Resources to Publish Student Writing

I came across this great resource when searching for ways to publish student writing.  Students are very motivated when then can share and take home a published writing piece.  Sometimes this is the hook a teacher needs to help a struggling writer.  I also think that students take more pride in their work once they understand what the published piece looks like.  Click here to link to a list of publishing options from the National Writing Project.


Module 5: All About Garth

After reading and listening to interviews on Guiding Students as they Explore, Build, and Connect Online, I was most interest in the Garth Corbett’s interview.  I was very impressed to hear about his motivation and success at such a young age.  Garth is a high school student who took what started out as a hobby and invested time and learning to create a YouTube Channel.  Garth has a passion for technology specifically with video editing.  It was interesting to hear how inquisitive he was at a young age when it came to technology via video games.  Further, I learned that camps and training for teens exist!  I had no idea!  I think Garth is a prime example that Gee discusses in his work when it comes to using video games to learn more whether its technology based information acquisition or interest based.  Garth is also demonstrates a student who has a strong interest based motivation.   Given his level of interest in technology, Garth has been highly motivated to learn more and continue to invest significant amount of time in this area.  Something tells me, Garth has the skills to be very successful both in school and in his personal and professional life!

Module 4: To Level or Not to Level?

To Level or Not to Level?

The great debate among many teachers in lies whether or not books should be leveled or not.  This doesn’t seem to be a clear cut question to answer.  Based on reading from Duke, Pearson, Strachan, & Billman, readers should be exposed to text that is of interest to them.  I think this implies that reading off level is most appropriate.  An important caveat to consider is that teacher or parent involvement needs to occur when students desire to read a book that is a bit too hard for them to read independently.  On the flip side, if the interest is there, the student should be exposed.  The benefits of interest based reading are monumental.  Students have context to place new vocabulary as well as motivation to continue to read.  In support of Gee’s opinion from Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling, students who are motivated by content and exposed to a variety of vocabulary amount to good readers.  I think limiting readers to text that is only at their instructional level is a disservice to them based on prior research.

A guided reading approach as supported by Fountas & Pinnell, is one that incorporates both leveled texts as well as interest based text experiences.  This approach seems to be the most encompassing when it comes reading instruction.  During guided reading (small group instruction) leveled text are used with teacher guidance, but during independent reading opportunities (which is also a component of the guided reading approach) self-selected (not leveled books) are read by students.  I support this combined approach which in term helps foster motivation and vocabulary development (through classroom discussion) which we have learned are the greatest predictors of “good readers”.

Additional resource:

Module 4: Reflection on Gee’s Situation Language and Learing: A Critique of Traditional Schooling

I thought this poster was interesting on the heels of reading and summarizing G.P. Gee’s Situated Language and Learning” A Critique of Traditional Schooling.

After reading Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling chapters 4-6,  I have several thoughts.  Gee takes an interesting perspective and relates reading to video gaming.  While he makes several solid points relevant to vocabulary, exposure and achieving “good reader” status, I don’t think his approach is the only way for readers to become solid and confident.  Gee believes the process of learning to video game is applicable to learning to read.  His main point is that students must do in order to understand and learn, not just learn skills in isolation with little to no connection to the larger picture.  I agree with Gee’s beliefs that learning is best via a “cultural process” not necessarily an “instructed process”.  Gee compares the video game experience with learning in that learners must acquire knowledge at a relatively quick speed to maintain interest and for the material to be engaging enough that keeps people coming back to play more.  This is similar to reading in that if students are frustrated and can’t make contextual meaning to their learning, they are likely to avoid it.  Also, students who are interested in the content will want to read more often.

I found Gee’s discussion about the careful balance between teacher guidance and student response to be spot on.  I think a teacher needs to be sensitive and in tune with his/her students in order to guide them in the direction that is most relevant to them.  Differentiation of approach is crucial in helping students in their learning journey.

Overall, Gee’s model of video-gaming and language and learning seems quite revolutionary.  He makes several valid points, but I don’t think our country is quite ready for the broad shift that he proposes.  I think integration of many of his suggestions could help many learners.

Module 4: Essential Elements of Fostering and Teaching Reading Comprehension

Summary of 10 Elements of Teaching Reading Comprehension \

  1. Build Disciplinary Word Knowledge: Students are taught using a combination of hands-on experiences and text based reading. Language is used throughout the lesson, requiring students to read, write, speak and listen.  Pairing experience with reading exposes students to a multi-sensory approach which increases their word knowledge.
  2. Provide exposure to a volume and range of texts: Teachers expose students to a variety of text genres, topics, levels and format. In our current world, it is also important to expose students to both digital and print formats of text.
  3. Provide motivating texts and contexts for reading: Students are given text of their interest to read. Classroom activities involve the “6 C’s”:  choice, challenge, control, collaboration, constructing meaning, and consequences.  Lastly, reading and writing assignments parallel real world experiences, thus making them more meaningful and motivating to students.
  4. Teach strategies for comprehending: Students are taught strategies to use while reading.  After lots of instruction, modeling, guided practice and independent practice, students are able to:

– set the purpose for reading

– preview and predict

– activate prior knowledge (form connections)

– monitor, clarify, and re-read


– draw inferences

– summarize and re-tell

  1. Teach text structures: Students understand how individual texts are structured and can recall key information after reading. Visual representations, such as graphic organizers, are used to help understand how the text is structured.
  2. Engage students in discussion: Teachers explicitly describe text structure, model how it is used to support reading and writing, and students discuss text and text structure with each other.   Through discussion, students form higher level questions, listen and link others’ ideas, locate evidence from the text to support their thinking, and participate regularly in discussions.
  3. Build vocabulary and language knowledge: Students are exposed to multiple experiences with a wide variety of words. New vocabulary words are introduced and embedded in context of subject matter.  Read alouds occur and foster language learning through discussions that lead to a deeper understanding of vocabulary and language.
  4. Integrate reading and writing: Reading and writing are taught in conjunction through content area instruction. Students are provided opportunities and encouraged to represent their ideas in multiple ways including, reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  5. Observe and assess: A variety of assessment and observation methods are utilized to determine a student’s level of understanding. This information is informative and used to drive classroom instruction.
  6. Differentiate: Small group instruction is utilized to accelerate or reteach to students at differing levels of understanding when it comes to reading comprehension.

Module 3: Top 5 Vocabulary Teaching Points

Top Five Things a New Teacher Should Know About Teaching Vocabulary    

  1. Spend time with the 4,000 Core Academic Vocabulary words.   These words are essential for academic success and students should master these words, thus instructional time must be spent on these words.
  2. Direct instructional time should be spent on vocabulary words related to content subject areas (science, math, social studies, etc.).
  3. Provide students with opportunities to work with new vocabulary words through cloze passages and question and answer format for both practice and assessment.
  4. Brainstorm synonyms and antonyms for new vocabulary words as a group.
  5. Teach students strategies for generating meaning for unknown words (context clues, dictionary use, etc.).