The First Thanksgiving

Fact and Opinion Lesson

Fact and Opinion Lesson

While most of my students are able to identify whether a statement is a fact or an opinion, my language disabled students continue to demonstrate a lack of confidence and ability to successfully differentiate between the two.  Have you ever noticed that students struggle with this skill, even though it seems obvious to adults?

In order to increase their understanding, I developed a product that provided more hands on experience and opportunities for rich discussions.  First we developed an anchor chart together that explained the two terms and common usages.  Then we assembled a foldable which provided the students the opportunity to define the terms in their own words and recognize key words associated with fact and opinion (see photo below).  This week we will utilize these foldables to read a passage about the first Thanksgiving.  Embedded in the passage are several opinions of the Pilgrims.  As a formative assessment, students will be asked to identify two facts and two opinions from the passage.

Fact and Opinion Foldable

Fact and Opinion Foldable

I wrote the passage at a beginning third grade level since this group of students are working on decoding and fluency.  In addition, the students will be asked to summarize, describe events based on the text,  and identify text features (map, title) that assist them in making meaning from the text.  I am looking forward to seeing great things from this group of kids this week!

The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving

Accelerated Reader in the Primary Classroom

Reading in the Park

Photo courtesy:
Creative Commons

Recently our Reading PLC discussed the merits of  a popular comprehension testing program, Accelerated Reader.  Educators have a strong positive or negative opinion regarding Accelerated Reader as an incentive program used to promote reading among primary students.  A great majority feel that the program has no place in developing a life long love of reading.  There is no doubt that if used without careful thought  the program could have detrimental effects.

Several negative effects of the program include:

1. Causing students to read only books that have an attached Accelerated Reader test.

2. Promoting a tangible incentive with regards to reading, instead of developing an inherent love of reading that will last throughout a student’s lifetime. Many of these students revert to non-readers once the reward is removed or loses it value.

3. Using Accelerated Reader scores to formulate classroom reading grades.

4. Perhaps the most controversial, and I feel the largest drawback, is setting a minimum Accelerated Reader level that students may read.  In other words, if you are a third grader, you need to read a 3.0 or higher text.

My collaborating inclusion teacher uses Accelerated Reader with great success.  She does not limit student self-selection of text to their grade equivalency.  Instead students are given individualized guidelines.  For example, struggling students may not read certain chapter books (higher grade level) until they earn a set number of points at a lower level.  Why is this so successful for her?

The reasons are two-fold.  First many students have missed reading quality picture books or easier chapter books in earlier grades.  By allowing them to choose from these books they are exposed to text they can now read and enjoy.  Secondly, struggling readers benefit from increasing their sight word fluency, reading rhyming text, and using picture cues.  As their confidence and success rises, she challenges them with appropriate text at the next level.

Think of it this way.  While the percentages vary according to different sources, they all point to a 95 to 100% oral reading fluency accuracy and comprehension level for successful independent reading.  This is commonly referred to as “good fit” books.  If reading is a constant struggle with limited understanding and engagement, how will our struggling readers develop their skills and love for reading?

What are you reading?  According to the Accelerated Reader leveling system, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a mere 10.9 grade equivalency.  On the flip side, The Help is set at 4.4, Twilight at 4.9, and Gillian Flynn’s widely popular Gone Girl at a 5.6 grade equivalency.   In other words, for reading enjoyment we read books that would be deemed “too easy” in the school setting.




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