Monday, May 22, 2017

5 Reasons to Teach Cursive in the Digital Age

Cursive?  What's cursive?  How many of you still teach it or have students that come to you knowing how to write in cursive?  Learning how to write ones name is one of the first things that children learn.  They need to know how to write their own name with paper pencil.  Right?  Well, we haven't changed it.  With technology being so readily available, once students learn how to write in print, cursive has been place on the back burner.  The Common Core Standards took it out completely.  So, you may be wondering why is it necessary to teach cursive in the digital age.  I have five reason that may persuade you to keep it in the curriculum.  

1.  Signatures

Needing to write your signature is just as important today as it was 200 years ago.  Signatures are needed on legal documents.  When you are told to sign your name, do you sign your name in print or cursive?  If you have your own signature, it's your own style, and much harder to duplicate.  Without knowing the basics of cursive, creating your own signature is a little more difficult.  

2.  Develops Motor Skills

Have you ever watched students learn cursive for the first time?  It's definitely not as easy as one would think.  When writing in cursive students use hand muscles in different ways, a different part of their brain is activated, which in turn can be beneficial in furthering motor skill development.  

3.  Patience

Like mentioned in number three, learning cursive is not easy.  There is a lot of eye/hand coordination that goes into creating those curvy letters.  It takes a lot of concentration for a long period of time to get it right.  All the concentration contributes to patience and diligence.  

4.  What Happens if There's No Technology?

Technology, what would we do without it?  Some of us couldn't imagine a world without it, but who is to say that it will always be there.  Writing in cursive is faster.  So, if you are without a keyboard, and taking notes is a necessity, you have cursive as your backup.

5.  We Need to Be Able to Read Cursive

There is a lot of research out there about teaching cursive.  One argument is that students need to be able to read historical documents.  It's not that I don't agree with that, but I don't know that I have ever had to read the Constitution in its original form.  While it may be important to read historical documents, it's not the only reason students need to be able to read cursive.  Children still have adults in their life that write in some form of cursive.   Not everything we encounter is digital.  I have had many students see something written in cursive and tell me that they can't read it because they can't read cursive.  So, if we teach students to write in cursive, they will be able to read cursive.  

The days of teaching cursive to perfect it may be a thing of the past, but teaching students to write in cursive should still be an important part of the curriculum.

Where should you start?  I have the solution HERE.   Everything you need to get started and continue teaching cursive at your fingertips.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Connecting with Your Class: Steps to Increase Student Engagement

If there is one thing that will help you be a more effective teacher, it is making connections with your students. Below we have outlined our top 10 ways that we can connect with our class. They are easy to implement and will result in your students performing better for you in all subject areas.

1. Listen!
Probably the most important thing you can do every day is just listen to your students. They have so much to share and just taking a few seconds to listen to their stories will make all the difference. With the hustle and bustle that we all face on a daily basis, this can seem like it is hard to accomplish. But we must, as educators, connect with our students. Listening is the first step in establishing a trusting relationship with your class.

2. Greet Every Day
When the students arrive in the hallways in the morning it is important to be visual outside your classroom door. You set the tone for your class every day. By smiling and greeting each child by name, you are recognizing that they are important and that you are glad that they are at school. It can also be a red flag as to why a child is having a rough start. You can find that out early on, and be able to address it before it balloons into a bigger issue during the school day. Plus, the kids love it and will often stop to talk to you about something that happened. Remember to listen!

3. Class Chant
Every morning after we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we do our class chant. This is a time to bond together as a class and to say statements that you believe in. Here is our class chant.
I am somebody.
I am capable and loveable.
I am teachable.
Therefore, I can learn.
I can do anything when I try.
I will not let others stand in my way of learning.
I am somebody.
I am somebody.
I am somebody!
Students love to do this and remind me if I ever forget. We even have students come back to us from previous years and can recite it back to us. It is a great way to connect with your class and show them that they are somebody!

4. Culturally Responsive Techniques
As educators we know that students learn through various methods. That is why it is so important to not always teach in the same way. Over the past few years, we have realized the importance of incorporating culturally relevant teaching techniques in our classroom. We want ALL of our students to feel included in the learning process. You can find 25 engaging culturally responsive teaching techniques for purchase by clicking here.

5. Interest Inventory
A great way to get to know your students is to hand out an interest inventory.The questions on the inventory are geared at helping you get to know your students better. It is a quick, stress-free handout that you can give to your students and have them complete in under 15 minutes. Click here to download this free resource!

6. Student-Selected Music
Asking students what music they like to listen to is another great way to connect with them. We have students take out a piece of loose leaf paper and write down their favorite musicians and songs. Then, we go through the process of screening them (looking up lyrics on the internet) and compile a class list. There are a few ways to do this. One is to find them on youtube and then just save them to a folder on your account. Another way is to find a Pandora Or Amazon Unlimited Music channel that has clean versions of songs available. We also like to play classical music too. Surprising kids with their songs during work time will sure to be a hit with your class!

7. Class Library
If you want to build reading fluency with your class, have high interest books in your class library. Each year we find out not only the genres of books that students like, but also topics that they would love to read more about. Over the past 10 years we have included books about Minecraft, WWE wrestling, monster trucks, horses, graphic novels, and so much more. The books are easy to find in our library as we have them labeled by interest as well as genre. If we don't have a topic that a student is interested in, we make it a point to either order a few books through Scholastic Book Club or go to our local book store and buy a few.

8. Real-Life Connections
If there is any way you can connect the curriculum to the students' lives it will make it more engaging for them. By doing this, it will also more than likely increase their achievement in the subject as well. Doing project-based learning is a great way to foster interest and self-motivation. Writing is a great area to implement real-life connections. If you are doing an argumentative, or persuasive, essay, have the students write about topics that matter to them. Then make sure that these essays are shared with the appropriate channels (local newspapers, principal, magazines). You would be surprised to see the responses you will get and we have had students' essays published in the local newspaper as well!

9. Star of the Week
Each child deserves to be spotlighted for one week. We have the child create a "Star of the Week" poster (we provide the poster board). On the poster they can include things such as family photos, favorites (food, drink, book, TV shows/movies,...) and any other things that are important to them. They bring the poster to school at the beginning of the week and we have a special place to display it so all kids can see it throughout the week. Then at the end of the week, the student shares his/her spotlight with the class. It is amazing to see the pride they have in doing this. We also take a picture of the child with the spotlight and then email it to the parents as well.

10. Time to Talk
If there was one thing we wish we could do, it would be to give each child 5 minutes of our time each day. It would be great just to meet with them and listen to what they have to say, really dive in and get to know them. But we know the harsh reality of today's rigid teaching environment doesn't allow it. But that doesn't mean that you can't find ways to sneak in a few minutes a day with kids. That morning time when students are arriving at school is key. They want to tell you so much, try and listen. That work time where students are working quietly, kneel down by them and ask how they are doing. That guided reading time when you are meeting with small groups, connect the book to their lives and find out more about each of them. The end of the day wrap up, take time to sit in a circle and share about their days. Just by taking time to allow them to talk about non-school related things will show them that you truly care.

We hope that you can take the time to implement at least a few of the above ideas into your classroom. Connecting with your class truly will increase student engagement!

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Rethinking the Rough Draft: A Simple Strategy that Leads to Better Revising

Of all the stages of the writing process, doesn't it feel like revising often gets the short end of the stick? One of the obstacles that always seems to be in the way is the simple logistics of where to do it.

When students make this small change to how they write their rough draft, it allows them a lot more freedom when it comes to revising. Such a simple yet powerful idea!

Students write their rough drafts in their composition notebooks, filling the lines, front and back, eventually "finishing," and we move them into the revising stage.

Okay, make it better, we say. And students caret in a few adjectives. Maybe they even cross out a sentence or arrow one into a better place. They notice a capital letter to fix and a word they repeated accidentally, and ultimately, the revising stage begins to look very similar to the editing stage: a little fix here and a little fix there.

The piece as a whole looks basically the same as it did prior to revising. And that's a bummer because the potential of that piece is a lot higher than where it stands, and the revising stage is meant to be a time to close that gap.

But where in their rough draft do we expect students to make those bold changes, those big changes, those important changes? There's just not enough space to do it. The manner in which the draft has been written is not conducive to making serious revisions.

Sure we can pick and poke and find ways around. Skip lines, we say. Use arrows, we say. Tape a flap of paper over the top, we say. Not bad. But how about we rethink the rough draft altogether? Let's revise how the rough draft is written. Let's write the rough draft in a way that completely removes the obstacle of not having space to make revisions.

Enter, the one-column rough draft.

When we fold our notebook page in half length-wise, it creates two columns: one for drafting, and one saved for revising.

And the obstacle is obliterated.

It's a simple, easy adjustment, but let's look at the difference it allows when it comes to revision:

When I introduced the one-column rough draft idea to students, I first had everyone turn to a fresh page in their writer's notebook and fold the page over to the pink line, creating two columns. Then I gave the class a story starter, just to get everyone rolling with an idea, and asked them to begin writing their draft on the left side of the fold only. Even if they went on to another page, they were to leave the column on the right side blank during this drafting phase.

After a few minutes of writing, I stopped the class and brought one student's notebook to the document camera to model some revisions.  Before I started, I made clear what we were about to do: "Boys and girls, let's do some revising to Audrey's draft. Do you see the blank column here? Let's see if this allows us to do the revisions we want, whether big or small."

I proceeded to read Audrey's draft aloud, and then chose a few spots to make revisions. What was super nice was the ability to write the revision right next to the spot in the story where it occurred. Whether we were revising a phrase, a sentence, or an entire section, we had the space to do it.

I then asked the class to take some time to try revising the draft they'd written thus far, getting a feel for using this new space.

The one-column rough draft can really open a door to meaningful revising.

You might say that even if students had all the space in the world, they still wouldn't make dramatic revisions, that students tend to think whatever first flows out of the pencil is their best work, or that serious revising is just too much of a hassle.

Those are issues. And we can work on them. But for now, let's clear out the one big obstacle of space.

Come visit me at my blog, The Thinker Builder, and while you're there be sure to sign up for my free email newsletter!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

UES Loves Teachers!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

To celebrate the amazing job that teachers do every day, we're giving away $375 in Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificates! Fifteen lucky winners will each win a $25 TPT gift certificate!

Clip art by My Clip Art Store.

How to enter
Visit and follow each one of our stores via the Rafflecopter below to earn all 18 entries and see some great upper grade teaching resources! Enter by midnight on Thursday, May 11th, 2017.

Bonus Entries
Get 1 bonus entry for commenting on the Facebook post! Use the "Leave us a Comment" option at the end of the Rafflecopter. 

Share, share, share!
Share the giveaway with your teacher friends! You can send them the link to this blog post or tag them on the post on our Facebook page.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Why Teachers Should Retire Reading Logs

Teachers have been using reading logs as reading homework for a very log time now.  I was told as a first-year teacher that I had to use them, and I believed they were the best way to track a students' reading.  It took me a few years of teaching AND becoming a parent of a school-aged child to realize that reading logs didn't provide the value I believed they did.  Here is some info about why reading logs don't work and what we can do instead.
Are reading logs not working? Learn why you should retire reading logs and find out what works best for reading homework.

Reading Logs: The Teacher's Perspective

Does this sound familiar?
You give a student a reading log on Monday. Each night they have to read for "whatever" minutes and write their start and end time on their log, as well as some other information about the text they read. In addition, parents have to sign it.  The next morning you walk around and check to make sure reading logs are filled in and signed. If they aren't signed or filled in, it is assumed the student didn't read.  
So, if a reading log is signed, does that mean your student actually read? If it isn't signed, does that mean your student didn't read? If they did read, what was the quality of the text? Did they really understand it? When it all comes down to it, a reading log is just a piece of paper that gives us no real information about how a student is doing as a reader.   I think it is safe to say that reading logs do not provide a teacher with any real information about their students.

To learn how to make reading homework more meaningful, click here.

Reading Logs: The Home Perspective

Even the best and most motivated readers don't want to read every day.  My daughter is a highly motivated reader that will sit all day with a book if she has the opportunity. However, there are days when she wants to paint a picture, play with friends, ride her bike, or just relax and watch a movie. On these days, if I asked her to stop what she was doing and go read for thirty minutes, she would do it, but would not be happy about it. Simply by making it a requirement, I've sucked the joy out of her reading time. As a parent, this is not how I want my child to feel about reading a book.

Don't take the love out of reading! Are reading logs not working? Learn why you should retire reading logs and find out what works best for reading homework.

The Potential Damage

So, even though reading logs aren't helping the teacher, why can't we continue to use them, just in case? Simple. There are some potentially serious issues reading logs can cause for students.  
  • Reading Logs turn reading a book into a task. I don't know about you, but when I am forced to read something, I HATE it!  I like to read when I want to, and that is it. Why shouldn't we expect the same of our students? If we force students to read every night for a set amount of time, we are taking the fun out of reading.  We are making reading a book a chore instead of a choice. (stay with me, I have a solution for this)
  • Reading has a time-frame with a reading log.  Now that reading is a task, it also has a time frame. Students aren't just picking up books and reading until they are ready to stop.  More than likely, if a reading log is involved, students are setting a timer or watching the clock.  If you ask them to read for thirty minutes (assuming they are actually reading), that is how long they will read. Not a second longer. 
To learn more about how parents can motivate their child to read without using reading logs, click here. You can also grab a FREE list (PDF) to give to parents in my other post.

What's the REAL Goal?

We want our students to read regularly and enjoy reading. We want them to read quality texts and understand what they have read. We want students to gain habits that allow them to grow into life-long readers.

The Solution

How can we accomplish these goals?  There are two possible options.
  1. Teachers can help educate parents on how to promote good reading habits at home. Yes, it is up to the parent to encourage their child to read. All you can do is guide them.  Kind of the same way a dentist can encourage us to brush our teeth twice a day, but can't actually come to our house and force us to do so. 
  2. Teachers can use a better tool for reading homework to help ensure a small amount of quality reading is being accomplished every night.  Here are some free samples of highly effective reading homework. 
Are reading logs not working? Learn why you should retire reading logs and find out what works best for reading homework.

You can find a post about Making Reading Homework Meaningful, right HERE!

You can also find a post about Getting Students to Read Without Using Reading Logs, right HERE!

Please note...For some students, reading logs may be a good option. If there is little to no parental support at home, students may need a daily reminder (a reading log) to help them form good reading habits.  You may want to consider using reading logs for specific students as a way of encouraging them to read daily.  This may not be necessary for every child. 
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Best Way to Spiral for Better Learning

Think back to when you first thought about becoming a teacher...Besides making a difference, most likely, one of your goals was to help students learn. And when I say learn, I'm not talking about the kind of learning that sticks around just for the test and then is gone the next week. As teachers, we want students to truly understand, to master, and to internalize the concepts we teach them and one of the best ways to do that is to spiral concepts throughout the year. 

What is Spiraling?
If you are new to this idea, to spiral concepts, teachers introduce a concept, and then reinforce the concept by revisiting it, either that same year, or across grade levels.  If you spiral in the same year, most likely you are simply practicing the same concept on a regular basis, so kids master it...And if you spiral across grade levels, the topic is not only reviewed, but increases in complexity, as students become older.

What are the Benefits of Spiraling? 
Spiraling increases prior knowledge, boosts retention, and is effective with all learners. It spreads learning out over time, which leads to long term mastery of skills and concepts. Scientific research also supports its benefits! Lisa Son and Dominic Simon wrote, “On the whole, both in the laboratory and the classroom, both in adults and in children, and in the cognitive and motor learning domains, spacing leads to better performance than massing” (2012).

What are Some Ways to Spiral in the Classroom?

1. Task Cards
Ever since I was introduced to task cards, they have become one of my go-to teaching tools. These cards still feel "fun" to kids, and so they see them as games, as opposed to a traditional worksheet. One of the great things about spiraling concepts with task cards, is that you can spiral in so many different ways. If you'd like some task card inspiration, I wrote a post describing 16 ways to use them, click here.

Click here to see this Main Idea Games Set!
2. Games
Kids never get tired of playing games! I love that when I tell the kids that we're playing a game, their ears perk up and their faces look excited! Games give you instant buy in. It's easy to take a concept and play a simple review game together like Jeopardy or Stump the Expert. If you'd like more game ideas, I wrote a post with six different (easy and free) review games, click here.

3. Reader's Theaters
You may be wondering how reader's theaters can be used to spiral, but they are actually great for a number of things. I have specific reader's theater's for several of the science topics we cover, and they're a perfect (and fun) way to reinforce science materials (click here to see my reader's theaters) They also work well for reviewing concepts like main idea, theme, text evidence, point of view, and more! Think of a reading concept, and bingo! You can find it in a reader's theater most likely. Again, the fun factor of a reader's theater will give you lots of student engagement.

4. Brain Pop
One way I like to spiral is by using videos to review subjects. Brain Pop is an awesome set of online videos that come in a variety of subjects, from nouns and verbs, to the solar system, and everything in between. Some of the videos are free, but most of them require a subscription (our teachers were funded by our PTO for a year's subscription...yay!). These videos are short, just a few minutes long and they come with a pre-made review quiz at the end. I love to put my class into two teams to take turns answering quiz questions!

5. Daily Work
Rather than doing a whole list of activities and using an entire file folder of worksheets to teach an idea, I like to make sure that I save some of them to sprinkle throughout the year. So, if we're working on themes, I'll "hold back" a few worksheets or activities. Then a few weeks later during independent working time, kids can complete a worksheet or we do an activity together to revisit the concept. This constant review helps kids keep the learning current or fresh in their minds.

6. Morning Work
My very favorite way to spiral learning is to include it in Morning Work. For years, I pieced together worksheets and tried to make sure I was hitting the standards and that the kids were getting the spiraling that they needed and then finally, I made what I had been wanting all along...I made a Morning Work packet for 36 weeks that had every standard for reading, math, language, and science (NGSS), plus social studies. Now I have taken all of the guesswork out of the equation and just print and go. I love these sets because the kids find them engaging and it is a no-brainer...and sometimes we all need a no-brainer! Besides being great for Morning Work, it could also be used as Homework if you like!

If these sound helpful to you too, please check them out by trying a free week here:
3rd Grade, 4th Grade5th Grade6th Grade

Ready to give it a try?

When we purposefully spiral the concepts we want our kids to master, we will see an increase in student retention, and an increase in student confidence as students truly understand what we want them to learn. If you haven't yet used spiraling in your classroom, I would encourage you to give it a try. I have seen huge gains in my classroom using this method and would never go back to traditional methods of "massing", where we teach to completion and then move on, without reinforcing to practice what we've learned.

Thanks so much for stopping by and please let me know how these ideas have worked for you.

Happy teaching!

I'd love to connect with you!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Adding Dialogue to Writing: A Free Lesson

A FREE Dialogue Lesson: Are you wondering how a gift box can be used to teach upper elementary students how to correctly use quotation marks in their writing? Check out this blog post and find out!

There's nothing like a wrapped gift to capture the attention of students! Would you like to know how I use this wrapped gift as an anticipatory set activity for a writing lesson that focused on dialogue? Just keep on reading!

When my students enter the classroom on the day of this lesson, they always spot the gift right away, because I display it in a prominent location. Curious students immediately ask me why it's there, and I tell them that they will learn the answer to that question during writing. That usually isn't the answer they want to hear, but I keep them in suspense anyway.

Introduction/Anticipatory Set:

A FREE Dialogue Lesson: Are you wondering how a gift box can be used to teach upper elementary students how to correctly use quotation marks in their writing? Check out this blog post and find out!
When writing finally begins, I ask students if they have any predictions as to why I brought a gift to school, and how it might be related to today's writing lesson. (I love hearing their creative answers!) Eventually, I point out the gift tag, and tell them that this little tag is the vital piece of this activity. We discuss the purpose of any gift tag: to tell who is giving the gift and who is receiving a gift. Next, I explain that writers often use tags in their writing in a similar way. When writers add dialogue to their stories, they use tags to tell who is speaking at a particular point in the story.

Direct Instruction/Guided Practice:

I instruct my students to get out a yellow highlighter (or marker) and a red pen while I hand out the following sheets of paper. I display my sheet beneath the document camera, and tell students to look at the top half of the paper. For each item, we begin by highlighting the dialogue, and then we circle the tag with our red pens. As you can see, I use the last three items to show students that a tag can be longer than two words. In fact, tags sometimes provide additional information, but its main purpose is still to tell which character is talking in the story.
A FREE Dialogue Lesson: Check out this article to get this free worksheet! Examine the dialogue examples on the top half, and then students create their own mini anchor chart on the bottom half!

After we complete #6, we look at what we've highlighted and circled, and conclude that there are three "formulas" that authors use when they write dialogue:

1. An author can place the tag AFTER the dialogue.
2. An author can place the tag BEFORE the dialogue.
3. An author can place the tag in the MIDDLE of the dialogue.

Next, I tell the students that we're going to make our own mini anchor chart on the bottom half of our paper. The finished paper looks like this:
A FREE Dialogue Lesson: Check out this article to get this free worksheet! Examine the dialogue examples on the top half, and then students create their own mini anchor chart on the bottom half!
Click on the image to download this free printable!

Wrapping up the Lesson:

A FREE Dialogue Lesson: Are you wondering how a gift box can be used to teach upper elementary students how to correctly use quotation marks in their writing? Check out this blog post and find out!
Finally, it's time to find out what's in the box! Of course, you can choose anything you want to put in the box. Maybe you want to add some fun new revising pens to your writing center. Perhaps you have a new book to share with the class. This time, I chose to share candy with students because I couldn't resist buying a bag when it was on clearance after a recent holiday. 

Before I hand out the candy, I ask my students to discuss with a neighbor how this gift was related to writing dialogue. After a quick review, I tell students to put their mini anchor chart in their writing folders because I will expect them to refer to this chart when they revise and edit their writing. Starting today, I will expect them to correctly punctuate dialogue in their pieces of writing.

Exit Ticket/Independent Practice:

As an exit ticket activity, I have my students retrieve a novel from their desk or the classroom library. They must find an example of each dialogue form in their book, and record the three examples on a sheet of paper. I also ask them to highlight the dialogue and circle the tag in red pen, just as we did on the top of the worksheet. 

If you are looking for additional resources for teaching dialogue to your upper elementary students, feel free to check out the following resources.
Teach students all about how to use quotation marks in their writing with this Dialogue PowerPoint.   

Teach students how to use quotation marks in their writing with this dialogue craftivity!
Finally, I invite you to hop over to my blog, Crafting Connections, to read about 8 of my favorite methods for building anticipatory set into my lessons.

Thanks for stopping by today! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

4 Ways to Sneak Financial Literacy Into Your Lessons

Financial literacy skills are very important, but we rarely have time to teach them. I hope that these creative ways to "sneak" financial literacy into your lessons will help you better incorporate these important skills into your classroom!

Read books that talk about financial literacy.

Most teachers have a lot of decision-making power when it comes to what literature they use in their classrooms. Choose books wisely to meet your ELA standards while touching on financial literacy topics.
  • Choose a book with a financial literacy topic as your next real-aloud.
  • Use the book in your next novel study.
  • Read a chapter and ask students questions related to your standards.
  • Use passages from the book to model the skills or standard.

Relate everyday math standards to financial literacy.

Your math standards are going to be your best connection to financial literacy instruction. When you can relate your standards to financial literacy, do it! Tweak your lessons to include a real-life financial situation like balancing a budget or opening a business.

Use a classroom economy (and tie it to real life lessons).

Using a classroom economy is a great classroom management strategy, but did you know that it can also promote financial literacy skills? Wise Guys has a fantastic blog post and resource that will help you easily set this up in your classroom around what you're already doing!

Use financial literacy as a reward.

The best thing about financial literacy is that there are a ton of fun resources out there! Reward your students for a job well done by letting them play a game on their device. The free Star Banks Adventure game is my favorite financial literacy game! In this game students earn money, make choices, and answer financial literacy questions. 

Just a little extra effort can give your students some really important financial literacy skills! 

Please consider pinning this post to help get the word out there on incorporating financial literacy skills into your classroom!


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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

3 Strategies to Teach Text Dependent Analysis (TDA)

Looking closely at the Common Core Standards, there is a big emphasis on text evidence.  For example, fourth grade Common Core State Standard- CCSS RI 4.1 states, "Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text."  To take a step further, the standards require students to dig deeper to analyze the text.   In fourth grade CCSS RI.4.8, it states, "Explain how the author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text."

Digging deeper into the text, finding evidence, and analyzing the author's intentions, can be quite challenging for elementary students.  Here are a few strategies to help your students analyze text effectively:

Use a list of Text Dependent Analysis Questions not only when you are creating prompts for your students, but also for student reference.  Review the questions with your students to get them familiar with the types of prompts they will be expected to analyze.  They are no longer expected to simply answer who, what, where questions.  Now they need to explain the author's purpose, the author's writing style or structure, or how they know an answer to more complex questions within the text.  Knowing the types of questions will help your students when reading any text.  They will be thinking deeper knowing that there are hidden meanings and evidence to uncover.  CLICK HERE for a free list of over 60 questions.  Print them and place them in a writing center or in a student resource notebook.

2.  ACE
ACE is an acronym used in Text Evidence.  When your students learn a simple acronym, it will help them answer text dependent analysis questions effectively.

A- Answer the question-  Restate the question and infer by using prior knowledge and reading between the lines.

C-  Cite evidence by finding proof in the text.  Highlight it for easy reference.

E-  Explain your answer by paraphrasing and using quotes from the text.

For more information on ACE, read this TEXT EVIDENCE blog post.

Help students learn how to start evidence-based sentences.  It will guide them to effectively provide text evidence.  Start a class discussion by brainstorming sentence starters.  Use the following examples to get them started.  Make a copy of the list and place it in your writing center.  Students should take notes and keep them in a student resource notebook.  It will provide them with a wonderful reference when they are writing a text dependent analysis.

On page _____, it states...
In paragraph _____, the text says...
_____ quoted, "..."
The example ... shows that ...
According to the text, ...
From what I read in _____ of the text, I understand ...
Based on _____ in the text, I think...
I think the author means _____ because he/she says ...
The author's purpose for this text is ...

For more information on teaching TDA, read this Text Dependent Analysis blogpost.

I hope you gained some strategies to implement in your classroom today!

If you are looking for Text Dependent Analysis passages and prompts, click below!

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