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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in reading

Posted by on in General

There have been numerous education initiatives proposed, adopted, and later left on the side of the road during my teaching and administrative career. Initiatives involve ideas, programs and techniques that often are created, analyzed, and deemed viable options by the individuals farthest away from the students who will be impacted.

Teachers are sometimes selected to serve on steering committees which will make recommendations to administrators. However, administration has the option of accepting such suggestions or discarding them and making a completely independent decision. Unfortunately, many initiatives are chosen not on the basis of student success, but upon financial savings instead.

And many of the teaching strategies that follow are misguided, failing not only students but their teachers as well.

When I started first grade in 1965, I was already a good reader. Despite the fact that my parents had little money, they provided my siblings and me with books and plenty of one-on-one support in learning how to read those books on our own.

I entered school, and my love for reading was instantly extinguished. There was a heavy emphasis on phonics - in sounding out the letters of every word before we could read the stories in our readers. Phonics is an extremely important piece of the reading process, but I was already far ahead of my classmates, and I did not need the constant drill. Differentiation for all students had yet to become a buzz word, much less a highly-regarded practice in American schools.

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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

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 Early Childhood

My daughter finished Kindergarten last week. My goal has been to keep her summer as unstructured as possible. I want her to have downtime after her first year of elementary school. I want her to have the mental space to develop and nurture her own interests. I want her to have fun. Which is not to say that she won't be learning. She's six years old. She is a little sponge, soaking up opportunities for learning every day. Here are the things that I plan to do that I think will support my daughter's learning process without taking away her autonomy or joy of learning:

KnuffleBunnyFree1. Keep piles of picture books on the kitchen table and by her bed. Rotate these every couple of days to give her choice. Keep the simple reading log that we've been using on the kitchen table, so that we can jot down books as we read them. Read to her while she eats breakfast, before bed, and during whatever other times she requests it throughout the day. Visit the library as needed to keep the piles of books fresh. We are still mostly reading these books to her, but whenever she decides that she wants to read a picture book or early reader aloud, we're happy to listen and help out.

2. Keep a Grade 1 workbook on the kitchen table or the playroom desk, in case she wants to use it. She especially likes the Scholastic workbooks that I get from Costco. She has already asked me to get the Grade 2 workbook, for when she finishes. I am not requiring her to do the workbook at any time, and certainly not to finish it. But I find that if it is her own idea, and she has some downtime, she's happy to use the workbook to practice her writing and math. Last night she was practicing sentences while my husband and I were finishing dinner. I loved workbooks as a kid, and seeing her industrious work does make me smile.

3. Keep her afternoons as open as possible (vs. having structured activities). My daughter ended up deciding at the last minute to sign up for swim team. There is practice every morning, though she is only required to go three times a week. These practices do get her outside exercising and spending time with her friends. They've been staying to play together at the pool for longer than the 45 minute practice time, so I figure this is a reasonable compromise. She also has two 50-minute karate classes a week, but as previously discussed, the karate classes bring her great joy. She's also going to do one week of "spy camp" because I couldn't resist. But otherwise, her schedule during the week is clear.

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Posted by on in Literacy

reading

Currently in my district at the elementary level, we are in the process of strategically moving away from our basal reading program. We’ve already “cut out” its writing component, as next year we’ll be hitting the ground running with Writing Workshop and the Units of Study. Also, we’ve begun the process of designing our own reading comprehension instruction with the assistance of Reading with Meaning, Strategies That Work, and Notice & Note (both fiction and non-fiction).

Now, while it may be “cool” and trendy to hate on textbooks, for the benefit of all parties involved – students, parents, teachers, administrators, etc. – I believe it’s important to be able to articulate why we are choosing to deemphasize the program.

With these thoughts in mind, here are three reasons to rethink your basal reader.

1. No Books! No Engagement!

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