Adventures in Literacy Land: Reading and Writing Redhead

Showing posts with label Reading and Writing Redhead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reading and Writing Redhead. Show all posts

Fabulous and Fun Fiction and Non-Fiction Ideas for Spring



Hey everyone! It's Bex from Reading and Writing Redhead! Are you looking for some new ideas for literature for your primary classroom or homeschooling this spring? Need some new activities and resources for language arts! I have rounded up some for you right here in the post! 

First let's start with some book ideas and then if you keep reading I will share some resources at the end! 


Let's start with a collage of some great books to try!


Lets break down the books! Please comment below and let us know if you have used them, which is your favorite, and what resources you'd recommend - or if you have additional ideas for literature! Click on any title and it should take you to the resource at Teachers Pay Teachers, a blog, or  website with more info.


The Best Nest by  PD Eastman: This is an oldie but goodie as my mom would say. My friend's 6 year old loves it. While not strictly about spring, we know birds build nest and eggs hatch in spring, and the funny story of a pair of birds search for a better nest is adorable! 

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert: A colorful and fun realistic fiction story that children can learn from tells the simple tale of planting and waiting for seeds to grow into flowers.

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle: Of course you all know this one - the tiny seed is the only seed to survive the elements and make it to grow into a tall beautiful flower.

In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb  by Marion Bauer:  Fun rhymes and a literal adventure of a lion and lamb during the month of March. Why didn't someone think of this before? 

Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson: The adorable Bear wakes up from spring thin and hungry. The Pictures are fun, colorful and full of energy!

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McClosky: Gorwing up just a few miles from Boston, where this book is set means  a lot to me! If you have not read it, get going! The mallards search for a safe place in Boston to build their nest and raise their young. Will it be the Public Gardens, somewhere on the Charles River, the Back Bay, near the Capitol building?

Caterpillar Spring, Butterfly Summer  by Susan Hood: A fun, colorful pop up book for very young children that teaches about metamorphosis.

The Thing about Spring by Daniel Kirk: Rabbit loves winter and is sad to see it go but is learning why spring is wonderful too from his animal friends.  

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney:  A beautiful story about a woman who made  a difference by spreading lupine seeds - a colorful sign of spring.

Weather in Spring by Martha Rustad: Recommended by a first grade teacher! Get your non-fiction weather facts about spring here.

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown: Do you know this classic? A little bunny finds an egg and waits to see what is inside!

The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller: 48 pages of kid friendly but scientifically accurate information about bugs, plants and animals!

Cherry Blossoms Say Spring: This National Geographic book looks at both the life cycle of a cherry tree and also at the history of how the trees came to Washington, DC. A neat way to combine science and history!

Its Spring by Susan Swan: Unique cut paper pictures with hand drawn illustrations make this a fun scavenger hunt of sorts!

Spring by Tanya Thayer : Recommended for pre-K age students- it is a nice introduction to how and why the seasons change.

Animals in Spring by Martha Rustad: A companion to Weather in Spring it would go well with your science program if you are learning about animals or weather! 

Let it Rain by Maryann Cocca Leffler: Another good choice for Pre-K students and maybe kindergarteners, this is a rhyming book with playful pictures and tells of many fun spring activities.  

Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel: Of course not just about spring, but this book has a super cute story about spring being "just around the corner".

So now you have some spring literature ideas- I rounded up some FREE resources from some of your favorite teacher bloggers!


Frog and Toad Long and Short Vowel Sort by Differentiation Station Creations: Would be great to accompany Frog and Toad and if you are working on vowels. 

  
St Patricks Day Literacy and Math Printables by Mrs W- Great if you are trying to get in some literacy activities for the first spring holiday! Includes work on syllables, word families, and a writing prompt

Life Cycle of a Ladybug by Michelle Griffo: Pretty self-explanatory but might be a nice follow-up to reading about spring insects and animals or learning about the life cycle of a caterpillar or even plant life cycles!

Do the Bunny Hop- a cvc Word Game  by Mrs Roltgen: Get your CVC practice in with a fun bunny theme.


Spring Sentence Scramble Puzzle Freebie by Teaching with love and Laughter: Great for grades K and 1!



The Tiny Seed Song  by Libby Loves Learning: a fun, free song you can sing after reading the story.

Tiny Seed Word Wall by Miss Glitter McGlitterstein

Tiny Seed Literacy Unit by Kinderplans

Here is a paid resource from Cathy Collier - The Wise Owl - but you can download the free preview and see if the full product would work for you: Combined Spring CVC Card Sort

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What is Wilson? An Overview by Reading and Writing Redhead


Hey everyone, it's Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead! I'm stopping by to share some info with you about Wilson and the Wilson Language programs!


Have you heard of Wilson but are not sure what it is? Have you heard of other schools that have Wilson certified reading specialists, a school is hiring but wants someone with Wilson certification, or your child's school offers Wilson intervention but  you are not clear on what it is? Or do you just want a refresher on Wilson? Well, this update is for you! I know when I was a newer teacher I kept hearing that Wilson, OG (Orton-Gillingham), or LiPS would be possible interventions for some of my students who were struggling with reading, but I did not know what those were, so I figured a little summary of what I now know might help someone.

The Wilson Language Institute was found by Barbara Wilson, who was a  special education teacher and tutor. She developed it while she was working at Mass General Hospital's Language Disorder Unit in order to teach students the structure of words in a systematic and cumulative manner so that they can gain the confidence that they will be able to become skilled readers. After Wilson became successful, the focus turned to training educators so they could implement Wilson in their own schools.
Wilson offers several programs. The most intensive is the research-based Wilson Reading System (WRS), which is most often used to support students with learning disabilities, and it's recommended that educators spend 60-90 minutes working with students in small groups (6 or less) every day. It is based on the principles of Orton-Gillingham. WRS directly teaches the structure of the language for decoding and encoding and also addresses fluency and comprehension.  It also has multisensory aspects and has been used successfully to help both children and adults master English. WRS has 2 levels of vocabulary that makes it appropriate for younger students as well as older students and adults.

Wilson emphasizes that it is essential for schools to have trained and certified teachers to implement the system, and they offer training at their headquarters in Oxford, MA, as well as around the countries. Many school districts hire Wilson to come and train their entire staff or their reading teachers. Click here to see an overview of the multi-tiered system of support that the Wilson Reading System offers.

Wilson collected data for more than ten years from school districts that were experiencing success using WRS. This led to the creation of Fundations®, a research-based program that brings instruction to general education classrooms, so that the Wilson philosophy can be brought to all students K-3. Fundations® instruction is explicit, cumulative, systematic and multi-sensory.

Wilson also has a program for older students (grade 4 and up and adults) who do not need intensive intervention but have reading difficulties. The program is Just Words®, and it provides explicit decoding and spelling instruction. Just Words "accelerates the delivery of the Wilson Reading System®" in a way that is appropriate for older students and it is popular as a second tier intervention in schools or a program for adult learning centers. 

Finally, there is a program called Wilson Fluency/Basic® which provides supplemental explicit fluency instruction and reading practice. This allows students to practice applying skills with connected text. It is aligned with the other Wilson programs and provides practice with 200-250 word passages for students to improve their fluency.
  


I was lucky enough to be able to participate in the 3 day Wilson introductory training a few years ago and was hooked. It was introductory training for WRS. We went through sample lessons, acting as students, and learned how to set up our own lessons and plan (although most of the plans are pretty much done for you, there are ways to individualize it to your students' needs so you do have to do a small amount of prep). 

My  favorite aspect of WRS was the use of the magnetic letter boards. Daily practice making words and reviewing the sounds and phonics and spelling rules that have already been taught make perfect sense. Plus, one of the weaknesses of so many students is encoding. Some other informal or teacher made (like some I made myself) interventions are focused on decoding and don't offer practice with encoding.

Last summer and fall I also went to Fundations® training. I loved the Wilson training, but since I am a general education teacher with a second grade class, it did not make sense to continue to try to pursue that certification. Fundations® is for teachers like me and intervention specialists who work in the classroom. It especially fits in great with RTI and can be used for all three tiers, in whatever way is needed. Fundations® does a lot with the magnetic letter boards, but also we drill sounds at the beginning of each lesson (a sound drill is reading the letter, a key word, and then the sound it makes and showing a card to the students, having them repeat it back). It is great practice and I feel it really helps the kids get that knowledge of the sound/spelling combinations. PLUS they LOVE it because after the first few weeks, the children get to be the drill leaders themselves! I have a puppet named Echo (that comes with the program) and the children hold the puppet and lead the drill, and the other students "echo" what Echo and the drill leader have just said. Fundations® also has  specific spelling practice and writing practice and also has a somewhat informal handwriting piece. There is also fluency work as well.



Personally, I have not been able to fully implement Fundations® because my school is tied to the old Treasures program and I have to spend time each day on that, and I still need to teach all the grammar and mechanics that is required in second grade. Additionally I bought materials myself so I only have enough for groups of 5 students, so I ended up doing Fundations® lessons during RTI tier one with my reading groups. However, I feel like these students are really doing well with it and I am assessing them throughout the year and looking to compare our DIBELS data to data from last year before I implemented Fundations®.

What reading intervention programs are you familiar with? Which ones have you used and what do you think works best? 

Emily, The OG Tutor, has some great blog posts relating to Orton Gillingham. Check them out here:

You can find more topics under the heading "Intervention" on our Topics page. Click here to see that page.







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Writing Across the Curriculum

Hi everyone! It's the end of the year- can you believe it? I want to wish you Happy New Year from everyone here at Adventures in Literacy Land! I'm Bex from Reading and Writing Redhead and I am stopping by to talk about writing across the curriculum.


Whether you are a reading specialist, a literacy coach, or a classroom teacher, you know writing is a major part of all of the content areas. I am currently working as a second grade teacher and we use the Everyday Math series. All of you Everyday Math teachers know that this program is language - heavy. Just this fall, we got the "beta" version of the new edition. This new edition is very, very writing heavy. There is a ton of work relating to the standard of mathematical practice for explaining your mathematical thinking which is part of the CCSS. Not only are students expected to explain their mathematical thinking in writing (not just during class discussions) from the very beginning of the year, but they are often given mathematical situations with fictional students and they have to explain how the fictional student may have thought through the problem. There are also some problems in the challenge section of the quizzes where they have to act as the teacher. Students have to read a math problem, look at what a fictional student did, and explain why he is correct or why he is wrong, and if so, how he could fix the problem.

Phew! I am exhausted just talking about it. Teaching it is no cakewalk and it has been challenging for the students. I am interested to see what happens next year when I get students who have been exposed to this new edition in first grade. 

Blogger and writer Deva Delporto said, "The Common Core requires students to think and learn in a much deeper way, and one of the best ways to facilitate that deeper learner is to get kids writing. Not just in English class, but all the time." Steve Peha, founder of Teaching that Makes Sense, commented, "The Common Core and its associated tests set a much higher bar  for student achievement...kids are going to have to be much better writers than they ever have been before. Writing regularly in all subject areas, but especially in math, science, and social studies, is going to be crucial".

What's my  take on why writing in math (and other) class is important? I like to think beyond the Common Core and beyond tests and school. When students grow up and begin looking for a career and success in their chosen field,  think about what they will need to succeed. Writing is one key to success with social media - which isn't going away anytime soon. Plus, if she is trying to convince their boss to give her new idea a chance, she is  going to need to explain it either in person or in writing why her idea will work. She will need to be proficient at explaining her thinking in writing. I also strongly feel that many of our current students will become entrepreneurs and/or be self-employed. In order to "sell" his new product to customers, or to investors, he will need once again to be able to clearly and thoroughly explain it.

So, let's talk about writing in math class. Why is it important? How can you help your students (and you)?
  • When students write in math class, they use higher-order thinking skills to come up with mathematical explanations that support their thinking.
  • When students write in math class, they are forced to really reflect on how math works, and not just (like I did) memorize the steps to solve a problem without having any clue as to how or why it works.
  • Writing in any subject area gives students more math practice, and more practice leads to improvements in writing. 
  • It gives teachers a glimpse into how students think about math. This gives us more information about our students and can inform our instructional decisions.
  • It gives teachers a way to communicate with parents about how their child is doing in math and about their progress in math.
  • It tells us if they understand and can use math terms.
  • It helps us see common errors in students' work and enables us to address them with the whole group.
Let's take a look at some student's writing in math and talk about how to support our students as they write in math, science, and social studies (I wish I had more examples of student writing but I did not come up with my topic until I was already home on vacation so I had to go with what I happened to have at home).

First, in math class, I have to say: practice, practice,  practice. Almost every day we do something like this as a class. The students also have a problem like this on many of their math journal pages. I also have incorporated rubrics to help students see their progress. The rubric needs to be in kid friendly language. We also look at exemplars so student can see different types of writing and can see what a successful explanation might look like. 

Check out this sample, the one for part C. He explains how he solved 9-7 by using both making a 10 and by working backward. To solve 9-7, he thought that 7 + 3 = 10, and he knows 9 is close to 10. His explanation gets a little confusing halfway through but it is clear he knows 7 + 3 can't equal 9, so to adjust for the fact 9 is 1 less than 10, his answer must be 2. (7 + 2 = 9). I know he understands the math but could use some help finessing his answer. We might try to write an explanation together that is a little more succinct.


Here is a different student's explanation for the same problem. He makes more connections, stating all the steps  that got him to the solution, and he is doing a nice job of starting out his answer by telling that he figured out that 9-7 = 2 because... Some students don't state which problem they figured out, leaving me to have to guess if they are talking about a or b. 


Here is an example of when a student has to read a sample problem and think about how a fictional student may have figured it out. This student did a fairly good job at explaining that 8 + 2 = 10 is going be the first step and then they need to add 2 more to get the answer to 8 + 4. I would probably push her a little to explain more about why she added 2 more (the 4 in 8 +4 is 2 more than the 2 in 8+2) but I gave her credit for this answer -it was only October! Everyone has to start somewhere.

I'm not going to lie, it is hard to me to explain and talk about these second graders' math writing. I think that I would benefit from working with a math coach myself or to do some professional development with an expert (can we get Marilyn Burns to come to my school?) .
Time after time, I have seen Marilyn Burn's book Writing in Math Class, as the essential go-to resource for teachers who need to teach students how to explain their mathematical thinking in math class. I guess it is time for me to go shopping! Click on any of the book covers to get more details or learn how to buy them. 


As for writing in science and social studies, I have a few social studies examples. I would not call the second grade social studies curriculum terribly interesting (basically geography and immigration) but we do learn about different holidays around the world. I like to incorporate narrative and opinion writing into social studies. Of course we did this assignment in December, so you know what holiday everyone wrote about...

         

One thing that I think is important in writing across the curriculum is to hold students to the same standards as they use during writing workshop or language arts. The checklist is the same we use during L.A. and I routinely send students back to edit writing in the content areas when they have no capital letters, punctuation errors, etc. A few things I am going to incorporate to help my students with their writing this spring: make them read their writing aloud to me or a peer before saying, "I'm done". They catch so many errors by doing that; having them then transition to reading it to themselves when they are done; try peer editing of writing in the content areas; edit backward- i.e. cover up all of the words except the last one, check for spelling and other errors of just that word, then work backwards, one word at a time, finally checking the entire sentence, then doing the last word of the previous sentence, and so on and so forth.

I am by no means an expert in writing across the curriculum, but I have been working hard to help my students with it this year. What are your favorite tips for helping your students? What is hardest for you? Please comment and let us know!



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Teaching Cause and Effect

Hi! It's Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead to talk a little about cause and effect. I don't know about you but my students always find cause and effect challenging - especially when I ask them to think in reverse-given an effect, what is a cause that could have led to it.


Cause and effect is a type of analytic thinking that is so important for students to understand. It helps them understand why things happen the way that they do. Did you ever think about how many people grow up and take on careers in which they spend tons of time thinking about cause and effect? Some of the most obvious are detectives, doctors, psychologists, but what about electricians who try to figure out why the fuse keeps blowing, meteorologists who are determining why it is raining so much, entrepreneurs trying to figure out why their product is not selling, or how about us teachers trying to figure out why Susie is struggling with reading fluency when she has all her phonics skills down pat?!

Understanding cause and effect  is a lifelong tool. Students will not only need to understand it in school, but they need to be able to recognize it so they can understand what is happening in their personal life and the world at large-to understand actions and consequences and to describe what is going on in deep detail.

Are you looking for some ways to teach cause and effect with your students? I rounded up some ideas from around the web for us. Take a look and please also comment and let us know how you like to work on this in your classroom!
  • You can create a cause and effect chain link with your students. Cut out construction paper strips and have students write a cause from a book they read on one color of construction paper and an effect on another color, then join them together to for a chain. Students can connect a series of events from a story or book they read or something they wrote themselves.


  • Some great ideas for teaching cause and effect involve manipulatives where students can move around causes and effects so they match up. Check out the great ideas and a freebie to use with the fabulously funny Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type over at the Applicious Teacher here. 
  • If you like to do crafts with your kids you might like a cause and effect project like this one for Diary of a Spider at the blog Tattling to the Teacher. Students would need to illustrate 4 causes and effects that relate to story events and then glue them onto the spider craft. Check that out here.
  • I have a freebie you might like, too. It is a simple match up activity and you can grab it by clicking here or on the image. 
                                                            .

  • Anchor charts are really useful for students when they are trying to figure out new concepts. There are all kind of terrific anchor charts for cause and effect you could check out for ideas.
  • This one has some great information and you could use it as a model for one you do with your own class. one It's origin on the web is unclear.
                                                   

  • Here is another one with mystery origins - it is an anchor chart using Angry Birds to help illustrate cause and effect. I think this could be very successful! Or what about Minecraft?  My students are obsessed with it and I think could talk to me in great detail about cause and effect in the game.
                                                 

  • And finally there are some terrific videos out there that can be springboards for lessons on many  so many concepts. I found a video from Pixar called For the Birds  that would be great for teaching cause and effect. Take a look!


                                        


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Helping Students See Their Progress

Hey everyone! It's Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead. Another school year has passed and at the end of the year I do a lot of reflecting on how things have gone.

Sometimes I feel like my kiddos don't really understand how much they have progressed and at times I think I forget too. A bunch of years ago I came up with an idea to help! We always do a fairly simple comprehension activity in the fall. Our school uses the Treasures reading program and the first story is David's New Friends. We read the story together and I give out a fairly simple Beginning, Middle, End activity. We discuss together the story and I ask for student suggestions as to what happened in each part of the story. We also talk about what to do if you don't remember, and someone always suggests to go back and look through the story and get ideas from the pictures and text! Then the kiddos go ahead and complete the page without help (which is SO hard to do for me, I am dying to help!!). I collect them and correct them and file them away for parent conferences.( By the way, this year I showed them again to parents at the March conference as we looked at their child's current writing work. It was a great way for them to see growth.)

Then, about a week before school ends, I pass out the old Treasures books from the first half of the year again. The students are usually perplexed - "But we already read those stories!" I have them choose either to read the story again to themselves or with a buddy. I explain we are going to read David's New Friends and complete the SAME assignment they did in the fall and then I will give them the old one so they can compare.

A couple of my fellas rereading David's New Friends.

  


After everyone is done and before we pass back the papers from September I ask how they thought the story was to read- thumbs up for easy, thumbs in the middle for just right, thumbs down for hard. Most give a thumbs up! I  give a reminder that in the fall most of them thought it was just right or hard to read! Then the fun starts!


Here is someone's before and after paper (sorry I should have put the September paper on the left)!



Such an improvement in many areas- handwriting, spelling, sentence length, detail, even comprehension. In the fall she just copied a sentence from the story for each story part. Now she wrote her own response and fairly detailed responses at that!


This is another girl's before (on the left) and after papers. 



It is interesting to see changes like letter size, capital letters not being in the middle of the sentences any more, improved spelling, but also interesting because I think she could be doing better. With her skills she can write longer sentences than the ones on the paper in June. They are really almost the same length as the ones in September. When everyone raised their hands and commented about the comparison, many kids said things like, "Oh my paper in the fall had 4 word sentences and my paper today has a 13 word sentence",  "My sentences were so short in the fall! They are twice as long now" and "I wrote one short sentence in September but 3 sentences for each part today!" I hope by seeing other's pages and hearing how they improved she might be inspired to put a wee bit more effort into her work in the fall.


So in any case, I hope this gives you an idea or two on how to get your students to actually see their progress. A tip I have is be sure to store the September work in a VERY safe place so you don't lose it. Then a kid or 2 will be disappointed because they can't see their own work. I had someone who refused to do it in the fall and I forgot about it until it was time to do this one.

What do you do to help your students see their growth. Comment below and let me know!



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Using Music to Teach Reading Skills

Hi everyone! It's Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead. You probably know by now but I love finding creative ways to teach reading and I love bringing other types of learning into the classroom beyond the basics that I have to teach. Today I have some ideas to share with you about using music to teach reading skills.



Ask yourself, how many children know the alphabet at a young age- age two  for example? Probably most of them know it because someone thought to set the alphabet to the song "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". The tune, the rhythm, even the rhyme, helps ingrain the letters in kids' brains.

Music can be used to help students learn the alphabet,  the sounds of letters, develop phonemic awareness, build phonics skills and vocabulary and more! There are many songs to teach grammar skills and folks have used nursery rhymes as songs to teach basic spelling patterns and print conventions. Fountas and Pinnell once wrote that our students should "sing songs of such delight that the lyrics remain in the memory forever". What songs do you still remember from school (Hello Conjunction Junction!)?

Besides listening to songs, singing songs, and watching music videos, some teachers have their students rewrite familiar songs as a lesson to learn sounds or rhymes.

I found a great website that is an amazing resource of songs for teachers. It's called Songs for Teaching: Using Music to Reinforce Learning. It is a treasure trove of songs and song lyrics (click on any title to hop over and see the song).  There are songs that teach the alphabet letters such as Fran Avni's Dinosaurs to Dinner.  There are songs specifically for vowels and consonants such as  Get Your Own Goat by Avni and Vowel Sound Hound Dogs 1.  A song I plan to use this week is one for R controlled vowels called Rock and Roll Star by Fun Phonics Songs.

With all the technology out there, maybe you are able to show videos to your class. Here are just a very few on what seems like millions of videos, new and old, that use music to teach reading skills.

ALPHABET:
Want a new twist on the alphabet? Try Usher's Alphabet Song! (by the way, does Elmo's voice scare anyone else's dog?)




PHONICS:
Phonics Songs with 2 Words




Electric Company-  Silent e - I bet you remember this:  "Who can turn a can into a can, who can turn a pan into a pane?"





PARTS OF SPEECH:
Schoolhouse Rock - Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here 




Schoolhouse Rock - A Noun is a Person Place or Thing




Schoolhouse Rock Conjunction Junction- the sentimental favorite!



GRAMMAR:
Electric Company's  N Apostrophe T: I personally played this several times this year and my students love it! Who needs fancy technology to enjoy music and a video (and learn while we're at it)?



RHYMES:
Beans and Franks TV - Rhymes




MOTIVATION:
Ocoee Middle School's Gotta Keep Reading: A fun, creative take on Black Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling which is really fun, catchy, and inspires kids to read (great to motivate them for the summer break) !




Finally here are a few music teachers' blogs. They are worth a look, even if you're not a music teacher. Teacher blogs are always full of treasures!

Amy Abbott's Music a la Abbot 
Tanya's Kodaly Inspired Blog 
Lindsay Jervis's Pursuit of Joyfulness
A collaborative music teacher blog: Kodaly Corner 
Mrs. Miracle's Music Room 
Allison's Music Blog

I hope  you have a few new ideas for how to incorporate music in your reading lessons. How do you use music in your teaching? Please comment below and let us know!





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