I still squeal a little inside when I think about the fact that I actually got to interview Libba Bray. Her coolness factor trumps mine by several thousand, and the fact that she humbled herself to give me a few moments of her time still astounds me. I need to get the t-shirt that says, “Authors are my rock stars” because indeed, Libba Bray is the Steven Tyler of authors. Enjoy her witty responses and droll sense of humor!
I particularly like the end of February and it has everything to do with Read Across America Day and the beginning of National Reading Month (March 1)! With these two book-related events taking place I thought I'd highlight my vocabulary bookmarks again. At the beginning of January I wrote a post discussing the New Year's Resolutions I set for my classroom. This resolution post resulted in me creating a bookmark handout for students to keep track of vocabulary words during their independent reading time at the beginning of class. There are 15 slots on the bookmark where students track their vocabulary during independent reading as well as record any new words they want to learn. There is also a column where students can write our context clues and page numbers! Hopefully these bookmarks will help your students become more aware of how vocabulary is embedded in their reading.
How will you help create a nation of readers? NEA's Read Across America Day is March 1, 2013 and classrooms around the country are gearing up for the largest reading event in the United States, by celebrating with read-aloud, and reading marathon activities. With students being more tech savvy than ever before, I've spent some time this week reviewing various reading apps. Hopefully some of these education apps will help your students cultivate a love for reading!
With Read Across America Day on my mind, I started my app search with Dr. Seuss! Oceanhouse Media's The Cat in the Hat app 4+ for iPhone, iPad touch, and iPad is a new way to read a classic story. This storybook app features:
- New! Record your own voice
- New! Share voice tracks with others that own the app
- New! Page selector
- New! Options for sound effects, hot spots and alerts
- Three wasy to Read: "Read to Me, "Read it Myself," and "Auto Play"
- Picture/Word association
- And more!
The second promising app I came across on my search for education apps that promote reading, was the book The Legend of Momotaro 4+. The first thing that struck me about this storybook app was the beautiful animations! Students will be so captivated by the exquisite illustrations they are sure to read the entire book. The second thing I was pleased to discover about this storybook app was that it contains hidden interactive elements that appear to teach readers more about the Japanese culture. If you're looking for an interactive story, this is the app for you! To learn more about the story, click here!
The third education app that I believe can help build a nation of readers is from the International Children's Digital Library! I've been familiar with the ICDL Foundation for years, but it wasn't until recently I found out they have an app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Now your students can access their worldwide collection of FREE children's books on their mobile devices. Encourage students to download this app for themselves and get reading!
The fourth and final app I was able to review this week was Brush of Truth by Story Bayou. I discovered this app while doing some RAAD planning... turns out this award-winning app (for kids 8-12) will be on sale for .99 cents March 1-8 in honor of Read Across America Day! Besides the discounted price, this interactive storybook app is unique in that it allows users to choose how the action unfolds at critical points in the plot. What a great way to get reluctant students engaged and reading longer!
What apps have you found promote reading? Please share!
I have learned that in order to really keep a resolution, it has to become a habit. Therefore, I have made resolutions that I can easily turn into habits for both my students and myself.
1. Reiterate the words of the day.
In my classroom, I teach two vocabulary words a day. I often feel that after the five to ten minutes of reviewing the two words of the day, we do not think of them again until the last moment before the bell rings, and I review them. Starting in January, I am going to star the two words of the day on the vocabulary charts I have hanging in my classroom (see my post about the charts here). Then, I will make it a point to use each word three times during class. This quick vocabulary activity reinforces the definitions and also helps students really learn the words as they are emphasized over and over. Plus, I will offer double stickers to any student who incorporates the word in our classroom conversation.
In order to keep myself accountable, I will ask the students to keep track of my word usage. If I do not use each word three times, I will have to compose sentences using at least three other vocabulary words (plus the two of the day) about my fallibility, and I will present the sentences to the class the following day. Therefore, regardless of whether or not I can meet the goal for the day, I will be reinforcing words. I will keep you posted on how my “words of the day reiteration” is working.
2. Show that I am still learning.
Too often, I take for granted that students can easily learn our vocabulary words, because I know them so well (having taught the same words for the last five to ten years, I can immediately tell you the definitions of everything from ameliorate to zenith).
I need to show my students that despite being “Vocab Gal,” I am still learning. The dictionary.com app on my phone keeps me humble as I know their word of the day only about 50% of the time. I will share this with my students, as well as admit that I did not know what bereft or supercilious or many other words meant until I started teaching vocabulary. Now, the word provincial just comes naturally to my brain because I fully understand the meaning. Ultimately, I hope that through both resolutions #1 and #2 I can stress to students that the more they use the words, the more they become a part of their lexicon, even if they originally sounded difficult.
3. Hold the class accountable for the vocabulary in their reading.
Most days we start class by reading independently for five minutes before reviewing the vocabulary words of the day. Often, students will excitedly share when they read a vocabulary word, and they earn a sticker for their efforts. Starting in January, I want every student to keep track of their vocabulary in their independent reading book as well as new words they want to learn. I created a bookmark handout for students to keep track of words and surrounding context clues (I’m going to copy it onto cardstock for better bookmarks). There are 15 slots on the bookmark-I think I will make 10 mandatory for each book, and let the last five be optional for those who want to earn a star on the ceiling (see my post about earning stars here). I will also give myself a bookmark and record when I read our vocabulary or new words I do not know in my reading (reinforcing resolution #2). To earn credit, students can record on the bookmark either our vocabulary words or new words they want to learn. I think I will ask students to complete two or three bookmarks per grading period.
Overall, my resolutions will hopefully help my students to learn their words more deeply and be more aware of how vocabulary is embedded in their reading.
Common Core State Standards:
Reading Literature/Informational Text Standard 4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text
Speaking & Listening Standard 6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks
Language Standard 4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown words
Language Standard 5. Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meaning.
Language Standard 6. Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge
Stickers and Stars
Toss the Vocabulary
photo © iStockphoto
October is National Book Month. Are you celebrating National Book Month in your classroom? The National Book Foundation has compiled a fabulous list of ideas for celebrating in your school. Use these ideas all yearlong to encourage students to read. Take a look!
Grammar Ninja is an educational web game that resulted from a high school independent study in Videogame Design. This game asks students to point out parts of speech by throwing ninja stars at words. Correct answers allow you to continue, while wrong answers literally explode. This is a fun and FREE online game.
Last night’s Engchat discussion was amazing-so many great teachers weighing in on what it means to be a reader and how to develop thoughtful readers. I just kept retweeting brilliant ideas –thanks everyone!
Today is International Children's Book Day! April 2nd was chosen to be a day dedicated to inspiring children to pick up a book and get reading because it's the same date as Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, the author of many famous children's stories like The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling.
Organized by the International Board on Books For Young People in 1953, the aim is to promote books and reading to young people. Here are some amazing online resources that can help you celebrate International Children's Book Day today and reading all yearlong!
Andersen Fairy Tales highlights the classic folk stories and fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. This interactive website features cartoons, e-learning, biography of Hans Christian Andersen, and links to the fairy tales.
The mission of the International Children's Digital Library Foundation (ICDL Foundation) is to support the world's children in becoming effective members of the global community by making the best in children's literature available online free of charge.
Invitation to World Literature is a thirteen part series of videos about classic works of world literature. These videos are accompanied by timelines, maps, text overview and a short slideshow!
MeeGenius is a great site that offers free and paid ebooks for kids. What makes MeeGenius unique is it's automatic word highlighting feature. MeeGenius adds a whole new dimension to story time with it's narration capabilities while also promoting reading comprehension skills.
What are your favorite online resources for reading?