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MELED 2017; What I learned (Part 1)

There is so much information that is presented during a conference that it’s difficult to comprehend everything in one sitting, or even 5. Fortunately, I took notes. Yet, sometimes it’s just nice to feel affirmed in what you think you know, what you are already doing, and what you think should be done in the classroom. Today, that is what I am going to focus on because I feel it’s important to remember and celebrate what we are doing well for kids.

Warning! – This article is about grammar. But have no fear. There are many resources listed below, including a cheatsheet! So wipe the sweat from your forehead, let your pulse come back down, and read on.

I have always argued that using grammar as a tool for teaching kids to dissect certain parts of speech in reading is beneficial. Bridget Erikson agrees. The strategy she presented was called syntax in close reading. The name needs work, I agree. But let me explain a bit more.

Most teachers who do think-alouds (myself included) often take for granted what students may not know by saying things like “this must be an important fact,” or “let’s read more to find out x.” This works for SOME kids. Heck, this may even work for most kids in your class. What it doesn’t work for is all kids. What we are neglecting to do, which is vitally important for those kids who don’t get why something is important, is to tell kids how we know that these pieces of information are important. That is where this strategy comes into play. I could try to fully explain this strategy, but I’m not sure I can do it justice. For that I’ll direct you to Mrs. Erickson’s blog (see below). What I will tell you is that this strategy takes the idea of analyzing text to a much more manageable level for novice English speakers.

Recently, I learned a strategy called Again and Again, which uses counting nouns as a way to determine what the article or piece of writing is talking about. The syntax strategy takes this idea even further by helping kids identify how different words and their respective parts of speech interact to show meaning and present ideas. This teaches kids to focus not only on the message part of the reading but also how the text works to share that message.

Honestly, I am excited to try this strategy and see if and how my students utilize it while doing their own reading.

Links:

Bridge Erickson’s Blog (including further links to resources and that promised cheatsheet.) – https://www.ericksoneducationalconsulting.com/blog

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