Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275, Chapter 10: Organizing for Instruction

Teaching With Basal Reading Programs

Basal reading programs are commercial reading programs that have been around for many years. Some of these programs from years ago did not teach much phonics but more memorization. Basal reading programs today concentrate on cultural diversity and introducing strategies for reading especially phonics.


  • Selections in grade-level textbooks
  • Instruction about decoding and comprehension strategies and skills
  • Workbook assignments
  • Independent reading opportunities

Materials in Basal Reading Programs:


Teaching With Literature Focus Units

A literature focus unit typically uses one story but could also use multiple stories of the same genre or from the same author.

Steps in Developing a Unit

Step 1: Select the Literature – The book could include a picture-book, a novel, a nonfiction book, or a book of poetry. There should be at least one copy for each student. The teacher then selects related stories; this could include sequels, books written by the same author, or books from the same genre; to include in the classroom library for students to read independently. The teacher also find supplementary materials related to the focus story, such as stuffed animals, book boxes which could be used to introduce the story, and information about the author and illustrator. Also, many picture books have larger versions which can be used during shared reading time. DVDs or books on tape could be used too.

Step 2: Set Goals – Teachers develop goals that work along with standards that students are expected to accomplish by the end of the unit.

Step 3: Develop a Unit Plan – Teachers read or reread a book and decides what the focus for learning will be. This focus could include an element of the story structure, a historical setting, word play, the author or genre, or a topic related to the story such as the weather or desert life. After the focus is decided on, activities are chosen to be used at each of the five stages of reading.

Step 4: Coordinate Grouping Patterns With Activities – Teachers need to think about how they will use whole-group, small-groups, partners, and individual work during this unit. Groupings should be alternated during various activities of the unit.

Step 5: Create a Time Schedule – The teacher needs to create a schedule that gives students plenty of time to move through the 5 steps in the reading process and complete the activities that go along with it. Minilessons may be incorporated to teach reading or writing strategies, also, to introduce specific activities or assignments.

Step 6: Assess Students – Teachers plan their assessment strategies when planning the goals for the unit as well as the book they choose. Informal assessment is used to evaluate what is working well and what needs to be changed. By the end of the unit, students will have a final project that they will be assessed on. Students can also receive folders to keep all of their work in throughout the unit making it easier for the students to keep track of their work and for the teacher to assess it at the end of the unit. The students should receive a checklist of assignment so they can keep track of them as they are finishing them.

Literature Circles

Literature circles are small, student-led book discussion groups.

Key Features of Literature Circles:

  • Choice: The students choose the book and the groups they will participate in. The students set a schedule, choose the roles they will take during discussion time, and decide how they will share the book with their classmates.
  • Literature: The books should be interesting and at the students’ reading level. When first introducing literature circles, teachers should choose picture books or easy to read books so students can understand how literature circles work. The teacher should make sure to read each book and be able to be excited about the book so they can introduce the books well to the students and get them excited about them too.
  • Response: Students meet several times to discuss the book. The students will summarize the reading, make connections, learn vocabulary, and explore the author’s use of text factors.

Types of Talk During Literature Circle Discussions:


Roles Students Play in Literature Circles:


Implementing Literature Circles:

  • Step 1: Select Books
  • Step 2: Form Literature Circles
  • Step 3: Read the Book
  • Step 4: Participate in a Discussion
  • Step 5: Teach Minilessons
  • Step 6: Share With the Class
  • Step 7: Assess Learning

Reading and Writing Workshops

Students participate in authentic reading and writing projects during these workshops. There are three main characteristics:

  • Time: Students are given plenty of time to read and write. For reading students should get 30-60 minutes and for writing they should get 30-45 minutes to work through the processes.
  • Choice: Students choose the books they read and what they write about.
  • Response: Students use reading logs to respond to their books and then have conferences with their teacher about what they read. Teachers also periodically collect the students reading logs and will write notes about their responses. Students also share their rough drafts with classmates and share the completed draft with an audience.


Sustained Silent Reading (SSR):

This is where students choose a book to silently read during a time that is set aside during the school day for reading. SSR and reading workshops are similar because the students are choosing their own books. However, SSR focuses just on reading where reading workshops focus on reading, responding, sharing, teaching minilessons, and reading aloud to students.

Management of the Workshops:

Workshops take time for the students to figure out what they are suppose to be doing. For reading workshops, students need to learn how to correctly choose a book and other reading workshop procedures. For writing workshops, students need to learn how to use the writing process when working on a piece of writing. The teacher need to talk through and model what the workshop will look like so students can see and hear what they are expected to do.

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

In my classroom, I will use the strategies for using basal reading programs, literature circles, and reading and writing workshops. When using literature circles, the roles will be posted for students to see so they know what their roles can be and decide who will do what. I would also post the Goldilocks Strategy for choosing books so that students will understand what it means to choose a book that is best for them.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 9: Promoting Comprehension: Text Factors

Text Factors of Stories

There are three important factors that are most important:

  • Genres: Categories of literature; such as, stories, informational books (nonfiction) and poetry. There are sub categories to each category too.
  • Text Structures: To organize texts and emphasize the important ideas; such as, sequence, comparison, and cause and effect.
  • Text Features: To achieve a particular effect in an author’s writing. These include symbolism and tone is stories, and headings and indexes in nonfiction books.

Narrative Genres:


Elements of Story Structure:

  • Plot is the sequence of events involving characters in conflict situations; based on the goals of one or more characters and the process they go through to accomplish them.
  • Characters are the people or personified animals in the story.
  • Setting is generally thought of as where the story takes place but also includes weather, time period, and time.
  • Point of view depends on who is telling the story and their view.
    • First person viewpoint: Used to look through one characters view point and usually uses the pronoun “I”
    • Omniscient viewpoint: The author sees and knows all, telling the reader about each character and their thoughts.
    • Limited omniscient viewpoint: Told from the authors viewpoint but focuses on one character.
    • Objective viewpoint: Readers are eyewitnesses to the story and are confined to the immediate scene. They are not aware of what the characters are thinking, just what they are doing.
  • Theme is the underlying meaning of a story, usually deals with the characters’ emotions and values.

Narrative Devices:


Text Factors of Nonfiction Books

Some nonfiction genres include alphabet books, biographies, and reference books.

Expository Text Structures:


Text Factors of Poetry

Poetic Forms:

  • Acrostics – Students use a keyword to form an acrostic poem
  • Apology Poems – Students write poems apologizing for something they are secretly glad they did
  • Bilingual Poems – Students write a poem and incorporate words from a different language
  • Color Poems – Students start each line of their poem with a color
  • Concrete Poems – The words and lines on a poem are arranged to help convey the meaning of the poem.
  • Found Poems – Students arrange words from newspapers, magazines, etc. to create a poem
  • Haiku – A Japanese poem arranged by number of syllables (5, 7, 5) per line
  • List Poems – Students create a poem from a list they compose on a certain topic
  • Odes – Celebrate everyday objects, especially things that aren’t usually appreciated
  • Poems for Two Voices – Students write poems side-by-side that may contain the same words or not. One person reads the right column and one reads the left column at the same time to create a duet

Assessing Knowledge of Text Factors

Step 1: Planning – When planning the teacher needs to think of the text factors they want to teach and how they will monitor and assess students’ progress.

Step 2: Monitoring – Teachers monitor students by observing and conferencing with students during reading and writing activities.

Step 3: Evaluating – Teachers encourage students to apply their knowledge of genres, structural elements, and literacy devices. These things should be included in rubrics or checklist.

Step 4: Reflecting – Teachers ask students to reflect on how they are growing in their ability to use text factors to comprehend complex texts. Teachers also reflect on the effectiveness of their instruction.

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

I would expose students to a variety of genres and talk about the differences between them. We could make a comparison chart between the genre we are looking at and the previous one we looked at to see the differences but also maybe some similarities. Students should also talk about the elements of story structure to talk about the different stories. Of course the assessing of knowledge of text factors will be used too.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 8: Promoting Comprehension: Reader Factors


Comprehension: A thinking process that is creative and multifaceted in which students engage and understand the text. Comprehension is the main goal of reading.

Text Complexity: How well a reader can complete an assignment with a particular text. This is one way to check comprehension.

What Readers Think About When Reading: Readers think of many things while reading and comprehending texts. These things can include:

  • Active prior knowledge
  • Examine text to uncover its organization
  • Make predictions
  • Connect to their own experiences
  • Create mental images
  • Draw inferences
  • Notice symbols and other literacy devices
  • Monitor their understanding

These activities can be known as reader and text factors. IMG_E3803

Comprehension Strategies

Comprehension strategies are thoughtful behaviors that students use to facilitate their understanding as they read. There are many different strategies that can be used.


Comprehension Skills: Students use comprehension strategies to identify main ideas and they use these comprehension skills:

  • Recognizing details
  • Noticing similarities and differences
  • Identifying topic sentences
  • Comparing and Contrasting main ideas and details
  • Matching causes and effects
  • Sequencing details
  • Paraphrasing ideas
  • Choosing a good title for a text

How Comprehension Strategies Fit Into the Reading Process:


How to Create an Expectation of Comprehension: Teachers can create expectations of comprehension in these ways:

  • Involving students in authentic reading activities every day
  • Providing access to well-stocked classroom libraries
  • Teaching students to use comprehension strategies
  • Ensuring that students are fluent readers
  • Providing opportunities for students to talk about the books they are reading
  • Linking vocabulary instruction to underlying concepts

Ways to Teach Comprehension:


Assessing Comprehension

Step 1: Planning – Teachers decide how they will teach comprehension strategies and then decide how to monitor students’ progress.

Step 2: Monitoring – Teachers informally assess the students’ comprehension daily. These are some of the informal assessment procedures:

  • Cloze Procedure: Teachers test the students’ understanding by having students provide the deleted words from a passage taken from a text they’ve already read.
  • Story Retelling: Teachers ask students to retell stories they have read or listened to during read aloud time. This should be organized and use the big ideas from the story.

Step 3: Evaluating – Evaluation can use the same methods used in monitoring including the ones listed above and running records and think-alouds.

Step 4: Reflecting – Students meet with the teacher for a conference to reflect on what they have learned about reading factors.



All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

I will definitely use the informal assessment procedures. I find informal assessments to sometimes be more effective than formal assessments because the students don’t feel as pressured to do well because they don’t realize they are being tested. I also think keeping students motivated is very important so knowing the factors that could affects students motivation will be helpful to keep them motivated.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 7: Expanding Academic Vocabulary

Academic Vocabulary

Academic vocabulary are words that are used frequently during math, social studies, science, and language arts. There are three tiers of words:

  1. Basic Words: Common words that are used during conversation at home or on the playground. These are words that native English-speakers will know without being taught.
  2. Academic Vocabulary: These words typically appear more in written language than oral language or found in literature. Other words are more complicated words for something a student might already know, such as the terms scent or odor instead of smell.
  3. Specialized Terms: These terms are content specific. These words typically don’t get a lot of time spent on teaching them except during the specific unit that the word is involved in.

Levels of Word Knowledge:

  • Unknown Words: not recognized at all
  • Initial Recognition: has seen or heard the word before but doesn’t know what it means
  • Partial Word Knowledge: knows one meaning of the word and can use it in a sentence
  • Full Word Knowledge: knows more than one meaning for a word and can use it multiple ways

Word Consciousness

Word consciousness is the students interest in learning and using new words. Students who have word consciousness show these characteristics:

  • Use words skillfully
  • Gain a deep appreciation of words
  • Are aware of differences between social and academic language
  • Understand the power of word choice
  • Are motivated to learn the meaning of unfamiliar words

Word Study Concepts

Multiple Meanings of Words: Many words have more than one meaning. Students will gradually gain the meanings of these new words, usually through reading.

Synonyms: These are words with the same meaning such as cold, chilly, and freezing. Even though these words have similar meanings there is also a small difference that should be pointed out.

Antonyms: These are words that have opposite meanings such as hot and cold.

Homonyms: These are words that confuse such as right and write. They are pronounced the same but have different meanings.

Root Words and Affixes: Root words are the base of a word or could be a whole word such as cent which means hundred but can also be combined with affixes to mean different things such as century. Affixes consist of prefixes (added to the beginning of the word) and suffixes (added to the end of the word).

Etymologies: These are word histories, this tells where the word originally came from such as Greek or Latin.

Teaching Students to Unlock Word Meanings

Explicit Instruction: Teachers explicitly teach students academic language. Teachers provide multiple encounters with the words; present a variety of information including definitions, contexts, examples, and related words; and involve students in word-study activities to provide them multiple opportunities to interact with words.

Word-Study Activities: Students examine new words and think more deeply about them as they participate. Some activities can be visual representations or they can categorize words. These activities could include:

  • Word Posters: Students design a poster about a word, this could include pictures. They should write sentences using the word.
  • Word Maps: Students write the word and draw a box around it. Then they draw lines off of the box to provide more information.
  • Dramatizing Words: Students choose words to dramatize for the class and the class needs to guess the word.
  • Word Sorts: Students sort words into categories. Categories are usually chosen by the student but can be picked by the teacher too.
  • Semantic Feature Analysis: Students learn the meanings of conceptually related words by examining their characteristics. The teacher selects a group of related words such as planets in the solar system and then makes a grid to classify them according to other distinguishing characteristics. Students then study the word and put a mark in the grid if it represents that characteristic or not, or if they are unsure.

Word Learning Strategies: When students come across an unfamiliar word when reading there are a few things they can do:

  • Use context clues
  • Analyze word parts
  • Check a dictionary

How to Figure Out Unfamiliar Words:

  1. Students reread the sentence containing the word
  2. Students use context clues to figure out the meaning of the word
  3. Students examine the word parts, root words and affixes
  4. Students say it out loud to see if they recognize it once they hear it
  5. Students check for the word in the dictionary or ask a teacher

How to Assess Vocabulary Knowledge:

Step 1: Planning – Teachers look at the students current vocabulary knowledge, choose words the students need to know, and plan minilessons or word-study activities.

Step 2: Monitoring – Teachers use informal assessment tools to monitor students progress such as observations and conferences.

Step 3: Evaluating – Teachers use rubrics, quick writes, word sorts, and visual representations made by students to evaluate their vocabulary knowledge.

Step 4: Reflecting – Teachers take time at the end of a unit to evaluate their teaching. Students can also reflect on their growing word knowledge.

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

I would make sure to teach the students many new words according to their grade level and their abilities. I would use strategies listed above especially the word-study activities. While students are reading they would have a piece of paper next to them to write down words they don’t know and write the definitions as they figure them out. If the students are all reading the same books, lists can be shared and a discussion of meanings can be had by students and monitored by the teacher.