Monday, March 26, 2012

What's IMPORTANT on the Day After Spring Break?

'Determining importance' is our reading strategy focus this quarter. Before I explain our reading lesson on determining importance, I thought I'd share two additional things that I determined are IMPORTANT on the day after Spring Break.

What a wonderful way to start a Monday. My teaching partner brought me the three daffodils on the left. And then, when the kids were let in at 8am, there was one of my students with a whole 'nother bucket full of them! Last week on Spring Break, the weather in Wisconsin was HeAvEnLy (we're talking temperatures in the 80s!). Today was freezing cold, so having these flowers in our classroom was a nice way to keep our warm weather hopes alive!

Over break, our techies did an upgrade to the computers in our school. Unfortunately, my computer didn't adjust to the 'upgrade' very well, and it froze any time I clicked on an icon. I restarted my computer seven times throughout the day and finally just had to surrender. What this meant was I couldn't use my SMARTboard at all today to teach the kids using colorful, interactive lessons. Instead, I overhead projector. I wheeled in this beauty during math to teach about input/output tables. (What a day to lose the SMARTboard, hey?) The whirrrr of the fan, the blurriness of the screen, the boring black and white text - it was definitely a reality check for how LUCKY we are at our school to have a SMARTboard in every classroom. I know not every school is as fortunate as we are, so THANK YOU to our district and community for supporting education and making it possible for each of us teachers to have a SMARTboard to enhance teaching and learning. On days like today, I am reminded how IMPORTANT technology is to our daily lives! (P.S. - I'm writing this blog from home because my computer at school is still out of commission.)

And in reading, we truly did learn more about determining importance. My lesson came from The Comprehension Toolkit. It's a wonderful teaching resource to help teach the reading strategies. It gives you teaching language, short texts to use, sample anchor chart ideas, etc. If you truly want to elevate your kiddos to be deep thinkers and responders of text, I highly recommend it!

Today we used a Facts-Questions-Response Chart (also called a FQR chart) to show how when we combine our own thinking with what we read, we end up being able to remember a lot of important information. I modeled how to use the FQR chart by reading the first two paragraphs of a short article on polar bears. As I read, I recorded facts I thought were important, questions that I had that stemmed from those facts, and any inner voice thoughts and responses that also popped up while reading. On the anchor chart below, my own modeled work is in pink.

For guided practice, students flipped to the back side of our article and read the last two paragraphs. They recorded important facts, lingering questions, and any inner voice thoughts they had while reading.

By looking at students' FQR charts, teachers can quickly assess the kind of thinking students do while reading. What facts does each student deem important? What questions, inferences, connections, or misconceptions do they have about the topic?
Students got a chance to turn and talk to their neighbors a lot. They shared out and we recorded student thoughts on our anchor chart in dark purple. Through their discussion with one another, their excitement for learning about polar bears grew! It was noisy in our room but it was focused learning about our reading strategy. Yay!

Finally, I had students flip over their papers, and I flipped over our anchor chart so they couldn't see it. I said, "I want you to tell someone next to you what you remember about our text today. What did you learn about polar bears?" Students were able to recall a lot of important information about polar bears from their own memories. Why? Because they had an opportunity to merge their own questions and thinking with the facts they read! The FQR chart also became a visual reference students could store and access in their own brains. I love how the FQR chart demonstrates that facts, questions, and responses are equally important when reading a text you want to learn from, understand, and remember!


  1. Wow! I loved the anchor chart your class created! I just had to tweet about it!!! I am so glad to find your blog! I look forward to reading more!

    One Teacher's Take

  2. Awesome, Andrea! Learning from others is the best! Glad our anchor chart helped you. (And I love that you even know the term 'anchor chart'!)