Posts Tagged ‘reading online’
My fourth graders have started a new unit on land and water. One of our main themes is rivers and erosion. Like with all other topics in the various content areas we study, we teachers like to gather literature that will assist in our students’ learning of the topic. Generally, we raid the library for books, but earlier today, as I was looking in the Big Universe for resources, I came across some great ebooks that I can (and will) use with my students. This list may seem short, but each book is quite unique. Together, I feel they will give students a well-rounded look at rivers.
Rivers is a great book to start with. It is simple and straightforward giving vocabulary terms in sentences that illustrate their definition. I really like how each term is illustrated with graphics and a real photo.
River Song is a beautiful book that tells about the movement of a river from its source to its travel into the sea. It is a beautiful poem with illustrations. It uses many of the vocabulary terms we are learning such as source and meander. There is even the musical score that puts the poem to music at the end of the book.
River Beds: Sleeping in the World’s Rivers is another great resource. It is a picture book that tells the story of many of the animals that live in and near some of the great rivers of the world.
Wolf Pack of the Winisk River is a treasure of a book! This novel that tells the tale of a wolf pack’s journey along a river, is written in poem form. Fascinating and beautiful!
I have placed all these books on my shelf and am excited to share them with my students, allowing them to peruse through the variety of texts, gleaning all they can from each.
By the time my students get to me in fourth grade, they are expected to be reading chapter books. It’s more mature and sophisticated and, well it’s more at their level of reading. But picture books are still such powerful tools to use in fourth grade and beyond. Sometimes they provide a great story to read for enjoyment or a well crafted story that teaches a moral. Lately, I’ve been using picture books to help my students write narratives.
Picture books are a great way to illustrate the basic elements of a story. Finding just the right book can show how a good story includes a character, a problem, events in a sequence and a solution. Often you can see a climax and resolution. My class and I have been looking at various picture books to reinforce these elements, making sure we include them and develop them in our own narratives. (Fourth graders are required to write a personal narrative for our Massachusetts state test.)
Of course I have a collection of picture books in my room, but Big Universe has provided me with an extensive collection which has been so practical and useful. The last time we were in the Computer Clubhouse, I asked students to search through their own online bookshelves and other places on Big Universe to find a picture book that tells a good story; a picture book that has all the great elements of a story.
Here are some books on Big U that we found that fit this criteria:
For a listing of ALL of the picture books on Big Universe, click this link.
Through discussion and sharing, students were able to see time and again what a good story contains. The journey of becoming a writer is a long one, but this step is definitely a good one to take along the way.
Happy reading and happy writing.
Best wishes in 2012 from Big Universe.
Happy New Year from Big Universe Learning!
It’s been a joy to be part of the blogging team for this unique educational website, a global online reading and writing community for teachers and pre-K-Grade 8 students. I’ve watched its library shelves fill with high-quality children’s books, its membership grow, and its focus evolve to meet the needs of educators and parents devoted to raising the next generation of readers. What a privilege!
As we put 2011 to bed and welcome in 2012 and its possibilities, I leave you with a RESOLUTION – an acrostic set of tips to maximize your interaction with Big Universe Learning and promote literacy in the new year.
BIG UNIVERSE ACROSTIC for 2012
R is for Reading Levels. Use them to find “just right” books.
E is for Edit. Our Authoring Tool lets you write stories. Don’t forget to proofread.
S is for Share. Message others about favorite Big Universe books on our safe network.
O is for Online. Get online and stimulate dialogue about literacy on our Facebook page.
L is for learning something new every day. Log on and READ!
U is for Unclutter. Remove former pupils’ names from accounts and streamline bookshelves.
T is for Twitter. Follow us!
I is for Images. Use our clipart or upload your own photos to customize your books.
O is for organizing your day. Make time to read in 2012.
N is for navigate. Use the Help page or watch a tutorial to hone your Big Universe user skills.
We read so many books cover to cover, from beginning to end, but sometimes it’s ok not to do that.
Recently, I assigned the book Immigration by Debra J. Housel to my students since we are studying immigration in class. This is one of the many great non-fiction books found on Big Universe. I especially like texts written such as this because it really lends itself to jump-reading.
After introducing the book to my class, I had them take a picture and text walk. In this book there are so many headings, pictures, captions and small bits of information that it took a bit of time during which students were drawn into certain sections. Once we had performed our pre-reading ritual, I invited the students to choose sections that most interested them and read those pages. Just like the variety of students I have in my class, there was a variety of topics on which they chose to focus.
Slowly and in a seemingly random way, students created their own path through much of the book. And that path seemed to make sense to them. A couple students started at the concluding pages and then went right back to the beginning. My Chinese student was naturally drawn to the pages on The Asian Experience as were a couple of her close friends. It was interesting to peek over students’ shoulders and see what information they chose to read.
We talked about what it was like to read parts of a book, not necessarily in order. Many students liked it. It gave them some choice and didn’t overwhelm them with too much information. After some time, I asked students to pair up with another student and share what they read. Some students found that they had read the same pages and talked about the interesting facts they learned. Other students found themselves sharing their new knowledge with a friend.
The students then created a t-chart (much like the one Melissa Edwards talks about in Experiences and Connections) with the two headings: “What I learned” and “What I want to read next”.
Unfortunately, we had run out of time in our Computer Clubhouse at school, but the list of what they wanted to read next became their homework. (There’s nothing like the recommendation from a peer!)
It was fun for the students to flip through the book and discover information that was meaningful to them and I look forward to using this activity with other books on Big Universe that you don’t have to read cover to cover.
This seems to be a mantra said by all reading teachers in our school, no, our district: “Look back in the text.” To find the answer, to find support, to find details, to find examples: you must look back in the text!
Problem was that when I assigned a book to my students using Big Universe it was difficult to go back in the text once students were taking the book’s quiz.
But I found a solution.
Now this may be obvious to some of you, but this little trick has been so helpful to my students in the past week since I showed them how to do it. So, I felt obliged to share it with you!
You simply need to open Big Universe in two separate tabs or windows. To do this, open your browser and log into Big U. Then open another tab or browser and again go to Big U. (Most likely you will not have to log in a second time.) In one tab, open the book you wish to read and in the other tab, open the quiz you need to complete. Then you can toggle back and forth from one screen to the other, allowing you to read a question on the quiz and then to look back in the text.
My students caught on to this very quickly and were happy to learn and use this little technique. Hopefully, your students will find it helpful too since it allows them to easily take a quiz (or write a summary, or report, or essay about the book) and be able to look quickly back at the text they are reading.
My daughter just turned 5, and she will start Kindergarten in August. She loves books (like her momma) and is always wanting to be read a story. When we were reading at bedtime last night, she got upset when I finished reading one of the books. She told me that she wanted to read that book to me. I pointed to the bookcase and told her to go get one, and she could read to me for the next story. She looked up at me and said she didn’t know how to read those but she knew how to read the one I just read.
I started thinking about that book from last night. The story was presented in a predictable pattern. The words on the pages were clearly depicted in the illustrations. This was also a story she had heard several times before, so she knew what to expect (she even caught it when I missed a page). The familiarity of the story and story elements made her feel comfortable.
I want her to become a fluent reader, so that she won’t have to worry so much about the mechanics of reading that she won’t be able to experience the joy the can be found in reading a story. There are several things I could have done with the story I read last night to work on that skill (without sounding too much like a teacher to my child):
- Echo Reading: I could read aloud one or two sentences and then let my daughter attempt to “echo” my reading. This strategy works on sight vocabulary, decoding skills, and oral fluency. My daughter can hear the words and sounds I emphasize when I read and try to do the same thing.
- Easy Reading: I can find stories the contain words and sentence patterns familiar to my daughter. Using this strategy should be pressure-free and enjoyable for both the child and parent/teachers. We could start by taking turns reading sections/pages until she feel comfortable enough to want to read it all by herself. I think great illustrations help here too.
- Repeated Reading: This reading fluency strategy works right along with the saying, “The more you practice, the better you will get.” As a parent or teacher, I often tell my child (or students) that they more we read a story, the more things we will notice about the story. Repeated Reading helps the child know what to expect and how it should sound.
There are many books/stories on Big Universe that I can use with these strategies to work on oral fluency without it seeming like I am working on oral fluency with my daughter. Did you know that one of the ways to search for Big Universe books is by publisher? I have seen it in a list of ways to search Big Universe (I might have even made a list like that), but I had not tried it out until today. One of the publishers is Reading Reading Books, LCC. On the Big Universe page for this publisher, you can find this description:
Reading Reading Books, LLC is an independently owned and operated publishing company located in Reading, Pennsylvania. The books published by Reading Reading Books, LLC are written to promote a young reader’s enjoyment of literature… with books they can really read! Each book is carefully developed by an experienced, certified K-12 Reading Specialist, with a concentration in the area of primary literacy. Our books are ideal for a variety of students including: lower level first graders, on level pre-kindergarten and kindergarteners, elementary school children with special needs, and English as a Second Language learners.
When I saw the second sentence of this description, I knew I had found some books that would be great for me to use with my daughter. This will also be a great publisher to recommend for anyone working with any children who would experience success reading this type of book. I can’t wait to try it out! I think we will start with Bedtime for Carl.
Reading strategies from The Howard Street Tutoring Manual, pages 205-206
I often hear questions about how reading and technology can work together. I mean can technology tools really help students and/or teachers with phonics and phonemic awareness? There might be some ways technology can help with vocabulary but what about fluency? How can technology assist with comprehension and assessment?
I have recently found a wiki that provides lots of ideas to answer the questions above. The Tech Tools of Reading provide great examples, definitions, activities, and technology tools to try. The part that really stood out to me was “What Happens When Web 2.0 Meets Reading 2.0.” Even though this is a plan for a series of workshops, there are some ideas that can get you thinking about what is possible.
The ideas presented on this site are good for parents and teachers interested in using technology tools to enhance reading skills and can be used in various parts of a Balanced Literacy Program.
Here are a few of the topics from this wiki (I really like the one at the bottom) :
- Tech Tools for Reading
- Web 2.0 Meets Reading 2.0
- Phonemic Awareness
- Internet Resources
- Teacher Resources
- Web 2.0 Resources
- Tech Tips for Tired Teachers
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!
It’s January and bazillions of people are dragging their loaded chassis to the gym. Carrots and yogurt are “in.” Sugar cookies and high-octane eggnog are “out.”
My Inbox is getting a workout too. Work memos, sales notices and email replies beg for attention as the new year gets underway. My news alert system is huffing and puffing too, and if sheer numbers count for anything, it would appear that the children’s books industry and literacy movement are alive and well!
I know you are an information-hungry bunch, but are as busy as all get out and are trying to scale back from the onslaught. …So, I did the work for you. For your dieting pleasure, I offer Literary News Lite:
- Newbery medalist Katherine Paterson has been named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She wrote “Bridge to Terabithia,” “Jacob Have I Loved” and the 2009 title “The Day of the Pelican.”
- Retired teacher Warren Williams of Bucks County, Pa., has put pen to paper to record a local legend about our first president. “A Basket of Pears for General Washington” relates life as it was during the American Revolution – just in time for President’s Day.
- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has co-authored a children’s book about his cat and dog. “Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle” debuts Jan. 26 with proceeds going to The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
- Red carpet seats are being auctioned for the 16th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 23 in Los Angeles to benefit the children’s literacy programs BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) and Storyline Online.”
- Monica Brown’s new book “Chavela and the Magic Bubble” will be available to the public May 3. Although written in English, the heroine is a Latina girl who loves to chew chicle. Ms. Brown is also the author of “My Name is Gabito” and other award-winning bi-lingual books. She has four additional upcoming releases.
- India’s disadvantaged are the beneficiaries of new solar energy projects and various micro-loan businesses, which provide free or affordable light to those with no electricity – promoting literacy, improved health conditions and stimulating cottage industry development. An estimated 76 million homes in India are unconnected to the power grid, according to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP).
- Author Ann M. Martin has written a prequel to her gargantuan “Baby-Sitters Club” series (213 titles from 1986-2000). “The Summer Before” is set for publication in April along with revised versions of the first two books in the series.
- Big Universe, an award-winning children’s education website, recently added dozens of titles to its collection of 1,000-plus online picture books from nationally recognized publishers. Reading quizzes, Fountas and Pinnell and DRA leveling, and browsing for books by language, topic and reading level are just a few of this site’s many features.
- Prolific author Marilyn Helmer just had her 27th children’s book published. “The Fossil Hunters” mystery is the second in her Orca Echoes series. She is perhaps known best for her multiple-award-winning picture book “Fog Cat.”
- Read-a-thons, book drives and celebrity story readings will mark Canada’s Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27, a national initiative to promote learning and reading together as a family.
- Media Source Inc. sold Darby Creek Publishing, publisher of almost five dozen kids’ books, to Lerner Publishing Group Inc. of Minneapolis.
- The Chicago Cubs’ literacy-themed Caravan Tour is scheduled for Jan. 13-14. Players, coaches and staff will visit seven cities, making numerous stops at schools, kids clubs, a library, a hospital and elsewhere. This is the sixth year the team has participated in the “Cubs Spotlight on Reading Program,” which is designed to promote reading enthusiasm and reward reading achievements.
Posted on November 21, 2009 by Suzan Woodard in Personal Experiences, Uncategorized.
Tags: Big Universe, book review, Christmas, family, holiday, miracle, Online Children's Books, Reading, reading online, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, wood carving
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“The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey” is by far my favorite holiday story. It’s something my family has read out loud together for years. While the story is poignant, the watercolor illustrations by P.J. Lynch are magnificent – perhaps the best I have ever seen in a picture book.
After a little research, I find that I am not alone in my assessment. Susan Wojciechowski’s sweet tale is an International Reading Association Teachers’ Choices Award winner, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, a Christopher Award Winner and a Parents’ Choice Honor Award winner.
“The tale is unfolded with such mastery, humor and emotional force that we are entirely in its power,” writes a reviewer from The New York Times Book Review.
A Miracle Before My Eyes
For years, I read this book to my third graders during Sunday school class as Christmas approached. I found that the real-time miracle of “Jonathan Toomey” is that it had the power to calm the squirming bodies of 25 little ones who were hyped up on Christmas cookies and ready to get out of their street shoes and itchy collared shirts!
As I would begin to read, it was quite amazing to watch the calm sweep over the group and to watch their facial expressions change from distracted to enraptured. The oversized pictures were perfect, because even the children in the back of our reading circle could see the beautiful details. Now, with the availability of whiteboards, the book can be viewed even more easily in large groups.
Other holiday favorites for this flock of Sunday schoolers included “The Legend of the Candy Cane” by Lori Walburg with outstanding illustrations by James Bernardin, “The Christmas Day Kitten” by James Herriot, “The Gift of the Magi,” published by Candlewick Press (and also illustrated by P.J. Lynch) and, of course, the Luke 2 passage.
Let’s Not Forget Thanksgiving!
Lest you think I’m one of those holiday-rushers, there’s still time to snag a copy of Cheryl Harness’ “Three Young Pilgrims,” which is recommended for ages 5-10. My girls also loved “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving” by Eric Metaxas, which tells the historical story of how an English-speaking Indian happened to live in the exact place where Pilgrims landed to start a new life in the New World. This book is also recommended for ages 5-10.
No Time to Head to a Bookstore?
Witnessing that holiday time crunch already? Never fear! Big Universe offers its members several holiday-themed picture books online, including “Holidays,” the illustrated classic “A Christmas Carol,” “Mucky Pup’s Christmas,” “The Miracle Jar,” “Penguin’s Special Christmas Tree,” and “Cat on the Hill,” which is offered for free this week to everyone. Also check out the many free holiday-themed books created by members of the Big Universe community.
* The photo for this blog was taken of a book purchased by our family; however, all credit and honor is given to artist Patrick James Lynch who created his masterful illustrations (© 1995) for Candlewick Press.