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The CIS structure is something that the state of Florida is doing as a way to align with the Common Core Standards. The idea is that repeated readings utilizing different strategies will deepen comprehension. Coupled with text complexity it is a great way to expose children to higher level thinking. I was unsure about the CIS structure after our first training. Like any teacher I took the bones of it and modified the ideas to be my own. This is what I do during my small group times when we are studying nonfiction. Each child gets an article and a copy of the graphic organizers. I run them two pages front to back. By the third week the students completely understood the expectations, and I easily maximized my small group time. The strategies we practiced were:
• Recalling background knowledge
• Reading for new learning
• Identifying key words
• Understanding main idea
• Using context clues
• Summarizing using key words
There are 20 total passages. Some are written with a slightly persuasive tone, while others are purely informational. There is a mixture of science and social studies passages. The Lexile Levels of these passages range from easy third grade to more challenging fourth grade levels. All students were able to feel successful with these passages because of the repeated readings. The key to the passages are the daily readings and rereadings. My modifications for my lowest group were we often read the passages together orally.
These graphic organizers were filled in at my table as a guided writing activity. I did not tell my students what to write; rather, I guided them with their thinking. The guided writing of their own thoughts made it easy to reinforce grammar skills like capital letters, punctuation, proper nouns, and even summarizing. My students loved doing small groups with this structure and were always excited to learn what the week’s article would be about. I did these regularly after Christmas to supplement our science/social studies units. I saw tremendous gains on my Star Reading tests.
My class’ scores went up a total of 1.9 years from 2.5 to 4.4. That means 1 year 9 months. This is a great gain for one year! I had no students that didn’t improve through the year and only 2 of my 15 did not improve at least a year’s worth of growth. They were very close!