Category Archives: Embedded Readings

Pictures and assessment

Last week, Laurie and I came up with a new tweak in the drawing-pictures category as we taught embedded readings. I was trying to give people a visual of embedded stories, but Laurie immediately figured out the assessment and success potential of the system. Have I mentioned that Laurie is the most brilliant teacher I know?

Usually I have kids draw a picture across the board as we’re telling a story or reading one. That means all the events and additions are in consecutive order as we’ve added them…an important point. Laurie says her kids often do murals, which are an improvement on the consecutive pictures, so I will try them. The problem with consecutive pictures for the concrete thinkers is that if they run into something they don’t know, they stop instead of leaping over the picture and getting to something they can talk about.

With a mural, students point at the parts of the picture they can talk about, so they don’t get stumped by missing something. But then, given the reality of a classroom full of kids to assess, the teacher might have problems remembering what the target structures were and whether the kid hit them. If part of the assessment is demonstrating use of those structures, it’s also not obvious to the kid what they’re supposed to nail and what is cream on top.

Here’s a snapshot of what a consecutive set of pictures might look like for the story that follows:

So here goes. Set up in your mind a table with as many columns across as there are required structures. Let’s say the base/skeleton story with the critical structures is, “Laurie likes pizza. Michele looks at the pizza. Where did the pizza go?”

Your artist draws pictures across the top of three columns: one picture for each sentence so that when it comes to identifying the sentences as you read them or (later) the student is going to retell the story, the three structures are there on top like a rubric for both teacher and student: this is the required content.

Now, as you continue through the next level of the embedded reading, you add the details as they relate to each sentence underneath that picture. If your next sentence were “Michele also likes pizza,” the drawing would go in the first column, second box down. If another one were, “Laurie looks at Michele,” it could go in the middle column. Then you might add that “Michele likes chocolate pizza with lima beans,” and those details would again go into the first column, into another box below the first two.

As you add details about the story, the pictures fill in more and more boxes underneath the original story outline. When you are re-reading the story with the students, they have to point at the pictures, or even at details within those pictures, but they can’t just move their pencils across the page. They have to look at the pictures and figure out which ones relate. And when it comes to oral (or written) assessment, the teacher can judge to what extent they are exceeding the goals of a simple retell just by watching how often they dip below the target structures at the top of the page.

Here’s what that might look like:

Let me know if this makes sense (especially if you weren’t in our session at NTPRS). I think it has enormous potential as a means of assessment, and I want it to be clear for others.

Video Study Group wrapup

Yesterday we had our final video study group meeting of this year and I’m looking forward to how this will help me going forward next year.  The video itself didn’t work out this time, so we spent our time reviewing and discussing Laurie’s facets of embedded readings, followed by looking at her great choose your own adventure powerpoint.  One group member who teaches three section of Spanish I noted that having students in each section develop different parts of a given embedded reading would really be helpful in not only adding variety to her sections but in building a compelling storyline.

One thing that Carla reminded me of was that Laurie’s first embedded reading were based on student writings instead of entirely self-generated, and after all I did with writing in my class this year, I think I could use them as a useful follow-up to reading novels.  My upper level students complained incessantly towards the end of the year that they didn’t care so much for my novel selection, and I never found a method of doing parallel stories that really satisfied me.  I wonder if I could use the first levels of embedded readings to more or less recap those stories: have students write up summaries for me as well as variations.  Then after reading the first couple of levels that basically recap the basic story, I could trot out several different level three and four embedded stories for a) increased repetition, and b) finding ways for them to give the stories their own flavor.

Finally, and something I’m going to spin out further in an upcoming blog post, Carla is starting to organize a PQA wiki that would allow us to work together in coming up with power approaches to creating PQA for specific vocabulary words.  We brainstormed a few possibilities together with some nice results.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this will turn out.

Toni Kellen-3

Toni shared a story and a technique on Ben’s blog. I linked to it and talked about it last fall, but then Ben took his blog down and the link disappeared. I wanted that story back, because I tried it and loved it, but it’s only in Russian. I finally found Toni on yahoo and she said I could post it here too. Here goes!

CONCEPT

I type up a story and let my STUDENTS expand it into an embedded reading by adding in previously learned vocab structures.  I’ve done the same thing before, making the embedded reading out of recycled vocab MYSELF, but it takes way less time to only type up the story once and then leave the rest up to the students.  I think it also helps them to connect with the story better because THEY actually have to interact with the text and the structures.

EXAMPLE

Day 1: Tell story.

Target Vocab:  – meets

Joe meets a girl.  Joe thinks that the girl he meets is very pretty.  Joe thinks that she is pretty because she has white hair and Joe likes girls with white hair.  The girl’s name is Betty (White).  When Joe meets Betty, he says, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.”  But Betty doesn’t like Joe, so she says “It is NOT nice to meet you.”  Joe is very upset and runs to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, Joe runs to the girls’ bathroom.  Fortunately, in the girls’ bathroom, Joe meets another girl.  The girl that Joe meets does not have white hair, but she is very pretty.  She says to Joe, “Hi, my name is Megan (Fox).”  He says, “Hi, my name is Joe.”  “It’s nice to meet you,” she says.  Joe is very happy to meet Megan.

Day 2: Read and Story Expansion Assignment

-Type up story, with several spaces between each sentence.  That leaves room for students to write their additions.

-In red are some sample additions to the story. (Sorry…I’m betting the red doesn’t come through. You can compare the versions to see the additions.)

ASSIGNMENT

Directions:  Add at least 5 of the following phrases to expand the story.  Highlight each of the phrases from the list that you add to the story.  *(If this were a real assignment, the list of terms would probably be longer and more complex, and students would be required to use a greater number of them.)

·         although

·         is embarrassed

·         turns red

·         brown hair

·         yells

·         I like you.

·         nice

·         mean

·         smiles

·         ugly

·         old

Joe meets a girl.

Joe thinks that the girl he meets is very pretty.

Joe thinks that she is pretty because she has white hair and Joe likes girls with white hair.  Although she is very old, Joe thinks she is very pretty.

The girl’s name is Betty (White).

When Joe meets Betty, he says, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.”

But Betty doesn’t like Joe, so she says “It is NOT nice to meet you.”   Betty is very mean.   Joe is very embarrassed and turns red.

Joe is very upset and runs to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, Joe runs to the girls’ bathroom.

Fortunately, in the girls’ bathroom, Joe meets another girl.

The girl that Joe meets does not have white hair, but she is very pretty.   She has brown hair.

She says to Joe, “Hi, my name is Megan (Fox).”

He says, “Hi, my name is Joe.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” she says.  Megan is very nice to Joe.   Although Joe is very embarrassed that he walked into the girls’ bathroom, he

Joe is very happy to meet Megan.  Joe smiles  at  Megan and tells her, “I like you.”

Exchange student/embedded stories

We’re still working on the holiday hero unit in the advanced class. I could not find the easy reading I thought I had about Baba Yaga. I asked an exchange student to simplify with repetitive language any interesting text that she could find about Baba Yaga. She turned a four-page story into a four-paragraph one. It was still complex, so I duplicated her text and took out a bunch of the extraneous details as a step-two text. Then I duplicated that and took out all but the most essential parts for the first reading.

In class, I asked a story that paralleled the first text: a one-legged salmon had a cousin and an uncle. The uncle died when a bear ran over him in the forest. Then the salmon had to swim to San Francisco, where people loved him. Meanwhile, his new uncle didn’t like his cousin and sent him off to the witch Baba Yaga, who wanted to eat the cousin. He escaped and ran home to tell his father (who had returned) the truth about the new uncle.

The first-step story was basically the same, except that of course it was when a man’s wife died that his new wife took the first opportunity to send her step-daughter off to the witch’s hut. The girl escaped, and she ran home to tell her father, who sent the new wife packing.

We did the readings after having told the salmon story. I could have easily spread them out over about four days, but instead we read all three levels immediately.

What always amazes me with embedded stories is that the kids are hooked by the story that relates to theirs (Darn! I just realized I forgot to ask parallel questions) and then as they read the following levels, they enjoy getting “more” of the story. In this case, there was extra cultural information in the story–the witch heated up the sauna in order to wash her meal before eating it–as well as fairy-tale details about a forest springing up from a comb and a river from a towel that protect the girl from the witch.

We ran out of time. First, we’re going to do group re-tells of either the salmon story or the Russian tale, after they answer some questions about them and put the sentences in order (we have our second day of the semester in the computer lab tomorrow, and I have been frantically trying to figure out how to make it CI). Then I’m going to type up our salmon story and let kids enlarge on it. Then students get to write their own simple stories that must include cultural information about the hero that they were studying.

Jennie’s embedded reading

Jennie shared this with our WL teachers. I want to use it before we forget about our successful football season.

——————–

Jennie said…”I did an embedded reading this week that’s been successful. Here it is in English, Spanish and French. I used it for level 2 and mixed advanced levels. This is in first and second person, mostly because I wrote it for a class that is not my best for direct conversation. I wanted to get the I and you forms more reps. The structures I focused on:

went (first and second person sing. forms)
didn’t like it
yelled at me
came

I took three days with this for Spanish. For French, it will be four when we read the final part tomorrow. We read the first part one day, as a spinoff from talking about the weekend. The next day we read the second part. Day three, we narrated the story from part 2 in class and decided who the characters were. Then I had partners read the last part to each other. It was fun to see them get to the very last paragraph and be surprised by the choice of characters.”

You went to the game. I didn’t go. I didn’t like that day alone in the house. Everyone came to the house afterwards. They yelled at me. I didn’t like it.

Last Saturday, you went to the game. You are a player on the team. I didn’t go, because nobody invited me. I didn’t like that day alone at the house. I wanted to play with you. But last Saturday, I played alone. Everyone came to the house after the game. They yelled at me. My stomach hurt. I didn’t like it.

Last Saturday, you went to the game. You are the best player on the soccer team. I didn’t go, because nobody invited me. You never invite me to play with you. I’ve been only once to a game with you. I really liked it, that time.

But I didn’t like that day alone at the house. I wanted to play with you. But last Saturday, I played alone. I played with your soccer ball, without you. I didn’t like playing without you, but I did like your soccer ball.

Everyone came to the house after the game. You came with your friends. I was so excited that I peed on the floor. They yelled at me when they saw the ball. What’s more, my stomach hurt. You told me “Bad dog!” I didn’t like it.

Tu es allée au match.
Je n’y suis pas allé.
Ça ne m’a pas plu, ce jour seul à la maison.
Tout le monde est venu chez nous après.
Elles m’ont crié.

Le samedi dernier, tu es allée au match. Tu es joueuse dans l’équipe.
Je n’y suis pas allé, parce que personne ne m’a invité.
Ça ne m’a pas plu, ce jour seul à la maison. Je voulais jouer avec toi.
Mais le samedi dernier, j’ai joué seul.
Tout le monde est venu chez nous après le match.
Elles m’ont crié. J’avais mal à l’estomac. Ça ne m’a pas plu.

Le samedi dernier, tu es allée au match. Tu es la meilleure joueuse de l’équipe de football!
Je n’y suis pas allé, parce que personne ne m’a invité. Tu ne m’invites jamais à jouer avec toi. Je suis allé seulement une fois avec toi aux matchs. Ça m’a beaucoup plu, cette fois-là.

Mais ça ne m’a pas plu, ce jour seul à la maison. Je voulais jouer avec toi. Mais le samedi dernier, j’ai joué seul. J’ai joué avec ton ballon de foot, sans toi. Ça ne m’a pas plu de jouer sans toi, mais ton ballon de foot m’a plu.

Tout le monde est venu chez nous après le match. Tu es venue avec tes amies. J’étais si excite que j’ai fait pipi par terre. Elles m’ont crié quand elles ont vu le ballon. Ça ne m’a pas plu. En plus, j’avais mal à l’estomac. Tu m’as dit, «Mauvais chien!» Ça ne m’a pas plu.

Tú fuiste al partido.
Yo no fui.
No me gustó aquel día solo en la casa.
Todos vinieron a casa después.
Me gritaron.

El sábado pasado, tú fuiste al partido.
Tú eres jugadora en el equipo.
Yo no fui, porque nadie me invitó.
No me gustó aquel día solo en la casa. Yo quería jugar contigo.
Pero el sábado pasado, yo jugué solo.
Todos vinieron a casa después del partido.
Todos me gritaron. Mi estómago no estaba tranquilo. No me gustó.

El sábado pasado, tú fuiste al partido. ¡Tú eres la mejor jugadora en el equipo de fútbol! Pero aquel día, yo no fui, porque nadie me invitó. Tú nunca me invitas a jugar contigo. Yo fui a un partido contigo sólo una vez. Me gustó mucho.

No me gustó aquel día solo en la casa. Yo quería jugar contigo. Pero el sábado pasado, yo jugué solo. Jugué con tu balón de fútbol, sin tí. No me gustó jugar sin tí, pero sí me gustó aquel balón de fútbol.

Todos vinieron a casa después del partido. Tú viniste con tus amigas. Yo estaba tan emocionado que yo oriné en el suelo. Todos me gritaron cuando miraron el balón arruinado. No me gustó. Además, mi estómago no estaba tranquilo. Tú me dijiste, «¡Mal perro!» No me gustó.

Struggling Readers

Hi Michele,

I was just on the district’s assessment database looking at my students’ SBA scores, and it turns out that I am very fortunate in that I have four classes of 35 students with only 1 or 2 students in each class whose SBA scores were below proficient, and then I have one class of 34 (my smallest class haha!) that has 9 students with below proficient scores in reading. Not surprisingly, this class is (1) my biggest behavior problem and (2) my lowest performing class. Pretty interesting to see how the students that are really struggling in reading and writing in Spanish are the same students with low SBA scores! I’ll know to look ahead for that last year.

Anyway, I’ve done lots and lots of reading, writing, listening, and speaking assessments, and now that I’ve identified who needs additional support in each skill area, I’m wondering how to support that in my classroom. Maybe you have some ideas from your multi-level classes? I’m seeing that my kids that are struggling to read in Spanish are struggling to read overall, and frankly I don’t have the training to teach basic reading skills—everything I teach relates back to English!

I’m writing this very quickly and it probably doesn’t make any sense, but what are your thoughts?

M
——————-

(I’m going to blog the answer to this question, since I haven’t done a blog entry today, and I think others might chime in with their tricks.)

Your question makes perfect sense! I too have a bunch of kids whose reading skills are low, partly because every year my “reluctant reader” English class students decide that they like me enough to sign up for Russian the next year. Ironies abound, don’t they?! There are lots of different tricks reading teachers use. Here are just a couple. We can talk later, and we should talk at the conference about this as well.

Before I start with ideas, you have to know that I follow the Susie/Ben techniques of reading out loud in class, and having kids immediately translate. I stay right with them, and if a word is about to come up that they might not know, I fill in the translation as we go. The text we read should have the expectation of 80-90% comprehensibility. Success is very important. I don’t spend all day every day on a paragraph, as Blaine does so effortlessly. I may do a parallel story if it fits, but most often I am just discussing the story.

There are a lot of different ways to scaffold reading. Embedded readings are your friend. If you go to Laurie Clarcq’s website and look in February 2010, there are some fabulous posts about embedded readings (including a hysterically funny story about oatmeal). Basically, you take what you want them to read, and you cut it down in successive versions so that only the meat remains. Or, you do the opposite, and you take the bare bones reading and write two follow-up versions, adding details each time. Laurie had a formula for this last year, but I can’t remember what it was. Something like two details for every sentence, but when you have struggling readers, you don’t want to add too much. I’ll do a quick example below. What embedding does is repeat the bare bones that you want them to get three times…you have to make sure though that every kid understands every bit of the first one. I make my kids put their fingers on the words that we are reading until they are third-year. I explain that I will be interrupting the reading often, and they have to know where we are. (I can also tell with a quick glance around the room who is still “on”.) And if a kid is really struggling, I have learned from Jason to ask them to highlight the words on their page as we read them. You can let the kids know in advance that you’ll be offering the highlighter pens, and then have a few extra for other students. It keeps them focused. Poor readers often don’t scan well. They get instantly lost in any text.

You have to circle those first story versions really well, and ask the struggling readers the most basic questions, meanwhile asking the faster processors more complex questions. Maybe you have some of the vocabulary on the board. Just as you would when you’re in the middle of asking a story, you can ask a “barometer student” what a word means, while pointing to the meaning of the word. You can ask the kid next to him what the phrase means, and a Susie Gross trick is then to congratulate the kid who answers, but look at the barometer kid as you congratulate the neighbor. It works well for me as long as I haven’t screwed up by asking the barometer something he makes a mistake on. If a kid does make a mistake, I try not to drop it, but keep going until he has two right answers in a row and feels successful.

Jason told us to find ways to make kids re-read the text several times. If you are giving a quiz, you can ask them to answer questions in English, and then write the number of the question in the text where they found the answer. That means they can’t just depend on memory. They have to show you where they found it. It’s helpful to demonstrate for the whole class on the projector, then circulate to make sure they understand.

You can ask them to fill in charts: who, what, when, where, how. It’s not really a lot of output, but they have to go back and forth to the text. Someday soon I’ll post some of the “repeat reading” ideas, and maybe we can get some more. It’s really important to force re-readings of a text. Each time they return, they’ll get something new. And I tell the kids that this will help both their target language and their scanning skills for use in reading their regular texts.

Okay…an embedded story example directly from my Russian 1 class last week…(missing some details about dreadlocks…I got these extra details by leaving the story up on the projector screen for my next class to embellish. They had a lot of fun, and there was much laughter the next day in the Russian 1 class. Everyone got 100% on the quiz.)

Version 1

Brad Pitt had a problem. He had long hair. He wanted short hair. He went to Trend Setters. He said, “I have long hair. I want short hair.” Trend Setters said, “Impossible.” Brad Pitt cried.

Brad Pitt went to Great Clips. He said, “I have long hair. I want short hair.” Great Clips said “Impossible.” Brad Pitt cried.

Brad Pitt went to Mr. Lau, a teacher at West. He said, “I have long hair. I want short hair.” Mr. Lau said, “BZZZT,” and suddenly Brad Pitt had no hair. Mr. Lau laughed.

Version 2

Brad Pitt had a problem. He had long, green hair. He wanted short hair. He wanted short hair, because Angelina Jolie loved short hair. She didn’t love long hair. He went to Trend Setters. He said, “I have long green hair. I want short hair. I don’t want long green hair.” Trend Setters said, “Impossible. We aren’t working today.” Brad Pitt cried.

Brad Pitt flew to Great Clips. His mother was working there. Brad Pitt said, “I have long green hair. I want short hair. I don’t want long green hair.” His mother liked his long green hair, and she said “Impossible.” Brad Pitt cried.

Brad Pitt went to Mr. Lau, a teacher at West. He said, “I have long green hair. I want short hair. I don’t want long green hair.” Mr. Lau said, “BZZZT,” and suddenly Brad Pitt had no hair. Mr. Lau laughed. He was evil.

Version 3

Brad Pitt had a big problem. He had long, green hair. He wanted short hair. He wanted short hair, because Angelina Jolie loved short hair. She didn’t love long hair. He went to Trend Setters. He said, “I have long green hair. I want short hair. I don’t want long green hair.” Trend Setters said, “Impossible. We aren’t working today.” Brad Pitt cried. He knew that Angelina Jolie loved short hair. He had long green hair.

Brad Pitt flew to Great Clips on a pink penguin rocket. His mother was working there. Brad Pitt said, “I have long green hair. I want short hair. I don’t want long green hair.” His mother liked his long green hair, and she said “Impossible.” His mother knew that Angelina Jolie liked short hair. His mother didn’t like Angelina Jolie. She liked Jennifer Anniston. Jennifer Anniston liked long green hair. Brad Pitt’s mother was evil. Brad Pitt cried.

Brad Pitt went to Mr. Lau, a teacher at West, by transporter. He said, “I have long green hair. I want short hair. I don’t want long green hair.” Mr. Lau said, “Why do you want short hair?” Brad Pitt said, “I want short hair because Angelina Jolie likes short hair.” Mr. Lau said, “This is not a problem. BZZZT,” and suddenly Brad Pitt had no hair. Mr. Lau laughed. He was evil. Mr. Lau loved Brad Pitt’s mother. Brad Pitt’s mother loved Mr. Lau. Brad Pitt’s mother was evil.

That’s all for now. Maybe it’s too much!! But if we can demonstrate that we are teaching literacy skills in language classes, we may be able to defend our enrollment when times get tough.