Saturday, March 19, 2011

Igniting a passion for reading

Igniting a Passion for ReadingHow do you teach a child to want to read? How do you light that fire? Steven Layne's remarkable book has lots of ideas. Our schools put lots of  attention and money towards teaching the following: phonics, fluency, comprehension, semantics, and syntax. Almost no professional development exists on helping teachers instill: interest, attitude, motivation and engagement
about reading. I believe his is right. You can teach the mechanics of reading, but the real work begins when you try to motivate and engage students in reading. One suggestion that Steven has is to develop that connection with the child with these words: When I saw this book I thought of you. Those are powerful words to a child. Think of all you are saying with those words: You are important, reading is important, I am always looking for books especially for you. Reading Igniting a Passion For Reading inspired me to learn more about Steven Layne's children's books. I had never heard of him before. I took a bunch of his books out of the library. He's written some great books for the upper elementary grades. I really liked Teachers' Night Before Halloween...very funny. Christine

Saturday, March 12, 2011

writing small moments

I found a turtle in the pond. Then we went to McDonalds. This is how 4th graders write. I like to use pictures to help them expand on those small moments. ( I like to call it stretccchhh the slinky). Here is a lesson using a picture of a small moment two boys have in a pond. Why did I pick this picture? Because this small moment could be tucked into many of our personal narratives that we are practicing for the MCAS. For example: Write about a special time you had with a friend. The lesson went like this: We listed the nouns in the picture and possible adjectives to describe the nouns. Then we explored many different verbs we could use in our paragraph. The big question in this picture is: What did they find in the water? Next I showed the children my model. (I wanted to find a a baby turtle). I also have the students close their eyes and I walk them through a visualizing activity having to do with the picture. What do you see, hear, smell? What does the water/sand feel like...and so on. The paragraphs came out quite good! Christine

Monday, March 7, 2011


Today we tried another new site on our Symbaloo. Its an online encyclopedia called Qwiki. It uses pictures in the form of slides along with text which is read to you. We typed in a place: our home town, a person: Eve Bunting, and a historical event: The Triangle Shirtwaist fire (we are currently reading about the fire in Uprising) to learn how Qwiki works. I thought it was very easy to use and quite kid friendly. So far we have experimented with Visuwords (online dictionary) Wonderopolis, and Qwiki. I like Visuwords but I was a little disappointed with Wonderopolis. Our district blocks most video so I children couldn't see the video for the wonder of the day. Christine

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teaching text features

 I really like this nonfiction picture book about the White House to teach children about text features. I was able to get a class set a few years ago from Scholastic. The book includes a great variety of different text features such as: maps, pictures, captions and cutaways.
a page from the book which shows a map of D.C.

I also used this great site:
  to show Washington D.C. on my Smartboard. It shows a panoramic view from a spot along the Potomac river. I had the children compare the panorama to the map above. You can see various monuments which help you to identify the spot it was filmed from.

This is the cutaway of the White House in the book
I printed these great posters from a website, unfortunately, I don't remember the address. I use them while we are reading the book, The Story of the White House to discuss different text features we come across.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Using Visuwords with fifth grade

See the color coded "key " at the  bottom of the screen
Visuwords is an online dictionary/thesaurus which gives a visual color coded representation of a word and its relationship to other words. We have tried it out in our new computer lab with great success! First we gathered words that had stumped us when reading together. Each child typed the words into Visuwords during lab time. I made up a worksheet they could record their findings on. Much more interesting way of learning about words than the traditional way: look it up in the dictionary.  I put Visuwords on my Symbaloo. (See previous post.)Christine