Summer Blog Party - Creating Critical Thinkers

Hello, Hello!  I'm stopping by this weekend to join up again with the Reading Crew and their summer blog series on literacy.

This week's topic is helping students to think critically - something we want our students to do well in ALL areas, not just in literacy. As teachers, it is important for us to SHOW students how to think critically with lots of modeling, shared reading, read alouds and mentor texts.  Doing this - and doing it well! - means we have to always be on the lookout for ways to make reading interactive. But it can be hard for teachers to find good texts to use with their students.  And it can be daunting to have what you know is a great text, but just not be sure how to use it.

One of my favorite websites for finding lesson ideas and texts for critical thinking is ReadWorks is a site for K-12 teachers that is FULL of lesson ideas, graphic organizers, texts in all genres... and best of all, it's FREE! Let me walk you through the basics of the site.

Once you sign up, you can access so many different lesson plans (many for books you probably already have in the classroom!) and reading passages of all genres.

Let's start with the "Skills and Strategy Units" tab. Clicking on this brings up a menu of reading strategies and skills to choose from.  Click on your choice, and another menu comes up with lesson ideas by grade level.

From there, you can select a lesson by grade level.  Each lesson has a full lesson plan, suggested texts (and often links to reading passages from the ReadWorks site you can download). Here is part of a lesson for first grade on character feelings. I bet you (or someone on your team) already have this book!

You can also search by book title - just type in the title at the top of the screen in the search bar.  I searched for "pigeon" books and look what came up!

The next side tab back at the main page is for "Comprehension Units."  This description is taken directly from the ReadWorks site: "These research-based units facilitate precise questioning based on evidence in the text, and focused discussion to enable comprehension of the entire text. Read-aloud and paired text lessons embody the most effective research-proven instructional practices to support student comprehension."  Exactly what we want!

Again, the lessons are organized by grade level, and the title of the book.  Most of these books you probably already have in your classroom, or they're in your library or can be borrowed from another teacher.  Here's a quick look at a second grade unit using the book, Fireflies!

As you can see, the site gives you the Fountas and Pinnell level for the book, as well as the Lexile level. Clicking on the lesson pulls up a detailed plan.  This lesson even has a paired nonfiction text to go with it.

The third section of the site is for upper elementary classrooms.  These novel units have multiple lessons within one unit, , pacing guide, student packet and a culminating assessment. Clcik on your grade level and the text of your choice.

The final section is one of the best reasons to use this site - reading passages at different levels on just about any topic.

You can use the filters to search for exactly what you're looking for.  I searched grade 2 level fiction texts.  You can download the text and the questions, which you can use for discussion or as a written response.  There are also ideas for vocabulary, paired texts with the same theme and a list of the standards covered.

ReadWorks is such a valuable site for teachers looking for ideas on how to implement the standards in their classrooms.  I have introduced this site to so many teachers and every one of them is amazed at the depth of resources available here - and the fact that it is FREE!  When I'm using the site, sometimes I search for a specific book title and use the lesson plan.  Other times I use the plan as a jumping off point for my own lessons. Take a some time this summer to explore the ReadWorks site.  What do you think? Do you find it useful for your classroom?

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  1. Lisa-I am so glad you got to link up again this week, but I wish you'd been in Vegas. :-( I love the ReadWorks site and have gotten to use it quite a bit the past two years. I love how you walked through the helpful for those who haven't used it yet. Next week's topic is writing if you're interested.

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