Book Study: Reciprocal Teaching at Work K-12 Chapter 5

8:50 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Every week we will be posting our primary (Christina) and secondary (me) reflections on Reciprocal Teaching at work k-12 by Lori Oczus. Grab your own copy, so you can join us this month talking about reading comprehension.

Chapter 5 takes us through Literature Circles.

Before starting literature circles, Oczkus suggests spending 4-8 weeks teaching the strategies to the whole class or in small groups before sending students to work more independently in literature circles.  Then you can begin planning your literature circles.

You can organize your groups however you would like: ability, interest, etc. Any text, fiction or nonfiction, can work with literature circles, but she suggests starting with a short, easy read. You can have students meet at any frequency, but you want at least 2x per week.

The Fab Four then become your literature circle roles with the addition of The Discussion Director to round out the students' work. It is also important to teach students the proper discussion etiquette; I do this by creating an anchor chart with the students that includes the norms they want for the discussion.

Oczkus gives two examples of how to teach literature circles:



I can easily apply these strategies to my English and social studies classes:

  • English 11 and AP Literature can study texts in small groups over the course of the year including group-selected novels and whole-class texts.

  • In AP Psychology students read articles weekly, and I usually give them a choice of several articles on a topic. Students could select their article and form literature circles around those texts.

Here is a pdf summary of the steps for you to open, save, print, and share.

Be sure at stop by to see Christina's Primary Grades post

What is the teacher reading? June 2015

8:49 PM Sarah Koves 1 Comments

It is summer vacation, which means I can devour books at an epic rate.  Here is what I am reading now, and the best part is that the first three are free to borrow if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.  (Click on any image to be taken to the page on Amazon.)

The Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit

This was a uniquely written novel.  It traces the wives of the scientists that work at Los Alamos during WWII.  It is written in first person from the eyes of all the wives.  I was intrigued by the way Tarashea blends the well-known history with the personal stories of the wives.


North and South by John Jakes

This was a mini series in the 1980s (I just ordered it on DVD) and peaked my interest after visiting the plantation in Charleston last year where the series was filmed.  It didn't hurt that Partick Swayze was in it.  This is the first book in a trilogy that follows two families: one from the north that owns a forge and one from the south that own a plantation.  It includes historically accurate descriptions of many events from the Mexican American War to the onslaught of the Civil War.

My Blog Traffic Sucks by Steve Scott

This was a quick read on blogging that provided me with over two pages of notes on things to do in order to improve my blog traffic.  I have already implemented many of them.  An easy-to-read book with easy-to-implement strategies.

My fourth book I received as a freebie on my Kindle, but it is now $9.99.

The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz

A Little House on the Prairie type romance novel.  It takes place in Kentuke shortly after the Revolutionary War.  Amidst the settler's fight for survival against the elements and natives, a young girl becomes a woman and falls in love...three times.

 Don't forget our Monday Book Study going on for the month of June on Reciprocal Teaching.

Here are a couple of my favorite bloggers' reading lists:

Dare to Dream: #TPTSellerChallenge Week 2

10:00 AM Sarah Koves 1 Comments

We have yet to establish our forever home.  As a family we have moved a lot since hubby and I got married in 2006.   I really want to make this dream a reality.

I am fortunate enough to not have undergraduate loans left, but graduate school loans are almost as much as my yearly salary.  There has been discussion of me going back to school again, but the dollars not in the bank to pay for this is scary to me.

I want to help my hubby with his dream.  He has always wanted to own a restaurant or food truck.  With my job giving me summers off, this is something we could make a reality one day.  However, could I work side-by-side with my husband every day without consequences? 

Our three girls may not have help with college, but I want to make their futures easier than mine has been.  I want them to learn about managing money.  I want to give them gifts and bless their families in the future.

Makeover Madness Week #1

1:01 PM Sarah Koves 1 Comments

This is one of my most popular products, and it desperately needed a makeover.  This challenge was just the motivation I needed to get my Budget Unit updated.

This is a 5 part budget unit that I used with both middle school and high school students. I currently use it in my economics class when studying budgeting and personal finance. This project can take as little or as long as you like. Students research the costs of different living expenses and careers and use these costs to complete budgeting worksheets. There is also a writing component at the end to evaluate their own learning. The entire project can take several weeks and may require computer time. This project includes college and career research. There are directions, an 8-page budget document, a letter to parents, and a grade sheet.

The Teacher Team did a review of this budget in February.  Be sure to check it out.

Book Study: Reciprocal Teaching at Work K-12 Chapter 4

5:22 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Every week we will be posting our primary (Christina) and secondary (me) reflections on Reciprocal Teaching at work k-12 by Lori Oczus. Grab your own copy, so you can join us this month talking about reading comprehension.

Chapter 4 is about small group instruction.

Guided reading groups are a main-stay of most elementary reading programs, but they don't have the same frequency in secondary ELA classrooms. Our district is working on Daily 5 and CAFE for K-5, so I picked up a copy of each book to see if I can adapt them to my high school classes. I am still working out the details, but I see Reciprocal Teaching fitting well into that classroom layout. If you aren't using a Daily 5 or CAFE layout, you can still use Reciprocal Teaching for your secondary small groups.

Oczkus references the Soar to Success program that researched reading interventions in the upper grades. Here is a summary of the research. Cooper and colleagues researched how the reciprocal teaching strategies worked to discuss texts in small-groups. Students show multiple grade-levels of growth with this program.

Guided reading groups work well when you use a text that is slightly more difficult than students can read on their own (pg 131). This is frequently the case with groups of students in my AP Literature class when we read Frankenstein and their choice novel.

With the whole class novel, Frankenstein, I believe I could ask the student to self-assess their reading comprehension and understanding of textual elements to form groups for more focused instruction on the needs of each student. I envision students who need clarification of the language working in a small group while students who are grappling with universal themes work in another small group. These groups would not meet at the same time or on the same days, so students who fit in both groups have the maximum chance for exposure. Even having small groups of mixed ability levels meeting daily to clarify and summarize sections of the novel would be helpful for those students struggling with the language.

During second semester I have students choose a classic novel to read, but I believe this could easily be adapted into small groups or literature circles around a few novels. This would allow students to support each other while making the unit easier for me to manage.

Oczkus' ideas of using nonfiction articles and poems for work on the strategies that make up reciprocal teaching with small groups will work well to bring in a variety of texts, which is something I sometimes struggle with as a secondary English teacher, who was trained to use novels. Using these types of texts to practice the strategies good readers use naturally makes it manageable in a 55 minute period. These can also be high interest pieces for teenagers! BONUS!

She also address what to do with the rest of the class while you are meeting with small groups. Some of my favorites include:

-Set up a read aloud with the 3-6 grade teachers at the other end of my building for my students to share with younger students
-Independent reading time
-Writing workshop time
-Portfolio creation for my seniors
-Small group discussions around the texts

I would love to hear how you could incorporate Reciprocal Teaching into small groups or how you make small group instruction work in a 55 minute period.

Be sure at stop by to see Christina's Primary Grades post

When Teachers Take the Same Test as the Students

9:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Today I am blogging over Education to the Core about teachers testing as students.

A huge thanks to Emily for having me as her guest.

Book Study: Reciprocal Teaching at Work K-12 Chapter 3

10:11 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Every week we will be posting our primary (Christina) and secondary (me) reflections on Reciprocal Teaching at work k-12 by Lori Oczus. Grab your own copy, so you can join us this month talking about reading comprehension.

Chapter 3 is all about whole class instruction.

There are copious examples and ideas for how to use Reciprocal Teaching in whole class instruction. Lori also addresses some of the concerns educators have about using whole class instructions and why we should use it- sparingly.

One of the most important reasons to use whole class instruction is to model how to use reciprocal teaching. She also talks about building a sense of community and a common knowledge base. Students also need to see/hear how other students make sense of their reading, and everyone brings different background knowledge to the text.

Lori outlines an example of whole class instruction using a nonfiction article. This is a great way to illustrate these strategies because teachers at every grade and in every content can replicate this for their texts. Tweet: Teachers at every grade and in every content can replicate this for their texts: @cera0316 #teachingreading I see myself using this with sections of our AP Psychology text and to look at our own writing in our new journalism class next year especially early on in the year.

While whole class instruction implies the idea of the teacher talking at a class full of students whose undivided attention is on the teacher, what whole class instruction actually looks like in Reciprocal Teaching is think-pair-small group-whole class. After the teacher models the strategies with the text, the students are gradually given responsibility of the reading and check in with their elbow partners and table groups.

This strategy going to be fairly easy for me to institute because I have tables for two that are grouped into 4s in my room, so my groups are build in from day 1 of my class. I also believe that using this with articles and poems in my classes will provide a short text for students to practice with.

In psychology I would begin by previewing the chapter and thinking aloud about my predictions about what the topics we will be studying will be. Our text also has an introduction to each chapter, so I would read that aloud and share my thinking with students. Students would then write questions they want answers to from the preview, which we will share whole class before starting the chapter. Then students would pair or individually read the first section and share their thinking at the table.

Please leave your ideas and suggestions in the comments below: How could you use this type of whole class instruction in your classroom?

Be sure at stop by to see Christina's Primary Grades post

Book Study: Reciprocal Teaching at Work K-12 Chapter 1

9:56 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Christina from Kinder Blossoms and I have had this in the works for awhile.  

Every week we will be posting our primary (Christina) and secondary (me) reflections on Reciprocal Teaching at work k-12 by Lori Oczus. Grab your own copy, so you can join us this month.

What a great read this has been for me as I finish my school year and head into summer since our entire district is going to be focusing on reading as a 5th core this coming year..  I love that she starts out with the research supporting the book instead of putting it at the end like some authors.  Also, Lori outlines how her book fits into a reading program.

Lori begins by laying out her four strategies for students of all ages when it comes to reading:


I have been using text annotation for the last semester in my literature classes by having the students write on sticky notes. These aren't the exact same words that I have been using, but the ideas are similar. I think creating an anchor chart of these four, numbering them, and hanging on the wall in my classroom would give students something to focus on with the reading.

My really high-level readers do these things automatically, but many of my struggling readers asked me what they were supposed to write.

When we paused in the middle of a chapter of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I would remind them to ask a question, make a prediction, connect the reading to something else, or make a comment. However, this is not something I have tried in my civics class when reading our textbook. I probably should have; I also need to make the addition of clarifying.

Clarifying is the one strategy that I can see my students struggle with. Many of them are good predictors (now I need to get the to use textual evidence to support their predictions), questioners, and summarizers. When it comes to clarifying I find two things happen:

1) The students say they understand everything
2) The students don't know how to figure out the confusing part without the teacher giving them the answer.

Lori has a great solution to #1: ask the students to identify places that might be confusing for younger students and explain those in a way a younger student would understand. For #2 she wants teachers to use questioning to get students at least thinking about how to solve it on their own.

Lori also has wonderful lists of sentence starters for students who need help starting their response to the text. These work well for both fiction and nonfiction reading.

The last bits of Chapter 1 talk about RTI, and how to make Reciprocal Teaching fit into all three tiers. This will be something I will have to refer back to as I begin planning my new reading time in High School English and as our building begins to build our RTI program.

I would love to hear how you use this kinds of reading response or any suggestions or ideas you may have.

Be sure at stop by to see Christina's Primary Grades post

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