Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Small Group Reading Strategies for Kids

1.  Read Aloud   
After developing a schema and background, introduce key vocabulary in 
an interactive and visual way.  Have children practice oral vocabulary.  Then read the 
text aloud to the students.  You may choose to read through the entire text the first time 
for continuity.  Stop to ask questions when needed during the second and subsequent 
readings.  When reading narrative texts, ask students to predict what they think will 
happen next.  ELLs should have other ways to show what their predictions are, 
especially if they are not yet orally proficient in the language being used. As you 
encounter words you think students do not understand, provide pictures, translations or 
definitions as needed.  Read Aloud is a good way to familiarize students with the text to 
prepare them for other kinds of reading.  Reading Aloud exposes students to text that is 
too difficult for them to read independently and provides a model for pronunciation, 
phrasing and expression.  Be sure to read expository passages aloud as well as 
children’s literature.  

2.  Choral Reading  
Students each have their own copy of a text, and all read aloud 

together.  Start with short, interesting passages.  The teacher can stand in front of the 
class to lead choral reading.  Students can also lead if they are comfortable doing so.  
When reading dialogues, plays or stories with dialogue, different groups often read 
different parts of the text.  Assessment suggestions: After students are comfortable with 
a text, have a student-lead the choral reading while you walk around the room, standing 
behind individuals as they read.  Note their progress on self-stick notes for individual 
folders or on class checklist.  This strategy helps children become more fluent and 
confident readers.

3.  Paired Reading  
Paired reading is an enjoyable way for two students to complete a 

reading assignment  or share a story.  The students might go into the hall or designated 
spot and take turns reading.  They can decide themselves how they will divide the tasks.  
Some pairs choose to alternate after every page, some choose to alternate after each 
paragraph, etc.  One reads and the other follows along, supporting each other as 
necessary.  Generally, students of similar reading ability are paired together.  
Sometimes a more competent reader is paired with a less competent one, and the more 
able reader reads aloud and the less able follows along.  This enables the less able 
reader to follow the text visually with little or no pressure. 

4. Reciprocal / Paired Reading   

In this form of paired or group reading, four readers 
participate in a discussion about the text.  Each person has one of four roles (Asks a 
Question; Predicts what will happens next; Clarifies something that was unclear to the 
group, or Summarizes the short passage that was just read) that he or she fulfills for a 
particular passage they have just read together.  The students switch cards (roles) and 
then read the next section of the texts, perform their new role, switch cards and so forth 
until they complete the reading assignment.  Students learn and practice the strategies 
of summarizing, predicting, clarifying and question-generating.  This reading structure 
can be used for fiction and nonfiction texts.

5. Jigsaw Reading.
The teacher divides a long reading section into sections.  One or two 

individuals in a group read each section and prepare to retell the information in the 
passage to the group.  When the group meets, each individual tell or teaches the group 
about the section he or she read.  The teacher uses a “group quiz” or the numbered heads together” cooperative learning structure to ensure group responsibility for the 
content and to assess comprehension.  Each group can be given a graphic organizer 
(on large chart paper or a transparency) to fill out as they prepare their section of the 
reading to present to the class.

6. Content Raps  
Read aloud an important passage from a content-area text with 

important new concepts.  Using the overhead projector or chart paper, discuss ways to 
unlock meaning from the text.  Ask students to help you develop sentences with key 
principles and main ideas.  Add elements or rhyme, rhythm and repetition and/or try 
putting short passages into jazz chants or raps.  Ask students to reread entire passage 
to acquire supporting details.

7.  Echo Reading  
This is another way to help children develop confidence and fluency.  

Read aloud a line of text.  Ask a student to read the same line.  With young children, 
point to the line of text as you are reading and encourage the child to do the same.  
Continue taking turns reading and rereading same lines.  When the child begins to read 
with more expression and fluency, suggest that she/he read aloud on her/his own.  This 
strategy can be used with expository texts as well as literature. 

8.  Intensive Reading:
Marking a Text    Students read and mark a short text (or use 

post-its) for a specific purpose, e.g. “underline the words in this paragraph that you are 
not certain about.”  The purpose is to assess and then teach vocabulary.  After 
discussing and resolving questions regarding the first marking, students read and mark 
for other purposes and discuss, e.g. “Circle the key words or phrases you will use to 
summarize this passage”.  Purpose: to practice summarizing, paraphrasing and outlining 
of nonfiction texts].

9.  Independent Choice Reading  
Students are taught how to choose books at their 
independent reading level or are given interesting and appropriate books and are provided with time for sustained silent reading and time to conference individually with the teacher. Teachers and students should keep track of the books they are reading, and teachers should keep a small reading notebook on each child where they record information they learn about the child during their periodic reading conferences (informal running records, student comments and goals, retelling  list of books read, child’s interests, etc.).The teacher should date every entry.

10. Guided Reading  
The teacher works with a small group of students who have similar   

reading processes.  Books are carefully leveled.  Teachers select and introduce new 
books and support students as they read the whole text to themselves.  Teachers 
typically use many pre-reading strategies such as a picture “walk-through” of the book, 
previewing vocabulary and key ideas of the text, etc.)  Based on close observation of 
students’ reading, teachers make relevant teaching points during and after reading. 

Adapted partially from:  McCloskey, M.L. (1998).  Scaffolding for Reading: Providing Support Through Reading Process, ESL Magazine, November/December 1998

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How to Improve a Child's Handwriting

In spite of being a part of the computer generation, good handwriting skills are not a thing of the past. People are still judged by a good signature and the ability to write clearly and correctly. Most kids still write daily homework assignments, rough drafts and classroom notes. Improving a child's handwriting can help build self-esteem and encourage the production of quality work. Read on to learn how to improve a child's handwriting.


    • 1
      Find a well lighted, flat surface for hand writing, like the kitchen table. Make sure there is plenty of space to work.
    • 2
      Place paper in front of child with the bottom corner pointing towards their belly button and the top corner pointing away from them. This may feel a little awkward at first, but will help with proper handwriting slant.
    • 3
      Position the non-writing hand at the top of the paper. This will hold the paper in place. Elbows should be out and gently resting on the table.
    • 4
      Sit up straight. Good posture should always be practiced during handwriting.
    • 5
      Grasp pencil in the writing hand. A good grasp goes no lower than the paint on the pencil, about one inch from the tip. The index finger should be on top, the thumb below. Rest the pencil on the third finger.
    • 6
      Warm up handwriting practice by making a series of swirls, like cursive lower case "e's" in groups of six across the first two lines.
    • 7
      Practice letters in groups of five or six to give the feel of writing words. Leave plenty of space between letters and between groups. When practicing printing, remember that letters start from the top down, not from the bottom up.

Read more: How to Improve a Child's Handwriting | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2050297_improve-childs-handwriting.html#ixzz2CVaUQV5A

How to Help Children Learn to Write

By Theresa Pickett, eHow Contributor

How to Help Children Learn to Write thumbnail
Help your child learn to write.
Literacy is important to the education of tomorrow's leaders. Help your children learn to express themselves in writing to aid the creation of an improved world. You can show your children how to express themselves in writing by creating an engaging exercise. For instance, discover an activity that the child excels at and enjoys. An athletic student might be interested in learning to write by practicing with a sports-oriented story. Follow a few tips to help your children learn to write. You can increase your child's writing skills through making your child practice.


    • 1
      Use examples from your children's daily life to help them understand what language is to encourage the use of varied language in creative writing. For instance, show your children signs in stores and on the street. You want your children to comprehend that language can be experienced places other than the classroom.
    • 2
      Show your child that writing creative stories helps her learn to read. Introduce your child to a new friend who likes to read and who she can get to know. Try to encourage your child to realize that creative writing and reading is cool to some children.
    • 3
      Encourage your child to do a meaningful writing activity. Your child might not be interested in activities that do not relate to her life. As an example, have your child write a list that helps her with her daily activities.
    • 4
      Tell your child to take notes about the things she sees. As an example, take your child on a field trip to the local science museum and have her write about the information she learns. Show your child that note taking encourages her to remember information, which can help on school tests.
    • 5
      Ask your child what she thinks about the world around her. Try to get your child to make detailed descriptions of people and places. When your child makes an exceptional observation, let her know that she is talented with words.

Read more: How to Help Children Learn to Write | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_7708974_children-learn-write.html#ixzz2CVYroYVA

Friday, November 16, 2012

Free Writing Prompts

By  on Feb 25, 2009 in FREEBIES, Teacher Helps

A writing prompt is a statement that asks the students to write a paper about a specific topic. It defines the audience and purpose for writing. The list below from Creative Portal will help when you need an idea or a writing prompt or two to get your student in the writing mood. A writing prompt serves as a catalyst for creativity and can start the mind flowing in a new direction. While a simple two-sentence writing prompt won’t give you the full structure of a novel, it can start the creative wheels turning.
Imagination Prompt Generator
Creativity Portal’s Imagination Prompt Generator will inspire you by outputting one of many randomly generated writing prompts at the press of a button.
Seasonal or Holiday Prompts
Spring Writing Prompts
Add a springy step to your writing! Words and picture prompts to inspire your springtime writing needs when everything is fresh and new.
Summer Writing Prompts
Hot and vibrant words and pictures to shine some sun fun on your summertime writing adventures when it’s just too sticky to go outside.
Autumn Writing Prompts
Cool, crisp, colorful words and pictures to inspire your fall time writing adventures. Colorful leaves, vibrant trees, pumpkins, and reflections on the dying off of nature.
Winter Writing Prompts
Freezing scenes and Christmas festivities, these words and pictures will inspire your winter and holiday time writing when it’s nice to snuggle up in front of a cozy fireplace to write.
Just for Fun Story Prompts
Be Creative! Writing Topics and Words
A sparking list of writing and journaling starters to get you going. Choose a topic from a list of sentence or simple word prompts. Don’t miss the amusing Write the Story Prompts!
Southwest Series Photo Prompts by Chris Dunmire
A “dry heat” series of travel photos and writing prompts that will ultimately include the following Arizona desert destinations: Tombstone, Bisbee, Sedona, Grand Canyon, and the Chiricahua National Monument.
Photo Prompts by Kristi Kovalishyn
A picturesque writing prompt adventure series inspired by photography enthusiast Kristi Kovalishyn’s travels around the world.
Photo Prompts by Carolina Pichardo
Carolina’s work has allowed her to travel to places like China, Germany, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Take in the wonders of the world in this wonderful thought-provoking series.
Inspiring Prompts and Writing Exercises
Using the Subconscious to Paint Fiction
By Esmerelda Jones
How to make your fiction characters come alive by closing off the world and developing an intimate acquaintance with your creations.
Inner Voices of Creativity
By Anne Marie Bennett
A self-reflective series of prompts focused on those little voices in our minds that have something to say about everything we do. What will they say when you allow them to write?
Sunday Scribblings
A blog that “provides inspiration and motivation for anyone who enjoys writing and would like a weekly challenge.”
Story Spinner Online
Bonnie Neubauer’s Story Spinner Online “generates gazillions more exercises than the millions generated by the original handheld Story Spinner! You will get a starting phrase, a setting and four words that you must include in a story. Set a timer for 10-minutes… and then write!”
A Chocolate Box
Activities and prompts presented in a “take one” chocolate box fantasy! Contains “rich” and reflective writing exercises, journal prompts, and insightful perspectives from Heather Blakey.
Diarist Prompts
“Prompts, sparks, collaborations. Whatever you call them, many journalers and journal sites regularly provide inspiration for diary entries. … These are excellent places to visit when the inkwell (or pixelwell) runs dry.”
Magic Writing Tram
A Flash-based activity and idea generator designed for primary school writing. Includes fun writing exercises surely to engage the active imagination of school-aged children and adults too!
Shirazad Journaling Topics
“A collection of topics for journaling or writing in groups.” Features journaling, word magnets, quotations, and lots of writing prompts.
Wild and Wacky Writing Exercises
These wonderful visual and imaginative writing exercises will lead you down a road with a slightly different perspective to prompt your imagination and creative thinking.
Writing Prompts and Journal Topics
Over 100 writing topics and journaling prompts to choose from. Categories cover: What is; What if; What do you think; What; How; I wish; Describe; When; Which; Who; Where; Why; and miscellaneous topics.

What Makes A Good Fourth Grade Reader

By: Daniel Willingham - July 6, 2009

What makes for effective reading instruction? A new study indicates that an important contributor is integrating material from other subjects into reading instruction.

An important international comparison test for reading is the PIRLS, administered to ten-year-olds. Hong Kong ranked 14th among 35 participating countries in the 2001 administration of the test. In 2006, Hong Kong students ranked second among 44 nations. This improvement coincided with significant changes to the reading curriculum instituted by the Curriculum Development Council of the Hong Kong government. These two changes spurred a group of researchers at the University of Hong Kong to analyze the data from the 2006 PIRLS to determine which instructional factors were associated with student reading achievement.

They used a single outcome measure — reading achievement on the 2006 PIRLS by the 4,712 Hong Kong students in 144 schools who took the test. There were 39 predictor variables in several categories, including the teacher’s professional preparation, the time spent per week on reading, the types of reading materials used during instruction, the varieties of assessment and their purposes, the teacher’s perception of the class, and instructional strategies. Not surprisingly many of these variables were themselves correlated, so the researchers conducted a step-wise multiple regression to determine which were the most important.

This analysis showed that four of the 39 predictor variables were critical:

the frequency with which the teacher used materials from other subjects in reading instruction.
using assessment to assign grades.
 the frequency with which students took a quiz or test after reading.
 using assessment to provide data for national or local monitoring.
These four sources taken together accounted for about 30% of the total variance in reading scores. Most of this came from the first factor, which accounted for almost two-thirds of the predictive power of the total model.

It should be noted that this study doesn’t account for the rise in Hong Kong scores, nor did it examine other predictor variables that are likely important: variables related to the school, parents, or pupils themselves. And it is always possible that other variables could be important to reading success yet do not appear significant in this analysis because they vary so little, or were not measured.

Still, the results are impressive in their clarity, and important because they dovetail so well with theories of reading comprehension, described here. Once students can decode, background knowledge is crucial to reading comprehension. Ensuring that students have wide-ranging knowledge of the world ideally begins at birth, through a rich home environment. Schools must do everything possible to support and expand that knowledge base, and integrating material from other subjects into the reading curriculum is an important step in the right direction.

Sources: Cheung, W. M, Tse, S. K., Lam, J. W. I. & Loh, E. K. Y. (2009). Progress in international reading literacy study 2006 (PIRLS): Pedagogical correlates of fourth-grade students in Hong Kong. Journal of Research in Reading, 32, 293-308.

Third Grade Reading Study

Study: Indicates Student's Chances Of Graduating High School

A new study reveals that the level of reading skills children develop by third grade may indicate their likelihood of graduating high school.
Released by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the report found that students who don't read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma when compared to proficient readers. The number rises when those kids also come from poverty.
Donald J. Hernandez, the study's author, said third grade is a pivot point, reports Education Week:
"We teach reading for the first three grades and then after that children are not so much learning to read but using their reading skills to learn other topics. In that sense if you haven't succeeded by 3rd grade it's more difficult to [remediate] than it would have been if you started before then."
According to the report, 6.2 million young people dropped out of school in 2007. To turn the tide, educators, politicians and researchers are looking for ways to prevent dropouts from leaving school.
With the report's findings, increased efforts to help the nation's youngest pupils master reading may be one way to reduce dropouts.
Read the full report.

Second Grade Reading Tips

By: Reading Rockets
Find ways to read, write, and tell stories together with your child. Always applaud your young reader and beginning story writer! The tips below offer some fun ways you can help your child become a happy and confident reader. Try a new tip each week. See what works best for your child.

These tips for parents of second graders are also available as a one-page handout to download and print:
Our reading tip sheets,
for parents of children
in preschool to grade 3,
are available in 9 other languages.

Tell family tales

Children love to hear stories about their family. Talk about a funny thing that happened when you were young.

Create a writing toolbox

Fill a box with drawing and writing materials. Find opportunities for your child to write, such as the shopping list, thankyou notes, or birthday cards.

Be your child's #1 fan

Ask your child to read aloud what he or she has written for school. Be an enthusiastic listener.

One more time with feeling

When your child has sounded out an unfamiliar word, have him or her re-read that sentence. Often kids are so busy figuring out a word they lose the meaning of what they've just read.

Invite an author to class

Ask an author to talk to your child's class about the writing process. Young children often think they aren't smart enough if they can't sit down and write a perfect story on the first try.

Create a book together

Fold pieces of paper in half and staple them to make a book. Ask your child to write sentences on each page and add his or her own illustrations.

Do storytelling on the go

Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while riding in a car or bus. Try making the story funny or spooky.

Point out the relationship between words

Explain how related words have similar spellings and meanings. Show how a word like knowledge, for example, relates to a word like know.

Use a writing checklist

Have your child create a writing checklist with reminders such as, "Do all of my sentences start with a capital? Yes/No."

Quick, quick

Use new words your child has learned in lively flash card or computer drills. Sometimes these help kids automatically recognize and read words, especially those that are used frequently.

Reading Tip sheets in other languages

A downloadable handout, for parents of children in pre-K through grade 3, is also available below in the following languages:
Find these and other downloadable tips and guides in our Guides section.