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  FrontLine Teaching
Published By ReadingLady.com

January, 26, 2002

1) Four Blocks Book Sale Party
Fun Stuff
This & That

Visit our scheduled 4 blocks sale.

In coordination of conference season for all “4 Blockers” we are having our regular 4 blocks sale and this year we are calling it a party because it is such a good sale.

Remember, because of our personal commitment to 4 blocks, we will meet or beat any competitors price.

Fun Stuff

I teach second grade in Saint Cloud, Florida.  Right now we are learning about the Colonial Times. This week we have been talking about jobs people during the Colonial Times.  I explained each job description and explained that people made beautiful signs to advertise their shops. Well, I gave each child a cut out of a blank shop sign.  They had to choose a job and make a sign for it.  I went about the classroom to try to identify what kind of jobs the children picked.  One boy drew a hat, (a hatter) one girl drew a pair of shoes (courtwainer), anyway I came to one girl and she had drawn a large yellow smile face.  I asked her what kind of job she picked and she casually responded "I work at Wal-Mart", I thought that was so cute.
Tina Parent
Second Grade


As promised last week, I brought home some of my students' written response to our prior knowledge study. The following were from week one where we looked at -
What is Prior Knowledge?

Responses were written on the last day of the week after we had modeled and
worked with the concept for the week. 

"Prior knowledge is what you already know before you read the book.  You use prior knowledge because when you read you can write what you know. It will help you comprehend reading. You use prior knowledge with your brain. It can help your reading and getting smarter.  It's like extra credit.  Prior knowledge is great and that is one of the things you will love to do." Tatiana (7 years old)

"Prior knowledge - something you access from out of your brain about an information book, or fiction book.  If you read about Magic School Bus you could make a prediction about what field trip they are going to go on. If it is a nonfiction book and it is about dolphins you can say I know a dolphin is a whale.  Your brain is like a computer that researches for stuff in it's cabinet before you read." Tiffany (8 years old)

"Prior knowledge is when you already know something. You use prior knowledge before you read. You have to use prior knowledge because it will help you comprehend your reading by already knowing something. Prior knowledge is great because it can make your brain more smarter and you learn something new." Precious (7 years old)

This week we focused on -

How do readers access prior knowledge?

We defined access on day 1 as getting the information out of our brain.  We used the association of warming up a car on a cold day. We need to warm up our brains to get them ready for new learning.

Again we modeled webs, kwl charts, know charts and other types of ways to access prior knowledge. Again at the end of the week they responded in writing to the question.  Since I have these books here I will type what these kids wrote -

"You access prior knowledge because it can help you comprehend your reading. You use prior knowledge before you read. Accessing prior knowledge can make your brain smarter. Some people do webs and a know chart or kwl chart so that when they want to access their prior knowledge they can use what's in their brains. Accessing prior knowledge is great because it can make you stay on the same thing that you are on. Accessing your prior knowledge is controlling your brain because it can file the new stuff in with the prior knowledge." Precious

"Access prior knowledge - to take something out of your brain then write it down to remember it. You look at your book and think about what you know." Tiffany

"You access your prior knowledge by pulling something that you know out of your brain. You think of what you know before you read the book. To help you could make a web, do a know chart or you also can do a kwl chart. It helps to do one of these three things or do all.  You can use different strategies to help you comprehend." Tatiana

Finally, my lowest boy who never writes, responds or even opens his notebook.  This is the moment we all live for.  He nearly knocked me over when he handed me his book today and I read -

"Readers access prior knowledge when they look at the book and don't open it.  They make a web and they write what they know in their brain before they read." Quatiek (age 9)

This was a breakthrough for him and I firmly believe that he needs this type of instruction more than anyone else.  He has been held back once and on his way to a second time. The fact that this strategy opened him up to take a chance speaks wonders for the power of using them. 


This week we had our school science fair and our class project came in second place. We made a landfill out of a soda bottle and watched various items decompose. Our project was as follows -

Problem - How long does it take different objects to decompose?

Materials - orange peels, bread, cheese, bottle cap, plastic cap, paper, soda
bottle (2 liter), dirt, gravel, saran wrap, tape

Hypothesis: They thought the cheese would decompose first, followed by the bread. They also thought the other things would decompose.

Procedure - Cut the soda bottle in half around the middle. This will give you a bottom and top half.  Place dirt in the bottom, then a layer of gravel and finally the saran wrap. Place the orange peels, bread and cheese on top of the gravel and wrap around the side of the soda bottle so that when it is covered with dirt you will still be able to see them. Then make another layer of dirt, gravel and saran wrap.  On top of this again around the side, place the bottle cap, bread and plastic cap.  I used the top of the sauce container which comes with Chinese dumplings.  Then cover again with dirt.  Place water in the soda bottle and the put the top half on it.  Tape around the sides so the soda bottle is now one piece again.  Put the top on and place on the window ledge.

Observations - Observe changes in the items in the soda bottle on several different days and have the children write them in their science notebooks.  Be sure to point out each object and also let them smell by taking off the cover.  If you need to add some water do so.  You should see the water evaporate and then see condensation along the top of the soda bottle forming opportunities to discuss evaporation, condensation and greenhouse effect.

Conclusion - The bread decomposed first, the cheese melts and the orange peel got moldy. The children were asked what these three things have in common and came to realize that they were all food items.  The other objects had no change over 3 weeks. This opened up discussion of recycling and why it is important to recycle plastic items and other things that will not decompose. The children concluded that things that are or were alive will decompose and things that are manmade will not.

Vocabulary - landfill, decompose, condensation, evaporation, compost

This was an ongoing study that will continue.  We are still observing changes in items in our landfill.  It was very motivational and I'm sure there is a lot you can add to the lesson.

In response to last week's newsletter, Marilyn wrote -

   After I read both books (Strategies that Work and Mosaic of Thought) and visited your web page, I planned my strategy for teaching reading comprehension to my third graders. I typed each strategy I use on a "cue card" ( about half the size of a 3x5) and printed them in different hot colors.  (Simplest language with highlights of the strategy under each) For example : "AHA" synthesis, Text to self, Text to text, text to world, Authors purpose, Mind Images (visualization) and so fore. Each time we visit a strategy and the child can articulate the use of the strategy they are given their card.  Holes are punched in each and attached together by a ring (you know the loose ones that snap).
       In the classroom are your posters for each strategy and the children have their own to use during reading (small groups are guided and others use them independently).

Marilyn Kelly


I would love to publish your ideas in the next newsletter. Send me an email with your article, or lesson idea and I will include it next week. I am starting a Mosaic of Thought strategy focus column in the next newsletter. This will be the place to share what have you been doing in your classroom with these strategies that has worked well?  Send it over for us all to enjoy.


This & That

New Arrival

I Read It, but I Don't Get It : Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers Cris Tovani, Ellin Oliver Keene

This is really a great book. It helped me understand what I read, and understand it way better then what I had to learn in middle and high school. This book is easy to understand, and use. You will learn fast. Great book for all ages.

Coming Soon!
Supports the Four Blocks Literacy Model

Making Alphabet Books
to Teach Letters and Sounds
*includes reporducible take home books for each letter
*provides opportunities for students to learn by doing!
*contains multilevel, interactive activities using student names, tongue
twisters and predictable charts.
8.8 oz

Assessment & Intervention for Struggling Readers
10.8 oz
*includes assessments, strategies and record keeping reproducibles
*helps identify student needs and provides specific strategies that will
accelerate student learning.
*a variety of helpful lists, assessments, the Ohio Word Test, and other
useful reproducibles are included.

Poems for Shared Reading
Grade 1
10 oz

*includes 10 full color transparencies
*filled with high frequency words, fun rhymes, and alliteration.
*this book will help children gain the primary skills needed for successful

Prefixes and Suffixes: Systematic Sequential Phonics and Spelling
Grades 2 - 5 +
by Pat Cunningham
15.1 oz

*120 lessons to reinforce prefixes, suffixes, and spelling!
*arranged in five lesson cycles

Self Selected Reading the Four Blocks Way
Grades 1 - 3
15.1 oz
by Pat Cunningham, Dorothy Hall & Linda Gambrell

*The perfect teachers guide for the Self Selected Reading Block!

Pocket Chart
10.4 oz

*Perfect for Story Mapping activities!
*Sections connect with pre-attached hook-and-loop tape!
*3 interchangeable, detachable pocket chart sections with grommets (each 34 x
*5 long, plastic pockets on each section (15 pockets total)
*top and bottom of pocket chart edged with hook and loop tape to connect
*18 colorful header cards
*34 x 60 assembled
*resource guide

Comprehension Cubes for Informational Text

*2 (8") inflatable, plastic,multicolored cubes
*one cube with 6 open ended phrases and one cube with 6 questions to
reinforce comprehension of nonfiction materials.
*rounded carriers for child safety
*perfect for any type of informational text
*resource guide

Bulletin Board
Nifty Thrifty Fifty: Words with Common Prefixes and Suffixes
13 oz

*109 labeled cards - 50 word cards and 59 prefix or suffix cards (printed on
one side) that can be easily cut apart.
*resource guide
*(5) 17 x 24 boards

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