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January 21, 2016

Small Group Reading Reimagined With Core Clicks

By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    One of the greatest challenges our grade level has faced this year is finding materials to hone in on the particular reading skill we are studying at any one time. We want to make sure each skill is explicitly taught, along with a constant cycling of skills, review, and building on material from earlier grades.

    Our school purchased Core Clicks a few years ago, and while I’m clearly a Scholastic supporter, I never really took the time to figure out how to log in or use the program. All that has changed, and Core Clicks has quickly become my go-to small group reading lesson on focused objectives and skill learning. The reason for me pushing the "on" switch? We departmentalized and I needed to teach nine (!) focused small reading groups a day. All of the skills have been introduced, so now we are really testing out how much we know. Core Clicks suits this perfectly and is ready-made.

    Core Clicks is essentially assignable, leveled nonfiction text with accompanying questions and activities that help Core clicks homescreenstudents closely read a passage while working on a few core reading skills. Once logged in, a teacher can create classrooms and groups within a classroom to quickly assign any of the passages to students. Assignments can be given a due date and tracked in the reporting section. The left-hand search bar allows content to be sorted by skill, which returns passages at every grade level, making assigning the same skills with different leveled text very easy.

    Let me be honest. I never used Core Clicks because I felt it was just something I could throw kids on relatively independently with no real monitoring or instruction. Boy, was I wrong. First of all, students are challenged with tasks such as, “Highlight the sentence that supports this main idea.” While students can redo their answer until they are correct, the level of tasks is higher than simply “guess and click.” Students are forced to read and reread to find supporting details, meaning in captions and pictures, and take advantage of supplemental text items.

    Core Clicks search page kids reading with core clicks

    You may think that since I blog for Scholastic so I’m just selling their product. I assure you I’m not. What I’ve discovered is that I can build out an entire week of small group lessons using Core Clicks with my students, adding in questioning and writing that fits my students' needs. Here is what this week will look like for my small group while learning comparison and contrast using When Women Took the Field from Core Clicks. Even if your school is not interested in the program, the guide to our week could be used with any text you pull. (However, you will have to do the footwork of compiling supporting materials on your own.)

     

    Before Teaching

    I explore the “I” button on the top right of each Core Click text. Here you'll find standard alignment, a teacher’s guide with essential vocabulary, and extension and remediation activities to support the text. Once I find a passage that aligns, I read through the text looking for areas to add extra support or focus on particular skills.

     teacher page core clicks core clicks teacher view

    Day 1

    After our phonics lesson and vocabulary review, students do a walk through the text before reading. We discuss predictions about the text and point out certain text features, such as captions and headings. Then students read independently while I listen to each child. Students return to their seats to finish reading. One great feature of Core Clicks is students can elect to have the text read to them, which is great for struggling readers or students needing more support the first time through a text.

    Kids working on core clicksWhen women took the field core click text

    Day 2

    Each section of Core Clicks has a print button allowing the text to be easily printed. This allows us to work in small groups together with pen and pencil (which is easier to monitor than six devices) and then students can return to their seat to follow up the work on their computer. Day 2 we use the Analyze It section of Core Clicks. In the analysis, students are asked to highlight supporting sentences, place stamps on maps, and underline comparisons. In our group I model this work and students use highlighters and pencils to actively mark their work. Back at their seat, they go through the text again using the digital tools. Analyze It is a close reading lesson that is ready made!

    printable core clicks text Core clicks analyze it section

     

    Day 3

    The Discuss It section encourages students to talk through open-ended questions with their peers. For our small groups, we select two of these questions that are similar, and create open-ended writing questions. First, I model an open-ended question such as, “What are the events leading to the development of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League?” while students help create an answer. Then I task students to answer a similar style question on their own such as, “What events led to Dolly becoming a teacher?” Students finish their writing samples and we grade them together, looking for key details and support. The Discuss It questions are easy to use as a whole group discussion, but really encourage deep thinking when used as written response questions.

    Discussion with core clicks

    Day 4

    The Skill Workout gives students a different look at the skill for the week with a short video lesson. Just having another way to explain the skill can be enough to help student understanding. Then, students are given a printable PDF document to put the skill into practice. When students can show me they understood the lesson and have completed the work correctly, they get to use the fun, interactive activity under Skill Workout on their own. They love the interactive nature, and don’t realize they are practicing the same skill yet again.

    Core Clicks skill workout core clicks sequence activity

    Day 5

    Students usually have a weekly test on Day 5 (Friday), but the Question Quest is a great refresher and way to focus before taking our traditional assessment. The Question Quest asks students to answer questions that are very similar to standardized assessments. One great feature of Question Quest, available in every section, is that students can pull up the text and refer back to it. They are learning the skill, not the memorization of facts.

    question quest core clicks

    After Reading

    I haven’t used the assessments yet, but there is a built-in Reading Checkpoint that allows teachers to assign a unique passage and question set, very similar to the daily work, that can be used to see growth and achievement of each standard. Because they are leveled as well, even struggling students can show proficiency on a certain skill without having to read at a higher level. The Reading Checkpoint is a great formative assessment that can drive future small group lessons.

    Core clicks close reading assessment

    Core Clicks is a well-designed interactive system my students actually enjoy using. They read a text closely, throughout the week, without complaint. The features are full-color and engaging and students walk away with reading skills plus a greater understanding of science and social studies just from their repeated engagement with the text. I’m glad I caved and took time to pull apart the components. Our small groups run smoothly, and students are taking charge of their learning. What more could you ask for in a supplement to your reading classroom?

     

    What ways are you working with your small group? What system have you found to keep students engaged in repeated readings while working on skills each week?

    One of the greatest challenges our grade level has faced this year is finding materials to hone in on the particular reading skill we are studying at any one time. We want to make sure each skill is explicitly taught, along with a constant cycling of skills, review, and building on material from earlier grades.

    Our school purchased Core Clicks a few years ago, and while I’m clearly a Scholastic supporter, I never really took the time to figure out how to log in or use the program. All that has changed, and Core Clicks has quickly become my go-to small group reading lesson on focused objectives and skill learning. The reason for me pushing the "on" switch? We departmentalized and I needed to teach nine (!) focused small reading groups a day. All of the skills have been introduced, so now we are really testing out how much we know. Core Clicks suits this perfectly and is ready-made.

    Core Clicks is essentially assignable, leveled nonfiction text with accompanying questions and activities that help Core clicks homescreenstudents closely read a passage while working on a few core reading skills. Once logged in, a teacher can create classrooms and groups within a classroom to quickly assign any of the passages to students. Assignments can be given a due date and tracked in the reporting section. The left-hand search bar allows content to be sorted by skill, which returns passages at every grade level, making assigning the same skills with different leveled text very easy.

    Let me be honest. I never used Core Clicks because I felt it was just something I could throw kids on relatively independently with no real monitoring or instruction. Boy, was I wrong. First of all, students are challenged with tasks such as, “Highlight the sentence that supports this main idea.” While students can redo their answer until they are correct, the level of tasks is higher than simply “guess and click.” Students are forced to read and reread to find supporting details, meaning in captions and pictures, and take advantage of supplemental text items.

    Core Clicks search page kids reading with core clicks

    You may think that since I blog for Scholastic so I’m just selling their product. I assure you I’m not. What I’ve discovered is that I can build out an entire week of small group lessons using Core Clicks with my students, adding in questioning and writing that fits my students' needs. Here is what this week will look like for my small group while learning comparison and contrast using When Women Took the Field from Core Clicks. Even if your school is not interested in the program, the guide to our week could be used with any text you pull. (However, you will have to do the footwork of compiling supporting materials on your own.)

     

    Before Teaching

    I explore the “I” button on the top right of each Core Click text. Here you'll find standard alignment, a teacher’s guide with essential vocabulary, and extension and remediation activities to support the text. Once I find a passage that aligns, I read through the text looking for areas to add extra support or focus on particular skills.

     teacher page core clicks core clicks teacher view

    Day 1

    After our phonics lesson and vocabulary review, students do a walk through the text before reading. We discuss predictions about the text and point out certain text features, such as captions and headings. Then students read independently while I listen to each child. Students return to their seats to finish reading. One great feature of Core Clicks is students can elect to have the text read to them, which is great for struggling readers or students needing more support the first time through a text.

    Kids working on core clicksWhen women took the field core click text

    Day 2

    Each section of Core Clicks has a print button allowing the text to be easily printed. This allows us to work in small groups together with pen and pencil (which is easier to monitor than six devices) and then students can return to their seat to follow up the work on their computer. Day 2 we use the Analyze It section of Core Clicks. In the analysis, students are asked to highlight supporting sentences, place stamps on maps, and underline comparisons. In our group I model this work and students use highlighters and pencils to actively mark their work. Back at their seat, they go through the text again using the digital tools. Analyze It is a close reading lesson that is ready made!

    printable core clicks text Core clicks analyze it section

     

    Day 3

    The Discuss It section encourages students to talk through open-ended questions with their peers. For our small groups, we select two of these questions that are similar, and create open-ended writing questions. First, I model an open-ended question such as, “What are the events leading to the development of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League?” while students help create an answer. Then I task students to answer a similar style question on their own such as, “What events led to Dolly becoming a teacher?” Students finish their writing samples and we grade them together, looking for key details and support. The Discuss It questions are easy to use as a whole group discussion, but really encourage deep thinking when used as written response questions.

    Discussion with core clicks

    Day 4

    The Skill Workout gives students a different look at the skill for the week with a short video lesson. Just having another way to explain the skill can be enough to help student understanding. Then, students are given a printable PDF document to put the skill into practice. When students can show me they understood the lesson and have completed the work correctly, they get to use the fun, interactive activity under Skill Workout on their own. They love the interactive nature, and don’t realize they are practicing the same skill yet again.

    Core Clicks skill workout core clicks sequence activity

    Day 5

    Students usually have a weekly test on Day 5 (Friday), but the Question Quest is a great refresher and way to focus before taking our traditional assessment. The Question Quest asks students to answer questions that are very similar to standardized assessments. One great feature of Question Quest, available in every section, is that students can pull up the text and refer back to it. They are learning the skill, not the memorization of facts.

    question quest core clicks

    After Reading

    I haven’t used the assessments yet, but there is a built-in Reading Checkpoint that allows teachers to assign a unique passage and question set, very similar to the daily work, that can be used to see growth and achievement of each standard. Because they are leveled as well, even struggling students can show proficiency on a certain skill without having to read at a higher level. The Reading Checkpoint is a great formative assessment that can drive future small group lessons.

    Core clicks close reading assessment

    Core Clicks is a well-designed interactive system my students actually enjoy using. They read a text closely, throughout the week, without complaint. The features are full-color and engaging and students walk away with reading skills plus a greater understanding of science and social studies just from their repeated engagement with the text. I’m glad I caved and took time to pull apart the components. Our small groups run smoothly, and students are taking charge of their learning. What more could you ask for in a supplement to your reading classroom?

     

    What ways are you working with your small group? What system have you found to keep students engaged in repeated readings while working on skills each week?

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