While it is important for students to be able to decode words and understand the literal meaning of what they read, shouldn’t reading involve more? When I choose a book to read, it is not because I really like just being able to decode the words … I choose books and authors that allow me to make a person connection with the story and establish some type of emotional response. I don’t feel like I am really reading a book if it doesn’t make me feel anything (sad, happy, mad, hopeful, wonder, suspense, excitement … ).
We want students to smile and laugh and get curious and upset and confused and excited … to interact with words and stories they are reading. How can we help children make these emotional connections with what they read?
Using the arts to help children make these personal connections can promote interest in language, build vocabulary, encourage comprehension, as well as reinforce phonemic awareness. But is also just fun!
Here are some ideas of ways the Arts can be used to teach reading from Lively Learning by Linda Crawford:
- Read poetry aloud. It is a great way to capture student imagination. Think of all the ways poetry uses rhythm, sounds, and vivid imagery.
- Use storytelling to involve students in participatory listening. You read part and then stop and let them fill in the words or guess what will happen next. You could tell the same story with several different ending and then let children pick the one they liked the best. Invite the children to tell you how a story could be different, especially if it was told from another point-of-view. Storytelling is also a good way to develop vocabulary skills.
- Don’t forget to use music along with the stories. Did you know that singing songs can help children learn to spell, develop phonemic awareness, and build reading fluency? It doesn’t matter how old a child is, using music with stories can enhance understanding. Even asking children to suggest sound effects to go along with stories helps demonstrate their understanding of what is going on in the story.
- When children draw pictures to go along with stories, they have to think deeply and interact with all the pieces of the story. That is higher order thinking taking place! Having children plan out their drawings promotes thinking even more!
- Challenging children to retell as story using movement really taps into that deeper level of understanding.
Think of all the stories on Big Universe that you could use with any of these suggestions!
image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/86802545@N00/269032594/#
Hurricanes are a remarkable force of nature. The combination of powerful winds, waves and tides can wreak havoc.
As the country marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall on the Gulf Coast, many are keeping their eyes on Hurricane Earl, which is churning its way through the northern Caribbean. Forecasters say there is a chance the storm will make itself known off the coast of North Carolina about mid-week.
News like this provides an opportunity to teach children. Teachers who keep one ear tuned to current events will find a vast resource to enrich lessons, making them vibrant and relative to life.
It is wise to keep your second ear trained on conversations your students are having amongst themselves. They hear their parents talking and see lots of images on TV. Age-appropriate lessons from a trusted adult can help children sort out facts, fiction and even gale-force worries. Allow adequate time for initial questions and the opportunity for followup conversation.
My family and I experienced a tropical storm firsthand in 2002. We had been living in Barbados for only about six weeks when Lili hit the island. We were in a strong house, but the roar of the storm was deafening on our tin roof. The storm gained momentum after it passed over, eventually reaching Category 4 status over the Gulf of Mexico.
I was schooling my two daughters for the year that we were abroad, so the storm prompted lots of questions and teaching moments.
– How fast is the wind?
– When will the rain stop?
– Where did the hurricane come from?
– Why don’t we have electricity?
– What happened to that person’s house?
– Who will clear the roads?
– Why can’t we go to the beach?
– Where do the birds, sea turtles and monkeys go during the storm?
– Has anyone else ever had a storm like this?
While I could answer some of the questions, it would have been great to pull up an online children’s book to help explore the topic – once the lights came back on. Big Universe now offers several books that would have done nicely!
- The Bellwether book “Hurricanes” by Kay Manolison describes how hurricanes form and behave. Part of Bellwether’s Blastoff! Readers series, the text is aimed at Level 4 readers. The author uses a variety of sentence patterns and expanded vocabulary and punctuation. The graphics are highly appealing. This would have been just right for my new fourth-grader.
- Rourke Publishing’s “Surviving the Galveston Hurricane” by Jo Cleland would have been intriguing to my sixth-grader (AFTER our storm hit and everything quieted down). Cleland, a professor emeritus of reading education at Arizona State University West, worked in public education for 20 years prior to her university work. She continues to engage children through storytelling. “What we learn with delight, we never forget,” she says.
- “Ready, Set…WAIT! What Animals Do Before a Hurricane” is another storm-themed book on Big Universe’s library shelves. The illustrations by Connie McLennan are charming, and the text written by Patti Zelch is insightful. The extra information in the back of the book allows teachers to expand their lesson plans in many directions. Sylvan Dell Publishing also provides quizzes and cross-curricular activities online.
To read more about ways to use current events to add life to your teaching, read “10 Ways to Use Current Events in the Classroom” or Melissa Edwards’ blog titled “It is All About Making Connections …”. She writes, “When students make connections with the books they read, their understanding, comprehension and recall of the information increases.” Preach it, Melissa!