Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pass the Torch

Get Ready for Bloggy Olympics!!!

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Join The 3AM Teacher, the Reading Olympians, and over 80 SUPREME education bloggers as we take you through a tour of the Reading Olympians Root Study Program!!

Ok...I really should have been teaching this all along.  It just makes sense, but to be honest I've never come across a well organized, easy to implement root word study with my students.  I've dibbled and dabbled with other root word but the Reading Warriors Program has a fun theme and feels more comprehensive than the resources I have used in the past. I'm so glad that this link-up gave me the opportunity to give it a run with my kiddos.  I can't imagine the impact that this program will have as the torch continues to pass from teacher to teacher!

This was an eye-opening teaching experience for me.  When I first read through the word lists for Reading Warriors program, I thought my students would know most of the words and so I planned on the lesson being mostly review and practice. About 5 minutes into my introductory activity, I realized that this is not the case!  What a valuable tool for a reader to have; the ability to recognize and apply root words to make meaning...yet most of my students could only match up 2-3 of the words from the Midas list at the start of my lesson.  Hmmm, looks like I had my work cut out for me!

I decided to pilot the Midas word list (even though it is not the first in the series) because a few of the roots related to our current unit in science.  While there might be some benefit to teaching the words in the proposed order, the program is organized in a way that allows teachers to jump around and to use the word sets as they see fit.  I'm personally huge fan of curriculum tools that have this type of flexibility.

So here is a snapshot of how I used the materials to teach the MIDAS word list from Reading Warriors Program.  There are so many possibilities, but this was how I decided to use some of the materials.  It was as easy as 1...2..3!

1) Reading Warriors Midas Lesson Part 1

My lesson starts by assessing student background knowledge using a card sorting activity.  Students are organized in groups of two and asked to use their prior knowledge to match each root to its meaning.  (My students this year respond well to card-sorting tasks, so I made this one up quickly to match the words provided in the program.  It was during my observation of their work with these cards that I realized that my students had a lot less background than I had predicted.  After watching them struggle for a few minutes, I gathered the group together and shared that we would be working together to study root words so that we would improve our reading comprehension skills. Although not part of my initial plan, the card sort helped students recognize their own knowledge and need to learn.)

Next, the Promethean Board is used to sort the words as a whole group.  (This proved more successful, as we tapped into everyone's knowledge base.  Students shared examples and their own experiences for many of the words.  I could see the light bulbs lighting up, as they made connections to the example words as well as other words they shared with the class.)

To deepen and extend understanding, students are assigned to become an expert about 1 of the roots from the list.  This provides an opportunity for some differentiation, as some of the roots are more well known (easier) than others. The graphic organizer sheets included with the program can be copied on card stock and cut into cards.  Each student is given one card to complete in as much detail as possible.  Students can use dictionaries and computers to complete their cards.  Depending on the amount of class time available, students are asked to complete and decorate their card for homework.

2) Reading Warriors Midas Lesson Part 2

Students return to class with their expert root word cards.  They are given the other blank cards to attach to their card using a hole punch and a binder ring.  Students are then organized to jigsaw their learning using an inner and outer circle.  Students press on clipboards as the experts share their knowledge with the novice students who record the information into their root rings (say that five times fast!).   Students are reminded not to just have the other student "copy" their work, but instead to explain and teach the other student about their root word.  (I notice that you have to circulate and support a lot during this part of the lesson, at least with middle school kids!  I also recommend setting a timer for sharing intervals.)

To ensure understanding, students work in pairs of two to use the word sort cards that were used to introduce the lesson.  This brings the process, full circle and students can instantly recognize that they have gained new understandings.  (Although at first some groups may need to rely on their root rings for support, repeated practice led to proficiency with my students.)

3) Reading Warriors Midas Lesson Part 3

Students are encouraged to study their root rings and to add to them as they come across examples in the texts we are reading.  The practice worksheet and quiz included with the program are used to assess student understanding.  (This is the part where I need to add some remedial options.  There are always a few who struggle and will need additional practice and reinforcement.  I guess I could send home the matching cards, but I'm in need of a few creative - and easy- ways to help those few kids who still don't get it!)

The lessons and short activities were appropriate for my 6th graders.  The Reading Warriors Program provides the word lists, worksheets and a quiz which is a nice framework from which teachers can customize materials for their particular class.  I'm going to work these root word lessons into my instruction in the future, so I have a few ideas of how I can improve.  
- I think the jigsaw works well, but I will have kids  become experts for more than one word and then group them by 3-4 for sharing/exchanging expertise.  I'm hoping that will expedite the process a bit.
- I plan to create a root word wall display somewhere in my classroom.  It can be a place to post some of the pre-made root word meaning signs included with the program.  (I know...I should have done this for the lesson, but there is only so much time in the day!)
- I'd like to continue the "root rings" and possibly make creative covers for each new word list.  By the time students complete the program they will have a ring full of roots to reference.  I used to have a pegboard in my classroom, which would be perfect for students to store their rings.  Hmmmm....I'll have to work on a creative storage solution so that those cards don't end up all over the place!
- The beads idea included with the program sounds perfect for the younger ones, but I'm still brainstorming an incentive that might match my kids this year.  One thought is to include a card on their ring that gets stamped/ hole-punched (kinda like the one I fill up for being a frequent coffee consumer) for each word list.  

So needless to say, I see a huge value in using this reading program with middle school students.  I'm thrilled that I was able to participate in this linky, as it has inspired me to focus more on root word instruction in my classroom.  There is a real need for explicit instruction that will enhance the way our students make meaning from text.  Reading Warriors provides a tool for teachers that is well-organized, concise, achievable and flexible.

Discover the program IN ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!

First Place Winner : Gold Medal

  Prizes: Complete Reading Olympians Program
            $50.00 Amazon Gift Card
            50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Second Place Winner: Silver Medal

   Prizes: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
              40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal

    Prizes: 30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Pass the Torch!!!
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Happy Teaching...


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  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's worried about the required time frame. If you haven't already, stop by Tina's blog:
    <a title="Mrs. Croft's Classroom" href="</a>. She has found a neat way to incorporate the units without taking up more than 5 minutes a class period.

    Hope this helps!
    Your newest follower,

  4. It looks like your students, got a lot out of it! My kids really like it too. We've used some of it and I'm hoping to use more:) Thank you for sharing! ( I like your blog theme - sounds like me lol- I'm your newest follower too!)

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for following my blog. I'm glad I'm not the only coffee junky out there!

  5. I'm loving this program too. I really like the card sorting activity that you made.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog so that I could discover yours! I'm your newest follower!

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason

  6. Hi Kate!

    I love the sorting activity! I may have to borrow that idea :) It would definitely be a great way to help my students practice at home! Thanks for sharing :)


  7. I just found your blog through a comment you made on someone else's blog. I would love to follow you by email if you could add an email subscription button??? Pretty please?? :)

    I currently teach 5/6 grade history, but might teach 6th ALL subjects next year!!!


  8. Shannon,
    Thanks so much for your comment. I added a subscribe via email button today (I hope it works!). Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your teaching assignment for next year. Heading to your blog to check it out right now :)

    Happy Teaching!



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