Posts Tagged ‘Reading’
That time is almost upon us ….
What about some ideas for students who may need some extra encouragement to keep reading over the summer?
BigUniverse Learning provides great books that could be used with many of these activities:
Summer Reading Activities for Struggling Readers (from Imagine Learning)
- See a movie that’s based on a book. Then, read the book together.
- Encourage your child to read for fun by reading entertaining books, newspapers, and magazine articles together.
- Have your child read the recipe as you make something fun, like a favorite family dish.
- Read stories out loud, either to your child or with your child.
- Encourage your child to explore new interests by signing up for a sports team, summer camp, or even a fun summer class.
- Then, find books and magazine articles about his or her new interests and read them together.
- Have older children read out loud to their younger siblings.
- Make reading together enjoyable by focusing on the meaning of what you read rather than focusing on reading accuracy.
- Talk to your child about things he or she has read in school or at home.
- Play board games that involve reading, and include siblings and friends whenever you can.
- Ask your child’s teacher to recommend books.
- Have your child watch reading-focused television programs on PBS.
- Make reading a family event by having 15-30 minutes of family reading time every day.
photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc
Dawn Publications is dedicated to inspiring in children a deeper understanding and appreciation for all life on Earth. We aim to help parents and teachers encourage children to bond with the Earth in a relationship of love, respect, and intelligent cooperation, through the books we publish and the educational materials we offer online. Dawn Publications offers books that are perfect for early readers, elementary and middle school students. Most books have been leveled and meet the core English and Science standards. The catalogue from Dawn Publications features books for children and young adults ages 3-16.
We had the chance to sit down with Sandy Philpott, Director of Marketing at Dawn Publications in the latest blog for our Big Universe Publisher Spotlight series.
Big Universe: We’d love to hear about what you’re doing at your company. What are some of the most popular items that you’ve published in the last three years?
Sandy Philpott: Dawn Publications has been connecting children and nature since 1979. Our books catch the attention of children and excite them about discovering the wonders of the natural world. With beautiful illustrations and engaging text, these titles introduce a wide range of natural science, from the Arctic to the rainforest, from honeybees to whales, from the water cycle to the food chain, from the mystery of migration to the magnificence of metamorphosis. Plus for older children there are biographies of environmental heroes, and an award-winning book on the science behind climate change. One of the most popular items published in the past 3 years is In the Tree, Honey Bees not only as core curriculum in schools but also for adults who are becoming more aware of Bees importance.
Big Universe: In looking at the current front list and the upcoming season, are there any specific themes that you’ve focused on in the catalogue?
Sandy Philpott: Most of our themes are focused on nature, animals and our interconnectedness. However, these past few seasons have been dedicated to gardening and healthy eating. Most people recognize that we have a problem in this country with children’s eating habits. So how do we go about convincing children and their parents that eating healthier is worth the effort? Books like What’s in the Garden? , Jo MacDonald Had a Garden and Molly’s Organic Farm can be part of the solution.
Big Universe: Do you have a personal favorite from the current catalog that isn’t getting lots of ‘buzz’? What is it about that book that sets it apart for you?
Amy’s Light is one of my favorite books. It’s realistic digital art taken from real photographs of the author/illustrators daughter, Amy and the beautiful poetic style with which he tells the story is what sets it apart. The book trailer will give you a real flavor for the book.
Big Universe: What is the book that has been the biggest surprise to you (can be a sleeper, new series that has gone like wildfire, a book that was the cover but not as popular as others, etc.)?
Sandy Philpott: Gobble, Gobble which was released the Fall of 2011 was a real surprise. It outsold every other book that season and ended a recession year on a high
Big Universe: What’s next for your company? Are there changes coming in the following year? Do you have any new series or product lines that you’d like to share with us?
Sandy Philpott: The biggest shift for Dawn Publications is our transition from doing only print books to more and more digital ebooks and apps. Our award-winning and ever popular “Over In” series will have a new book added to the collection this Fall called “Over in a River” – making this book #6 in the series. We will also be working with digital illustrators to create some realistic artwork for books such as Noisy Frog Sing-Along coming Fall of 2013 and Meadow Mouse coming Spring of 2014. These books will work well for translating into ebooks and interactive Apps.
You can view all of the titles from Dawn Publications that are available on Big Universe here.
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 ….
Teaching literature can be so much than at-home reading assignments, pop quizzes testing reading comprehension and follow up discussion. In “Help for Struggling Readers: Making Reading Exciting” by Imagine Learning, Inc suggests some hands-on ways to make reading exciting – from using interactive media to eating the foods that are described in stories and acting out or drawing scenes. This reminds me of Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, where there are seven distinct multiple intelligences (MI). Different from a student’s IQ score, a student’s MI is closer to an innate talent, and tapping into it allows students to learn by doing, as the generally accepted breakdown of learning is, students learn:
10% of what they read
20% of what they hear
30% of what they see
50% of what they hear and see
70 % of what they say as they talk
80-90% of what they hear, see and do
Although there is criticism of the MI theory (lack of data), there is no arguing that creating lessons that involve the modalities creates a dynamic, hands-on approach to learning – tailored to students’ diverse learning styles. In “The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide,” by Carla Lane suggests that using media and multimedia in the classroom lends itself to Gardner’s MI.
Below is excerpted the hands-on ways that teachers can address different learning styles, according to Garner’s MI
These students think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships.
Ex: experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions
Tools: logic games, investigations, mysteries
These students draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream.
Ex: drawings, verbal and physical imagery
Tools: models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs
reading, writing, telling
These students like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories.
Ex: encourage them to say and see words, read books together
Tools: computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture
muscular movement: acting to dancing to building
They like movement, making things, touching.
Ex: physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing
Tools: equipment and real objects.
They may study better with music in the background.
Ex: turn lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time
Tools: musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia
discussions to debate
These students learn through interaction and have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts.
Ex: They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues.
Tools: the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail
Ex: They can be taught through independent study and introspection.
Tools: books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My son sat on the couch and was speaking, but I couldn’t follow. I was busy doing something, any of those mundane things that moms seem to do in the kitchen.
I asked, “What did you say?”
He repeated, slowly with deep pauses, “Thank you for the birthday gift.”
“Are you reading?”
“Yes. I have a card from my friend.”
I ran over to him, giving him a well-deserved, yet unwanted hug, “I am so proud of you reading your thank you card!”
My son is seven-years-old, and this is the first time I ever heard him read new reading material, spontaneously and without help! Clearly not at seven-year-old reading benchmarks, we do sit and read practiced books from school, where he can show-off his “reading skills.” I quote his skills because he uses every reading “strategy” that the school teachers endorse – from using picture clues to memorization. Reading is not a leisure activity, even though we sit on the couch together instead of at the kitchen table.
But there he was, on the couch, with no prompting, reading. All weekend long he has been reading everything he can – from finding his favorite ice-cream in the freezer (no pictures on the label) with nearly no assistance to reading (and rereading) the calendar on the kitchen counter.
This success story is one that I want to share with his teachers who work so hard with him on reading. My husband and I fought against school administration, arguing to retain him after his first year of Kindergarten because he didn’t met benchmarks. End of year, he still struggled with identifying letters and phonics, and we didn’t want him surrounded with first graders who were well into advanced sight word lists.
His second year of kindergarten was better, but what was the game-changer was when his IEP’s PPT (Planning Placement Team) suggested sending him to an outside evaluation by a nuero-developmental pediatrician. We already knew that he was on the autism spectrum with PDD-NOS, which is as non-specific as you can get. This means that you can’t fit his learning, speech and social skills into any sort of “autism-box” or common stereotypes. You have to know him and the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and see where he fits, and the puzzle piece is the best metaphor to explain him and PDD.
So when the new evaluation report came in, we saw that he was still diagnosed with autism, yet his struggling speech was more than stuttering and articulation issues. The doctor said that he also had dyspraxia, another neurological condition that affects his brain cortex, which controls his speech and motor skills. I found out in our meeting with this doctor, this is the reason why he will sometimes ask for “salt” when he means grated “cheese” – and even why as a non-verbal toddler learning sign language, he would confuse the hand sign “more” with his other main sign “done.” The doctor recommended different reading and articulation programs. My son’s resource teacher and speech therapist implement these, and his first grade teacher works very closely with them – providing writing samples that illustrate his articulation errors.
I have learned the hard way that finding out what works for a child with special needs is a series of trial and error, but the best starting point is with an expert. If we had begun my son’s schooling with this piece of paper, I can only wonder if we wouldn’t have lost a year.
This reading breakthrough reminds me of the first time he signed on his own. At the time, he was non-verbal, and we were all outside on a warm spring day playing. Above us, in a tree, a bird began singing. I looked at Erik, and he was standing there, under the tree, signing “bird.” Unprompted. Spontaneously. An amazing moment even greater because that sign was not one that we learned with birth-to-three therapists, over and over like many others that he still confused. He picked it up from the DVD series “Signing Times” and just applied it. Soon after, he spoke his first word ever. It was the beginning of a new developmental stage – just like this weekend’s spontaneous reading – and I am one proud mama.
Responding to literature is something that I, like many other teachers, try to get students to do; however, staring at a piece of blank white paper and trying to think of words to effectively express the many ideas floating around in their minds can be intimidating to most students.
Students automatically think there is a definite right and wrong answer to any question posed by the teacher, and they want to make sure they come up with the correct one, which limits their willingness to try anything new.
In an attempt to change this way of thinking, I came across a way to challenge students of any reading level to visually respond to literature. The use of colors and shapes rather than words or direct drawings seems to be a more comfortable way for students to represent their ideas and feeling, even if they don’t feel very artistic.
Eve Bunting is one of my favorite authors and I like how her story The Wednesday Surprise is written, so I decided to attempt to have students respond visually to this story. Ms. Bunting has the reader expecting the grandmother helping her granddaughter learn to read, but the reader is surprised when at the end of the story, it turns out the granddaughter is the one helping the grandmother learn to read. Following my reading aloud the story, the students and I discussed various ways the book made us feel.
Remembering how the same feeling could be represented in different ways, I led a class discussion on what colors students thought could be used for which feelings. When a student suggested a color, I asked questions to have them justify their answer and attempt to make a personal connection. Following the discussion, students were given time to respond to the story.
As I walked around the room, I observed various levels of concentration. Some students knew exactly what they wanted to do and got started right away, while others appeared to be thinking through the story to see what they could create. As most students were finishing their responses, I asked them to turn the paper over and provide me with their reasons behind the colors, shapes, or symbols used to respond to the story.
As students shared their ideas, I was pleased to discover students seemed to feel like it was OK to use a different color or symbol than the person beside them to represent the same emotion.
Most of the research and articles I have read about using this strategy discuss how it can be beneficial to help students who may struggle with reading, but I had good results with students of all reading levels.
So why don’t you find a book here on Big Universe to share with students and ask them to respond to it … using words or colors ….
Photo Credit: MarcelGermain via Compfight cc
Music is a powerful tool for so many things. It can be something we use in our schools to help motivate our students as well as set the tone for our classroom.
Listening to music is a great way to bring music into your day, but what I find from other teachers is that they don’t know where to start when it comes to picking out just the right music. Depending on what you do and teach will affect what type of music you wish to use.
Let’s focus on reading. Some people love reading to music, others do not. You may want to test the waters in your classroom to see what your students prefer or ask them their opinion on the matter.
Of course you need to consider what type of reading your students may be doing. If they are free reading for enjoyment, they may welcome music more readily than if they are reading a selection on which they will be tested. Others may need some music in the background to help them focus in a testing situation.
Here are some options of music and sound you can consider when choosing to play music while reading.
1. Instrumental Music – If you choose music, the best type to consider is instrumental, or music without lyrics. The words that make up lyrics can get in the way as your mind will wander between the words you read and the words you hear.
There is a multitude of instrumental music you can use from classical pieces to popular songs. Don’t assume just any instrumental piece will do, though. You must consider the tempo (speed) and dynamics (volume) of the piece. Usually, a slower, peaceful piece will suit a quiet reader’s needs more so than something more intense, loud or fast. So, stay away from rocking guitar solos and intense Beethoven symphonies. You may search your own music collection or a variety of playlists online for titles that are collected to soothe, relax and create a peaceful atmosphere.
2. White noise is another option for sound while reading. It doesn’t have the potential distract-ability that music does as it does not have a melody or other layers of instrumentation. Sometimes I find that even instrumental music can be distracting for people who are attuned to music and have a good ear to listen actively.
White noise can be helpful in situations where there may be random noises outside your classroom or office that tend to break your concentration. I work in an open concept school and white noise or a variation of it can be helpful to drown out the unpredictable noise from the hall.
3. Soundscapes are another way to create an isolated atmosphere without melodious music. These can be anything from a soundtrack of an ocean’s crashing waves to the sounds recorded in nature to the constant sound of children playing and laughing.
4. Silence is always a great alternative. Although hard to come by, it is a great way to produce an area where readers can focus on reading.
Of course the objective in bringing sound (or the absence of it) to a classroom or small group of readers is to help them focus. Each group and each individual student may need something different. Have fun experimenting with a variety of musical genres and other sounds as well as silence and have students start to identify what may help them to read.
The holidays are over, and now is a time when people of all ages look at the year anew. January is a great time to reevaluate where you are, where you have been and where you want to be. This is true in our personal lives as well as our professional lives and is certainly true for our students. This January, consider using this as a way to revisit good reading strategies and encourage good reading habits. Here are four ideas to get your juices flowing.
1. Choosing Good Reads
Students need help with this every so often. They may start the school year off choosing books well, just like you instructed them to do and then, as with many things, their desire or energy to take the time and pick out a just right or high interest book to read on their own wanes. Use this new season to help them get back to picking out good reading material.
2. Set Aside Time
With a new year comes the desire to have improved habits. One of the most basic of these is putting aside time to do important tasks. Reading is one of them. If you haven’t already, find a time in your day to have sustained silent reading time where students – all students (and you as well) drop everything and read!
Students should also take this opportunity to set aside time on their own to read. You can have them record these times by blocking out a section of their student planners or keeping a reading log.
3. Respond to What You Read
Teachers have students respond to reading in a variety of ways: through writing, journaling, conferencing, blogging or in literature circles. Discuss with your students ways they can respond to the reading that they do. Make a list with your students and invite them to use one of these methods of response for what they are currently reading. You may have them choose one way and have it due by the end of the week or month, or you may choose as a class which method to use and stick to it. Either way, your students will gain a better understanding of what they read as they respond to and report out their thoughts.
4. Share with Others
Sharing what you have read is a great motivator for students to read. Many students love sharing their opinions and ideas with their peers. If you don’t feel you have the opportunity or the time to set aside to do this regularly in your class, have a station where students can do this on their own. Create a box or board where students can write a quick book review for other students to look at. The review can be anything from one sentence to a few paragraphs. It could include an illustration or a star rating. Create a simple, age appropriate form students can fill in and display for others to see and read. This may create some interest in your class to share great stories.
Using January as an excuse to build great habits is a favorite strategy of mine. I love how a new year has that great feeling to reinvigorate ourselves. Be sure to use that for your students as well!
Posted on December 19, 2012 by Suzan Woodard in Literacy, Personal Experiences.
Tags: Connecticut Tragedy, Dealing with death, Kids and Grief, Literacy, Mort and Brigitte Harris, Online Children's Books, Reading, Wayne State University, writing
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I’ve been away from blogging for BigUniverse.com for several months due to family tragedy, and I have missed taking my daily online stroll through the virtual bookshelves of this charming educational resource.
Reading, writing and the wonderful world of children’s books are near and dear to my heart. Picture books were an integral part of my formative years and were the launching pad to chapter books, the classics, a college education, and a journalism career.
In recent months, the gift of reading and writing has come full circle. While picture books offered entertainment and knowledge to me as a little child, reading and writing have been a source of comfort following the loss of my mother this summer. Like the warm lap of my mom during my childhood, reading Psalms has brought peace to my heart as an adult. Starting a journal provided therapeutic expression through written language. Reading notes of condolence underscored the fact that I was not alone in my loss, and booklets on grief reassured me that grieving is a process.
One of the things I have done as part of that process is to read the last two novels my mother read. (She was a voracious reader!) Reading those books brought me some of the same enjoyment that she experienced. It was a little something she could still share with me.
My mom, 84, did not start out as a mass consumer of books, magazines and Internet news. She told me dozens of times how she struggled with reading when she was younger. “Back in the day,” literacy intervention for at-risk readers was not as sophisticated as contemporary methods. My mother, however, was tenacious and bright. She figured out the reading thing on her own, so she never needed adult literacy services, but it’s nice to know that such help exists.
Wayne State University in Detroit just received $2.5 million to support the university’s community outreach adult literacy program, according to a recent Associated Press article. The funds were a gift from Mort and Brigitte Harris to endow an adult literacy office in the Irvin D. Reid Honors College. How cool is that?
Big Universe also is a resource for readers of all ages and levels. From wordless stories, audio books and illustrated graphic tales to humorous reads, Big Universe is an education website that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. In fact, Big U currently has 478,000 members in 171 countries. Its impact encircles the globe – like the arms of a loving mother who teaches and provides for her children.
NOTE: This blog was written before the Connecticut school tragedy. Although I touched upon my personal journey through grief in this blog, the sadness of the horrific event that took place a few days ago at Sandy Hook Elementary cannot be calibrated or compared. Human words – though powerful – will never adequately explain the catalyst for this heart-wrenching event or provide all the solace needed by those affected. God alone can provide this. For those left behind, please accept my deepest sympathy and my humble prayers for your comfort, peace and resolve to carry on.
Please consider reading the 2010 blog titled “Dealing with Death through Books,” a piece that highlights books and resources for children facing grief and loss. - Suzan
One of my favorite ways to teach inferencing skills to students is to use Norman Rockwell. He captures the hearts of so many of us: young and old. He has a realistic sense of humor, a poignant grasp of the human spirit, and an ability to express so much in his characters’ faces. Even if some of his paintings seem old fashioned, students still love them and that makes them a great resource for classroom use.
To practice inferring, ask students to first look at the painting you have chosen. Ask them to make observations only about what they see. For example: a man is sitting, he has wrinkles on his face, his mustache is white, he is wiping his brow with a white cloth. These are all clues we can use to draw a conclusion. When we put these clues together, based on what we see and what we know, we make an inference. In this case, those clues tell me that this is an old man and he is tired.
It’s always interesting to see students realize that they make inferences all the time and quite often instantly. By using paintings and not text, they are able to practice this reading skill in a different way that allows them to gain a better understanding of what their brains are doing when they make an inference.
If you are interested in trying this activity with your students, you will need a Rockwell painting and this worksheet to guide you.
You can make many inferences from one painting since there are so many things that go on in each painting. Once you have introduced this activity to your students together, you can have them work on their own.
- Have a copy of a painting for each student. (They do not have to be the same.)
- Give students a copy to use in small groups.
- Place copies of paintings around the room and have students do the activity while traveling from piece to piece in an “around the world” format.
- Do a shared lesson or activity with a small group.
- Create a center in your room where students can visit and complete the activity.
Collecting Rockwell paintings can be easy. Maybe you have old calendars of his work or a few prints in your home. If not, you can display some of his works from your classroom computer after finding a few examples on the internet. A great resource is the Norman Rockwell Museum website http://www.nrm.org/. Here, along with finding images, you can explore Rockwell’s biography and view his home and studio. Another wonderful website to visit is http://www.rockwelllicensing.com/index.html. Click the gallery tab and view full screen images of Rockwell’s paintings.
Painting suggestions for kids: The Diary, After the Prom, Four Sporting Boys Oh Yeah, Sheer Agony, Clown, Moving In, Losing the Game, Child Psychology, Tough One
Finding clues in a Norman Rockwell painting and putting them together is a fun activity for students and it can really help them to slow down and practice inferring.