Friday, July 8, 2016

Summer Reading Series: Teaching Lane

Happy Friday everyone, and welcome to my new Summer Feature!

Every Friday I will be republishing a post by a fellow teacher-blogger featuring a book or books. I will also be sharing the bloggers answers to some questions for an interview section. If you would be interested in being a featured blogger this summer, please click THIS LINK and follow the directions on that page. I hope to hear from you soon!

Two Teacher Friends
My Book Blast
Sunshine and Lollipops

Now onto the fifth feature.

Today's Post comes to us courtesy Elaine from Teaching Lane

What was your favourite teaching moment and why?
I have several favorite teaching moments; the ones that stick out the most are ones where my students are not only engaged in our lesson, but laughing at the same time. You know, those times when they are learning the most, but they don't even realize it!

Who was your favourite teacher and why?
My favorite teacher was Mrs. Evans, my 4th grade teacher. She is the reasons I became a teacher. She helped me fall in love with reading and pushed me to work to my fullest potential, while still loving me like I was her own child.

What would your Superhero name be and Why?
My superhero name would be Captain Laugh-a-lot because I try to incorporate laughter into every aspect of my life, especially the classroom.

What animal do you think would make a great teacher and why?
I think a monkey would be a great teacher because they are like humans in that they are able to learn something and then repeat it. Also, they are viewed as funny and bring a smile to their viewers faces.

If you could have any other job, what would it be and why?
Honestly, I wouldn't want to do anything else outside of education. If I had to choose, I think I'd do some kind of job that deals with the public because I enjoy meeting new people and talking with them.


Originally Published FRIDAY, JULY 3, 2015

Using novels in the classroom to teach reading can cause a whole plethora of emotions to rise up in a teacher's being. Some teachers get giddy with anticipation, while others may feel very overwhelmed at the lack (or seemingly lack) of structure. No matter what your feelings toward using novels, allow me to plead my case for how beneficial the use of novels can be to you and your students with my top 6 reasons.
One of the main reasons novels should be used in the classroom rather than a basal is because they allow for science and social studies content to be brought into the classroom a lot more easily. One challenge to this argument could be that you don't have enough books for your entire class. That's okay! You could simply integrate the novel as your read-aloud for the next few weeks. Read-alouds are important because students need to hear good examples of reading with expression and good prosody. This would also allow you to kill two birds with one stone! If you are fortunate enough to have enough copies of the novel you want to use for your class, by all means, use them to teach your sweet babies! The most important thing to remember is that you can reinforce content areas through the novel while also teaching reading skills. Cool, huh? Most basals offer some stories that align to science and social standards, but it's usually only a couple OR it is for another grade level. Novels allow you the opportunity to ensure that the content area standards that are being covered are a match for your specific grade level.

Most basal stories are written with a specific skill in mind that should be taught during the duration of the story. Granted, most teachers can find a little wiggle room to pull in some review reading skill work, but it is definitely limited. Novels allow teachers to hit a whole truck-load full of reading skills simultaneously throughout the novel. I will say that in order for this to be the most beneficial for your students (& the easiest for you, the teacher), it is helpful that you are familiar with the novel yourself. Using novels does take some preparation upfront on the teacher's part, but isn't that what all of us "effective teachers" do anyway? Through the use of reading jobs to writing summaries to comparing the book to the movie or another text, several different reading skills can be taught/reviewed during a novel study.

The use of novels in the reading classroom also provides more opportunities for project-based learning. Students may complete a project that has been assigned to their class or them individually. Some teachers may want to give students a choice about how they should demonstrate their understanding of the novel through the use of a choice board. Students could also get a "free choice"  about how they want to complete the project. Some of you may be wondering exactly what kind of project could your students do with a novel. Here are a few ideas that might spark an idea for you and/or your students:

*Create a book jacket for your novel. Be sure to give it a new title that could fit with the theme of the story.
*Book Report in a Bag--Students choose x amount of items to place in their bag to represent something from the story. They must write/explain why that item fits.
*Students can pick their favorite scene from the story to rewrite as a reader's theater. They can then act it out for their classmates.

With the push for state testing on the new Common Core standards taking effect, it is more important now than ever that teachers are differentiating their lessons. Novels seem to allow for more differentiation. There's a couple of different things that you can do to differentiate the instruction that is taking place. For starters, if your students are going to all read the same novel, you could differentiate the novel by letting students buddy read or read individually. Leveling the comprehension measures that coincide with the novel is another option to differentiate your classroom when using novels. What if you don't have a class set of the novel or what if you want to level the novels that your students read? Simply group your students based on interest or ability level to create literature circles. Higher students can  complete job sheets to help foster discussions about the books without teacher guidance while lower students may need to work on their novel alongside the teacher. Aren't you getting excited just thinking about all the                 possibilities that you can do with a novel? (I get all giddy  inside, and almost excited about the beginning of the school year just thinking about it!)

Through the use of novels in the classroom, students can develop a love for reading. A basal story gives the students a small snippet of a story; however, a novel can envelope their minds and help them begin to use imagery as they read. Students fall in love with the characters, predict what will happen, and can even have discussions based on what did or didn't, might or might not happen based on events in the novel. Characters come alive to students as they turn the pages or listen to the teacher read aloud to them. Frankly, many students will beg, yes I said b-e-g you to read to them. Some students will fall so in love with one book that they will reread it or, if it's in a series, they will go ahead and read the next book. Most   students can learn to love reading, it just takes their teacher introducing them to the right book.

Novel studies also allow students to "go deeper" with their reading and thinking. Novels seem to naturally open themselves up to H.O.T.S. (higher order thinking skills). This can be beneficial to struggling readers since many of those babies thrive when they are given a little push. It can also be beneficial to the more advanced students because it allows them to continue to push their understanding and have discussions based on what they have read. No matter what your students' levels are at any point in the school year, you can find a suitable novel that will peak their interest as well as push them to learn to the best of their ability.If you want to see success at the end of the school year, and if you want to see     growth, give using novels a try. You just might surprise yourself at how much your students learn!

So, what do you think? Can novels be successful if they are implemented effectively into the classroom? I'd love to hear your opinion about the use of novels in the classroom. Also, please feel free to share any tips!

Thanks for reading,

Elaine, Teaching Lane

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