Friday, July 1, 2016


5 BRAIN-BASED instructional reading strategies to help students succeed! THE SECRETS TO HIGH READING TEST SCORES!

1. Spiraled-practice (DISTRIBUTED PRACTICE): Read with

your student's three or four times a day. Read rich literature that has dense complex ideas, the literature should spark Socratic inquiry and discussions. Practice using and discussing grade level or above tier 1, 2, and 3 Academic Vocabulary words and language concepts in context. I read Harry Potter because it exposes my students to the great language and rich erudite vocabulary.  Reading and practicing new words and concepts in a multimodal way, with your eyes, your ears, your voice and your hands (pantomime, ESL word gestures that trigger muscle memory, finger spelling, or making and signing mnemonic symbols). 
    Tier 2 and 3 Academic words are broken down by RIT level and are used by Pearson, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced, 99% of published test use advanced vocabulary to assess a student's standardized reading scores. Students need to work with cooperative partners several times daily reviewing new vocabulary using the 3-6-9 mastery review model. Use the concept a minimum of 3 times in context, ask at least 6 probing questions about the concept (attributes, comparative exemplars, and misconceptions), and retests your understanding of the concept a minimum of 9 times using games! Critical tier 2 and 3 academic vocabulary words need to be studied, rehearsed, and recalled for a minimum of 4 weeks to prepare for any standardized reading test. Students should review at home what was practiced in the class. Working individually doing word work "worksheet drills" without a teacher or peer assistance is not effective.

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." Bruce Lee 

2. Self-quizzing (Self-Testing): Read literature with dense complex vocabulary and have students quiz themselves with question stems.  Students must read rich literature with student-directed, detected, and selected self-testing strategies. Reading and that requires self-study and reflection is a habit that needs to be practiced and modeled. Good old-fashioned flashcards with question stems is a daily part of our reading activities, Cornell notes, self-testing the old school way with folded paper covering the questions/terms and the denotations/answers for review. My students actively seek out unknown Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary from the rich literature we read and they make their own flashcards and self-quizzes. My students grow 2-3 years as measured by the NWEA MAP reading assessment yearly. 

"The unprepared mind cannot see the outstretched hand of opportunity." Alexander Fleming

3. Socratic Seminars (Critical and Flexible Thinking): Reading with a question in your mind and discussing the deeper meaning of complex text using the Socratic questioning techniques. Socratic questioning is disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes, including: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we don't know, to follow out logical implications of thought or to control the discussion. The key to distinguishing Socratic questioning from questioning per se is that Socratic questioning is systematic, disciplined, deep and usually focuses on fundamental concepts, principles, theories, issues or problems.

"The weakest ink is better than the best memory. Study with pen in hand Picture" Adrian Rogers 

4. Response to Literature/Learning (SELF-EXPLANATION): "Why is this passage important? "What did I learn by reading this passage?" "What did I Learn?" "How did I learn that" “What new information does the passage present?"  “How does the passage relate to what I already know?” Response to Literature or Reflective Journaling, is the most effective way of understanding a work of literature, evaluate what you have learned, gain new knowledge,  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.

  “Thoughts become things. If you see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hand.” Bob Proctor

5. ELA Reading Games (INTERLEAVED PRACTICE): Mixed up ELA games that incorporate mixed levels (Begining, Intermediate, and Advanced) and mixed content. The novelty of games is always engaging and fun plus the ELA mixed content practice boost memory and retention. Games should always incorporate mixed levels to expose all students to advanced concepts. They can be a mixture of 2-5 different ELA domains. Reading teachers can mix spelling, vocabulary knowledge, word analysis, reading fluency, reading comprehension, Dolch sight word recognition, or any area that students need to remember and retrieve using memory.  

At-Risk Readers, Emergent Readers, and Beginning Readers: Reading Fluency and sight word automaticity are critical to reading comprehension. Students that use all their energy word calling and decoding will have no cognitive ability to comprehend the text. Students need to practice reading with real emotion, expression, intonation, and build endurance. Students that are required to take (EOG) End of Grade standardized reading test may have to focus and read 50-60 test questions and passages that can take up to 2 to 3 hours, with test session done over multiple days. Practicing reading fluency and endurance is a winner to help kids when they are doing their marathon testing sessions.

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