Monday, April 4, 2022

Creative Ways to Get Kids Reading

This post could also be called 

"How to Be The Coolest Reading Teacher Ever!"

Use a child's strengths in other subject areas! Interdisciplinary lessons are the most engaging and effective for all students. Most of these involve books and printables, but if you're looking for something different, see the bottom of the post - and / or leave a message. I just may have another post coming!

Read recipes and cook. This has an added bonus of teaching math and science at the same time! Read menus and restaurant reviews.

Read comics. Here are some of our favorites: 

Read mysteries. It's easier to pay attention to details when you call them clues. Drawing conclusions is way more fun when you're solving a crime!

Learn globally. Read about people all over the world.

Skip parts of the book! There are many books where you get to choose what happens next. Here is an awesome review as well as plot analysis of this type of literature.

Read sports recaps and magazines. Create charts and graphs that show statistics. Discuss patterns you've noticed and predict what will happen next. 

Read diaries. 

  • Dear America - historical fiction stories written from the point-of-view of young girls throughout American history
  • The Royal Diaries - historical fiction written from the point-of-view of young girls throughout world history and based on real people
  • My Name is America - historical fiction stories written from the point-of-view of young boys throughout American history

Read signs. Take pictures of them and write stories that include them in the plot. 

Download this page as a PDF here.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

How Do I Teach Young Kids to Read?

 How Do I Teach Young Kids to Read?

If you're a new teacher or a parent of a struggling reader, you may ask yourself this question, and chances are you Googled this very question. 

Too often teacher education programs are lacking because they certification programs span a wide range of grades or because the course requirements don't spend enough time on this important topic. If you became a teacher via Alternate Route, then you likely know very little about formal reading instruction, except what you've observed (and likely remember little of) in a classroom as a student. 

Luckily, there is much research that has been done on this topic. I'll present some resources from trusted sources, such as the US Department of Education. If you're interviewing for a job and brushing up on best practices, changing grade levels, or doing professional development, I highly recommend reading these guides.

Foundational Skills to SupportReading for Understanding inKindergarten Through 3rd Grade

Teaching Struggling Readers to Tackle Math Word Problems: Effective Strategies and Practice Pages That Help Kids Develop the Skills They Need to Read and Solve Math Word Problems (Grades 3-5)

Find more reading posts here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Finding Just-Right Books for Kids

 Are you here because you have no idea what your child(ren) could or should be reading? Do the letters and numbers your child's teacher told you for your child's level mean jibberish or are you a teacher who has switched reading programs or are you new to teaching and starting a library? Have no fear! There are many resources out there to help you. 

This is an old guide from Scholastic that shows some of the paperbacks they've offered in the past. They are ordered by guided reading level. The chart on the first page shows correlation to grade, DRA, and Lexile levels.

Does your child have a favorite reading series that they've finished, but you're looking for something similar? Are you perusing books at the library or bookstore without having a clue what reading level they are? Download the Scholastic Book Wizard app or use the desktop website and watch the video below. 

Lexile has a hub where you can find books, level text, find word lists for grade levels, etc. I especially like the word lists for content areas like science. It helps a lot for students to preview these words to they can read and understand what a question or statement is asking because they are not words that occur frequently in other subject areas.

My classroom books are scanned into the Booksource app / website. Did you know that Fountas & Pinnell suggest that books are arranged by theme and genre instead of level? I write the levels inside the left hand corner of the books, and students see the level only after selecting the book by interest from a genre basket. I have stickers on each book to show which basket they go into, and students slip a paint stirrer with their number on it so they can remember where to put it back after checking it out. 

Remember that websites and apps are updated frequently, so some features shown in images and videos here may be slightly different when you access them. 

In the end, what really matters most is a child's interest in the book they are reading. If they don't like a book, they won't read it or won't read for comprehension. Think about what you read as an adult - recipes, magazines, newspaper articles, documents, etc. It's okay for kids to go read signs or comics or the back of baseball cards! As long as their eyes are on print, they will continue to improve as readers. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Rebus Readers by Shirley Neitzel

Images not loading? Click "view desktop version" at the bottom of this post.

Shirley Nietzel is a former elementary school teacher and author of rebus books for kids. Beginning and struggling readers will love the repetition of these titles. They are wonderful for interactive read alouds, too! Most of these are a guided reading level J, which is a beginning of second grade level and DRA 18-20 with a Lexile around 420.

The main character is always spunky, which makes for a fun plot. She has written several books that we love, including:

The Bag I’m Taking to Grandma’s

Watch this book read aloud here.

This was our first book by Shirley, and it couldn't have come at a better time. We were discussing how my son's little sisters would soon be arriving, and how we would pack a bag for him to stay with his grandparents while Mom and Dad went to the hospital. He understood that he didn't need to take everything, and his stay went very smoothly.

Our Class Took a Trip to the Zoo

This is a fun book about a boy who gets into some mischief at the zoo. Rebus images include clothing items such as a coat, lunch bag, pants, a button, hat, shirt, and shoes. Animal words in the story are duck, lion, ostrich, bear, and chimpanzee.

click the images above to make a copy of the document

We’re Making Breakfast for Mother

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow

I’m Not Feeling Well Today

The House I’ll Build for the Wrens

I’m Taking a Trip on My Train

The Dress I’ll Wear to the Party

Write your own rebus reader in the same style of Shirley Neitzel! You can download these slides and print them to write and draw on, or you can create your story digitally. I put a spin on a few of her stories here. 

Click the images above or below to download.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Night Before the Snow Day

 Are you or your "kids" (students or your actual children) anticipating or wishing for a snow day? If so, this post is for you! 

My kids and I read The Night Before the Snow Day by Natasha Wing. We talked about superstitions like putting pajamas on backwards, doing snow dances, and even putting ice cubes in the toilet. 

I decided to make some activities that I could see being used by:
  • homeschoolers with kids at different levels
  • classroom teachers
  • substitutes
  • teacher candidates for reading demo lessons that showcase differentiation

These lessons can also be done:
  • during virtual learning -  independently while asynchronous or as a class or with partners
  • on paper - options for writing or cutting

Like all of my Google Doc lessons, there is a linked table of contents that makes navigation easy as well as an answer key and differentiated pages!