Home Reading Program and Log

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Another resource is up on The Jordan Project Teachers pay Teachers Store this week.  Today’s resource are the series of handouts I used to organize my home reading program.  At the start of our home reading program I would send home the Reading Log Handout, which outlines the expectations of our reading program as well as tips for reading with a child in the home.  The log would be packaged with an appropriate reading level book in a large zip lock freezer bag.  When the time came, for my extra avid readers I would simply print off and add extra reading log pages to their home reading package.  Below you can read the handout I sent home to parents which outlines the simple but effective structure of my home reading program.  From there, head over to the store to download the entire Home Reading Package.   Continue reading “Home Reading Program and Log”

My Side of the Mountain Novel Study

41GI0OcvOZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Last week we headed to the Catskills for the most perfect, cozy, blissful weekend escape.  My nerdy inner elementary school teacher was as about the relaxation and she was about the setting of Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain in the real.   To give a little context to my unabashed enthusiasm, when I taught grade 5 I devised an entire My side of The Mountain unit plan.  It is hands down one of my favourite novel studies to do with a group of upper elementary school students.  The story is set in the Catskills, and centers around the theme of survival in the wilderness.  So as you know I believe in experiential learning. So naturally when I was teaching in the Northwest I made sure to infuse activities that got my students out in their natural environment to ensure the book really came alive.  It really is one of the best books to create interactive, authentic learning experiences around.  So while away this past weekend,  I snapped a handful of pictures throughout our trip that I can put together in a slide presentation for fellow teachers to use to help their students visualize the setting of My Side of the Mountain.  It is now up on my Teachers pay Teachers store. Continue reading “My Side of the Mountain Novel Study”

Ed Tech Review of TumbleBooks and The Importance of eBooks and Audiobooks for Reading Development

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Another Ed Tech review is up on the Yellin Center Blog, this time about a suite of eBook and audiobook resources called TumbleBooks.  You can head over to my review to learn about the ages each application is appropriate for, as well as all the teacher and librarian resources that are integrated right into the program.

However, what my review doesn’t elaborate is how vital eBooks and audiobooks are for developing the literacy skills of struggling or reluctant readers.  Beyond being below grade level in reading ability, one additional challenge struggling readers have to combat is a lack of background knowledge.  Often we glean vital information from texts that help us create connections, encode new ideas and enrich our learning experience across curricular areas. However, without exposure to this content struggling readers are unable to build a wealth of prior knowledge which can often lead to challenges in all academic areas.  Therefore, when designing literacy interventions the lack of exposure to new vocabulary, a variety of content and diverse ideas needs to be accounted for.  This is where audiobook and eBooks become an invaluable resource.  These mediums allow students to access the same rich content as their peers, and build their knowledge base without hinging on their decoding or comprehension skills.  I work with a lot of students with reading difficulties, and eBooks and audiobooks are two of my most recommended reading support strategies.  Personally, I have witnessed a lot of success using alternative reading materials, but don’t simply take my word for it because research backs this evidence based practice also. So if you are looking to bolster your students interest in reading, as well as their content knowledge check out TumbleBooks because they offer a great variety of resources across grade levels and genres.

Teacher Resource: Blends Bingo -A Letter-Sound Game

CaptureAnother resource is up on the Yellin Center Blog, and this time is it for the Blends Bingo game I designed. This game aims to improve student’s understanding of different letter-sound relationships which are critical to the development of a child’s early reading skills. Mastery of this fundamental phonological awareness skill has been linked to overall success in reading decoding and comprehension.

I use this game primarily in special education and reading recovery settings.  However, it can be easily adapted to a whole class environment.  If adapting for a large group, it is important to note that every sound is on every card. Therefore, you should expect to have multiple winners at a given time. The reason every sound appears on every card is that this game was designed as a purposeful play activity. As such, Blends Bingo has the objective of each student participating by locating a new sound every time a new playing piece is drawn by the teacher. There is no waiting in this activity, and every child is able to continually work to manipulate sounds.

For detailed description of the research that backs the creation and implementation of this game, how this activity aligns with the standards and detailed instructions of how to run this activity in your classroom please head over to my in depth discussion on the Yellin Center Blog. There, I also discuss how I have used this tool as a formative assessment measure, as well as a few alternate game play structures to keep your students engaged.

This activity was rather labor intensive to create due to formatting and finding images that clearly represented each sound.  As such, this game is one of my paid TpT resources but today it is on sale! The sale lasts through the weekend, so you can head over to my Teachers pay Teachers store to download Blends Bingo.  Furthermore, since my Blends Bingo Post went up on the Yellin Center Blog I have been routinely asked where I procure affordable or free materials for my curriculum designs.  I understand how tough it can be to find copy write free materials, so for this game and most clip art infused resources I often use Classroom Clip Art. It is an affordable membership service, with a pretty robust selection of images that are education centric.

Educational App Review: Learn With Homer

dfgAnother app review is up on the Yellin Center Blog.  Last time it was a writing platform, and this time it is a really, really exceptional reading program.  It is by far one of my favorite reading technologies out there.  Not only does it have a high level of craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal but it is also thoroughly entrenched in the best research on early literacy.  The people who back and created this application are a collective group of really smart cookies.  This isn’t an  edutainment app to mesmerize your child, and it sure isn’t a technological babysitter.  It is a really robust, in depth reading program that has the data to back up its claims (they even publish it all so you don’t have to take my word for it).  Beyond it’s educational merit and pure, clean beauty, Learn with Homer is also a Brooklyn based company (actually their office is more or less walking distance from my house). So naturally I am just all the more enthused because I love repping local products.  So check our their website, and also my in depth review on the Yellin Center Blog.  On the latter you will find a chronicling of the multitude of reasons why I as a learning specialist love it so much, as well as the benefits it has for both teachers and parents alike.  Trust me, you are going to love it.