Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Gift of Reading

I truly believe that reading is a gift that we, as teachers, give our students.  We give this gift each day when we teach student sight words, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies.  We give the gift when we get excited about the read aloud book that day.  We give that gift when we recommend books to our students.  We give that gift when we hang on their every word as they share about the books they are reading.

In appreciation for all that you do each day to promote the love of reading, I am participating in the Gift of Reading blog hop.  Each blogger has posted a freebie (for the duration of the blog hop) and also has a giveaway going with a Rafflecopter.  Enjoy the freebies and best of luck in the giveaways!

In the current issue of Reading Today, Brenda Overturf cited a disturbing statistic in her article "Interrupting the Cycle of Word Poverty:"
       "According to a the most recent report of the National Center for children in Poverty, 45% of 
        children in the United States live in low-income households.  Twenty-two percent live in actual
Children from low income environments hear less words than children coming from professional households "creating a 32 million word gap between children in poverty and their more affluent peers before even starting school."  How can we combat this tremendous gap?  She recommends creating "an environment where students are immersed in though-provoking vocabulary, [reading] intriguing text aloud, [playing] games with vocabulary, and [encouraging] students to think about words in metaphorical ways."

All of that sounds great, but how does that look in a classroom?  How do you make that happen with everything else that you are supposed to be doing on a daily basis?  My dear friend and I came up with a strategy to explicitly teach students vocabulary.  We call it "Interactive Vocabulary."  I had the pleasure of presenting this strategy with her today at our state reading conference.  Below you will find a packet of information that breaks down each step in the strategy.  The packet of information will be a forever freebie.  Below that you will find the mini-unit I taught my third graders that uses this strategy (freebie for this weekend only).  The unit shows the vocabulary strategy in action with example think alouds and activities that help the students make the words their own.

I hope that you give the strategy a try!  Don't forget to complete the rafflecopter entries for $10 Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate.  Check out the next stop in the hop by visiting JD's Rockin' Readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Harvest of Freebies

Fall is here ( is supposed to be in my part of the world).  In celebration, a group of bloggy friends and I got together to created a A Harvest of Freebies Blog Hop.  Hop through each blog and harvest your freebies.  Some of them are for this weekend only, so don't wait!

When I was getting my Masters in Reading, one of the classes I had to take was a summer reading camp for children in the surrounding area.  The teachers were split into groups of four to five.  Each group was given around ten children.  At that moment, I was a middle school teacher.  My college professor wanted us to get experience working with a grade level different from our own, so my students were all soon-to-be second graders.  This was my first experience working with younger students, and it was a blast!  Each teacher in my group "adopted" two of the students.  I worked with a boy and a girl who were adorable!  After giving them some assessments to figure out what we needed to work on, I found out that they need work on sight words.  This was summer camp, so it needed to be fun.

The other teachers and I talked and we decided sight word bingo would be the way to go.  Each student is given a blank card.  In each box of the blank card, they wrote sight words from a given list.  The teacher had a master list of sight words on index cards.  The teacher would say a word.  If the student had that word on their card, he or she put a marker over that word.  Five in a row wins.  We used a variety of markers:  beans, buttons, candy, etc.  The students loved playing this game.  We would end every day of summer camp playing this.

Would you like your own copy?  Click on the picture below.  In the file, you will get a blank cards that are themed for fall and Halloween and every sight word on the Dolch Word list (color coded).  The word lists are sized to be printed on labels and placed on index cards or you can print them on card stock and laminate.  There are also some blank cards, so you can add your own words.

Come back and see me anytime.  Stay up to date by following me on Bloglovin.

Continue on your harvest by visiting Reading and Writing Redhead:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School Writing Tip

Back to school is a wonderful time of the year.  Fresh ideas, fresh faces, and a fresh start.  Join my literacy friends and I in a wonderful hop "Blasting Off a Great Year!"

I have a simple idea for you today to help spice up your students' writing.  I have been in school for almost a week and have an idea of the writing strengths and weaknesses of the kids in my school based on the writing samples the teachers have collected this week.  One weakness that always gets kids is being more descriptive in their writing.

One way I help my students be more descriptive writers is by teaching them the "show, not tell" technique.  I display a sentence on the Elmo like "My room is a mess." I explain to my students that using this sentence in my writing tells the reader that the room is a mess but doesn't help the reader see my room. What I think is a mess might not be a mess to someone else. I need to help my reader visualize my room by showing them in words that my room is a mess. I use the five senses to help students really think about what a messy room might look like. Then I model writing what what we talked about.

My model might look something like this:

I wish I had a maid. My floor is so littered with clothes my hangers feel lonely in the closet. My bed is hidden under a pile of more clothes, school books, lost homework assignments, and DVDs. Looking under the bed, I see empty cups and plates that need to be taken to the kitchen. The vacuum has not graced my room with its presence in over a year, so I have a whole generation of dust bunnies living in the nooks and crannies. My cat has rolled over the top layer of my bed so many times that the clothes look white and grey. I have pushed things to the side in an effort to create a trail from the bed to the door. My mom is going to kill me when she comes for a visit. I can hear her now, “I raised you better than this.”

We discuss the difference between "My room is a mess" and the paragraph that shows the mess.  I give students a telling sentence and have them practice working in groups to creating a showing paragraph.  Then I want them to apply it to their own writing, so I have them reread a piece they have been working on and pick out a telling sentence.  They write a few sentences (up to a paragraph) that show instead of tell.  Finally we add "Show, Not Tell" to our revising strategies list.

I have a lesson plan that goes with this idea HERE.

I hope you enjoyed this activity.  For the next activity, check out The Reading Tutor



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