Tag Archives: reading

Resources for Designing Morphologically-Rich Lessons

This post contains resources for teachers to build morphologically-rich lessons, based upon an action research study I conducted while part of the Governor’s Teacher Network program. To learn more about the study, check out the slideshow below.

Select Your Goals

Please download the lesson plan template to get you started. Think about your goals for students. What standards will you meet? What will your learning targets be? For most of us, tracing word meanings and morphology will be found in the Vocabulary Acquisition and Use standard in the Language strand of the Common Core State Standards.

Choose a Text

Choose a text of your choice, or you can explore some of the adapted texts at these websites. They are free to use, but you will need to create an account.


Read Works

Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week

Select the Anchor Word(s)

Find one or two morphologically rich words necessary to understand the text.  You can use the Academic Word List or the Academic Word Finder from Achieve the Core to help you.

Determine the morpheme you would like to provide instruction on.  Here are some links to help you.

Words Their Way

Learn That Word

Scholastic – Most Common Prefixes and Suffixes

Reading First — Virginia DOE

Better Endings List

Instructional Strategies for Reading

Say Something


T-charts for collecting evidence

Text Coding

Chunking and Annotation


Create Games




Word Study Uno

Free Microsoft Office-Based Game Templates

“Level Up” Learning with Newsela’s Binder

This is the final post in a series exploring Newsela strategies, and it focuses on ideas for Newsela Pro binder users.  You can check out other posts for ideas for using the free version of Newsela or Newsela Pro features.

So imagine that you are now using all of Newsela’s features with your students, and you want to determine how the information stored in the binder can help you “level up” learning in your classroom and across your school. Here are two simple ideas.

  1. Use Binder Data for Student Conferences and Personalized Instruction

When you confer with students, you can have them access their data in their student binders. Once students open their binders, you are able to see the overall percentage of questions they’ve gotten correct on quizzes. Although a good piece of benchmarking data, this percentage is not necessarily very helpful for growth.  

However, there is a great tool for guiding growth. A simple search feature at the top of the binder allows you to isolate different reading standards. Both the students and you can see percentages of correct answers for each type of skill and compare those percentages to the student’s average. This activity creates an enriching discussion about strengths and areas for growth.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 9.07.37 PMFor example, I worked with a student who opened her binder, and she had a 76% overall on her quizzes.  Her first response was, “ I always get 75’s on my quizzes.” She seemed downtrodden by this fact (in actuality, 75% is a perfectly good score for students reading on their instructional Lexile level according to Newsela). 


Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 9.07.27 PMSo, I encouraged her to isolate some of the reading standards, using the filter in the binder. We found that she had gotten 95% of central idea questions correct, and I acknowledged that as a strength for her (compared to her 76% average). We then saw that she had a 65% on questions dealing with perspective and point of view.  We realized that this is was a growth area for her. I shared possible strategies she could use when reading in the future. We also explored some of point-of-view questions to learn more about what they asked.

Using this data allows us to give personalized feedback, help students self-assess their strengths and areas for improvement, and aids personalized instruction as well as targeted interventions.

2. Using Data for Schoolwide Focus

If you are a Newsela team leader, you have access to school-wide data in the School Performance tab. In this area, you can look at the average level of achievement of all students in your school. Here, you can also use the filter to learn about how students are doing in each individual reading standard.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 9.10.37 PMScreen Shot 2017-03-26 at 9.10.48 PM

I was recently able to do this with one of my schools. I noticed that the school was doing particularly well on Standard 4, which deals with understanding vocabulary and figurative language in context. However, students were doing very poorly on the Standard 7 multimedia questions, which usually ask them to compare a print text to some visual text such as a map or a piece of art. This information was helpful for teachers, so they could be mindful of strengthening intertextual connections for students, regardless of the subject area where they teach.

If you want to hear about these strategies in depth, access the Newsela “Celebrate the Educator” webinar in which I share 6 strategies for “leveling up” with Newsela.

What are some interesting ways that you are using the Newsela Pro Binder?

Try “Say Something” for Comprehension in Any Subject

One of the problems I’ve noticed when working with adolescent readers is that many of them do not monitor comprehension. I often ask them if they have had the experience of BMS (Blank Mind Syndrome) after they have read a paragraph, page, or chapter of a text. Almost universally, they all say they have. I have too. Oftentimes, this can stem from a lack of monitoring.

Monitoring comprehension is simply “checking in with yourself” as you read. Readers who monitor well generally stop periodically to ask themselves questions about what they have read, make connections to their experiences, or realize when they experience Blank Mind Syndrome and try re-reading. Those that check in often can realize they are confused after a few paragraphs rather than a few chapters. What a time-saver!

Many students learned about these monitoring comprehension strategies as elementary students. However, I’ve noticed that, as secondary students, several do not actively use them when reading becomes difficult. This phenomenon is as true for striving readers as it is for Advanced Placement students. If the text is simple for the individual student, he or she cruises along happily because he or she is seemingly involuntarily monitoring. It’s just what we all do when texts are easier. But, once students encounter more complex texts, it is essential that they monitor comprehension intentionally. Many don’t. This leads to reading without comprehending or simply stopping the reading process.

One of my favorite strategies for having students practice monitoring comprehension is Say Something. I first learned about Say Something in Kylene Beers’ awesome book When Kids Can’t Read — What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12. If you have never read the book, it is a resource I turn to frequently — even several years after reading it the first time. You must check it out some time.

Here is the gist of Say Something.

Essentially, students read text with a partner, stopping periodically to make predictions, clarify unclear information, ask questions, make comments, and make connections. Students enjoy the social aspect of the strategy, and most report that they “actually understood it” when they use it. When they cannot do one of the five things I mentioned when they stop, they must re-read, focusing on trying to use one of the strategies intentionally. Once they begin using the strategy, I have noticed students utilize their background knowledge in these conversations with one another to better understand the text, explicitly making connections and points that I would never think to suggest. It is truly powerful. It is imperative, though, to explicitly link the conversation students have during Say Something, to the internal conversations they should be having when they read independently. This can best be done through giving students opportunities to use the question stems from Say Something while they read independently. They can share their thinking in this way through short annotations.

One of the latest ways I’ve been experimenting with Say Something is adapting it based upon disciplinary literacies. Different from general content-area reading strategies, disciplinary literacies are ways of thinking that must be utilized to become proficient in different fields. So, as I am reading a social studies text, I may need to monitor differently (perhaps thinking about the context of time period when reading a primary document) from when I read a science text (reading to understand complex multi-step procedures).  If you would like to learn more about disciplinary literacies, check out

Through a collaboration with a math teacher, I have developed a Mathematics-Focused Say Something for students to use as they are reading the investigations in their math textbooks. It is still in the development phase, so please feel free to offer input.

In addition, I would like to develop subject-specific Say Somethings for as many areas as possible, so I welcome your explanations of the type of thinking students need for reading in your discipline in the comments area.

Sad News for World Book Night

Some of you may have read my recent blog post about participating in World Book Night for the first time. I was able to obtain copies of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential for some young adults in a special culinary program near my home.  World Book Night gave people the opportunity to receive free copies of books to distribute to light readers and non-readers on April 23rd of each year, William Shakespeare’s birthday.

News came in on July 2nd that as of right now World Book Night for the U.S. has ended. According to the executive director, Carl Lennertz, in this Los Angeles Times story:

“The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, and shippers, are too high to sustain without additional outside funding.”

It looks at though the originating World Book Day and World Book Night UK will go on.

I sure hope that some companies or other funding sources will contact World Book Night US to get the program moving again. It is such an amazing way to spread the love of literacy and build community.

My Experience with World Book Night 2014


If you’ve never heard of it before, World Book Night is an opportunity to spread the love of reading.  It always occurs on April 23rd, Shakespeare’s birthday. Participants sign up online to become book givers, and, if accepted, they receive a box of twenty free books to give to light readers or non-readers.

This year, the media specialists at one of the schools I serve as an instructional coach encouraged the faculty to sign up to be book givers. Eighteen educators were selected as World Book Night givers. Many of the teachers gave books to students in the school.

Participants can enter their top three choices of which books they would like to give when they apply. One of the books was Kitchen Confidential written by celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, long before he was celebrity when he was working daily as a line cook in New York City.  The book is a gritty, edgy, and sarcastic read, but it clearly illustrates to love and passion chefs dedicate to their craft.


I chose to give my books to students in a local program in my area. Students who end their teen years in foster care often struggle in the transition to adulthood.  Eliada’s ESTA program provides these students, who are 18 to 21 years old, with housing, education, and training. They currently have these young adults participate in a culinary program, so that students both learn essential skills for adulthood while also learning a trade that they can use to find work in our city’s tourism-based industry.  Although some of the students are regular readers, some have struggled with literacy and school achievement in the past because of inconsistent home lives.

Instead of giving the books t students on the night of April 23rd, I was invited to participate in a luncheon on April 24th. Eliada hosts a monthly luncheon for people who give to their programs, and the culinary students prepare the meal!  It was awesome!  All of the students were incredibly excited about the books.  One student shared that he had planned on borrowing the audiobook from one of his friends, but now they hopes to read and discuss the book together!  In addition, students were proud to share their successes from the program.  One student recently got his GED and made a perfect score on the math section.  Another student will be entering one our state universities next fall.  This program is really working for these young adults, and I am so happy that I could make my own small contribution the community by sharing the love of literacy.