Literacy workshop – Murray Gadd

We had a Teacher Only day on Friday with Murray Gadd facilitating. He’s been in and out all year working on literacy with us. I started up an Etherpad window and two of us (with occasional input from our principal) used it to take notes. At the end of the session I sent a PDF copy of the notes to Mike (principal) which he then emailed to all staff.

We even had a couple of tweeple pop in to see what was happening – a great way to share learning with others.

One of the very cool things that Murray does is read books to us (well – to whoever he’s facilitating with) and while some of us already know about some of the books there’s always something new to discover. I’ve bolded the books he read.

Here’s the unedited copy of our notes. (ok – I have done a little editing with links and removing stuff for our staff only!)

Reading workshop #2 with Murray Gadd

W/shop focus – comprehension strategies/teaching of vocabulary/effective reading responses

(Indicators in curriculum are only indicators not must haves)

Our job to teach the processes and strategies …

* Literacy Learning Progressions
* Reading & writing national standards

BOOK: Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey

Key competencies – in the story – relating to others/managing self/participating and contributing/thinking/using language etc

Comprehension strategies

* are kids using sources of information – to make connections – visual clues/textual clues etc

* are kids using processing strategies – attending and searching/predicting/cross checking/self correct

* comprehension – (How do we bring meaning to it)

“when readers taught to use CS their comprehension improves”

“What research has to say about reading instruction”chapter 13 p 398
“Metacognition and self-regulated comprehension”

BOOK: Stellaluna – by Jannell Cannon

Good book for friendship stuff

What would kids need to have to understand this book?

(P131-133 Effective Lit book yrs1-4)

(1) Making connections with what we already know

(Good example to use for a narrative – i think we have it in the library)

(2) Forming and testing hypotheses about texts – using clues / predicting -then testing to see if my hypothesis or prediction is correct / then reflect

(3) Ask questions of themselves about what they are reading

* think alouds – “i wonder what that means?” etc

(4) Creating mental images/visualising

(when you go to a movie after reading the book and it’s not so good)

Share how we get the picture in our heads (conections of images with words)
different people get different pictures – makes the story broader?

powerful verbs – well-chosen adjectives/verbs

Using prior knowledge about the words to create an image – Applying senses

(5) inferring meaning

(Refer: Zoo by Anthony Browne –

“Mr Gadd stormed into the room with a face like thunder.” finding the clues

word, phrase or picture clues about meaning in text
Link to prior knowledge

“murray kicked the ball. he was good at rugby.”
* the ball is a rugby ball
* He = Murray

* pronouns often confusing for kids
* kids understanding of phrases and clauses can often cause problems (especially if clause is at beginning of sentence)

(6) Identifying the author’s purpose & POV

* if i know why then it might help my response to the story
* author’s style very important (ie Anthony Browne) Voices in the Park is a great example
* “How do you think the author felt about the situation?”

(How can we be so different but feel so much alike. – check the line – end of Stellaluna)

(7) Summarise main ideas

* need to find the indicators
* can introduce via the structure of writing type – like narrative
“What was the complication?”
“Which part is the orientation? – what is happneing there”
* demonstrate summarising to kids

(8) Identifying the main idea
* comes from author’s purpose
“If you were the writer what would your main idea be?”

(9) Analysing and synthesizing

ZOO: analysed dad and came to conclusions

* Reflecting on what’s it all about

(10) Evaluating ideas and information

“How does it affect me?” (My reading , my view of text, compare against what i already know)

These 10 are not in isolation – use them together.

[Page 5/6 recognising comprehension strategies – refer to this for examples of teacher talk!]

[See photo notes in evernote]

Effective literacy Practice
Chapter 5: Year 1 to Year 4 book (Year 5 – Year 8 Pgs 141 to 151)
134-135 – Strategies

Reference Copy Explaing Reading by Gerald Duffy – to be bought.

Teaching reading comprehension – Alison Davis

How do we teach comprehension strategies?

* describe
* demonstrate
* scaffold

start in little steps – paragraph/page etc

* encourage students to use – could be great to model using the mimio!
(don’t be too excessive – that’s giving us permission to throw out the instruction and have some fun in reading at times!)”Just read the story!”

Will our new national standards encourage teachers to look only at the strategies to ensure that a goal is reached rather than teacher the essence of good reading?

Readers find clues. Writers put clues in. – Inferring

Show – don’t tell – e.g. use other words to describe that someone is old

Today’s kids don’t have the oral language – less time in books more time in front of screens – screens not necessarily bad but people need to be reading


Teaching Vocabulary to improve reading comprehension pp1-2
By William E Nagy

Bringing words to life by Elizabeth Beck?

BOOK: Pearl Barley and Charley Parsley by Aaron Blabey

(lovely bedside manner – what a hoot!)

(they’re different and THAT is why they are such good friends!)

Nagy “Vocab knowledge … ” pp1-2

If we simply teach students more words they will understand text better

learning new words means aquiring new meaning

how and why one can choose and adapt vocab-related activities

in-depth word knowledge – meaning, structure, associations, derivation

american stats – scary – high decile = 8000 words by year 3/ low decile = 4000 words by year 3

Students should not be expected to learn more than 6 or 7 new words in a reading lesson
teaching 25 word meanings per week is a reasonable goal

high quality texts – Regular and extensive reading of is probably the single largest source of vocab growth (Increase volume of reading)

all the words that mean beautiful – linking hte words together

start with the meaning and ask them to find the word (rather than the other way around)

Incidental word learning is important

we can make sense of what is going on if we know at least 85% of the words

teahcers are models … use words … i find words exciting!!!! teach that excitement to the kids – word of the day/word of the week – display – could have kids find different places where they see the word and bring to share

BOOK: The first easter bunny
By Kate Walker (read by one of our teachers)

Another book on accepting others differances

Pre Reading

Introducing Key Words that may be a challenge to students
Students predicting what words might be in text. -Can be added to/checked off during and/or after reading

During Reading

Teaching new words through context
Looking closely at the structure of words to find meaning clues
Find and identify words in text connected closely to the topic or theme

Post Reading

Exploring all aspects of vocab knowledge (Meaning, derivation, structure, related words, synonyms and antonyms) using things like:

Semantic webs
Clines – words with degrees of meaning – ie – hot, tepid, warm, luke-warm etc
Semantic feature analysis
Venn Diagrams
Hierarchical array
Barrier games/matching words with definitions – could do on mimio
Close activities
Word associations – police – trouble – kids – children – trouble 😉
Finishing sentances meaningfully – The boy played in the park and….
Clustering words according to meaning (Give kids whole list of words and they group all that mean the same.)
Telephone whispers – Similiar to chiniese whispers
Call my bluff – Give 3 or 4 def’s and chdn decide which is the right one
Linear arrays
Coffee pot game (for context) – I left my “coffee pot” this morning {house}
in the manner of the word (secret adverb) ask someone to do an action in the mannaer of the word
My Aunt likes… double letter ie apples but not pears, green but not red

Can be done independently or with teacher – follow up activity can assess students understanding of a non-fiction text

hierarchical – looks like a good one for using with mimio

BOOK: Something else – (different cover)
– Accepting others again

Reading Responses
Related activities after reading should link directly to the learning goal or focus and the text being considered. Students should be able to see these links. related activities can also be FUN!!!!

KWL – more suited for non-fiction
(Brainboxes we have in Team B could be good place to start)
Template avail on mimio also

The reading activity handbook – sheneah cameron

Students should be given a variety of reading responses:
– Oral language act (“The main ideas in this text are…” “In my own words this text is about…”)

– Word/ Vocab act

– Writing act (using graphic organisers, storyboards, timelines, flow chart, diary entry for a character in the story, creating a news item{radio, tv, paper}, emotions chart, Writing to the author to describe their feelings towards the text, Creating a “Who am i?” puzzle for others, writind a similar story or poem.)

– Related art/music/drama act (Wanted poster, model or diorama about key section of text, book mark)

– Research act

online/digital responses – create your own superhero for the story/avatar/online story boarding etc

creating photographic freeze frames/slide shows/movies

These should be changed regularly so that children are “captured” by new responses

Pick a card – variety of response on cards (upside down)

shopping for pyjamas

make their own books
reading from the wall
buddy reading
online reading
interactive reading and writing on the comp/mimio
listening to other text at listening posts
reading from independent book boxes


BOOK: the cats in krasinski square

Learning journies

I blogged during the holidays about taking a new direction in my classroom teaching/management and thought it was about time to reflect on how it is going so far.

Term 2 I want to explore some possibilities. So these are my ideas so far:

* Desks are grouped in 5 table groups of 6
* Students will have a “home” group where they sit for admin purposes (Roll/SSR/End of Day etc) as well as for topic – they are mixed Y3&4/boy&girl
* Each table group will have a specific purpose during maths & reading/language time that will be the same each day (teacher, equipment, knowledge, investigation, basic facts practice for maths; teacher, reading activities & Word of the day, handwriting, writing (draft/editing/publishing), reading (buddy, library etc) for reading/language)
* Students will be in 5 groups and will rotate around the table groups over 4 days (I think 2 rotations per session especially while we’re trialling this)
* Students will also have a chart/poster of “other” activities they can go on with if they finished the assigned activity

This is really an adapted backbone idea but the activities are going to be varied – for instance:

* Publishing of work will have choices in format – on paper/blog/word/photo
* Some activities will be available via mimio and/or classroom computers
* The students also don’t have their “own” desk to return to – they have a home group (this is made easier by the fact that they have tote trays elsewhere with their stuff in them); the big difference is that while the activities may be similar to what they’ve been doing already they are not returning to “their” desks to work in isolation and some of the activities will now be a group activity rather than an individual activity

So how am I going so far:

  • students are quite settled into having a home with no specific desk – very much first come first choice of seating – some students are moved because they’re too chatty or off task but mostly they seat themselves and are quote happy about it
  • the groups for the maths and reading/language time are working well – they are grouped in 5s and aren’t all at the same exact levels but are close enough to work together
  • I’ve moved from the old ‘sitting in the teacher’s chair while the reading group sits on the floor’ to sitting at one of the table groups for doing reading activities – I really want a kidney shaped table for that purpose but this is working ok for now
  • having a specific purpose for each table group during the curriculum time works very well – it took some time to set up but they know to read instructions and to get on with the work
  • I set up a listening post using my old iPod mini – I’ve got a bunch of stuff on there including a number of short stories from NZ authors as well as some stuff for the whole class – we’re listening to Harry Potter #1 this term & our syndicate Jump Jam is on there as well
  • so far we’ve published to our class blog and I’m keen to go as paperless as possible – the fact that people from overseas had read their writing and commented on it was very powerful for them
  • My next move is to incorporate the use of Google Docs for some of the classwork – Google Forms is a good place to start and instead of just printing out worksheets with questions I’m going to try creating them and linking to them in our class delicious – that way the instruction can be to “go to the delicious page and click on the link entitled xxxxx” instead of printing out heaps of paper.

    I’m also looking forward to Google Wave – the possibilities of collaboration in writing/reading/maths between classrooms (my mind is whizzing ahead at 100 kph here) will be fantastic.

    I think by taking this journey step by step I’m having more success than I have in the past when I’ve tried to do too much in one go.

    I’ll be checking back in later in the term regarding this fantastic journey we’re on.