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Posted by on in Literacy

Young boy reading manga

I've had a couple of parents approach me recently with questions akin to: "How do I get my child to read something else besides graphic novel? I want him to read real chapter books." To which I say: "Why do you need to do this?" If your child is reading graphic novels, then he is reading. Graphic novels are real books. If your child is reading graphic novels avidly, then my suggestion is not to try to push him to chapter books. My suggestion is to find him more graphic novels.

Now, I will concede one issue that I've run into due to my daughter's devotion to graphic novels. There just aren't as many graphic novels as there are chapter books. This means that we can actually run out of books for her to read that are even remotely age appropriate (and believe me, I have stretched this upwards). She doesn't help matters by having only passing interest in fantasy - she wants thick, realistic graphic novels only. And she pretty much has all of the ones I can find that she can understand. She simply reads those over and over again. I'm fairly sure she must know Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham's Real Friends by heart.

Because of this shortage I have tried introducing some notebook novels into the mix. These still have plenty of illustrations, but also have more text. My daughter is having none of it. This means that unless I can find new graphic novels that she likes, she ends up reading less. Which is certainly not the goal. But I personally think it would be worse to push her to read books that she's not interested in. So I don't.

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Posted by on in Literacy

I had the opportunity to listen to a keynote by Stephen Sroka last week.  At one point, Dr. Sroka took out a little bottle of bubbles, took a deep breath, and blew bubbles into the audience.  He took three breaths and blew bubble three times to simulate relaxation breathing. I sat there thinking that I wanted to use this technique in my classroom. I know that physical activity helps to reduce stress and anxiety as well as stimulate the mind. Purposeful breathing paired with reflection helps open the mind to deep thinking. I wondered if there was a way to incorporate movement, breathing, and discussing, so I began brainstorming ideas to combine all three.  This led to an activity I call Bubble Discussions.

This activity involves all three with the idea that in order for students to participate in deep-thinking conversations, they need to feel respected, calm, and stimulated to engage effectively.

Step 1:  Students read a meaningful text.  The topic of this short text (no more than two pages) is high-interest with multiple interpretations possible.

Step 2:  The teacher chooses quotes from the text to display around the room.  In addition to these quotes, the teacher may choose to include visuals (pertaining to topic) and quotes from other power texts.  Between 8-12 pieces of paper are hung around the room.

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Posted by on in Literacy

For the first time, maybe ever, I can't keep up with my reading.

My stack of novels grows, but I don't speed read these. I savor every word. Reading for information is different, I can adjust my rate to match the material, and routinely do so. I find myself reading a mixture of info-text online, newpapers and books. I don't use a Kindle. Just never wanted to. Always liked the feel of a book in my hands, pictures, the miracle of what lies in between the covers.

I also spend time popping onto Twitter, teacher and leadership chats, reading blogs, checking my emails, reading links to various research sites, both good and not so good. My two Facebook pages are time intensive. Besides cat videos, I scour a lot of relevant research on various things I'm interested in.

We spend time working with kiddos on their reading fluency, but I'm thinking now that we all could stand a refresher course, mini-lesson Twitter style, how to pick up our own pace, to meet vast needs, keeping current in our minute to minute changing world. The future is now. What works for kids, works for us too, so use these reminders for your students or yourself. You might enjoy online or old fashioned personal charting of your increased speeds, by following one or more of these success secrets.

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Posted by on in Literacy

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Birthdays are always special. When it's time to party for Dr. Seuss, it's a big hurray for the day!

Mark your calendar-March 2, '17. Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! And get set for the party of parties, Read Across America! 

Two of my grandkids have Valentine birthdays. One, a teenager amazes me with her accomplishments- band, AP classes, Scouts, you name it. The years just flew by and birthday parties for her are not about pin the tail anymore.

Morgan, our Eugene adorable is turning six. Our Kindergartener is debating between various character themes, but it's going to be an old fashioned, at home party this year and we're pretty excited about that. This is our year of simple is best. Trips to the dollar store already, need a head start on a big girl party, complete with party dress and maybe a little lip gloss. Bet she invites Carter, planning to marry him.

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Posted by on in Literacy

Play-Doh

October is one of my favorite months of the year. Halloween with my kids is one of the reasons despite the loads of candy they receive. This is why I love Costco and the small containers of Play-Doh they offer so parents have an alternative to candy and what they offer to trick-or-treaters. There is another reason I love those small containers of Play-Doh....

Reading nonfiction texts may not be the most exciting task for middle school students. Add to this task long periods of silently seated work and repetitive highlighting and annotating, and teachers will find students at all levels of reading fleeing away from reading engagement. Of course, there are times when reading silently is necessary. And, there are times when highlighting and annotations are important. In fact, I have led several workshops on close reading and effective highlighting reading strategies. However, if the process becomes stagnant, readers, especially reluctant readers, will become complacent and reading gains may be limited.

I recently shared a reading strategy that involves tactile movement performed during reading of a nonfiction text. Adding movement activities to lessons does not always entail having students get out of their seats. Some teachers shy away from having students stand and move due to time constraints or interruptions to the flow of a lesson.

For this activity, I chose a nonfiction text that could be easily chunked. Since this text was meant to involve close reading strategies, the text was limited to two pages. The text features included subheadings, which were clearly marked and placed for a natural stopping point for students. I handed out Play-Doh to each participant and gave them specific instructions as to what to do and what not to do with it. Since this was the first time using Play-Doh, class routines had to be set and taught. The amount of emphasis needed for routine instruction depends on the needs of the students .

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