Reading Strategy Application for READ 6351 wiki page

By Selia Lee Garza

As part of a final project for my READ 6351 class I was to work on the class wiki page which can be found at For this project I chose to work on the classroom application of several reading strategies.  My favorite, at least between the ones I have used, was the Story Ray.  In this strategy the students are supposed to create a visual representation of their books on strips of paper and put the whole story together.  This particular reading strategy involved me reading a selection aloud to the students. We read Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi.  We read this book together over a period of about two weeks. Once the entire selection was read I divided my class into groups of three to four and gave them a couple of chapters from the book. They were to reread their selection and talk about what in the story was important enough to visually represent on the story ray.  Once this brainstorming session was over each group was given a sentence strip and time to work on their chapters. I will be honest and inform you that my students mostly created illustrations of the story rather than visual representations. This was ok. I realized that the conversations that the students had while working on this project were deeper than I had heard before. Because I was so happy with the results of using this reading strategy I ventured to try it again. The second story ray proved to have better results than the first. The students were still having deep conversations but the biggest difference was their focus on the important aspects of their particular selections.  They thought more about what they were going to draw and why it was important. I even had a few students talking about why they had chosen the colors that they used. The improvement that my students showed from the first to the second implementation of this strategy was enough to make it be a strategy that I will likely continue to use time and time again.

Thanks and What’s Next

By readingintheborderlands

This semester students in READ 6310 and READ 6351 posted book reviews and personal essays to this blog. I’d like to thank them for their contributions. I appreciate hearing their opinions about literacy learning and teaching!

As soon as I get my grades turned in tonight I am officially on vacation. I have several ideas for posts in mind, but since I’m headed toward the frozen north I suspect I’ll spend most of my time away huddled under blankets, not sitting at a computer. We’ll see.

Next semester the students in READ 6323 and READ 6325 will be posting on this blog. I look forward to their thoughts!

Congratulations, Graduates!

By readingintheborderlands

Today is the official graduation day for the University of Texas-Pan American. Congratulations to all our graduates from the Reading Specialist M.Ed. program! And to all the graduates from other programs who have taken READ courses! I’m so proud of you and all your hard work. I know attending graduate school can be a real sacrifice of time and money, but I hope that what you learned made it all worthwhile.

Book Review: “New Visions for Linking Literature and Mathematics” By David J. Whitin & Phyllis Whitin

By Yazmin Garcia

 An  out of the ordinary book has listed the necessary strategies on linking literature and mathematics in the learning process. This book is designed to offer teachers new forms to develop mathematics learning in reading children’s literature.  One of the essential components that teachers can use from this book is the annotated bibliography of math related literacy books. Throughout each chapter, the authors introduced math literacy fiction and nonfiction books with real classroom stories on how teachers have incorporated them in their classroom and the responses from students.   The authors have structured the presentation of this book designed based on the mutual initiative from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The authors provide an explanation of the role of written and oral literacy held develop mathematical understanding.

The book is organized with a chapter that lists ways in which teachers can develop the same reading strategies used in Language Arts such as using book sets and developing units with  children literacy books in a  mathematic lesson that will meet the NCTM standards ; which changes the way to see  mathematics to a more inviting learning environment.

One chapter is focused on develop children’s mathematical comprehension by posing questions. The text analyzes specific parts of children’s literacy books and shows possible questions that teachers can post to develop a connection between the story and the math concept and to develop analysis in depth using the math concept. In this form, students are introduced to whole class discussion, they analyze the mathematical problems in the literacy piece by providing the opportunity to think about the problem, change the story of the problem, or develop a new problem, ask questions that will develop learning.  These strategies are designated to discover some of the students’ spontaneous observations and understanding of text.


D. J. Whitin & P. Whitin. 1947. New Visions for Linking Literature and Mathematics. NCTE.

Reading at Home

By Melissa Morales

As I sit here thinking about reading I can’t help but think about my students and my three children. I have taught for 9 years all in elementary and have 3 children: 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 4th grade. As I look back on all my experiences so far I have come to realize how important it is to read for fun at home. Literacy and the love of books begin at home. The more children read the better readers they will be. It is so important that parents read to their children when they are little and even continue to read with them when they get older. I have noticed that all we seem to do is watch T.V. lately. Even as adults we are either working, cleaning, or watching T.V. I need to pick up a book every now and then so that my kids will see and want to pick up a book too.  Whenever I do grab a book and want to read with my child they love it. It is funny how we assume they would rather watch television then spend time with us. Specially this holiday season with all of our kids home for the holidays. How are we going to spend our days and nights? Maybe instead of watching so many Christmas movies and cartoons, maybe we could go to the library and check out some Christmas books. Maybe we could read some recipe books and make some cookies. Wow now I’m picturing us outside at night with a blanket on the grass. We could have cookies, hot chocolate, a flashlight, and some books. I bet the kids would love that and it would make an awesome memory. It is just a thought from a mom of three and a teacher who needs to start reading for fun again.

Student-generated Books in the Classroom

By Claire Arteaga

During my first year teaching I knew that literature would be the backbone of every core subject. I read and read and read to my class in hopes that they would somehow absorb the information that needed to be covered. However, I did not realize the importance and benefits of responding to literature. When thinking of reader responses, all that came to my mind were classroom discussions and tests.

Luckily, I have grown as an educator in the past two years. I have learned about different reading strategies, as well as different types of literature responses. The response that I have found to be most beneficial is student-generated books. Students of all reading and writing levels have the ability to create books. It is an activity that can be used for any subject and any grade level.

Giving students the opportunity to create their own books is one of the greatest gifts they can receive! Through this activity, they gain self-confidence and assurance as writers and readers. This helps them to become more interested in the topic that they are writing about. In our class we create either an individual student-made book or a collaborative classroom book each week, which gives them the feeling of ownership and belonging.

My class has learned the writing process through the use of creating their own books. Every Monday in our class, the students get the opportunity to brainstorm about what type of book they will write in response to our literature of the week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the students work on their draft. Thursday is set aside for revisions and editing, and Friday they present their final product to the class.

Fridays bring great joy to our classroom. The students are excited to share their book and take it home to read to their families. Most of my students come from low-income families and money for books is scarce. Many parents have let me know that they are grateful for the opportunity to have a free book that they can read with their child. I get so many positive notes from the parents letting me know how impressed they are with their child’s work. The support from home encourages my students to keep creating wonderful books to share with their loved ones.

I notice that my students are satisfied and proud of each other’s accomplishments. During student-selected reading time, my students often choose to read the student-generated books over any other books. They take ownership and pride in their work and it reflects in their attitudes while reading the books. I plan on using Student-generated books for years to come!

Connecting Children’s Literature to Social Studies

By H. Meisel

Using children’s literature to further students’ knowledge in Social Studies has proven to be an effective and meaningful way to connect historical events. Autobiographies, biographies, and historical fiction are just some examples of literature that bring in the human factor for our students to relate to. As a Social Studies and Reading teacher, I am constantly looking for children’s and adolescent literature that connects the lives of the people in the era we’re studying to the lives of my students. Having the privilege of teaching World Cultures and Geography, our topics may range from literature coming from that specific country to the daily lives and hardships of the people who inhabit the country. I may choose to highlight literature that has a historical element or I may choose literature that discusses issues involving current events. There is a plethora of student literature, and my goal is to gather as many ideas as I can, along with books, and teaching methods.  My hopes are that other teachers may be able to contribute to enhance and enrich my ever-growing collections as well as get some new ideas of their own.

An example of connecting literature to Social Studies includes “Eating The Plates: A Pilgrim Book on Food And Manners,” by Lucille Recht Penner. This book tells the story of the Pilgrims and their struggle to survive. It gives details of their diet, the effects of disease, and help the Indians gave them by bringing corn, deer and turkey to their dinner tables. There are interesting recipes at the end of the book that reveal what was on the Pilgrims’ menu. This book takes the events of the establishment of Plymouth Colony and brings it to life for our students.

Another book that takes the study of Ancient Egyptian civilizations and brings it to life is “The Golden Goblet,” by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. This book is about the struggle of Ranofer, an adolescent living under the evil rule of his older half brother Gebu. Ranofer has strong suspicions his brother is a thief, but must go about proving it without being a subject of the thievery himself. Moreover, Ranofer’s goal of becoming a goldsmith is consistently shattered as Gebu uses him for his own selfish greed. This book is especially powerful for adolescent boys, and contains themes such as abuse, friendships, and never giving up on your dreams.

These are just a few examples of children’s and adolescent literature that bring to life events, dates, and places in history that can become so easily forgotten or ignored in an overwhelming textbook. I’m hoping teachers will share their knowledge and ideas about books they use that connect literature with their subject area teaching.