Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reading Challenges

Motivating Middle School Students can be super challenging when teaching reading. The MS students I work with do not enjoy reading. So it helps to have things that the students enjoy reading that can spark some type of connection or a topic that they find interesting. This blog will cover three points of interest. How to know what topics students might be willing to read, where to get the various materials and what to do with the materials.

First, how to know what topics students might be willing to read. I suggest a student interest survey to find out what your particular students are about.
Questions like:
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Who is your favorite music artist or band?
What is your favorite sports team or team sport?
What problem do you face?
Favorite animal or insect?
You get the idea.

Next, from the answers to these questions you can do several things to to obtain materials that might interest your students. Visit a library and check out some books. This is my least favorite idea because students my get over whelmed by books. So my suggestion is to visit Google and set up various alerts using the answers that you got on the survey. For example: If one of my answers was that a student wanted to be a marine biologist. I would set up an alert for marine biology, fish, sharks and maybe underwater life. This way I get articles sent to my in box about these topics. I can read the article and print it out for the students to read.
Another way to find articles or reading is to just do a Google search. Visit the various websites and print out excerpts from the site (bookmark the site if it is useful, you may need fresh articles in the future).

Lastly, what do you do with all of the articles? Each article can be kept in a binder by topic. So one binder for careers, one binder for sports and one for animals.You get the idea.  At the link below there is also a free work product question sheet that students can fill out and turn in after they are finished reading an article. The question sheet can be tweaked to reinforce your objectives in the classroom. This way you have lots of material and the students are practicing the reading skills that you are using in your classroom independently You are giving them a greater choice of reading materials and hopefully this motivates them to read. 

Please let me know what you think of this Freebie and if this idea helped to motivate your students. 
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brainstorming Bliss

Today I asked my students, "What strategies have you learned this year that help you to comment or discuss a piece of text?" Then I held my breath waiting for the group of eighth graders to give me an answer. One student said, "You make connections!" Well that is all it took we were able to fill a page with 10 or more things that students can do to comment about a text. I was so excited that they were able to name so many things.

After brainstorming, I used the Graffiti Text activity that I posted on a previous Blog. Here is the link:
This activity works great. My students were motivated and engaged the whole time. I used this activity as a pre-reading for an article about Navy SEALs. Having spent a few minutes brainstorming about the types of comments that could be made about a text really inspired the students who struggle. They were able to refer back to the list that we generated and make some awesome comments.

Thanks again to Mrs.Ochoa for posting the vidoe on Check out the other videos there.
Also, What are some of the ways that you use brainstorming in your classroom?

Have a great day!