The State of Tennessee believes that by teaching reading strategies to parents, parents can help their child at home. They’ve got it right. Of course, parents want to help their kids. Why not give them some basic information? Yeah Tennessee!
When the state of Tennessee set a goal in 2007, to increase literacy skills for children across the state, they decided to enlist the help of parents. The Tennessee State Improvement Grant document was created to support family members to help their children at home. The document outlines reading strategies for parents to use with their child at home.
Although this document was created over 10 years ago, it is still a good document to help families. The information has good ideas and is user-friendly. It is also a great refresher for new teachers, student teachers and classroom substitutes. The overview includes:
Five Areas of Reading Instruction
How to Choose the Right Book at the Right Reading Level
Vocabulary Building Strategies
Reading Comprehension Strategies
Sometimes, we just need a little help from our friends. Thank you Tennessee!
Great opportunity to fill your bookshelves at home or in your classroom. The book store has a selection of over 20,000 high-quality used books, cds, dvds and audiobooks. Books are organized and sorted to make shopping a breeze.
Entrance to the Friends’ Book Store is on the south side of the building – just look for the blue awning.
Store hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm.
Telephone: 845-485-3445 x 3423
Cash, checks (with valid ID) and MasterCard, Visa, and
Discover cards are accepted.
Follow them on Facebook too to check out special sales and events:
Ten months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 12 October posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 10 down and 2 more to go! Have a great month!
I choose my favorites each month for different reasons. Sometimes it’s timeliness, a hot education topic, student teacher needs or as a family and friends resource. Sometimes, it’s just, BECAUSE. Enjoy!
The Concepts of Print (COP) assessment was created by Marie Clay (1993), The assessment includes items to assess a child’s knowledge of both print and written language skills. These two skills work together to help children learn to read and write.
Many students entering kindergarten understand that a book tells a story (the print has meaning). However, very few understand “how print works”. Concepts of Print (COP) skills involves kids knowing parts of a book (using the correct terms) and understanding the letter/writing concepts included. Since many parents and teachers read to children daily; why not add a few of the COP skills.
Concepts of Print (COP) in Daily Reading
Point to the Following Parts of the Book
Front and back of the book.
Top and bottom of a picture.
Author’s Name (define that the author writes the book).
Illustrator’s name (define that the illustrator draws the pictures).
Show How to Read a Book
A sentence is read from left to right.
Pages are read from left to right.
Point to each word while you read.
Read pages from left to right.
A story has a beginning and end.
Words and Writing in Books: Basics
A capital letter is at the beginning of a sentence.
Words and sentences have capital letters and lower case letters.
Point out 1 word in a sentence, Point out 2 words.
Point out that a word is made up of a group of letters.
A comma explains to the reader that it tells the reader to pause or slowdown.
There are punctuation marks at the end of a sentences (period, question mark, exclamation mark) Explain that the marks tell the reader how to read.
Research: Clay, M. M. (1993). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Heinemann, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912.
As parents and educators, we know we must teach our kids skills to support scientific thinking. But, how do we encourage kids to explore science? Why not, share stories about Jane Goodall? Scientists, like most kids, are curious and want to know answers. The great thing about studying scientists is there are many branches. So, there surely is a topic to motivate all kids. Seems like a perfect match!
October Scientist of the Month: Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall is an anthropologist that is best known for studying chimpanzees in the wild. Growing up, she loved animals. One of her favorite toys was a toy chimpanzee. Jane started studying chimpanzees in 1960 and continues to do it today. Jane made some important discoveries.
Personalities were seen in chimpanzees, just like people.
People aren’t the only ones that make tools. So do chimpanzees! Jane observed them using a piece of grass as a tool.
Chimpanzees are meat eaters.
Chimpanzees communicate through various ways including through sounds, touch, body language, calls and facial expressions.
Quotes Made Famous by Ms. Goodall
Above all we must realize that each of us makes a difference with our life. Each of us impacts the world around us every single day. We have a choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place – or not to bother.
Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.
What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
Jane continues to study chimpanzees in Africa. She has won many awards and has written many articles and books. There have also been documentaries made about Jane’s work with chimpanzees.
How do you meet the reading needs of a child that is 2 full grade levels above the rest of your students in class? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be very difficult for a classroom teacher. Of course, you must differentiate for the advanced reader, but how do you do that for 1 child when the others are at least 8 levels below your precocious reader? Here are some ideas to help you and your advanced readers.
4 Ways to Help Advanced Readers
Find their interests- The sooner than you find their interests, the sooner you can help them find appropriate books for themselves. Like all readers, it is important that they be encouraged to read books that they will find challenging but approachable.
Guided Reading Group of 1 – One person does not a group make! So, how can you engage your advanced reader in a discussion group? Putting them in a regular guided reading group with students reading multiple grade levels lower than them will be of limited value to them. Perhaps there are other children in another class that can help form a group. A classroom volunteer can also be a wonderful reading buddy.
Student Driven Independent Reading–TheSchoolwide Enhanced Model Reading (SEM-R) approach allows a student to read a book at their own interest and reading level and check in with the teacher during scheduled reading conferences. The SEM-R approach is flexible enough to be used with individual students or a small group of students as needed.
Skill-based groups – A popular way of meeting the needs of your gifted reader is to consider using some skill-based groups. Although the reading level may be different, a skills group can review and reinforce skills that your gifted reader may find valuable. In order to become even better readers skill development is necessary.
As a teacher, your gifted readers need you just as much as the other students in the class. They just may need your attention in a different way.
An Exit Slip (Ticket) is a formative assessment tool used to assess student learning and to plan future lessons. Typically, a prompt or a question, it is given to students at the end of a class that is tied to the objective of the lesson taught that day. They can be in a multiple-choice format or an open response. These mini assessments are meant to be no more than 1-5 minutes and not graded.
5 Exit Ticket Ideas
3 things I learned today
2 things I found interesting
1 question I still have
And the Survey Says…
Use the Exit Slip to survey a class on a topic. It can be used to launch a new topic or build class culture.
Activate Prior Knowledge
What do you know about _______?
All About You
What is your favorite __________? This helps to build a shared community.
Give me a number?
Simply asking students to self-assess their learning. This could be as easy as #3 – I get it, #2- I don’t totally understand it or #3 – I don’t get it and I need some help.
Exit Slip Prompts
Some basic prompts can be used for many different types of lessons. Having a collection of prompts at your fingertips will ensure that you are engaging student voice in every lesson. For plan book ease, number your prompts and just add the number to your plan book. Try some of the basic prompts below and modify as needed.
Did you enjoy working with your group today? Explain why?
Write one positive and one negative thing about working with your group today?
Did you enjoy working with your partner today? Explain why?
Name 1 thing that you learned in today’s lesson that you didn’t know?
From today’s lesson, what question would you like to see on the next test?
What was the main idea of today’s lesson? Can you write one sentence about it?
I didn’t understand ________ in the lesson today.
What was the 1 thing that you learned in today’s lesson that you didn’t know?
What was the 1 thing that you learned in today’s lesson that made you go “WOW”?
I would like to learn more about….
THINK of Exit Slips as giving you the answer to 2 Big Mysteries. How YOU (the teacher) taught the lesson and where are you going next in the curriculum. Why wait until the “official” test results are in to know how kids scored and how we did?
I’ve heard about it. I’ve supported the teachers in my school to try it. Now… it’s time for me to sit down for an “Hour of Code”. OK friends, maybe longer than an hour!
The Hour of Code movement is a grassroots movement that has already introduced over 100 million students worldwide to the basics of computer science. The program was started to give every student an opportunity to try computer science for one hour. In an hour anybody can learn the basics of “code” by participating in computer science activities. Computer science helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. All skills that are important to pursue a 21st century career path. Our elementary school first participated in an Hour of Code in 2015 during Computer Science Education Week (held in early December each year).
Today, Hour of Code activities are available year-round (tutorials and activities). The one-hour tutorials are available in over 45 languages. The tutorials are self-guided, and all materials are free of charge. Planning guides are easy to read and available for every age and experience-level, from kindergarten and up. Schools can enroll their class and enjoy the fun. The tutorials work on all devices and browsers and there are also unplugged activities for groups that can’t accommodate the tutorials! Code.org is the ultimate resource if you are learning about an Hour of Code or you are already working on it with your kids.
Hour of Code: One Hour Later….
Well, it was longer than an hour but……I worked on an activity to code my characters to dance! See Dance Party. No experience necessary, easy to do and fun! Can’t wait to have my grandkids try it!
Thinking about giving it a try? Computer Science Education Week 2019 will be held December 9-15. Be part of the largest learning event in history. Certainly, worth a look. However, it you can’t wait until December, try some of the links. Have fun!
Recently while observing student teacher lessons I realized that each of them used Exit Tickets as their closure activity. Although they each teach different grades and subjects, they all used Exit Tickets as the “go-to” strategy to check for understanding. And it worked!
What are Exit Tickets (slips)
An exit ticket is a formative assessment tool used to assess student learning and to plan future lessons. Typically, a prompt or a question, it is given to students at the end of a class that is tied to the objective of the lesson taught that day. They are usually in a multiple-choice format or an open response. These mini assessments are meant to be no more than 1-5 minutes and not graded.
10 Exit Ticket Benefits
Allows students to self-assess
Clarifies main concept of the lesson
Keeps students engaged in the lesson
Assesses student understanding
Creates an additional review and reinforcement opportunity
Invites students to ask questions or clarify thoughts
Guides teacher lesson design based on student understanding
Helps organize small group instruction
Provides data on student progress.
Opens a communication channel between teacher and student
Exit slips are easy to use for teachers and students. They can be used at every grade level. So, why not give them a try?
We all know the importance of marketing in selling things. It’s all around us every day! A great marketing campaign that has entered the school doors is the STEAM movement. Yes, it may be the catchy name but kids, parents and teachers now think STEAM is cool! Some of us have known all along about the cool factor of science but now the word is out. Now, we are all “living and loving” science. And, that’s OK!
What’s STEAM All About?
The rebranding of Science and Math is a result of the need to better prepare students for higher education. Students in the 21st century workforce need to have the skills and knowledge to be innovators. The acronym was first introduced as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is now often referred to as STEAM with the inclusion of an A for Arts. STEAM lessons include the following:
Makes connections between standards, learning objectives and assessments.
Focuses on real world problems
An integrated approach to learning
Crosses all 5 disciplines (science, technology, engineering, arts, math)
Teaches kids how to ask questions, experiment and be creative.
STEAM projects aim to spark an interest and life- long love of the arts and sciences in children starting at an early age. Lessons are designed to teach skills to be good learners, therefore, the skills can be translated into almost any career. Teaching kids to think critically and solve problems will help them to thrive in the 21st century.
For kids in school, knowing historical dates helps them relate to history and builds their general
knowledge. Knowing these dates
can help teachers engage students in conversations and students may even be
impressed by their teachers historical knowledge!
Knowing historical dates provides opportunities for students to learn history and build their general knowledge. Take a look and impress your students!
Answering open-ended response questions is an important task in third and fourth grades. Looking for evidence is the key and organizing your thoughts. As the length of reading passages increases, many students struggle locate information. Teaching kids a “list of steps” and pairing it with an acronym helps students respond to a written article. Kids like acronyms because they are easy to remember. Three strategies to try in your classroom are: R.A.D., R.A.C.E and C.E.R.
R.A.D. (Restate, Answer, Details)
RESTATE the questionto start the beginning of the answer.
ANSWER the questionby going to your notes and looking for the answer. Read and circle any information that you have in your notes that will help you answer what is asked.
DETAILS should be included from the text as evidence.
R.A.C.E(Restate, Answer, Cite, Explain)
RESTATE the question.in your topic sentence.
ANSWER the question that is being by including it in your topic sentence.
CITE evidence from the text to support your answer.
EXPLAIN how the evidence from the text supports your answer.
C. E. R. (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning)
CLAIM – A statement that responds to the question being asked using words from the question.
EVIDENCE – Provide (facts) from the text as evidence to support your answer (claim). (No opinions, just the facts)
REASONING – Explain how these facts support your claim. You may need to include background knowledge along with the facts to explain your reasoning.
Using one of these strategies will help students answer open-ended questions. It will also be helpful when students face high stakes testing. Having an acronym to hang on to will help reduce test anxiety.
I LOVE this site. ReadWorks is Amazon shopping for EVERY type of teacher! Everything that you need to support your student’s comprehension. It’s all in one place and FREE.
ReadWorks is a nonprofit that provides K-12 teachers with nonfiction and literary articles that support reading comprehension and vocabulary learning. Resources are easy-to-use, research-based, and FREE (I guess I said that enough). Articles are leveled for reading instruction and can be printed, used digitally or projected on a Smartboard.
Over 5000 K-12 passages
Search by grade or by Lexile
Written by experts, curated by educators
On curriculum topics
Multiple choice and written answer questions
Explicit and inferential questions that build a deeper understanding of the important elements of a text
Carefully selected, high-impact words
Multiple definitions and authentic sentence examples
Practice with word families and metacognition
A 10-minute daily routine that dramatically increases background knowledge, vocabulary, and reading stamina
Two texts related by topic or theme
Question sets to draw connections and comparisons
Less complex versions of original passages.
Designed to provide access for struggling students.
Preserve the integrity of the original text, including vocabulary, knowledge, and length.
Lessons and Units
Based on trade books.
Support instruction of longer texts.
Include complete lesson plans with guided practice and independent practice.
Audio versions of all reading content
Ability to highlight, annotate and adjust text size.
ReadWorks encourages teachers to share their resources with other colleagues. Pass it on!
Nine months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 13 September posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 9 down and 3 more to go! Have a great month!
For teachers and kids, the beginning of the school year means “Reading Assessments”. We test to see if our students’ reading levels have increased, remained the same or decreased over the summer. However, although we get an independent reading level, we know that the reading level may not always be 100% accurate. Asking the right comprehension questions can help kids be better readers.
The following Behaviors/Skills and Questions can be useful when working with students who are at an independent reading level from K through N.
Knowing the skills and behaviors at levels above and below a student’s level will help teachers and parents ask better questions to support comprehension. This strategy can help our students on their independent reading level as well as our Review/Reinforcement and Enrichment students.
Comprehension/Behaviors Skills (F & P Levels K/L)
dialogue to understand characters
cause and effect by understanding characters and events
how problems and events are related
for information to confirm predictions
evidence from the story to support their ideas or thinking
predictions based on prior knowledge and the text
the solution to the problem
important ideas in the text
predictions based on character traits
Comprehension Questions (F & P Levels K/L)
Retell the story in
Who is speaking? How do you know?
Does what you just read
remind you of anything? How does this
help you better understand the text?
name) in detail.
What happened? Why did it happen?
What in the story makes
you think that?
What do you think will
happen next? Why?
What caused (problem or
event) to happen? How do you know?
What do you think
(character’s name) will do? Why?
School Age Readers and Writers – (5 to 9-year-olds)
Give your child encouragement when he or she is doing homework or a writing assignment. Remind your child that writing involves several steps like panning, composing an initial draft, revising, and final editing. No one does it perfectly the first time.
Read different types of books to expose your child to different types of writing. Kids love a variety of fiction and non-fiction formats including plays, chapter books, series books, books with sequels, short stories, diaries and logs, and graphic texts.
Create a writing toolbox — Find a special box and fill it with drawing and writing materials. Think of everyday opportunities for your child to write —the family shopping list, thank -you notes, birthday cards, or sign on the bedroom door.
Ask your child to read out loud what he or she has written.
Create a book together — Make a handmade book together by folding pieces of paper ion half and stapling them together. Your child can write his or her own story, with different sentences on each page. Ask your child to illustrate the book with his/her own drawings.
Show your child how to summarize a story in a few sentences, for example, or how to make predictions about what might happen next. Both strategies help a child comprehend and remember. After reading a story together, think out loud so your child can see how you summarize and predict.
Pick books that are at the right reading level —Help your child choose reading materials that are not too difficult. The goal is to give your child lots of successful reading experiences
Partner Reading – Take turns reading aloud to each other. Whether it’s a page or a sentence, it’s another way of getting a couple minutes of reading fun.
Learning to read is not easy and takes time. Many parents wonder on the best ways to help their kids learn to read. With 8 grandkids under 9, we have various levels of reading going on in our family. Ranging in age from 7 months to “newly 9” we have readers of all sizes and abilities.
I created the following list to make it a little easier for my adult children to have a few “reading ideas” to help their kiddos. Reading is very comprehensive and therefore, there is a wide range of activities at each level. The important thing to remember is reading builds on foundational skills. Therefore, each level is important for reading success. Don’t worry if your more advanced reader wants to do a lower level. Even advanced readers can continue to learn and grow from some of the Preschool Reader activities. Last week we started with our series with Very Early Readers (Birth – 2 years). This week we continue with Preschool Readers (2 – 5yrs).
Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)
Discuss what’s happening, point out things on the page, ask your child questions
When looking at a book together, point out how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.
Talk about print everywhere. Talk about written words you see in the world around you and respond with interest to your child’s questions about words.
Ask your child to find a new word every time you go on an outing.
Watch My Lips – Encourage your child to watch your lips and mouth while you make certain sounds. Have your child think about how his/her own lips and tongue move. You can say something like, “Can you feel how your mouth moves the same way at the beginning of the words sun, snake, and sour? Watch my mouth while I say them.” Exaggerate the letter s when saying the words.
Play sound games— Give your child practice blending individual sounds into words. For example, ask “Do you know what the word is? m-o-p?” Say the sound each letter makes rather than the name of the letter. Hold each sound longer than you normally would. This will help your child recognize the different letter sounds.
Trace and say letters while saying the letter’s sound at the same time. Use a pan filled with rice, sugar or beans to involve touch, sight and speech.
Play word games — Use a dry erase board to play word games with your child. First, write out a word like mat. Then change the initial sound. Have your child sound out the word when it becomes fat and then when it becomes sat. Next change the final sound, so the word changes from sat to sag to sap. Then change the middle sound, so the word changes from sap to sip.
Punctuate your reading.?! -. Discuss how punctuation on a page represents ways of speaking. You can say, for example, “When we talk, we usually pause a little bit at the end of a sentence. The way we show this pause in writing is to use a period.”
Dig deeper into the story — Ask your child about the story you’ve just read together. Try questions that require your child to draw conclusions. Say something like, “Why do you think Clifford did that?” A child’s involvement in retelling a story or answering questions goes a long way toward developing his or her comprehension skills.
Tell family tales — Children love to hear stories about their family. Tell your child what it was like when you or your parents were growing up or talk about a funny thing that happened when you were young.
Storytelling on the go — Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while riding in the car. Either one of you could start. Start with a beginning middle and end and work up to a longer story. A fun activity that stretches the imagination!
Every minute counts in becoming a good reader. Why not set a goal to try to do at least one activity a day? Be prepared to have days when it doesn’t get done. It’s only a goal. Most of all, enjoy the special time with your child.
Learning to read is not easy and takes time. Many parents wonder on the best ways to help their kids learn to read. With 8 grandkids under 9, we have various levels of reading going on in our family. Ranging in age from 7 months to “newly 9” we have very early readers to advanced readers.
I created the following list to make it a little easier for my adult children to have a few “reading ideas” to help their kiddos. Reading is very comprehensive and therefore, there is a wide range of activities at each level. The important thing to remember is reading builds on foundational skills. Therefore, each level is important for reading success. Don’t worry if your more advanced reader wants to do a lower level. Even advanced readers can continue to learn and grow from some of the Very Early Reader list activities. This week we start with our very early readers.
Very Early Readers (Birth to 2 yrs.)
Read together every day. Uninterrupted 2 minutes of time is time well spent.
Keep a book or magazine with you all the time to read with your child. Every minute counts.
Re-read a favorite – Kids love to hear books again. Repeated reading helps kids read more quickly and accurately. It helps promote their reading confidence. Research shows that repeated reading builds language skills.
Read with fun in your voice. Why not use different voices for different characters. A little acting can go a long way!
Let your child choose —Give your child the chance to pick his/her own books. Letting children choose their own books nurtures independence and their own interests.
Read it and Experience it — Help your child make the connection between what he/she reads in books and what happens in life. If you’re reading a book about animals, for example, relate it to last month’s trip to the zoo.
Make books and reading into something special by taking your kids to the library, helping them get their own library card, reading with them, and buying them books as gifts.
Have a favorite place for books in your home, or even better, put books everywhere!
Talk about what you see and do together.
Talking about everyday activities helps your child’s background knowledge, which is crucial to listening and reading comprehension
You can play games that involve naming or pointing to objects.
Say silly tongue twisters—Sing sings and read rhyming books. These help kids become sensitive to the sounds in words.
When you read aloud, read with expression.
Coming Next Week: Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)
Coming in 2 Weeks: School Age Readers and Writers (5 to 9 years)
Social Studies concepts can be difficult for some students to learn. However, there are some tools teachers can use increase a student’s access to academic content. Check out the 8 research-based strategies listed below.
Graphic Organizers – Graphic Organizers, Mind Maps and Concept Maps provide a pictorial or graphic way to organize information and thoughts for remembering, understanding and writing.
Multiple Intelligences – Dr. Howard Gardner proposed the theory in 1983 that there are 8 multiple types of intelligences or ways of processing information. (verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, musical, naturalistic, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal.
Graph Dissection – Taking apart of breaking down information found in graphs, charts, maps and other graphics.
Content Enhancements – Includes advanced organizers, visual displays, study guides, mnemonic devices, peer mediated instruction and computer assisted instruction.
Historical Timelines – Timelines help students understand the passage of time by comparing the length of time passed with a time sequence with which they are familiar.
Textbook Analysis – The systematic analysis of the text materials including the structure, the focus, and the learning assists.
Concept Comparisons – Students use a graphic to compare and contrast key concepts.
Assistive technology – Any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individual with disabilities.
There is no ONE WAY to teach Social Studies. The key to developing lessons is to try different techniques and assess their effectiveness.