Balanced Literacy by Sharon Skidmore & Jill Graber

Balanced Literacy Grade 2 Through Cooperative Learning & Active Engagement by Sharon Skidmore & Jill Graber

Appropriate for grade 2 (Books available for grades K-5)

This 500 page resource is packed with valuable lessons that every second grade teacher uses. Centered around the cooperative learning structures that define Kagan, this book provides lessons, activities, and materials that are based on the components of Balanced Literacy: Comprehension, Word Study, Fluency, and Writing (with Vocabulary sprinkled into the Comprehension and Word Study sections). This easy to navigate resource has a table of contents that is broken down by balanced literacy components and Kagan structures, so the right lesson is always at your fingertips.

~Teacher Stuff blog review by Emily Stout

Personal Connection: I recently took a 4 day  Kagan workshop, and it was incredible! Although I’d heard about Kagan before, and even had a few ‘Kagan Structures’ cards, I’d never been to a workshop where I got to see it all come together. Now I’m hooked!

I was in a place in my teaching where I was doing well with what I knew how to do. I knew I could make improvements (we can ALWAYS get better), but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. This was exactly what I needed to take that next step in my teaching. I’m so grateful to my friend, Gina, who signed me up for the class so she wouldn’t have to go alone. I feel energized and ready to jump back in with my new ideas! (Well . . . I’ll take the summer first, then I’ll be ready to jump back in!)

One of my favorite lessons from this book is teaching students about non-fiction text features using the structure ‘Showdown.’ With students in cooperative learning teams, the group gets a set of team cards that is in a pile face down in the middle of the table. Each student gets a set of individual student cards that they hold in their hands. When the Showdown Captain turns the first card on the pile over, students independently check their hand for the answer that matches the card. When everyone signals that they are ready, the Showdown Captain says, “Showdown!” and everyone puts down their answers at the same time. If everyone was not correct, teammates coach then celebrate.  Here is an example of the ready-made resources for this activity:

If you haven’t taken a Kagan class, I highly recommend it. This book is fantastic, but without an understanding of the training that goes with it, you may not use it to its fullest extent. And if you’re still not convinced . . . they give away GREAT prizes! Every person in my class of 30 got a prize, and a few people got two. That’s my kind of workshop!

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