Adventures in Literacy Land: bex mawn

Showing posts with label bex mawn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bex mawn. Show all posts

Fun Ways to Incorporate Literacy into your Summertime Activites

Hi everyone! I know some of you teachers have been on summer vacation for weeks or even a month, but my last day of school was just over a week ago! I have been thinking about ways you can incorporate literacy during your summer and keeping it fun for your kids. And literacy is more than reading, but reading is the backbone of it - don't forget about things like writing, rhyming, phonics and poetry as part of summer literacy! Here are some ways I think you could keep literacy in your summer and keep it  fun!

Kids love jokes- even bad ones! Grab some joke books or even read the silly jokes that are on popsicle sticks. If your kids already know a lot of jokes, a summer activity could be making their own joke book. 
Here are a couple books that might tickle your kids' fancy! 

Laugh out loud jokes for Kids by Rob Elliot and The Everything  Kids Giant Book of Jokes, Riddles and Brain Teasers (click to learn more)


Restaurant Menus and Placemats!
Many kids' menus have fun facts, word searches and other literacy activities. Your menus may also be great for reading and learning. For example, a restaurant I was at the other day had some interesting facts. It was in a building from the 1800s and was originally the city’s first gas utility building.  Gas from the building would be used to light the gas lamps. 

The License Plate Game
What a fun game for traveling! You can do it while taking long (or short) car rides. You can play it informally, you can keep a notebook in the back seat for your kids to record what they see, or use a formal game product like the one below by Melissa and Doug. You can also look for vanity plates and a fun challenge- trying to figure out what the license plates say when they are missing letters!

Melissa and Doug's License Plate Game (click for more info)

Find a Pen Pal
Kids love pen pal - both for handwritten letters and e-mails. International Pen Friends helps hook kids and adults up with pen pals from more than 150 countries. Click here and of course, supervising your kid's communication might be wise! Also this website, called Great Kids! has a fun pen pal project. Learn more here.

Scavenger Hunts
The possibilities for scavenger hunts are endless. Kids can write the list of items or you can. The things to find or do can also include writing or reading!

Funny Stories
I still use Mad Libs with my class. They love them! If you can't get your hands on Mad Libs, you and your kids can make your own, or make up your own silly stories! Type them, write them, or video them!

Sight Word Hopscotch
At home, or when you travel, try some sight word hopscotch. Draw a hopscotch frame and instead of numbers, write sight words and hop away!

Record Your Own Audio Book or Book on Video
Either your kids or you can read a book and make an audio recording (there are plenty of apps that can help) or try reading a book and recording a video of it! Kids love being on camera! A twist on this is to make your own reader's theater version of a play and record it. My mom used to make little plays from scratch with my brother and I. We'd make props of cardboard, aluminum foil and whatever we had around. It was so fun!

Writing with Word Magnets
Grab some word magnets and make sentences or short stories. You can also make your own by writing on magnetic tape.

Here's some you might like!


Imaginary Play
Kids love to do imaginary play right? Well, there are ways to incorporate literacy in that play! If they are playing store or restaurant, they can make a menu or a “catalog”. Kids  can write receipts or checks for their sibling's or friend's purchases.

Museums or Zoos
There is a lot of possible reading and learning when you visit a museum or a zoo!

Make Your own Word Search
My second graders love to do this on graph paper or you can have them pick the words and you can make them. You can also use free online websites that will make the word searches (or crosswords, word scrambles, etc) for you!

Travel Journal or Scrapbook
Help your children make  a travel journal if you’re traveling! Simple and involves reading and writing!

Read and Sing!
There are lots of books that are also songs or easy to sing. Check out some of these rhyming books you can sing! Click on any to learn more.

Miss Mary Mack and other Other Children’s Street Rhymes by Joanna Cole and Five Little Monkeys by Eileen Christelow 

Who Took the Cookie from the Cookie Jar by Rozanne Williams and Rain Rain Go Away by Caroline Church  

You are my Sunshine by Caroline Church

Also, you may like to check out my previous post, Keep Kids Active and Engaged while Learning Reading Skills! I originally wrote it for teachers but parents can definitely do some of the activities at home this summer. Click here to check it out!


Trying Something New with RTI Tier 1 Groups

Hi everyone! It's Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead. I thought it would be a good time, since it is about 6 weeks from the end of the year (for me), to let you know that I have been trying something new with my RTI tier 1 groups.

For the last few years, I have felt that spelling has been a weakness for many of my students.  Despite the amazing help the reading specialists offer with the Tier 2 and Tier 3 students, and attempting to obtain support for the students from the Student Success Team, students' spelling skills seem to only see a  minimal improvement. As the classroom teacher, I am ultimately responsible for the progress for all students, who meet with meet during Language Arts Tier 1 groups.

 Our spelling program is the one that comes with the McMillan McGraw Hill Treasures program, circa about 2006 or so. All of the classroom teachers use the on level spelling lists included in the program and then to differentiate, we have created more challenging lists and lists with fewer spelling variations.

My school doesn't use Wilson or Fundations but I have been to introductory Wilson Training and to Fundations level 1 and 2 training.  I decide to incorporate a modified version of Fundations level 2 with my RTI tier 1 groups this year and track spelling progress.

The Fundations program is from the Wilson Language Institute. You can learn more about it from my blog post here.  I meet with small groups for 20-30 minutes a day up to four times a week. At the beginning of the year all groups learned the Fundations drill sounds, used the magnetic letter board to work on sounds and spelling, learned syllable types, worked on decoding in a journal, and practiced grammar too.  Around December I added in connected text reading once or twice a week. The students also rotated through learning centers every day that addressed comprehension skills, vocabulary , fluency, phonics, grammar and writing. If I felt a certain group of students needed some extra help with a topic or concept, I also addressed it in small groups in lieu of Fundations from time to time. So I would call my Fundations work with my RTI Tier 1 groups a very loose adaptation of the program, but the best I could do with the number of reading groups I had to meet with on a regular basis (4), in the time I had (about 100 minutes, including mini lessons, center directions, wrap ups, etc.) and being the only teacher in the room.

At the beginning of the year I gave my students the Primary Spelling Inventory. I looked at the possible points for all the different phonics sounds in the inventory and came up with a goal for the % encoded correctly that I wanted most students to reach. My goal was to have 80% of my students score 80% or more by the end of the year. In September 44% scored above 80%. So I hoped to double that by June, keeping in mind the spelling inventory was only one  measure of success and I hoped to see improvement especially in my student's spelling in their writing. Around February 1st, I gave the spelling inventory again to assess progress so far and I was thrilled. Already 94% of my students had a score above 80%- well above my end of the year goal and only at the beginning of February. At that time 72% of the class was also scoring 90% or higher. Nice! Now, we still have 6 weeks left of the school year, so I haven't given the inventory for the final time yet but I am confident the students will do amazing. Additionally, looking at some writing samples I saved from the fall, and the first part of their writing journals, students definitely have come a long way in their spelling.

I definitely plan to continue using Fundations with my Tier 1 group next year. I know this year was a small sample of students, and every class is different, but I hope to see similar improvements in my students' decoding skills again at the end of next year.

What have you tried that is new this year? How did you feel it has gone? How about next year- plan to try something new? Comment below and let us know!



Building Fluency for Struggling Readers with Reader's Theater

Hi everyone! It's Bex here from Reading and Writing Redhead!  I am here to share some information about how you can support your struggling readers and help them improve their fluency with Reader's Theater.

I mentioned Reader's Theater in a blog post last year called No More Robot Reading. Check it out here. Are you wondering -what is Reader's Theater?  In Reader's Theater, students do not memorize lines. They use scripts and practice using vocal expression to get the audience (or imagined audience) understanding the story rather then by using visuals like props and costumes. There are so many Reader's Theater resources out there, and many are free! I will share some with you at the end of this post.

Reader's Theater is a  great vehicle to get students to improve their  intonation, pausing, and inflection and to read with expression. I love using this with my RTI Tier 1 reading groups and there is such a wide variety of reading levels available in reader's theater scripts that I can use it with all readers-from struggling readers to those who need a challenge.

I found some great advice over at  Reading Rockets for using it. Some of Susan Finney's advice includes: Starting out with fun scripts (limit boring dialogue), you can model each character's part and match the character to which student would be best to read it (OR my thought is, after your students are comfortable with the concept of Reader's Theater, challenge your students by assigning them a part that they may not have gravitated to), and provide teacher support for vocabulary and understanding characters.

You can do so much with reader's theater - as the title of this post states,  it is terrific for practicing fluency, but you can do a TON with vocabulary and comprehension too!

Here are some resources for Reader's Theater.

Aaron Shepard has some amazing resources on his blog!
      Aaron's Tips for Using Reader's Theater
      Aaron's Free Reader's Theater Scripts
Timeless Teacher Tips' Links to Reader's Theater Scripts - an old site but useful: scroll down for links  to scripts
Giggle Poetry's Poetry Themed Reader Theater Scripts
Joanne Griffin's Reader's Theater Scripts
PBS Kids'  Scripts
A post from an elementary teacher with her tips on using Reader's Theater
Using Reader's Theater Scripts for Homework
Ideas from a New York Times Post if you would like to adapt prose yourself for RT