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Top Teaching: Reading

Helpful reading tips and strategies from Scholastic Top Teaching bloggers.

Nonfiction Text Features With National Geographic. This year, one of my goals as a teacher is to integrate science and social studies into our language arts learning. One way I’ve been able to do this is by incorporating more nonfiction reading into our daily routine. Instead of looking at main characters, setting, and plot, as our first unit of literature study, we are looking at text features to locate key facts and information relevant to a given topic with efficiency.

Informational Reading With National Geographic. I want to share how I was able to use National Geographic Kids Little Kids First Big Book of Animals by Catherine D. Hughes as a learning resource for students to demonstrate their comprehension of informational material.

Informational Reading With National Geographic |

Tips for Getting Your Guided Reading Groups Started Quickly. Guided reading groups are an integral part of reader’s workshop, but getting them up and running always seems like a monumental task for me at the beginning of the year. This week, I’m happy to share with you a few tips for getting your students assessed and placed into groups within the first few weeks of school.

Use Popular Music to Improve Reading and Inspire Writing. Over the years, I’ve discovered that one way to engage almost every student, even those who are reluctant readers and writers, is through song. This week I’ll share with you some of the ways I use music to inspire, motivate, and teach reading and writing (along with life skills!) in my classroom.

Leveling and Labeling Your Classroom Library. Last summer, I painstakingly reorganized, labeled, repaired, and re-shelved my entire library. For a book-a-holic like me, I assure you it was no small task. The worst part was I was unsure I liked the system once the hours of organizing were over. A year later and it is time to put the books back on the shelves. Here is what worked for me.

Leveling and Labeling Your Classroom Library |

Getting to Know My Students as Readers. Here are some of the ways I “research” my students’ reading lives — and through the process, also gain a deeper understanding of them as individuals. After all, we are what we read at least as much as we are what we eat!*

Getting to Know My Students as Readers |

Reader's Notebook Makeover. At the end of every school year, I reflect on what went well and what needs to be improved upon. I thought that I had finally come up with the ultimate reader’s notebook, but I am still in search mode. Conversations with my colleagues made me realize that there is not just one way — I need to select a “tool” that will work for my students and me.

Reader's Notebook Makeover |

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.

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 |