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Reader THE

Leading the Way in Literacy Volume 39 • Issue 1

An Affiliate of the International Reading Association

Spring 2015

Deep Reading: Linking Reading and Writing Processes The following is an excerpt from Chapter One of Ruth Culham’s latest professional development books entitled The Writing Thief. Printed with permission.

Culham will be a featured speaker at the 2015 Literacy Conference. By Ruth Culham “Reading is like breathing in and writing is like breathing out,” according to Pam Allyn (2013, para. 5), a noted educational writer and researcher. There’s a symbiotic relationship between the two that benefits both. When you write, you read back what you’ve said to see if the meaning is clear, if it makes sense. You check off each of the traits in your mind - ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions to make sure the text communicates your intent and is as well crafted as possible. This is deep reading - close reading in its purest form. It involves more than reading for general content; it means reading with the intent of discovering places that need further revision and editing so the final piece is crystal clear. Deep reading also means slowing down to notice what the writer of a text that’s not your own has done and why. This is when readers discover the techniques of the writer exhibited on the page.

“Reading is a process of constructing meaning from the complex, naturally redundant network of syntactic, semantic, and graphophonic information that comprises written language,” explains Bridges (2013, para. 7), a researcher and editor. Deep reading requires thinking about how the written language works. Defined in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems (Coulmas, 1999), writing is the process of applying a set of visible or tactile signs used to represent units of language in a systematic way, with the purpose of recording messages which can be retrieved by everyone who knows the language in question and the rules by virtue of which its units are encoded in the writing system (p. 560).

The retrieval, of course, is reading. In this respect, reading and writing are a one-two punch. When we work on the skills related to one, we quite naturally work on the other. I believe that one of our foremost tasks as writing teachers is to make the relationship transparent for students so they can see the influence that reading has on their writing and not leave it up to chance or happy accident that a technique or idea from writing might show up in their own work. Deep reading as a writer is something students need help to understand. When I interviewed fourth-grade students in Blue Springs, Missouri, on this topic, one student came to a different way of looking at reading by zeroing in on one of the traits, organization:

Me: Devon, would you talk about how you learn about writing by what you are reading? Devon: I don’t know what you mean. Me: Do you ever read something that you really like and wind up trying to do something like it in your writing? Devon: Oh. So, like when Mrs. Gaines just read The One and Only Ivan (I really liked that book), I could write a story about a gorilla or a zoo or something? Me: Sorta. I was thinking more about how the book was written, not just what it was about. Did Katherine Applegate do anything interesting in her writing that helped you relate to the idea? Devon: [pause] Hmm...I don’t know. Me: Let’s get a copy of the book and see if you can find something in it that really worked for you as a reader. Then, let’s look at it like writers and see what she did to make you feel that way. (continued on page 7) Devon: OK.

The ARA Reader is the scholarly journal of the Arkansas Reading Association and is designed to serve as a resource for Arkansas reading teachers. Opinions expressed in articles and studies herein are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the ARA, its officers, or members. Publications Committee Chair: Tammy Gillmore Members: Linda Eilers, Naomi Lassen, Mary Mosley ARA Board of Directors President Caroline Schenk Past President Kay Calvert President-Elect Melissa Rutherford Vice President Dorothy Pollett Secretary Tara Derby Executive Secretary Susan Peterson Treasurer Susan Grogan Historian Leah Barber Parliamentarian Kaila Murphy IRA State Coordinator Krista Underwood Membership Director Billie Ann Dishongh Technology Coordinator Trudy Jackson Event Coordinator Sarah Womble Dept. of Education Liason: Jane Dearwort Student Liason Kacy Barden The Arkansas Reading Association is an affiliate of the International Reading Association. Visit ARA at

Read, Write, and Talk! By Maria Walther Everywhere you look there are articles, books, packaged programs, and more geared toward helping educators, like us, navigate literacy instruction in the era of the Common Core State Standards. In this article, I’ll add to the conversation by offering three common-sense suggestions to consider as you decide how to approach the standards in your own classroom or school.


It seems so simple. Read aloud to your students, get them excited about books, and provide plenty of time for them to engage in supported independent reading. Why, then, do we make it so complicated? We know that reading aloud builds a vibrant literacy community and offers students a shared textual lineage. This textual lineage is essential when children write, think, and talk about texts and when they are asked to compare and contrast literary or informational texts about real-world situations (Walther, 2015). In addition, frequent read aloud experiences offer students an opportunity to hear and discuss books above their independent or instructional reading levels. This fact is underscored by the authors of the Common Core Standards when they say, “By reading a story or nonfiction selection aloud, teachers allow children to experience written language without the burden of decoding, granting them access to the content that they may not be able to read and understand by themselves” (CCSS, p. 27). So, we carve out time each day to read aloud to our students. Then, we ask ourselves, “What else can I do to nurture enthusiastic lifetime readers?” We foster excitement about the written word by being enthusiastic lifetime readers ourselves and by offering students the same freedom that we enjoy as seasoned readers. Just like adult readers, children get excited about reading when they are able to choose their own books and talk about them with their peers. Research shows that students read more, understand more, and are more likely to continue reading when they are able to select their own reading materials (Allington & Gabriel, 2012). So, we enthusiastically read aloud and booktalk texts that will hook our readers, and we fill our classroom libraries with books our students will love. We make it our primary goal to get to know our readers so that we can guide each child to a text that is tailor-made for him or her. Then, we give them TIME. Time to apply all that they’ve learned about reading during supported independent reading. We know that the more time students spend reading, the better they get. Wide reading improves children’s comprehension, background knowledge, fluency, and writing (Krashen, 2004). Consider the following ideas to increase the volume of reading in your classroom: • When reading aloud a complex picture book like “The Secret Message” (Javaherbin, 2010), approach it as you would a chapter book—reading short segments each day. This small instructional move allows more time for meaningful discussion. • Each time you booktalk a text, jot down the title. Post the titles on a chart so that students can refer to the growing list of books when searching for their next read. • If you are having trouble finding time for independent reading, carefully examine your daily schedule. Look for small pockets of time where students can engage in independent reading. Some possibilities include first thing in the morning, while you are completing clerical tasks, or right before students go home.

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The Reader

Common Sense for the Common Core

Maria Walther is a first-grade teacher, literacy consultant, and Scholastic author. Her latest book Transforming Literacy Teaching in the Era of Higher Standards will be out in January. To learn more about her books and resources see her website www.mariawalther. com or follow her on Twitter @mariapwalther. Walther will be one a featured speaker at the 2015 ARA Literacy Conference.


When I present to teachers, I always say that children can only write at their own level. So, having students write a lot is the best way to differentiate your instruction, and analyzing students’ written work is an authentic way to assess each learner. Not only does writing help children make sense of their lives and the world around them, but it also helps them clarify their thinking about the books they are reading. In fact, research confirms that writing is an effective tool for improving students’ reading ability and that writing about the texts they read enhances their comprehension (Graham & Hebert, 2010). Here are a few quick writing ideas to add to your repertoire: • Read aloud different versions of a traditional tale and ask students to write about which version they prefer and why. I usually begin with Henny Penny (Galdone, 1968), then read Chicken Little (Emberley, 2009), and Chicken Little (Kellogg, 1985). • Read narrative texts about experiences that students may have had in their day-to-day lives, such as My New Friend Is So Fun (Willems, 2014), The Invisible Boy (Ludwig, 2013), and Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean (Lynch & Embry, 2014). Discuss how the different authors chose to portray the life events. Then, provide time for students to pen a narrative about their own personal experience. • When students are engaged in a content-related study, invite them to create a 3-column chart and jot down their schema, their questions, and their new learning about the topic.


Peter Johnston reminds us that talk is the central tool of our trade. We use it to help children make sense of learning, literacy, life, and themselves (2004). But, in our busy days, we often forget to slow down and leave ample time for students to converse with us and with each other to try to figure things out. Whether thinking and sharing in the whole group, small groups, or during one-on-one conferences, discussion is a venue for teaching sophisticated vocabulary and for enhancing the complexity of children’s spoken language (Keene, 2012). Here are a few ways to increase the productive talk in your classroom: • Read, think, and talk about books both from a reader’s and from a writer’s perspective. This helps learners build an understanding of the author’s craft and consider how they might use the same techniques in their own writing. • Surround a wordless book with an inferring conversation, demonstrating for students how to use the evidence found in the illustrations to infer what is happening in the story. • Select read-aloud titles that focus on standards and promote discussion. For example, when studying characters, read books like Dex: The Heart of a Hero (Buehner, 2007) and Cloudette (Lichtenheld, 2011) to spark a discussion about how Dex and Cloudette respond to the challenges they each face. Ask students to use key details from the text to support their thinking. Then, compare and contrast the two stories. In my opinion, the key to navigating the Common Core Standards is to keep it simple and

stick to what decades of research have shown to be effective—read, write, and talk! Children’s Literature Cited Buehner, C. (2007). Dex: Heart of a hero. New York: HarperCollins. Emberley, R. (2009). Chicken little. (E. Emberley, Illus.). New York: Roaring Brook. Galdone, P. (1968). Henny penny. New York: Clarion. Javaherbin, M. (2010). The secret message. (B. Whatley, Illus.). New York: Hyperion. Kellogg, S. (1985). Chicken little. New York: Morrow. Lichtenheld, T. (2011). Cloudette. New York: Holt. Ludwig, T. (2013). The invisible boy. New York: Knopf. Lynch, J., & Embry, L. (2014). Marlene, Marlene, Queen of mean. New York: Random House. Willems, M. (2014). My new friend is so fun! New York: Hyperion.


Allington, R. L., & Gabriel, R. E. (2012). Every child, every day. Educational Leadership, 69 (8), 10-15. Graham, S., & Hebert, M. A. (2010). Writing to read: Evidence for how writing can improve reading. A Carnegie Corporation Time to Act Report. Washington, D.C.: Alliance for Excellent Education. Johnston, P. (2004). Choice words. Portland, ME: Stenhouse. Keene, E. O. (2012). Talk about understanding: Rethinking classroom talk to enhance co m p r e h e n s i o n . Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Krashen, S. (2004). The power of reading: Insights from the research. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Walther, M. P. (2015). Transforming literacy teaching in the era of higher standards. New York: Scholastic. The Reader Page 3

Let’s Get Personal

Stephanie Shaw loves working with outstanding illustrators and publishers to create classic books for children. Whether it is a board book for the nursery or picture book, rhyme or prose, each of her stories is crafted to be beautiful, fun, and bound to be asked for again and again. Her most recent publication was a children’s book A Cookie for Santa (2014). She has two soon-to-be released books coming out in 2015. For more information concerning Shaw, please visit Shaw will be a featured speaker at the 2015 ARA Literacy Conference in November.

By Karen Shaw Writing for children is personal --- really personal. And, by that I don’t mean writing stories about my family or myself. Successful stories connect with people on a level that sometimes isn’t just the story per se, but the circumstances under which the reader was introduced to the story. And those circumstances make for a strong connection to reading in general. As adults, when we think about the books we loved as children, we connect to the time when those stories were read to us or when we received them as gifts. It’s very personal. We connect not only to the obvious visual imagery of picture books but the voice reading to us or a holiday or special occasion, a bedtime reading ritual or a library story hour. Of course, as a writer, one of my favorite things to hear from a publisher is, “We want to offer you a contract.” What I really love to hear is why they want to acquire a particular story. This has been particularly true of the editors at Sleeping Bear Press. We have “...teaching the shared conversations about not what we read now as adults but rather what we means were drawn to as children. The editors are keen to develop and promote stories that resonate on that very personal level with kids. They are sensitive to the need for helping kids make books that, while easily connected to curriculum, also satisfy the personal aspects of those very personal reading such as comfort, curiosity, wonder, and humor. The result is the publication books that fit well into both the classroom library and the home. connections with of Now, sadly, we know children from low-income families enter first grade with books.” an average of only 25 hours of one-to-one picture book reading, compared with 1,000 to 1,700 hours for a child from a more affluent home. We know how this translates to reading achievement or lack thereof. I would take this one step farther and say that it also translates to disinterest and disruptive behavior. The job of teaching reading skills is formidable. And teaching the love of reading means helping kids make those very personal connections with books. Thankfully, editors are out there working with authors to produce picture books that will create and nurture that very personal tie to reading. I am looking forward to talking with attendees at the Arkansas Reading Conference about how we (authors and teachers) create meaningful connections to reading though picture books.

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The Reader

Arkansas Action Research Studies EDITOR’S NOTE:

Each issue, The Reader features emerging research of special interest to Arkansas reading teachers. Abstracts of Action Research Studies (conducted by students at Arkansas universities) are followed by links to full text versions of the same.

Data, Design, Dialogue:

Kindergarten Literacy Program Evaluation and Advocacy

By Ryan R. Kelly, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Reading, Arkansas State University Stephanie Martin, MSE, Jonesboro Public Schools and Teri Spillman, MSE, Jonesboro Public Schools

In order to conduct an extensive evaluation of the literacy program already established at a kindergartenlevel facility in a major Arkansas community, standardized, diagnostic, and screening assessment data were collected. Additionally, demographic information from multiple sources within and out of this district, along with interviews and multiple surveys, were utilized. Based on all culminating data and pertinent information, findings indicated that while there was significant qualitative data to support skill-based literacy, three other areas suggested further assessment to drive curricula and instructional decisions would be beneficial.

Namely, comprehension, writing, and vocabulary lacked the same volume of qualitative data yet were all being taught as part of the comprehensive literacy program in place. Furthermore, through a survey, teachers provided feedback regarding the literacy area in which they wanted to develop and utilize a formative assessment. Multiple professional development meetings were facilitated, and through collaboration and dialogue, all stakeholders formed and implemented a common formative assessment. Background and Models Literacy leadership, or “literacy coaching” as it is aptly dubbed in the field of education and literacy, is at its

Reading by Choice:

best a collaborative and multi-faceted endeavor. It stems from a belief that members of a collaborative team work together with a common vision, for a common efficacy, and operate with logistical planning and reflection (Vogt & Shearer, 2011; McKenna & Walpole, 2008). Furthermore, literacy coaches should have at their fingertips a flexible palate of models that allows them to interact with various tiers of the district/school curriculum, as well as work in various ways with teachers in order to both build and support approaches directed at improved student literacy. Literacy coaching is also a service directed at improving curriculum, professional development of teaching strategies and approaches, (continued on page 6)

The Role of Autonomy in Adolescent Reading Motivation

By Becky Jackson, University of Central Arkansas According to Pitcher et al. (2007), school programs designed to act as incentives can have the opposite effect on many adolescent readers because they are not in line with what effectively motivates them. Student interview responses from a study by Ivey & Broaddus (2001) showed that sixth graders were motivated by interesting materials or topics (39%) while Accelerated Reader was mentioned by only 3% of students. Research has shown that extrinsic motivation can even have a negative impact on the amount of reading that students engage in (Schaffner, Schiefele, & Ulferts, 2013) and does not lead to beneficial long-term results (Edmunds & Bauserman, 2006). Intrinsic motivation, however, has been shown to have a positive effect on the volume of students’ reading (Becker, McElvany, & Kortenbruck, 2010) as well as their reading proficiency (Schiefele, Schaffner, Moller, & Wigfield, 2012). According to Urdan & Schoenfelder (2006), teachers should strive to promote intrinsic motivation by reinforcing students’ sense of autonomy. They should encourage students to take ownership over their work rather than using controlling instructional methods like deadlines, threats, and competition (Urdan & Schoenfelder, 2006). The body of research on practices that foster more positive school reading experiences for adolescents includes recommendations that center around honoring students’ voices, ownership, and choice in their literacy lives (Ivey & Broaddus, 2001). Supporting intrinsic motivation and autonomy in the classroom is especially important during the upper elementary to middle school years (Urdan & Schoenfelder, 2006). Many educators notice a decline in students’ reading motivation, especially between fourth grade and the middle school years, and as a result, these students spend less time reading (Kelly & Decker, 2009). A study by Kelly & Decker (2009) found that reading motivation steadily... (continued on page 6)

The Reader

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Meeting the Needs of the Foster Child: Call for Manuscripts Tips and Strategies for the Classroom for the ARA Reader

By Dr. Misty LaCour, Kaplan University Dr. Penny McGlawn, Harding University

An individual’s development is directly affected by the individual’s environment. As such, it is no wonder that children experiencing abuse and neglect struggle to succeed socially and academically. Due to these past negative experiences and the transient nature of current living conditions, foster children possess unique needs that often present a challenge for the classroom teacher. Foster children tend to struggle socially and academically, particularly in the area of literacy development. However, classroom teachers can implement specific strategies to support the social and academic development of the foster child. This article presents five ready to implement tips and strategies teachers can use in the classroom to connect with the foster child, assist the child in exhibiting appropriate social behaviors, further the development of literacy skills in the child, and ultimately help the child to succeed.

Data, Design, Dialogue Continued from page 5.

and reflecting upon results (Moxley & Taylor, 2006). Ultimately, the roles and responsibilities of literacy coaches in the present age of education are highly varied—and in some schools and districts, not as specifically defined (Mraz, Algozzine, & Kissel, 2009). Dole (2004) emphasized the shift from “reading coaches” when the practice encompassed a great deal more emphasis on teaching strategies, visible performance, and reflection. Walpole and Blamey (2008) note that literacy coaching is an evolving practice and one where experiencing conflict and ambiguity in the role is not unusual; they further suggest this is due to recent arrival of a variety of researchbased models in schools (p. 223). Few of these professionals may meet all identifiable standards and roles bundled into literacy coaching; all make critical and highly-informed choices about how to balance their time and invest highly in professional relationships, trust, and collaboration (Walpole & Blamey, 2008; Rainville & Jones, 2008). Literacy coaches must work a professional conflux where they “engage themselves in particular ways that are most appropriate to the time, place, people and practices” at hand (Rainville & Jones, 2008, p. 441).

Full text versions

of these action research studies may be found on the Arkansas Reading Association’s website: reader_81.html

Reading by Choice Continued from page 5.

decreased as students moved up from 6th, 7th, and 8 grades. In addition to grade level differences in motivation, researchers have found that there were clear gender differences in this trend, noting that girls valued reading more as they got older while boys often lost interest in reading by late adolescence (Pitcher, et al., 2007). One question educators should consider, however, is whether these students are truly unmotivated to read or are just reluctant to read from the limited range of choices that are available to them. The purpose of this study was to investigate the following question: Is there an impact on adolescent reading motivation when students are allowed to choose from a larger selection of materials and formats based on individual interests, and are given a reprieve from the quizzes and point requirements of their school’s incentive program?

Guidelines MANUSCRIPTS The ARA Reader is the scholarly

journal of the Arkansas Reading Association. It is designed to serve as a resource for all Arkansas reading teachers. The Editors are looking for manuscripts that take as their topic issues relating to literacy in primary, secondary education. It is the hope of the editorial board that reports of quality research and practice will be published from schools within the state of Arkansas and the nation. Submitted manuscripts might take the form of (but are not strictly limited to) original empirical articles, theoretical analyses, literature reviews, and reports of successful practices in education. Each issue, the ARA Reader features emerging research of special interest to Arkansas reading teachers. Abstracts of Action Research Studies (conducted by students at Arkansas Universities) are followed by links to full text versions of the same. Manuscript Submissions Authors should follow the guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (current ed.) when preparing manuscripts. Manuscripts cannot exceed 1800 words, including references, tables, and figures. In addition to email addresses, web site address, and fax numbers if available, authors should include physical addresses and telephone numbers as well. Authors should also list two to five key words to identify the contents of their paper. Submit manuscripts in Microsoft Word format, via email to the address below:

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Tammy Gillmore, Editor The Reader

Deep Reading: Linking Reading and Writing Processes By Ruth Culham (Excerpt from Chapter One of The Writing Thief, continued from page 1)

Devon and I thumbed through the book together. He pointed out how the text was spaced generously on the page (presentation), making it easy to read. He noted that the chapter titles weren’t capitalized (conventions), and we talked about the effect of that editing decision on the reader. Less than three minutes into discussing the book and paging through it, he pointed to a line on page 60 and read aloud, “This handprint can’t be so easily wiped away.” Devon: This line is good. I think it’s important. Me: How so? Devon: It’s kinda saying that Ivan doesn’t feel important, but a handprint makes him feel like one of a kind, like the title says. Me: An interesting connection, Devon. I wonder if other chapters are organized to end on notes like this, helping the reader think deeply about what happened and what it means. Devon: [after looking for less than a minute] Here’s another one, page 120: “When I gaze at the foodcourt skylight, the moon Stella loved is shrouded in clouds.” That’s really sad. That happened after Stella dies. I was really mad at Mack in that part. Me: So, when Stella dies, Applegate could have written, “It was really sad, and I felt terrible,” as a chapter ending, but she wrote the one you like instead. What’s the difference? Devon: Well, um...the way the real author does it makes me feel terrible for Ivan, and I felt terrible, too. Your ending would be kinda boring, no offense. Me: [laughing] None taken. But how great is this? Just think about what you noticed: One way of writing the chapter ending is more interesting and makes a connection to you as a reader. Let’s look through your writing from Mrs. Gaines’s class and see if there is a place in one where you can do what Applegate does: make a connection to the reader by writing something more thoughtful and important than just a boring ending. That’s putting the organization trait to work for you. It will improve the voice in your writing, too, just like it did in The One and Only Ivan. We spent the next several minutes looking at endings to Devon’s pieces. He chose a short journal entry that ended “And finally we did magnets in science class today” to revise. I noticed that as he considered what to write, he went back to Applegate’s text and looked at different chapter endings for inspiration. That’s the organization trait. Devon wasn’t writing about the same topic of the book, of course, but he came to understand that the moves Applegate makes at the end of her chapters could inspire his own endings. His final choice was, “Science is not usually the best time of the day, but today working with magnets was the polar opposite.” How clever and a real improvement in voice! In a short, focused conference, Devon came to realize that reading could help him improve his writing in ways he’d never considered before. And now he’s off and running with his newly learned strategy.

Arkansas Reading Association Membership - 866.930.7323

Membership is through Local Reading Councils. Dues vary and include ARA membership. No council in your area? Basic dues are $10.

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The Writing Thief

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International Reading Association Membership - 800.336.7323 Student: $24 • Basic: $39 with Journal: $69 For information about starting a reading council in your area, contact Krista Underwood -

make plans to

hear and visit with author

Ruth Culham

at the November 19-20,2015 ARA Literacy Conference.

The Reader

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THE READER Leading the Way in Literacy

3450 Clearwell Road Conway, AR 72034

Arkansas Reading Association The Reader Spring 2015  
Arkansas Reading Association The Reader Spring 2015  

The yearly publication of featured and researched articles.