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Top Teaching: Reading

Helpful reading tips and strategies from Scholastic Top Teaching bloggers.

Reading Logs 101. One of the ways my students document their reading is through reading logs. Yes, I do conference with my students and use their reading notebooks as an artifact of authentic growth of their reading, but it is a requirement that they keep track of their reading at home and in school.

Reading Logs 101 |

Ordinary people change the world. A true statement and now one of the best new series of books that I’ve seen in a long time. Author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos are the geniuses who created Ordinary People Change the World, a biographical series that is perfectly targeted for students in kindergarten through third grade. (And that’s not an overstatement!)

Teaching Biographies Just Got Easier! |

I am always looking for new books to support our units of study and to include in my classroom library. Recently, I was introduced to Gaby, Lost and Found, written by Angela Cervantes. I was immediately drawn to the book. Social issues are woven throughout the text and told in such a way as to prompt the reader to become an advocate for Gaby and her causes.

As I opened the box of brand new copies of Geronimo Stilton: The Journey Through Time, the smell of fresh book pages filled the air, as did squeals of excitement from my students. As soon as I started glancing through the text, I realized this book was filled with SO MANY great teaching ideas and potential activities that I would need to split my blog post up into two parts.

Part two will feature topic-specific, hands-on student activities for each era/location featured in the text: prehistoric era, Ancient Egypt, and medieval times.

Out of My Mind, written by multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper, is a story filled with life lessons. Eleven-year-old Melody, who cannot walk or talk, takes on life's biggest challenge as a fifth grader — being "normal." Readers will be enthralled by Melody’s journey towards self-understanding as well as discovering a way to simply be heard.

Teaching With Out of My Mind |

Here are some of the most successful differentiated activities that I’ve used through the years. These activities can be used for any grade level.

Differentiating Lessons for the Gifted Child |

Author Study Book Clubs. As the year begins to wind down and spring fever enters into the hearts and minds of my students, I begin to ponder what June will look like. Students are excited about the warmer weather and all that comes with it. A question I ask myself every spring is, “How do I keep my students engaged and motivated, especially after testing?

Test Prep With Pizzazz: Part 2. When it comes time to "teach to the test," I aim for a couple of experiences that simulate the rigid testing day environment, balanced with more lighthearted explorations of test-taking strategies. (In my last post, I demonstrated Team Test Prep Challenges, another fun way to tackle test prep.)

Test Prep With Pizzazz: Part 2 |

Test Taking Strategies in Reading Workshop. As I begin to dive in and begin this work with my students, I revisit some of the strategies that I taught last year and devise a plan to rollout to my students. The tips that I am about to share are developed from the collaborative work with my fellow teachers.

Test Taking Strategies in Reading Workshop |

Happy and Engaged Writers: Graphic Novels and Underpants. Picture reading a book to your class while they all sit on the edge of their seats, anticipating the next word. Picture hearing your class roar with laughter when you get to the punch line in a novel. Imagine a text so compelling that even your most reluctant writers are inspired to create their own books upon hearing it. Sound impossible? Then you haven’t had Captain Underpants visit your class.

Tips for Teaching Sight Words and High-Frequency Words. The terms sight words and high-frequency words are often used interchangeably, however there are differences between the two. To explore how they vary, first we must remind ourselves that there are six types of syllables. In addition, The Wilson Reading System systematically introduces one exception to each of these syllable types. There are also several spelling rules.

3 Interactive Resources for Reading Month! March is National Reading Month! With that thought in mind, I’d like to share some great items that I use both at home and in my classroom to help students develop a love for reading.

3 Interactive Resources for Reading Month! |

Test Prep Tips Using Academic Olympics. It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again . . . state testing! Standardized testing is a reality in today’s teaching world, but it doesn’t have to be a dreaded annual event, nor does it mean you must “teach to the test.” You have been teaching your heart out all year, and your kids are ready. Your “academic athletes” just need a little “coaching” to help ease their nerves, review concepts taught, and prepare them for the big event.

100 Books That Build Character. This week I would like to share with you some of the titles from my character values collection. If you have read some of these books, you'll understand that many of the titles fit equally well in more than one category and it was tough for me to choose just one. I hope you will find my list useful in your classroom, or even in your homes.

100 Books That Build Character |

10+ Resources to Expand Your Students' Vocabulary! Expanding a child's vocabulary has such a positive impact on their overall academic performance. Often, vocabulary holds the meaning for the content they're digesting. Without understanding the words they're reading about, children often become lost in their stories and studies.

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges as Mentor Text. I am using this text as a springboard for the primary social issue that the students will be exploring. For our book clubs, the students will be reading either Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood and The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis. Each group will consist of no more than four students.

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges as Mentor Text |

Hit a Home Run: In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Kick off Chinese New Year and Black History Month with the novel, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Hit a home run with Common Core State Standards extensions and free resources!

Celebrating Dr. King’s Legacy. As my class and I prepare to celebrate the 85th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are inspired to become active in our communities and look for ways in which we can help others. In our school, like many others, we have participated in food drives for local food banks and raised money to help those affected by natural disasters in the United States and abroad.

Incorporating MLK Into Your Teaching Day. January brings an opportunity to learn, reflect, and share as a class an understanding of a man that stood for peace in this world. Read on to find a lesson that works best for you and your class when honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Incorporating MLK Into Your Teaching Day |

Boost Your Book Orders! I love Scholastic Reading Club orders and Book Fairs for countless reasons. Of course, it brings the joy of reading into the homes of my students, but (let’s be honest) it also helps me earn freebies and teacher reward points that can be used to purchase more books and goodies for my classroom and professional libraries. Take a peek at my tips and FREEBIES for boosting student book purchases and making the most of your experience with the book fliers!

Boost Your Book Orders! |

Getting Kids Excited to Read From a Kid's Point of View. We all have different types of readers in our classroom. They range from the enthusiastic reader who can’t put a book down, to the reluctant reader who would rather do anything else but read. To them, reading equates to pain and suffering. This is the group that gives me pause and heartache. I love to read and aspire to encourage my students to develop or strengthen their approach to reading.

Common Core Kindness. Every month in the school year is a great month talk about being kind to others, but I use December to emphasize this idea because of all the joy that surrounds the idea of giving. This is a wonderful time to share with students about the greatest gifts that one can give and how priceless they can be. Here are three wonderful ways you can incorporate random acts of kindness into your holiday planning.