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The Eagle Has Landed @ Story Bird

This is an AMAZING tool for writing! Take a look! Create an account! Join the fun! www.storybird.com

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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Read Aloud: It’s Not Just for Babies Anymore!!

Read Aloud:  It’s Not Just for Babies Anymore!!

Read Aloud:  It’s not just for babies anymore!

There are many benefits to reading aloud to students of all ages. The benefits were explained and the summary below is directly related to read aloud activities that are shared in my classroom.  “The Teacher Makes It More Explainable” and Other Reasons to Read Aloud in the Intermediate Grades by Gay Ivey  http://re5710.wordpress.com/revised-syllabus-schedule-2012

 

  1. Unified class experience
  2. Helps build vocabulary
  3. Fun/enjoyable experience
  4. Focus on author’s craft
  5. Model for writing
  6. Models reading strategies
    1. Fluency
    2. Think aloud
    3. Questioning
    4. Connections

I read aloud “I Broke My Trunk” by Mo Willems.  I used this funny story as a model for writing an exaggeration.  My fourth graders and I had a great time and broke into spontaneous sound effects that encouraged engagement.  One of my students filmed this episode and students were eager to begin their own story of exaggeration!  Their stories were shared and we are currently typing our stories and hope to use an animation site like www.toon-doos.com  to publish our stories!

In the meantime we color coded the parts and are reading them aloud in pairs.  Something like the books “You Read to Me and I Read to You” by Mary Ann Hoberman http://diigo.com/0q1ai

Here are a few examples: Look for the Exaggeration word document.

http://www.yadkin.k12.nc.us/webpages/eachor/news.cfm?subpage=1346173

http://www.yadkin.k12.nc.us/webpages/eachor/news.cfm?subpage=1346170

I had such a good time with this activity that I wanted to share the video.  I was motivated so I did a little research and found out that you can use a free YouTube account to create videos for private use!  This was surprisingly easy and I have added my first read aloud YouTube to my school web-page.  I shared this with a kindergarten teacher and she shared it with her class!  She said that they LOVED it and giggled at our sound effects!  Now my students are begging to make a read aloud video!  Read aloud is not just for babies anymore!

 

We also like to watch “read aloud”videos from the screen actors guild and enjoyed Amanda Bynes reading The Night I Followed the Dog by Nina Laden.  The students did not even whimper when I suggested that they write a story about a time they followed their pet.  I will be sure to post those stories as soon as they are finished! http://diigo.com/0q1ay

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

It’s a Grave Day Without Reading

Neil Gaiman’s award winning book gave me the shivers!  Dark and chilling!  Prophesy and protection surround our young character as he grows and learns about the world around him.  Will he be able to survive and fulfill the prophesy? I also truly enjoyed the author’s read aloud at http://www.mousecircus.com/videotour.aspx

After reading this book I explored Bookdrum http://www.bookdrum.com/books/the-graveyard-book/9780747569015/index.html  It reminds me of Wikipedia, but for book reviews, cool.  Bookdrum also reminds me of www.shelfari.com which lets you add details, comments, insights, and pictures of books to a digital book shelf.  You can invite and follow friends and make recommendations too!  I plan to use this digital book shelf next year with my students.  This digital tool could help them record, summarize, rate and share books.  It also has a feature that suggests other books related to your latest read!

If I were to select other books with this theme I would choose the following books because they contain characters that must look beyond themselves to help save the world!  After reading each book I was reminded of the power of the human spirit and the desire to be accepted and understood.

GREGOR THE OVERLANDER By Suzanne Collins

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/262430.Gregor_the_Overlander

UNWIND By Neal Shusterman

http://www.storyman.com/books/unwind.html

RAVENS GATE by Anthony Horowitz

http://www.amazon.com/Ravens-Gate-Book-one-Gatekeepers/dp/0439679958

AMONG THE HIDDEN By Margaret Peterson Haddix

http://www.edb.utexas.edu/resources/booksR4teens/book_reviews/book_reviews.php?book_id=4

 

On the creepy side it reminds me of Patrick Carmen’s Skeleton Creek.

http://www.scholastic.com/skeletoncreek/books/index.htm

 

The additional books that I found using http://www.scholastic.com/bookwizard/  were on the funny side.  My current students are interested in scarey/comedy so I ordered these books!

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/land-lawn-weenies

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/city-dead

 

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Wonder of Motherhood! Waiting on September: A Mother and Daughter Story

This is my treasure. This is my heart.  I can’t put this in a box.

I wrote this story to help transition to another part of life. 

My memories are shared through words and phrases. 

Time passes and we are left with memories.

The Wonder of Motherhood!

 

 

Waiting on September

Mother 1987

January is breathing

On my neck

Tickling my nose

This winter blast

Will not last

I’m waiting on September

 

 

February is hearts

Chocolate tarts

Bundles of flowers

These things are temporary

I’m waiting on September

 

 

March is windy

Blue sky blue

Earth prepares for spring

Take a breath

Cross your heart

Can you hear it sing?

I’m waiting on September

 

 

April is here

Don’t be fooled

Off to work Off to school

Late at night Fear sneaks in

Do not let it stay

Bow your head Say a prayer

Let it float away

I’m waiting on September

 

 

May is mothers

Soon me too!

Flowers,  Girl powers

The dark before The dawn

Hide the fear Shed no tears

I’m waiting on September

 

 

June is fathers

Dads Grads

Many changes

Hold much sorrow

Everything’s different

Even tomorrow

I’m waiting on September

 

 

July is hot

Festive

A time for quiet

Rest

Walk through the grove

With swelling toes

I’m waiting on September

 

 

August is Happy Birthday

Turning twenty-two

Take a breath Make a wish

Blow the candle out

Time is passing Oh so slow

I’m waiting on September

 

 

September is here!

I wake without fear

And leave before the dawn

She’s on her way Today’s the day

We’ve all been waiting for

The doctor says It won’t be long

I shed a tear of joy

Wonder conquers fear

I whisper you are here

Welcome to the world

Forever in this moment

I have a beautiful girl!

As I gaze upon you

I hold your little hand

I know that you will be

Forever

Amelia Ann

 

 

 

Waiting on September

Daughter 2010

January 1st

A brand new year

The year that I move out

Should I tell her?

Maybe not

I’m waiting on September

 

 

February 14th

Roommate: yes?

Roommate: no?

A dog or cat

I just don’t know

I’m waiting on September

 

March 15th

A second job

Does she suspect?

Should I tell her now?

I’ll save my money

Plan ahead

I’m waiting on September

 

 

April 1st

Will she think Me a fool?

Quitting school

Don’t know What I want to be

Just leave me alone!

Let me be Who I want to be

I’m waiting on September

 

 

May 8th

Already mother’s Day

She loves me dearly Do I tell her now?

I have my doubts Let’s think this out

I will not cry with fear

I’m waiting on September

 

 

June 20th

Off to California

With a friend

Does she know?

By summer’s end

An apartment And no school

I’m waiting on September

 

 

July 4th

The fireworks are over

Resolve has found a place

The second job is helping

Decided no roommate

I think that she suspects

I’m waiting on September

 

 

August 23rd

My mother’s birthday

Forty-five!

Twice the time I’ve been alive

Time is passing Do I tell?

I’m waiting on September

 

 

September 18th

I’m twenty-three!

I’m moving out!

I pack and pack Till dawn

My day is filled With boxes

Friends with helping hands

I can really do this

I know just who I am

I wonder just how long

Mom really knew my plan

She keeps it all together

And lends a helping hand

My love for life Is growing

I’m glad I shared my plan

Today I know I will be

Forever

Amelia Ann

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What a Wonderful World!

What a Wonderful World! Start here to experience the Wonder and set the mood!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_ZvZQT81OY

WONDERSTRUCK BY BRIAN SELZNICK

This was an amazing read!  I was able to read this in just a few hours, but found myself taking extra time on Rose’s story.  I am used to processing text quickly and felt that I would miss something if I “read” the pictures at text pace. I found myself predicting often and would read frantically until my prediction was confirmed or refuted.  I normally do not take notes when reading for pleasure but decided to chart the parallels with a T chart and will recommend this strategy for my students.   

Before I read this book I showed it to my students.  I conducted an experiment that I called “judge a book by its cover”.  My students were freaking out!  This was basically just like what we did with Dr. Frye on our first meeting.  I showed them the book, let them feel how heavy it was and asked the same questions.  As expected they thought that this was NOT a book for them.  After making predictions and adding comments to a sticky (using a T chart) I placed the book under the document camera and shared how the author was really presenting the story!  They were Wonderstruck!

After reading that Ben and Rose’s stories were happening 50 years apart I initially thought that they would only “meet” through a third party.  Well, I guess that third party was ME and I was in for a big surprise!

First, I thought it would be like the movie The Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reaves.  The following link will explain a little more about plot. http://youtu.be/4hYO8b4u3po

But my first impression was wrong.

Then I thought it might be like Holes with the timeline parallels. The following link may help you understand my thinking, please read the sticky note. http://diigo.com/0p5p4

But I was wrong again!

The book was like these two TV shows.  Cold Case (CBS) and Alktraz (FOX) in that both of these productions take a “box” of items and construct meaning or reconstruct a crime.  Each show is progressing toward closure for unexplained events in the past.

Ben and Rose have each been on a path with unexplained events.  Eventually they have merged together to solve the crime that kept them apart.  Yes, I viewed their separation as a crime.  A crime of innocence!  A crime of passion!  A crime of selfishness!  How dare Ben’s mother not share his father with him and how dare Rose not pursue the issue after Danny’s death?  It broke by broken heart! 

Ben and Rose are moved into action despite the storm that is raging inside and out.  They each need to be in control of their lives and emotions and take action.  Although it looks like they are running “away” from life, I believe that they are running “to” their future.

The overwhelming MOOD of this book is love, hope and action!  “Faith without works is dead” James 2:14-26.  What do you believe in?  What would you do to achieve you’re your goal?

In the movie Sweet Home Alabama, with Reece Witherspoon, lightening is a changing force.  Sand is transformed into something beautiful by the hot powerful blast from Mother Nature and relationships are forged by the “hotheaded” emotions that sometimes overpower our senses. Lightening has the power to destroy and create.  Just like the Human spirit!  We are eternally connected to those we love! This is a clip that shows the beauty of being forged by fire!  http://youtu.be/hA14VJJ_j8I

The book that comes to mind as I think about my students and Wonderstruck is Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. http://diigo.com/0p5rh

Each year I read this beautiful book to my students on the first day of school.  We have a wonderful discussion about memories and then they are assigned the task of making a “memory bag”.  I give them a paper bag and ask them to decorate it in any way they like.  Then, I give them a slip of paper with directions for filling this bag.  They are instructed to place 3-5 items in the bag that will help them share a special memory.  I do list examples like: pictures, trophies, medals, clothing, toys, games, books, movies.  Each student has an opportunity to be in the spotlight, yes I have a spotlight, and share the items that they brought and explain why they brought it.  We also have a question and answer session that helps us get to know each other better.  Students arrange the items on their desk and we take a museum walk to take a closer look.  I also take a photograph of the items, print it in color and have the students keep this picture in their writer’s notebook for future writing ideas.

I made connections between the characters and myself and felt that they weren’t “running away” as much as they were “running to” a better life!  Sometimes we must remove ourselves from all that we know in order to find all that we can be.  I have just experienced this on a new level in the last six months as my daughter, Amelia, left me in North Carolina and “ran to her new life” in Georgia.  I did the same to my mother not so long ago.

I will be sending Wonderstruck home with one lucky student for spring break.  All I can think about is Thanks for the Memories What a Wonderful World!!  This is a digital representation from www.animoto.com that I created to share the story of Ben and Rose.  I have been teaching my students how to use this technology tool for summarizing, vocabulary and mood.  I thought that this would be a good example.  By using pictures, text and music I hope to show the parallels of Ben and Rose’s story and share my point of view. http://animoto.com/play/Etm17HQUcZsoWTVGt1VefA

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Reflection of Research

The Research and My Reflection

According to Pearson (2005), “all the explicit instruction in the world will not make strong readers unless accompanied by lots of experience applying their knowledge, skills and strategies during actual reading.

I feel that I have used assessments frequently enough to understand my student’s reading levels and select high quality books for them to read.  The data from interest inventories help me guide my students to select books that are interesting, challenging and fun.  I actively encourage students to share what they are reading and encourage them to try new genres.  I model “book talks” and often share what I am reading for personal enjoyment and for graduate school studies.  Occasionally I show them my blog and they always seem impressed that I can write so much.  They have been interested in word counting since we began working with Microsoft Office Word.

The benefits of independent reading include:

Increased vocabulary development is one of the benefits of independent reading.  Students need to learn an average of 3000 new words a year.  The Nagy and Anderson (1984) report states that the average vocabulary program teaches 700 words per year so the remainder must come from reading a variety of texts.   Teachers need to teach strategies for decoding and understanding unknown words and students need plenty of time to practice (Moss and Young 2010).  By teaching root words and prefix/suffix meaning teachers are empowering students with the tools that will help them infer word meanings when new words are encountered.

When students engage in a wide range of reading they build vocabulary.  Vocabulary instruction in my class is a combination of pre-taught words, word games and discussions about how words are best used.  I have tried to incorporate a variety of old tech and new tech ways to share and learn vocabulary.  My students want to show me.  The following song from the movie “My Fair Lady” says a lot about my vocabulary instruction! http://youtu.be/n3X2y9iGS5M

Renaissance Learning is Web-Based Software that has support tools for teachers.  Our county has an online subscription that offers vocabulary lists which features tier two words for each book and a synopsis that includes additional words to know.  I have students work together to create vocabulary cards that use real world, kid friendly definitions.  They can draw pictures to illustrate words or the can add ideas of what it is and what it is not.  They review these words each day before our guided reading lesson and sometimes they create a digital representation with www.wallwisher.com  or www.animoto.com  

See example of student work (http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/ducktape22

See example of student work (http://animoto.com/play/vMYAhFengHFMl79gol9gsA)

Many times when they are reading they get excited when they find one of their vocabulary words.  They have even shared that they find them in the self-selected reading.  During spelling activities each year I make a point to focus on root words and affixes and multiple meanings of words.

One of my favorite vocabulary memories is from a discussion of the word “drone”.  This word is one of the vocabulary words from Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. We were talking about multiple meaning words and where you might hear or read them.  Drone in our novel means a low humming sound.  Students were asked to think of other times they have heard this word and explain how it was used.   Several students shared that a drone was an unmanned plane and they knew this by watching the news and playing video games.  I was impressed.  Suddenly one of my quieter students blurts out “a drone is a robot on Star Wars”.  A wonderful discussion ensued as we talked about how one word could mean so many things.  Then as we returned to our novel I asked which definition would make the most sense in our story and they all agreed that it would be the low humming sound…, unless the searchers sent out a drone!

We have discussions about how to figure out a new word by looking for a word part that we already know.  The students are also given practice to find synonyms and antonyms for commonly used words.  This is a vocabulary station activity that the students visit twice a week.  The station includes lists of common words with synonyms and a dictionary, thesaurus and crossword dictionary.  The students create a word cloud in their stations journal and each Friday when we visit the computer lab they are able to create a digital word cloud using www.wordle.net  The Wordles are then posted on the student’s web-page for future viewing.

See example of student work (http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/4672171/Sad_Estevan)

  I also use a variety of words when giving directions or explaining something.  For example:  When we were waiting in the hall one day my students noticed the 5th graders art work.  I used the opportunity to talk about “monochromatic”.  I didn’t just give them the word and definition, I guided them to think about what they were seeing and we had an impromptu vocabulary lesson in the hall!  I have also used this method of discussion for “exit” words and “group” words like bunch or pod.  The students enjoy these sessions as much as I do. 

Greater background knowledge is another benefit of independent reading.  When students are encouraged to explore a topic through reading they are building background knowledge.  Students who read independently have greater general knowledge. (Krashen, 2004).

Throughout the year students are encouraged to complete mini-research projects on topics of interest.  Usually after reading a novel students pick something from the book that they would like to know more about and we conduct a short research project.  For example after reading Tornado by Betsy Byers several students decided to research card tricks.  Yes, card tricks!  That was the title of chapter three.  They learned a trick or two and were able to amaze their friends.  Only one student chose to research tornadoes.   These projects are a great motivator and usually encourage students to complete research at home. 

I also pair trade books with our Science and History text to support building background knowledge.  We are currently working on an ABC book for North Carolina History and are fining trade books and videos to be great resources.  I like to use the recording to our text book to support student engagement and understanding.  

Better fluency and comprehension are a byproduct of independent reading.  Pikulski (2007) notes that there is a relationship between the amount students read and their fluency and comprehension.

One way that I help my students build better fluency and comprehension is by offering a reading station called EZ Reading.  At this station students choose books that are totally on their independent reading level.  They read aloud the book to a partner that is timing them.  They must read the words that are on the page, they must read with inflection and they must read the book twice and record the data.  Students are able to see improvement and I have found a fun way to get them to re-read!  They also write questions for their partner to answer.  I have seen an improvement in reading rate this year and students are exploring a variety of non-fiction texts.

Improved reading and achievement increases as students engage in independent reading.  Students who read independently for an hour a day scored at the 98th percentile on standardized tests and students that did not read at all out of school scored at the 2nd percentile (Anderson, Wilson and Fielding, 1998).

I believe that when students are motivated to read, read for enjoyment and are encouraged to explore interesting topics they will spend more time reading.  I provide the guidance and encouragement for joy reading and try not to stress over standardized testing scores.

Greater interest in books and a motivation to read often stem from the freedom of choice.  Students find high-interest materials more pleasurable to read (Guthrie and Greaney, 1991).

I am a fan of Guthrie’s work and have been using his research to build a strong reading community based on choice.  When I am selecting books for guided reading I do consider my students interest as well as reading level.  Another way that I build on student choice is to select several titles for guided reading and have small groups vote on which book they will read.  It is a win win practice!

Another positive practice that I learned from Guthrie’s research is that rewards need to support the desired outcome and the rewards must have personal value to the students.  Each year my students and I brainstorm ways to reward positive reading behaviors.  I make sure that they understand that we need to think about things that are FREE.  I share a few of the things that we have used in years gone by and find that many of them still hold value.

 Several of these include bookmarks, special seating and special projects; I have mentioned special projects and seating several times.  Bookmarks are easy to make and support reading.  One of my favorite free bookmarks is a paint sample strip.  You can get them for free at all of the home improvement stores and the students can decorate them with permanent markers or stickers.  You can also find a variety of print and make bookmarks on line.  My students loved decorating a “Keep Out I’m Reading” door hanger at our last reading celebration.

Room for Improvement

Research without action is just research!  I have been in action creating a space and atmosphere for independent reading.  This has not happened overnight or by chance.  I have actively set goals and worked to implement researched based practices into my class.  I have spent countless hours and dollars searching for supplies and creating a welcoming atmosphere that embraces the diversity of my students.  I want my students to believe in the importance of reading and develop a thirst for knowledge that can only be quenched by reading! By adding special chairs, body pillows and bean bags to my classroom I am inviting students to get comfortable with reading.

By adding on-line reading and self-selected research projects I am confident that my students are receiving a balanced reading program.  Also, by introducing technology and discussing how it can enhance reading and responding I have armed my students with the tools of the future.

While reading chapter three in Creating Lifelong Readers through Independent Reading (Moss & Young 2010) I realized that I should have a better, more defined structure for conferencing.  Students do ask my help in selecting a book for independent reading and I have had success with recommendations, but I need to schedule a special time for each student to discuss this important issue. I have looked at the Reading Conference Record that is in appendix A and believe that this can help me get organized

This is just another goal that can be met with thought, time and planning as I continue on my path to becoming the best reading teacher I can be.  My husband often wonders why I work so hard…, I remind him that the future of our world depends on it!

So much depends upon a great reading teacher…,Aaah the poetry monster strikes again!

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Keep It Simple! A Recipe for Independent Reading

Keep It Simple!  A Recipe for Independent Reading

 

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups peanut butter

2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

In a medium bowl, stir peanut butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Press a criss-cross into the top using the back of a fork.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

This is one of my favorite recipes.  I have many fond memories of working in the kitchen with my young daughters, measuring, mixing and baking.  They knew this recipe by heart and would often place the entire batter in a heart shaped cake pan and make a big cookie cake for family and friends.  That was 20 years ago and the recipe still stands as one of the easiest I have ever made.   My daughter, Amelia, called me the other day to share how much fun she had recently baking with a young child.  She still loves this easy recipe!

Independent Reading Recipe for Room 603  

11 body pillows*

3 bean bag chairs*

3 rolling, spinning office chairs*

2 purple cushioned chairs*

1 green exercise ball*

*feel free to substitute items:  beach chairs or towels, favorite stuffed animal, under the desk*

20 minutes every day and 30 additional minutes every other day (see footnotes)

100’s of books to choose from

Interest inventory

Unifying read aloud

Journals to record thoughts, summaries and ideas

Time to “talk about” and share

Bonus activities based on availability:  technology & rewards

Definition of terms: WARNING!  Definition may be too spicy for some viewers! SSR!  Each year I share these three little letters with my students.  We share our definitions and think of others.  Traditional definitions include silent sustained reading; self selected reading and sit-down snuggle-in & read.  When I ask “what do they have in common” the chorus of replies is “reading”!  Then I share my personal favorite SSR sit-down shut-up and read!  They love this definition and through the years I have students beg for sit-down shut-up and read time.  This year we have created a new definition:  Super selfish reading!  When the SSR timer is set students know that talking must be saved for another time.

Measure student interest by administering an interest inventory and collect data on student likes and dislikes.  http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/collateral_resources/pdf/r/readingsurvey.pdf  Let this information rise for a few days as students settle into a new year.  Then gather the perfect ingredients and place in a well lit common area.  Be sure that ingredients are clearly labeled and introduced before consuming.  Gather books from the public library, school library and literacy library.  Books can also be purchased by the teacher from a variety of sources.  Book clubs, book fairs, and yard sales offer a multitude of options.  Caution:  when buying always refer to “high quality” lists for optimum dollar per text.

http://www.ala.org/ala/awardsgrants/index.cfm

http://reading.org/Resources/Booklists/ChildrensChoices.aspx

Quickly add in a strong dose of read aloud.  I begin with Hatchet by Gary Paulsen each year.  This novel is rich and thick with adventure and emotion.  Stir slowly and savor the flavor of a unified class.  This is also a perfect time to introduce non-fiction reading and research.  Each year, after reading Hatchet, my class conducts their first mini-research project.  This is a guided lesson on basic research.  The students are provided with resources, from my classroom library and our school library, and gather information on an animal that was featured in the story.  Next they write about the animal following the pattern set forth in Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Important Book”. To find your favorite read aloud try this site.   http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/biblios.html

Sift in a few good journal ideas.  I love poetry and teach students to use poetry to summarize and express ideas about the reading.  These are whole group lessons and usually begin with personal poems.  As the year progresses students are asked to use these tools to write from a character’s point of view, summarize a passage or share something special.  My favorites include: I Am Poems, Acrostic Poems and Shape Poems.

http://ettcweb.lr.k12.nj.us/forms/iampoem.htm

I also teach students to make connections and predictions using lists and question stems.  When these elements are combined students feel free to express themselves and benefit by expanding their background knowledge and vocabulary.  Some vocabulary words are pre-taught and other lessons focus on root words, suffixes, prefixes or multiple meaning words.  Students are encouraged to find words that they do not know and share them during discussion.

Set the time.  Follow location guidelines as administrative mandates may disagree with research standards. I use a block of time early in the year to teach procedures and activities whole group.  As the year progress students are separated into small groups and they will mold these lessons to fit their personal needs.  At my current altitude the time allotted for independent reading is 20 minutes every day with an added 30 minutes every other day.  Students are reading self-selected books and are expected to journal about important thoughts and ideas that they wish to share.  They can use any of the pre-taught activities and are encouraged to try a variety.

Spacing requires guidance and should be blended based on space, assessment, independent reading level, and personality.  We all know that some flavors do not blend well with others.  I select the placement of the special seating tools and move students as needed.  The bean bags are for the guided reading circle and the office chairs are offered as reading rewards.  Rewards can be earned by: reading a challenging book, selecting an appropriate book for SSR or creating a project about a special book.

Heat up the discussion with book talks!  This teacher models early how to “talk” about a book.  I model early and often using book language.  Students practice by sitting in the teacher chair or on the “talking stool”.  They show the cover of the book and tell if it is fiction, non-fiction, poetry or biography.  They tell why they choose the book and can tell about a special part or read a favorite passage.  My students love this and never let me forget when it is time for “talk abouts”!  Each week after making selections from the school’s library we have 30 minutes of SSR and afterward we have share time.  We have a check list to ensure that everyone gets a turn.

Spoon feed students with great examples and a variety of genres.  Let them taste the flavors of the season and spit out what they find offensive.  I read books to build a spicy library and relish in sharing what I like and dislike.  I model procedures for choosing a book and expect reasons for abandonment.  Students are guided to choose books that they can and will read.  Early in the year I give them permission to read an easy book, a book that they have read before and a book that may be a challenge.  I give guided tours of our school’s library and introduce every book before placing it on my classroom bookshelf.  I even introduce magazines and flash the cover before placing them in a child’s hand or on the shelf.  Early in the year students often ask me to recommend a book for them to read and I do.  I also begin asking them to help me understand what they like, don’t like and why.  By this time of the year only a few students still require my guidance when selecting books for SSR.

Expect that the recipe will taste different based on different ingredients.   If you have a class that is organic you may have a stronger taste of natural ingredients and the classics that have been around for years will be devoured.  Sometimes when you use processed ingredients you may need to supplement extra amounts of flavor and the new flavors can be found on-line.   Here I am referring to student background and the classroom library.   I have dedicated one 45 minute computer lab session to reading on-line.  Students have been given permission to read on-line for homework.  I had to give permission because they said “we didn’t know that we could read on-line for homework.  I explain that reading is reading and have posted many reading sites on my web-page. Some of their favorites are listed here.

www.tarheelreader.org                                          www.wegivebooks.org

www.toon-books.com                                           www.timeforkids.com

A perfect flavor derived from a text rich environment requires a special blend of exotic spices to enhance the flavors.  To help enrich basic ingredients you need to supplement ingredients with high nutritional value.  Add in some poetry by reading aloud your favorites or to explore poetry just for kids visit www.gigglepoetry.com

A good dose of non-fiction can be added at any time to spice up a novel or perk up a kid’s interest.  Mini-research projects are perfect for this.  Be sure to include other Science and History topics and post projects after sharing.  Text books in combination with trade books make for an excellent resource when curious minds are given guidance and time for exploration.   Teacher websites are also a great place to post digital projects.

Bonus ingredients may be added to spice up this recipe.  I like to use whatever is in season and cost effective, but feel free to substitute what is available in your area.  I have been using reading reward events that motivate students to work to their potential.  I recently purchased new office chairs for my home office and took the old chairs to school.  The chairs are offered to students on a rotating schedule as a reward for working hard and enjoying reading.  I have one “nut” that is hard to crack and have just figured out that I can crack it with a Panthers signature helmet.  The helmet will be his for a day upon completion of a challenging novel.

My team and I have organized a magazine give away and scavenger hunts as reading rewards and students talk about how much fun reading is this year!  We have also been actively researching and implementing the use of digital technology to enhance the sharing process.  We have used Office Power Point, Word and Publisher.  We are also adding a few new creation sites.  This list is not complete, but here are a few of our new favorites.  The first is the live site and the second is an example of how students have used them.

www.wordle.net                                               http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/4672089/Laughed_David

www.blabberize.com                                        http://blabberize.com/view/id/713447

www.kerpoof.com                                             http://www.kerpoof.com/#/view?s=2gs11bSfkMo5czk44g00-d-8216df

www.animoto.com                                            http://animoto.com/play/vMYAhFengHFMl79gol9gs

Setting up a time for independent reading can be this easy, fun and memorable.  All it takes are a few key ingredients, time and a love for sharing the bounty of the printed word.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Uncategorized