing can hinder students' reading

Response to literature Process for Intermediate Students Abstract
My students use a response to literature journals daily during close reading instruction and Socratic inquiry. It begins with teaching students to select quality/challenging non-fiction, fiction, poetry, prose, or any well-written literature suitable for analysis. Next, we examine author’s purpose, literary elements, poetic devices or any other ELA domain through a collaborative Socratic inquiry process. Reading and writing instruction, in my opinion, should be used to build critical and strategic thinking and is always taught holistically in my class. We move into the complex task/skill of responding to a set of literary criterion “The TEST” that may be as simple as predicting the next set of events, adding or continuing the authors ideas, analytical summarization or analysis of complex literary elements. The students work with a partner or as a whole class to develop strategic graphic organizers, summarizing important facts, evaluating characters' opinions, identifying turning points, compare or contrast, evaluating the author's points of view, identifying author’s main ideas, noting key literary details, and choosing pertinent quotations. All the reading and writing instruction is focused through the lens of formative inquiry and enrichment to reinforce critical thinking, reading comprehension and the writing process. 

Part one is creating the Response to literature Journals or reading journals: The Reading Journals consists of close reading strategies, graphic organizers, interesting or important vocabulary, important sequential details, or Socratic questions that students want to ask during the weekly teacher conference. Tier 2 words are also listed and identified plus ten to fifteen detailed notes on the key literary elements are recorded for each response to literature by each student using Cornell Notes. Students then summarize the main ideas, authors’ purpose or other literary areas that are being analyzed. The use of the Six Traits Rubrics, Socratic seminar, cooperative structures and strategies and traditional paragraph structure instruction are modeled throughout the process. Response to literature can best be taught using a collaborative or cooperative learning model. Evaluation of author's main purpose or any other complex concept must be modeled and modeled in a collaborative format. The younger students always start with the basics of who, what, where, when, why and how! More advanced students create literary topics of discussion to share with student colleagues and teacher during the Socratic seminar. Advanced students may work independently and do additional analysis, critiques, margin notes, re-imagining a new literary ending, character summaries, connections they have made between other genres, books or poems.

Students conference with the teacher weekly and use their reading journals as an ongoing learning portfolio and as a collaborative tool with other students. The weekly conferences and journals are also used to ensure that students are accountable, participating/collaborating and completing learning task and comprehending the assigned readings. An extended conference is scheduled as needed to support students who are not making gains in the close reading and “close” writing processes. Throughout this process, students are always given suggestions on how to improve their close reading skills, reading comprehension, modeled response to literature strategies, cooperative writing opportunities and improve their critical and strategic thinking.

By the end of the first 20 days of my Title I 4th-grade class, students are often completing two full pages of responses for each selected close reading passage and Socratic seminar. The goal at this point is to have completed literary responses that are rich, exact, with cogent connections to the explicitly stated goal of the literary response. Students are constantly instructed on how to work collaboratively, and build interdependent and independent work skills. All instruction is integrated with a Finnish model of instruction the to build a classroom team that can succeed and exceed. The reading process and the writing process must be taught as one, “One is none and two is one!” The ultimate goal is for students to become motivated, independent learners, exactly the type of students we want them to be.

Part two of this process includes revising, drafting, and editing each of the literary responses. The students collaborate with peers in an informal read aloud to a partner and the sharing of pre-edited responses. The students give each other feedback and as always when something is read aloud they find errors.  The teacher can participate as a listening only letting the student read their response out loud and giving verbal feedback.  Rereading editing and rereading give students more freedom to try new things without the fear of failure. Using a sounding board model builds collaboration and can usually find structural errors and quality issues in a more formative learning environment. Students can review the author's main ideas, important facts, character development, settings, events, and turning points in the fear free writing zone.

Formative Conferences
Quick formative conferences, or spot checks, can be used at any time to check student’s on-task behavior, collaboration, understanding, and accountability. Teachers or cooperative teams can do quick conferences to ensure students comprehend the passage, vocabulary, important facts, literary devices, author’s ideas/purpose, main ideas, important outcomes/turning points, characters, settings, events, and even enjoyment. Students who show poor reading skills, collaborative skills, focus, and or comprehension of the literature are placed with a competent student, teacher, tutor or classroom parent. Students are asked to cooperate, collaborate and develop critical academic skills like taking quality notes, developing cogent questions, comprehending the literature they read, talking with peers using complete sentences, discussing academic ideas with the class, and as a teacher I am always looking for role models that demonstrate these skills to praise in front of the class. Students who fail to find the success are reinstructed one-on-one in an extended conference and are ask to model expected outcomes with other strong students.

Teachable Moments
Unknown vocabulary and important background information is explained to the entire class in detail to ensure deeper meaning and understanding. Students are asked to never erase notes, responses, summaries, but to salvage what they have and use the margins for new ideas. The final part of the response to literature process is looking for teachable moments that the class can use to extended learning and critical thinking.

Value of Response to Literature Lessons | Read and Response Journaling

Journaling as you read is the most effective way of understanding a work of literature and strengthening understanding of the writing process at the same time. With journaling, you integrate reading and writing, and you will find that you can relate to the story more completely, and experience every image, every conversation, every character, and every interesting adventure. Avoid hasty reading or skimming because it can prevent you from understanding the meaning of the book as a whole. Investigate everything fully; be prepared to learn and be inspired. Never skip a word you don’t know. Stop! Write it down! Seek the meaning! If you do skip the meaning, you are leaving a great treasure behind. Seek those characteristics that skilled writers observe in real life and integrate them into your journals, essays, letters, and reports: perseverance, conflict, justice, injustice, challenge, courage, character, adversity, and apprehension. Engaging writing includes exciting precise key vocabulary, captivating dialogue, well-organized plot, varied complex sentences, and grammatically refined prose with fresh original ideas. When you discover the deeper meaning and relate it to the content, you'll be on your way to understanding and loving books. Using great works of literature to examine, and compare and contrast with your own writing, will build knowledge of how to write great passages and prose yourself.

Homework Journals
Keep a response journal (homework journal) for all study areas, including art, music, science, social studies, and even field trips. Write your feelings, first impressions, funny moments, jokes, sketches, relationships, questions, quotations, and great topic sentences-anything that helps you start to look at professional writing structure. Learn to truly read and then learn to truly write.


Writing about reading makes students more conscious of making meaning as readers. It gives them insight into the reading and writing processes. Writing about reading accelerates, reinforces, and streamlines vocabulary acquisition and retention. Writing about reading makes struggling students more secure and comfortable to write with the support of the author’s vocabulary and paragraphs. Writing about reading makes students more independent, competent, motivated, and involved in all forms of academic text.

Writing about reading gives students ideas for their own texts. They reread and reflect upon their writing, which sparks fuller learning. Writing about reading supports students to take charge of their learning and make connections between different areas of learning. Seeing teachers and parents write in their own reading journals and sharing their writing reinforces the vital importance of writing for life-long learning. It also emphasizes the public nature of writing. Journal coaching supports the students as they reach for more complexity in their reading and writing. Journal coaching supports the students as they acquire the vocabulary and background knowledge to truly understand and enjoy the reading.