Perfect for Pre-K. Definitely putting this in my bag of teaching ideas for next year.
Genre Tags :-)
Getting kids to read different types of books.
This is in the list of things I’d do if I taught older grades.
However, I doubt I’d do the buying them lunch part. Money is tight.
Click the picture to read Oh Boy 3rd Grade’s blog post on genre tickets.
Spelling with legos.
I used this idea before I found it on blogs when I did literacy interventions. It really helped some students — especially by putting blends, digraphs, and vowel pairs together.
Learning Letters on the Go!
You can put down the letters as you find them on signs, license plates, etc. The first one to have all the tabs down wins!
What Kids Are Reading 2012 Edition
I stumbled across What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students from my NCTE inbox email. It’s actually pretty interesting!
Authors who have commentary in the document include Barry Gilmore, Jeff Kinney, David Coleman, Dan Gutman, Ellen Hopkins, Terri Kirk, Dav Pilkey, and Sandra Stotsky.
This document begins of lists of what kids are reading, separated by grade level.
Starting on page 42 are some exemplars for Common Core texts.
There is a section for librarians’ picks separated by grades and interest level.
There is also a list of frequently challenged books in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
I’d say if you’re looking for summer reading to stay on par with what your kids are reading, this pdf is a wonderful place to begin!
2 Favorite Lesson Plans
I have to say I’ve been having some serious fun with my classes lately. First, reading and then seeing The Hunger Games provided the initial fun, and now my classes have continued with The Things They Carried, which has great discussion and project possibilities. I did 2 of my favorite lesson plans over the past 2 weeks, which the photos illustrate, and I’ll give a little more detail here. They can easily be adapted to various books, grade levels, and skills.
Favorite Lesson 1: The Literary Alphabet
I learned this basic lesson plan years ago, in graduate school. It is a lesson plan I usually use when I want to review a book and let the kids have some fun. Since The Hunger Games was a “fun” read I wanted to keep the activities meaningful, but also fun. The idea here is to randomly assign a letter of the alphabet to each kid. I usually write the letters on slips of paper and have the students pick out of a box. If there are more letters than students, I offer a little incentive for students to do more than one letter. I then write literary terms on the board: theme, symbolism, conflict (i.e. man vs. society, vs. self, etc), imagery, foreshadowing, irony, and several more. I also pass out crayons and paper. Since I have juniors, they know these terms and I don’t really have to review them. Then, the students have to find a quote from the book that contains a word starting with the letter they picked, and they have to apply the literary terms to the quote (analyze it). For difficult letters, like Q, X, or Z, I usually let them pick a word that just contains the letter. Once the students have found quotes, I tell them they are to write the quote on a sheet of paper, emphasizing the letter, and illustrating the quote. They also have to write a brief explanation of what the quote signifies and at the end everyone presents their letter to the class and we put our alphabet up on the wall. I find it to be a great review that appeals to a variety of learners while allowing them to connect literary elements to text using visuals. You can see our alphabet at the top of the pictures.
Favorite Lesson 2: Visual Literacy using advertisements
My students are working on a project where they are asked to research a variety of images from both the Vietnam War and a modern-day conflict of their choice and pair the images with a representative piece of prose/poetry as part of our The Things They Carried unit. The idea is to have them analyze images while also researching the circumstances that created them. Obviously, we live in a society where all of us are exposed to so many images all day, and I find that sometimes we don’t really think much about what goes into the composition of these images.
I start with a Prezi on visual literacy, teaching kids about how to look at images and what to look for, what questions to ask. Then, we pull ads out of magazines (I always bring a few magazines though I usually ask the students to bring some too) and post them around the room. I have the kids walk around the room, looking at the ads, making observations to practice what they learned about in the Prezi. Then we have a class discussion about what is in the ads. The kids really enjoy discussing them! I find that they always make interesting comments or observations as they learn how images provoke our emotions, or distort information, or apply stereotypes, etc. You can see the ads we used taped to the whiteboard. It is a lesson that gets them to analyze without much prior knowledge, and then allows them to apply the information as they begin to analyze the war images for their projects. I can hardly wait to see the projects— I am giving them a great deal of freedom as to how they present their conclusions! If anyone is interested in this project, message me with your email address and I will send you my assignment sheet.
These are the kind of posts I like to see in the education community and promoted. Original ideas, sharing teaching ideas and discussing how other people can implement them, visual and descriptive, related to student interests, and willingness to discuss further.
Twitter Door- The kids can tweet about what is happening. There are 30 laminated sentences strips so everyone (including the teacher) has a place to “tweet” on the door.
Amazing resource over at Scholastic right now, broken down by subject area and grade. Outstanding.
I was thrilled to find this yesterday! There are some great hands-on activities shared here, as well as free printables and learning to read units!
"Children who enter school with small vocabularies tend to add fewer words each year than children who enter with larger vocabularies. Since vocabulary size is so closely related to children’s comprehension as they move through school, there is a sense of urgency about intensifying efforts to build more and deeper word meaning stores for all children."
— Classrooms that Work: They Can All Read and Write By Patricia M. Cunningham and Richard L. Allington, 2007. Page 90.
This is an AWESOME site for kids! Film Street’s “Stop Frame Animator” lets students create stop animation films…for free. No registration is required to use this cool tool. It is easy to use and the end results are great. Email address is required only to send (save the final product. Well worth it.
Students set up scenes using wooden figures and props provided by the site. They take a picture of each movement to tell the story. Music and sound effects can also be added. Plenty of choices available .
The final results can be saved through an email link.
There are lots of other things going on at Film Street so check them out while you are there. They even have a contest going on that students can submit their films to.
Your students will love you for this one!
The U.S. Department of Education last week officially put out word that it’s accepting applications for $189 million in grants for a new literacy initiative. Forty-six states have been working on statewide literacy plans for children ages zero to grade 12 in anticipation of pursuing one of the competitive grants under the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program. (Those states received a share of $10 million from the department to get started.)
The grant announcement comes as most federal aid for literacy at the Education Department—including for Striving Readers—was wiped out as part of a stopgap spending bill enacted earlier this month. Here’s my big-picture story on what’s going on there.
A little confused? Well, the $189 million is actually money Congress appropriated in fiscal 2010 but the Education Department has still not obligated. (Some observers have complained that the agency has dragged its feet in moving forward with the new program.) For the moment, that money is still intact. The cuts enacted earlier this month are for fiscal 2011, which began in October.
Also, to further confuse you, even though President Barack Obama signed the stopgap spending bill, Senate Democrats have already signaled their intention to try to restore most of the Striving Readers aid for the current fiscal year. Whether they will succeed remains to be seen.
However, the $189 million is apparently still in jeopardy. That’s because a larger fiscal 2011 budget plan passed in February by the Republican-controlled House would go back and retroactively strip away that $189 million. After all, as I noted, the Education Department has yet to obligate it in the form of grants to states. Some observers suggest the Obama administration itself may have opened the door for this step. Last summer, the White House agreed to sacrifice $50 million of the original $250 million in fiscal 2010 for Striving Readers to help pay for an education-jobs package.
Even more confused? Simply put, future funding for Striving Readers is in question. And so is the $189 million in grants the Education Department just announced.
(Click to continue reading)
Just trying to figure this all out gives me a headache.
Just trying to figure this all out gives me a headache.
Vocabulary Instruction in Today’s Classroom Part 2
Why Is Vocabulary Instruction Important?
If you are also a teacher, you are probably thinking to yourself, “Well this is obvious.” Vocabulary instruction is important because without understanding the meaning of the words you read, you cannot comprehend text (Christ & Wang 2010). In observations of sixth graders in a school with a population that was ethnically diverse and came from low-income homes, Kelley, Lesaux, Kieffer, and Faller (2010) found that approximately 10% of English Language Arts time was spent on teaching vocabulary. These students scored lower on standardized tests than students who were part of classrooms with increased vocabulary instruction. In these classrooms, words were taught with nonfiction texts in 45 minute periods, and the words were used for two weeks. Therefore, the discussion needs to be, “Why is more vocabulary instruction important?”
One of the main reasons I believe that vocabulary instruction needs an increased role in the classroom because it is one of the areas that my struggling and good readers alike have the most difficulty with. They have little knowledge, besides asking me, how to determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word. As I proctor some standardized tests this month to students that are in my classes and others, I notice a number of them having a difficult time understanding what is being asked of them. Kelley et al. (2010) states, “academic vocabulary, the specialized and sophisticated language of a test, is a particular source of difficulty for students who struggle with comprehension” in urban middle schools (p. 5). I would argue that this is also the case in many middle class suburban schools. Bromley (2007) identifies vocabulary as being instrumental in students’ comprehension of texts, reading fluency, and achievement. Along similar lines Richek (2005) concludes that vocabulary knowledge is one of the top predictors of reading success. If we want our students to succeed, they need quality vocabulary instruction. Not a list of words that are squeezed in using a dictionary.
Furthermore, I believe vocabulary instruction is important because once students begin to struggle with vocabulary and comprehension, they disengage. Good readers on the other hand, that read often continue to improve their vocabulary knowledge and comprehension skills. Struggling readers then fall even further behind their peers. It is for this reason that I believe more vocabulary instruction is important at all grade levels.
Wasik (2010) recognizes that learning vocabulary is a vital element when a child is developing reading skills and it plays a significant role in their success throughout school. According to Hart and Risley (1995), children they studied that were 3 years old and came from low income households knew 600 fewer words than other 3 year olds from wealthier families. By the time these children were in the 2nd grade, the difference between the two populations was estimated at 4,000. Students generally begin to lose interest in reading by 4th grade, and even more so if the student is identified as a struggling reader (Applegate & Applegate 2010). This piece of data clearly indicates to me that we must increase vocabulary instruction at the primary level in order to limit the decrease in at-risk students’ motivations to read.
Furthermore, it is important that vocabulary instruction does not only include teaching of words. We also must spend increased instructional time teaching how to use context cues, the meaning of specific morphemes, related words, and outside resources in order to determine what a word means in specific contexts. “If our goal is to help students improve understanding … then words need to be pulled apart, put together, defined informally, practiced in writing, and played with regularly …” (Kelley 2010). A significant amount of time must be spent on learning and using words in a variety of media with different shades of meaning for a student to truly understand a word and begin to include it in their own speaking vocabulary. There needs to be specific vocabulary instruction time carved into not only the Language Arts periods, but the content areas as well.
(Listed in order that they appeared, and when possible linked to the publishing organization’s online copy of it — although a subscription may be required. Also, yes I read all of these — except the book, which I only read a small part of).
Bridging the Vocabulary Gap: What Research Tells Us about Vocabulary Instruction in Early Childhood, Tanya Christ and Christine Wang, Young Children, July 2010
What Teachers Can Do to Promote Preschoolers’ Vocabulary Development: Strategies From an Effective Language and Literacy Professional Development Coaching Model, Barbara A. Wasik, The Reading Teacher, May 2010
Hart, B., & T. Risley. 1995. Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young children. Baltimore: Brookes.
Vocabulary Instruction in Today’s Classroom Part 1
Throughout my studies in undergraduate and graduate school, I have focused on literacy and using texts to create meaning. While working on my bachelor of arts in English, I used reader-response to evaluate Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and different genres of children’s literature that dealt with death in two different independent studies (the longest papers of my life, over 40 and 100 pages respectively). While in undergrad I also completed the Education program to get my Early Childhood teaching license and a minor in Education. In those classes, I was not only interested in how readers draw meaning from a text, but also how young minds begin to make meaning from sounds and morphemes. I continued to explore various ideas involving the process of learning to read while completing my masters of education in literacy. I took a semester to do an inquiry on the links between phonemic awareness skills and phonics and the implications for teachings in lower socio-economic districts.
I continue to read and look for resources to improve upon my knowledge and teaching abilities regarding these concepts and skills. However, I continue to challenge myself to broaden my knowledge of literacy in other aspects as well. If you could not tell from my introduction of this essay, I am a logophile. I am currently in my sixth year of teaching. I complete field experiences in a rural area, my student teaching in England, my first years of teaching in a very diverse district that had students of from low socioeconomic statuses (and in a classroom where most of my students were on IEPs). I currently teach in a middle class community, at a school with very little diversity. In all of these settings, I have been increasingly concerned by the lack of vocabulary knowledge of students. While they may be able to decode words, many students do not understand grade-level texts. Oftentimes, I find it is not because they lack higher-order thinking skills. They lack vocabulary knowledge, and the tools to help them understand a new word. This affects their comprehension, as well as their writing.
I am writing this essay mostly so that I can organize my own thoughts, and in order to ensure that what I have read is internalized and can influence my teaching. I am posting it here so that perhaps other teachers may benefit from my “professional reading time.” I believe it is not only important to follow education news and blogs, but also to stay current on educational research, published journal articles, and books on the topic of reading. In the following parts of this exploration, I will discuss the importance of vocabulary instruction today, what vocabulary instruction should look like, and resources and other literature on vocabulary for various grade levels.