Tuesday, April 6, 2010


My teacher for Comment4Teachers is Matthew Needleman

My first Comment4Teachers
March 23, 2010

In this post, Mr. Needleman wrote about how to improve comprehension scores. These are his tips:

Test Taking Strategies
1. Review the Assignment.
This task should not be done in one sitting. Also, the student should be able to see what their mistakes were.

2. Teach students to read questions first.
It is hard to keep all the text in one's head while trying to answer the questions about it. It is often easier to read the questions first, and then read to find an answer.

3. Teach students to eliminate "silly" or obviously wrong answers.
Multiple choice tests will include two answer choices that are totally wrong; sometimes even ridiculous. The sooner students learn to read the answers, the better they'll do.

4. Teach a QAR (Question-Answer Relationship) Strategy.
Some answers are “right there” whereas other answers require the reader to “think and search” or use only their own head.

Real World Comprehension

1.Explicitly Teach Reading Strategies.
Many teachers use the language of the reading strategies (predicting, making connections, summarizing, etc.) but how many students can explain what each of the strategies are, or why you would use a particular strategy? Recommit to teaching the strategies, not just as incidental to reading but as the objective of lessons.

2. Promote Student Discussion
Through handing-off (student-led discussions) or some other means, allow students to discuss literature on their own terms with the teacher acting as the facilitator.

3. Allow Practice with “Real” Books
Your basal reader is not enough. Students will be bored with reading and not develop their strategy use unless they have opportunities to read additional high interest literature in addition to anthology stories. Whole class readings, small group literature circles, or independent reading workshop, can give students that practice.

My comment to his post was "I agree that scores on reading comprehension scores are down. I am not a teacher yet, but I will be soon, and I want to use some of your ideas to help my students. I believe that having interaction with students will help. I also think that letting them read something that they want to read helps them to comprehend it better. I have always disliked being told what to read, and I didn’t always enjoy all the books as much as I would have if I got to choose my own book. I thank you for your input and will hopefully be able to help my students when I get to the point of teaching."

My Second Commet4Teachers
April 13,2010

What to Do When Children Cry?

He started to make him think about a serious topic about students crying at school and what to do about it.

An Anecdote
Samantha, a first grader, was moved into my classroom after the first month of school because I have a reputation for being calm and patient, and she had already interrupted someone else’s class who wasn’t as calm or patient. Samantha was far behind in all subjects because her attendance was poor, and when she did come to school she often cried for the first hour of class, causing a disruption to all of the students.

What Not to Do
Do not tell a student to stop crying. Do not tell a student not to be scared, sad, mad, happy, etc. Feelings are not right or wrong. However, a child is feeling, that’s how they’re feeling and telling them not to feel that way can really mess a kid up.
Also don’t tell them anything like big boys don’t cry, big girls don’t cry, second graders don’t cry. This can cause gender confusion and create the impression that adults don’t show emotions which isn’t true.
Do not attempt to change emotions, change behavior.

Recognize the Payoff
This is the same for any behavior modification. What benefit is a student getting from exhibiting a particular behavior?
In Samantha’s case, when she cried, her father would take her home to sit on the couch and watch TV with him. Samantha wanted attention and crying provided that for her. There can be different reasons why a student cries…feeling sadness, helplessness, anger, being overwhelmed, etc. but notice what the payoff is for the student. If they cry because math is hard, do they get to avoid math? When they cry on the yard, do they get to see the nurse who gives them lollipops? Do they just like ice packs (I see this a lot)?

Sympathize with the Cryer
You want to say something like, “I understand you’re feeling ___________ I’m sorry you feel _____________.”
Often sitting with the student for a minute or making sure they have a buddy to sit with will stop the crying after you’ve acknowledged their feelings.
In Samantha’s case, she could go on for hours, but rather than dealing with the crying, I dealt with the feelings. ”I understand you want to be home with your dad. I’m sorry. But it’s important that you be here in school to learn and that you come in class quietly so that other students can learn as well. Your dad will be here again at the end of the day. Come and sit with Maria, she’ll be your special friend today.”

Remove the Payoff

Everyone needs occasional babying and that’s fine. However, if a student really likes the babying they get when they cry, they might cry a lot more often.
Samantha wanted to go home. We had to stop her dad from pulling her out of school just because she cried. I had to avoid sending her to the office just because her crying made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Samantha learned that she couldn’t get out of school by crying.
Next, Samantha was still getting attention from her classmates and me from her crying even when she stayed in my class.
I asked the rest of the students to start ignoring her crying. ”When she comes in (and she always came in late) we’ll say good morning, Samantha, and then ignore her crying. When she’s ready to be a part of the class, then we’ll talk to her.”
When Samantha came in we said good morning. I would acknowledge how she felt but I would not let her join the classroom until she was done crying. She stood in the back of the room or just outside the door where I could see her. She couldn’t cry forever. In time, she became a productive member of the classroom and her attendance improved.
On days that she avoided crying, I gave her positive encouragement.

His question was "How do you deal with crying in the classroom?"

My comment for him was "Hi, Mr. Needleman,I really enjoyed your post. I have babysat quite a few times. One family that I help often usually give the girl what she wants when she cries. Then when I go over to babysit her, she starts to cry when I don't give her something, and I just ignore her. I saw in one of your tips that you said, "don't tell them that big girls don't cry". Well, I am bad about doing that, and I am glad that you showed me that it could be mistaken by children as adults aren't supposed to have emotions. I really enjoyed reading some of your tips, and not only will I try to use these tips in the classroom, but they will also help me when I babysit. Thanks.


  1. Hello Brittany,

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I understand that you are learning and so this does not upset me at all...however, you should know that copying and pasting entire blog posts into your own blog posts without permission can be a copyright violation and isn't really kosher in the blogging world. Usually bloggers summarize and then add their own thoughts to posts and provide a link back to the original post. You have not summarized nor have you provided a link back to my own post. I am telling so that you will not make this mistake in your teaching career.

    I'm glad that you are thinking about not telling children not cry. In regards to my post on comprehension, I did not say that reading comprehension scores are down. I offered suggestions on what to do if they are down.

    Best of luck in your teaching.

  2. Thank you for your help. I am sorry I did that. I started to summarize, then noticed I was leaving some important things out.I will make sure to ask for permission and also include a link. I thank you for your comment and plan on using the information to help me in the future.