As a parent of a reluctant reader with an Individualized Education Program (IEP), I am always looking for ways to motivate my little guy to read. And if I can encourage him in a practical, fun, or silly way, I am going to try it. Last night we sang, instead of reading, a nonfiction book about mountains. I can’t take credit for this — my son started it. So I topped him with my worst Opera voice. After laughing so hard that our stomachs ached, we were finally able to get back to the book, although the giggles hit as we turned each page.
Ann Logsdon, a school psychologist who helps parents and teachers with special needs students, writes that children with learning disabilities often avoid reading and, as a result, don’t get additional opportunities to increase their reading skills and comprehension. She does suggest five practical ways to motivate your struggling reader at home in Top 5 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Read: Encourage Reluctant Readers with These Easy Strategies:
- Try a Variety of Reading Materials – Pair Books with Unabridged Audio Books
By simultaneously using a hard copy book and audio-book, you can follow along. Listening to audio before hands-on reading helps readers understand main ideas before beginning reading. And turning the audio on after reading serves as a “self-check” for comprehension. Another source for audio-books is Big Universe’s Read Aloud books.
- Watch More Television
What a great idea to increase sight word recognition by viewing closed captions on tv or DVDs! That’s one way to turn screen time into a relevant reading exposure. For example, my son is now excited that he can recognize some words on the big screen and is trying to read commercial and programming text on the TV.
- Create Their Own Books on Tape
Ann suggests children can read a book into a tape recorder – and when playing it back, even silently follow along with the book. She recommends, “Some research has indicated that as your child listens to himself and hears his own reading becoming better, his skills will likely improve. Reward your child for the errors he finds and corrects as well as for his successes.”
- Have a Family Reading Night
By dedicating thirty minutes per night, everyone can read from the same book or different ones. If you are a competitive family, you could even track number of minutes reading and reward the winner who reads the most with a special meal or choice of favorite family activity.
- Adapt Reading Materials to Your Child’s Reading Level
In the classroom, it is possible to attain textbooks on tape and CD ROM versions of textbooks, although you need to work with the IEP team in order to make this possible. Another way to reduce reading frustration is to identify unfamiliar vocabulary before reading and help him or her understand the meaning. Also modeling pronunciation is great for those who have articulation issues, and creating new sentences increases contextual understanding. When it comes to reading literature, there may be lower-level reading versions that will help your child to comprehend the fiction better, in order to keep up with classmates and reading assignments. And another great fall-back plan on is simply sharing the reading, especially when the reading becomes cumbersome and frustrating.
Let us know if you use any of these strategies and how your reluctant reader responded. And try singing a book to each other. At the least, you’ll share a silly moment. But you’ll know that you made reading fun.
Image courtesy of thanunkorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Here is an activity for you to do (it can also be done with children, but I would encourage you to do it first):
Make a list of 10+ of your favorite books …
Look back at your list and really pay attention to the titles of each book.
Do you see any similarities?
Do you notice any major differences?
Can you sort your list by genre?
What does that tell you about your reading habits?
Do any of the book have the same author?
Are the characters in the books alike or very different?
Do you think the characters in one book would be friends with the characters in another book you listed?
Would you have a party and invite characters from more than one of the books on the list?
Do you notice a common theme?
What does asking these questions about your list encourage you to do?
Does it encourage you to think about your thinking?
What else could you do with this list?
You could make a word cloud using something like wordle.net (If you put this symbol ~ in between the words, the words in the title will stay together).
Creating a word cloud or some other project using the book titles in your list may help you realize even more about your list and/or the possibilities ….
Growing up, I couldn’t understand why my parents couldn’t figure out how to use the VHS or record a message on an answering machine. I always thought of myself as being tech savvy,…until I had children. Now, when I have a problem with my smart phone, I ask my son for help. Sometimes when he talks to me about his games and apps, I have to ask him to translate what he is saying into something I can wrap my head around.
The digital generation, our children, seem to be wired to understand every electronic gadget. As parents, we have the challenge and responsibility to stay ahead of the learning curve, to be aware of what our children are doing electronically, and even sneak in some learning time. I have just discovered some literacy apps, and they can help you to help your child in reading comprehension.
Reading Rockets, a national multimedia literacy initiative, put together slide presentation of the “Top 12 Comprehension Apps,” and they explain these apps cover “specific comprehension skills, including sequencing, differentiating between fact and opinion, developing word awareness (through antonyms, synonyms, and homophones), as well as several mind mapping apps.”
From free to under $10.00, they list the apps’ appropriate grade level, which skills are reinforced, and device (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) compatibility:
- Aesop’s Quest
- MiniMod Fact or Opinion Lite
- MiniMod Reading For Details Lite
- The Opposites
- Opposite Ocean
- Professor Garfield Fact or Opinion
- Question Builder
- Same Meaning Magic
- Same Sound Spellbound
- Speech with Milo: Sequencing
Need more? From print awareness to phonics, even vocabulary to spelling and writing, dare your children to try out suggested additional apps and reward them with free choice screen time afterwards. Let us know which ones make both parent and child happy.
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.
~Henry L. Doherty
Catching up on my reading is one of my favorite things to do in that “lull” between the holidays and the kiddo’s return to school. In November and December I don’t even try to do any professional reading. The days – and thus my brain – are too crowded. What I do, instead, is add articles of interest and learning to my virtual library on Scoop.It.
Once we got past the coming of the end of the world, writers’ focus turned to learning in this digital age. Topics covered everything from what makes a good digital media diet for kids to learning behaviors and strategies. I am hoping that you will find some interesting tidbits in this list. The annotations and opions are my own.
The world is getting smaller and flatter. Learners want to own their learning very early and can do that by unpacking the [common core] standards with their teachers. It is time to bring back inquiry and encourage questions that have no right answers. ~ author
Adopting the idea that personalized learning is an umbrella as you begin reading really helps solidify the concepts in this article. The emphasis is on sharing: between / among teachers, from student to teacher, and among students themselves. Technology is a medium of learning, but the article makes it clear there is a lot more to it than that.
Dr. Fry has let me know that the graph is copyright free, but one cannot alter the graph or directions and still call it the Fry Readability Graph. Thank you to Dr. Fry for letting me know teachers can use the graph, copyright free! ~ Kathy Schrock
In addition to providing step-by-step directions on how to use Fry’s Readability Graph (pictured left), Kathy has links to several other tools (websites and software) for measuring the readability / reading level of a book. She also links to several databases of leveled books for kids.
source: Wikimedia Commons
Because their brains are still developing and malleable, frequent exposure by so-called digital natives to technology is actually wiring the brain in ways very different than in previous generations. ~ Jim Taylor, Ph.D.
Dr. Taylor’s article is both enlightening and frightening. Yes, technology can be good and help (e.g., video games and spatial development). He makes an excellent argument that our brains are always evolving. Still, the affect the physiological development of our kids’ brains is pretty startling. To think that it has an inverse impact on their development is a “wow” for me.
There is a certain logic to the idea that students can become better critical thinkers by completing writing assignments. Writing forces you to organize your thoughts. Writing encourages you to try different ideas and combinations of ideas. Writing encourages you to select your words carefully. Writing holds the promise (and the threat) of a permanent record of your thoughts, and thus offers the motivation to order them carefully. ~ Daniel Willingham
The source of interest for Willingham’s article is Atlantic writer Peg Tyre’s story “The Writing Revolution.” Willingham’s story hones in the value of teaching writing, and makes concrete the link (or ripple effect) between learning to write and other critical cognitive functions like reading and thinking.
I recently discovered a new-to-me community called Quib.ly, and one of the first questions I discovered was “Can technology help with children’s literacy?” There is only one answer to the question so far, and the focus is on the value of online writing and publishing tools. This, from a study by Dr. Christina Clarke, Head of Research at the UK National Literacy Trust:
… children who use online publishing tools such as social media platforms and blogging services enjoy writing more than those who don’t (57% vs 40% respectively).
Good news for a new year! Teachers – how are you using technology for literacy in your classrooms? Share your suggestions in the comments.
While doing research on Morgana leFay in an undergraduate library, the sun highlighted bans of dust and the library cat sat on the table, watching me pour over a pile of library books needed for a Medieval Lit class paper. The difference between newer books (smooth print, formatted with adequately kerned and tracked sentences) versus old (rougher, brittle pages that had old looking fonts and single spaced) could be reduced to a musty smell of stale Cheerios. I looked for a page that seemed to be not there. Was it ripped out? I flipped back and forth between pages, looking for consecutive paging. And then I remembered the Great Gatsby, with Jay Gatsby’s library full of “uncut” books. Later, I ripped open the page with a dinner knife – and found what I needed folded in between a bound page. My tactile experience with books, 20 years ago, doesn’t negate today’s convenience of googling research to find needed support for argument, especially during a library’s closed hours.
Yet there are those who still prefer “real” books over e-books, especially parents of young children who admit to a double-standard – they are avid digital readers yet want the tactile benefits of books, including bedtime cuddles.
Others say that we need more research before taking an either-or-stand. As debate rages on about the value of ebooks versus real books, the Cooney Center aims “to foster a productive dialogue about digital media and our kids” and the researchers who first posed the question of our report “Print Books vs. E-books” – sought to “measure levels of engagement — between parent and child, and with the book itself.”
Although parents and educators may feel strongly for either bound or electronic books, the bottom line for both is enjoying reading and increasing reading skills. We really don’t need to stand behind an either-or mentality, as hardcopy books and text media are integral part of our life. I would bet money that school libraries won’t ever go paperless, but schools are successfully using electronic reading programs, such as Big Universe (read about one teacher who integrates both in her classroom).
The value in shared reading, and a cuddle quotient, remains in the hands of readers – using hard copy books, ipads and electronic readers. In an unlikely, but shared reading experience, my sons gather round the computer and the three of us work on religion class survey-type questions and answers on mass and book readings (accessible through pdf) – sometimes with appropriate video clips. This however is not relaxed reading, but homework, yet I have to admit, to my own surprise, that they don’t treat it as work. There is a place for real books in our lives – and alternative reading mediums. Time to make room for both.
“Tablet PC Computer And Books” from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Before I go one sentence further let me say this -
eReaders are fabulous.
I love our Nook … its a family reader.
I love being able to read Kindle books on my phone.
We’ve all heard that eReaders can get kids excited about reading. Not. so. fast.
This summer my daughter had one required reading book: Lincoln : A Photobiography by Russell Freedman. Me, being Smart Mom, decided that she’d jump on it faster if she could read it as an eBook.
I was wrong. Dead. wrong.
Over the last year, Catherine has used our Nook as much as my husband and me. She’d read in the car going to / from sports practice (Dad read while she practiced). She’d ask to “keep reading” [insert title here - Percy Jackson, Magic Tree House, et al] in the evening.
We had fewer tussles when she could do her reading without having to turn a “real” page.
So what happened this summer? It wasn’t the fact that Lincoln was required reading. We got her a paperback version and she would read aloud to us mostly without fuss. Frankly, I was very surprised.
The experience has taught me some things that are worth considering before we declare e-readers the panacea for dormant readers.
- The Novelty will wear off … just like any other shiny new thing. It was fun for a while, but then it was “just like any other book.” Even the newest toy in our house – my Xoom tablet and its bigger screen – wasn’t enough of an enticement to read.
- Environment matters. Catherine read in the car because she knew she needed to get her reading done and the screen is easier than paper and the car’s dome light.
- Format matters. The pictures in the Lincoln book look great on the tablet, but they were definitely different. Catherine spent a lot more time poring over the paper version of the photos. She’d go back and forth among the pages revisiting them … something much easier to do with paper.
In looking back at our summer experience, I don’t think one reason weighed more heavily than another. In looking forward, I think free choice matters, too. It could be that the required reading element was a contributor … I guess we’ll find out this coming summer when we have two chapter biographies to read!
I wonder what you think of when you hear the word Mars …
Do you think of aliens, the color red, or maybe the candy bar!
In just a hours, the Mars Curiosity Rover is scheduled to land on Mars!
You can learn more about Mars right here on Big Universe!
- Mars by Derek Zobel: Mars is known as the red, rocky planet. It has many volcanoes, including the solar system’s largest one. Eager readers will learn about the physical features of Mars and its place in the solar system.
- Mars by George Cappacio: With this series, readers journey into space, taking a close look at our galaxy. Each title answers many questions about these planets and celestial bodies, including: How and when they were created? How big are they? What is the environment like? What kind of technology do we use to explore them? Can life exist there? The series not only covers all the major planets in our solar system, but also describe the sun, stars, moons, asteroids, meteors, and comets. The books include up-to-date information about the latest discoveries and the most recent missions into space.
I have found some very interesting ways to learn even more about the Mars Curiosity Rover ….
With all of the great sites I have found related to the Mars Curiosity Rover, I think I like the Mars Science Laboratory from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (California Institute of Technology) the best!
- You can follow the landing live and see the first images
- This is a great way to learn more about the mission (and I think it is in words that are understandable for students)
- There are all kinds of multimedia interactives, images, and videos
- You can even learn more about Mars!
- You can keep up with the twitter feed of @MarsCuriosity
- There is a simple way for students and adults to send a message to the Curiosity Rover!
Based on the things learned from the books on Big Universe and the new information from the Curiosity Rover, students could use the Writing Area on Big Universe to write a story about what they learn and/or create a story about what would happen if they got to spend a day on Mars!
Have fun and exploring another planet in our Solar System!
Helping students makes sense of nonfiction was something I struggled with in the classroom. I think that knowing what to look for in nonfiction reading and where to find certain types of information can be a big help …
I recently found a Nonfiction Convention Scavenger hunt that can help with that!
As students come across features in an informational text, they will make a tally mark and record the page number as evidence. That is going to require thinking while reading and noticing details, which I think is a great thing! I would probably have students read it one time focusing just on reading the information. Then have them keep tally marks of the conventions/features they notice the second time the information is read. This could be done with partners in case there needs to be some discussion.
Think about all the nonfiction books on Big Universe Learning that could be used with this chart. These books could be used on interactive white boards to model the process. Following some guided practice, students could work on these charts with using other books from Big Universe.
I found this scavenger hunt on a blog called Mandy’s Teacher Tips after I originally saw it on Pinterest.
Did you know that one of the themes for the month of May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month?
I found this information on Thinkfinity:
Join the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and discover the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Learn more as you explore these lessons, interactives, and resources from Thinkfinity and its Content Partners.
Exercise and Nutrition Resources
This collection of resources from ScienceNetLinks offers lessons, tools, and podcasts on these topics for all ages.
Science | Health | All Grades
Reading into Action
Discover how to turn an engaging story into a physical activity with ideas from this ArtsEdge tipsheet.
Reading | Physical Education | All Grades
What Is a Slam Dunk?
Trace the meaning of the phrase from its beginnings in basketball to its current use in other fields. Then test your athletic powers with physical activity followed by creative work on your sports vocabulary.
Science | Vocabulary | Grades PK-6
Health Photo Gallery
Consider the geographic implications of health and nutrition through these photographs that reflect how health and exercise are influenced by where people live, work, and play.
Primary Sources | Culture | Grades 3-12
Write “Moving” Sports Poetry
What verbs describe the movements of your favorite sports hero? Watch short videos of sports athletes in action and share what you observe in the form of sports poetry.
Writing | Grades 3-5
Explore the connection between what you eat and the body’s ability to grow and repair itself.
Science | Nutrition | Grades 3-5
MyPlate Food Guide
Investigate the USDA’s MyPlate Food Guide to learn what foods provide the nutrients your body needs to be active and to maintain a healthy weight.
Science | Health | Grades 6-8
The Victor’s Virtue: A Cultural History of Sports
Learn how sports, philosophy, and culture intersect through the Greek word arete. Examine Greek primary source texts to discover how this concept applies to current high school sports culture.
History | Literature | Grades 9-12
When looking through those resources, did you notice the ways that literacy was connected to sports and nutrition in each of them?
Think about the opportunities for reading, writing, research, creating, thinking, and reflecting explored in those resources ….
Now think about the ways you can use Big Universe Learning to explore some of those same areas as well as to complete some of the steps in the projects that go along with those resources …
Students could using the Big Universe Learning Writing Tool to create books based on the information they find and/or think is interesting …
Students could look at the large book collection on Big Universe Learning to find books related to physical fitness, nutrition, and sports …
Think of the possibilities ….
Go explore and do ….
Do you have a favorite author?
How many books have you read by that author?
Did you enjoy reading one book by that author so much that you went in search of other books by that author?
I admit that I do that as an adult reader. I greatly enjoyed reading Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton, so search for other books written by that author. I have enjoyed most of the books I have found, and I have found many books I would not have in any other way.
I often use that as an example when I hear students say that they don’t know what to read next
I can’t tell you how many Baby-sitter’s Club books by Ann Martin I read growing up … that was an author and series that I enjoyed reading. Judy Blume was another one of my favorite authors.
Do our children have favorite authors?
Do they know how to find other book written by that author?
Do they know how to find interesting bits of information shared by that author?
Do you know many authors of books for children and young adults share ideas, upcoming books, frustrations, and even things to laugh about using various types of social media?
Many of the authors and publishers have facebook and/or twitter pages. I have found better information on some of the publisher pages.
There are also a large number of author who share things on their blogs (and sometimes you can even find contests and projects for students on those blogs).
Here are just a few of the author with things out there for you to explore:
- Cynthia Leitich Smith (her webpage offers an EXTENSIVE list of info about authors on the web)
- Kate Messner (was a teacher, has a twitter acct, and an awesome blog post about starting a new book) She has a list of authors who skype with classes on her website!
- Grace Lin (has certain things she blog about each day … on Mondays she writes about what it on her desk and she shares fortune cookie Friday)
- Dan Santat
- Mo Willems
My challenge for you this week is to find a book you enjoy reading on Big Universe and then see what other information you can find on the author (and/or publisher) of that book.