Learning A-Z https://www.learninga-z.com/assets/img/LAZ_clg_logo-rgb.png 2002 866-889-3729 support@learninga-z.com 1840 E River Rd Ste 320 Tucson AZ 85718 USA

Courtney’s Teacher Tips

Engage Students, Build Fluency, and More!

Courtney Lofgren

By Courtney Lofgren, Senior Topic Editor, Editorial and Instructional Design

Hi there! I’m Courtney Lofgren and I’m part of the editorial team at Learning A-Z. I taught kindergarten for eight years and first grade for three years, then worked as an instructional coach supporting elementary teachers, so I understand what teachers deal with, and I remember the questions I asked and the challenges I faced as a teacher.

I’m here to help you with useful teacher tips that you can try in your classroom today! I’ll share my tips on social media once a week and we'll collect them all here with updates each month on the Breakroom blog, so check back soon to get new tips!

Spring Into Spring

Most students know about the four seasons, but can they describe what makes spring unique? Help your students learn more about this special season of growth, beauty, and change. Start by giving students access to a variety of fiction and nonfiction spring-themed texts through reading aloud, shared reading, or independent reading. Invite students to record the springtime transformations they see around them, outdoors and within their environment, while connecting these observations to the texts they read. Students can record their findings in interactive notebooks, in a spring journal, on a poster, or any other way you can dream up.

Choose a favorite spring text to read to your class tomorrow so students can begin exploring this topic!

Discuss Influential Women in History

Celebrating Women's History Month gives us the opportunity to look more closely at the accomplishments and contributions of pioneers like Shirley Chisholm, Amelia Earhart, and Sacagawea. Help your students deepen their knowledge about these individuals while strengthening their literacy skills. Be sure to teach and discuss women year-round, not just in March.

Try spending time each day focusing on a woman who made a difference. Ask each class member to share what they know about important women in history, so students can all learn from each other.

Cultivate Conversations and Develop Literacy Skills

Rich conversations are important in your classroom because research shows speaking and listening help students develop literacy skills. Everybody benefits from practicing conversation, but such practice can be especially helpful for English language learners and struggling students. And with so many students learning in remote settings, clear communication is more crucial than ever. Think about how you can help your students develop strong communication skills by giving them many opportunities to express themselves, share ideas, and listen to others. Maybe you’ll want to emphasize the importance of eye contact and body language one day and focus on having your students speak in complete sentences another day. Choose communication skills based on your students’ needs and get them practicing in their conversations tomorrow!

Download the Social Emotional Learning Guide for more ideas about how to teach students skills like decision-making, collaboration, communication, and confidence.

Close Gaps With Close Reading

Helping students dive deeper into the texts they read can be challenging but consider incorporating more close reads into your instruction. Close reading involves analyzing, evaluating, and thinking critically about texts. Building close reading skills benefits students at every level. Encourage close reading by asking students to:

  • Read the same text multiple times
  • Answer scaffolded questions after each read to help them determine what the text says
  • Identify the craft and structure of the text
  • Make connections to the text

As you plan your weekly instruction, look for meaningful texts and other opportunities to help students develop stronger close reading skills.

Why Do Authors Write?

Every author has a reason for writing. When students understand an author's intention, it helps them analyze and understand the text. In my experience, students’ reading comprehension and writing improve when they’re able to successfully identify an author’s purpose. When reading texts, ask students questions like: "What do you think was the author's reason for writing this?" As a group, you can dive deep into the text to determine what the author hoped to accomplish, whether they were successful, and how they achieved their goal. Ask students to consider the same when they prepare to write: "What are you hoping to accomplish by writing this?" Help students establish their purpose for writing by determining their intended audience and planning steps to achieve their intended goal.

The next time your students read something, encourage them to identify the author's purpose for writing it. You’ll see a difference. You can start as soon as tomorrow!

Organizing Ideas

Ever wondered how to help your students organize their ideas? For example, students benefit from tracking their thoughts and recording their memories after reading a text, learning information about a new topic, or acquiring new vocabulary. Organizational tools can also help students arrange facts and sort ideas when they’re preparing to write a response to a text. I recommend including graphic organizers throughout your literacy instruction. They can be used with all learners in any content area, and their complexity simply depends on the needs of the students. One of my favorites is a two-column chart because it’s easy for students to use, and helps them gather information, record notes, or compare and contrast any two things (texts, ideas, etc.).

Whatever text your students may be reading, you can use a graphic organizer to help them make connections!

Follow Learning A-Z on social media for more of Courtney’s #TeacherTips

A Cambium Learning company